Tag Archives: Email Marketing

Give ‘Em a Mixed Media Message!

Who knows how it began. Did man first begin to communicate over distances by beating a hollow tree trunk or by lighting a torch and standing on the highest ground? Was this just a means of alerting friends to potential danger or were there variable messages governed by the rhythm of the beats or the way a torch was held? Smoke signals by Native Americans or Signal Flags by soldiers were a means of sending variable messages and instructions during war, at least prior to the telegraph and Morse code. And sailors relied heavily upon signal flags and light houses to warn of possible danger.

Regardless how it began, we humans thrive on communication, don’t we? We have created so many ways with which to exchange information and ideas across space and time – radio, TV, CB’s, telephones, email, texting, instant messaging, direct mail, snail mail, webinars, video streaming, YouTube, just to name a few. Whether it’s passive or active forms of communication, it can be pretty mind boggling and the thing is, each of us prefer certain kinds of communication over others. Certain media gets our attention and others don’t.

I have never been big on texting or IM but I use email extensively. Maybe it’s my fat thumbs on my mobile or maybe I just haven’t learned the lingo. I know that probably ages me quite a bit, however I think there’s an important point here. Unless you sell your product or service to a very narrowly defined, niche demographic, you probably need to consider the possibility that it’s going to take a number of different kinds of media to reach everyone in your target market with your marketing message. We all have different preferences for how we would like to be communicated to.

This is why I can really appreciate the concept of asking the question, “How would you like to hear from us?” For customers who have purchased from you or from those who have expressed an interest in your products or services, to ask them how they would prefer to be communicated to, shows that you respect their opinion and their time.

Granted, some of the forms of media cost more. Anyone can tell you that direct mail is not cheap, however if your customer or prospect really wants you hear from you in this way, make sure you comply with that wish.

There are many companies who provide printing and email services who have jumped on the multi-media bandwagon and can provide a cost effective solution to giving your customers their preferences. A sign-up website portal can be an excellent way to be able to respond to individual wishes. The real benefit is that your customers and prospects will appreciate just being asked.

So, in your marketing planning, make sure you are building in the capability to put your marketing message out there in a number of different media. It’s a little harder to manage but well worth the effort.

If there is a concern whether you have the time or abilities in-house to handle this, let us know, we’d be happy to help.


Your CMO Outsource


Could Your Marketing Budget Lose Some Fat This New Year?

Weighing in on a scale

It never fails.  Right after we ring in the New Year, they start coming out of the woodwork;  every possible kind of solution to the problem of how the holidays forced us to loosen our belt buckles.  Each claim is a “sure thing,” guaranteed to bring back the svelte and lovable you.  As they say, fat is not phat!

What a great analogy to an overweight marketing budget.  Why not use this time of the year to get out the magnifying glass and really analyze whether there’s not some areas of fat in your marketing spend that could be trimmed out?

  1. Start with Yellow Page advertising. If you’re doing it, stop.  Nobody looks at that book anymore and landfills are full of unopened directories.  If you are addicted and are afraid you just can’t do that, then cut it to its minimum and see if your worst fears are realized.  My thinking is, nobody will notice and sales will not be affected.
  2. Take a hard look at any print advertising or direct mail you’re paying for.  I’m not saying it’s not working but these are hard mediums to measure success on.  Consider using a unique telephone number or establishing a PURL for each ad.  What is a PURL you ask?  It stands for Personalized URL or many refer to it as a unique landing page on your website which corresponds exactly to what was in the print ad or direct mail piece.  Using your website analytics, you can then measure actual responses to your ads and can then justify the expenditures there.
  3. Unless you have an incredibly extensive website with a shopping cart of tens of thousands of items, or the security of your website is mission critical, you probably shouldn’t be spending more than a couple of hundred dollars per year for hosting.  I’ve run across small businesses spending $500 per year!  There are some very good hosting solutions out there for under $80 per year.
  4. Speaking of websites, if you are paying a webmaster to make each and every change that is needed to keep your website content fresh, that’s fine but there may be a better solution; it’s called a Content Management System and means that you can make those changes yourself without having to understand programming languages.  Now, this may not be for everyone.  Some business owners just don’t have the time or notion to do this.  But, if you want to save some money, this may be for you.
  5. Pay close attention to the analytics on your email campaigns and websites.  It could be that you are spending a lot of money and time and getting no email opens or a ton of website “bounces.”  These events mean that nobody is paying any attention to what you’re saying.  Some changes and further testing are warranted.
  6. Have a strategic marketing plan.  Lack of a plan is a sure way to end up going in a lot of worthless directions throwing money at anything that is shiny.  If you have a plan there is a purpose for everything you do.  You will have specific objectives associated with each activity and you can make changes quickly as needed based upon measurable results.

It’s time to get that marketing budget fit and trim.  Don’t wait, because just like last year, 2011 will fly by and before you know it, we’ll be looking at 2012.

All my wishes for a prosperous New Year, and if you feel like you could use a “marketing trainer,” let us know, we would love to help.


Your Outsourced CMO

Can You Say, “I’m Sorry” Too Much?

I know I’m going to show my age here, but in 1970, Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw starred in the movie “Love Story” and there was the line where Ali’s character said, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  At the time, this line took on a life of its own being adopted, reused, rehashed and thrown around as if it were something sacred.  But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to consider it one of the most ridiculous lines I’ve ever heard.  The simple reason that we are human and therefore by nature certain to make mistakes, means it’s absolutely critical that we own up to our mistakes by admitting we were wrong and apologizing, especially to the ones that we love.

If we consider our customers to be important to us, and I would think that since they pay us money for what we do, they are, then shouldn’t we wish to please them by admitting that we made a mistake?

This is why it certainly caused me to think twice after reading an article by Neil Berman, writing for Email Insider who wrote about “Our Love Affair with Apology Emails.” In his post, Neil talks about receiving “heaps” of apology emails over seemingly trivial offenses, and that perhaps the companies sending them were either afraid of being “outed” by their customers on the social networks, or it was some false sense of self-importance almost egotism, to assume that the mistake was significant and made a difference.

I believe there is a real danger in what Neil is proposing.  Yes, I believe that if you say you are sorry constantly it becomes disingenuous or hallow, kind of like the boy who cried wolf too much.

Where I believe Neil is straying into a tricky area is by implying that we marketers know so much about our target audience as to be able to determine what is or isn’t important to them.  He cites the example of receiving a birthday coupon when it was not the correct day and receiving an apology, oh “how offensive,” but Neil, that is your opinion.  Does something have to be offensive or as grave as releasing financial or sensitive information to warrant an apology?  Where do you draw the line as to whether something was offensive?  Aren’t you taking a very real risk of the dreaded “unsubscribe” when we marketers are always striving to build our lists of suitable email candidates?

Now, Neil might say that if this person is so sensitive that they unsubscribe at the slightest provocation they are probably someone we want to glean from our list, and in many respects he would be correct.  But again I say that to make the assumption whether a mistake was or was not important to an individual is fraught with problems.  Why take the chance, when a well worded apology could make all the difference in the world to that individual.

I don’t mean to bash on Neil’s article too much.  He has 5 very good guidelines to follow for every apology email.

I’m sure there are multitudes of opinions on this, so I imagine the debate will go on.

If you struggle with the right kinds of messages in your emails and need help, drop us a line, we’d love to help.


Your outsourced Chief Marketing Officer

How Much Do You Trust Advertising?

Wise Old Man

The trusted advice of an age old sage has been the stuff of many a story, from those seeking the meaning of life, to the love lorn wondering whether cupid’s arrow has struck true.  There’s something comforting in the gray-haired wise man whose experience and insight make us feel good that what he tells us is the truth and can be trusted.

The stigma that age carries in our society is a very complex issue and even varies from region to region and country to country, however I think everyone can agree that as we get older, we view things in our surroundings in a different light.  Our experiences color our perception of what our senses tell us and we in turn draw conclusions that may differ substantially from what we once thought when we were younger.  This is especially true when in comes to the kinds of marketing messages and advertisements that capture our attention, and according to the results of an Ad Week/Harris Poll study, it is our age that is a large factor in whether we believe and trust those ads.

This caused me to think again of the importance of segmenting your target market, particularly by age.   This would include your email and direct mail lists, allowing you to take full advantage of the differences in perceptions to adjust your marketing communications accordingly.   Since Ad Week’s research indicated that one in five adults age 55 or older never believe that advertising is honest, versus one in ten adults age 18-34, it is imperative that you find a meaningful way to build that trust relationship so your message will be believed.  Otherwise, you stand the distinct chance of wasting your precious marketing dollars.

I attended a webinar recently about how you can improve your marketing Return On Investment by combining the data you gather through your email marketing efforts and the information you have in your Customer Relationship Management system (or CRM).  For those of you unfamiliar with the benefits of CRM, some would refer to it as a sales automation tool, which is certainly true, but is really only a tip of the iceberg.  Your CRM can be an absolute gold mine of information about your customers activity which can in turn help you in predicting the behavior of those who are currently not a customer but could be.

Your CRM system can be instrumental in helping you segment your lists as well as your target market.  What caused your current customers to trust you enough to believe your message and buy from you?  What incites can be harvested from the notes taken by your customer service representatives helping with call-in inquiries?  What feedback can the sales team provide on leads that have been sent to them to be worked?  How can you use this information to tailor your marketing message so not only is the timing correct, but the message is believed?  How can this data be useful for real-time testing to drive better results?

This is just a brief look at CRM benefits which could be a post all by itself.  If you feel you lack the time or expertise to explore this critical business tool, drop us an email, we’d love to help.



Outsourced Chief Marketing Officer Services

You Can Buy My Loyalty, for a Price


You found it, the exact item you were looking for.  You did the Google search, found the website for the company that sells that item and you go to their website.  You place your order and provide your credit card information and then comes that little harmless question: What is your email address so we may send you a confirmation of the order?  They say they will never sell your address to anyone else so you give it to them.  Then what?

Many of us have experienced buying an item online from a retail store to then be bombarded with every kind of email and direct mail offering that the company can come up with.   This happens to me even if the product I purchased has no relation with the offers that land in my inbox daily.  Annoying, isn’t it?

This is probably not going to gain me any friends, but I whole heartedly support this method of marketing, which is called Loyalty Programs, because if done correctly, they can be very successful.  The problem is, that so few companies go the extra step to insure success.

Loyalty programs go back a long ways,  I can honestly say I remember S&H Green stamps, given out by the local grocery store based on how much was spent.  My Mom would paste them into books that were used to redeem them.

Times have changed and Loyalty programs have gotten a lot more sophisticated through special on-line incentives, free shipping, discounts for referrals, etc.  But, have they necessarily gotten more successful?  Do they provide the return on investment to the marketer?

According to research by InfoPrint Solutions Company, a joint venture between IBM and Ricoh, the answer is a dismal no.  I recommend you read the entire article at The CMO Council website but I’ll try to summarize here.

From the consumers’ viewpoint, the study indicated that a “surprising 79 percent of consumers surveyed say they are very, or pretty, satisfied with their loyalty and rewards program experiences. But 70 percent want to see more discounts and savings, and 52 percent more compelling personal deals and offers as reward for steering their business to loyalty program operators. In a definitive call for personalization, 58 percent say they want more compelling personal benefits and services, as well as more relevant offers or individualized deals.”

What’s interesting is that it appears that the wealth of information that is gathered by marketers about consumer behaviors, wants and desires is either being ignored or not being coalesced to provide more relevant offers.  Why in the world if I order a straw hat from Bass Pro would they assume that I would want to see offers for guns, bows and arrows and camouflage clothing?

Something else that was interesting, it seems the state of the economy has very little influence on loyalty club participation so even as we move down the road toward recovery, these programs will still have an impact on buyer behavior.

With the average household enrolled in 14.1 loyalty programs but only active in 6.2 of them, doesn’t it make sense to be making offers that stimulate action?

If you’re thinking about a loyalty or referral program, make sure you understand how often your customer wants to hear from you, in what form they want to hear from you and what it is that will drive them to buy.

I’d love to know your thoughts.