Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, April 29, 2013

70-75% of Email Subscribers are Inactive: Tips for Improvements

The Challenge: Per recent guidelines, you will be penalized if your emails do not have adequate levels of deliverability and “engagement”. Consider the following options to optimize your lists to increase open rates and engagement.
Kohl's Opt-InNew rules regarding deliverability and engagement
Per our previous blog, recently most email service providers converted to a new algorithm that calculates deliverability using a combination of the original email delivery rules plus new “engagement” factors: open rates, clicks, unsubscribes, and complaints. With these new human behaviors factored into the equation of deliverability, future emails that you send may be considered SPAM or not delivered at all, even to subscribers who signed-up to receive your emails.
70-75% of most email subscribers are inactive
List hygiene is not just about removing undeliverable emails, bounces and unsubscribes. It is also requires re-engaging inactive subscribers and the tricky task of asking subscribers if they still want to receive your emails. It’s scary to think about getting people to unsubscribe, but is necessary in today’s email climate; especially when you consider that 70 – 75% of most email subscribers are inactive. It becomes a waste of resources, money, and hurts the overall deliverability of your list.
When you remove inactives and non-responders there a number of added benefits to your email campaign. In addition to a better delivery rate, you will have lowered costs and increased ease of segmentation and analysis. Not only are you paying to send to these subscribers, you are wasting time managing a larger email list, and then you are penalized for sending too many emails that are left unopened and unengaged.
Re-engagement campaigns
Instead of just purging inactive subscribers, you should first test a re-engagement campaign. Pulling one off tactfully requires finesse. This is easier when you know your audience and run test campaigns to see which tactic performs best. Some ideas for re-engagement emails are to include catchy subject lines such as:
“Are You Breaking Up With Us?”
“Are we still friends?”
“Are You Mad at Us?
The body of the email should explain the message and provide multiple options: opt-out, and various ways to opt-in: subscribe to only some topics, adjust frequency, or connect on different platforms and social arenas.
» Start your email relationship effectively: capture attention and invite engagement with a quality welcome series.
» Test to determine the most important areas of interest. This should drive engaging content and subject lines.
» Segment and personalize your emails so you deliver the greatest relevance to each individual subscriber.
» Analyze inactive users and begin sending re-engagement emails as soon as possible so that inactive users do not remain on your list for too long.

Monday, April 22, 2013

AmEx: Small Biz Engagement Drives $5.5 Billion in Spending

The Challenge: In a study by the Business Marketing Association, most BtoB marketers say customer engagement is a high priority within their marketing organization (72%), but 43% grade their company’s level of customer engagement, a C, with even more giving their companies a D or an F.
small business saturday
The opportunity for BtoB marketers: successfully engage their customers by establishing new avenues of relevant communication.
Despite such poor self-ratings, 72% of surveyed BtoB marketers cite customer retention and loyalty as their primary reasons for establishing customer engagement efforts. Other motivating factors are recommendations for products and services that match customer needs (54%) and a more compelling customer experience (41%).
A company that has set the standard for BtoB customer engagement is American Express. Not only has AmEx developed events and contests to drive engagement but it has also made itself an invaluable resource to it’s merchant customers with two information-packed websites.
1. Events: In 2010 Small Business Saturday was conceived and promoted by American Express. The goal: drive small business holiday shopping. It is now a year round BtoB commitment. It has set new revenue records each year since its launch, and surpassed all expectations with $5.5 billion in spending in 2012.
2. Contests: “Big Break for Small Business” was designed to transform the way small businesses connect and engage with customers online. It not only rewards 5 winners with an in-person consultation with AmEx and a $25,000 free Facebook ad campaign but it incentivizes engagement by giving all entrants with a $50 Facebook ad credit.
3. Websites: AmEx has established two information packed websites: American Express Small Business which offers tools and advice and Open Forum a place for businesses to share and access the latest business and marketing news.
On its Open website, AmEx states that it “supports business owners with products and services to help them run and grow their businesses” But perhaps the most important thing that AmEx can teach BtoB marketers is to build engagement strategies based on increasing your overall value to your customers.
3 Takeaways to increase BtoB customer engagement:
» Dramatically change your approach from transactional to consultative, by understanding your customer’s requirements and creating solutions that will provide true value.
» Create ongoing interactions and conversations by providing insightful and relevant reports, newsletters, blogs, websites, and research, that transforms you from just another vendor to a trusted resource for both products and information.
» Create opportunities for engagement such as webinars, contests, events, chats, and virtual seminars that put your business in the spotlight as an expert.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Building Communities: 5 Takeaways from Frito Lay

The Challenge: Research from Forrester has found that 90% of consumers distrust brand messaging, including social media. However 70% of consumers believe in recommendations from friends or family. The opportunity for brands: build loyal social communities willing to share useful information with friends.
Favorite Flavor ContestThis trend of mistrust is increasing. Getting consumers to believe your messaging is becoming more challenging all the time. However, companies can break through the trust barrier by building social communities and sharing useful information with their followers. Switching the focus from sales promotions to posting shareable content will increase reach and trust when content is shared with 2nd tier circles.
Innovative Examples
Frito Lay is doing an effective job in building a community of followers that not only like their Facebook page, but are buzzing about the “Do Us a Flavor” contest. The campaign encourages shares and likes while building a community around those who are passionate about their favorite flavor.
They first invited people to send in new potato chip flavor nominations. Three winners were chosen, produced, and made available in grocery stores. Now you can taste the chips and vote for your favorite. Lay’s Facebook page is just shy of 6 million fans and over 40,000 people are talking about Lay’s on Facebook. In addition to the buzz that this contest has created, it is also forming sub-communities on Facebook and shows which of your friends are on each of the three flavor finalist “teams”.
MedtronicDiabetes.com, provider of diabetes supplies is blazing a trail in uncharted territory for medical companies where it is very rare to build a community of followers in social media due to the sensitive nature of the topic. Yet, in an industry that is highly regulated and monitored for privacy, Medtronics has still been able to gain almost 150,000 Facebook fans willing to share personal stories. They have accomplished this by providing information about diabetes care and creating a platform for patients with diabetes to come together and help each other.
  1. Don't preach to the choir, fans and followers already know about your brand; convert them into brand ambassadors.  Communications should have the goal of having your message shared with others.
  2. Make your message about the consumer, not your brand.  (Frito Lay let consumers choose flavors.)
  3. Listen to fans and followers and monitor comments and sentiment.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Yoplait’s Cause Marketing Deepens Customer Engagement

The Challenge: Companies can deepen their engagement with customers by championing powerful causes. However, in order for these efforts to be effective, customers must feel that your efforts are authentic and truly helping the charity.
Blues Master WebsiteWhen brands are effective with cause marketing, it can also be a win for the product category. Yoplait®’s successful Save Lids to Save Lives®program was ranked number one by shoppers as the brand they purchase most because of its association with a cause. Not only has Yoplait, as a brand, benefitted from high awareness and purchases resulting from the 13 years supporting Susan G. Komen for the Cure, but the yogurt industry as a whole has been elevated. The yogurt category is ranked 5th among products consumers purchase because of their association with a cause.
Keep In Mind...
After selecting a cause for your company that you, your employees, and your customers are all passionate about, the next step is to make sure that not only the charity gets something from the partnership, but that customers feel good about it too.
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A win-win situation for the charity and your customers should be the goal; this is achieved when customers feel their life is enhanced by the charity efforts and that good feeling is transferred to how they feel about the marketer.
If you are wondering about the financial return on investment, according to Edelman’s annual goodpurpose® study, in 2012, 47% of consumers made purchases from brands that support a cause.
1. Ensure that your customers connect with the charity and approve of the way the campaign is executed. When choosing between two companies with similar products that engaged in cause marketing, 70% of those surveyed cited “personal relevance of cause” as the reason they choose one company over another.
2. Make sure your cause relates to your brand. Coca-Cola, known for polar bears in their commercials and on their cans, teamed up with World Wildlife Fund. Donations from the campaign helped raise awareness for the conservation of polar bears’ habitats.
3. Be transparent about how you are distributing funds to the cause. Show the results and the progress made as a result of your charity partnership.
4. Make sure the cause you choose has the highest grades. Research the history and rating of the charity and understand the guidelines, rules, and laws governing companies that make charitable donations through marketing campaigns.
5. Incorporate social media into your campaign so that donors can share their charitable efforts, thereby increasing the reach. Bing’s partnership with DonorsChoose.org benefited schools with a contest that called for entries through social media. Make sure everyone receives value and reputations of all parties involved are enhanced.

Monday, April 1, 2013

40% of Customers Buy More with Personalized Messaging

The Challenge: If you are not creating a personalized preference-driven experience for your customers, they’ll go looking for that type of experience--with your competitors.
According to a study by MyBuys , an e-tailing group, 40% of respondents stated that they buy more from retailers that personalize their shopping experience across channels. Addtitonally:
  41% buy more from retailers that send them personalized emails
  39% buy more from retailers that personalize Web recommendations.

Blues Master Website
The study noted that the practice of tailoring offers and promotions to consumers based on their past shopping or browsing experiences appears to increase buyer readiness, engagement, and sales activity. These findings are reinforced by sales data from MyBuys' database of some 250 million shoppers: Customer-centric marketing delivers a 25% increase in total online sales and a 300% improvement in customer lifetime value, according to the company.
Guitar Center, the world's largest retailer of musical instruments, not only understands the value of personalized customer service and engagement marketing, they’ve actually won the “Customer Engagement Award” from Retail TouchPoints, for embracing customer engagement and implementing solutions and services that are actively getting customers involved in their own experience and buying process, while improving their bottom line.
In addition to allowing customers total access to all instruments in the store, the ability to interact with industry professionals, and a chance to take their amateur talents to the next level, to the company also endeavored to improve the in-store customer experience even more by introducing, the “Find an Expert” profile pages. On these web pages customers can search for employee/experts online by location and store to develop dialogs and working relationships with these Guitar Center, (GC), experts based on similar musical tastes and interests. Customers can regularly engage with GC experts via email, through their blogs, and in-store. Additionally, in 2012 the company introduced a Music Mentor Series, an unprecedented company-wide platform that gives customers the ability to advance and enhance their musical pursuits, right in their own communities. Activities for the Music Mentor series included free music lessons.
Key Takeaways:
   • Differentiate your company by providing personalized experiences, communications, and offers.
   • Provide clear ways of showing customers that you're listening to their feedback and creating personalized experiences. This will reinforce ongoing participation by customers.
   • Personalized follow-up emails that detail items or events specific to the customers’ interests and buying history are value-added triggers that are welcomed by customers.