Tag Archives: Email marketing

Quasi opt-ins or true subscribers? Who’s counting?

Armed with just one little chart, MarketingSherpa managed to send a chill down the spine of a marketer or two at their Email Summit last week. Titled, “The Current Myth of Opt-in,” their new chart explains why not every opt-in is necessarily a willing subscriber.

The Sherpas admit the chart may be somewhat confusing, but basically they found that over 50% of respondents reported that all of the email they received from legitimate companies, they had asked only for 25% of it or less. Almost 20% said they never asked for any of it.

Email opt-ins

Email opt-ins

They define the conundrum with a highly-technical term: the quasi opt-in event. Quasi opt-in events generally happen when site visitors submit information where there was a pre-checked box or in situations where people who just wanted a white paper ended also got a subscription to a newsletter with their download.

While all of it is legal for the most part, it may not be living up to the true definition of opt-in. Signing up a prospect for emails they never asked for can seriously damage the relationship you were trying to build.

The most important piece of advice the Sherpas share in the article is to segment your quasi opt-ins accordingly. These people should not be treated the same as a true subscriber.

“Think of them in the same way you would think of a co-registration name — both need to be wooed. Separate them from other new subscribers and make sure that messaging explains why they’re receiving the email, what they’re going to get from it and why they should stick around.”

If you continually surprise people with emails they never knew they signed up for, you’ll start to see many of your emails landing in spam folders. Show people why the information you’re sending would be valuable to them, then ask if they would be interested. Simple as that.

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Social media and B2B, more evidence it’s a good mix

Social media has pulled ahead of email as the most popular online activity, according to the latest research from Neilsen Online.

More than two-thirds (67%) of the world’s online population visits social networks and blogs, making participation in “member communities” the fourth most popular activity online.

Social media more popular that email

Social media more popular that email

Activity on social networks and blogs ranks fourth behind search, portals and PC software, but has moved higher than personal email use.

Social networking and blogging now account for nearly 10% of all time spent on the internet and have “become a fundamental part of the global online experience,” said John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen Online. “While two-thirds of the global online population already accesses member community sites, their vigorous adoption and the migration of time show no signs of slowing. Social networking will continue to alter not just the global online landscape, but the consumer experience at large. This study explains why.”

This isn’t evidence that email marketing has become ineffective, it depends on what works for your business. What the research does show is that whether your B2B or B2C, more of your customers are active in social networks and are reading blogs.

Your customers are using social media and so should you.

7 tips to turn your boring B2B newsletter into a must-read

The purpose of sending out a newsletter is to create or strengthen the relationship between you and your customers by sharing valuable content. As a part of your overall marketing mix, the B2B newsletter is a dependable method for driving customers to your site and giving a boost to your sales numbers.

In the B2B world, coming up with interesting topics that will keep your audience interested can be difficult to do with each and every mailing. Here are seven great ideas for turning your boring B2B newsletter into a must-read:

  1. Ask for help. Do you work with a vendor who enjoys writing? Ask them to write an article  to be featured in your next newsletter. It will make your newsletter more interesting while strengthening the relationship with your vendor.
  2. Summarize articles. Use short summary paragraphs to entice your readers to click through and read the article on your website. Keeping it short helps people quickly get the information they need.
  3. Have fun. Find topics that may not be directly related to the kind of business you do, but that will entertain your audience. Turning a story about an alligator caught in a sewer into a valuable business lesson may take some creativity on your part, but your audience will enjoy reading it.
  4. Answer customer questions. Are your customer service representatives being asked the same questions over and over? Turn those questions into articles that provide customers with information before they have to ask for it.
  5. Follow the competition. Sign up for your competitor’s newsletter and follow the topics they write about. Their topics could spark ideas to include in future newsletters.
  6. Reuse and recycle. Repurpose some of the old articles that have been collecting dust in your content library. As long as the content is still relevant, recycling articles is a great way to create new content.
  7. Ask your readers. Send some of your customers a small survey asking what kind of topics they would like to hear about in the newsletter. When you know exactly what they want to hear, you can’t go wrong.

Coming up with interesting content every time you put your B2B newsletter together can be extremely difficult if you’re not prepared. With a plan and a little creativity, your next newsletter can be a hit.

Do you have any more tips for turning a boring B2B newsletter into a must-read? How do you consistently come up with interesting topics?

Email marketing impacts more than online sales

Permission-based email marketing campaigns reach further than ecommerce transactions, having a greater impact on offline sales than once thought, according to a new email marketing survey.

The survey, by Epsilon Data Management, found that 67% of those polled said they purchased products offline as a direct result of receiving a commercial email.

The findings also revealed that 57% feel more positive about companies that send them email, and 40% indicated that email correspondence increases the likelihood that they will make a future purchase.

“A majority of people receiving emails sent by companies from which they purchase products/services admitted that their overall impression of the sending company is positively improved because of the email. This telling stat provides direct evidence that companies can develop and foster a positive image with even the most casual of customers by reaching out via email often remember email post-purchase.”

Email also helps to build company-consumer relationships, according to the survey. The number of people who enjoy recieving emails from companies in which they are registered has risen significantly in the past three years.

When asked, “I like receiving email from companies I’ve registered with: even if I don’t always read it, it’s good to know it will be there when I’m ready for it.” 84% of respondents gave a positive answer.

“Email is a vital link between marketer and consumer that can provide companies with rich information about their products and services. Email extends well beyond the boundaries of opens and clicks, and must be optimized and measured as an important part of the overall media mix.”

Read Epsilon’s full email branding study.

Marketers share plans for marketing in a recession

MarketingSherpa, in collaboration with ad:tech, recently released the results of another year-end survey of more than 1,200 marketers. Their research provides an inside look at which tactics have the best ROI and how marketers are adjusting their plans this year for marketing in a recession.

The following chart illustrates which marketing tactics were put to work the most, were given the biggest budgets and provided the best ROI.

Best ROI marketing tactics

Best ROI marketing tactics

The ‘x’ axis marks the percentage of marketers that describe each tactic as a “great” return on investment. The ‘y’ axis shows which marketing tactics were implemented the most. The size of the bubble illustrates the relative budget compared to other tactics.

According to the findings:

  • Paid search is a clear front-runner in both budget and ROI with about 50% of respondents saying it had a great return.
  • More than 40% of marketers said that email marketing to their house lists had great ROI.
  • More than 70% of marketers use display ads, such as banners and buttons, but less than 15% said they generate good ROI.

The gurus at MarketingSherpa are predicting that as the economy gets tighter more marketers may move dollars into more reliable ROI generators this year. Topping the list of reliable ROI efforts are pay-per-click (PPC) search ads, emails to house lists and search engine optimization.

Tip: Fear doesn’t improve customer loyalty

As marketers, our final goal in business is to persuade the customer to perform a certain action – visit our website, try our service, buy our product, and so on, through a series of targeted communication efforts.

When our marketing efforts fail to get the attention of new customers and keep existing customers coming back for more, they leave. Especially with our current economic situation, customers are more sensitive to the messages they receive and those they choose to reject.

I came across a great blog post over at Marketing for Technology where author Paul Dunay shared some valuable advice on how NOT to create customer loyalty in tough times.

As a loyal customer to a major hotel chain, Paul was taken aback when he recently found this email in his inbox:

Dear Mr. Dunay

We miss you! We noticed there hasn’t been any activity on your Hotel Loyalty card for 9 months and in order to keep your Hotel Loyalty card you must maintain activity at least once in a 12 month period. If we don’t see any activity in the next 3 months we will cancel your card and you will forfeit your points.

Signed the SVP of Customer Loyalty

So what’s a loyal customer to do in this situation?

Paul’s actions:

Immediately spent all my points on a gift for my son, called their hotline and cancelled my card and emailed the SVP of Customer Loyalty to tell him – I won’t be coming back even when the economic climate gets better.

The hotel permanently changed my behavior AGAINST them – way to go SVP of Customer Loyalty and thanks for the clock radio for my son!

Marketing tip of the day: Don’t try to scare customers into coming back. It doesn’t work.

What’s the best email subject line length?

New research shows that the length of your email subject lines may not be the most important factor when it comes to email performance.

While sending emails with shorter subject lines does correlate with higher open and click-thru rates, subject-line word order and content may be just as important to email performance, according to new research by U.S. marketing services firm Epsilon.

Epsilon analyzed more than one billion emails over almost 20,000 separate campaigns, finding that the relationship between subject-line length and open and click-thru rates is relatively weak.

The most critical email success factors include word order, word choice and brand and audience awareness, according to their analysis.

“Marketers should keep in mind that most recipients will likely decide to open an email based on their relationship with the sender and the first 38 to 47 characters of the subject line,” the report stated. “However, that decision may depend less on a subject line of 38 to 47 characters, and more on the information those 38 to 47 characters contain. campaign, the vital piece of information may be the brand name. For another, it may be the consumer benefit.”

Here’s what you should do:

  • Put the most emphasis on positioning the most important elements first. Put the most important information at the beginning of your subject lines.
  • Keep subject lines as short as possible. Use only as many characters as you need to convey the message. Use long subject lines only when there is a compelling reason to do so.

We usually spend the most time thinking about and testing the creative aspects of emails, leaving little time to focus on subject lines. Remember, more people will be looking at our subject lines than will ever take a peek at the creative.