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Why Implementing Relevancy into Email Programs Can’t Wait

May 26th, 2015 No comments

A few moments after her featured speaker session at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015, Shawna Dahlin, Senior Email Marketing Manager, Microsoft Store, sat down at the Media Center with MarketingSherpa Reporter Courtney Eckerle to discuss why it’s so important for marketers to recognize problems and implement changes to their email campaigns as soon as they can.

 

Why shouldn’t marketers wait until everything is set up perfectly to implement program changes?

“It’s never too soon to start being relevant to your customer,” Shawna explained.

A lot of lists are “leaky buckets.” With every email send that isn’t relevant to the customer, you risk losing them forever. With the technology available today, marketers now have the ability to use data to find out what their customers are interested in and segment their email sends to make those sends more personalized.

Even the tiniest bit of data can be converted into a big win. “You can’t wait. You’ll have to do everything you can to be ever, just a little bit, more relevant so you don’t lose them out of your database,” she said.

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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:

 

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Real-Time Marketing: How Publishers Clearing House increased engagement through testing

May 8th, 2015 No comments

Publishers Clearing House is winning the real-time marketing game. Their online brand, PCH.com, currently gets 16 million unique visits per month, and those visitors spend an average of 17 minutes on the site. The marketing team achieved this by delivering a personalized message to every visitor  on the site — messages that were designed to be relevant to what visitors were doing on the site.

At MarketingSherpa MarketingExperiments Web Optimization Summit 2014, Michael Zane, Senior Director of Online Marketing, Publishers Clearing House, revealed how, in just under a year, the marketing team has increased:

  • Time spent on their site by 43%
  • Overall engagement by 46%
  • Revenues per 1,000 visitors by 12%

 

They achieved this by:

1. Identifying two personas with very simple audience segmentation:

  • Engaged visitors — customers who had played one or more instant-win or sweepstakes games
  • Unengaged visitor — customers who had visited at least twice but had not yet played a game or entered a sweepstakes

2. Determining what they wanted visitors to do as a result of real-time marketing. This involved:

  • Engaging the unengaged
  • Driving the somewhat-engaged visitors to go deeper into the site

3. Testing to learn what will drive engagement. The team set a testing baseline by gathering data for six weeks

  • They conducted A/B tests targeting their unengaged visitors. The control was the site without special messaging, and the treatment featured a very simple one-line header. The result achieved a 36% lift in engaged users.
  • The team tested again. They suspected that they were on the right track and were eager to try a pop up designed by their graphic artists. After all, Zane was certain a designed pop-up would get results. He was right, but not in the way he expected. However, what they learned was still very valuable and influenced future tests. Find out more in this below clip:

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Content Marketing: Measuring results, tracking ROI and generating leads

April 24th, 2015 2 comments

One of my recent MarketingSherpa Blog posts, “Content Marketing 101: Tips on content strategy” covered some basics of content marketing. For today’s post, I want to dig into the MarketingSherpa Newsletter archive to highlight what can be a challenging aspect of content marketing — quantifying and proving its worth.

The first article to highlight is a how-to, titled “Measuring Content Marketing: How to measure results, find gaps and grab opportunities,” that covers a range of tactics offered by Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute, and Michal Brenner, Senior Director, Global Integrated Marketing, SAP, on quantifying your content marketing efforts.

Joe says to set three categories of goals for content — driving sales, saving money and making customers happier.

To reach these goals, he suggested tracking those goals in three tiers:

 

Creator-level metrics

For a company blog, these KPIs include traffic metrics, such as page views and unique visitors; source metrics, such as inbound search results and referring sites; and sharing metrics, such as tweets.

 

Manager-level metrics

These KPIs include lead volume generated, lead quality, cost-per-lead and conversion rate.

 

Director-level metrics

At the highest level, content KPIs include revCreatienue, costs, ROI and customer lifetime value.

tiers of content marketing

 

Analytics also plays a role in content marketing.

Michael suggests that Google Analytics can be a content marketer’s best friend because the free tool allows tracking of the most downloaded, shared and viewed content on the website, sources of inbound traffic and organic search keywords used to reach your site.

Joe added, “We’re so infatuated with the creative that we don’t take two seconds to look at how this is making an impact on our customers. [Tracking software] is not glamorous. I can’t hold or touch or feel it, but you can take that feedback from the technology and then improve the content you have.”

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Omni-channel Marketing: How do you define the term?

April 21st, 2015 1 comment

Marketing, like any business area, is full of acronyms (CRM, SEO, SEM, etc.) and buzzwords that get hot and start being used in conversations, presentations, industry articles and other professional interactions. I can think of more than a few, and I bet you can too (in fact, it would be fun for everyone to share some of your favorite marketing buzzwords in the comments section of this post.)

One of the latest buzzwords out there is “omni-channel marketing” — a term that obviously is related, but different from multi-channel marketing. However, like any new term or phrase that begins receiving a lot of traction, there is no clear definition on exactly what omni-channel marketing means or entails.

With that in mind, I reached out to a group of marketing industry thought leaders who, by job title and description, are tasked with staying in front of industry trends.

Here are different takes on omni-channel marketing from three industry experts:

 

Loren McDonald, Vice President Industry Relations, Silverpop, an IBM company

“Omni-channel to me means that, first, a brand or company understands that its customers interact with them in multiple and different Loren McDonaldchannels along their customer journey and is organized around that customer experience and journey, rather than individual channels. Then from an execution perspective, it means listening to and capturing data and behavior from a customer across all channels and then responding back through the channel, or channels, that best moves that individual customer on to the next stage of the journey.

“Unlike a simple multi-channel approach, omni-channel means that the brand’s messages are both coordinated and provide a consistent experience for the customer across channels and devices. For example, a customer that browses your site or abandons your shopping cart might receive a push notification promoting the product viewed when they log in to your mobile app a few days later.”

 

 

David Baker, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Cordial, Inc.

“The fundamental shift in multi-channel vs. omni-channel thinking is a product of a maturing view of the consumer by marketers. Think consumer at the center, wrapped by a connected experience vs. the consumer connecting with each channel discretely in a very linear way.

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Content Marketing 101: Tips on content strategy

April 14th, 2015 7 comments

By this point, I think most marketers understand the value and importance of the content marketing channel. It’s well known that prospects for both consumer and B2B marketers are now doing most research on their own — I’ve seen research reporting B2B prospects are now getting 80% down the pipeline before ever raising their hand and letting you know they might be a customer.

content marketing

 

A prospect 80% down the pipeline is likely going to be a more qualified prospect because they are nearing the end goal in terms of making a purchase — and because Marketing and Sales only have to get that last 20% to close the sale. At the same time, it means you can’t just push out marketing messages to names and leads in order to reach the entire marketplace.

The solution to this issue is to have a solid content marketing strategy in place, maybe even making content marketing the centerpiece of the overall marketing strategy.

Having spoken with hundreds of marketers about their content strategies over the years, I wanted to share tips on some of the basics of content marketing with the MarketingSherpa Blog reader.

 

It’s not about selling

One point about content marketing that can’t be emphasized enough is this: It’s not about selling your company, your products or your services. At its core, a content marketing strategy is targeting those prospects in the research phase that have yet to identify themselves as potential customers. You don’t know their names; you don’t have their email addresses in your database, and they might not even follow you on social media.

However, they are conducting research on your products, your services, your marketplace, your competitors and your company. If you can become a resource of basic information and instruction around the general marketplace of your business, you can become a trusted destination for those as-yet unknown prospects.

The two terms to keep in mind here are thought leadership and brand awareness. If you can provide valuable and relevant content to people conducting research on your marketplace, products and services, you can become a thought leader for information in that space.

As people visit, and revisit, your website and other digital outposts (such as a Facebook page or answer to a question on Quora) without being sold to, they will become aware of your brand. When they do decide to take a more definite step and raise their hand to be sold to, hopefully you will be top of mind.

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Tools to Help Marketers Stretch Their Budget

April 10th, 2015 No comments

When a prospect enters her credit card online and hits “buy now,” chances are it isn’t her very first visit to the site or touch point in the sales process. According to Jeffery McCollum, Founder of CAKE, a digital marketing company, a sales path rarely leads directly to conversion.

“The client might see a display ad and not do anything. They might get an email and not do anything. But then they go to Google, search for the product, and purchase it,” he explained. “There’s touch points leading up to that sale, but marketers only count that Google click. But it’s really important to understand how effectively marketing dollars in those other channels contributed to the actual sale.”

Watch the whole interview here: 

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How Automation Transformed a Distributor’s Online Business

March 17th, 2015 No comments

When you’re running a small online business, what’s the fastest, easiest way to grow your business and save money? Automation, according to Lenny Kharitonov, President of Unlimited Furniture Group, a furniture retailer.

Kharitonov says his company was among the first in the furniture industry to automate the online order fulfillment process.

“The furniture industry in general is not very technology savvy,” he admitted.

The Unlimited Furniture website markets products from a variety of manufacturers that ship them directly to the customer. Before automation, the Unlimited Furniture team and its vendors handled every aspect of the transaction manually using a combination of spreadsheets and Google docs. Now customers can order online, and the details are instantly sent to the vendor. Once the vendor ships out the product, Unlimited Furniture automatically receives all of the information about the shipment and updates the customer without any manual involvement.

This automated process:

  • Prevents mistakes. “When you do things manually, it’s subject to human error,” Kharitonov said. “For instance, somebody could put in the wrong quantity or wrong color; it could be done on our side or the vendor’s side.”
  • Eliminates duplication of effort. Before automation, Unlimited Furniture would enter a purchase order manually then send it to the vendor, who would enter the same information manually.
  • Saves money. Automating order fulfillment has slashed Unlimited Furniture’s administrative costs 40%.
  • Speeds delivery. Orders are processed real-time now, instead of waiting for someone at Unlimited Furniture and the vendor to manually process it.“The quicker the service you give the customer, the more likely you’ll get repeat business,” Kharitonov said.

“We want to grow the business. We don’t want to spend all our time processing orders,” he explained. “In this day and age, it’s assumed that’s automatic, but it’s not. I know a lot of our competitors are still doing it manually.”

Watch the full interview and find out more about the power of automation here:

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Digital Marketing: Quick insights from Adobe Summit on perfecting the art and science of marketing

March 11th, 2015 No comments

From the opening General Session at Adobe Digital Marketing Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, the speakers reiterated, in one way or another, the thesis statement made by Brad Rencher, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Adobe:

Consistent and continuous experiences only happen when marketing goes beyond marketing, and the reality is that brands have to earn it every day, with each experience. With each touch point, we either win or we lose.

Marketers need to fight every day to be personal with consumers — this isn’t a plane you can reach or a level to be achieved. It’s a consistent struggle won through consistently building up small interactions.

If those word choices — fight, struggle — sound harsh, forgive me. With Adobe Summit’s gigantic main stage, complete with three towering screens, impeccable design and A/V feats, it’s easy to lean into the theatrical feel of the event.

Adobe-031115

 

Digital marketing is certainly not real war or strife, but each speaker takes the stage not unlike the speech in “Patton,” commanding attendees to work for a better (marketing) world. The marketers here begin to feel like foot soldiers who believe they can engage customers with genuine interactions.

These aren’t actions savvy brands should be shirking from because they’re difficult, but running toward. There are an overwhelming number of opportunities to understand your customers in digital marketing.

These three takeaways are just a start.

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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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