Category Archives: Email Marketing

Thanksgiving Wishbone Competitiveness & Content Marketing Tips – Who Knew?

For many people who have grown up celebrating Thanksgiving, the holiday for giving thanks has a underlying theme: Winning the wishbone. Besides the mounds of wonderful food and extended family gathered at many US households, there might be plenty of turkey to go around, but there is only one wishbone.

Believe it or not, competitive pursuit after a Thanksgiving turkey’s wishbone is a perfect metaphor for understanding better customer centric content marketing.  Prepare yourself for a Thanksgiving themed post without the tryptophan side effects.

5 Steps of A Wishbone Strategy Applied to Content Marketing
Here’s how the wishbone strategy works and how you can apply it to your content marketing strategy.

Thanksgiving-Turkey

Step 1: Lobby Mom to ensure turkey is on the Thanksgiving menu. Every year, there are Moms across the country who set their sights on trying some new tradition without any input from the people who will be eating the meal. To avoid a holiday dining catastrophe, kids start begging said Moms to get a Thanksgiving turkey as soon as Halloween is over. Content marketers need to listen to and understand prospect and customer interests to ensure they provide the information that matters most. To this end, consider the content your target audience needs at every point in the purchase cycle from awareness through post purchase support.

Depending on your product or services, this can translate to a variety of different types of content. Here’s an extensive list to choose from, and don’t forget to serve seasonally appropriate content which resonates with your audience. To carry on with our Thanksgiving theme, an example could be links to cool Turkey carving apps, Thanksgiving recipes or instructions for how to make paper decorations look like turkeys.

dad-carve-turkey

Photo Credit: carbonated via Flickr

Step 2: Beg Dad to carve the turkey. While this seems like pandering, in our house, Dad was a surgeon when it came to carving the bird and, unlike Mom, he carefully preserved the wishbone for a fair battle. As a marketer, it’s important to go beyond just defining your target audience to understanding what various segments want and need to attract and maintain their attention. Just as many of us play up to Dad’s carving skills, our content must also tightly synch with the needs of prospective readers.

wishbone-contender

Photo Credit: lapstrake via Flickr

Step 3: Be chosen a wishbone contender. Again, this requires advance planning. It helps to go that extra step with regard to chores and homework as well as positioning yourself nearest to the turkey when it appears fresh from the kitchen. Depending on your family, getting the wishbone can be a situation where, if you snooze, you loose. Similarly, content marketing must be available where prospects are searching for it. We all know there is a dizzying array of apps, ads, channels, widgets (and so on…) vying for our prospects’ attention.

Think strategically in terms of your communication channels such as campaign-oriented website landing pages and emails, seasonally appropriate blog posts from your CEO and instructional videos from product development. Of course don’t just duplicate, rather integrate the appropriate versions of your content on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Depending on your audience, consider third party media placement such as providing articles for other media or sponsored content. Make it easy and compelling for your prospects to choose you through relevant content.

wishbone-stance

Photo Credit: Roger Smith via Flickr

Step 4: Assess your wishbone stance. When you’re ready to wrestle for wishbone bragging rights, it’s essential to realize that an effective strategy is all about positioning. You must get your thumb as close as possible to the tip of the wishbone. Further, it helps to let your competitor take a first try since this weakens the bone on his side. In terms of content marketing, asses your messaging stance and ensure your tailored content is integrated with the rest of your marketing. This includes linking to the appropriate products in your blog posts, providing commerce on channels like Facebook where your prospects are engaging with you, or sending a post-purchase emails with helpful product usage tips. To help inspire you, check out this Clutter Control Freak post that links to the specific product, a holiday card keeper.

make-a-wish

Step 5: Make a good wish. Of course, all of this work is for naught if you don’t have a really good wish. In marketing terms, (I know this is a reach, but bear with me) this means having a contextually relevant call-to-action for your prospect to take the next step in the purchase process. A problem for many marketers is that once you’ve primed your prospect and they leave without buying, they still have an unmet need. Therefore they’ll probably purchase from another firm and, as long as they’re somewhat satisfied, they may not return to your firm – ever.

The one content marketing element missing from this wishbone list is ensuring you’ve got great information that, like the smell of your mother’s fresh cooked turkey, will lure people in. Without quality content, it’s difficult to get your prospects, customers and the public to return for seconds and thirds. You may get them once, but after that you’ll find yourself searching for new customers. Therefore, pack your content with real protein and nutrition to engage your readers over and over again.

What else would you add to this wishbone strategy? How are you ensuring your content marketing remains focused on your target audience’s needs while working to get them to close the deal?


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2011. | Thanksgiving Wishbone Competitiveness & Content Marketing Tips – Who Knew? | http://www.toprankblog.com

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5 Email Marketing Tips for Increased Open Rates

email marketing tips

Is your message blending in or standing out in an inbox filled with emails?

Email marketing has become an essential part of engaging and targeting prospects and clients online. In fact, eMarketer reports that 97% of small businesses use email marketing to connect with customers.   There are many aspects that make up an effective email marketing program, but today I’ll focus on how marketers can increase their campaign open rates.

Email content is essential, but getting people to actually open your email is a hurdle many marketers find hard to overcome.  A deep understanding of your customer base as well as their needs and habits for proper segmentation can be key in creating an effective email marketing strategy that produces high open rates.

As marketers we must ask ourselves: If I received this email from another company, would I open it?

#1 – Make a Good First Impression

What are the two things that email recipients see before actually opening an email?  Who the email is from, and what the subject line is.  These two items are your prime real estate for enticing your audience to view your email as opposed to simply trashing it and moving on.

The Sender: Recent studies have shown that adding a personalized feel to the email can be key in increasing open rates.  Instead of sending the email from [email protected] instead utilize the first and last name of a company employee.  Setting up an email to send out messages on behalf of a company CEO or President can have a large impact on open rates.  I would also like to note that many spammers are sending out emails with female first names (without a last name) so be aware of this spamming trend and try to avoid it.

The Subject Line:  If ever there were an opportunity to convince your audience to read this is it.  Email marketing service MailChip has provided some best practice approaches to creating subject lines which include:

  • 4 Words or Phrases to Avoid: free, help, percent off, reminder
  • Localization Helps: providing a city name can increase open rates
  • Newsletter Half Life: using the exact same subject line for each newsletter can decrease open rates
  • Subject Line Strength: keep your subject to 50 characters or less with the exception of highly targeted audiences

To see some additional tips as well as some subject line examples that have been tested as well as the open rate see the study here.

#2 – Timing Isn’t Everything, But It is Important

This is a tactic that requires some common sense as well as some experimentation.  If your emails are sent too early in the morning they can get lost in the shuffle of other emails either sent late at night or early in the morning.  If your emails are sent too late in the afternoon your customer may see it as one more thing to review before quitting time and put off reading it until the morning (which will pile it under even more emails).  It is also important to keep in mind your audience.

If you are running a B2C campaign your audience may have time to check their emails either during lunch or after work.  Try experimenting with time frames that match up with that notion.  If your campaign has a B2B focus I would recommend sending emails in the afternoon or around 7 or 8 in the morning when you know they’ll be reading.  If your email marketing system allows you can always try doing some A and B testing utilizing different time frames to test open rates.

#3 – Avoid Spam Filter Traps

Spam filters analyze a large list of criteria when determining an email’s “spam score”.  If your email campaigns total spam score is over a certain threshold then it is sent to the dreaded Spam inbox.  There are some common mistakes that are easily avoidable if you know what to look for.

  • Spammy phrases such as “Once in a lifetime opportunity!”
  • Too many !!!!!!!!!
  • ALL CAPITAL LETTERS
  • Sloppy HTML

For additional tips to avoid being sent to the spam filter be sure to visit SpamAssassin.

#4 – Get Rid of Dead Weight

Depending on which email service you use there should be a report that allows you to determine which emails are either bouncing or which subscribers are not opening your emails on a consistent basis.  Your open rate can be dramatically increased by pulling people from your list who never open your emails.  I wouldn’t recommend deleting their emails completely.  Instead, do some digging to find where the email subscriber originally came from so that you can create a more targeted campaign to get them re-engaged.

#5 – Refine the Sign Up Process & Email Targeting

Make it easy for people to sign up to receive email correspondence from your company.  Having potential customers jump through hoops to receive your marketed material is a poor strategy.  In order to make this process effective and engaging perhaps you could provide a fulfillment piece or whitepaper during the initial sign up as a take away and then continue to market based upon their needs.

The more refined your targets within your campaigns are the more likely you are to achieve success with your email marketing campaign.  Creating separate nurture campaigns for prospects and influencers within different industries and job roles is a great way to begin tracking and improving success rates.

What is a Good Open Rate?

Now that we’ve covered 5 important tips for improving the open rate of your email marketing campaigns, I thought that providing some sort of standardization for open rates by industry might also be useful. Open rate is one of the most commonly ased questions with email marketing clients. While you make the decision to implement each of the tips above, it’s important to understand that the open rate of your email marketing campaigns can differ based upon your industry and target market.

Image Credit: Constant Contact

What are some of the tips you’ve followed to increase your email marketing open rates? What are some of the top resources you rely on for email marketing advice?


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2011. | 5 Email Marketing Tips for Increased Open Rates | http://www.toprankblog.com

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5 Marketing Tips for Improving Customer Relationships & ROI With Better Communications

If you keep customers happy they will continue to buy

Improved communication turns one time buyers into lifelong customers.

As marketers and sales professionals there is no doubt that we are focused on obtaining new customers and increasing awareness within targeted market segments.  However, we must also consider the lifetime value of our existing customers and how marketing communications can contribute to that relationship.  Taking the time to examine what kind of communications can keep your brand top of mind with customers and inspire continued awareness for repeat sales and referrals is of enormous value.

Do you know how much your current customers are worth to your company?  In recent years research has found that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25% to 95%.  Armed with the knowledge that satisfied customers has a direct impact on your bottom line, there is no time like the present to begin targeting your current customers.  Here are 5 tips on better customer communications you can start using right now:

Tip #1 – Personalized Email Communication

96% of organizations believe that email personalization can improve email marketing performance

 

96% of organizations believe that email personalization can improve email marketing performance.


Creating a steady flow of email communication for customers is not a new concept.  However, how many email campaigns do you send out that are segmented based on purchasing habits or preferences?  Say that you have studied the data relating to your current customers and have identified approximately 5 profiles or personas.  Based on customer information find the persona that best fits each customer.  Then create an email drip campaign for each customer segment with different content based on need.  Keep in mind that the subject line, internal content, and calls to action within the email should be personalized based on customer segment.

Tip #2 – Create A Stellar FAQ Page

53% of customers who shop online more than once a month find customer service extremely or very important

 

53% of customers who shop online more than once a month find customer service extremely or very important.

 

Creating readily available and easy to find information is Customer Service 101.  It does not matter if you are B2B, B2C, technology, retail, or any other type of company; your customers will have questions.  A Frequently Asked Questions page on your website, social profiles, or other web destinations should be updated on a regular basis to include new questions or comments.  FAQ’s are also an additional opportunity to optimize content for improved visibility online.  It is important to remain consistent with your answers, provide a clean and easy to read page, and update or remove items that may no longer apply.  If you sell multiple products you may want to consider creating additional pages for each product.  Also, if you sell a product or service that requires assembly or setup you may want to provide instructional videos for your customers.

Tip #3 – Social Networking Channels = Customer Service Opportunity

40% of corporate Twitter accounts engage stakeholders on customer service issues

 

40% of corporate Twitter accounts engage stakeholders on customer service issues.

 

Last week we shared the example of JetBlue’s customer focused approach on Twitter.  While Twitter may not be a customer solution for all marketers there is an opportunity to utilize your existing social media channels as a way of providing additional customer service for your customers.  Customer service does not only include answering questions or dealing with problems it could also include: sharing useful articles or information, notifying customers of upcoming promotions, or reaching out to customers that are inactive.  Consideration must also be paid to the time of day that your customers are most likely to spend their time online.  There are tools available like Timely, Buffer or Hootsuite which enable you to schedule your Twitter communications during a particular time of day for the highest impact.

Tip #4 – Create Content Based on Customer Need

36% of B2B marketers listed producing engaging content as their biggest content marketing challenge.

 

36% of B2B marketers listed producing engaging content as their biggest content marketing challenge.

 

If planned for and organized appropriately, content creation can be executed efficiently and successfully.  A successful content strategy will focus on the needs, pain points, and triggers of your customers.  There are many ways to identify what those needs are including: customer surveys, research, and creation of customer personas based on buying habits.  Implementing a well thought out and concise customer survey can give you additional insight into what makes your customers tick.  A survey is also a great opportunity to crowdsource content from your customers for your customers.  Who better qualified to tell you what they want to read about than those who are purchasing your products or services?

Tip #5 – Turn Customers Into Brand Advocates

500 billion peer impressions are made per year

 


500 billion peer impressions are created each year.

 

It is extremely important that you tap into your existing customer base to find individuals or organizations who are willing to advocate on your behalf.  You could ask customers for: written or video testimonials, permission to use them as references, or employ them as a brand advocate to share information with their networks.  As user generated content becomes increasingly popular and credible, keeping your customers happy will continue to become even more essential.

Action Items:

Committing to providing customer support online is something that I recommend every company do no matter what industry you work in.  If you don’t keep your customers happy, someone else will.  I would like to leave you with the following questions that I hope will help you determine what tactics your company should implement to improve your customer service and communication online.

  • How would you rate your current level of online customer service?
  • Do you currently have a plan in place to improve your communication?
  • What tactics have you implemented that have worked?
  • What companies do you personally buy from that provide excellent online communication?
  • What impact has that communication had on your purchasing decisions?

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2012. | 5 Marketing Tips for Improving Customer Relationships & ROI With Better Communications | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Email Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Mathew Sweezey of Salesforce Shares 6 Ways to Improve the Value of Your Email #CMWorld

mathew-sweezey-salesforce

Today’s customers are busy, savvy and frustrated. But why? They’ve taken on too much and are looking for ways to improve their own efficiency, old email marketing tricks no longer have an impact and they’re tired of receiving pitch after pitch that doesn’t add value.

However, email marketing is just as important (and effective) now as it has ever been, especially when it’s integrated with marketing automation.

And if you’re going to learn about the intersection of email and marketing automation from anyone, Mathew Sweezey of Salesforce is the person to listen to. In his session at Content Marketing World, Mathew covered some of the top values that exist within email marketing today.

Value #1: Email is a Mobile Strategy

In 2015, mobile search took over desktop search. In fact, a recent study from Marketing Land found that 68% of all emails are opened on a mobile device. That means, email is very much a mobile strategy.

Value #2: Email Can Be Hyper Targeted

How does media affect relationships between businesses and consumers? If we can understand that, then we can make marketing best practices made for this era, for this time.

The vast majority of people looking for answers online batch their research. They’ll go online and download a lot of things at once and then read them when they have time. This is the new buyer behavior. Once marketers understand this principle, they can start to optimize for great content conversions.

According to Sweezey, the average page views on a website are 1.7. Why? Because Google has trained users to go back to Google if they don’t immediately find what they’re looking for at that moment.

If we understand what people are asking, we can implement stage-based marketing.

salesforce-stage-based-email 

Value #3: Email Can Be Quickly Created

On average it takes marketers 2-5 weeks to create a piece of content. So, if you were to create a piece of content for each segment, it would take you roughly 1.5 years to create just one piece of content.

This is not possible, or scalable.

Instead, consider that anything that includes a URL is a piece of content that you can send via email. Below is an example of a simple email that you can quickly create and send with a URL included.

effective-email-rich-text

Value #4: Increase Email Value By Writing Like A Human

These emails should be authentic in a way that builds trust with the recipient. If they expect an email to be from a person, then it needs to look like it’s from a person.

Our job isn’t to be pretty. It’s to be effective.”

According to Sweezey, believe it or not, rich text is authentic. Have you ever hand created a full HTML and CSS email and sent it to a single person? Probably not. So do you really think you’re fooling your audience with an HTML email?

Mathew and his team works with one of the largest banks in the United States and found that when they send rich text versions of emails instead of HTML, their engagement increased 4x.

Value #5: Email Can Shorten the Sales Cycle

Research has found that companies who use lead nurturing close deals over 30% faster than those who don’t.

The key to creating nurture programs is to move prospects to the next stage, by getting them to ask the next question. Secondary CTAs in email communications are a great way to get them thinking about the next thing they want to know.

Value #6: Email is the Key to Omni-Channel

In today’s world, personalization is key to marketing success. In order to achieve this, Sweezey shared that the MINIMUM connected systems to accomplish this include:

  • CRM
  • Marketing Automation
  • Website
  • Product

Top Considerations for Adding Value with Email

To be honest, the tips above only scratch the surface of Sweezey’s awesome insights into more effective email marketing. In all, brands should absorb and evaluate the following and see how their email marketing measures up:

  • Email is the center of the entire marketing life cycle
  • Email is best when human
  • HTML isn’t best in class email anymore
  • Email programs scale businesses efforts
  • Social media + email drives engagement
  • Best in class brands use email automation for both internal, external and partners.

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. | Mathew Sweezey of Salesforce Shares 6 Ways to Improve the Value of Your Email #CMWorld | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Best Practices: Software & Technology Marketing

software marketing best practicesAt TopRank Online Marketing, we work with clients in many different industries each facing a unique set of problems.  One of the industries we provide online consulting for regularly is software.  Be it network monitoring, healthcare system and hospital software, email marketing, project management, or B2C software, promoting technology solutions has been a part of our expertise since TopRank was founded over 10 years ago.

Software development continues to become even more valuable in today’s social, mobile and overall digital world as companies begin to migrate what were once offline industries into SaaS and cloud based services.  It wasn’t too long ago that recruiting, sales, and marketing relied heavily on meeting in person or over the phone. With advancements in software and devices, organizations are now able to accomplish the same if not better results at a drastically reduced cost.

Here is where software companies are met with a compelling challenge:  With so many new and previously established software solutions available for easy download and implementation, how can you compete in the marketplace?  It is no longer just a price or feature based conversation.  Companies are struggling just to get their brand front and center with potential customers.  Take Google for example, how often do you search and stray farther than the second page of results before you begin contacting companies to setup a demo of some sort?  Chances are you (and your prospects) don’t go past that first page.

Our internet marketing agency works with many companies that are facing similar struggles: How to attract people looking to buy in such a competitive market?  Companies know that they have a great product but don’t know how to go about getting in front of decision makers and influencers within organizations.  By this point we know that an integration of marketing and sales is necessary for success.  In fact, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. Here’s a great guide to lead nurturing from our SaaS client, Marketo.

Before making software marketing consulting recommendations, it’s important to do some due diligence to figure out key information about the software/technology company and their customers including:

  • Current Situation:  Where are they currently marketing? Sales performance? Leads, sales, order volume, length of sales cycle, cost per lead/sale?
  • Objectives: Where do they want to be both short-term and long-term?
  • Target Audience:  Define customer segments, characteristics and preferences. Who is the customer?
  • Pain Points: What problems are solved for both the prospect and the company they work with if they buy your software/service?
  • Differentiation:  What makes your software or technology different from the competition? What is the value proposition?

Agencies working with internal client marketing teams is an essential part of a successful online marketing engagement.  When the agency can work with internal marketers on strategy and planning together, they are able to determine top ranked objectives and can then tailor the solutions to meet the unique needs of the situation. That’s how top agencies (like TopRank) work with clients vs. providing ala carte or commoditized services.

One of our clients is a leading software company in the recruiting industry.  This client wanted to increase their qualified lead inquiries by at least 100% a month.  A qualified lead was defined as a prospect submitting a request for information, setting up a demonstration, or contacting the company directly.  Through a combination of what we call a “push and pull” communications strategy we were able to significantly exceed initial projections.

Push communications were implemented with the intention of increasing brand awareness of the client as a leader and respected source within their industry.  Pull communications included a series of tactics aimed at educating and encouraging prospects to begin making inquiries regarding their software solutions.

The tactics that were used to draw in prospective customers included:

Many corporate marketers can get tunnel vision when it comes to marketing their software. They may prejudge integrating channels like search or social media and discount the value of outside expertise because of concerns about effectiveness or the idea of change. Whatever the barrier to getting outside expertise is, there are many situations where it can make a world of difference – especially with situations like the one above where a division of an international software company spiked sales and now has processes in place that would have taken years to do on their own. Ongoing online marketing consulting continues to provide value and more than pay for itself with increases in performance, efficiency and effectiveness.

The simple approach of Situation, Objetives, Audience, Pain Points and Differentiation seems straightforward but so many companies are still on the “Features and Benefits” hamster wheel. An outside online marketing service can break free of those confinements and duplicate outcomes with less effort in the long run.

The process and marketing mix above isn’t limited to software and technology of course. What approach does your company take towards software and technology marketing? Are you integrating channels like SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing?

 


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2012. | Online Marketing Best Practices: Software & Technology Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Convert More Customers: Tips & Tricks For Running A/B Tests On Your Email Campaigns

Email continues to be one of the most effective online marketing tactics but many companies struggle to establish benchmarks or successfully improve performance. How many people are receiving, reading and acting on email messages? Those are all key questions to improve email marketing performance.

Email open rates can vary depending on the target industry and even the job function of the prospects.  Testing to improve email marketing performance is essential, but determining which variables have the largest impact on the overall effectiveness of an email campaign can seem overwhelming.

However, a process driven approach to identifying success factors that lead to increased conversions will set your company up for success both short term, and long term.

One way of improving your email marketing process involves testing: A/B or multivariate testing, to assess which tactics lead to the desired outcomes such as click throughs and conversions.

What is A/B & Multivariate Testing?

Put simply, A/B testing involves sending out different versions of any email campaign to segments of your existing customer or subscriber list.  Typically A/B testing includes changing only one element at a time, whereas multivariate testing includes multiple elements.  There are many variables to consider when running an email test so it is best to pick a maximum 3-4 items to test for each campaign.  If you are unsure about which variables to test please reference the list below for guidance.

What Can Be Tested?

As mentioned you don’t want to get carried away with testing too many variables at once.  Below I have included some of the tactics that your team may want to consider when running a A/B or multivarite email test.

  • Time of Day
  • Day of Week
  • Subject Lines
  • Body Copy
  • Layout
  • Calls to Action
  • Design (including images)
  • Personalization
  • Offer

Sample Email Test

Who Should A/B Email Test Be Sent To?

If you search online or talk to marketing experts you may receive a variety of answers.  Depending on your list size you will want to send out A/B tests to a large enough segment to collect enough data to make an informed decision.  I would recommend splitting your list into three parts:

  • Recipients of test A – ¼ of your list
  • Recipients of test B- ¼ of your list
  • Recipients of the “winning” email – ½ of your list

What Should Be Tracked?

  • Open Rate
  • Click Through Rate
  • UnSubscribe Rate

A Best Practice Approach For Running A/B & Multivariate Tests for Email Marketing

Data Doesn’t Lie: Base  your course of action on proven numbers, not which email you BELIEVE will perform better.

Use Tools: Services such as MailChimp provide a tool for running A/B tests.

Test Often: The way that your audience reacts to information will evolve, make sure that your process evolves as well.

While we talk a lot about search optimization, social media and content marketing here at Online Marketing Blog, make no mistake: Email Marketing is a powerful communication and conversion tool. It integrates well with other online marketing efforts to both attract and retain customers. Remember ABO: Always Be Optimizing. It applies to email marketing performance just as much as pay per click or SEO.

I’m curious to know what tests your company may have run in the past.  What were your results?  How did these results shape your process going forward?


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2012. | Convert More Customers: Tips & Tricks For Running A/B Tests On Your Email Campaigns | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Marketo Summit Session: Engaging with Cross Channel Marketing

[Note from Brian: Please note that Marketo is a client of TopRank Online Marketing]

When was the last time you heard of a really successful email campaign? Or TV ad campaign? Or a campaign on any channel for that matter? It’s likely been awhile.

The reason that isolated, channel-specific campaigns are rarely discussed these days is simple: they rarely work. That by no means is saying that email, or TV, or social, can’t be incredibly effective platforms to market your messages. Cross channel (see multiple channel) marketing is effective because each of these platforms can have an impact, when integrated into a holistic campaign.

It’s with this in mind that Maria Pergolino, Marketo’s Senior Director of Marketing, led the Marketo Summit panel discussion ‘Engaging with Cross Channel Marketing’.

Joined by Marketo users Tricia Reilly of VMWare and Loretta Jones of Echosign, Pergolino started the session by asking each panel member to share their journey to adopting Marketo’s marketing automation solution. After Reilly and Jones reviewed how their business needs and market demands led them to Marketo, the discussion then changed gears and focused on some ways VMWare and Echosign leveraged data from Marketo to identify and develop a cross-channel marketing strategy to more effectively nurture prospects through the sales funnel.

The session featured several case studies, but Pergolino’s own story of Marketo’s recent campaign to re-engage stale contacts really resonated with the crowd. Here are the details on how fortune cookies drove $ 200K in revenue for Marketo.

Marketo’s Fortune Cookie Campaign

Challenge: Reinvigorate high value but inactive email subscribers.

Strategy: Re-engage these stalled contacts through a multi-touch, customized campaign.

Tactics: Pergolino’s team deployed a marketing mix aimed at a targeted audience segment that included: email, direct mail, web content and phone calls.

Marketo’s marketing team started the campaign by leveraging the sales teams insights and asking them to nominnate contacts to target for the campaign. After the lists of contacts were cleaned to remove old or inaccurate data, the campaign was ready to launch.

  1. Fortune cookie baskets were sent to targeted contacts
  2. Each basket included a definitive guide resource, as well as a personal letter
  3. Once the package was received, the e-signature for the package created a notification within Marketo, triggering an email to the contact
  4. A follow up call was then automatically scheduled with the appropriate sales rep through Marketo’s integration with Salesforce.
  5. Optimized web and social content was crafted and published to reinforce the key messages

Results:  Pergolino shared that the cost to Marketo for developing and executing the campaign was approximately $ 13,000. The return was slightly higher, with $ 200,000 to-date in revenue…with more opportunities in-progress.

Food aside, this story reminds us of the importance of connecting with our audience it different ways. Direct mail, email and phone enabled Marketo to effectively push their strategic message and inspire action, while their optimized web content allowed them to pull in the target audience to destinations that moved them along the funnel.

Have you had success with a cross channel campaign?  What’s your fortune cookie story?

 

 


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2012. | Marketo Summit Session: Engaging with Cross Channel Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Marketo Summit Session: Engaging with Cross Channel Marketing

[Note from Brian: Please note that Marketo is a client of TopRank Online Marketing]

When was the last time you heard of a really successful email campaign? Or TV ad campaign? Or a campaign on any channel for that matter? It’s likely been awhile.

The reason that isolated, channel-specific campaigns are rarely discussed these days is simple: they rarely work. That by no means is saying that email, or TV, or social, can’t be incredibly effective platforms to market your messages. Cross channel (see multiple channel) marketing is effective because each of these platforms can have an impact, when integrated into a holistic campaign.

It’s with this in mind that Maria Pergolino, Marketo’s Senior Director of Marketing, led the Marketo Summit panel discussion ‘Engaging with Cross Channel Marketing’.

Joined by Marketo users Tricia Reilly of VMWare and Loretta Jones of Echosign, Pergolino started the session by asking each panel member to share their journey to adopting Marketo’s marketing automation solution. After Reilly and Jones reviewed how their business needs and market demands led them to Marketo, the discussion then changed gears and focused on some ways VMWare and Echosign leveraged data from Marketo to identify and develop a cross-channel marketing strategy to more effectively nurture prospects through the sales funnel.

The session featured several case studies, but Pergolino’s own story of Marketo’s recent campaign to re-engage stale contacts really resonated with the crowd. Here are the details on how fortune cookies drove $ 200K in revenue for Marketo.

Marketo’s Fortune Cookie Campaign

Challenge: Reinvigorate high value but inactive email subscribers.

Strategy: Re-engage these stalled contacts through a multi-touch, customized campaign.

Tactics: Pergolino’s team deployed a marketing mix aimed at a targeted audience segment that included: email, direct mail, web content and phone calls.

Marketo’s marketing team started the campaign by leveraging the sales teams insights and asking them to nominnate contacts to target for the campaign. After the lists of contacts were cleaned to remove old or inaccurate data, the campaign was ready to launch.

  1. Fortune cookie baskets were sent to targeted contacts
  2. Each basket included a definitive guide resource, as well as a personal letter
  3. Once the package was received, the e-signature for the package created a notification within Marketo, triggering an email to the contact
  4. A follow up call was then automatically scheduled with the appropriate sales rep through Marketo’s integration with Salesforce.
  5. Optimized web and social content was crafted and published to reinforce the key messages

Results:  Pergolino shared that the cost to Marketo for developing and executing the campaign was approximately $ 13,000. The return was slightly higher, with $ 200,000 to-date in revenue…with more opportunities in-progress.

Food aside, this story reminds us of the importance of connecting with our audience it different ways. Direct mail, email and phone enabled Marketo to effectively push their strategic message and inspire action, while their optimized web content allowed them to pull in the target audience to destinations that moved them along the funnel.

Have you had success with a cross channel campaign?  What’s your fortune cookie story?

 

 


Email Newsletter Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2012. | Marketo Summit Session: Engaging with Cross Channel Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Marketo Summit Session: Engaging with Cross Channel Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Email Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

The Warrior Way: How to Improve Email Marketing Engagement, Ninja Style

NinjaStriking down opponents with your ninja online marketing skills can provide a sense of satisfaction that many marketers crave.  However, there is danger in focusing all of your efforts on the front end of the customer buying cycle.

Do you know how much it costs to acquire new customers versus retaining those that have already signed with you?  According to a recent study it costs roughly six to seven times more to gain a new customer, than to keep an existing one.  Email marketing is one of the many ways that we can communicate with customers on an ongoing basis.  If you’re tired of the same old ninja stars and nunchuks, I’ve uncovered 5 email marketing tips to add to your arsenal.

A True Ninja Understands Engagement-RFM

According to Econsultancy, Engagement-RFM is a combination of behavioral data, and RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary value).  Understanding how to craft the appropriate email touch points is key in communicating with your customers on an ongoing basis.  The chart  below details some of the different cycles within the customer lifetime that can provide guidance in creating email communication.

Engagement RFM - Econsultancy

Well-Trained Ninjas Start the Relationship Off Right

Welcoming new customers into the fold is a fantastic way to set an expectation early on that you will be communicating with them on an ongoing basis.  For example, anytime you take on a new customer it would be wise to send them a welcome email.  This email could include:

  • Key contacts within the organization
  • Showing appreciation for the fact that they selected your services over the competition
  • Links to helpful resources
  • A heads up that your team will be sending emails on an ongoing basis and ask if they would like to sign up. 

Different Targets Require Alternate Weapons

You may work with customers in a vast variety of industries, or a smaller group of defined markets.  Either way it is essential that you know what makes different customers tick.  Say you have a segment of customers within the healthcare industry.  It would make sense to flavor your email content in a way that speaks to their unique set of pain points or needs.  Alternately, retail customers should receive a different communication.

If you’re sending a monthly newsletter with interesting stories and news, it’s okay to send it to all of your customers.  However, it is very important that you also send some email communication that takes into consideration what different customers may have an interest in learning more about.  Also, it shows that you’ve taken the time and have an interest in providing assistance in a customized way.

Knowing the Perfect Time To Strike

If ninjas chose the middle of the day in an exposed area to strike, they would not be very successful.  Similarly, knowing when and how to bring up particular opportunities with your customers is key.  If you’re trying to upsell a customer with additional products or services, you should be aware of what else they may have going on that could affect purchasing decisions.

Sending a direct email communication will always be more effective, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t send an email to all of your customers sharing case studies on success you’ve had with particular programs, or new services or products that you’re rolling out that they might find of interest.

Important Contacts Shall Be Made Aware of the Mission

Most people like to feel that they knew something before the rest of the world.  Utilizing email communication to share exciting news or even ask for insight from your customers can accomplish a few things:

  • You’ve included your customers as part of the process
  • It’s clear that you care about their input
  • As a loyal customer, you’ve given them premier access to information noone else has.

Whether you’re an email marketing ninja in training, or training ninjas of your own, connecting with your current customers is key in keeping them happy.  A consistent flow of email communication as part of a larger integrated online marketing strategy will strengthen loyalty, retain business, and can even lead to your customers advocating on behalf of your brand.

What type of email communication have you found works best with your customers and what feedback have they shared with you?

Image provided via Shutterstock.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2013. | The Warrior Way: How to Improve Email Marketing Engagement, Ninja Style | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Email Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

How to Use Email Marketing to Engage & Convert Customers

Email Marketing Customer Life CycleEmail marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools for many businesses. According to a study by ExactTarget, 77% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email.

Email Marketing is also a way to reinforce relationships through special offers or bonus content and to keep your product or service top-of-mind.

Email client service providers have worked diligently over the years to minimize spam and spam complaints by establishing best practices that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can trust because they are inundated with so much unsolicited email. Depending on your inbox provider and/or your email solution provider, your newsletter may not even make it into your customer’s inbox.

According to Mailer® Mailer, email is beginning to maintain more of a steady year-round influence. However, “most industries (77.1% of them) scored below 20% for their CTR, indicating that the offers and design of their messages, as well as their segmentation and targeting, require some attention,” they concluded in their annual Email Marketing Metrics Report.

Inbox providers trying to make the environment as pleasant as possible for their subscribers are constantly looking for new ways to determine inbox placement. As proponents of the ‘attract, engage, convert’ model, TopRank’s position is firmly planted in the email engagement camp.

Pros

  • Relevant communication. Content relevant to your subscriber is crucial. If you want your open rate to score higher than 20%, then design your message to solve the pain point or informational needs of your audience.
  • Relevant timing. If you’ve taken the time to determine the lifetime value of your customers, it makes sense to communicate in a way that’s meaningful to them. Messaging consistent with where they are in the opt-in life cycle will help drive consistency in engagement.
  • Improved performance. If the two above criteria are met, then you should see improvement in your overall conversions.

Cons

  • Seasonality. Getting subscribers to engage consistently during off-peak times can be difficult.
  • Resource allocation. Depending on the size of your business, driving engagement through relevant content may strain your internal resources with email marketing newsletter’s increasing need for content development and/or production requirements.

What the Experts Are Saying

“Consistency and best practices in messaging will go a long way in helping you stay in the [Gmail] zone. Authenticate your sending ID, keep the balance of HTML and text similar, and encourage interaction. … A good subject line is going to get the consumer to pay attention to your message. A better subject line will draw the consumer to open your email. If your content can lure the consumer to a click, you have achieved a trifecta.” Sundeep Kapur, ClickZ, in how to navigate Gmail’s new inbox.

“Marketers should think about the things they can do to make sure their email subscribers continue to look for and read their emails. Gmail tabs make it even more important that email marketers send relevant, valuable content to the people who have opted into their list – content that people will look for.” Gail Goodman, CEO, Constant Contact, MarketingLand.

Email Campaign Best Practices

We’ve outlined a handful of tactics you can use to ensure that your messages are designed not only to engage newsletter readers, but also to inspire them to take action.

1)      Identify yourself – Your email campaign will fail if you do not tell the recipient who you are and why you are contacting them. Scads of copy has been written on writing a winning subject line, but if your prospect or customer doesn’t recognize you, most email newsletters will go unopened, regardless of the offer. Most email client servers allow you to add a bit of text at the top to customize “You are receiving this because …” Take advantage of that opening because people often forget what they’ve subscribed to, and you may end up with spam complaints. You also may want to consider a double opt-in if this is a concern, but there are pros and cons to doing so.

2)      Keep it short and to the point – A precise concise subject line followed by short declarative sentences should keep your readers opening your email and moving them through the copy to your desired outcome. Not surprisingly, Mailer Mailer discovered that short subject lines (4-15 characters) had the highest average open rate (15.8%) last year.

3)      Develop trustworthiness – One simple way to achieve this is to identify on your sign-up form exactly what a subscriber can expect and the frequency of your newsletter. Then, regular communication will solidify the bond (assuming you consistently provide value.) But beware of the urge to over promote. Keep your message educational, relevant and timely and follow the 80/20 rule. Depending on your frequency, you may want to consider reducing that to 10% self- promotion. Alternatively, provide an easy way to unsubscribe to maintain an active and engaged subscriber list.

4)      Create visual appeal – We’ve all become a lot more visual and consumers’ expectations have risen accordingly. There are any number of excellent email service providers who offer both beautiful templates as well as the ability to customize the HTML to create exactly the look and feel you want. When adding images, keep the size small or you may risk having them blocked. Another consideration is to include the ‘alt text,’ which stand for alternative text that appears when images are loaded in an email. People may not have images enabled, (this is the default setting in Gmail, for example), so make sure your images have this essential component.

5)      Segment your list – Most likely, your email newsletter will serve more than one purpose. You do not want to cram in educational information with event reminders and end with a postscript inviting them to take a survey. For B2B companies, you want to differentiate between prospects and customers at a minimum because they are at a different stage in the buying cycle; one needs to be nurtured and the other represents a possible up sell. For B2C, you can do the same but you can also identify your top customers and offer loyalty incentives. This may be a little trickier for B2B. The point is to tailor your messages accordingly.

6)      Provide a clear call to action – If you’ve done all of the above, it’s a simple step to “ask for the order.” Whether it’s a simple request to click through to read a blog post, watch a video demo or share on social networks, make the desired action simple and clear. The CTA isn’t always “buy now.”

Examples of Clear Concise Email Engagement

OpenView®

Email Marketing

One way to build trust is to present a polished professional image with your landing page. OpenView Partners describes their relevance to the reader in the headline and sets expectations immediately, letting subscribers know they’ll receive a weekly email filled with operational expert insights. For added trust, they include a CEO testimonial.

They do, however, break one rule of landing pages – generally, you don’t want to include navigation links that could steer a visitor away. In this case, it could be OpenView’s show of confidence, allowing new visitors to conduct further research and only opting-in when they confirm for themselves that the value proposition is worth giving up their email address. I’d be curious to see visitor click stream and bounce rates  for this page.

HSBC

HSBC email newsletter

HSBC clearly segments their list as this template is specific to the consumer market for home insurance and takes advantage of personalization. Other templates I’ve seen were specific to small business owners, so they get that right. The newsletter boasts strong visuals but may be asking too much of the subscriber by adding Related Offers and Survey Links at the bottom. They’ll want to look at their analytics to determine if they’re getting the results they want or need to do further segmentation. But, they do get it right with their social shares icons prominently displayed.

If you use email as a primary content marketing tool, what’s been your experience with Google’s new email Promotion tabs? Have you seen a decline in open rates?

Read about 29 more content marketing tactics here.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2013. | How to Use Email Marketing to Engage & Convert Customers | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Email Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®