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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

17 Test Marketing Ideas

Test, test, test! Testing seems to have disappeared from many marketing efforts, but it’s still my mantra.   Especially with email efforts, it is simple to set up marketing tests, often at minimal cost increases.

Our email boxes are overflowing, response rates are down, lists are fatigued. Testing is how we discover what makes our customers respond, what segments of our file work best, what formats they like, etc. I had a first renewal email effort control that was not beaten in 5-7 years, despite copy and format testing. This year new copy beat that control by 3.5%–a huge increase.

Here are 17 ideas you can test in your upcoming email marketing efforts:

  1. Test several outside lists with the same copy/design
  2. Short vs. long copy of the same message
  3. Bullet points in an email message vs. no bullet points with all other copy the same
  4. Design test
  5. Email Subject line
  6. Email “From” line
  7. Format HTML vs. text
  8. Include a PS on the message vs. no PS
  9. Layout of response page
  10. Response links–embedded in copy vs. a callout box
  11. Tone of message
  12. Day of week emails sent
  13. Time of day emails sent
  14. List segments used
  15. Color used on same design
  16. For a magazine effort, test using different cover shots
  17. Send same message twice to non-respondents, with a “Second Chance” subject line

Remember to only test one element for each effort. Have fun and let the strongest effort win!

Let the journey continue.

C

Changing up the View

How do you stay inspired in your daily work environment? We are all busy. Too busy. It is so easy to focus solely on our our day-to-day tasks; sometimes we need step back and see at how what we do impacts the entire organization.

Sometimes I think it’s beneficial to change where/how/when we work, even for a couple of hours or a day. An unexpected view can trigger our synapses in unexpected ways. Being fortunate to often work from home, if I am stuck on a problem or have writers’ block, answers often come to me when I step away from the computer, begin working out or walking the dogs. I will voice record my thoughts, so they don’t vanish before returning to my desk.

I can be extremely productive working on my deck, surrounded by beauty–with no distractions. Can you hold a meeting on an outside location, no cost? Did you ever have a teacher who took class outside–I loved the freedom, and there was no clock watching on those days.

Occasionally I meet with clients on neutral territory–a library, a coffee shop, so that I can train someone or work on a list of projects with virtually no interference. Sometimes we clear items off our to-do list trying to reach out by phone or email on open issues, and sometimes we add to our list.

Image 1

The photo here is from the inspiring views I had while writing for several hours, just a few weeks ago. On a lovely Friday afternoon, my friend Patti invited us to work on her boat, where we were amazingly quiet and productive.

Yes, there are times for meetings and conference calls and cleaning out that in-box, but occasional time away from you regular workspace can be enlightening, inspiring, and productive.  Note that it will be awhile until I get to work here from a boat again, as autumn in in full gorgeous color.

The journey continues.

C

Learning from Others

A couple weeks ago I spoke at and attended the AAMP (Association of Audience Marketing Professionals) conference in LA.  I wrote a synopsis of my presentation for my last blog post.  I wanted to share a couple interesting points I learned from other speakers that marketers can use now.

First, Joyce Neth VP Audience Development & Research at Watt Publishing discussed what she thinks are next for B2B database management, once all data is combined into a single database:

1. Data Visualization

2. Lead Scoring

3. Driving engagement–my big hot button– to increase names in the marketing funnel

4. Improved marketing of online content

And from Dataversity, a mainly events company that has implemented a database to improve their bottom line, 3 practical ideas you you can test.

1. Keep testing what day of the week you are sending your messages.  Friday emails may help boost weekend and Monday online traffic.

2. To increase attendance to online events, try testing sending out registrant reminders the day before the event AND the morning of the event. That second reminder may help.

3. Testing subject lines for them has found that short generic headlines have the best opens.

I think that live events give a great opportunity to meet other industry leaders, learn from our colleagues and competitors.  Listening to webinars often present an easy way to keep abreast of what others are doing, but without the actual conversation you can get at a live event.  I think that even if a small local event can give me 3 good ideas or meet a new face, it is worth my time to attend. So get out there, mingle, learn, and implement.

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.

Hiring a Consultant

When should you hire a consultant? Simple–when you need to solve a problem that your staff cannot fix. A consultant can help you train current staff, give you a temporary extra body during busy times, give an outsiders’ view of current work, give you an expert to help you when you need someone to oversee a project or departmental area, help you review an area of business if you are expecting change, help you get a new area of business off the ground for a couple years while training internal staff how to handle the work long-term after phasing out (or staying on in an overseeing capacity).

It can be helpful to see a consultant as outsourced personnel, bringing you expertise and helping you fill a role in which no one in your organization has knowledge. Consultants can work on a project basis, hourly or on a monthly retainer. The billing will  depend on the type of work you embark on. From a consultant with 15 years experience, I think that when starting work together, the consultant should:

  1. Be honest about her experience in a new project. Take on challenging work, but know that is okay to say “no” to a project completely outside her area of knowledge.
  2. Clearly outline the project, the expectations, the deliverables and the costs in the proposal.
  3. At the start of a project, it is important to agree how best to communicate progress with the client. A weekly email, monthly report, in-person or phone meetings–various clients may have different needs, but they should be reasonable.
  4. Be timely and thorough in communications throughout the project.
  5. Be fair and impartial in assessments of reviewing current work, if that is the assignment. I know from experience that it can be intimidating to have a consultant review current work and business practices. An less-than-ethical consultant could shade the results with a clear intent to phase someone out and insert themselves into the role, but this is wrong.
  6. If hours or time will exceed the original proposal, let the client know so there are no surprises. Be prepared to give your client a breakout of the time and work spent on any project.
  7. Be honest with yourself about the bandwith of work you can take on. A harried, overworked consultant who cannot focus enough time on each client is a sure way to make mistakes, lose clients.

I think that the client has responsibilities throughout the project as well.

  1. Be clear in stating the goals at the front-end of a project, which will allow the consultant to be as thorough as possible in her proposal.
  2. Reply to requests for information in a timely basis.
  3. Know that the scope of a project can change. Once a consultant starts delving into a project, there may be underlying issues that need to also be addressed. The consultant and client should discuss if the work might need additional time, expense, or breadth.

Both the consultant and clients should work together as a team to complete your project. Forming a partnership and building trust will ensure that goals are met on schedule. And know that occasionally a relationship doesn’t work. End those smoothly and professionally when needed. Your paths may cross again.

C

Welcome!

Welcome to the CC Communications Inc. website and blog! This is my first foray into the business blogging.

With this website, I hope to introduce you to my business, my talents, my experience, and my background. I want to open a dialogue with other industry experts with a Collaberation Corner, where others can post articles. If you are interested in sharing, feel free to contact me.

With this blog I will articulate my point of view on marketing, emedia, database management, publishing, speaking, running a business, consulting, and other un-identified topics. I am hoping to share my knowledge and experiences, learn from colleagues, and think about marketing from different view points.

Post your comments and opinions here. You can subscribe to my blog, share it, or just visit occasionally.

The journey begins.

C