“Our main focus [in email marketing] is making sure we’re saying the right thing at the right time to the right person,” said Jessica Vogel, Global Marketing Consultant, Dell.
Having an efficient and effective direct marketing vehicle such as email is critical for the success of Dell’s sizeable direct business. Jessica is part of a team that continuously focuses on email user experience and channel optimization through efforts like responsive design, dynamic content and engaging content integration.
As the email vehicle has evolved into a complex and highly automated direct marketing medium, the team audited its email program (including customers’ mobile and desktop preview-pane experience) and discovered a key challenge to email engagement — its legacy email template.
As marketers become fully entrenched in the hectic holiday season, it’s easy to just keep to the schedule while letting customer engagement opportunities pass by.
Derek Kazee, Director of Retention Marketing, Ebates, and I spoke about this issue in the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 about how his team overcame the biggest holiday season obstacle — cutting through the noise.
By reacting quickly after some holiday inspiration, Derek and his team quickly mobilized to engage with members about current and upcoming promotions in a fun and informative way.
“I got an idea to do something different, which was actually to remind and to preview all of the promos we were going to launch because I was having trouble keeping track of it myself,” he said.
Derek came into the office with that idea and challenged his team to come up with something that would be informative, non-promotional and engaging at the same time. As a result, one of the copy writers rewrote “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and it was designed in just one day.
It’s the morning of game seven of the World Series, and two of the longest droughts in Major League baseball history are hanging in the balance. Social media across the city of Jacksonville, Florida is lit up, talking about nothing but baseball.
… and shellfish.
On the morning of the historic game that ended the Chicago Cubs 108-year drought, Jacksonville, Florida’s minor league baseball team swept in and stole the news cycle with a re-branding from the Jacksonville Suns, to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.
There he is, in all of his muscular glory. Bustin’ out the pot, and ready to play some baseball while viciously guarding the state of Florida. The shrimp that boiled the waters (wink) in the “Bold New City of the South.”
For better or for worse, people flipped out. Whether it was praise or backlash, everyone was talking about a team that won’t have its first game for six months.
What do you do when optimizing customer engagement means transforming the way an entire organization thinks and functions?
Making a transformational shift in any company is a huge undertaking of thousands of details. In the midst of all of those details, you absolutely cannot forget to ensure that everyone, company-wide, is on the same page and focused on a unified value proposition.
When I spoke with Eric Martin, Vice President of Marketing, North America, SAP, the company had just undergone a transformation to account-based marketing, specifically in North America.
“It was a matter of bringing together a lot of existing marketing resources, and creating some new ones, and focusing them on a sub-segment of customers, a small group, that really you could consider the most strategically important customers,” he said.
“Brands suddenly realized, 30-second spots aren’t working. There’s got to be a better way for us to tell a story,” Morgan Spurlock, Academy Award-Nominated Director, Super Size Me, said in our MarketingSherpa 2016 Media Center interview. “That’s when they started looking at creative ways to make content tell stories.”
Since making POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Made, where Morgan worked with brands to finance the entire film, he’s realized that there are a plethora of compelling brand stories to tell. It’s just a matter of recognizing them. He’s worked with companies like General Electric, Toyota and Haagen Daz doing short film series.
“The beauty of where we are right now, as a content creator is, you can tell stories everywhere now,” he said. “There’s this incredible access to short-form digital content, we can tell a story that’s two minutes, three minutes, and find an audience for it. Not only find an audience for it, but have it be seen world-wide by millions of people.”
According to the site, “Upstanders is an original collection of short stories, films and podcasts sharing the experiences of Upstanders – ordinary people doing extraordinary things to create positive change in their communities. Produced by Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Upstanders series helps inspire us to be better citizens.”
With absolutely no mention of coffee or the brand within the stories, this content is able to connect with something positive and real in the communities the company works in. These stories focus on people who serve their communities with more than just coffee.
MarketingSherpa has always been about customer-first marketing. Those are the stories we love to tell, and the marketers we love to talk to.
That’s why, in this year’s judging process, we made customer focus a pass/fail criteria. It has always been more heavily weighted than other aspects, but we still considered and discussed submissions that were lacking in, or ignored how customers were actually affected.
This year, no matter how otherwise intriguing the campaign was, it was dismissed if our seven judges unanimously agreed it was not customer-focused.
On top of that, all of the selected campaigns had to meet these criterion:
Offer transferable principles that marketing peers can apply to their efforts
Display strong results
After 50 hours of pre-screening 198 submissions, and 15 hours of deliberation, we’ve narrowed it down to the marketers and campaigns that have put in that work. These four campaigns deserve to be celebrated and studied by you, our readers.
“We knew that the content was there, but [customers] weren’t sure how to interpret that. We used very industry-specific terminology,” said Abby See, Director of Online Marketing, Sunrise Senior Living.
Visitors to the Sunrise Senior Living website are often looking for immediate senior care options or are researching senior care providers for upcoming care needs. The issue was, that research wasn’t coming as easy to them as it should have.
In the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016, Abby told me that through user experience testing, she and her team found what was a surprising insight at the time – customers were actually requesting a questionnaire.
“They said, ‘it would be great if you could offer some sort of tool that would help me determine what I need for my mom or dad,’” she said.
The result of that insight was the development of a Care Questionnaire, which leads those customers through an emotional point in their lives, where they are trying to determine what the best next move is for a family member.
The questionnaire is a non-invasive overlay, she said, so customers don’t lose whatever page they were on, and they’re able to access it from every channel.
“They have choices from there. They can reach out to a resource counselor, or just do nothing with the results and continue on with their research,” she said.
This puts the customer in control, she said, which is especially important because, “it’s such an emotional time, so we want them to feel comfortable and confident before they reach out to us.”
The advice Abby gave for other marketers who might want this kind of customer insight, was to, “create a survey [through email marketing,] you could have some detailed information and surveys on your site, and really tailor the sales experience to that information you learned from the customer before you reach out.”
Since the launch in September 2014, the impact of launching a Care Questionnaire to foster meaningful off-site engagement has been measured by more than 19,400 users completing the survey, resulting in a 12% lift in on-site leads and a 4% lift in total site conversion rate.
The best results, thought, might be anecdotal in what See and her colleagues have seen in personal interactions with customers.
“There was a woman, she took the Care Questionnaire, it told her that her mom needed assisted living. So she did her research that night, and called several other competitors, but was able to book a tour with us at seven o’clock at night. Other competitors wouldn’t take her at that time, “Abby said.
That customer was able to quickly go from online to offline, knowing what she wanted to do and comfortable in her decision. Having the Care Questionnaire allowed Sunrise Senior Living to help her in a way that competitors couldn’t.
Abby and Sunrise Senior Living were selected last year by blog readers as the MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 Reader’s Choice Award. This year’s Award is going up on Monday, September 12 – please be sure to visit and vote for one marketer who will present their campaign on stage at Summit, held April 10-13, 2017 in Las Vegas.
“We have a pretty small market at Intronis, it’s manage service providers, mainly in North America,” said Richard Delahaye, Senior Director of Marketing, Intronis in his interview at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at Summit 2016.
He explained that the sales staff wasn’t able to get many conversations going from that group with traditional methods like phone calls and emails. They needed something special to differentiate them from all the other phone calls and emails their prospects were likely getting.
Inspiration came from an old school method: a direct mail campaign.
Delahaye and his team were told to think big, but also keep the customer in mind. So after one idea – which unsurprisingly never came to fruition – to give a car away with every purchase was vetoed, he decided to look for a tech gadget that would especially appeal to their customer base.
“I landed on possibly the oldest, but maybe the greatest tech gadget of all time. Which is, you can now get an Atari game console for about 30 bucks, so that became the core piece of the campaign,” he said.
Customers would receive a box with the Atari, with a note on top that encourages them to “open up for some office fun, courtesy of Intronis … unfortunately, not all technology is this retro-cool. You need to upgrade your cloud service storage.”
Marketers can learn a lot from Pokémon GO, and it call comes down to one mantra: Gotta catch ‘em all.
Except in our case, we’re talking about our customers. While not everyone can create a social phenomenon out of their product, you can definitely capitalize on one to pique your customer’s interests and stay top of mind.
Pokémon GO, which is an augmented-reality smartphone game that has players exploring the real world to find virtual Pokémon, is currently rivaling Twitter when it comes to daily active users. This means you can’t afford to just ignore it. Especially if you plan on reaching out to millennials.
Let’s review how some businesses have capitalized on the Pokémon GO phenomenon of the past week.
It doesn’t have to be external
MECLABS Institute, the parent company of MarketingSherpa, is sponsoring its own Pokémon GO contest, with the employee who captures the most interesting picture of a Pokémon winning dinner for two.
Many companies have noticed their employees wandering around the company campus, phone in hand, chasing elusive Pokémon. And they’ve capitalized on the fun by working with something their employees were already doing.
Instead of employees trying to sneak around hiding their obsession, why not turn it into a company activity?