This week in email marketing news there’s a great email guide for the tourism industry, great news from the anti-spam front and some email template designs that have been reviewed on Twitter. Other than that there’s some great charts on mobile marketing as well. Take a look:
Not getting enough of your email marketing hunger satisfied by this personal email marketing blog? No worries, there’s an app page for that. Besides the quicklinks contained in the sidebar on the right I’ve created a separate dedicated email marketing links page with more links categorized for your convenience. The links include corporate email marketing blogs from the likes of Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor and Constant Contact, deliverability and design blogs, general email marketing blogs and resources as well.
So don’t wait up, have a look and see if there’s anything you’ll like. Also, If you believe I’m missing any essential links that really should be there, let me know in the comments.
In this second episode on the future of email marketing I focus on email being relevant, and why it will be part of email’s future. If you missed the first one about mobile, check it out here.
Even though in the email marketing industry many analists and consultants have been hammering down on not doing email marketing the batch and blast way, it is still the way many marketers ‘do’ their email marketing. To understand why that is a bad thing I refer to a recent research called The Social Breakup by Exacttarget which was described and commented on in this Mashable post called ‘Top Reasons Why Consumers Unsubscribe Via E-Mail, Facebook & Twitter‘. The number 2 reason people unsubscribe, at 49% of the total response, is that content became repetitive or boring over time.
But number 4 is important as well in this case: 25% said the content was not relevant! Wait a minute, how could that be: surely a person has subscribed and has been able to choose which subjects interest them? Reasons number 1 and 3 had to do with frequency by the way, and this should and could be easily solved with a simple frequency settings in a person’s preferences center. If you’re interested in tips on email frequency, read more on that in a post of mine over at The Email Guide.
Back to being relevant in email. The trouble but also advantage with relevancy is that it is something you as a marketer have in your own hands. Letting people sign up with just their email address and some personal stuff is not enough: what if they don’t want 8 out of 10 articles in your newsletter? Do you still want to send out that email newsletter anyway? It’s like having a 10-song cd of an artist someone likes, but on the cd itself only 2 songs are really good enough to be played more than once. A longer while ago (September 2009) the people over at eMarketer posted the results of a survey where relevancy was the number 1 reason to unsubscribe from email by subscribers. Oh dear – especially since these kinds of reasons to unsubscribe can be prevented.
Having a look at what’s relevant and not, I’ve used an episode of one of my favourite webcomics XKCD, this one is titled ‘University Website’:
Even though the above is about web content and not email, it is very relevant to this post (hah!). The circle on the left represents what you provide in email communications, and the one to the right what your audience wants. The trick would be to have maximum possible overlap, maybe even one single circle for both sender and audience. Now if you are doing a great job already, have relevant content and are always able to please your subscribers then ignore this. But if not, read on: here comes the important part.
How can you be relevant? This can be done in a few ways actually, and it starts with the signing up part. When you put together the signup form for email communications, think long and hard about the content you are going to offer and in which categories it will fall. Make these categories available to the person who subscribes, even when it’s just 3 or 5 or 6 categories. This will help tremendously in being relevant with email later on when sending it out: you can segment your total database in the preferred categories and send out emails accordingly. Later on when you are more diversifying your content and email communications, have people update their preferences in a preference center: this will help keep up with changing prefs on the subscribers side, but also with new content options on your own side. Dylan Boyd has posted an excellent article on why you need a preference article on eROI here.
Besides these two ways of the signup form and the preference center there’s a third way too: constantly analyzing behaviour of your target groups. Because setting certain prefs is one thing, but actually behaving like it is another. If you are with an ESP that takes email marketing seriously, reporting and analysis should be in-depth and serious too: this will help in adjusting your sending times/days, frequency and relevant content. Imaging sending out a short newsletter containing just four articles. In this case two of the four generate huge amounts of clicks compared to the other two: this would mean great sales and conversion on your website in the end.
How can two articles be so much more successful than two others within the same newsletter? It could be the subject (even though you’re segmenting already), it could be the tone of voice or even the right angle. It depends on so many factors that it’s impossible to predict, but luckily you can learn from behaviour. Adjust the content accordingly to get maximum effect out of an already segmented email campaign: your subscribers will love you for it, and hopefully the number 1 reason for them to unsubscribe will not be irrelevant or boring content.
Subscribers are getting email smart and will be punishing marketers that do not send relevant content: this is why I think relevancy will play a very important part in the future of email marketing.
In the next episode I will take a look at interactivity.
So the big companies must have marketing teams with members amounting to small companies, right? When you take Microsoft for instance I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a few hundred people working at the main marketing department alone, leaving out external bureaus, freelancers and any satellite Microsoft offices. This also means they would have the luxury of colleagues checking out other’s work before it gets sent out to a gazillion people. With the example in this post I guess they didn’t, as this Microsoft Intuit Front Runner email shows a ‘Hi Insert Name’:
Ouch. When you use personalization, either make sure you have all the details used in that personalization or have a fallback alternative like ‘reader’, ‘member’ or such. This was noted by several people on Twitter, among which were Scott Sorheim and Joel Strellner. It was sent out to the Microsoft Partner Network, and I’m not sure how many members it has but it’s probably more than a hundred. You might say that it’s easy to pick on Microsoft, but that’s not the point here: the point is that even the big guys get the basics wrong. Because that’s what personalization is: a basic factor of email marketing which should be correctly applied, tested and run in the email marketing campaigns. It’s not difficult, it’s not rocket science, so screwing it up is all the more painful.
Hopefully the person who is responsible in the end will not be fired but allowed to learn from this mistake, and make a checklist of things (or many things) before pushing the send button. After all we are all human beings, nobody is perfect and even with a pool of several hundred marketers a simple email personalization can and will go wrong (hi Murphy), as the above example shows. Email marketing cannot get to the next level if you don’t get basic factors like segmentation and personalization right: stumbling there will hold you back towards email marketing excellence.
Today the Fusion Marketing Experience event is taking place in Brussels, Belgium. I’m writing / liveblogging a report on today’s keynotes and workshops, including any noteworthy tweets arriving through the #fusionmex hashtag. The event is hosted by Jo Caudron (@jcaudron) who is a Belgian interactive marketing pioneer. The first keynote will see Olivier Blanchard talking about social media marketing and how to produce results, which will start at 9:15. Other keynote speakers include Dela Quist, Richard Sedley, Trey Pennington and Joost de Valk. The full program can be found here.
An impression of the AA docks venue (scroll to bottom of post for video impression):
Olivier Blanchard will be starting his keynote a bit later due to a traffic accident on Brussels ring with ensuing congestion. The venue is great, breakfast buffet as well. Jo Caudron is starting the introduction now.
Olivier Blanchard starts his keynote. Mentions marketing people present social media as a shiny new thing, but that there is a lot being said but companies are not sure how it will help them. Olivier says social media is not just about marketing, but also education, customer support, sales, market research and more. Four disciplines of social media: strategy, operations, management and analysis. It’s necessary to put people on those disciplines to make it work for a company.
Social media is not one job: it should be divided between several departments and people. These four disciplines are also the four phases of social media: building it up and integrating it in a company organization through these phases.
One social media role cannot properly serve all of an organization’s needs. Don’t overdo it: learn from it what you couldn’t learn 6 months ago. Use social media to be more useful than the other guys.
Lesson 4: He who creates the most refreshing value wins.
Olivier shows example of local bank Wachovia. Its Facebook page is riddled with strong critique. No response of the bank at all, even though it’s their own page. It’s better to create your own social media places to be able control and respond than let people run with it.
You can’t buy social media presence. It is a mic and a mirror: it has two sides. You are one bad experience away of losing a customer.
Olivier shows the Nestle example of a big wave of negative comments on their Facebook page last year. No response from Nestle, they didn’t have a strategy in place to handle a worstcase scenario.
Define objectives first, then come up with tactics. What do your clients want? Goals are not targets: set targets and be specific. This will make success measurable.
Flexibility and adaptability trump expertise. Adjusting to new situations and handling them well will pay off in the end. Get people with ideas, who are clever and know how to put it to use.
What ends up working will be unique to your needs. A strategy for social media is not shareable between organizations. If you aren’t using social media to become a better company you aren’t using it right. How do you become as loved as Apple?
Q from audience: social media for b2b vs b2c: what’s the difference? Olivier: it’s difficult to manage scale with b2c. B2b is smaller community, more managable. What you lack in scale you can make up with depth, engaging one on one. B2b also has way better data than b2c: you know more and different stuff about youe clients. You can track how interactions impact sales. Starbucks can’t measure impact properly.
Classic marketing is push, one way. New marketing is lateral engagement, with community managers who create mechanisms, provide brand advocates with cool stuff.
10.34 Dela Quist is up with his keynote ‘unlock the brand potential of your email campaigns’. Asks audience what concerns are with email. List management and conversion are answers. Is there too much email going out? Audience varies in answers.
Difference b2b and b2c: consumers aren’t payed to listen to you. Disclaimer: permission is everything. Growing a big list in EU is difficult. In USA numbers are way bigger. Attracting eyeballs is hard. Dela notes working on Excite.com website. Big challenge to get visitors. Email means sending your website to customers when, how and as often you want. Bottom line: to get visits you need to pay someone.
All big internet deals have been about traffic. Seo success or email failure? Never pay twice for a click: if one is an optin contact it’s already in. Dela asks any better way to get traffic than email. Answers: seo, social media. Dela notes both are not free or easy. Email is single direct communication to customer the way you want. Best use of multichannel: good customer service, good product.
Email should be primary means by which someone you already know visits your site, transacts with you or interacts with your brand online.
What are you trying to achieve? Targets like opens, clicks, sales. Dela says open rate, click rate are not actionable.
Launching a new product on unknown behaviour is impossible: you cannot target the right audience and be relevant. Current thinking dominated by DM techniques: RFM. Relevance, timing, triggered messaging and behavioural target. Trying to be relevant won’t work: give value and you’ll be relevant.
By segmenting you’re sending less email: which means less touch points. Sending more email will deliver more visits to yoir website. Stop obsessing with percentages and look at raw numbers.
If you send more email, opens are less but sales are up. This is because you are more top of mind than a company which sends less. Impressions in mind are important during inbox triage.
Branding is about recognition. Branding makes people do things, have your product on their minds. Sending more email works: you will sell more. Segmentation will help to let customers tolerate (more of) your emails.
Branding is about influencing behaviour. Dela shows stats on reach and frequency. Cumulative open rate shows total reach. Dela asks about non opening contacts in one year. On average 55% of contacts never open b2b emails. By sending more emails you can gain more unique open rate.
What do you do about non-opens? Contact them in a different way: spikes in open rates are caused by sending less email. Sales are impacted by email volume, even by people not opening the received email. Subject lines matter. Great bargains in store as subject doesn’t need an open to drive sales.
Q from audience: how to reach youth? Dela: they’ll get jobs, do online banking, they will have email addresses. Same goes for credit cards, buying stuff online. Other q: does sending more email not mix push and pull marketing too much, and push subscribers? Dela: it doesn’t matter, good subs will stay with you. Groupon sends a lot, gets many unsubs first 30 days, after that core set of subscribers. Complaints? Fine, let them unsub. Reputation is oversold.
Break is over: Richard Sedley will be doing the next keynote, titled ‘exploring multi channel customer experience and engagement’. Mobile will be key in multi channel experience of customer. Survey shows multichannel customer experience is not ver well integrated (66%). Over 60% of people have more than 8 touch points to manage. Richard focuses on three.
One is shorter attention spans. Two is people want their stiff here and now. Challenge three is how to monetize on this.
Understanding a channel with these criteria: Experience, cost and access. People have different behaviour across channels. Two smaller criteria are pre-emptive strikes and insights.
Designing your channels helps: making it effective and run customer journeys to test. Analyzing stages will help make each channel more efficient, understand behaviour. Different designs and comparison will help to analize multi channel approaches.
Planning your channels will help in defining each channel’s approach, behaviour, interactions with other channels. Metrics that are captured give more data on behaviour.
Why social and mobile are important? 31% of internet users access web through mobile. Three reasons future of engagement is social: your customers are already there. Secondly a shift going from trust to social reliance. Lastly social activates multichannel. Mobile is not the dumb internet. It’s intimate and personal. You always have it with you, it’s always on. Mobile has a built in payment channel, available at pointg of creative impulse. It has the most correct audience data.
Mobile is loved, always on your side and your magic wand.8.6 billion UK pounds generated by social channel worldwide. Richard shows examples of location based services. Foursquare and QR code examples included with scanning a book and your phone telling about the book.
Sweet, Old Spice videos are shown as multichannel examples. It’s dedicated video making for YouTube. Mad men fake chars shown up on Twitter. Company behind Mad Men picked it up and moved in, growing the new channel.
Story telling helps in engagement. It is cause and effect which will let you connect with audience. Movie Up! is exampled, with the emotions that belong with it: care, affection, friendship. Other example: Sun silk with woman facing camera, other pictire not facing camera. First one is better to connect.
Game concepts help to connect and interact. Bing offering points for searches done. Badges, comparison, competition will ensue. Fun is not motivating. A challenge is. Challenge people to get them engaged.
Lunch is over. Just got the Social Media ROI book signed by Olivier Blanchard. Time for the next keynote by Alfred den Besten: CRM 4.0: all about crowd surfing. Alfred mentions crowd surfing as example to show marketing is often not in between the customers.
A product is not just the product itself. It’s the total experience and ambiance around it. Forget 4 of 5 Ps of marketing, it’s about people. Start thinking out of the box. It’s all now, direct. Customers get more impulses than ever, and it’s not generation bound.
People are impatient: their data changes and prefs have to be known now. Instant information needs. In a database you’ll lose info on a contact because he switched jobs. How do you capture that? Crms are almost never interconnected with LinkedIn to keep up with job changes.
Customers are numbers to companies. Don’t ask for numbers, ask for names. The customer wants help as good and as fast as possible, they s#on’t want to provide their cust. number. Act on peoples needs and behaviour, not on lists and product.
Stop sending out data: send out information, which is defined by the receiver. They decide what to do with it.
Companies have built crm bunkers. They have become defensive, not pro-active. Keeping customers is cheaper amd easier than getting them in. Invest in customer loyalty! It will pay off massively.
Example of kids with lemonade co having a software solution. Microsoft CRM is named. Customer relations examples are shown in the end of video. How to wow your customer? To know stuff about them when they get in touch. It’ll give them a good feeling and make them feel appreciated. Next phase of crm is cloud based and open source. On social media: are your customers brand ambassadors? Are their followers listening? Do they promote your product? It’s important to know and act upon it.
Don’t copy data into your crm: have it live linked so it will always be up to date without you having to change data. Let people update their own data themselves, it’s more accurate and saves you work. If John Cleese calls in, alarm bells should go off: he has the online reach to make or brake your brand. Make sure you know which clients deserve a 5 star rating, to reach a million people if they tweet their great experience with your company.
It’s not possible to force your product on customers anymore. Old rules don’t apply. Catalogues are out. Marketing is in urgent need of (G)MPS. Crm 3.0: what are people up to? Cuatomer was king, but customers are acting like they’re king. Happy customers are loyal.
The Millenials are coming: they are all multitasking. They have social energy and are in anarchy. They are self-learning, and want freedom of everything. They don’t need offices, everywhere they are is their office. A combination of data on these people, both behavioural and personal data in your crm is important. Customer relation management is not crm 4.0: it’s a continuous moving matrix, with visual interaction. Visual contact works: customers will spend more, be more ‘manageable’ and connect easier.
New crm = all customers are database managers. A neural network, with instead of mouth to mouth you will have any to any promotions.
Next up is Gianfranco Cuzziol with ‘ecrm: the art and acience of being social’. He shows mr Berlusconi on screen. What’s important: do what’s best for the customer. What’s eCRM: always and globally connected, many touch points for a consumer. Number of mobile devices owned by European up from 2 to 4 in past ten years.
Consumers use those connections to be powerful and influence. A UK chocolate co re-introduced a chocolate bar after a Facebook campaign. Every action starts with a click, and the customer journey will hopefully end with the sale. Crm is two-way value exchange, designed to strengthen connections.
Bad crm is pushy, intrusive, salesy. Good crm is relevant, value and timing. Role of ecrm: Ideas, Connections and Enlightenment. ICE. 90% of commerce still happens offline. It’s important to be consumer-centric, the c in ecrm. R is for relationships. Provide unique value and people will bite.
M is for management but also monitoring. What impact do likes and follows have on sales? Ecrm stands for Everywherecrm. Example from John St. How to make a great birthday party? Know prefs, know your audience. Use the right channels. Keep ‘invitees’ interested and make them stay by wowing them.
Ethos, logos and pathos: credibility, consistency and imagination/emotions. Data is key element of ecrm: behavioural, transactional and profile information. They form context and relevance together. Be wary of creating caricatures. Be careful with personas: they could be based on wrong selections of data. Do a lot and learn a lot with data, it’s not rocket science. Is the question on or offline? That’s not important these days, the customer chooses what they want.
Frequency prefs work: let people decide when they want a pause. It will curb unsubscribes. You can learn from the wisdom of crowds. But sometimes the needs of the one outweigh the needs of many.
Next is Trey Pennington with “content marketing, seo and the art of blogging”. Trey starts with talking about his dream as a 20-something. Big Bmw, exec position. Life did otherwise, he has 6 kids and a big Ford van. Very useful to transport those 6 kids around. When kids are quiet, something is wrong. Trey looked over and saw that his kids were posting pics to Facebook. He realized there was a shift for kids to put their combined experience online.
There’s a threefold human hunger: to be heard, to be understood, to count. Using social media can provide your service with extra value, and provide insight into people’s wants and needs.
Trey now talking about DRM vs free speech / free software foundation. A video gone viral helped sell a lot of copies of a song by Chris Brown on iTunes. Letting go vs holding on can be difficult but can help in sales. Coca-cola let a Facebook fan page go and paid the 2 guys who had set it up. It now has 32 million fans. It’s not about getting the message out but getting it in. Corporations have believed as if they’re at the center of the universe. Priority should be others, not oneself.
Storytelling is not about technique but about mindset. Marketing should change perspective from self to others. Economics is about satisfying wants with scarce resources. Prices need to be reasonable. Man is an econoic entity, they behave because of economic reasons. Marketing according to Trey = marketing is ongoing process of getting prospects to connect with your product. Connecting resources to those prospects is necessary.
Listening to customers already helps in understanding them and make your product and services better. Getting a two-way connection works for everyone: pay attention to your audience. Negative beat can be turned around by paying attention. Acknowledge and affirm people and what’s important to them.
The social media monitoring panel is now, including Olivier Blanchard, Giedrius Ivanauskas, Anja Cappelle and Chris Tompkins. Jean-Paul de Clerck wants to focus on the positive sides of social media monitoring: not disaster handling but a global look at how successes can be found and built upon as well. Starting the panel:
Olivier: listening seems passive so doesn’t get a lot of attention from management: results are not directly visible either. Creating content is more appreciated because of nearly directly visible results and response. Listening with purpose is actually harder than just posting a tweet: it demands prolonged attention from a company to see and hear what’s going on at several social media channels. If somebody is complaining on social media about your product or service, (near) direct response is necessary. 24 hours is too long and the moment is gone. In PR it’s a fear driven action, setting up alarms and only focussing on negative stuff.
Olivier: Good monitoring on social media is very important, otherwise you’re just broadcasting like with many other channels. Providing feedback to the customer and actually doing something with theirs will help loads: listening and talking should be balanced throughout the social media monitoring activities.
Anja: it’s dangerous to engage if you don’t know who your customers are. Knowledge about the online target group per social media channel is important. Furthermore it’s difficult to map ‘outside’ data to a contact’s information, like a Twitter handle.
Anja: how many tweets today on #fusionmex? It’s 1200 already. She also knows who’s the top tweeter.
Olivier notes that at the event Alterian is used to measure online reach of the event on Twitter: amount of tweets, amount of users tweeting, biggest growth compared to other days. Olivier also says real social media monitoring is happening because people and companies want it to happen. There’s a bit of backlash on all the social media data: people fearing too much of their info online like with Facebook, because there’s load of targeting value for companies wanting to advertise on Facebook.
Olivier: for consumers there’s value in eliminating spam: because of targeting on all that data known about someone they will only receive stuff that’s relevant for them. Geolocation will help with this too, to have good timing and relevance with offers. Example: your fridge could tell you what you need to buy on your phone as a digital shopping list, but also share this with advertisers to promote their milk.
Q from audience, Jim Ducharme: people realize that they will get profiled and gps tracked in apps, they won’t be comfortable with that. Google gathers a load of data on people’s digital footprint.
Olivier: there’s two sides. Optin is needed depending on channel. 25% of people fears Google and their knowledge/data. The rest doesn’t care and just use their services.
Jim: people are responsible for their own data online. But they also need to be told what type of data a company gathers on them.
Q from audience: journalists profiles towards brands exist. Do companies have to tell customers that they are linking social media accounts to their crm data? Is that allowed by EU privacy law?
Anja: it will become more difficult for advertisers in the near future, including setting cookies for tracking browser behaviour.
Jean-Paul: what about location based services?
Anja: example is, she didn’t select the venue for viewing a movie, but it wasn’t showing. Next day she used a movie app and this helped prevent her being disappointed that it didn’t show.
Olivier answers a question on integrating social data into crm: he notes that there should be information in a website’s terms of service which tells what is done with visitor/member data, and what is gathered and how.
Olivier asks how social media monitoring is done: one answers Twitter mentions. Other audience member says this is dangerous: if you have a big brand name the number of mentions can be in the thousands.
Re-evaluating social media monitoring tools on a regular basis is important. Some features can mean the world to you, you might need them a lot.
17:06 Dave Chaffey doing the last talk of the day. Title is ’11 joined-up digital marketing strategies for 2011′. Paul the octopus is shown. Not that type of looking forward in this case. Will use Twitter to see which issue of online marketing needs addresses first. This includes privacy wars, mobile, Googlization and more.
Smaller orgs are missing out on delivering content in unique way. All sorts of excuses are posed for not blogging by senior management. They should understand this to get a good content strategy up and running.
Companies that want a social media strategy actually need a content strategy. Online value proposition: who what where and how, through the online channel. Is your content exceptional? By investing in content and design you can sell plastic containers quite well. UserVoice is posed as example to crowdsource. What do you want from us to make things better for you? Gaining site and biz innovation ideas through your clients is of massive value.
Invest in different channels for different touch points of clients. Dell listens and acts upon shared issues pro-actively. A company needs to be adaptive and agile, invest in testing, sensing and learning from campaigns.
Which part of a website should be a priority for improvement? Ask yourself and your audience that. Dave notes that scent profiles should be used: analyzing what works with which type of people. Measure how effictive those scent profiles are.
Dave puts in an A/B test: tv comparison with guy/girl variation.Icons in message change helped jump conversion 5%. 4q is mentioned: four questions posed to site visitors. Satisfaction and tasks completion are key performance indicators.
Dave notes: volume sending like Dela said not necessarily wins. Testing is critical, you will reach a critical frequency. Dynamic content insertion helps in being relevant. Most important email you’ll ever send: the first ever sent to subscriber will make or break your reputation.
Traffic to brand websites is down. Facebook is getting a lot of traffic and time: companies need to be there to grab attention, to expand reach. Prioritize social media channels: divert resources to those that are worthwhile, that will deliver.
Make an app! It’s a new channel for your company if it fits your online strategy. It will help with brand awareness and user interactivity on mobile platforms.
Dave closes this session. Jean-Paul being thanked by Trey Pennington and audience for organizing the event.
edit 22.43: pics added.
I’d like to thank the speakers, the organization and the catering for making it a great day. Specific thanks go out to the people I spoke to: Olivier Blanchard (tnx for signing the book!), Richard Sedley, Gianfranco Cuzziol, Kath Pay, Tamara Gielen, Trey Pennington Joost de Valk, Dave Chaffey, Mick Griffin, Jim Ducharme and Maciej Ossowski. Special thanks to Jean-Paul de Clerck and Rien van den Bosch for inviting me over!