8 Ideas for Effective Holiday Marketing Emails….After Being Inundated with Black Friday Messages

I got 150+ emails in less than 3 days about Black Friday shopping! And then another stack came in over the weekend about Cyber Monday. The messaging is that every single business has the absolute best deals right now; my life will be incomplete if I don’t take advantage of each one of them.

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

There were so many that they blurred into each other, intent lost. After scanning many of them, I put together a list of 8 tactics that can make your emails stand out from the pack:

  1. Subject line: A deadline can help improve open rates: “Today Only.” “Ends tonight.”   Followed by “Sale extended” and “Almost Over.”
  2. Offer: If you have the capability, send each individual a targeted message based on previous activity or purchases. If you cannot do this, craft an offer by a group with similar characteristics (ie. demographics, age on file, previous activity).
  3. Keep it simple. State a clear offer in the subject line, make the response button stand out, and the email layout easy to navigate.
  4. Sending 4 of the same emails with the same subject line is a cheap tactic. Change it up!
  5. Emojis in the subject line must be the “in” tactic this year to get people to notice the emails. Many, many emojis. I would test whether this improves click-thru rates.
  6. Early specific promotions can also work. For example, Cyber Monday offers started on Sunday to boost sales.
  7. Double check your load times on several browsers. If your content take too long to load, it is likely they will be deleted or ignored.
  8. Free, it still works. Free shipping, free bonus gift, free download, freebies. All those can bump responses, in your email.

While it may be too late to incorporate these ideas into this holiday season promotions, we should all continue testing in 2019. I am such a huge proponent of testing; here is another post  I wrote with testing ideas.

The journey continues.

Cindy

The Demise of Seventeen Magazine, Print Edition

The THUD factor. That’s what I remember most about the always-anticipated Seventeen magazine back-to-school issue when I was in high school. There was no clothes shopping for me until I had time to devour that issue and read about the latest fashion ideas.

17 back to school issue

Thick, glossy pages, were full of so much critical information for a high school girl to absorb. I can remember tall boots, suede jackets with elbow patches, knee length skirts. I think much is in similar style today!

Of all the print magazines that have disappeared from the newsstands, this one was the stiletto to my heart. Seventeen was such a big part of my formative years. It is perhaps one reason why I remain a magazine junkie today, why my entire career has been working in magazines and media.

According to Folio, Seventeen will live on mainly in a digital format. Sorry, but that isn’t as visceral or sexy as opening the gate-fold covers, folding down and flagging pages to re-visit, ripping out pages to take to the store to copy, stacking them along my wall to read again and again.

I know. We didn’t have 24-hour access to shopping, Instagram influencers, the latest fashions, and ability to purchase from around the world. But some of that anticipation, the imagination, the memories might also be missing from the experience.

What are some magazines/TV shows that influenced your high school years that have vanished from the media landscape today?

The journey continues.

Cindy

P.S.  On the tail of posting this, news came out that Glamour was also ceasing print.  Wow.

Lighting Your Path to Success

How do you simplify a challenging project that at first glance seems overwhelming? Procrastinate? Flounder in the middle, then move backwards to the start? While I have admittedly done both, neither of these options was going to work for me last week with a new assignment and a proposal due.

Complicated tasks can sometimes seem like that big, tangled ball of holiday lights you pull out every season. You have to gently lay out each strand and test them before you can use them.

For projects, I have a system that I use that helps me simplify it into those individual strings. Then we can better understand each phase, and how they will work together.

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Photo by Adonyi Gábor from Pexel

First, I write down GOALS of the project. Seeing and agreeing to each objective is important—even more when working with someone who is not as knowledgeable about the areas of expertise or technologies we are focusing on.

Second, I break the project into the MANAGEABLE STEPS needed to reach each goal.   Once shared with the client, these details help us to create an estimated timeline, budget, and let us know what other departments and vendors need to be involved.

Many times there are unknown variables that might modify how we proceed, but we now have a starting point.

The next time you have an intricate undertaking, first take a step back. After the ideas start to formulate, then establish your goals and steps. Written down, they will help light your way to success.

The journey continues.

Cindy

My Top 10 Takeaways from Digital Summit, Chicago

Last week I participated in the lively, educational and nerd-worthy fun Digital Summit in Chicago.   This was such a worthwhile, information-overloaded event for digital marketers.

I got many practical, cost-effective ideas from speakers who worked for familiar organizations including LinkedIn, Twitter, Spotify, Hubspot, Instagram, the Moth and other marketing firms, creative agencies, and marketing users.

Here are the Top 10 Takeaways I got from the event:

  1. “We can never get control of our marketing until we get control of our data”. My favorite line, from Matt Hertig of Alight Analytics
  2. On your email efforts, your FROM line should be from a trustworthy or recognizable person or brand. And make that SUBJECT line compelling, since 47% of people open their emails based on the subject line.
  3. Things that artists do well on social media that brands can learn from. 1—authenticity 2-frequency 3—engage 4—use video.
  4. Build your own known and owned audience for success in content marketing. Then amplify your content.
  5. Translate your company’s purpose into marketing messages with provocative content (like REI).
  6. You have about 8 seconds to engage with a subscriber on your email effort.
  7. Executive buy-in is key to implementing marketing strategy and implementaion.
  8. Brand activism is increasing with frequency and intensity.
  9. To build community, engage with other accounts in a meaningful way. Are you doing or just saying?
  10. On Twitter, most stories trend within the first 48 hours.

Bonus of #11. –Video, video, video! The use of video increases engagement, partially because visuals can be absorbed 60,000 times faster than text. Expect to see more growth in video in 2019 since many of the speakers talked about using it.

I hope that most of you will find at least 1 thing on this list that you can incorporate into your marketing efforts. Feel free to contact me if you want to have a deeper discussion about any of these.

The journey continues.  Cindy

P.S. . If you want to read more of the ideas I got from the conference, scroll through my Twitter feed (@CindyCardinal1) from the week of 9/27/18

 

The List–A Critical Key to your Marketing Success

Marketers, who is vetting your lists??!!

We have lived in our house for 13 years. This week I received an 8.1oz mailer for an event addressed—with very wrong spelling—to the previous owner. What a waste: of postage, of a fairly heavy direct mail package, of a lead name, and most importantly, of a possible attendee who might have wanted to spend $700-5000+ to attend this particular event?

The list. Whether you are using email/search/direct mail/telemarketing/tv/radio channel to market, the quality of your list is still key to getting any response.

If your message doesn’t go to the right person, it doesn’t matter how fancy, attractive, or pithy your marketing effort, copy or offer is.

Choose your lists carefully, keep your own database clean, and analyze results and bad contact info (mailing address, phone number/email) to decide which lists to use again.

An experienced marketer can work with a legitimate list broker to research and recommend lists that reach your target audience. There are so many details on a list rental “data card” that the marketer knows how to interpret, as well as questions to ask about newly available lists. And on the flip side, there are unscrupulous brokers and cobbled-together-from-garbage lists.

Here are 4 simple ideas to clean up and then analyze many of your marketing efforts:

  1. Run your final mailing list through NCOA, have emails cleaned, or have your telemarketing vendor clean up area codes and numbers.
  2. Only buy lists from reputable firms and brands.
  3. Double check bad address/phone/email counts (from before mailing) and response rates by list.
  4. Sometimes, you can spot check a few names against company websites or LinkedIn. Other times the list firm insists a rented list go directly to the mail house, so you cannot do this.

It’s back to basics for marketing smarter in today’s competitive environment. And it’s the details can help you drive success.

The journey continues.

Cindy

Training–Back to Basics

How often do you think about the basics of doing your job?

Recently I had a college student with zero experience help create a series of landing pages and emails for a client. I had to explain publishing A-to-Z and the audience development process in far more detail than I usually think about it.

We get so entrenched in our daily responsibilities that we forget how intricate familiar tasks can be, when broken down to individual steps.   Taking the time to verbally explain  (or write down) a project allows you to see your work in a new light.

Things my intern learned from me:

–why media companies market a variety of products

–what white papers are

–what a landing page is

–how companies store and use collected data

–the intricacies involved in setting up an email, the response form, the landing page, the download, and follow up messaging

She said she never thought about the entire creative and business process of how and why and who sets up such efforts, yet she is online daily.

Training a novice also made me also think about the entire client on-boarding process. When I begin working with a new customer, I look at the assignment from others’ perspective. I gauge the goals, the knowledge level of other team members, learn their lingo, their communication style, their technologies.

Every project is varied, which is what I so enjoy about consulting. As the project progresses I try to balance handling on the daily responsibilities while keeping the client’s goals in mind.

I have been consulting for 20 years so am used to my crazy, varied days. I welcome new projects where I can challenge my knowledge level, learn new platforms and skills.

It’s probably too much for my intern to grasp now, since she was learning fundamentals.   But I think that practical experience was valuable to learn about the media industry, marketing responsibilities. And it allowed me to move ahead on more strategic work while she successfully completed the assignment.

The journey continues.

Cindy

How Adopting a Dog Reaffirmed the Importance of Networking

 

This is a story about your network’s value and considering new options.

Scout1We recently spent several months looking for a new Australian shepherd (aka. Aussie) to adopt. We scoured websites, slowly got re- approved by a rescue group we had previously adopted from, went to see available puppies, and put ourselves on waiting lists. Frustrating, for a family who has owned 4 Aussies already.

We also told EVERYONE we knew that we were searching for a new Aussie. Our goal was to adopt a young adult female, any color.

One night I got an unexpected call from our daughter’s boyfriend, in grad school at U. of Kentucky. A friend of a friend was looking to “re-home” her 5 year old Aussie.   Her lifestyle had changed, and she didn’t have time to give him proper attention. (Australian shepherds are very active dogs who want to be with their people 150% of their days. “Velcro” dogs, they are called for a reason).

Hmmm…older than we wanted, a male, about 20 lb heavier than our previous dogs, but he sure looked cute in the pictures we saw…. So, we “met” Scout by Facetiming with his owner. She told us his positive attributes and warned us of his separation anxiety.

We decided to take a chance and adopt this dog we had not yet met. He made his long trek from TN to KY to IN where we picked him up to our home in IL.

What a gem! Scout seemed at home after 2 days, using his bed only when one of the kids wouldn’tScout dog park share theirs. One month later he feels as if he as always been our dog. This gentle creature is spoiled with love, walked daily, smart, affectionate, and his separation anxiety is slowly dissipating.

At first, it seems so random that we re-homed this dog that lived almost 200 miles away through a 3rd person link. But it was a lesson to me in the importance of using my network. You never know where your next connection might come from.

Scout didn’t fit the profile of the dogs we had before. But that’s the thing about expectations. Change them, and you open yourself up to opportunities you did not know existed.

The journey continues.

Cindy

GDPR: Regulators are Coming

Do you think because you are a US-based firm that GDPR regulations are outside your sphere of business? Wrong.

As a matter fact, the Digital Guardian reports that some think large US companies will be targeted by GDPR regulators.

This is because many US firms have lax data protection procedures, privacy issues across platforms are new, companies are already dealing with a myriad of state privacy laws, and there have been several large data breaches in the last year. I would add to that the recent Facebook Cambridge Analytics fiasco that recently had Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress.

I have already written a couple posts on prepping for GDPR that you can read here.  More recent discussions have been about what some think regulators are going to be tough on when GDPR goes into effect.  Many of us think it is probable that the regulators will be going after large firms, rather than middle to small size firms, in the beginning. They will probably also target:

  1. Firms not doing anything to get into compliance
  2. Firms that can’t show why/how/where they are collecting data
  3. Firms with pre-checked boxes on their web forms
  4. Data breaches

Some think that regulators will encourage compliance by proactively enforcing the laws.

So, I think the key right now is to continue your GDPR preparations. (I hope you have started by now!). Document your efforts to show that you are trying to get into compliance.

The journey continues.

Cindy

DISCLAIMER THAT I am not an attorney so this should not be construed as legal advice. This post is MY interpretation of what I have learned about GDPR so far, as a marketer who tries to stay on top of audience development and marketing issues. Any legal instructions should come from an attorney with knowledge of GDPR regulations.

20 Life Lessons I Learned in 20 Years While Running a Business

I’ll be honest. I didn’t realize it been 20 years since I started working for myself until I saw it on LinkedIn. In that time I’ve worked with a wide variety of brands, projects I never would’ve anticipated, with different types of companies, a myriad of personalities and work styles, and ever-changing technologies.

Here’s a list of 20 life lessons I have gained from my years of owning a business that can be applied to so many part of life.

  1. Partner with smart, reputable, trustworthy colleagues, vendors, and clients.
  2. Targeting customers remains the same, even if the technology has changed. The hype may get an initial response, but it’s the quality that keeps people coming back.
  3. Be honest.
  4. When you end a project, always try to do it with a handshake. You just might meet that client again working for another company.
  5. Keep learning.
  6. Be curious. I ask a lot of questions, and it often inspires further conversation.
  7. Actively listen. Take a breath. Then respond.
  8. Read a few days worth of your emails before you send them out. Are you sending them out with a positive tone or starting off all your emails with the negative? (I literally changed my email tone after monitoring them about 10 years ago).
  9. You will make mistakes. Admit it when you do.
  10. If you are stuck, walk away. I resolve a lot of issues when I shut my computer and go for a walk.
  11. It’s okay to say no to a project, especially when your gut tells you to.
  12. Check your emails at specific times each day. Otherwise, shut it off. It’s amazing how much more productive you can be without the distractions.
  13. It’s easy to get comfortable working alone. Face-to-face meetings can inspire change and a new direction.
  14. Have a schedule. I find that time blocking my day (Using the Best Self journal) has improved my focus and productivity immensely.
  15. Try something new.
  16. Keep reaching. What’s your goal?
  17. Most people really don’t like networking events. Do it anyways; set a goal beforehand. Someone may become a future colleague or customer.
  18. Be flexible.
  19. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to clarify, if you don’t understand.
  20. If you are bored on a regular basis, it might be time to change what you do. Or how you do it.

And remember that if you have a stressful phase, sleep on it, as a fresh day and mood awaits you.

The journey continues.

Cindy

GDPR is (Still) Coming–Are you Ready? Part 2

Welcome to the Part 2 post about GDPR, the new privacy regulations that will impact marketers who reach the EU, effective 25 May 2018. Fines can be up to 4% of your gross revenue or 20 million Euros, so be prepared!

Part 1 discussed the regulations, the type of information impacted by the rules and how your organization might be affected. This post will give some ideas about how you can try to opt in the current EU names on your database, update online forms, and your website itself.

Forms

  1. Collect only data that you know you will use.
  2. Remove pre-checked boxes when people opt in/out of your brand’s secondary offers. People will have to opt in for additional offers.
  3. Consider a double opt in. There is when you send an email to the person who opts in, reconfirming that they really want to opt in.

Permission

  1. Make clear–by separating into distinct sections–the difference between accepting terms and conditions on your website and opting in/out of offers.
  2. Offer a list of specific areas of interest that recipients can choose to receive information about, allowing the recipient to check yes or no to each one. Again no pre-checked responses (See #2 in forms).
  3. Ask how people want to be reached: telemarketing, email, direct mail. This is not required, just a suggestion.
  4. Offer a way for people to change the frequency of receiving messages (which may eliminate some permanent opt outs) as well as a way to opt out of everything.

Privacy

  1. Update your privacy policy to include information about GDPR and how you will use collected information.
  2. Note that website cookies are also impacted by the regulations. Consider having a message about cookies pop up when someone comes your website. On a recent trip to Italy and France, cookies message popping up on virtually every website I visited.

If you want more detailed samples of some of these items, feel free to contact me.

The journey continues.

Cindy

DISCLAIMER THAT I am not an attorney so this should not be construed as legal advice. This post is MY interpretation of what I have learned about GDPR so far, as a marketer who tries to stay on top of audience development and marketing issues. Any legal instructions should come from an attorney with knowledge of GDPR regulations.