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

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

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!

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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.

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/

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