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

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

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

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

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