Jul 30, 2008

Tell me how you buy, I'll send you what you want.

I talked earlier about matching your email database information with the activity on your website, but there are other information that you might want to add to your emailing strategy to optimize your email campaigns and maximize your ROI.

One important thing that you probably know about your clients' database but hardly ever use is the buying attitude of your profiles.

Let's imagine you are an online tour operator, then why not match the date of purchase and the type of product bought. You would then be able to send relevant offers at the right time.
For example if you can create a group of clients that usually buy trips to the southern hemisphere in December, then why not send them a great sunshine offer in November?

Other example, let's imagine you are selling time limited goods then by inserting the buy date in your database you can launch an automated campaign when you expect the client to need to buy the product again.

Once again, it's always about gathering as much information as possible about the people in your DB the more you know, the more efficient you can be.

Jul 28, 2008

Send less, earn more

The idea sounds Utopian but think a second about it:
What if you could send less emails and earn more cash out of it... and I'm not telling you as much, I'm talking about MORE earnings.

That's simple, today companies feel like, since the email broadcasting is cheap (compared to offline mailings and advertising), they can afford to broadcast the entire Database each time.
I won't talk right now about the virtues of targeting your communications to segments in your DB that match the type of offer you are sending out (although this is also a very important thing to do, that I will probably talk about soon enough).
The problem I talk about today is that a DB evolves and lives, and after a while, some emails inside your DB, simply die.
Most companies, willing to keep as much fire power as possible continue sending emails to the entire DB over and over again.

Now let's just think as an ISP now for a second, let's imagine one of your users has not been consulting his email during the last 12 running months, but companies continue sending email communications to this address, what credit would you grant these companies?
Wouldn't you block them?
That's just what we call email traps.

So back to my point:
By sending less I talk about excluding from your active DB emails with no reactions for let's say the last 6 months that have received a minimum number of communications (to avoid excluding non targeted emails), you can of course adjust the time period according to your types of communications.
Then, once these emails are removed, what kind of loss of openings do you expect? Slim to none, and you instantly cut your sendout fees. That's benefit one.
But, and that's why I talked about IMPROVING your revenue, your broadcast will trigger less trap emails, hence your campaign will run smoother and have a better overall delivrability (and more chances to end up inside the user's inbox). You should very soon see your open rate and click rate increase and your revenue as well.

Jul 27, 2008

Come again?

What a great WE... 3 posts in a row :)

This post here is a quick analysis of how you should adapt your comunications to the target you aim at.

Today, a lot of companies have lead campaigns running to increase their database volume.
These lead campaigns can be affiliation programs, sweepstakes, co-registration...

One of the most common mistake made by companies that buy third party leads is to consider them as regular clients registered on the website or through forms in shops.

It's very important here to make a distinction between a client that knows your brand an your type of products and someone that (more or less knowingly) registered to receive offers from your company.

When I usually advise people to send special offers to their clients, attractive offers that can get the client to buy instantly, it is - according to me - necessary when you send emailings to prospects to have the following in your creative:

- A quick and general presentation of your brand
People registered through lead campaigns generally have a poor knowledge of your website and activity, it's therefore useful to put things strait.

- A broad selection of attractive products/offers from your catalogue.
Since prospects don't know your offer in general and you hardly have any information concerning their taste it can be useful to start with generic creatives that can give them a good glance at your activity. You also increase the chances that the prospect sees something he might be interested in.

- The marketing pressure.
Until a prospect becomes a client (and you can move him from one DB to the other). It's never too good to harass him. You might get him to unsubscribe quickly from your prospects database.
I would advise to communicate regularly to always remain present in the prospect's mind but not too insistent, I would say once a week is the highest pressure you should apply to your prospects list.

Come to the dark side...

I continue my thinkgeek (www.thinkgeek.com) t-shirts collection by having a quick post concerning cookie tracking.

The main advantage of online campaigns in general (and e-mail campaigns of course) is the exactitude of the statistics, the simplicity with which you can see in an instant if your campaign performed or not.

Just like in online advertising (media campaigns and affiliate campaigns), you can use cookies in your email tracking (along with session trackers in the urls) to track users even after they clicked on the email and landed somewhere on the web.

Fair enough you might say... but being able to track a user from the email broadcast up to the order confirmation page can give you a whole number of information you can then use in your CRM.

Today, these tracking possibilities are taken one step beyond by some ESP (more and more of them) by plugging their tool to the web analytics software used on the website. This has the double benefit of simplifying the web analytics campaign setup to track the broadcast (since the campaign is declared and tracked in the email creative by the ESP itself) but it also strengthens the overall knowledge of the users' habits on your website, especially those coming from your email campaigns. It finally gives a good view of user oriented analytics on both sides (mail and website).

Jul 25, 2008

Obey gravity, it's the LAW !


Just as gravity, some laws are unbreakable, in email marketing, legislation can be very different from one country to the other, but overall, in B2C, you need the user's permission to add them to a database.
But my point is not legal, I want to talk a little about best practices concerning your database management.

Obeying local legislation while collecting leads in your database is the guarantee of avoiding legal suits, it's not enough to be efficient.

Some rules are not dicted by legal courts, they are user driven and the ISPs are very keen on not letting you break them.

Having an optin on your subscription form: Good
Having a double optin process (with an email check): Better

Giving the possibility to unsubscribe from your newsletter: Necessary
Having a simple straightforward unsubscribe process: Better

My point is, the user has plenty of ways to harm your sender reputation and believe me, an angry user is not something you want to deal with, even if all your program is legal.

Studies across the world all come to the same conclusion: A user will not try to find a regular way of getting out of your list for too long, the spam report button will be more tempting...

As a colleague of mine always says: Just keep the unsubscribe process as simple as the optin one.

Jul 22, 2008

The 4 steps of email direct marketing

I would like to take a minute to explain what are the 4 steps of direct marketing and how to maximize your campaign's efficiency on each of these steps:

Step 1:
Deliverability. Of course having the email reach your database's profile is the first step of a successful campaign.
To do so is a hard work and needs you to work long on matching the highest standards of email marketing. Let's not detail everything; it will probably be done in a future post. But the most important elements are having a double optin on your website, being very cautious when choosing the company that will sell you leads, erasing long inactive users from the DB,...

Step 2:
Once in the user's inbox, the next step is having him open the mail, this is determined by the following elements:
- The sender name (is your brand recognized by the user)
- The targeting (it seems quite obvious that sending a communication to people in the right target is better)
- The subject line
This last element is probably the easiest step of the campaign to work on, the goal is to interest the user and to have him open the email for further information.
You need not give to much information as it might avoid people believing not to be interested opening the email.
The subject line needs to be attractive but remain in adequation with the creative and the offer; else it will directly impact in a negative way the next step.

Step 3:
The click on the creative.
To have people click on your creative you need:
- A nice and clear creative
- Multiple clickable elements (it has been proved that the less clickable elements in the email, the less clicks you get)
- A nice offer (people are obviously more likely to click on a nice offer than on a poor one) - It might be interesting to have a special offer only available through the email.
It is important to remember here that the creative will also depend on the target, prospection emails or emails sent to new clients should contain more company related information than an email to good and faithful customers that have a good knowledge of your company.

Step 4:
The transformation rate.
Once the user has clicked on the creative, he usually ends up on your website, from now on, he will be quite free of going wherever he wishes.
My advices here are to:
- Have a clear landing page (probably better to have one dedicated to the email campaign).
The information in the email creative need to be the same as the one on the landing page.
- Have a minimum of links out of your website.
Your goal is to keep the traffic on your website.
- Have a minimum number of steps up to your transformation page.
It can be either an order or a subscription to your services, but you need to keep the transformation process as short as possible, the more steps, the more likely people might resign.

Hope this short post will help you, I will get back on these elements separately soon.

Jul 2, 2008

Like a drunken driver...

Ok, now I crossed the border and I'm working as an international project manager at Cabestan (Email Service Provider) and I do realize now database owners often act like drunken drivers.
We (Cabestan) do a lot of counsel with our clients and edit best practices (such as double optin, database cleanup, etc...)
Despite all of this our clients often (not all of them of course ^^) forget these best practices and usually end up with their emails in the junk folder (or even refused by the ISP for policy reasons).

Usually they come to blame the ESP... this to me just as unfair as a drunken driver blaming the car manufacturer for their accident.