Archive for January, 2012

Are You Sticking Your Landing?

landing pages, PURLS, purlA gymnast who dismounts off the balance beam and sticks her landing—no bobbles, wobbles, or falls—usually earns a perfect score. In the world of marketing, the marketing officer who finishes his campaign effort with a well-constructed landing page that encourages customers to sign up and stick around, usually earns up to 40% more email captures than marketing officers who don’t point prospects to a landing page.

A landing page (also known as a squeeze page, jump page, PURL or a microsite) is relatively simple to build. Most companies should have at least one landing page for every product or service. A landing page should serve a purpose— to gain customer information so you can develop a relationship with him or her over time so they will trust you and buy your products. The cardinal rule is never send ad traffic to your home page where they might get lost and never return.

Building a landing page that gives the prospect clear value increases the likelihood of getting their contact information. But here’s the rub, you only get 56 seconds to persuade them to do this, according to data from Nielson. To optimize your chances of success, here’s a simple checklist to follow:

  • Make sure the call to action is clear
  • Make sure the headline is strong and matches your advertising promise
  • Put the important content at the top, so there is no need to scroll
  • Make sure your landing page loads easily and quickly so you don’t lose your prospects
  • Include links to your contact page and privacy policy in the footer
  • Don’t ask for too much information in your opt-in form (name and email are standard)
  • Give clear details of what they’re getting, when they’re getting it, and what to expect next
  • Include the copy, pictures, and when applicable, video, necessary to earn their trust
  • Testimonials that reinforce the benefit to opting in work wonders

Building strong landing pages has enough curriculum online to be parlayed into a college degree. However, if you don’t have time to go back to night school, just watch The Art of Crafting Effective Landing Pages by Daniel Johnston.

In case you don’t have time to watch all of Dan Johnston’s presentation, let me point out the four worst things you can try to do with your landing pages.

1.  Throw in the Kitchen Sink. Trying to cram as much as possible onto one page puts the burden on the respondent to sift through it. Stay focused on the one action you want them to take and why they should take it.

2.  Rush to get their number. Landing pages that immediately ask a visitor to complete a form, fail. Build up to it, then ask for their email or number.

3.  Optimize too much. Test which combination of headline, image, and offer button works best, but don’t waste a lot of time on minutia or microscopic tweaks.

4.  Not honoring brand. Just because landing pages are quick and cheap to build doesn’t mean they should look cheap. Make sure the image your page presents is professional and matches your brand.

We hope this gives you plenty of ideas to run and execute in the New Year with your landing pages. Build many, attract many, measure always, and remember to stick your landing for the best direct marketing results.

3 Email Marketing Tips for 3 Levels of Experience

email marketingAs 2012 begins, it’s important to review your marketing tactics to get a clearer picture of what worked and what didn’t. Technology is constantly evolving, and it’s wise to keep up with new trends.

That said, if email marketing is a part of your marketing plan, are you utilizing it the best way possible to ensure the best results?

What are we talking about, in particular? Well, let’s start with the basics:

  • You don’t necessarily want to just add anyone to your mailing list. What you send them should be relevant and you should have a real relationship with the individual.  If possible get permission.
  • Don’t be spam … or look like it. Show clear intent in the subject line and write the email to match. Identify yourself in the from line and provide a physical address. Make sure you have a prominent opt-out feature and stagger your sends in smaller batches to avoid looking like a spammer.
  • Try personalizing your message. Put their name at the top. Let them know you know who they are and this isn’t a random message. You think you know what they want and have the means to give it to them.

Next steps are a little more intermediate. But we’re sure you can keep up! (And if not, you know who to call!)

  • Always test your email before it goes out! See how it looks in different email clients … with pictures and with pictures blocked … in text and in HTML. You’d be surprised the massive effects these things can have on your message.  Think about it like this – you would never send a direct mail piece without doing a LOT of proof reading.  Be sure to do the same with your email.
  • Track, track and track some more. Watch your click-through rate, conversion rate and delivery rate. Make sure people are getting your message, wanting to open your email, and clicking through.
  • Try different options based upon your tracking rates. Send your email with a different subject line or offer. Send it on a different day and/or a different time of day. Find what works.

And for those a little more advanced (or who are savvy enough to find folks who can help!), these tips are for you:

  • Separate your list into different segments based upon demographics and/or shopping habits and history. Tailor your message and/or offer to match that audience and get even better results!
  • Keep your mailing list clean. Remove hard bounces (those addresses that don’t work), NEVER send to those who have opted out, and trim those contacts who never view your message or click on anything.
  • Watch your feedback loop. If someone clicks “this is spam,” you have to stop sending emails to that address. Make sure you subscribe to ISP feedback loops and monitor it on a regular basis.

Email marketing doesn’t have to be intimidating, but it can be time consuming. Do it poorly, and you’re not only missing out on key customers but your time isn’t being well spent. Do it properly, and gain a great reputation, expand your brand awareness, and boost those sales and conversions!

To Mail or to Email, That is the Environmental Question

email marketing, direct mailChoosing a marketing channel was not an issue for Shakespeare in the 1600s when his only option was to dip his quill in the ink well and draft his plays on whatever writing surface was available. Marketers today have many channels in which to communicate with their customers, but the savvy marketer considers the environment AND the marketing return on the investment.

If you’re a supporter of going green off the clock, shouldn’t you be practicing what you preach on the clock?  Does your company have environmental initiatives and is your marketing department being good stewards of it resources?

To save the planet, marketers can dedicate themselves to supporting resources that are sustainable. One way to do that is to reuse, recycle, and repurpose what you generate day to day in your work with paper topping the list. Paper comes from wood, which is one of the few true natural renewable resources we have.

Thanks to tree farming (the 95 million acres of forest planted and harvested for commercial purposes) the pulp and paper industry replenishes more than it takes and ensures the sustainability of our forests by planting 1.7 million trees every day – way more than is harvested.

Nearly 60 percent of all paper in the U.S. is recycled. In comparison, less than 20 percent of U.S. electronic devices are recycled.

So while emails are deemed free to send, the technology behind emails has a business and environmental cost. A study by Thomas Jackson of the Department of Information Science, at Loughborough University, reports that emails cost a business between $8,000 to $16,000 per employee based on an averaged salary of $40,000.

Email costs resulted from ambiguous unclear messages, email overload, security and privacy issues, and email interruptions. The formula accounts for time spent reading email (average read time and average number of emails per day).

McAfee, released a report in 2009 called the Carbon Foot Print of Email Spam Report. In its report McAfee cited:

  • In 2008, 62 trillion spam emails were sent;
  • Spam emails used 33 billion kW/h in 2008 in order to be processed (that is equivalent to the energy use in 2.4 million homes for a year, or it is equivalent to using 2 billion gallons of gasoline;
  • Spam filtering is equivalent to taking 13 million cars off of the roads; one spam email requires the same amount of energy as driving 3 feet (the annual volume of email spam requires enough energy to drive around the earth 1.6 million times).

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Be sure to check out the great infographic from WebPageFX.

So what can you do to be more environmentally conscious while you boost business for your company? Here’s a list of ideas to become a greener marketer in 2012.

  • Become a certified Environmentally Responsible Marketer (ERM)
  • Use cleaner mailing lists that limit duplication and waste – yes Mail Print is telling you to mail to few people by making sure they are the RIGHT people.
  • Research to effectively target your most likely customers
  • Only mail information on products your customer is interested in
  • Use recycled materials and water-based inks
  • Use paper made from chemical-free processing
  • Print on both sides to save resources and reduce mailing costs
  • Follow the practices of socially responsible companies
  • Take the Direct Marketing Association’s Green 15 Pledge

By practicing good eco-marketing, you’ll help the planet and improve customer relationships with your eco-conscious consumers.

Start Creating Effective and Relevant Direct Mail Today

Direct Mail

Make your mail pieces relevant and you will never be considered "Junk"

Even with the explosion of the Internet and all the different electronic and mobile marketing techniques there are today, direct mail is still a very important part of any marketing plan. Why? Because it’s direct. It speaks directly to your customer:  someone you know who fits your target audience and may very well want or need your product or service.

Any good direct mail campaign must possess the following:

  • a good understanding of the target audience
  • a promotional message that appeals to that audience
  • eye-catching graphics to grab the reader’s attention
  • and a strong offer to encourage them to take action.

Using cross media (multiple advertising, marketing and PR touches) in one campaign can help reinforce your message and, thus, gain you a higher response, as people remember and respond differently to each medium. Plus, it will generate more brand awareness.

According to a survey sponsored by the Direct Marketing Association and Pitney Bowes, 39% of respondents said they tried a business for the first time because of direct mail advertising, and 70% said they renewed a business relationship because of a direct mail promotion.

The great news is, the tactics used in direct mail can not only lead your audience to other media (e.g., e-mail to a website), they can also be replicated in other marketing channels. For example, email has probably become one of the most important mediums. This is great as you can also personalize your message and customize your offer specifically for the reader. Also, just like printed direct mail, email can include variable images and text to tailor it to a specific audience.

Remember, however, that on average, customers view physical mail as “less intrusive” than telephone calls or email because they can view the messages at their own convenience. So, how do you make it relevant?

Your contact database is a great place to start. It contains all sorts of demographic statistics (or it should) that can help you tailor the right message for your audience. The effectiveness of a direct mail piece (just like the effectiveness of an email campaign) is measured by the response it generates. When using direct mail, consider using a QR code or personal URL (PURL) to enable readers to take quick action and enable you to track those specific actions.

A postcard is an ideal direct mail piece for this kind of fast, reliable and trackable method. Its size is perfect for a sales message and call to action, yet it doesn’t need to be opened for the message to be seen. If sending the reader to a landing page through a QR code or PURL, make sure to keep them there by personalizing that content, too, making your visitor feel like you truly understand their world.

What kind of direct mail campaigns have worked for you? Share your experiences with cross media, relevance and response here.

 

5 Things Flash Mobs Can Teach You About Email Marketing

email marketingFlash mobs are unexpected, irresistible, and often historic if they go viral on You Tube. Chief Marketing Officers should aspire for the same traits in their email campaigns.

Harper’s Magazine’s editor Bill Wasik invented flash mobs as an experiment about social conformity and people wanting to be part of the next big thing. His first flash mob failed.  Abraham Lincoln said, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

However, Wasik’s meticulously planned his second flash mob, which was held in 2003 in Macy’s Department store. It was a success with 130 mob participants. The engage email power of planning always brings better returns.

Here are five other ways flash mobs can inspire you to construct email campaigns that will be included in the 2012 next big thing list.

 

Grab Your Audiences Attention
Flash mob and email marketing similarities start with the person who leads the performance. The person who initiates the flash mob is the equivalent to the subject line of your email campaign. This pattern interrupt stops the busy shopper.  In your case the busy prospect scanning his email.  As he scans the various lines he stops at your message simply because your compelling subject line appeals to him.

 

Engage Them So They Stay With You

Once they click, your email message needs to engage them just as a flash mob moves into Act II of its performance. One way to engage is to be relevant by sending a message that matches the interest of your prospect. A retail shopper who buys socks, white v-neck tees and plaid boxers will engage with your sales reminder that those items are discounted this week. Personalizing your message to reflect their interests, needs, and wants indicates that you know them and increase your credibility to the shopper.  You are more engaging, or rather your message is engaging.

 

Be Brief, Be Real

An average flash mob dance is three to five minutes. Keep your message brief because the average person spends just 15-20 seconds reading an email.

To keep your prospect from clicking the delete button, make your message conversational rather than a blatant sales pitch.

 

Keep it Clean

Just as a flash mob keeps its performances G-rated, keep your email list scrubbed and in good hygiene. Good list hygiene includes removing lapsed addresses (disengaged prospects) that don’t respond to win-back campaigns. Also, use deliverability tools such as feedback loops, tracking delivery by domain, and scoring content to avoid looking “spammy”.

Keep your marketing messages and images in good taste, too. CornerBarPR.com got push back from its prospects when it emailed a subscriber solicitation for its online database with a seductive bartender on it. Though the campaign was supposed to play off the company’s bar tie-in, it didn’t win any customers among conservative PR circles.

There’s more to be learned from flash mobs to inspire better email marketing in 2012. Take 30-minutes during your lunch break to watch the 10 most viewed flash mobs of all time and let us know what you plan to apply in the New Year.