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

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.

GDPR is Coming–Are you Prepared? Part 1

Apologies in advance that this post is so long. There is a lot of information to cover…

GDPR is THE hot topic for many businesses right now—what is it? How will it impact US based marketers? And how can we prepare?

GDPR is the acronym for General Data Protection Regulation, the sweeping new privacy laws impacting companies that collect and use personal data from people residing in the EU. Customer privacy is the main reason these new regulations were created. They will impact the way that companies collect, use, and update data on current and new customers.

These new laws go into effect 25 May 2018 –Less than three months away!

The penalties for not complying are stiff– the greater of €20 million or 4% gross revenues.   That’s why it’s so critical to have an organizational plan for dealing with customers from the 27 states of the EU.

I have attended two webinars, talked to people, and done a lot of online research about GDPR in recent weeks to learn more about these new regulations. The legislation is long, wordy, complicated, and a little unclear with direction for exact requirements to avoid problems. Very convenient. The key to success will be to have an organizational plan for how to deal with these changes.

There are a plethora of checklists online that your organization can use to better understand GDPR and implement a compliance plan. I’ve synthesized a couple of them here into six key steps:

  1. Understand the law—the new regulations were basically created to ensure user privacy. There’s no differentiation between business and personal use. Both the companies collect the data and send out messages hold some responsibility for the data usage.
  2. Know which data is regulated—
  • Basic contact information (ie. Name, mailing address, etc)
  • Web data such as location and IP address
  • Health and genetic data
  • Biometric data
  • Racial or ethnic data
  • Sexual orientation

We are accountable for the data we hold

  • Why are we collecting certain data points?
  • How did we get the data?
  • How long will we retain the data?
  • How secure is the data?
  • Do we ever share this with a third party? How are their procedures?

Other privacy issues that the consumer have include the

  • Right to be forgotten
  • Right to opt out at ANY time
  • Right to review why/how data was collected
  • Right to access data
  • Right to data portability, meaning take it with them if they move/change jobs/etc
  1. Review current data collection, storage procedures, privacy policies.    
  2. Update current EU customers on your database, forms, and privacy policies.
  3. Run a gap analysis on website/data collection flow and implement additional changes as needed. In addition, educate other departments about the new rules.
  4. Reevaluate and revise as needed.

Other terms and changes we need to be aware of:

  • The GDPR considers three types of roles within organizations:
    • Controller—who determines the purpose and means of data collections (the “how” and “why”)
    • Processor—who processes the data on behalf of the controller.
    • There will be cases where publishers can be both a controller and a processor, in the case where we send out an email for a client.
  • Appoint a data protection officer (DPO), to oversee and manage GDPR program. Technically only certain organizations need a DPO, but pretty much everything I’ve heard says that for good business practices most organizations will appoint a DPO.
  • Prepare for data breach. Any data breach should be reported within 72 hours. The webinars I listened to say that’s almost impossible– but that’s the guideline. An interesting fact that that I heard is that 75% of data breaches are caused by internal personnel. So any staff that sends out emails needs to be educated on the new laws.

Part 2 of this post will offer some steps to  properly vet current names on your database and update your websites.  It is now posted and can now be found here.

One of my favorite more detailed checklists online can be found here.

DISCLAIMER THAT I am not an attorney so this should for sure not to 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.

The journey continues.  Cindy

7 More Email Testing Ideas

Testing should be an integral part of your marketing campaigns, especially email efforts. Many of today’s platforms make it easy to set up and monitor your results.

To create a test, you set up an A/B split of your list before your email goes out.  Most email platforms make it simple to do this, if you are a novice.  An A/B split means that 2 lists will get the same effort with a single difference in the marketing effort.

Why do this? One change can get a 1%, 5%, 10% improvement over the control effort. The more you learn about your audience, the more you can improve your response rates and customer engagement.

Regular followers and my clients know this is a fundamental tenet of mine. I have written about basic testing ideas before and spoke about this topic at the AAMP conference last month.

Here are 7 new ideas for you to test:

  1. The day of the week emails go out. Weekend emails can work for some industries, including IT.
  2. Separate out the personal email addresses from business email addresses. Send to the assumed personal domains (ie. Google, Comcast, AOL, etc) in the evening or on weekends.
  3. Different offer or premium
  4. Responsive design vs. static design
  5. Copy heavy vs. light copy with same design
  6. Same copy with a lot of white space vs. design-centric piece (vs. text only, if you have large enough list for A/BC split)
  7. If you have multiple email platforms available to you, test sending the same message at the same time on both platforms. Do you see a difference in emails delivered and opened?

You can even send out an A/B test email to a portion of your list, then roll out the winning email to the rest of your file. Key is to test just ONE element to be able to accurately gauge your response rates.

The journey continues.

Cindy

4 Ideas for Re-Engaging Inactive Customers

How fresh is your customer list? Business email data decay rates vary depending on industries reached, but the research I found shows an average of 25-30% annually. Several reasons for the data degradation are that people switch jobs, they stop using old email addresses, and companies change names or get bought out by other firms.

Many B2B firms have to renew their magazines subscriber lists for USPS and audit bureaus. But, they don’t regularly update other list segments, including e-newsletter lists. This can hurt email send scores, delivery, email reputation. Response rates for other offers also plummet.

You don’t necessarily need to replace all the inactive email recipients. Universes are limited. Previously engaged people already know your brands. I have found that it is usually less expensive to try and re-engage some of your older or inactive customers than to get all new users.

Here are 4 simple, cheap offers you can test now to re-activate unengaged customers on your database:

  1. A freebie offer of another brand component can be a quick effort, to see if someone is still using that email address. It can be something inexpensive, but with perceived value to your customer—a white paper download, a sister magazine, a free e-newsletter, an Infographic.
  2. A short request or survey to update demographics or continued interest in your brand. This can be a separate email, or a simple click option embedded into an existing e-newsletter delivery.
  3. People love badges! They include in their email signature lines, LinkedIn profiles, etc. Ask customers to get involved on a research/hot topics/editorial panel. If they express interest and respond to follow up offers, then create and send them a digital badge. Bonus, those badges also spread the reach of your brand.
  4. Email offer to win cash or prize for updating demographics. You may have to include some legalese in your effort, but people love cash or cash gift cards.

If none of your re-engagement efforts work, then it’s time to think hard culling your current lists. Meanwhile, you should have some ongoing efforts to recruit new customers, so your data does stay fresh.

The journey continues.

Cindy

White Papers & Lead Generation-Part 2

Promoting white paper downloads helps media companies offer targeted leads to advertisers, increase their web traffic, and improve their own database. The first part of this 2-part blog post discussed what white papers are, how they are used, and why they are so popular today.

In doing research for that post, I visited many media web sites. I saw a huge disparity in the amount and types of data that firms are collecting for a free white paper download. Brands are asking a range of collecting no data (why? unless you are just looking for distribution quantity, but no ability to follow up) to asking for complete contact information and detailed demographic questions.

What information you require for download will depend on 1—what will help you identify an existing customer or capture a new one 2—what information you need to give back to an advertiser and 3—what demographics you deem imperative to capture for your database, for improved marketing.

One of the quickest registration starters is to ask for just an email address on screen 1.

FR reg p 1 2016-05-23 at 3.57.39 PM

CRN email only at 3.46.02 PM

If a customer is in your system, then the link where a customer completes contact information can be pre-populated. (ie. their name, company already typed in the boxes). If it is a new customer, then that person completes the contact information form. Below are the page 2 links for the previous screens:
FP contact demos 2016-05-23 at 3.57.29 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice that above they are collecting some demographic information with the registration questions.  The form still looks short, since the demo questions have drop down options.

CRN addr 2016-05-23 at 3.46.24 PM

The quicker the process for your customer, the higher the chance they may visit your site again when they have an informational need.

Other questions to consider as you set up your forms:

What other information do you need to capture on the reg form, to make the lead usable for both you and the advertiser? This CFO form is very simple.

CFO simple reg 2016-05-23 at 4.08.43 PM

This one includes phone numbers, which I saw required on very few forms.  I wonder if they tested the form to see if that requirement impacted download rates.

CFO detail reg

Do you need a mailing address now? Or can a sales person ask for that data later, once the lead is captured?  That might improve response rates.

For existing customers, are there some demographics missing from their profile? Can you ask for one piece of it when they make a download?

Can you test the questions asked on reg forms? Testing often shows there is a balance of the amount of information collected and the value of the “free” download.

I think that you are limited in your form creation by your front end and back end systems, time to create and manage them, and your imagination.  This process is changing dramatically, driven by both user whims and advertiser demands. The fluctuations may decrease with in a year, but right now I think it’s a bit of the Wild West.  Testing, tracking, changing, test again.

The journey continues.

C

Ad Blocking–It’s here. It’s growing. It’s going to impact your business.

THE trending marketing buzzwords for the 4th quarter 2015 right now are “ad blocking”. For the uninitiated, ad blocking programs allow the user to block ads from websites. Especially on mobile devices, this helps to decrease download times and page crashes.

Ad blocking is not a new phenomenon, since Google Chrome and other browsers have offered it for several years on the desktop. But, it has been pushed to the forefront by Apple’s iOS9.0 update. This update gives the tools to allow for creation of apps that can block ads on mobile devices.

Many recent articles—from Smartinsights to Google’s own data in The Verge—report that more people are using their mobile devices than desktops to search the internet/read their emails/spend their free time.

PageFair, with Adobe, estimates that in the US alone, blocked revenue is 2015 is estimated to be $10.7B. Ad blocking is currently more prevalent in Europe, but the global cost of ad blocking in 2016 is estimated at $41.4B.

This will have a huge impact on multi-media publishers. Many have an increasing portion of their revenue coming from on-line advertisements, which many of their targets will now not see.

Talking to clients, many are unaware of ad blocking or its impact on their bottom line. Some naively think this might not impact their revenue—it most certainly will impact all of them.

After sharing some statistics, the panic sets in. What can we do? How can we keep some of this lost revenue?

–For the current time, increasing “sponsored content” in lieu of ads can recuperate some lost revenue. So far, “sponsored content” is not being blocked. I have already seen editors formerly against sponsored content or native advertising quickly realize this is an option they will accept in today’s competitive market.

–Advertisers can also create “non intrusive” ads that will not be blocked. Whether the reader will respond to them as much as current ads has yet to be determined.

–Sales can try to convert some online ad revenue to other product streams—white papers with pay-per-lead, online and in-person events, research, magazine advertising.

–I think we will start to receive more “sponsored” emails with advertising content. This may work in the short-term, but I think it will fatigue already extremely overused email lists. If you do this, be sure to segment your list carefully to avoid overuse.  Here is a screen shot of one such ad I received today from Vanity Fair: Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 12.39.35 PM
Feel free to share any of your ideas or plans here.I am sure that there will be many other innovative ideas to block ads and to circumvent these ad blocking on mobile devices.

The journey continues.

C

5 Low-Cost Ideas to Improve Email Response Rates. Now.

How do we increase email response rates? Today it seems every client wants to email faster, bigger, more impatiently to improve dropping response rates. The same or overlapping segments on a database repeatedly receive messages, while other segments are ignored.

We have all worked with marketers who believe the theory that if you continually market to absolutely everyone over and over you will eventually hit your goals. The opposite will happen. You will frustrate your key customers, resulting in increased opt outs, lower click throughs and responses, and ignored offers.

Here are 5 practical, low cost ideas I have had success with in the last year in the never-ending quest to improve marketing results:

  1. What are you testing? list, message, offer? The more you test, the better you know how your customers respond. A list of testing ideas can be found in this previous post.
  2. Tweak the list(s) you are using. If you often market to the same list, when was the last time you reviewed your selection criteria? Review and hone it now.
  3. How can you cross promote? If someone responds to an email, what is included in your “thank you” message, assuming you have one?   Can you offer a similar product on that message?
  4. Do you have older or inactive customers on your database? Implement an email series to try to re-engage them with a complimentary or low-cost offer.
  5. Append missing demographics. If you regularly segment based on a specific demographic like employee size, append that data to a portion of your database missing that demographic. You will increase the size of your list selection, giving you a larger pool include in you marketing efforts. If you regularly Nth your file, having that larger pool can mean names are selected less frequently, resulting in lower list fatigue.

If you can incorporate ONE of these ideas into a marketing email in the next month, I am confident you will see an improvement in your results–assuming you are already offering the correct product to the right audience. And you may look at your efforts with a different view in the future.

The journey continues.

C

What’s Hidden Behind Your Walls?

My house is trashed.There are currently 3 floors of construction–all due from water leaking near the chimney and running silently down inside the walls over the last year. Walls are bare to the cement, ceilings removed, insulation and carpets ripped out.

This unseen problem reminds me of the issues that can happen to your unwatched database. Looking only at the top-line counts, signs of growth  can be positive.  But, someone needs to monitor the lists added, the aging of files, ensure that demographics are properly applied, watch how lists are selected and used, review response rates, and monitor the general health of the database.

Without this vigilance, your data can become corroded. And you might not even know for awhile. For example, if you append data incorrectly, you may start marketing your car wash cleaning supplies to beauty parlors. Or send invitations for an exclusive executive retreat to lower level personnel who do not have the experience or travel budgets to attend. Wasteful and expensive, and you will likely not reach your target numbers and your budget.

Or you add a poor quality email list and start using it without permission, cleaning or testing. Then you might end up on some blacklists on top of low response rates.

A bad list and incorrect data upgrades are just a couple examples of hidden problems that can impact your database viability. Avoid those leaks that can quickly and silently spread throughout your database. And if you or someone spots a potential problem, be sure to investigate it. Unchecked,that trickle can run throughout your database.

Don’t let any hidden leaks require you to break down your database.  Hopefully ongoing monitoring will help keep your database healthy.  And strong.  And a valuable asset to your organization.

The journey continues.

C

5 Direct Marketing Predictions for 2015

It’s the time of year for predictions and wrap ups, promises and plans, hopes and new beginnings. Here are 5 business areas that I think direct marketers need to remain focused on in 2015, to help improve their marketing results and their organization’s bottom line.

  1. Lead generation. Advertisers continue to request more detailed demographics about their leads. These leads are lucrative, IF marketing companies have the information being demanded—employee size, sales volume, titles, business types, etc.
  2. Aging files. The opposite of what is needed above, many firms have older, outdated names on their systems. Trying to re-engage these people can be less expensive than continually acquiring new names. Do you have a re-engagement strategy designed?
  3. Data Integration. Many organizations still have data housed in multiple silos. Combining this information can help improve response rates, increase knowledge about your customers, and allow you to really see the aging on your database.
  4. Overloaded email inboxes. To improve response rates, market smarter! Test, measure, test again. Try smaller, more focused efforts to targeted segments.
  5. Responsive design. The move to mobile platforms will continue to increase in 2015. Are your websites and response forms easily viewed on tablets, iPhones, Android products, as well as laptops?

I think that focusing on each item will impact the others on this list in a positive way.

Have any other suggestions to add to my list? Feel free to comment below.

Happy New Year! I wish you success, positive growth, and movement in your career—forward, sideways, or stepping into a new role, whichever you choose.

The journey continues.

C