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What Do Customers Really Think About Your Email Marketing?

July 31st, 2015 No comments

At the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015, we interviewed your successful brand-side marketing peers, along with researchers and industry thought leaders.

One interview stuck out from the rest because we interviewed someone who’s title was “customer.”

Jill DAmato, the wife of our own Brian DAmato, Senior Vice President of Partner Solutions, MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa), agreed to sit down and answer a few questions.

We had recently fielded a survey with 2,057 American consumers about their email preferences, and it was interesting to sit down with a representative customer to help bring that survey data to life …

“Email is great, because it’s very quick and easy. But it does have to be something very catchy and very relevant and timely. Because if it’s not, I’m not going to open that,” Jill said.

What advice did she have for marketers?

“If I could get [emails] less frequently but it be more relevant when I do, it would certainly help because I would be more likely to read it and not just go through and delete it because my mailbox is so stuffed,” Jill said. “Relevance and timeliness. It has to be relevant, and it has to be something I need right now.”

If you’re looking to improve the relevance and timeliness of your own email marketing, I’ve filled the “You might also like” section of this blog post below with links to tons of additional information, along with a look at the consumer survey data that Jill and I discussed.

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, @DanielBurstein.

You might also like

Marketing Research Chart: How do customers want to communicate? [From MarketingSherpa]

Email Research Chart: How often customers want to receive promotional emails [From MarketingSherpa]

Watch Full Sessions from Email Summit 2015 — Free to subscribers of MarketingSherpa newsletters

Email Marketing: Microsoft Store uses relevance to increase sends by 300% and email revenue by 600% [From MarketingSherpa]

Email Segmentation: 40% average open rate via relevant content journey [From MarketingSherpa]

E-commerce Email Relevance: 10% more revenue from 3 personalization tactics [From MarketingSherpa]

Email Marketing: Zumba Fitness uses personalized video to drive a 50% click-to-open rate [From MarketingSherpa]

Real-time Marketing: Nonprofit uses current events to increase revenue 22% [From MarketingSherpa]

Email Messaging online source (from MECLABS Institute, parent research organization of MarketingSherpa)

Email Marketing: How Ferguson Enterprises generated over $10 million in online revenue

July 14th, 2015 No comments

Well, it’s that time of year again in Jacksonville, Florida. The sun is shining. The summer skies are blue. Surf’s up at the beach. And we at MarketingSherpa are doing our best to ignore the siren call of summer to focus on … applications.

Lot of applications. Over 300 applications to speak at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 in Las Vegas, to be precise.

It was around this time last year that I came across a truly remarkable story. While culling through all of the speaker applications for MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 to find the best stories to share from the stage, I came across the story of Mary Abrahamson, Email Marketing Specialist, Ferguson Enterprises — the largest plumbing wholesaler in North America.

Mary and her team combined offline and online efforts to generate more than $10 million in online revenue through the Ferguson Rewards program, which included more than 90 in-person events. Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, sat down with Mary in the Media Center at Email Summit before her session.

“Be transparent about what you’re trying to do with the customer information they’re providing to you,” Mary advised.

She also talked about the necessity of having quality content.

“In 2015, mediocre content is no longer okay. It’s really important to make sure that … you’re the source of information for your customers,” Mary said.

After her time in the Media Center, I interviewed Mary onstage about her entire case study. She took the audience through the customer journey of two personas and the targeted offers and content that helped them move through Ferguson’s funnel.

Read more…

Ecommerce: User-generated content, video marketing and other lessons from IRCE 2014

May 29th, 2015 No comments

How can you attract more traffic to your ecommerce store? How can you improve conversion on the traffic you’re currently getting? At IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference + Exhibition) 2014, we sat down with 39 marketers and ecommerce experts to bring you actionable ideas to improve your results.

To help you prepare for IRCE 2015, today on the MarketingSherpa blog I’m taking a look back at a few of the key lessons I learned from the interviews at last year’s event.

 

Lesson #1: User-generated content is not free labor for marketers

User-generated content. Community-sourced content. It’s been called many things, but brands have found success by encouraging customers to create their own content and share it with their peers.

No site has been better at this than Wikipedia, which refers to the practice as collaborative writing by volunteers. “The free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” gets the sixth most traffic in the world, according to Alexa.

I asked Jimmy Wales, CEO and Founder, Wikipedia, what advice he would give to marketers looking to engage their audience to create content.

Jimmy likened the typical approach of crowdsourcing to, “It’s sort of like if you opened up a bowling alley and you said, ‘Gee, we’ve got all this bowling to be done. How are we going to trick people into bowling for us.’ Instead you say, ‘Well, wait. What do people want? They want leisure time activity, beer and a hot dog. They want it to be family friendly. They’d like to have a league so they can compete with other teams and so on.’ So you think, ‘What’s the infrastructure we can build here? We’ll offer a bowling league, we’ll make sure there’s hot dogs and beer.’ And people will come, because you’re thinking about what they need first.”

“Don’t think about the work you would like people to do. Think about what it is people want to do and how you can empower them to do that,” Jimmy advised.

 

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The Hidden Side of Email Marketing: The once-and-done option, A/B testing and a supersmart kind of dumb

May 19th, 2015 No comments

What assumptions do you make about your customers? Your competitors? Your industry in general? More importantly, what do those assumptions cost you?

At MarketingSherpa, we write case studies to help you execute your marketing strategy.

We also talk to writers, researchers and, well, renegades to help you challenge those assumptions and create an effective strategy to begin with.

I’m talking about people like Stephen J. Dubner. Not only has Dubner learned about economic theory and customer behavior as co-author of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and, more recently, Think Like a Freak, but he’s also a very successful digital content creator in his own right as host of the Freakonomics Radio podcast, which nets more than 5 million downloads per month.

Customer behavior. Digital content. Sounds like a guy who could offer a few words of wisdom to email marketers to help them challenge their potentially costly assumptions. I sat down with Dubner at the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 before his featured speaker session later that morning:

 

Read more…

Digital Marketing: Content marketing, social media and SEO predictions for 2015

February 20th, 2015 4 comments

Every year at Email Summit, we ask marketers for their predictions.

Before MarketingSherpa reporter Courtney Eckerle interviews you about your marketing predictions in the Email Summit Media Center, I figured it was only fair to put a stake in the ground and make some predictions you could hold me to as well.

digitalmarketing2

 

Prediction #1: Convergence is the watchword for digital marketing this year

You’ve already seen (and will continue to see) convergence among marketing and business software platforms, and this trend will continue to grow as the line blurs between publishers, brands and marketing agencies.

Curve by Getty Images. Verizon’s experiment with Sugarstring. And, of course, The Red Bulletin. More and more brands are learning the power of building this kind of one-to-one connection with their audiences, building an owned audienc, and not having to borrow interest from television or other content creators.

At the same time, publishers are creating content for brands with their own agency arms, as well (a bit of a blast from the past when newspapers used to help create ads to sell media space).

Tribune Publishing (which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other dailies) bought a stake in Contend, a content agency that creates branded campaigns. Onion Labs, The Onion’s in-house ad agency, has made some seriously cool campaigns. Condé Nast, publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ recently hired a director of branded content and launched a branded content shop which blurs the line between editorial and promotion.

Advertising and marketing agencies, more threatened than ever by brands and publishers, will try to get an ownership stake in the ideas they help create, like Anomaly did with EOS cosmetics or how 37signals went from being a website redesign shop to a software company selling Basecamp.

Data, will of course, be huge. This will be of benefit to content creators of all stripes listed above. Since they have the traffic and relationship with the audience, they have the ability to learn the audience’s preferences based on their behavior, and then engage in A/B testing with these audiences to build a strong understanding of the products, services and offers that these customers will most respond to.

But behind it all, let’s not overlook the people with the knowhow to make it happen, which can be a scarce resource — brilliant, brilliant marketers, writers, designers and data scientists.

Being able to navigate this land of data and convergence, networking and real relationships will be critical for the marketer to build cross-functional teams that understand all the elements it will take to be successful — content, technology, data and strategy. That’s one reason we pay so much attention to the audience experience and foster interactions and networking at Email Summit.

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Vendor Selection: A 5-step process for choosing a marketing automation solution or agency

February 3rd, 2015 No comments

How do you move 18 to 20 segments of customers through the learning process of a complex sale? Mitch Zlotnik, President, and Seth Pauley, Vice President, both of Audimute Acoustic Panels, used marketing automation to educate customers with content on a large buying decision.

To learn the process they used to find the right marketing automation solution and agency to help create this low-touch ecommerce operation, I interviewed Mitch and Seth.

“We’ve been rapidly growing for the last eight years. We’ve found a good partner selection helps you grow your business. A poor selection extracts resources from your business, creates problems that hinder growth,” Seth said.

 

Mitch and Seth discussed their “Five Q” Technology or Agency Selection Process:

  • Qualified (at 3:39 and 7:40 in the video interview)
  • Quantified (at 5:52)
  • Quick (at 5:05)
  • Quill (at 8:30)
  • Quality (at 8:39)

Read more…

Global Ecommerce: The $1.2 trillion opportunity outside North America

January 16th, 2015 No comments

According to eMarketer, a marketing research company, ecommerce sales are expected to hit $1.771 trillion this year — with $1.233 trillion of those sales coming from outside North America.

Keeping this figure in mind, I sat down with Don Davis, Editor-in-Chief, Internet Retailer, after his trip to Shanghai to get some tips and advice for you as you expand your ecommerce business internationally:

 

We talked about the similarities and differences to the U.S. market, challenges of fulfillment and the important of trust to the Chinese consumer.

For example, when discussing trust, Don said, “Ratings and reviews are really important in China, because there are still a lot of fakes.”

Read more…

Ecommerce: Building online trust before customers click over to your competitors’ sites

December 23rd, 2014 No comments

All marketing is built on trust. Without trust, customers won’t subscribe to your email. They won’t open. They won’t click. And they certainly won’t buy.

Keeping this in mind, I interviewed Craig Spiezle, Executive Director and President, Online Trust Alliance, about security, privacy and consumer protection. I’ve also and provided tips on how you can build trust with your customers.

 

“Privacy policies were written by attorneys, for attorneys,” Craig joked. “And you need three attorneys to figure them out. It’s a great job enhancement thing for the legal profession. It does nothing for consumers.”

Read more…

Why You Should Consider Customer Service to be 1-to-1 Marketing

November 7th, 2014 No comments

Some retailers only see customer service as an expense.

They view it as a cost that needs to be ruthlessly cut to the bare minimum by incentivizing call center reps to get the customer off the phone as quickly as possible and push customers to self-service portals instead of providing easy contact information.

Yet, a major challenge retailers face is that many are resellers and the products they sell are commodities.

 

If a customer can buy the product in many places, why should they buy from you?

Since the products are the same, retailers need to create a unique value proposition for their store.

One unique element of value can be your store’s customer service. According to data from the MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study, customer responsiveness correlates with success.

Stop thinking of customer service as a cost center and start thinking about it as an investment in one-to-one marketing.

Let me show you what I mean by using a customer journey as an example.

In this case, the customer journey is one I intimately understand since it was my own. (Please Note: I am overdramatizing it for effect and to highlight different decisions that go through the buyer’s head. In reality, some of these journeys may happen in a matter of minutes and many happen at a subconscious level for the customer.)

 

My customer journey

In my hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., it has been raining and hot and cold and dark and bright and buggy and all sorts of other excuses I could come up with for not going running. I needed a fool-proof method for exercising.

After doing some pain-point-level research, I discovered a recumbent exercise bike would be the solution I was looking for, since I could comfortably catch up on HBO Go while exercising – just the motivation I needed. Some product category research led me to the Marcy ME 709 Recumbent Exercise Bike.

Now that my product search was complete, I had to decide where to buy it. This was a commodity product with the same exact model available at many retailers. A quick foray into a shopping search engine identified 38 online stores that sold the exact same bike.

 

One-to-many marketing

There were price differences, and that helped with store selection. But another factor that helped with store selection was one-to-many marketing.

With so many selections, there were various stores I trusted thanks to their overall advertising and branding campaigns, print ads, newspaper circulars, content marketing, a physical presence in my hometown and many other tactics I would consider one-to-many marketing.

This branding, combined with my overall experience with these stores in the past – even excellent branding can’t outweigh negative customer experiences – caused me to prefer some stores over others.

However, there were still many stores to choose from.

  Read more…

Corporate Creativity: Managing your marketing team (and career) to balance innovation and execution

October 28th, 2014 No comments

You, my friend, are a knowledge worker.

All marketers are.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it was first coined by management guru Peter Drucker in the 50s.

Of Drucker’s six factors for knowledge worker productivity, the one I want to discuss in today’s MarketingSherpa blog post is:

“Continuing innovation has to be part of the work, the task and the responsibility of knowledge workers.”

This sounds like the perfect description of the challenges facing the modern marketer today.

 

Come up with out-of-the-box ideas (while sitting in a box)

Corporate CreativityNo longer can you rely on reaching potential customers by running a TV ad on the three major networks. Marketers must find innovative ways to use an endless (and growing) array of channels to reach customers.

They must combine smart uses of data and metrics to understand what their customers want and make sure they are delivering that content effectively (while proving the effectiveness to business leaders).

They must also combine this innovative thinking with persistence and process-orientation. After all, marketers must be able to execute these campaigns in complex corporate environments while managing budgets, agency and vendor relationships and corporate policy.

Essentially, marketers need corporate creativity.

 

Is corporate creativity an oxymoron?

“Creativity” is defined as “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.”

Also, the connotation of “corporate” is “Oppressively awful in that numbingly ‘cubicle in a hermetically-sealed office’ kind of way: lacking good quality, morality or ethics, excellence, creativity, spontaneity, kindness, love, integrity, beauty or intrinsic worth and meaning,” according to the ever-reliable Urban Dictionary.

In other words, these two aspects of marketing success do not necessarily go hand-in-hand  — innovation and execution.

It is your challenge as a marketing leader to make sure your team (and even your agencies and vendors) never lose that wild spark when working on your brand and campaigns.

Yet, they must be able to execute, manage projects and deliver on time and on budget.

Quite the conundrum. It’s a challenge that deeply interests me, so when I recently came across an article by Joe Robinson in Entrepreneur magazine, “The Secret to Increased Productivity: Taking Time Off,” I knew I had to talk to Jeff Stibel, CEO, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. and author of Wired for Thought from Harvard Business Press and Breakpoint from Palgrave Macmillan Trade.

Read more…