What’s in Your Mix?

How do you mix up your marketing efforts? Are you using all the tools available to you to maximize response rates and improve your cost per return? For all the elements that are components of controlled  (free) brands today, we need to market smarter to keep our customer engaged: magazines, webinars, research downloads, pay-per-lead collateral, newsletters.

People are still bombarding their email lists with non-targeted efforts. Doing that on a continual basis is going to tire those customers out.

Here are a number of things you can try to incorporate into upcoming marketing plans: (you do HAVE a marketing plan, don’t you? If not, read the basics now).

  1. Change up your email efforts! New creative, new copy, etc.
  2. How are you using your social media lists and platforms?
  3. For magazines, have you tried a tip cover? (cardboard stock covers to get people to renew/subscribe/engage). After dropping them, I have been finding success with them the past couple years. A future post will discuss some options for these covers.
  4. House ads, both in print and online format.
  5. Direct mail—too expensive for many b2b brands today, maybe you can partner an offer with an advertiser. Or send to their prospect list for some new names.

With so many self-built members on various social media portals, we should target them with focused messages. And test the timing/frequency/wording of our efforts.

How can you shake up your next efforts? Your customers might just respond to a new format, new time, new place for your offer.

The journey continues.

C

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

5 Ideas to Help you Provide Better Advertiser Leads Now

Niche Marketing. Target marketing.  Today, these long-used marketing terms are mingling with the word narrowcasting, which traditionally was known as the way that TV and radio media disseminate information to a select audience.  Narrowcasting correlates well with how advertisers are increasingly asking media companies to provide extremely focused lists to target with their marketing efforts or for specific leads sent directly to them.

My last post shared my prediction that narrowcasting will continue to become more important in 2016.  Since that post, it seems the demand for these services is growing even quicker than I thought. Last week I saw yet another press release about a larger b2b publisher offering targeted information services to their clients.

Even if you don’t have a budget to create and maintain this type of personalized marketing services today, there are some things you can do now to better serve the increased advertiser requests for detailed customer information. If they haven’t asked for it yet, they will soon.

  1. Keep your current customer and prospect database clean.  The more up-to-date it is, the more likely that your marketing efforts and leads you can provide will have accurate information. Capture demographic data from your website visitors in a non-invasive way. If you don’t have a breadth of customer knowledge, now is the time to start asking for information about them.  What you collect will vary by industry, and what advertisers are requesting.
  2. Provide ongoing, quality web content. Be the go-to website that keeps your customers coming back. The increased site visits give you additional opportunities to learn more about your repeat visitors. 
  3. Mine your data! What emerging areas of interest are on your website? Is there is a specific topic where people are increasingly accessing information? And is this an opportunity for a new focused product or a new segment of advertisers you can target?
  4. Give salespeople the tools they need to prep before they meet with an advertiser. Effective sales people today need to know who your most active customers are, what they respond to, and various ways you can slice up your customer list for more targeted offers. 
  5. Educate the advertiser on the buying process for your industry.  In my last post I mentioned how advertisers seem to all ask for leads of a very small, high level demographic group.  If you can demonstrate to your advertisers that a different or wider group is involved in the selection/buying process, that gives you a deeper pool of names to target. This broader audience will also help to avoid list fatigue.

Focusing on any or all of these item will teach you more about your customer, which will give yo opportunities to provide them with valuable information they can use in their business or personal life, which will help you to give advertisers those sought-after leads–at a premium–which will hopefully improve your bottom line.

The journey continues. C

A Marketer’s 2016 Top Prediction

As an audience marketer, my #1 marketing prediction for what is HOT in 2016 remains what was my #1 2015 prediction, with a few twists. In January 2015 that was:

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.

The demand from advertisers to reach a very specific audience will continue to increase in 2016. They want us to pre-qualify leads before we send pass them along. Sample: we want 1000 leads of people in the C-suite (CEO, CIO, President) in $100 million+ companies. This is a typical request—but it seems like EVERYONE wants to each this group. Note– this group does NOT make all the purchase decisions! They may sign off on a contact, but it is the upper management who often vets and recommends vendors. Another topic for another day, since I could write reams about this subject.

The ongoing question is –how do we continue to capture and then fulfill these types of requests? Advertisers today often ask for targeted leads with email addresses and phone numbers. To continue to provide clean, active prospects, we need to first provide valuable web content that encourages prospects to give us their contact information. This can be an article on our website, a white paper, a free sample, a video, a webinar, a live event, a research summary, the list goes on.

We need to harness the power of our customers and our database.  At the front end we need targeted marketing efforts that promote these “carrots” to the correct audience. We then need to ensure we capture and turn around the contact information on a timely basis.

A lot to ask for, with today’s budgets and tight timelines, as well as customers becoming more reluctant to share personal information.  My next post will be some practical, inexpensive ways you can improve your target marketing efforts TODAY.

The journey continues.

C

2016 Marketing Plan Flip

For magazine publishers, media companies, information services companies—whichever moniker you go by–2015 has been a challenging year for magazine audience development. Response rates have dropped, and there is more demand for data about subscribers that they do not want to share.

It’s time for 2016 budgeting and planning for many companies. I think we should consider flipping many of the marketing plans upside down, act differently to improve results in 2016.

Here are some ideas I have that you can incorporate in your 2016 marketing efforts:

  • Keep testing on larger email efforts.The incremental response differences add up—and you will learn more about your customers. There are many posts with testing ideas on my blog including this one.
  • Review where telemarketing falls on your plan. Test it earlier, especially for subscribers without email addresses on file. Can you do some dual-pub efforts in one call?
  • Use all available internal lists for your marketing efforts. Recently, I had positive results calling an internal list that had previously only been used for email efforts.
  • Do list exchanges with partner companies or consider list trades with competitors.
  • When setting up trade show exchanges, include sending out emails to the attendee list or the host company’s house list. This can net some brand new names for your database.
  • Does your web site include ads and pop ups offering free subscriptions?
  • If someone signs up for a quote or membership on your site, the welcome link/email can include an offer to subscribe.
  • Can you test any direct mail, even an inexpensive tip-cover?

Today’s brands are multi faceted, including other components such as magazines, enewsletters, events, website membership and downloads, and research. Oftentimes, the audience development budget is still subscriber-focused (especially if the magazine is BPA or AAM audited and/or has periodicals mailing privileges).

If that holds true for your brand,  it’s imperative that 1—magazine subscribers help support the entire brand and 2—“owners” of all the brand elements work together to help find invested, active users.   Make sure your audience development guru know all the segments you are trying to reach.

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

Marketing Effort Analysis

My last blog post was on the importance of laying out a marketing plan, after working with several firms who really have little history of previous marketing efforts and results. Shocking.

People who lay out their plans and track their efforts have their favorite formats and fields to monitor. Telemarketing and email firms usually give detailed analysis of their efforts. It’s really helpful to consolidate the basic information into one spreadsheet. I prefer to use Excel or Google docs, the latter if sharing the information with someone else on a regular basis or multiple people are updating the workbook. I can incorporate formulas to calculate results, saving time. I can also sort the plan by any number of fields: lowest cost per return, type of return, effort number, highest open rate, etc.

Below is a sample in Excel of a marketing plan. Obviously, this is not live data. Also, the columns would be laid straight across the top columns, but it would be too small to read to show that here!

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 10.11.19 AM

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 10.22.25 AM

If you are creating your first plan, I hope you find this guide helpful.  If you already track your efforts, are there other fields you think I should include?

An upcoming post will discuss how we use this marketing analysis to react during the marketing efforts (did an effort bomb? did one rock?) and to plan for future campaign.

The journey continues.

C

Marketing Primer

Whether you are a new or experienced marketer, sometimes it helps to have a refresher on setting up a marketing campaign. If I have worked with a brand for some time, it can be easy to just go through the motions without thinking about each step. When I meet with new clients, I am amazed at the number of professionals who do not lay out their marketing plan and then track the results as they come in.

As email responses continue to drop, having a cohesive plan should help you to better plan your type of effort, scheduling, and workflow. Then hopefully nudge those responses up. Sending out a mass of unfocused marketing efforts to a random or huge group of names is expensive, wastes customers’ time, increases opt outs, and hurts your database health in the long-term.

Whether you are setting an email/telemarketing/direct mail/online marketing campaign, most of the steps followed will be the same.

First, what is the goal of your campaign? And equally important, what is the budget? Obviously, these two items drive much of any campaign.

Examine results from your previous campaigns. The more history, the easier it is to plan and estimate results from your upcoming campaign.What lists worked? What designs? If it was an email, what subject line got the email opened? Which link got more clicks? If telemarketing, was there a script opening that performed better? Can you manipulate the questions asked?

Determine your schedule. Working backwards from your final deadline, how many efforts can you do? Allow time for variations, as there are many reasons an effort can run late.

Select your lists carefully, as I believe that the audience is still the key to your campaign.   If you need to purchase some outside lists or trade with marketing partners, build in time to work with your list broker.

Design your efforts. Write and design your email or direct mail efforts, craft a script. Source vendors. What TEST can you incorporate in your efforts? Always, always test something.

Execute your efforts in a timely manner. Measure your results. Then adjust your plan, if needed.

Tracking your campaign results will make future efforts smoother to plan and execute. You know what copy works, what time of day is best to send out, when to switch from email to telemarketing, what lists work, etc. etc.

Plan, and plan more. And be prepared for the unexpected. It will happen. But, by creating a following a plan, you will hopefully minimize disaster.

The journey continues.

C

P.S. Be sure to read next week’s post. will include critical fields to include in your marketing plan, to better track your responses. Even if you just start using a written plan now, your next campaign will be easier to set up. I promise.

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

Encouraging Growth for the Audience Development Role

“Where are all the young people?”

That is what I wondered too.

That was one topic of our table’s conversation at this week’s Midwest Circulation Association meeting, during our lunch. My client was attending his second meeting, and I was the featured speaker. Derek is in his 20’s, and he was probably one of only 2 people in their 20’s at the meeting.

Audience development (AD) is such a critical role in media companies today, but many of us take a circuitous path to end up in this job. As databases are aging, email response rates are falling, in 2015/16 this role is going to increase in importance. Companies need to know their database, be able to better mine their current customer files, keep people engaged, and target their marketing for better responses.

AD is a perfect job for someone with a curious mind who likes ALL the spokes in the marketing wheel. We get to create marketing strategies, work on the tactical efforts, delve into the depths of our database trying to find better ways to target our efforts, reach outside our organizations to find new prospects, measure which efforts are working (by list, effort, copy, design, timing, etc), then try additional efforts building upon previous efforts. It’s a look into the psyche of our audience, a challenging but exciting puzzle.

AD is constantly changing, but it can feel a little isolating, since many people don’t understand the complexities of the job. It is a marriage of creativity and numbers. I think that attending in-person events give us an excellent opportunity to ask and discuss with others who do similar work. Step back from our computer screens to get a new perspective.

I have been attending the MCA meetings for several years and am a former board member. I find that I learn something at every meeting, and they are great for networking. Even if you are an AD newbie, I encourage you to attend meetings/lunches put on in your area. It is satisfying to find out that you are not alone with the issues you face today. And hopefully you will come back energized, with a new idea to try.

The journey continues.

C

P.S. For more specifics on AD responsibilities in media related companies, read my earlier blog post about this.