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Posts Tagged ‘call-to-action’

Time to Move On: Three email marketing habits your customers are sick of seeing

July 19th, 2017
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Habits are strong, and the biggest part of their hold over us is that we don’t often recognize them. Sometimes, our worst habits need to be pointed out in order for us to summon up the will to actually change them.

Email marketers have a lot of these small habits that have built up over the years. We use so-called “best practices” so often that we run them into the ground, forgetting to actually test to see if these habits are helpful or harmful.

Read below to see if these three habits are ones that you need to break.

Habit #1. Tricky subject lines

Every marketer is looking for that new hook that is going to catch a subscriber’s attention the second before your carefully crafted email is tossed into the trash.

That can get old for subscribers though. When you’re constantly changing up your subject-line strategy to find that hook, what you usually end up losing is clarity.

There’s something to be said for people knowing what they’re going to get when they open up your email. I’ve fallen prey to my fair share of tricky or “clever” subject lines, and when I realize what has happened, I feel … well, tricked.

For example, once I got onto the list for an online wine club, which was essentially a millennial twist on a wine-of-the-month club.

I never actually signed up or ordered anything, but about once every two weeks, I would get an email letting me know I had some kind of free something-or-other waiting for me; I’ve unlocked some fantastic new deal.

It always came “directly” from a person (we’re all email marketing friends here; we know that the chances that person actually, totally wrote that email are at best 50/50 — it’s a friendly trick to make you forget it’s a company) and their name would rotate between about three different senders.

The subject lines were always wildly different, and clearly they were experimenting to see what would finally grab my latent attention.

That’s fine. And actually, it’s not a bad tactic to test and see what works on unmotivated subscribers, especially if, like this company, you’re sending an email about the same thing over and over again.

Then one day, I got this email in my inbox — it grabbed my attention, and without thinking, I actually clicked.

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Event Recap: Notes from the Optimization Summit 2012 roundtable sessions

June 14th, 2012
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On the afternoon of the first day of the MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit 2012 in Denver, attendees had the chance to interact with ten expert practitioners in a roundtable format.

Event participants were able to choose an expert, sit at the table for a quick presentation, and ask questions and interact with each other on the topic at hand for 15 minutes before switching to a new table and a new subject.

Topics at the different tables ranged from optimizing social media to high-impact call-to-action button copy that converts.

I wanted to provide SherpaBlog readers with a sample of some of the high-impact material the experts shared during this roundtable session. These examples of roundtable content illustrate the wide variety of advice Optimization Summit attendees were presented during the session.

 Here are some key takeaways from several of the roundtable experts:

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The Boston Globe: An inside look at launching a paid content site

June 7th, 2012
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The Boston Globe has been in the content business for a long time. The newspaper published its first edition on March 4, 1872. Now in the digital age, it offers a free online version. At the end of last year, the company decided to include a premium, subscription-based digital version as well.

This blog post reveals an early, inside look at the approach The Boston Globe is taking to launch a paywall, complete with an honest look at a few bumps the marketing team hit along the way.

Peter Doucette, executive director of circulation, sales and marketing, The Boston Globe, will present further information about the newspaper’s marketing efforts at the MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit in Denver, June 11-14.

 

THE CHALLENGE

The marketing challenge for The Boston Globe is maintaining two Internet offerings, one free and one paid.

Peter says the issue is to grow digital consumer revenue while at the same time maintain and grow digital advertising revenue.

“In the end, how do you take a prospect and turn them into a customer?” he asks.

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Email Design: 3 critical factors of ‘lucky’ campaigns

March 13th, 2012
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A successful email campaign is not the result of a single tactic or dumb luck. There are dozens of factors — everything from your list, to your timing. Knowing which factors matter most can greatly improve your “luck.”

Three factors are critical to successful email campaigns, says John Murphy, President, ReachMail:

Factor #1. Offer

Factor #2. Audience

Factor #3. Design

Murphy mentioned this in an interview for our latest article on email design. His comment got me thinking about how email marketers can improve in these areas.

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Email Research: The 5 best email variables to test

November 29th, 2011
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You test subject lines. I know you do. Nearly every email marketer I ask tests subject lines. You can’t imagine the number of times I’ve heard: “Yes, we test our emails. We test the subject lines every week.”

The fact is the subject line is only a tiny fraction of what you can test. It reaps only a tiny fraction of what you can achieve. There is so much more. Let’s look at the five most effective variables you can test in email campaigns, pulled from a chart in our brand-spankin’-new 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report.

 

Click to enlarge

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B2B Marketing: Calls-to-action and the business buying cycle

March 17th, 2011
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The solution's complexity also affects the business buying cycle

One way to look at the Business Buying Cycle is to break it down into stages. There are lots of potential stages and we can talk about those stages later but let’s keep it simple for now and just use these five:

  1. Connect Stage: for generating demand by helping a prospect connect a business problem or goal with the possibility of a solution
  2. Validation Stage: for validating the worthiness of that expression of interest into a priority project
  3. Investigation Stage: for doing a deep dive on one or more solutions in order to figure out what to do
  4. Purchase Stage: for picking the right solution and negotiating the right deal and terms
  5. Operational Stage: for implementing or using the solution

Calls-to-action in the form of particular pieces of content should align with these stages. In other words, you need a hypothesis of the stages of the buying cycle and a hypothesis of the content that maps to each stage.  If someone responds to content in a stage, marketing can use the interest in that content to score the level of interest higher.

By using this approach, B2B companies can use a call-to-action that is appropriate within the overall content marketing effort and extrapolates interest in the offer based on the stage of the buying cycle, testing and iterating to a more efficient demand generation and lead nurturing strategy

In this blog post, I will focus on four of these stages.

Connect Stage

When generating demand early in the connect stage, companies should use credible (often third-party) information about the business problem solved by their particular solution.

For example, research might reveal that problems with sales forecasting drive purchase decisions for sales force automation (SFA) software. To take advantage of this information, an SFA vendor might contract with a company with an industry reputation for providing credible information on sales forecasting best practices to write a white paper on sales forecasting, perhaps based upon field research.

On the other hand, if research revealed that chief financial officers (CFOs) were the individuals feeling the pain of faulty forecasts, perhaps a paper by a brand more familiar to CFOs would be more effective. In other words, B2B companies should keep in mind the target community when developing the call-to-action offer strategy.

Validation Stage

In the Validation stage, the offers need to perform a slightly different job. In this case, the responder has expressed an interest in the problem.  Now the offers need to validate the worthiness of the solution so that it becomes a priority:

  • A case study
  • An exercise to assess the potential return on investment
  • A webinar that features a current customer with a well-known brand
  • A report by an industry analyst (e.g., the Gartner Group in the computer industry)

Response to each of these offers indicates a higher probability of purchase than the initial response to an offer about the business problem.  In other words, it’s predictive of purchase intent. Again, interest in these content offers would result in a higher lead score.

Investigation  Stage

In the Investigation stage of the buying cycle, customers are generally ready to speak to sales.  Offers in this stage can identify those customers and prospects.  For example, a prospect may want to develop a request for proposal (RFP) to send out to a short list of vendors under consideration. As such, an RFP template (biased to the solution of the vendor) might be very useful to the prospect and even highly predictive of an increased likelihood of purchase.

Likewise these calls-to-action will also indicate the customer is prepared to speak with a sales representative:

  • Implementation guides
  • Technical white papers
  • Competitive guides
  • Evaluation software
  • Total cost of ownership exercises
  • Other similar content

All of these relate to the concerns of customers and prospects entering into a deeper investigation of a particular solution.

Purchase Stage

Once the buying cycle has reached the purchase stage, the sales channels should primarily deliver call-to-action offers. Purchase stage offers include discounts on a product or a service, and sales representatives can use these types of offers to win deals and to expedite the purchase process. These offers should be left to the judgment of salespeople and their managers in order to avoid unnecessary discounts.

Across the entire Business Buying Cycle, vendors can also include generic offers such as sweepstakes or free merchandise to generate demand, and move prospects toward a decision. One thing to keep in mind, is unlike the more targeted calls-to-action, these offers are not as predictive of future purchase behavior.

Related Resources

Free Web clinic, March 30th — Converting Leads to Sales: How one B2B company generated $4.9 million in additional sales pipeline growth in only 8 months

B2B Marketing: The FUEL methodology outlined

MECLABS

How and When to Use Content in the B2B Sales Process (Members library)

B2B Marketing: Relevant content must move beyond “glitz” and tell a properly sequenced story

Content Marketing: How to get your subject matter experts on your corporate blog