I interviewed a variety of email marketers at Responsys Interact 2012 last week and learned about more tactics than I could ever fit into a blog post. That said, here are three insights I pulled from some of the best interviews I had last week (Full Disclosure: Responsys sponsored my attendance of this event).
Display will rise again
Now that companies can target display ads to individuals across a variety of websites, display is poised to make another comeback, says Scott Jones, General Manager of Display, Responsys.
The reason, Jones says, is that marketers can incorporate display into cross-channel and lifecycle marketing programs and use it to send a targeted message to a single person. He sees display ads improving results for email marketers in the following three ways:
Most email marketers still batch and blast their audiences, sending one email to everyone in the database, said Responsys CEO Dan Springer yesterday at Responsys Interact 2012. Springer spoke during the event’s kickoff session in San Francisco, and noted that not every marketer is guilty of batch-and-blast (Full Disclosure: Responsys sponsored my attendance of this event).
“For all of you that are already innovative, if you want to maintain your innovative status, you are going to need to keep pushing,” he said.
Where you should push is toward integration, Springer said, which he called the future of digital marketing. Yesterday’s sessions were loaded with examples of how companies are integrating email marketing with other channels. Here are two that stood out:
Nothing is perfect in this world, and that includes your marketing department. Even if you’re confident that you have the best team in the industry, there are likely a few tweaks you wish you could make to push it higher.
Take your budget, for example. Who couldn’t use a few extra resources to test website copy? Or improve landing page design?
A lack of funding or resources is the number-one challenge undermining the potential of marketing teams, according to the MarketingSherpa 2012 Executive Guide to Marketing Personnel. This chart shows the top challenges that marketers feel undermine their department’s potential, according to research of more than 1,600 companies surveyed for the guide.
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Headlines are tricky little devils. Whether you’re writing them for an article or a PPC landing page, they can carry your campaign to glory or bury it forever.
We gathered some theory on writing great headlines from our sister company, MarketingExperiments, and capped it off with five tips from our editors and a useful process for improving results.
Before we get to all that, keep this in mind:
- The goal of a headline is to seize readers’ attention and convince them to continue
There is no arguing it — people are busy. You need to write a headline that convinces them to ignore distractions and pay attention. When people see a headline, their minds want to know:
“Why should I read this instead of doing one of the other 50 tasks on my list?”
The key question is “what do I get?” A good headline answers this in one word, “value.”
4 attributes of value
Picture your ideal customer deciding where to spend his time and energy. He wants something good for his investment. A headline that emphasizes something “valuable” to him gets his attention. He’ll invest a click and continue reading.
Your headline is “selling” your next paragraph and you need to make a good offer (also known as a proposition). Researchers at MECLABS, our parent company, evaluate the power of a value proposition through four attributes. You can use these same attributes to create and evaluate headlines. Read more…
A successful email campaign is not the result of a single tactic or dumb luck. There are dozens of factors — everything from your list, to your timing. Knowing which factors matter most can greatly improve your “luck.”
Three factors are critical to successful email campaigns, says John Murphy, President, ReachMail:
Factor #1. Offer
Factor #2. Audience
Factor #3. Design
Murphy mentioned this in an interview for our latest article on email design. His comment got me thinking about how email marketers can improve in these areas.
A steady diet of fresh data helps marketing teams invest wisely and reach the right person, with the right offer, at the right time. It’s almost like food for your strategy, giving it strength.
But like food, data needs skilled hands to process it. You cannot pull a potato out of the ground and call it dinner, and you cannot track unique visitors and call it marketing.
You need a data chef, better known as an analyst. This person will help you take the unprocessed fields of grain in your database and turn them into Fettuccini Alfredo. Big companies have been doing this for years.
Living in the U.S., we often use social media to reach domestic customers. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were popular here first, and that sticks with us. But as social networking expands worldwide, the size of the audience we could be reaching has multiplied.
Focusing exclusively on the U.S. would ignore 80% of the people on Facebook and Twitter, according to “It’s a Social World,” a report from comScore. On LinkedIn, it would ignore more than 60% of the audience (Note: You’ll need to provide an email address to download the report. It’s worth it.)
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The report is full of mindboggling stats like, “social networking captures nearly 1 out of every 5 minutes spent online worldwide,” and “social networking sites now reach 82% of the world’s online population, representing 1.2 billion users.”
If your company sells anywhere outside the U.S. (or ever hopes to), and you’re marketing through social media, then the report points to a world of opportunity. Social penetration among online audiences is above 90% in 35 of the 43 countries measured.
As a culture, we are rarely separated from our mobile phones. We take them to work, grocery stores, restaurants, the gym — you name it. Whenever there’s a timeout at a kid’s soccer game, mom pulls out her phone to decide where to take the kids afterward.
In April 2011, Google found that 89% of smartphone users fiddled with the device throughout the day. Pew Research Center found that 42% of cell-owning adults used their devices to cure boredom, and that figure hit 72% in the 18-to-29 age category.
R.J. Talyor, Senior Director, Mobile Products, ExactTarget, summed up the typical consumer attitude toward mobile phones when he shared the following image last week at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2012.
“It’s a great metaphor for the consumers we are marketing to these days,” Talyor said. “They have the phones almost embedded in their arms, always with them.”
Rather than assuming what people will be doing at certain times of day and building a mobile marketing campaign around that assumption, Talyor suggests that marketers try targeting “granular moments,” or specific situations the audience encounters.
“How can I take advantage about the location of that individual, and how can I take advantage of what I know about that individual’s market?” Talyor said.
He provided these two examples.
New technology is always bewildering. We get a newfangled tool. We play with it. We relate it to other stuff. We try to understand it.
The problem is that new technology is new. You can relate it to older stuff at first, but you have to move on. Thinking about it in old ways can hold you back.
Take email marketing, for example. Companies used it as a digital form of direct mail for years. We now know email is not direct mail, but some companies continue reliving the past. Here are a few examples:
Technology and language have a strange relationship. Technology pushes the limits of what we can do. Language lags behind, trying to explain what we’ve done.
For example, take “cross-channel management.” Or is it called database integration? Or multi-channel management? Or a unified customer database?
All these phrases strive to describe a similar technology — one in which a company centralizes all its customer data and makes it actionable. The vendors appear to differentiate themselves in their language and their features.
But marketing teams are reaching the limits of their databases and they need more than snappy jargon. They need clarity.
Nearly 90% of email marketers say integrating email data with other data is at least a “somewhat significant” challenge, according to the MarketingSherpa 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, written by W. Jeffrey Rice, Senior Research Analyst, MarketingSherpa. And just last week, we published a case study about a credit union that replaced its database to push its email marketing forward.
To help clarify this topic, I spoke with Kristin Hambelton, VP of Marketing at Neolane. Neolane provides “conversational marketing technology” (which is another phrase you can add to the list).