Archive

Author Archive

Take the Hint from Unresponsive Subscribers

August 20th, 2010 8 comments

For several years now we’ve seen marketers report that a bigger email list isn’t necessarily a better email list. There’s often more value in a smaller list of engaged, responsive subscribers than in a huge list with a significant portion of addresses that never open, click, or convert from your messages.

But a new study from Return Path shows that many email marketers are still hammering unresponsive subscribers with undifferentiated, sales-focused emails — rather than providing more relevant messages intended to re-engage those subscribers, or removing them from their lists.

To observe marketers’ email practices, the researchers at Return Path purchased one item from 40 online retailers and opted-in to their email marketing programs. They kept that email account active for 19 months after the purchase, but did not open or click a single message they received and never purchased another item.

In short, they were totally unresponsive subscribers. But during those 19 months, the researchers observed:
• Retailers sent on average between nine and 11 emails per month during the course of the study
• Only 27% of retailers stopped sending messages during the study period
• Only 12.5% of retailers sent a “win-back” message that attempted to reengage the subscriber

We agree with Return Path’s conclusion: Marketers that don’t pay attention to unresponsive subscribers are missing opportunities and potentially harming their sender reputations.

Instead, identify those non-responders and approach them differently than you do your engaged customers. Here are three steps to take to begin the process:

1. Segment database by recent activity

Monitor subscriber actions to identify those who are engaged, and those who are not. Then, create a special segment for subscribers who have not responded to an email (clicked or purchased) in a specific period of time — say, the past six months, nine months, one year, etc.

2. Send unresponsive segment special offers or win-back campaigns

Once you’ve found your “unresponsive” segment, work to re-engage them with more relevant messages, such as:
o Special offers for win-back campaigns
o Requests for them to specify their email frequency and other preferences
o Requests for them to confirm whether they still want to receive email from you

3. Clean your list

Unresponsive subscribers that don’t reengage after win-back campaigns or re-permissioning emails should be purged from your list. Otherwise, your deliverability can suffer.

As Return Path and other deliverability experts have noted, some ISPs are increasingly using subscriber response rate as a factor in a sender’s reputation. If they see low or no-response from a big portion of your database over time, they may reduce your sender score to the point that your messages are sent to spam folders — or blocked entirely.

Blogs are Becoming the New Front Door for Prospects: Is Yours Open?

July 29th, 2010 20 comments

If you’re still on the fence about the importance of a company blog, consider this trend: Many B2B marketers report that their team’s blog — not the company homepage — is now the most popular entry point for online visitors.

While judging our Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame entries earlier this month, I reviewed several strong entries from B2B marketers that cited impressive statistics for their company blogs. Thanks to a solid blogging strategy and the inherent SEO benefits of blog content, these marketers reported that their blogs were now outpacing their company homepages for key metrics such as:
o Total visits
o Time spent on site
o Number of pages viewed

For example, the team from the ESP Delivra (who just missed the cut for our Viral and Social Hall of Fame honors but nonetheless had a strong entry) reported that their company blog and social networking activity have become the primary ways they get thought-leadership content in front of prospects.

Carissa Newton, Director, Marketing, Delivra, shared these stats:

- They now see 4x more blog traffic than website traffic.

- Visitors are now staying 3x-4x longer to read blog content and website links included in that blog.

“In previous years, visitors went straight to our website,” says Newton. “With social media and blogging, it’s kind of changing that dynamic.”

Two factors are at work here: Blog content that is frequently updated and loaded with your team’s most important keywords lead to greater visibility on search engines. Plus, social sharing tools now enable your readers to share that content with their extended networks, further extending your reach and visibility.

In fact, Delivra has jumped more than 20 pages in Google search results for key phrases such as “email marketing” since starting its concerted blogging and social media effort. And since last October, the team has seen a 70% increase in inbound leads.

So if you’re not yet using a company blog for your own marketing efforts, now is the time to develop a strategy. To make the most of that tool, Newton offers these three tips:

Tip #1. Recruit multiple bloggers

Effective blogs are updated frequently. But many small marketing teams struggle to find the time to continually feed the beast. Newton’s team uses nine or 10 regular contributors from within the company, as well as three to four frequent guest bloggers, including customers.

Having multiple contributors ensures your blog will be a compilation of multiple viewpoints and relevant expertise that attracts a variety of readers. Plus, each blogger’s writing style will incorporate keywords in different ways to attract search engines.

Tip #2. Enforce regular posting

Maintaining a consistent schedule is essential to a successful blogging strategy. Newton’s team posts at least once a day during the work week.

How did they enforce that rule? They got the company CEO, Neil Berman, on board, and he made it a requirement that the blog be updated five days a week. He also leads by example: Berman contributes to the blog each Monday.

Tip #3. Share metrics and reward success

Newton also recommends using carrots alongside the stick of mandatory blog posts to keep bloggers motivated.

In the early days of their blogging effort, she ran internal contests to single out the blogger whose post was shared the most. She also used gift cards as rewards for the most successful posts.

Now, she simply shares the metrics from the team’s blogging and social efforts to show the rest of the company how important their contributions are.

“By sharing results, such as traffic increases, people’s eyes get opened differently.”

Categories: Business To Business Tags:

Final Week for Entries: Sherpa’s Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame

June 15th, 2010 No comments

Just wanted to post a quick reminder that the deadline is fast approaching for entries to MarketingSherpa’s 2010 Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame.

You have until Friday, June 18, at 5:00 p.m. EST to enter your best-performing social media or viral marketing campaign for this year’s honors.

Enter your campaign details here

Here are a few pointers to help you with your entry:

- There is no entry fee for this program. You can submit as many campaigns as you like, as long as they used social media or audience participation to achieve strong results.

- Campaigns from 2009 or 2010 are accepted, as long as they were not entered for the 2009 Viral Hall of Fame last summer.

- Results are paramount. We’re looking for campaigns that achieved a significant business result, such as leads or revenue generated. Having millions of views isn’t too impressive in and of itself, unless you can prove that you reached the right people and encouraged them to take some action that achieved the business goal behind the campaign.

- Innovation gets attention. We’re looking for campaign tactics and creative approaches that the marketing community hasn’t seen before.

So gather up your results and creative samples and wow us with your tales of using of social media or viral marketing to record big marketing wins. The honorees will be featured in a special report later this summer that lays out all the details of the campaign approach, measurement tactics employed, results achieved and lessons learned.

Here’s the link again:

Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame Entry Form
(Deadline: June 18, 2010)

Thanks, and good luck!

Getting Serious about Lead Nurturing and Lead Management

June 8th, 2010 1 comment

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve noticed a recurring theme in my conversations with B2B marketers: This is the year to get serious about lead management and lead nurturing.

It’s not that lead management is a new concept – in fact, many marketers I talk to already have some kind of nurturing and scoring process in place. But many of those same marketers admit they haven’t fully realized all the benefits of their system and need to optimize it.

And now, a range factors are coming together to push those teams to get more out of their lead management systems – while pushing teams that haven’t adopted lead nurturing or scoring to create a system of their own.

Here are a few of the factors I’ve seen:

- Lead nurturing can address some of the biggest challenges B2B marketers reported facing in our 2009-2010 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report:
• Generating high-quality leads
• Marketing to lengthening sales cycle
• Marketing to a growing number of people in the buying process

- Staff and budget cuts brought on by the recession are forcing teams to streamline and automate more of their marketing processes. Things like automated drip-email nurturing campaigns look more like a “must-have” when your staff and budget for campaign execution shrinks.

- On a more positive note, optimism about an economic recovery has some teams thinking about future growth. They realize that the manual systems they use now won’t scale when their volume of leads and sales activity picks up again.

Any of those factors would be a good reason for you to revisit how you manage your own lead flow and qualification process. I have to note that, unfortunately, there’s no quick and easy route to lead nurturing nirvana.

The process requires a lot of work – collaboration between sales and marketing, planning and development of automated campaigns, monitoring and analysis of data, and routine testing and modification of your process, among other tasks.

On Thursday, June 10, I’ll be conducting a free webinar with Jennifer Horton, Best Practice Consultant, Eloqua, that provides research data and case study results to address some of the key challenges in optimizing lead management. (Here’s the registration form with more information.)

But if you’re ready to put in the effort, you can transform the way your marketing team operates, improve your relationship with sales, and make an even bigger contribution to your company’s revenue.

Categories: Lead Generation Tags:

New Resource: The MarketingExperiments Quarterly Research Journal

April 30th, 2010 No comments

I wanted to let you know about a new resource available from our sister company, MarketingExperiments. They’ve just released The MarketingExperiments Quarterly Research Journal.

This new publication collects the some of the best writing and research published during the last quarter by the three companies in the MECLABS Group: MarketingExperiments, MarketingSherpa, and InTouch. It’s free and available online for anyone to read.

This issue includes 22 articles to help you optimize your marketing, including:

• Analysis of the latest site, search and email optimization research by the MarketingExperiments team
• Lead nurturing and lead management advice from Brian Carroll, CEO, InTouch
• Social Media research and advice from Sergio Balegno, Research Director, MarketingSherpa

Here’s the link to get your free copy now:
http://www.marketingexperiments.com/marketing-optimization/Q12010.html

Enjoy! And if something you learn there helps you improve your own marketing campaigns, I’d love to hear about it.

Call for Speakers: MarketingSherpa’s B2B Marketing Summit 2010

April 28th, 2010 No comments

Want to share your B2B marketing expertise with hundreds of your marketing peers, or recount a particularly successful campaign?

We’re looking for speakers to take the stage at our 7th-annual B2B Marketing Summit this fall. This year’s event takes place Oct. 4-5 in San Francisco and Oct. 25-26 in Boston. During those two days, we’ll be featuring a mix of research, hands-on training, panel discussions, case studies and how-to presentations that will help you optimize your lead generation process.

To be considered for a spot on that agenda, share the details of your speaking proposal here.

We’re looking for presentations that provide practical, actionable advice for B2B marketers based on measurable results and real-world experiences. Think about your own success stories in the following areas:
o Lead generation
o Lead nurturing
o Lead scoring
o International demand generation
o Email marketing
o Paid search advertising and SEO
o Content development
o Social media marketing
o Metrics and analytics

Once again, please use this form to provide details of your proposed session.
(Deadline: Wednesday, May 12)

And stay tuned to this blog, the MarketingSherpa home page, and our B2B marketing newsletter for more details on the Summit as we develop the program.

Thanks!

Is Europe Catching Up to the U.S. in Email Marketing Skill? Was it Ever Behind?

March 3rd, 2010 No comments

Three years ago, I had lunch with a pair of European email marketers who were attending our Email Summit in Miami. They’d traveled all the way across the ocean to learn about advanced email techniques from U.S.-based marketers who were, in their opinion, way ahead of their peers in Europe.

At the time, they told me that most European companies thought email was “just a cheap, blast-everyone technique.”

Sure, it was one team’s anecdotal take, but since then it seems that Europe is catching up in terms of understanding the strategic role that email can play, and the advanced tactics that make the channel such a powerful marketing tool.

Next week, MarketingSherpa is hosting our second-annual Email Marketing Germany Summit in Munich, and I’ve been checking out a new survey on German email marketing tactics that will be shared there.

One of the most telling datapoints:
o 53% of German email marketers now personalize email content

And even marketers who haven’t yet adopted advanced tactics seem to know where they should be heading:
o 49% want to automate Lead Generation
o 44% want to report on ROI for email marketing

Those results back up what I’ve seen as a reporter and editor here at Sherpa, where European campaigns often get featured as Case Studies, or earn recognition in our annual Email Marketing Awards program. It looks to me like “batch-and-blast” is a phrase that email marketers are striking from their lexicons, no matter what their language.

But I’m curious to hear thoughts from our Europe-based readers, or U.S.-based marketers who conduct a lot of international campaigns. How has the European email marketing landscape changed in recent years, and how does the level of sophistication compare among the regions? Feel free to share your take in the comments section.

Ask for Permission, Not Forgiveness

February 18th, 2010 1 comment

I’ve been pretty busy lately, so I admit I wasn’t paying much attention when Google added Buzz to my personal Gmail account last week. Then I started seeing blog posts and articles outlining some pretty serious privacy concerns about the new social networking feature — and they got my attention.

Sure enough, when I clicked on the Buzz icon in my account I saw that Google had manufactured a list of followers for me, and a list of people to follow, all based on names in my inbox. Some of those names represented friends of mine, who I didn’t mind sharing information with — but some certainly weren’t friends.

Then it hit me: I’d just been opted-in to a social network without my permission.

I wasn’t pleased, and spent a long time trying to figure out how to un-enroll in Buzz. Turns out, lots of people are mad – suing mad, as a matter of fact.

So, Google’s big misstep is a great reminder for other marketers: Social media and email work because they represent permission-based marketing channels. Prospects and customers have to proactively reach out and say, “Yes, I want to hear from you” by subscribing to your email newsletter, becoming a Facebook friend, following you on Twitter, and so on.

So if you’re launching new social media features or thinking about ways to get social media followers onto your email lists, don’t assume every name in your database is open for enrollment. For example, a lot of B2B vendors are launching branded, private social networks. Don’t be like Google and automatically create accounts for every prospect in your database.

Just ask them first. It’s so much easier than countering a firestorm of bad PR and potential lawsuits.

Categories: Marketing Tags:

Social Media Success Means Learning to Let Go

January 7th, 2010 5 comments

For this week’s EmailSherpa case study, I had a long conversation with Eric Erwin, EVP Marketing & Product Development, Wilton and Tim Bay, Founding Partner, Shay Digital about the ways email and social media marketing can work together.

I compiled five of their best strategies in the article, available here, but there was another big point that I think is important to remember.

Social media isn’t entirely unknown territory for email marketers. After all, they’re the experts at growing an audience, creating relevant content, experimenting with message timing and frequency, and adjusting tactics based on response rates.

But there is one big adjustment that email marketers might have to make when launching a social media strategy: You have to be comfortable with the idea that you’re no longer in control of the conversation.

“The hardest thing for marketers is to turn over the brand experience to the community and let them define it,” says Erwin.

When creating a Facebook fan page or managing a Twitter feed, you have to avoid making yourself the center of the conversation. Instead, Erwin’s team has found success by listening more than talking, and inserting themselves into discussions when appropriate.

Watching customers discuss how they use Wilton products on Facebook gives his team new ideas for future marketing campaigns. If they see a particular question or challenge continually bubbling up from the community, that becomes fodder for a how-to blog post, or even ideas for a new product.

When they do start a conversation, they make sure to take a step back and let the community dictate where it goes. Yes, there can be some criticism of the brand, but Erwin says that criticism helps them improve the customer experience.

So while it’s a big step to take, it’s one that marketers must accept for a successful push into social media. As Tim Bay of Shay Digital says:

“We recognize that there is a leap of faith, but you can reduce the distance of that leap by doing your homework and then just diving in. If things don’t go well at first, you can adjust.”

Sometimes that leap of faith is so daunting that marketers just can’t bring themselves to make it – and they’re missing an opportunity. That’s why we’re dedicating the second day of our upcoming Email Summit to the convergence of email and social media.

We’ve filled that day with new research presentations, panel discussions and case studies that show how marketers are making email and social media powerful allies. You can check out the agenda here.

If I don’t see you there, feel free to share your own advice on navigating the waters of email and social media in the comments section.

Categories: Email Marketing Tags:

Deadline Extended: Wisdom Report Submissions

January 4th, 2010 No comments

End-of-year craziness meant that many of you couldn’t find time to share a marketing lesson for our “2010 Marketing Wisdom from the Field” report. So we’ve extended the deadline for you to share quotes about test results, campaign lessons or other insights you gained in 2009.

You now have until Sunday, Jan. 10 to share your wisdom with fellow marketers. Simply send us a short story highlighting a successful — or not so successful — experience from 2009, told in your own words.

This deadline will not be extended again, so don’t wait. Click here to share your quote:
http://sherpa.wisdomreport.sgizmo.com
(New Deadline: Jan. 10, 2010)

Thanks!

Categories: Marketing Tags: