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 The opposite of what is needed above, many firms have older, outdated names on their systems.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

Thanksgiving: Success is in the Preparation

This month I have been inundated with ads, recipes, and media advice about the highly anticipated Thanksgiving meal. This past weekend I was busy myself shopping, cooking, and freezing food for our road tip to see family later this week.

It’s the preparation that makes a feast  like on Thanksgiving successful and satisfying. You can slap together other meals, but for a special meal like Thanksgiving much of the travel-shopping-decorating-cooking is done before Thursday. There will still be cooking to do, but it is virtually impossible to do everything on one day. Unless you have grown 6 arms. Even if you are eating out, be sure to make your reservations early.  Otherwise, you may find your restaurant full.

Running a multi-faceted marketing campaign also requires planning, for outstanding results. Follow this sure-fire “recipe” for planning your next marketing efforts.

First, meet with the stakeholders at the beginning of the campaign to discuss the final goals and budget.

Second, create a marketing plan to reach the goals. This plan should include timing of all efforts, what you plan to test, the list to use, estimated responses and budget.

Third, as you execute the various components of the campaign, record the results of your efforts. That allows you to adjust upcoming efforts and estimated responses as needed.

Fourth, if needed, create a contingency if customers are not responding as well as expected. Can you add an additional email effort? Test a new list segment? Is the tone of message correct? Do your links work properly, on an email effort?

Fifth, Deadline! Hopefully you have reached your established goals by today. If you are still a little short, can you send out a final effort?

Sixth, re-cap your efforts at the conclusion of your campaign. Maybe you came up with ideas to test next cycle, had a standout effort you want to keep for future campaigns, found a way to trim the budget.  Make note of them now, as you will probably not remember them all next time. Or tomorrow.

While the results of the planning will probably not turn out exactly as planned, there should be better results, fewer surprises, less stress throughout, and we can learn from our efforts.

Sit back and enjoy that anticipated meal. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

The journey continues.

C

How I am Running my Business more Effectively in 2014

It’s hard to run a successful business. Whether you have 1-5-50-700-25,000 employees, there is always something to be done including the work itself, the innovation, the marketing, the social media, the accounting, the legal work, the networking, the social media.

My friend Naomi, who runs a thriving corporate premium business, and I recently discussed how difficult it is to run a business while trying to get all the actual work done. We work nights, we work weekends, we work vacations trying to stay on top of things.

I told her that I made a decision this year that running my business was actually PART of my business. I would do some of the operational work during the typical 9-5 hours, not always in the evenings. Surprisingly,I have found that I more focused and there are fewer distractions, as long as I turn off email and the phone.

“Don’t you feel guilty?” she asked.

Yes, I did at first, but I find I am using my time wiser. I have accomplished several work goals I established this year, including developing a new logo, this website and blog, and seeking out more speaking engagements, while keeping my clients happy. I still work at least 1-2 evening a week, but it isn’t overwhelming. And I can plan on less-brain-taxing work to do during the nights.

It seems like an oxymoron, but focusing on the business and not just the daily work has improved my work quality and efficiency. Writing this blog has definitely helped me to look at direct marketing, audience development, and business from an outside-in perspective.  And I have had more free evening/weekend time with my family and friends.

The journey continues.

C

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

Reviewing your Online Customer Touch Points. Part 1 of 2

You create a website. Your prospects and customers visit (you hope) to learn, to buy, to engage. Once built, do you ever re-visit the pages where your customers can take some action, walk their keystrokes? Check the follow up messages that customers receive?

As a marketer, I think it is important to view the journey that our customers take. Enriching their experience, ensuring that we are cross promoting our other offerings can help increase response rates, introduce our customers to new products, improve communications between internal departments, and decrease list fatigue.

Even on an existing site, I think it is a valuable exercise to review the flow of the response-based web pages, for each of your channels (ie. magazine, events, enewsletters, members). There may have been changes made to the flow that we in marketing are unaware of—happens often.

Here is how you or someone on your team can physically document the flow of web pages that customers move through during the purchasing process:

  1. Set up a specific email address, to track follow-up auto-generated emails.
  2. Physically create flow charts, including screen shots and URL’s for each page in the flow—trust me that it will be difficult to keep track of the pages to make changes to, without capturing the URL’s.
  3. Create one flowchart for each marketing channel.
  4. Things to monitor as you go through the process:
    1. Does a “thank you” message pop up when you take a specific action (ie. register as a member)
    2. Keep track of how many follow up emails you get, and the frequency.
    3. Is there cross promotion for other current offerings from your company?

Now that you have these flow charts for each marketing channel, what do you do with them? This will be explored in Part 2 of this blog post, later this week. Know that Phase 1 can take a few weeks to complete.

The journey continues.

C

Improving Use of Customer Touch Points: AAMP synopsis

Last week I was privileged to speak at the AAMP (Association for Audience Marketing Professionals) annual conference in LA.  I had not attended one of their events before; I met, listened to, and networked with many new-for-me industry colleagues. It was enlightening and inspiring.

My presentation had the complicated but very real title of “How to Better Utilize your Brand’s Customer Touch Points to Build Audience Relationships.” As marketers today, I think this truly what we need to do every day as information becomes even more fragmented, email boxes full, our customers’ attention spread across many projects.

We need to build engagement with our current customers, so we become their go-to brand, their go-to website, their go-to media.  We need to continue to show relevance, that we can solve their problem, satisfy a need.  To do this, we need to review and make sure that we are using each touch-point, especially on the web, is enticing.

Our customers want TARGETED offers that show we know where the industry is going, bring knowledge they need.  People are opting out of unfocused messages at an alarmingly high rate.

Internally, departments need to work together to share data, create a common branding message, and stagger sending messages. My presentation gave specific ways to examine your current touch points, improve your  branding and messaging, and why all marketers should be doing this right now.

It’s that simple. And that complicated.

C

P.S. Please comment, email or call if you want a copy of my Power Point presentation.

P.P.S.  Next blog post will include some valuable things I learned from other AAMP presentations.