Archive for May, 2012

Like Humpty Dumpty You Can Crack Open Your Campaign with Split Tests

Testing one, two. Simply running an a/b split with all your marketing campaigns can pay dividends in the end. It’s as elementary as a nursery rhyme.

To run a split test, you create two or more messages (either with different content or just a different subject line) and send the messages to randomized, equal portions of the larger list. You can then deliver the message with the best results, “the winner”, to the remainder of the list.

Which Treatment Received 104% more clicks?

Version A

Email, marketing, cross channel, cross media, direct marketing

Version B

Email, marketing, cross channel, cross media, direct marketing

Email B is the winner, according to Aaron Mandelbaum, CEO of StyleQuest, for the eight reasons below:

1. Lead With a Giving Hand. In the header of Version A I am already asked to take action; “Engage.” Version B leads with a giving hand by speaking to me early, and precedes asking for anything by using the word “gives” instead. In a give-and-take world, giving first always wins.

2. Don’t Rush Me. Version A opens with “Need to engage….?” They have already given me an opportunity to say no and I haven’t even gotten to the second sentence. With a “no” answer, I am hitting delete without getting to their value statements. Version B uses the first paragraph to get right to the point. Numbers like 68 and 35,000 automatically grab my attention in a sea of text, and sandwiched between words like “specialties, drugs, products, and procedures” the email is becoming more targeted.

3. Court Me, Don’t Force Me. The section of bullets preceded by “engage” in version B and “use” in version A, although subtle, speaks to me in a softer more suggestive tone, as opposed to a harsh directive like “use.”

I do, however, like the bold first words of each bullet in version A. “Target, Engage, Analyze” all words that speak to value and draw me to read the rest of those bullets, where version B does not enunciate key takeaways. For example, I would have liked to have seen “real-time, observe, and stimulating” highlighted in some way.

4. Use Transparency With Your Phone Numbers. Version B has a “Call Us Direct” call-to-action (CTA) at the top of the email. It is always nice to be able to pick up the phone without needing to Google the customer service phone number. Granted you will have to go through an automated system for 20 minutes to speak to someone, but sometimes that is more comforting than waiting for a response to an email reply. And although version A does offer this option with a phone number, it is at the end of the email, and however insignificant that might appear to the 104% clicks delta, the benefit of having it in the top right corner of the note adds another advantage to conversion for email B.

5. Tell Me More.  Closing CTA is stronger in version B.  I would more likely act on the “See How it Works” in version B rather than the “Get Started” in version A. “See How it Works” implies a non invasive discovery process dictated by my own direction. “Get Started” implies give something. Give your email address, personal information, maybe even a credit card number.

I don’t want to “Get Started” just yet, I want to first “See How it Works.” Speak softly to the “awareness” part of the sales funnel as you attempt to add value and move the lead to “consideration.”

6. Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself with Endorsements. The endorsements that are listed on the bottom of version A and the right side of version B are interesting. Despite the perception of added credibility, I’m not sure that I agree with the use of endorsements in this type of message. I would be interested to know if version B was tested with or without the endorsements and which garnered more clickthroughs. I’d prefer to see the endorsements used at the bottom in the footer as was done in version A. They appear to be distracting me from the value statements in version B. This minimal advantage to version A is still not enough for me to say that it out performed B.

7. Use the KISS Theory. The header of version B is more appealing to me than A. It is clean and I believe in the KISS theory – Keep It Simple Stupid.

8. Subject Lines Matter. A few questions that remain unanswered are,  “What were the subject lines of the emails and was one CTA button above the fold in A vs. B?”

Have you run a split test or two or three this month? Doing so could mean the difference between a 10% or 110% click-through rate. Doing so could mean the difference between fantastic ROI vs. a campaign that needs CPR.

Why Marketers Need to Be Like Fashionistas and Tap the Power of Layers

layering, multi-channel marketing, cross media marketing, cross channel marketing, Integrated Marketing, multi-channel marketingIn fashion, layering clothing adds interest, texture and style. In marketing, layering messages adds reach, penetration, engagement, and conversion.

Companies are learning it’s imperative to keep customers “engaged” with their brand via multiple touch points and varying layers, including print, variable data printing, social, online and mobile.  One company that’s successful at blending its multiple media channels to deliver extraordinary results is Kohl’s.

Kohl’s Cares Campaign

In 2010 Kohl’s celebrated its 10th anniversary by announcing a contest to give half a million dollars to each of 20 schools for a total of $10 million dollars.  Consumers were invited to visit to view entry rules, describe how the money would be used and cast their votes.

Kohl’s multi-channel program resulted in a gain of more than 2 million new fans for the Kohl’s brand page, and drove more than 15 million visitors who cast more than 12 million votes. Viral lift generated more than 500 million additional impressions, spreading brand advocacy across the social sphere on a very large scale.

What Were the Layers in Kohl’s Ensemble?

The Kohl’s Cares campaign used six channels to engage its customers, including:

  • Online components including the Facebook promo shown above and email marketing
  • In-store presentations with printed signage and receipt messaging
  • Television spots
  • Print advertising
  • Direct mail

Campaign Points to Ponder

The take away of this successful effort was that it was a well layered campaign, which Kohl’s highly-valued demographic of moms could hardly ignore let alone not participate in. What mother wouldn’t want more funds to boost the learning experience available at her child’s school?

Kohl’s campaign, while on the surface appeared to be digital only because of the Facebook piece, was hugely supported by print – direct mail, print ads, in-store signage and receipt mentions.

Kohl’s Care Campaign did communicate to its customers across multiple channels, including print, mobile, social and online. Marketers today must build their campaigns in segments or layers and think like generals planning a global takeover or like a chess master – many, many moves ahead.

According to Infotrends, Kohl’s campaign was successful on three fronts:

  1. It used data-driven personal messaging
  2. It supported delivering messages across all channels
  3. It delivered a campaign that truly “engaged” its end customers (moms/teachers)

Books Covers Use QR Codes to Increase Purchases and Page Turning

QR Code, 2-d barcode

Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks. Zig Ziglar, 82-year old motivational maverick, salesperson, and author just published his 12th book,  Find Your Success Code: Born to Win, which features a QR Code® that takes up one third of the front cover.

Ziglar is no doubt pulling out all the stops to hit another home run just as he did nearly four decades ago with See You at the Top, which sold 1.6 million copies and is currently in its 25th edition.

Like Madonna’s tactic of staying relevant by doing duets with Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera, Nicki Minaj, or Cee Lo Green, Ziglar is staying relevant by using today’s technology to drive his point home – find your success code. According to Publishing Perspective, QR Codes might become commonplace with publishers.

QR Code, 2-d barcodeVibe Magazine Tries to Push the Needle with QR

Last year, Vibe magazine introduced its first digital magazine, available only via a QR Code on the cover. Though the hip hop magazine had been featuring QR Codes inside for three months, this was the first time it graced the cover. Unfortunately, somebody forgot to test the code, which was without the http:// necessary for most readers to open the link in a browser.

Learn the lesson… TEST, TEST, and then RE-TEST with lots of different phones and in lots of different ways.



Other Uses of QR Beyond the Cover

If you are authoring corporate coffee table books, CEO biographies, company history books or success stories like Steve Jobs, there are many other uses of the emerging technology to consider.

Here are a few starts on how you can leverage QR codes in your publications:

  • Use a Twitter QR Code so readers are prompted to follow the author or tweet comments about the publication
  • Link to templates or applications for tracking personal improvements (think Self Help)
  • Link to a shopping list of ingredients the reader needs (think Recipe book)
  • Link to a map and describe the location (travel books)
  • Link to an audio file demonstrating pronunciation (think Language guides)
  • Link to a video demonstration how to perform what you’re describing (product guides)
  • Link to additional content relevant to the article, game, contest (think Facebook)
  • Conduct surveys, gather feedback (think readership studies on your corporate magazine)

Obviously as a marketer, uses of QR Codes are endless. If you decide to use them in your materials, here are the five golden rules.

  • Provide some instructions to the reader so they know how to use the code
  • Drive to mobile friendly content that enhances their learning
  • Include the URL in case the reader prefers to gain the information via a computer, not a mobile device
  • Add value to the reader by making the additional content relevant
  • Track the performance of your codes or what’s the point
  • Test the codes before publishing (do we really need to say why you have to test… see the Vibe comments above)

For nine more ideas on how to turn your book or magazine into a multi-media experience, visit Start a Wildfire.  Now take a 15-minute brainstorming coffee break to re-think and re-invent your existing publications and approach, just like Ziglar did.

QR Code® is a registered trademark of DensoWave.

Refuse to be Ignored, Personalize Your Email Campaigns

Personalized, email, cross channel marketing, cross media marketing, variable data, database managementSending prospects or customers emails is relatively cheap, easy, and speedy. So it’s no wonder more than 89.2% of marketing managers say email remains as important or more important in their overall marketing strategy compared to two years ago, according to an EmailVision study.

What’s surprising though is most marketers are not personalizing their email campaigns. A Direct Marketing Association analysis shows that today there are more emails arriving in consumers’ inboxes, but that the percentage of emails with personalized content has dropped from 38% to 22%. The email may say “Welcome Peter Prospect,” but the rest of the message is not personalized in any way.

The reason is not laziness, according to Arthur Middleton Hughes of Email Insider. With emails going out several times a week for most businesses, there is not enough time for the creative and/or IT department to put dynamic personal content into the bulk of outgoing emails. Companies love the lift both frequency and personalization give emails, but frequency is easier than personalization so sending more emails wins out.

Some retailers are losing their best customers by sending too many emails. Customers that purchase one item every quarter, don’t want an email every day and probably don’t want one every week. So according to Hughes, frequency can lead to customer churn, which leads marketers back to better segmenting, testing, and full use of their database instead of the temptation of volume and frequency as a crutch.

Helzberg Diamonds’ Get Personal with Email Campaign

Helzberg Diamonds achieved 288% sales lift with a promotional email that spelled a subscriber’s first name using images of Helzberg’s charms. To make the campaign shine, the team animated the charms to swing back and forth on a necklace in the email.

Because of the technical challenges of the campaign, Helzberg checked more than 100 emails to ensure the personalization worked and that it defaulted to the word “friend” if the person’s name was too long or the occasional inappropriate entry in the name field.  (We all have seen “Dirty Dog Smith” on web entry forms and probably even names worse than that.)

The results shined.

  • 288% increases in sales (or 3x) compared to the prior week’s email campaign
  • 55% higher open rate than Helzberg’s average for promotional emails
  • 85% higher clickthrough rate

Because charms jewelry was a strong seller in the past for Helzberg, the team wanted to create an exciting promotion so customer wouldn’t tire of five or six emails about charm bracelets.

Laura Schraeder, Helzberg Diamonds email marketing specialist, said her associates on the campaign joked about sending personalized animations in ever email, but Helzberg is careful to avoid making such technically rich campaigns the new standard.

Any company can refuse to be ignored as long as they remember that the same rules of direct mail apply to email – segment, personalize, and match frequency with buying habits. Don’t flood your customer’s mailbox or email inbox because it meets your needs more than theirs. Show them that you know their name and their needs. Dazzle them with more than just your creative design skill.  Dazzle them with your attention to etiquette and your strong relationship building skills.

From Pizzas to Panini’s, QR Codes® Whet Appetites for More

Panera Bread Company QR Code

Panera Bread Integrates QR Codes into In-Store Promotions

If you’ve waited in line at Panera Bread for a hot Panini lately, chances are you’ve seen the banners with QR Codes® that say, “ My job is to make your Panini perfect.” Scan the code with your QR reader enabled smart phone and you’ll be taken to a non-mobile enabled You Tube channel showcasing their Grilled to be Great videos.

Lesson learned? Cross media marketing is the rage and Panera Bread has its bread baking, sandwich making, and order taking down to a science, but its QR delivery is still a work in progress. Perhaps in the future we’ll see Panera include better call to actions other than “scan to learn more.” And then they’ll graduate to include customer rewards such as coupons on the landing page or even their secret recipe for their addictive green tea.

Saving Trees with Digital Coupons

Donatos QR Code

Donatos Shares Digital Coupons on Pizza Boxes through QR Codes

Donatas, a pizzeria chain with 200 shops in five states, has fully embraced QR Codes and integrated them into its pizza boxes. Rather than printing coupons to continually tape to the box tops, its boxes feature a prominently displayed QR code* in the upper left hand corner that when scanned lead pizza lovers to digital coupons to use the next order.


Donatos is feeding the Midwest and driving customer relationships with QR codes to its pizza boxes.

Grocer Helps Fill Your Cart with QR Promo

Price Chopper, a Kansas City based grocery brand, found out through research that 75 percent of Americans don’t know what they’ll be making for dinner when 4 PM rolls around each and every day. To remedy the situation, the grocery chain created Meal Central – an area in each store where customers can pick up all the ingredients for a quick meal at a reasonable price and scan a QR Code to take home the recipe to prepare the meal.

Meal Central Price Chopper QR Code

Meal Central Allows Shoppers to Scan a Recipe to Make for Dinner

Price Chopper is advertising the weekly Meal Central meals in print and radio advertising through in-store banner with QR Codes, email marketing, on its website, and on Facebook.

The Price Chopper’s multi-channel campaign solves four real problems – (1) as a consumer, what can I serve for dinner on a budget without thinking (2) increases in-store sales (3) is measurable (4) creates a valuable archive for consumers to retrieve recipes on the grocer’s website and come to the store with a link the recipe to pick up ingredients.

In our fast moving world, QR codes make good sense to use in retail environments because people don’t want to wait or even to drive home to get the coupon off the refrigerator.

How can your business use QR codes to solve a problem your customers are hungry for a solution and to package it into a multi-channel campaign? Shoot us an email when you’ve built your QR campaign so we can write about your creativity and execution later this year?


QR Code® is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.

How One Print Error Can Cost a Company or Country Billions (or more)

Reducing Print Mistakes through Print AutomationTo err is human. For the Federal Reserve to err when printing 1.1 billion in redesigned $100 bills led to $110 billion in unusable dollars, which is the equivalent to a tenth of the worldwide U.S. currency.

Of course these botch bills can be destroyed over the course of many years, but they still cost the government 12 cents a piece to print, which means the Federal Reserve spent about $120 million printing bills with errors that must be pitched.

Cutting Printing Mistakes Can Save a Business Thousands

Once the ink hits the paper, there’s no turning back. Printers site that they lose one to 20 percent of annual sales because of spoilage (projects that get tossed because of typos, misplaced decimal points, and errors that slip into print).  InfoTrends reports that businesses generally toss 31% of all printed material due to errors and obsolescence.

By putting stringent pre-press and proofing processes in place, a company can reduce waste. For example, if a company purchases $2 million in paper each year, saving one copy out of every 100 will yield an annual paper savings of $20,000. Remakes and waste can be measured using the same method.

Switching to print automation drastically reduces errors by removing the human interim step and going straight from database to digital press without the manual need to hand off files (potentially the wrong file).

Slowing down and putting a couple extra proofing passes into your process can mean the difference in tossing millions of brochures instead of gaining millions in new business.

One online business entrepreneur calculated that a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half for Internet based businesses. Not only do sales drop, so does a company’s credibility.

Errors Are a Costly Signs of the Times

We live in a rushed, multi-tasking society. Unless we slow down and concentrate on the moment, we’re very likely to let errors slip through showing up in our print and digital communications.

Finding and correcting errors in public signage across the country turned Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson into national heroes as well as well-known authors. In their book. The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time, Deck and Herson unearthed 400 spelling and grammar errors in storefront signage. Mistakes include cappuccino spelled, cappachino and capucino, and shipping spelled with one “p” or dining room spelled with two “n’s.”

The traveling proofreading friends also flagged menus with “crap-stuffed sole” instead of “crab-stuffed sole.”

History Making Typos

While some typos create a stir and fade from memory in short order, some have endured the test of time and even changed history.


The iron content of spinach became misrepresented because a decimal was placed to far to the right in an 1870 German study. The typo that endured 140 years in print showed spinach having 10 times the iron content of what was actually in the vegetable.


NASA’s ill-fated launch of America’s first inner-planetary problem, Mariner 1, was caused by someone who neglected to put a dot over an “R” in the space formula. Because of the error the $80 million space shuttle had to be detonated when it came flying back to earth.

Mizuho Securities

In 1995 Mizuho Securities tried to recruit J-Com Co.  employees to work for them by offering 610,000 yen per share ($5,041). A typo made the offer appear to be significantly below that at one yen per share. It also had offered 41 times the number of J-Com Co. shares actually in existence – the equivalent of trying to sell more then 40 times something you don’t have and being forced to back it up to any dissatisfied customers.

The error resulted in a $225 million loss for Mizuho Securities.

Life Plus Parole

In the 80s a man named Bruce Wayne Morris was convicted of robbing and killing a man. At sentencing the jury had to decide between execution or being imprisoned without parole, which was worded, “Bruce Wayne would not have the possibility of making parole.”

The typo occurred when the “not” was left out of the sentence. Therefore the jury mistakenly thought they had to pick between death and letting Wayne out to roam the streets so they picked death.

It took 10 years of federal appeals to reverse the decision and cost the state of California millions of dollars.

The magnitude of a misplaced decimal, dash, symbol, or word can cost a company dearly. Here are three specific examples where a typo cost companies millions:

  • A missing comma and zeros in a lender’s lien changed $93 million to $93,000, causing U.S. insurance company Prudential to lose the difference in 1978.
  • A misprinted date caused New York real estate developers to lose tens of millions in revenue.
  • A misprinted phone number in an L.L. Bean catalog caused the retailer to pay a six-figure sum to purchase the erroneous phone number — the exact amount was not disclosed — in an effort to avoid losing customers.

Typos in Numbers

While a misspelled world can be embarrassing and reputation damaging, a misplaced number or decimal point can cost you millions and your career. This is why printed pieces disclosing corporate numbers are highly scrutinized and under the supervision of CPAs, attorneys, and security exchange personnel.

Accuracy counts in financials. Can you imagine a management team releasing their annual report with this disclaimer:

“Some of the figures might be wrong, there’s a few decimal points in the wrong place and some of the calculations are off but you’ll get the general idea.”

Beyond annual reports, the printing of coupons, particularly in the gaming industry, is ripe for errors. Some casinos print millions of dollar worth of gaming coupons per month. One misplaced decimal point could shake the foundation of the house. Here are some ways to make sure your corporation’s printed pieces are error free with its words and numbers.

Staffing & Selecting Outside Vendors

Both your internal staff as well as your print and marketing partners must understand your numbers and financials. They must be in the know to spot something in a headline, graph or coupon that doesn’t make sense. The gaming industry, and in most industries, is not a place for amateurs. Screen and stringently test the grammar and spelling among all your employees not just those in your communication area, and never pick a vendor just because of price. Select based on a quality track record.

Security and Quality Assurance

Make sure data security and confidentiality are on your list of requirements for staff and vendors touching your data. Ensure system security measures are in place before transferring, storing, or printing your data.

Make sure your marketing partner has a model of campaign design with built-in quality checks, from conception to execution. If your vendor doesn’t have a plan, or looks to you for a plan, you may need to choose another vendor.


How to Turn that Abandoned Cart into Dollars

Email marketing supports online shoppersInternet shopping has increased 51% in the past two years. Today, seven out of 10 internet users shop online. If you’re an e-commerce company, this is all good until you see that e-retailers have lost around $33 billion in revenues because of abandoned carts in the past several years. Statistics indicate that three out of 10 online shoppers abandon their carts – that’s 70 percent.

Abandoned carts mean abandoned revenues. Getting someone to almost make a purchase serves no one on the game scorecard of business. Surprisingly only 15% of the top 1000 online retailers are following up with shoppers who don’t complete their transaction.

Part of personalized marketing is knowing what your customer came for and making sure they leave with it.

Why do people abandon carts?

Though there may be many reasons for an online shopper to push the keyboard away and not click “make purchase,” including a crying baby, the most common reasons are:

1.  A poor checkout experience.  The process was too long, complicated, cumbersome, or not inline with an easier experience they’ve grown accustomed to.

2. High shipping charges. By the time shopper gets to the screen with this information, he or she is shocked by the shipping charge and therefore aborts the purchase.

3. Doing their own price check. Some shoppers are looking for the best price and the only way to learn the price is to initiate a purchase. McAfee calls this digital window shopping.

4. They lack trust. Because of media reports of other online retailers having their customer database breached or the fear of identity theft, they fear putting their credit card number into your hands. They are worried about being defrauded on your site.

5. They didn’t see the option they wanted. Perhaps they don’t want to sign up for an account with the retailer to make one purchase this lifetime or perhaps they thought there would be a Pay Pal option. When they don’t see the option of their preference, they abort.

Turning that Cart Around

Abandonment is a lose/lose. The retailer doesn’t make the sale and the customer stays home empty handed. Fortunately, there are ways to decrease shopping cart abandonment and improve the customer experience.

1. Improve the experience. One of the main reasons consumers choose to shop online is the convenience. Ensure the process is easy, convenient, smooth and glitch-free. Place a shopping cart on every page or at the top of each page so finding it is easy.

2. Have reasonable shipping charges. Make sure your shipping charges are in line, or build them into your prices so you can offer free shipping.

3. Earn their trust. Seeing is believing in America and online. Have the best designed site you can afford, which includes a full company name, complete address and phone number, easy-to-find contact us page and form, a complete About Us page with professionally taken photographs. Display trust seals, association seals and any other seals you have permission to use. Also include social media buttons to follow. Showing that your company is present elsewhere on the Net provides social validation to prospects.

4. Provide online help. Provide all the help channels you can muster so your prospects can quickly get their answers and leave with what they came for. FAQs, forums, and live chats will bolster confidence and increase sales.

5. Follow up afterwards. Be one of the minority that follow-up by email or phone with prospects that abandon their carts. Chances are there’s something you can do to gain their business by answering a question or sending them a URL to a page that you can walk them through.

6. Show ‘em before they get there. If they know the payment options you offer and the shipping charges upfront, you’ll decrease abandonment at the end of the purchasing process.

7. Be technically and verbally clear. Make sure you’ve been crystal clear on your business, your product and the steps to checkout. What seems clear to an IT person, most certainly won’t seem clear to a grandmother on her first laptop. And make sure the pages load quickly, the forms are accepted without errors, and, customer doesn’t leave the screen until he or she sees a note that their order has been received.

Recovery of Lost Sales

Cart abandonment is a huge opportunity for Internet retailers. By following the recommendations above you can be on your way to recovering some of the $18 million being lost each year, according to Listrak.

Don’t be among the 22% of businesses that have no idea what their abandonment rate is or how much they are losing. Start by using Listrak’s online shopping cart abandonment calculator to get a grip on the size of the problem.

Then devise a reachback campaign to redirect these dollars back to your company vs. a competitors’ cart. Because unlike digital window shopping, a shopper who has abandoned his or her cart, will most likely return. In analysis of over 160 million transactions, the average time between their first visit to your online store and their return is between 54 minutes and 33 hours.

If you can re-engage these customers in this timeframe, you have a high likelihood of regaining a customer and helping them fill their shopping cart.