David Kirkpatrick

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

June 19th, 2015

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.”

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Ken Bowen

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

June 16th, 2015

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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David Kirkpatrick

User-Generated Content: How a payday loan company takes advantage of customer reviews

June 12th, 2015

Customer reviews and testimonials can be a powerful source of third-party validation and credibility when added to an overall content marketing strategy.

Today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post looks at how one consumer marketer — in a business area that is potentially hostile to positive customer feedback — initiated a campaign to actively add customer reviews to its marketing mix.

Check ‘n Go is a payday loan company with a focus on short-term consumer lending with retail outlets going back almost 20 years and, more recently, an online option for loans as well. Farhad Rahbardar, Web Analytics Analyst, Check ‘n Go, worked with the company’s Analytics and Customer Acquisition Group. Rahbardar said the team wanted to begin using customer reviews in different touchpoints on the website. The team also wanted to aggregate those reviews through an independent third party to help build Check ‘n Go’s Google Seller ratings.

One initial challenge was internal concern about what sort of feedback customers might provide — or possibly even refuse to provide — given the reputation of the company’s business space. In fact, the company had already found that it couldn’t really get any sharing via social media platforms because, as Farhad said, “Customers are really not fine with sharing their experience getting a payday loan on any social media, which is understandable.”

In terms of asking for customer reviews, he said “We were hesitant about implementing this — the senior management here — just because there’s a stigma about short-term lending and we were unsure if we were going to receive anything positive.”

 

Begin collecting customer reviews

The team pressed on, chose a customer review vendor and implemented a process for collecting customer reviews. After someone secures a loan, they receive messaging that simply asks them to come back to Check ‘n Go and write about their experience.

“To our surprise, we started receiving really positive reviews,” said Farhad. “Nine out of 10 were either four star or five star. We had a lot of people who were really happy with the fact that we were able to help them.”

The first place Check ‘n Go began using these reviews was on its landing pages, and the team even tested different ways to display the reviews.

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Jessica Lorenz

How Public Speaking Can Enhance Your Career and Professional Development

June 9th, 2015

At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015, Mary Abrahamson, Email Marketing Specialist, Ferguson Enterprises, not only spoke onstage in front of 1,000 of her peers but she was also awarded the Best B2B Campaign.

The video below was recorded at Email Summit, and I recently had the privilege of talking to Mary about how speaking has impacted her career and what other marketers can do to find success through public speaking.

“When I was doing the [interview at Email Summit], that’s exactly how I feel, still exactly how I feel [about speaking at events],” said Mary, describing the importance of public speaking events.

With the Call for Speakers for MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 ending Monday, June 15, I asked Mary what advice she had for marketers selected to speak at industry events.

“You will get out of the experience what you put into it. It will bring you tremendous growth both personally and professionally — don’t take a moment of the experience for granted. Also, just like you do in your daily job, think about your ‘customer’ — the attendee — first. What do they want to hear about?  That is the key,” she said.

Since MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015, Mary has had two other speaking opportunities and continues to find ways to improve the quality of her email program.

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David Kirkpatrick

Mobile Marketing: How Voices.com involved its customers in a responsive design campaign [video]

Today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post features an excerpt from a MarketingSherpa Optimization Summit 2014 presentation — “Mobile Optimization: How a B2B ecommerce company used responsive design to increase revenue by 180%” — with David Ciccarelli, Chief Executive Officer, Voices.com, providing insights into how the company utilized its customers in a mobile marketing campaign on responsive design.


In this video David explains how Voices.com tested its website with click tracking and heatmaps, saying that the first goal was to find out what website elements the team needed to keep when rolling out a new, responsive version that would be effective on both desktops and mobile devices.

“That’s how we identified the [website] elements that we were going to keep,” he says.

Another aspect of taking a customer-centric approach was that the team made a change in how interaction with the website was explained in help guides, tips and tutorials, email instruction and FAQs. This was done in order to reflect that mobile users will be tapping, spreading and pinching rather than navigating with mouse clicks like desktop users.

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Kayla Cobb

Live from IRCE 2015: The importance of handling customer reviews

June 3rd, 2015

In the often-flooded marketplace of ecommerce, customer reviews can make or break companies. At the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2015, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, sat down with Joseph Jaconi, General Manager, Tech Armor, to discuss how Tech Armor’s focus on customer reviews helped transform this small ecommerce company into a major competitor.

Tech Armor, a screen protector e-retailer for mobile devices, started out selling on Amazon a little more than three years ago. The company now sells on major marketplaces across the U.S., including Walmart.com and eBay. This quick expansion can largely be accredited to the company’s focus on maintaining good customer reviews.

“We really built our brand around service and support,” Joseph said. “We’re a small company, but over 60% of our human resources is dedicated to customer service and support … that’s including sales, marketing and everything we’re doing.”

Joseph shared the following tips on how to handle customer reviews.

Watch the whole interview here:

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Daniel Burstein

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

May 29th, 2015

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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Daniel Beulah

Why Implementing Relevancy into Email Programs Can’t Wait

May 26th, 2015

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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David Kirkpatrick

Personalized Marketing: Choosing your targets wisely

A recent MarketingSherpa B2B Newsletter case study, “Personalization Marketing: In-trial messages increased online registrations by 15% for a B2B SaaS,” covered Brainshark, a cloud-based B2B service for training, sales conversions and marketing. The case study examined how Brainshark pushed personalized messaging on users of a freemium product that offered a scaled down version of one of its main enterprise products.

These messages took the form of informational and educational tips about using the freemium products and promotions for other free Brainshark products, while offering to upgrade to the paid version.

The freemium product, myBrainshark, creates video presentations out of static data, such as presentation slide shows, spreadsheet data, PDFs and other written content. Although Brainshark targets business users director-level and above in sales training, enablement and operations, the freemium product attracted more than just attention from business users. Arthur Gehring, Vice President of Demand Generation, Brainshark, said educators were another main user base.

He explained, “It’s amazing how much kids today are using technology like this in the classroom. It’s really cool. A lot of high schools, elementary schools, use myBrainshark as a learning aid.”

Arthur continued, “Those people — we’re not as interested in trying to sell them an enterprise product.”

At the same time, for Brainshark’s actual target audience, Arthur said the team wanted to know more about those users and used analytics to see what they were looking for. He described it as, “[trying to] help them and hopefully provide more value to them.”

 

Making registration quick and painless

To register for myBrainshark, new users only have to provide a screen name and email and create a password. Arthur said the small number of form fields was to drive as many registrations as possible.

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Daniel Burstein

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

May 19th, 2015

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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