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

Saying Thank You–and Meaning It

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This is the time of year when we hear these words at the shops, in email, in person, in cards and gifts from our suppliers, our friends, our family. As a business owner, I think it is important that we remember to thank our customers when they engage with us. Not just once a year.

With the ease of online communications and the ability to set up automated messages, there are a plethora of simple ways and times we can thank our customers. Are you doing this with your customers?  Here are just a couple examples of when we can send thank you messages:

1. When someone signs up for a subscription, an event, makes a purchase, becomes a website member, etc, send them an immediate thank you email or pop up message.

Food52 thank you

The above thank-you for signing up for an e-newsletter discusses topics covered, social media where you can find information, and includes a coupon for additional purchased.  The one below for an online purchase also promotes other products and included a 10% off coupon.

Haymarket thank you email

2. Send a message when an already-placed order ships. The first email below was for placing an order.  The second was a notice that it had shipped.  Several companies I ordered from this holiday season sent multiple status emails, which I think personalizes the online ordering, as well as lets the customer know that the order is moving through the distribution channels.

Zazzle thank you email

Zazzle order shipping

3. A sample from Pure Wow!, and online enewsletter I receive, about changes in their website.

Pure Wow website changes

With overcrowded email in-boxes, think before you create–what is the reason for each message? All emails, including thank-you messages, should have a purpose.

If you choose to send out a last-minute holiday message, what are you promoting? Your company? Upcoming offerings? There is a cost to each email you send–so think before you send it.

And for you readers, thank YOU for reading my blog these past couple of months.  I encourage you to comment, like, share, and send me ideas to write about in 2015.

The journey continues.  C

How–and Why- You can Create Simple Re-engagement Marketing Efforts

How much does it cost to acquire a new customer? While this cost can very depending on the product or service you are selling, some online research includes claims that it can cost 5-7 times the amount to acquire a new customer as to retaining a current customer.  Instead of always reaching OUT to find new customers, there are most likely some unused pockets of customers on your database who you can try to re-engage.

For media companies, there are often current and previous customers that fall into a variety of data silos. Possibly housed on separate databases. This list can include customers from a variety of sources:

  • Current and inactive magazine subscribers
  • Enewsletter subscribers
  • Online and in-person event registrants
  • Research and white paper downloaders
  • Website members
  • App downloaders
  • Social media followers
  • Reprint buyers

Corporate databases are expensive to maintain. And aging. Companies are paying to maintain names they may not be currently using in any efforts. Mine these pockets, find some hidden gold as the cliche goes. These customers were interested in your company in the past. Can you tell what they purchased, when they last engaged? Do you have demographic information you can use as a carrot to send them an offer for a targeted campaign for a magazine, an event?

Here are a couple general ideas other B2B marketers have used to engage older names that you can try.  This first one shows an embedded message in a segment of an enewsletter.

Retail Leader

This was an actual “last issue alert” email for an enewsletter.

smart briefs

Both of these efforts give the list owner an opportunity to see that there is a real person behind that email address.  Also, the link can be an great place to try and capture optional demographic data about the subscriber.

I think re-engagement going to be one of the hot marketing topics for the next 2-3 years, with overburdened inboxes, smaller workforces, and scattered attention spans. Marketers need to figure how we can keep our current customers active and re-engage with previous customers. I expect to write often about this, I think it is so critical to improving a business’ bottom line.

The journey continues.

C

P.S.  I will be expanding on this topic at  next week’s Midwest Circulation Association meeting, in Schaumburg IL.  Details for signing up found at  http://www.midwestcirc.org/

Reviewing your Online Customer Touch Points, Part 2 of 2

My recent blog post discussed how and why you should occasionally review the string of web pages and messages that your customers see when they take an action on your website such as purchasing, subscribing, registering for membership or an event, downloading a paper.

While you are creating the flowcharts in the previous post for each of the customer interactions, look at the follow up messages (if there are any) for tone/format/look. Are the messages consistent? Current? Are you promoting other products?

So often we work in our silos, this is the perfect time to work with other departments. Work together to define a common message/tone to promote your brand the same way. Lay out for each channel the timing and messages a customer will get going forward. You can see a sample layout in the attached tactics slide .

Going through this exercise may seem basic, but it can create more vibrant and interactive thank you messages and follow ups. Here is a perfect example of a revised thank-you page that promotes other brand-related products.  These messages are focused on someone taking an action on your website, so they are already vested in your brand.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 3.13.17 PM

Here is another up-sell sample of ordering the digital edition with bonus material, once someone subscribes to the print:

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 3.29.26 PM

Keep your customers engaged with your products.  As our days become busier and information more fragmented, we rely on our go-to brands and websites for information.   Your customers do the same.

The journey continues.

C

No Tricks, 7 Ideas to Add to your Marketing Bag of Treats

Rather than post Part 2 of my blog about using customer touch points today, Halloween seems the perfect day to post a lucky 7 treats for improving your data quality and hopefully response rates to your marketing efforts. Part 2 of Touch Points will be posted next Tuesday.

While some of these seem logical, I am consistently amazed that clients seem to be more focused on emailing to the same lists over an over, or growing their database size, rather than also mine customers they already have.

  1. Do some targeted email efforts to un-engaged past customers on your database, to see if there is still a person attached to that email addresses. A simple click, a profile update, a contest are all efforts you can try, to see if people will re-engage.
  2. How many data silos do you have? Perhaps you incorporate them into one central database, or at least scrub them electronically to see what information you can add to your more used lists.
  3. Test your message, your format, your subject line, your colors used.
  4. On a upcoming offer, ask an additional non-required demographic question such as areas of interest at work, titles, hobbies. You might be surprised what people will tell you that you can use to develop new products, focus marketing to current ones.
  5. Tag and track the type of information that people are clicking on your website.
  6. Append missing demographics that sale is consistently asking for, from an outside source: Dun & Bradstreet, Fortune information, Hoovers, there are MANY list sources you can use.
  7. Hone your social media skills—which ones work best for your brands?

Stick one of more of these ideas into your bag of marketing tricks, to implement this year. No calories in any of them—and varying costs, which can result in a few new customers or improved sales.

The journey continues.

C