Q: Which of the following tactics is your organization using to improve the relevance and engagement of email content delivered to subscribers?
We asked your peers how they could use this data …
Segment email campaigns based on sales cycle
Stage-based marketing is the future. Breaking your marketing down to map to a consumer’s research cycle means understanding they will do research in multiple sessions, and at each session, be looking for different content. Best practice will suggest that you will need to engage with them in two or more different sessions, so you will need two or more stages.
Content needs to be short and targeted. Having a single large document is no longer best practice. Content should be targeted to each stage of the research cycle, and be easily consumed in under five pages.
How closely integrated are your sales and marketing departments?
I would have loved to see another question asked: How closely integrated are your sales and marketing departments? From my experience, those using segmentation and trigger-based emails are those who make sure that marketing and sales are closely aligned. A lot of the triggers “look” like they come from the sales team based on Web behavior with the ultimate objective to drive conversion, of course.
- April Wilson, Director of Analytic Products, RevSpring
But first, let’s clarify what a value proposition is.
According to the MECLABS Value Proposition Development Online Course, a value proposition is defined as the answer to the question – “If I am your ideal prospect, why should I buy from you rather than your competitors?”
So, how would you answer this question about your offer?
Take a few minutes to brainstorm on how you would answer this question.
Now if what you wrote down read like any of these …
“We empower you with software solutions.”
“I don’t sell products and services; I sell results — my guarantee.”
“We help people find their passion and purpose.”
“We are the leading [insert your service here] provider.”
“Get found online.”
“This site has what the person is looking to find.”
Then, it’s likely your campaigns are underperforming. Here are some techniques you can use to plug some of the leaks in your sales funnel.
Technique #1: Craft offers that focus on your “only-factor”
Your value proposition must include one aspect that differentiates you from your competitors. This one singularity is your “only-factor.” If your value proposition doesn’t do this, you’re already at a disadvantage.
The goal here is to craft offers with a powerful only-factor that will ideally have the right amount of appeal and exclusivity. Offers that are short on either of these elements can result in the following:
Offers with appeal but not much exclusivity lose appeal in a crowded marketplace with lots of competitors, and choices, for your ideal customer.
Offers that are exclusive but lack appeal quickly lose their leverage because not enough of those ideal customers will likely be motivated to act on your offer.
Technique #2: Support value propositions with clear evidentials
Evidentials are supporting claims in your offer that can be quantified and verified. To illustrate this point, let’s revisit the hypothetical car dealership owned by our Director of Editorial Content, Daniel Burstein.
Suppose Daniel decides to make a commercial for his dealership and in the ad he says:
“Please visit us at Burstein Auto; we have Florida’s best selection of cars for you to choose from!”
That statement is not very quantifiable because almost anyone can make the claim that they have the “best” of something.
Now if he were to instead say something like this …
“Please visit us at Burstein Auto; our dealership spans across five acres of land with over 1,500 new cars for you to choose from.”
The claims made in the second statement are quantified and have greater credibility because they can be verified. An overall goal for evidentials is to use them as bulleted points of information that support your claims strategically.
Here are a few key questions to ask yourself or your team about your evidentials:
Q: Which marketing channels does your organization integrate with your email program? Select all that apply.
As usual, we asked your opinion of this research …
Mobile integration requires investment
A question is raised in the blog about the poor representation of mobile in email integration. That’s because the top two mediums hog up the highest share of the marketing budget, with the balance to the next three. Mobile integration requires new planning and visual strategy for which there is very little or no dollars left.
Shailesh chalks the reason up to investment, or lack thereof, in mobile. From his experience, most budget goes to the top two integrated tactics (75% of marketers integrate the website with email, 56% integrate social media with email).
According to Shailesh, the rest of the budget goes to the next three most integrated tactics with email – 40% of marketers integrate email with events (for example, tradeshows and webinars), 35% with blogs and 31% with search engine optimization and/or pay-per-click advertising.
This leaves only 21% of marketers integrating email with mobile.
To help you secure the budget and resources you need, here are a few articles to show your marketing and business leaders the benefits of mobile email integration, along with the challenges you need resources to overcome …
Email marketing is an interesting animal. It has often been compared to direct mail. However, unlike direct mail, sending irrelevant and even annoying messages can really burn your entire email marketing program.
With direct mail, if a recipient didn’t like your message, they can drop it straight in the recycling bin.
However, with email marketing, your email recipients can affect your ability to reach other potential customers by, for example, marking your email as spam. Brutal.
This is a great question, Ariel. It is the marketing equivalent of “What is the meaning of life?” on some levels.
Because, I’d say – to both questions – the answer varies.
For example, how long is your sales cycle? How frequently do you send email? Can you tell if these folks are engaging with your company in other ways? How segmented are your email sends? Do you send triggered emails?
Whatever the length, it is probably worthwhile to consider a re-engagement campaign before removing these inactive subscribers.
But, answering a question with more questions is a wholly unfulfilling answer, I readily admit. So, to give you some straightforward numbers to chew on, I did a quick dive into the MarketingSherpa Library to see how some companies define inactive subscriber.
For the most drastic campaign in this area, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra sent a re-engagement email to everyone on the list (including active subscribers), and removed all subscribers who didn’t click “yes” they wanted to continue subscribing – How Cutting a House List 95% Helped Double Sales: 5 steps.
Q: Which of the following tactics is your organization using to drive email list growth? Please select all that apply.
As always, we asked the MarketingSherpa audience for their actionable advice based on this data …
75% increase in opt-in rate using squeeze page
When the election campaigning was in full swing last summer, I noticed that Obama was using an interesting squeeze page on whitehouse.gov. I swiped the wireframe and built a similar one of my own for my marketing tools website at AffPortal and noticed an immediate difference in my opt-in rate of about 75%. There’s a lot of value in watching what the big budget guys are doing to list build and swiping the concepts.
Excellent advice, Corey. For those looking to learn more from the “big budget guys,” Toby Fallsgraff, Email Director, Obama for America, and Amelia Showalter, Director of Digital Analytics, Obama for America, will be presenting a keynote case study – Email Optimization: How A/B testing generated $500 million in donations – at Optimization Summit 2013 in Boston.
77% of marketers use website registration pages to drive email list growth
Very good breakdown of marketing options and success rate.
Web page registration is one of the most trusted, hence the high success percentage.
Offline, it’s comparable to responding to a P.O. Box versus an actual address.
How about pop-ups and slide-ins? Are these included? I’d be interested in seeing how these work for people in “quality” markets such as B2B.
I’d also like to know about email harvesting as a tactic because I think many people use it but don’t admit it. They are scared of being called spammers but in reality, if they are presenting valuable solutions, they are not [spammers]. So how about a line for email harvesting?
Personally, I think the “share with a friend tactic” is underutilized because it can be encouraged to a level that takes email capture to exponential heights. You can forward to five friends at once!
Q: What type of automated, event-triggered, lifecycle email messages does your organization deploy? Please check all that apply.
As always, we asked the MarketingSherpa audience for their actionable advice based on this data. We received two interesting tips from Richard Hill and one from Chris Hexton …
Nurture current customers
Most marketers use automated triggered emails to strengthen relationships with early-stage buyers (i.e., for ‘lead nurturing’).
However, one of the most under appreciated opportunities is to use triggered emails to strengthen relationships with current (and recently lost) customers:
Advocate social referral
Contract renewal reminder
Customer service issue management
Low product usage alert
Net promoter score segment migration
All of these “customer nurturing” programs represent great ways for modern marketers to re-balance their approach, and use trigger emails (and marketing automation tools) to more consistently support the whole buying journey.
One of my favorite proverbs is “Change yourself and you change your fortunes.”
Making changes that increase the bottom line starts with marketers making a commitment to change how they engage customers effectively with their tools at hand.
Tools like customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation systems that track user activities allow marketers to leverage behavior insights gained from captured analytics to engage both return customers and potential prospects.
“Instead of better understanding ‘who’ or ‘what’ and letting the captured data talk to us, many of us are using CRM to send static time-based follow-ups,” Jermaine said.
Jermaine was a presenter at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013, and one of the key takeaways from his session at Summit was a hypothetical litmus test for marketers to self-assess their CRM and marketing automation usage.
Today’s MarketingSherpa blog post will present Jermaine’s litmus test as five questions every marketer should ask themselves about how they use CRMs and marketing automation to drive email campaigns. Our goal is to share peer insights you can use to aid your email marketing efforts.
But first, let’s take a look at a case study that provides a little backstory on how Jermaine discovered he was not using his CRM and marketing automation platform to their full potential.
Jermaine explained Hear and Play underwent a transformation when it started using its CRM and marketing automation platform to focus on personalizing its automated email marketing campaigns. The change resulted in a 416% increase in lifetime customer value and product purchases per customer from an average of 1.5 to 12.46.
“Our transformation came when we stopped using our CRM merely as a glorified autoresponder and started to really harness the power of behavioral and personalized marketing,” Jermaine explained.
Question #1: Do I have email campaign steps users can’t influence?
Jermaine suggested marketers assess their email campaigns using a ratio he calls an S2D score, or static vs. dynamic ratio.
In Jermaine’s S2D ratio:
Dynamic sends are influenced directly by customer action
Static sends are steps in a process that are not influenced by any customer action
Jermaine accredited increased use of dynamic sends over static sends as a driver of success in Hear and Play’s email marketing strategy reformation and suggests marketers take the time look at their data and acknowledge past customer behavior.
“It will go a long way, and there is an exponential impact on how customers respond,” Jermaine said.
Here is a closer look at some research Manny shared. First, Manny discussed research from the MarketingSherpa 2012 Mobile Marketing Benchmark Report (Full discolosure: BlueHornet is the sponsor of this Benchmark Report, and was a sponsor at Email Summit 2013). As you can see, increasing sales conversion/revenue is the top business objective for mobile marketing.
Q: What are your TOP BUSINESS OBJECTIVES for mobile marketing in the next 12 months?
Q: What new developments will affect your email marketing program in the next 12 months? Please select all that apply.
As always, we asked your peers what they thought of this data. Here are three takeaways from their feedback …
Takeaway #1: Use mobile marketing and social media to engage a younger demographic
“In our market, loyal customers are getting older so we are focused on mobile and social as a way to communicate with younger customers to increase their loyalty. Spot on!!” said Randy Kobat, Vice President and General Manager, Strategic Initiatives.
Takeaway #2: Consider mobile design, not just content
“Mobile is dead on with our strategy and focus. We are developing programs with mobile in mind not only through content, but design. How have you faired with responsive design in email? Have you seen engagement go up?” asked Ivan Printis, Email Product Manager, Gannett.
At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013, I moderated the Mobile Email Panel, in which Laura Velasquez, Marketing Program Manager, REI, shared the retailer’s experience with responsive email design.
Below you can see how the emails display differently on an iPhone thanks to responsive design.
Default on iPhone
Responsive on iPhone
The above charts show the results of A/B testing the responsive design email versus a traditional email, and you can see how Laura’s team was able to improve open rates with responsive design.
Laura also noted while mobile was slowly increasing as a percent of all opens of REI emails, the largest increase came after the change to a responsive layout.
For those looking to move to a responsive email design, Laura suggested marketers shouldn’t only focus on making mobile-friendly changes and creating a template, but they should also look at change within their organization. She advised marketers to have discussions with key stakeholders so they understand how their email messages will be affected.
I’m interested to hear how you would answer the above question as well. Feel free to use the comments section of this MarketingSherpa blog post to share your thoughts.
The question reminds me of a story from John C. Maxwell, author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. He tells of a young man coming up to him, and asking for the one thing the young man can do to become a better leader. Maxwell responds that there is not just one thing, there are 21 things he must do to become a better leader.
Clearly, Maxwell is good at branding. But, he also brings up a good point. We’re all busy, and we’re looking for the top takeaways or shortcuts to do our jobs better. However, true success is not so simple.
While many marketing blogs are fond of giving you the few shortcuts or secrets to success, I’m sorry to say that email marketing is hard work involving so much more than the three steps listed below.
But, at a high level, if I had to narrow email marketing down to three steps based on all we’ve learned from marketers through MarketingSherpa, it would be these …
Step #1: Start with your customers
Almost all email marketing developed by a competent marketer, really all content and marketing in general, is effective … for the right audience. The question is – are you delivering the right email to the right audience?
So, for example, a free shipping promo. That works great for the people who really love your product and are already keenly interested in buying. That might be the little incentive that drives them to make another purchase.
However, for the people that don’t know the value of the specific product you are promoting quite yet, free shipping for something they don’t value is almost meaningless and likely to get deleted.
So, that’s the real question you have to answer. If you have an unsegmented list of 100,000, and only 100 of them like your product enough to buy based on the free shipping promo, but another several thousand might unsubscribe (or worse, mark your email as spam), then that email promo, while effective for a small segment, is not right for that overall audience.
Here is where deeper complexities, like segmentation, come into play. But at a high level, my main point is you cannot evaluate your email promotions and content in a vacuum. There is rarely right or wrong email marketing. However, there is effective or ineffective email marketing for a particular audience.
This is part of what makes email marketing so challenging. Marketers have to hit their goals, so they keep sending more email – and the email seems to be working. After all, even with diminishing returns, since your email will be right for some small segment of your audience, you get some conversions and it appears to work.
But what is the long-term cost of your actions? What customers would be interested if you gave them what they wanted? How many customers are you forcing out of your funnel?
These can be maddeningly difficult questions to answer. Here are a few resources to get you started: