Archive for the ‘Email Marketing’ Category

Avoiding the Spam Folder

Friday, August 29th, 2008

One of the most frequent questions I get from clients is in regards to deliverability. Spammers out there have made it tough for legitimate email marketers to send messages without having to worry about triggering spam filters or ending up in someone’s junk folder.

Here are some quick things to watch out for that Stefan Pollard suggests are the hallmarks of classic spam:

  • Vague or aggressive subject lines
  • E-mail address or stranger’s name in the sender line instead of a company or brand name
  • Aggressive language in body copy, along with overuse of exclamation points and misspellings
  • High ratio of images to text, especially one large image
  • Oversized, boldfaced red type
  • Too-frequent messages, often with unwanted or irrelevant content
  • Newsletters that look more like solo offers than reliable information sources

Though the above are all warning signs, preventing looking like spam really boils down to the application of common sense. Try to read your email messages with the perspective of the recipient. Or instate a test-run, and send other company members your email, asking for feedback on whether they got spam vibes from the message.

Change Things Up to Avoid ‘Banner Blindness’

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

MarketingSherpa put out a really interesting piece this week about ‘Banner Blindness,’ or the tendency for repeat readers to ignore advertisements and selected sections of your email messages (or those you sponsor) over time. When your template remains static, readers learn where ads are located and tend to skip over that section of the messaging. The full article contains some striking images from an eyetracking study, illustrating viewing patterns over time.

For the quick takeaways, MarketingSherpa gives us the following tips:

Change the landscape
The most powerful way to combat banner blindness is probably to vary the page template itself. By moving landmarks, you encourage the eye to conduct a more complete scan of the page. This is easiest in the email world, where creating and scheduling similar, but not identical, templates won’t send the Web team into paroxysms.

Change the look and feel of ads
If you can’t change the position of ads, think about changing ad sizes or the way they look. In our study, for instance, we swapped in a text list where a graphical ad had been positioned and saw a jump in attention. The eye tracks changes to a familiar landscape.

Increase ad rotation
The easiest way to combat blindness is to change ads frequently. For publishers, that’s easy. That’s not the case with sponsored placements or in-house advertising; these can sit static for long periods.

Open Rates are Open to Interpretation

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

I highly recommend you click over to Tamara’s recent post on open rates at BeRelevant, an email marketing blog, for a quick and easy explanation of how open rates are calculated.

I frequently speak with marketers who aren’t aware that open rates are based on images being loaded or that they can’t be tracked at all for text-only emails.  These facts make open rates a highly unreliable marker of success - and it’s likely that if you’re presenting these numbers to your boss, you’re actually selling yourself way short!

Testing, 1, 2, 3…

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Over at DMNews this week, Mark Stebbin of MarketMotive wrote a piece on A/B Testing for online marketing campaigns. Though the example used is a B2C campaign,  B2B marketers can benefit from the same concepts.

Marketing automation tools can be used to create multiple campaigns - changing out key elements such as graphics, subject lines or special offers - and then compare ROI results. Viewing click-through and conversion rates for the campaigns  will help you understand what strategies appeal to your target audience and lead to increased success in your future campaigns.

Automation software can also offer multivariate testing for your landing pages to compare conversion rates from you PPC campaigns. Just as you can determine which emails are most attractive to your prospects, you can analyze conversion rates and choose the landing pages that yield the highest ROI.

Creating two versions of a campaign may require a little extra legwork, but think of it as an investment that will save you time and increase future profits with just a few clicks.

Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Jeremy Saibil of Campaigner wrote an interesting piece on deliverablility for DMNews this week.

Saibil refers to the JupiterResearch E-mail Marketing Buyer’s Guide, 2008, which says 70% of respondents cited e-mail deliverability services as their top consideration when selecting an e-mail services provider. Obviously, this is a top priority for marketers. In Saibil’s mind, the problem arises when all the responsibility is placed on the email tool, when in fact, marketers themselves have a lot of influence over whether or not their emails make it to the inbox.

The article offers helpful tips on testing campaigns for optimum deliverability, including:

  • Have your IT folks set up a pristine, never-before-used e-mail box. Take this new address and subscribe to all of your own marketing programs
  • Audit your co-branded and affiliate marketing campaigns for relevance
  • Evaluate the content with the images blocked and see if the campaign still makes sense
  • Try replying, clicking and ultimately unsubscribing to see how user-friendly your campaigns are

By taking these steps, you will begin to see your campaigns through the eyes of the customer and ensure that your emails aren’t something that is going to be viewed as spam.

Saibil’s ultimate test:

The litmus test that you’re on the right track is when you’re brave enough to add your mother to your e-mail list and you’re confident that she won’t hit the “Report as spam” button.

Pulling It All Together

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

This month, DMNews is featuring In perfect harmony: e-mail works in-sync with other channels, a piece about integrated, multichannel marketing campaigns. The article, quoting a JupiterResearch study on combining e-mail marketing with other advertising outlets, focuses on the increased results marketers have seen by creating consistent messaging across many medias. An emphasis is placed on building a brand within a campaign as well as testing elements of the marketing program.

Using an effective web marketing suite can help you easily create, test and measure many aspects of an online marketing campaign by:

Presenting a Consistent Brand
Providing uniform email templates will ensure that you’re putting your best brand forward with every piece of correspondence. In addition to making sure you have the last word on all consumer interaction, the sales team will appreciate the templates because saves them time. This way, you can reign your more “creative” sales staff, let them think it’s all to benefit them and still get clean, concise communications. Plus, using templates gives you the option to create HTML emails that will tie-in with your other campaign initiatives.

Integrating Paid Search Campaigns
With emerging technology, you can go way beyond simple cost per click and cost per conversion. New programs are available that can calculate cost per vetted prospect, cost per opportunity, cost per sale, and marketing ROI by tying your paid search costs to yourCRM opportunity data. This will show you what’s working and where to cut the fat - letting you improve your campaigns and boost the bottom line.

Testing Landing Pages and Emails
If you use programs that provide the right metrics, it can be easy to test the effectiveness of your customer-facing communications. Landing pages can be tested using multivariate testing. This works in conjunction with paid search campaigns, automatically directing traffic to multiple landing page locations. By monitoring traffic to different the sites, you’ll be able to see which page has a better conversion rate, helping to determine the stronger campaign tactics. The same theory applies to emails - try out different subject lines, times of day and days of the week to see which combinations most successfully attract opens and click-throughs from prospects.

Too Close For Comfort?

Friday, March 7th, 2008

With the introduction of sophisticated products that can track a lead’s every move, down to their search queries and attempts at giving you an invalid email address, it can be all too tempting for the sales team to pounce on prospects and come on a little too strong. Marketing automation suites can provide worlds of knowledge with minimal effort by displaying recently active prospects, sending daily email digests and alerting the sales and marketing team if a designated form is completed.

If a prospect realizes they are being closely tracked, it can be a real turn-off, completely negating the advantage you had by monitoring their movements. There’s a fine line between knowing your customer’s needs and becoming a prospect stalker.

In an age where we are cookied on most pages we visit and sites posing as social communities are feeding our hobbies and habits to advertising partners, where is the line? The key is to show your prospect you understand their challenges, as they relate to your product, without being as obvious as stating that you observed they visited the Benefits section of your website earlier this afternoon. Though most people are aware of tracking technology, they don’t like to be reminded of it.

This applies to both sales calls and email marketing. For another take on this topic, as it relates to email marketing, visit BeRelevant for Can a campaign be too targeted?.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Friday, February 15th, 2008

I’ve often discussed the benefits of using Drip Marketing, or Drip Irrigation, to nurture prospects along the sales cycle. New marketing automation technology has made it so easy to stay in constant contact with leads who aren’t quite sales ready yet.

I came across a brief interview with Jim Cecil, marketing consultant and founder of the Nurture Institute in last month’s B2B Magazine. Cecil emphasizes the importance of irrigating, not irritating, your customers. He also talks about the challenges small-to-medium sized businesses face when using a CRM to nurture leads. Tying in the sales team, Cecil does not discount the importance of building personal relationships as you move toward closing the deal.

What can we take away from this?

  • CRM’s and tools built for larger sales organizations don’t always meet the needs of a small or growing business, who can benefit from other marketing automation tools.
  • You must always follow the best practices of permission-based email marketing. Overwhelming your prospects with information that is not targeted to them creates negative feelings toward your company.
  • Teach your sales team to be patient, but not lazy. Drip Marketing is a great tool to keep you top-of-mind, but it can’t take the place of traditional sales calls. Conversely, the sales team has to let your marketing tools plant the seed before they go in guns blazing.

Segmenting for a Quick Lift

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Earlier this month, DM News published a quick feature on a a company that saw great sales increases simply by segmenting their email campaigns. The piece profiles a promotional products company called Graphic Business Solutions. This company found that they increased their open, click and buy rates by 20-50% simply by creating segmented emails that contained product samples featuring local sports teams. The personalized approach helped the peak the recipient’s interest and form a connection in a way that can’t be achieved with a generic blast.

There are many options for dividing these key groups based on your specific product. All that sorting sound overwhelming? It’s not. All of these email campaigns can be easily created and distributed using an web marketing automation program. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Geographic Segmentation

As discussed in the Graphics Business Solutions example, adding a little local flavor to your emails can help give your customer the feeling that you know and understand his interests, even from halfway around the world.

Behavioral Segmentation

Setting up a set of automation rules that send messages based on user activity, also called drip marketing, can help you create an easy multi-touch campaign to reach new and returning visitors. For example, you may automatically send an introduction email to a prospect who has requested information, follow up with a pricing list three days after their last visit to your site, and send a special offer one month later if they still haven’t bitten.

Purchasing Power Segmentation

Collect data on your leads and create campaigns specifically targeted to your key prospects. This can be especially helpful if you sell multiple products to different audiences, such as a software solution for the IT department and another that would be more helpful to the HR department. This way the HR manager receives only information that is important to her and not a generic catalog of your offerings. You can also use this setting to ensure that your email goes to the CEO and not the intern.

Segmenting is nothing new, it simply used to be a tedious process. Now B2B marketers have enough technology in their arsenal to make this not only worth doing, but easy to pull off as well.

No Lead Left Behind

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

A lot of marketers talk about automated lead nurturing but very few actually put it into practice. It may be because implementing a program is perceived as a lot of work. It may be that the early technology in this space was cumbersome and unreliable. It may be because marketers are simply unaware that this is possible. Whatever the reason, in spite of this being a hot topic at conferences, very little is actually being implemented by B2B marketers.

Aaron Ross brings up several great points about lost leads in his latest blog entry: Build A Sales Machine: “Never Waste A Lead - Part 1″

He correctly points out that lost or ignored sales leads is one of the most common bottlenecks to growth in a B2B organization. This is probably why the average tenure of a CMO at such a company is only about a year long.

It is often said that 80% of leads passed on to sales never have a meaningful conversation with a rep. Sales reps often attempt to make contact several times but ultimately put the lead aside if they are unable get in touch or the prospect is not immediately ready to buy. Although the lead may eventually show interest by visiting the website again or clicking on links in an email newsletter, there is no way for the sales rep to be notified and the prospect that is “raising her hand” goes unnoticed.

New technologies, including marketing automation solutions, allow you to place your non-sales ready leads into nurturing tracks. You can then ensure that your marketing efforts periodically “touch” leads via automated, one-to-one advertising such as email or direct mail. All links and calls to action in your marketing collateral are tracked individually to prospects and your sales reps will be notified as soon as a lead responds. By automating the lead nurturing process you are not only further qualifying your leads, but also freeing up sales or marketing personnel who formerly did this task manually.

Whatever the reason for not implementing a nurturing program, one thing is clear: if you are not using automated solutions to keep your leads engaged, you are leaving revenue on the table.