Posts Tagged ‘customer theory’

Email Marketing: Why National Geographic uses business rules and frequency caps

May 24th, 2013

National Geographic was sending an enormous amount of emails to its list – as much as almost 18 messages a week on average, depending on the season and the target segment within its database.

There were multiple marketing and creative teams sending those messages, so along with volume, branding and just simple look-and-feel was an issue as well.

To compound those problems, when a creative piece worked, it was re-used. A lot. A subscriber receiving a high frequency of emails might see the same, albeit (at least originally) high-performing, image for weeks or months on end.

Unsubcribes became an issue, particularly among the best converting recipients who were receiving the highest volume of email.


Kill your marketing calendar

I’m reporting live from Responsys Interact 2013 in San Francisco (Full Disclosure: I am a guest of Responsys at this event). Eric Brodnax, EVP, Digital Products, National Geographic Society, shared steps about how that well-known brand sought to overcome this challenge by taking a very customer-centric approach to completely change its email strategy in a session titled “Kill your marketing calendar. Moving from campaign-led to customer-led marketing.”

“What we saw was the retention rate was directly correlating to the number of messages they were receiving,” Eric said.

National Geographic used three learnings to turn this problem around across its email campaign ecosystem:

1. Ignoring your customer’s wishes impacts the entire business.

2. Your organization needs unified ownership of the customer relationship.

  • Without central oversight, it’s easy to mail too much.
  • It’s often your best customers who are treated the worst.
  • Problems compound as time passes.

3. Tailor your message to your (internal) audience.

  • Use analogies. Numbers don’t speak to everyone. In this case, Eric used the analogy of overfishing the ocean.
  • Be patient. You may need to repeat your message again and again.
  • Appeal to core values. Most companies claim to respect the customer and value collaboration.

“In the end, [appealing to core values] will resonate with people,”  Eric said. “But, if you don’t change the way you do business, you’re not going to make any differences.”


The implementation of business rules and frequency caps

I also had the chance to get insight into this email transformation from Marc Haseltine, Email Marketing Manager, National Geographic:

By actively monitoring our comments inbox and communicating with our email subscriber base, those on the front line of the program were aware that many customers felt like they were being over-communicated with via email.

These individual comments and feedback that were being received helped surface issues and potential problem areas in our email program for our data analysis group to really dig into. Their work helped identify long term trends that were impacting the email program.

We were actively targeting all our email campaigns, whether it was based on customers’ and fans’ stated preferences, purchase activity or geolocation, however, the email channel was helping to support so much of the Society’s content, activities and products.  Without business rules and frequency caps, it’d be possible for those most engaged with our brand to sometimes receive up to four emails a day from us.

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Value Proposition: 4 questions every marketer should ask about value prop

May 21st, 2013

You’ve determined if there is any true value in your marketing and you’ve taken the steps to craft your value proposition, when the one looming question hits you – what should I do next?


Turning theory into action was the key focus of Tony Doty, Senior Manager of Optimization, MECLABS, and Lauren Maki, Manager of Optimization, MECLABS, during the Industry Deep Dive session, “Value Proposition: How to turn that shiny, new value prop into a high-performing page,” here at MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit 2013.

“We have a lot of great tools for developing value proposition, but often we find a lot of marketers asking us what to do next and that’s what this is all about,” Tony said.

Today’s MarketingSherpa blog post will feature four questions every marketer should ask themselves about what the next step should be for implementing value proposition development into marketing efforts.



Question #1: Who is my target audience?

Tony and Lauren explained before you think about where you will express your value prop statements, you need to first determine who your audience for that value proposition is and what their needs are.

“We should always craft a value proposition with a customer’s needs in mind,” Tony said.



Question #2: Do I know where my customers are coming from?

Tony also explained once you’ve identified the target audience for your value proposition, you need to understand the channels where your traffic comes from, and adapt your message as needed per channel.

Lauren brought up a good point that customers from different channels have different needs and motivations, so your value proposition placement should be strategic within each channel.

To do this, she explained you first need to identify not just who your target prospect group is, but also where that prospect group is coming from.

“There’s a lot more places than just your homepage for your value proposition,” Lauren explained. “Look at your data to determine if what you’re doing is effective once you’ve started putting your value propositions into place [in those different channels].”

Some of the channels Lauren highlighted in her example are:

  • Targeted email campaigns
  • PPC campaigns
  • Display ads
  • Referral sites
  • Landing pages
  • Product pages
  • Informational pages
  • Cart checkout
  • Social media

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