B2B Marketing ROI

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Archive for September, 2008

Creating HTML Emails Everyone Can Love

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One of the constant challenges for marketers is creating HTML emails that work with everyone’s inbox. There are some commonly known tips and tricks for creating effective emails, but there is no hard-and-fast rule book. Today MarketingProfs posted an article reviewing common issues marketers face in building their emails. Many of these items are ones I’ve discussed before in this blog. Here are some that I found most valuable:

  • Around 600 pixels wide is about right for emails
  • Don’t use external CSS for formating. Some programs, including Microsoft Outlook 2007, don’t support CSS.
  • Avoid flash.
  • Test in multiple email clients, if possible. Don’t forget to test on mobile devices as well.
  • Be aware that not everyone loads HTML. Use alt tags for those who may view text only emails or are using a mobile device.
  • Use fully qualified links. Remember that using something like <img src=”images/headline.gif”> may look fine on your internal servers, but it won’t render externally.

One of the best ways to spot-check your templates is to send the email to a small test list of colleagues or trusted partners. As with proofreading a paper, this will ensure that you don’t miss anything. It’s easy to brush over details if you’ve been staring at the same email for too long. It also allows you to gather feedback and see your email from a different perspective, making sure you don’t get tunnel vision.

Written by Adam Blitzer

September 25th, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Examining Modern Relationship Building

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This week Brian Carroll posted four unique perspectives on today’s communication styles. In a world of digital communication, the rules of relationship building have changed. Many of us have clients for years and never meet them face-to-face.

Carroll poses the question: “To what extent can emails be used in place of phone calls and face-to-face meetings when maintaining and developing relationships with clients and other important network contacts?”

He then invites four bloggers, including himself, to give their perspective on the issue.

Though modern technology gives marketers the opportunity to do very specific targeting and provide personalization, nothing takes the place of building good, old-fashioned relationships. Carroll stresses that today’s buyers are saavy - and in some cases, are marketers themselves! They are very sensitive to being pitched by a fast-talking sales rep. Therefore, it’s wise to start building those relationships with key targets even before they are sales-ready. This ensures that they will trust you when the time is right.

As Carroll points out, one way to do this is through a lead nurturing program. Positioning yourself as an industry expert and providing truly valuable information to your target audience will secure a place for your company in their conciousness and prove you know your industry. Staying top-of-mind means you’ll be first on the list when it’s time to buy.


Written by Adam Blitzer

September 24th, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Landing Pages — Knowing when to say when.

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Seth Godin just wrote an excellent post on designing effective landing or destination pages entitled “Seven tips to build for meaning.”

I would like to add one more item to the list:
Do not inundate your visitors with required (or even optional) fields.

Nothing frustrates me more as a visitor than arriving at a landing page, seeing a massive form and having most or all of the fields marked with the asterisk of death (denoting a required field). Companies who ask for more than a handful of fields in the first interaction are just encouraging drop off.

B2B sales by their very nature are often multi-touch and complex (read: not instantaneous). You, as a marketer, have a lot of time to flesh out your prospect’s profile and each touch point provides you with an opportunity to collect more data. Why rush to get everything up front?

The technological solution to this is using conditional fields. This technology allows you to progressively ask for just one or two data points during each interaction with a prospect, depending on the information he or she has already given.

Sally Smith hits your landing page and is asked for her name, email address, and company in exchange for a white paper. She is then asked for her job title before viewing your flash demo 20 minutes later. Three weeks later she is asked for her department in exchange for another white paper. Finally she is asked about her buying stage when requesting a live demonstration.

You set up the same form for all of your white papers, flash demos, and live demo requests, but you set them up to intelligently display only the fields that you are missing for a given prospect. Your marketing automation software identifies your prospects and remembers what information they have already given you.

Isn’t that a better experience for all parties?

Written by Adam Blitzer

September 21st, 2008 at 6:18 pm

The Trouble with Buying an Email List

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I have talked often about the fine line between permission based marketing and spam. Another component of this is how you build your lists.

Many marketers see purchasing a list of names as a quick way to start out an email marketing program. One of my favorite articles from Email Marketing Reports explains why, as with most “get rich quick” schemes, this is a poor substitute for growing a list organically.

Buying v. Renting
Buying a list is different than renting a list. Renting a list is a common and widely accepted practice by email marketers. Renting a list means paying a fee to sponsor an email blast to a list of subscribers, for example, participating in a White Paper of the Day mailing. When you rent a list, you never have physical possession of the list. When you purchase a list, you are receiving a copy of the list with the assumption that you are free to use the list as often as you like.

Why Not Buy?  
It is considered a best practice to clearly inform people of what they are signing up for when they are put on a list. If you are buying a list, the people on that list have no reason to expect a message from you, and certainly haven’t given you permission to send it. These are not prospects who are interested in building relationships with you and your brand. It is likely that you will experience extremely high opt out rates with purchased lists, and in many cases recipients may even flag your message as spam.

Brownlow’s Email Marketing Reports article also points out that marketers work hard to build and nurture their lists. They want to ensure that the prospects on their list remain happy with the email program they provide and are not bombarded with spam. Therefore, as Brownlow states simply:

“Clearly, no self-respecting list owner is ever going to sell copies of their address list. Not if they want to preserve its value.”

Better safe than sorry. Start by building lists through trade shows, sponsored blasts, registration on your website or other legitimate means. You will wind up with a more valuable set of prospects and prevent problems like blacklisting, which will inevitably cause more stress in the long run.


Written by Adam Blitzer

September 16th, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Posted in Email Marketing

Tagged with ,

Getting to Know Google Chrome

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Marketers are constantly faced with the challenge of keeping up with emerging technology. Just when you learned to format everything to render correctly in Firefox, IE and Safari, another browser comes along that’s sure to be popular. That browser is Google Chrome.

In the wake of last week’s launch, MarketingProfs has posted anarticle giving a rundown of the handy facts about Google’s latest creation. Here are the highlights:

  • Chrome aims to be a basic browser without all the bells-and-whistles. It simply exists to provide a window to the web.
  • Chrome features a very toned-down interface with a few simple buttons.
  • Chrome has user-friendly features, offering predictive text in the browswer bar, accessible download locations and integration of online applications.
  • Chrome is based on Webkit, the open source browser engine that powers Apple’s Safari for Mac and PC, and currently only runs in Windows.
  • Chrome uses a multi-threaded system similar to major operating systems, making it more stable and even allows for a “task manager” similar to Windows.
  • Chrome has Incognito mode for anonymous browsing.

If your customers aren’t using Chrome yet, you can bet some of them will be soon. So download it and be sure to test out your pages in the new browser in town!

Written by Adam Blitzer

September 9th, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Industry News