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Amazon Prime Day: 12 quick takeaways from Amazon’s magnificent train wreck

August 4th, 2015 1 comment

For those of us interested in marketing, Amazon’s first ever “Prime Day” celebration could not have been more fun to experience. Intended as a special shopping day for members of Amazon’s $99/year Prime service, Amazon had practically promised ecommerce Armageddon leading up to the 24-hour event, with “More deals than Black Friday!”

As the morning unraveled, however, Prime Day quickly devolved into spectacle as the buying public hammered Amazon for what they perceived as lackluster deals.

Despite customer complaints, Prime Day was by most metrics a staggering success for Amazon. According to online retail tracker ChannelAdvisor, Amazon’s sales were up 93% in the United States year-over-year, and 53% in Europe. 34.4 million items were sold across Prime-eligible countries, shattering Black Friday records, and hundreds of thousands of new users signed up for Amazon Prime throughout the event.

When planning our promotions or campaigns, here are 12 quick tips we can extract from both the failures and successes of the now-infamous Prime Day.

Happy Prime Day! More Deals Than Black Friday (Garage Sale Meme)

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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.

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Why You Shouldn’t Target Your Marketing: Target marketing fails

July 21st, 2015 2 comments

Targeted marketing, or the practice of aiming marketing collateral at specific prospects or customers, has become so prolific that it is one of the largest tools in the modern marketer’s toolkit.  In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration lists targeted marketing as the third step in marketing implementation.

Imagine yourself attending the brainstorming session for your next marketing campaign or participating in one at a trendy advertising agency. Does anyone in the room ever verbalize the thought, “Let’s not target this campaign to anyone?” Of course not; they would be laughed out of the room.

However, simply targeting your marketing is not equivalent to being customer-centric, or customer-first, and this is where the majority of us go wrong. Aristotle hints at this in his master work, Rhetoric: “For it is not enough to know what we ought to say; we must also say it as we ought … ”

It is in the spirit of saying it “as we ought” that I humbly submit to you five steps that have the capacity to royally mess up your targeted marketing by not implementing it with a customer-centric approach.

 

Step #1: Target Just Your Intended Audience

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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.

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Creating Engaging Content: A five-step method for busting writer’s block

July 7th, 2015 No comments

Ah … the ambience of a blank white computer screen. I am staring at one right now. There are the days when this glow speaks freedom and fresh opportunity and I take it. But then, there are those days, like right now, where the glow feels more like an impenetrable force field.

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Although I’m not a great author, it’s a comfort to know that I am not alone in suffering from terrible writer’s block. Dorothy Parker, who wrote hundreds of poems and short stories, sent this note about it to her editor in 1945.

 

So what do I do when I know I have something to say, but I just can’t get it into words? Should I start scouring the Web to find something interesting to comment on? Or should I just rehash something that I have thought about or written about before? Or, the most tempting, do I just give up and hope my muse shows up tomorrow?

I’m not going to lie — all those methods can work, and have worked for me in the past.

However, there is one particularly useful approach that I have learned over the years for dealing with content writer’s block, particularly when you are on a deadline. Because — face it — as much as we would like to let creativity gently come to us, sometimes we have to go and take it by force.

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Email Marketing: How the Kentucky Derby engages customers with relevant email

June 30th, 2015 1 comment

The Kentucky Derby is a once a year event worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It has been held annually on the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky since 1875.

It’s a race like no other, filled with traditions like the sweet taste of a mint julep dancing over the ice of a frozen silver cup, women in lavish hats ringed in a halo of soft glowing pearls and the victorious aroma of 554 red roses dripping across the backs of the winners.

Even with its long traditions, it takes a lot of effort and hard work to give the Kentucky Derby’s spectators exactly what they come to expect year after year as those expectations change through time.

To find out how the Kentucky Derby consistently makes this high level event continually more successful, Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, sat down with Kate Ellis, Marketing Analyst, and Jeff Koleba, Vice President of Marketing and Programming, both of the Kentucky Derby, at the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 Media Center to discuss how the Kentucky Derby keeps its customers engaged all year long for an annual event.

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Email Marketing for Nonprofits: Communicating value proposition

June 26th, 2015 2 comments

We generally think of only companies or campaigns having value propositions. For nonprofit companies, communicating the value proposition effectively is necessary for survival.

There is a value prop behind every action, including each email sent — why should people read your entire email or click through to a landing page? In the case of nonprofits, it seems this challenge is stronger, with no promise of a product at the end of the cycle.

This value proposition of action for email marketing answers the question behind why customers should take a specific action when they get your email — click.

Once people land on your page, that’s when you give them the reason to take action.

At Web Optimization Summit 2014, Tim Kachuriack, Chief Innovation and Optimization Officer, NextAfter, shared his experiences of working with nonprofits on email and landing page designs.

He explained that he was inspired at a MarketingSherpa conference a few years prior, when his page was selected for live optimization and critiqued in front of the entire MarketingSherpa audience.

Although confident that the page could more effectively communicate his value proposition, he mentioned his reservations when asking to test this page for the first time, saying,

“You guys helped me create this ugly, Frankenstein-looking version of the landing page,” Tim said. “It took much convincing and pleading, and many adult beverages. I convinced my client to actually let us,  in fact, test this.”

It resulted in a 274% increase in revenue for the nonprofit.

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Creating a Viral Environment to Serve Your Customers

June 23rd, 2015 No comments

The impulse to share something new with someone else is a natural and universal trait.

In the age of the Internet, why are some things shared while others are not? What causes a piece of content to go viral? To help answer this, Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, sat down with Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 to learn how an email marketer can create a viral environment. 

 

Word-of-mouth is extremely important in creating a viral environment. You have a subscriber list but to grow that list you have to get people to share your content. We all know word-of-mouth marketing matters. What’s less clear is how to get it.

There is a science to word-of-mouth, and the key is to think about it internally and externally while keeping the customer at the center. Too often we find ourselves focusing on the product — but how in-depth do we go thinking about the users? What drives them? What is that underlying behavior that triggers them to share content?

After spending 15 years studying the science of why things catch on, Jonah Berger developed the S.T.E.P.P.S. framework, which is a series of psychological factors that drive and trigger the sharing mechanism.

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Email Marketing: What are some of the biggest deliverability challenges?

June 19th, 2015 3 comments

Deliverability should be a concern for any email marketer. If you can’t get into the inbox, your email send might as well not have even happened.

Deliverability can be a challenge. A bad reputation score can significantly impact your ability to reach the inbox. An ESP (email service provider) with other clients behaving poorly on a shared IP also hurts you. Getting off of a spam or junk mail blacklist can be a Kafka-esque experience of not really being sure who or what will get you off that list.

To help you with deliverability issues, I reached out to three industry experts to find out what they considered to be the biggest deliverability challenges facing marketers today.

 

Understand why you have a deliverability problem

Tom Sather, Senior Director of Research, Return Path, said, “The biggest challenge that marketers have today is gaining awareness and understanding why they’re having a problem. Email providers like Gmail and Yahoo!, as well as spam filters, make real-time, data-driven decisions based on their users’ behaviors and actions.”

He said understanding the data behind your email program is going to do more towards solving a deliverability issue than following any list of tips or best practices.

Tom explained, “Most email marketers lack this fundamental data that the email providers have access to and are essentially in the dark ages when it comes to finding a solution. As a result, we hear experts touting general best practices — which is more like alchemy and doesn’t provide the desired results or can make the situation worse. Marketers who have access[to]  and analyze the data will see the highest inbox placement rates and happier and more engaged subscribers as a result.”

deliverability-final

 

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Four Key Discoveries from “The Economist’s” Global Content Survey of Brand Marketers and Their B2B Audiences

June 16th, 2015 No comments

The Economist, in association with New York-based marketing research firm Peppercomm, recently conducted a global survey of top business leaders and marketers on the topic of content marketing. 500 global business executives were surveyed to find out what they look for from content providers, and 500 global marketers were asked about how they build their content strategy. Findings were published in a study titled “Missing the Mark: Global Content Survey of Brand Marketers and their B2B Audiences.

Let’s take a brief look at four key discoveries from “Missing the Mark”:

 

1. Though marketers are increasing their investment in content, content strategy remains poorly understood organizationally

93% of brand marketers surveyed have plans to either maintain or increase their budget for content marketing. Despite this heavy investment in content creation, less than a third of marketers believe that the purpose of the brand’s content is highly understood within their organizations.

 

2. There is a massive disconnect between the content that business executives seek and the content that marketers provide

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The majority of global business leaders surveyed (75%) report that they turn to content to research complex business ideas within their industries. Specifically, executives find the most value in content that helps them to better understand the general views and practices of their peers. Also, content that presents two sides of complicated industry issues and content that confirms or sheds new light on business strategies are considered to have value.

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