Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, January 20, 2014

NFL.com Gets High Scores on Engaging Emails

Challenge: Email deliverability is now dependent on a sender’s ability to deliver engaging content to subscribers. Since engagement has become a key ingredient in ISP’s reputation scores, marketers need to up their game to play by the changing rules or risk poor ROI rates on campaigns.
NFL EmailsAs we reported in a previous blog, 70-75% of Email Subscribers are Inactive, marketers need to capture attention and invite engagement due to Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, and AOL now incorporating a new algorithm that includes the original guidelines for identifying SPAM, plus active engagement rates. 
While marketers are using many other forms of communication, email still continues to be a prime vehicle for customer interactions. In the Salesforce.com Exacttarget Marketing Cloud 2014 State of Marketing study that polled over 2,600 mid- to senior-level marketing managers cross all industries; 
» 67 percent of marketers say their number one priority for 2014 is to increase sales directly attributable to digital marketing campaigns,
» 64 percent are focused on increasing email click throughs and open rates.
In our ERDM Voice of Customer (VoC) research findings we learned what customers want relative to email:
»  Consumers expect companies to use their preferences to deliver increasingly personalized offers, communications, and experiences.
»  As a result of preference-based interactions, consumers are more willing to respond to communications and offers.
»  Customers look to personalized follow-up emails as value-added triggers to go online and evaluate relevant products.
»  Customers want more than just buying history-based emails.
»  Create opt-in preference databases to drive true personalization of communications and offers.
The NFL.com Newsletter, winner of the MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2013, took relevancy to a whole new level. Subscribers get real-time content about their designated favorite teams, and even receive countdowns to game time. Fans depend on these emails to stay abreast of timing for the next big kick-off.
These efforts resulted in doubled newsletter open rates and increased click through rates of 26%.
The 5 winning reasons given for choosing the NFL.com as the best in show winner were:
1. They explored new ways to engage and interact with their audience.
2. They had a goal to create email that was relevant and targeted as possible.
3. They tailored each email on a personalized level.
4. They wanted the emails to be useful.
5. They took into consideration the different vehicles that might be used to read an email and made the messages easy to navigate and easy to read.
On the NFL.com site visitors can register via a preference center to supply personalized information such as favorite team and opt-in to the newsletter.
3 Takeaways:
1. Keep in mind the new rules for email deliverability that take into consideration both recipient interaction as well as content engagement. Develop new strategies that encourage interaction through deeply personalized messaging.
2. Customers are willing to provide in-depth information in exchange for receiving value-added information. For consumers, the rationale for providing preference information is to receive increasingly relevant offers, communications, and experiences.
3. Understand how your customers read their emails—is it on a computer, tablet, or mobile device? Design emails that will enable your message to display correctly for maximum interaction opportunities.

Monday, January 6, 2014

IBM: Innovations in 'Outside In' Conversations and Content

Challenge: Many companies are bothering customers with irrelevant content, rather than “conversing” with them through personalized interactions. Conversing with customers should now encompass key points of engagement starting with what you name products and services, as well as how you structure ongoing conversations based on the customer’s point of view. This requires a whole new way of thinking, but generates significant results.
According to the Maritz Report on Customer Preferences, “consumers overwhelmingly expect their voices to be heard by companies via the web. Not only do they expect companies to be listening, but the study also reveals that 85 percent of consumers are very happy when businesses respond to their public comments in online forums and social media venues.”
Listening and conversing with customers is one of the most important aspects of a successful marketing initiative. According to learnings from ERDM VoC research, it’s marketer's responsibility to listen to customers and understand their true needs;
» Consumers have shifted from being passive recipients of ‘push’ marketing, to selecting companies which engage, listen to, and act on, input from customers and prospects.
» Achieve frictionless, high-value, engagement across every medium in the multichannel mix.
» Customers engage with your messages across multiple media. Ensure message and brand consistency across all your media.
IBM has developed a new approach for listening and conversing with companies. It is championed by Denise M. Beckmann, IBM Worldwide, Senior Digital Marketing Lead who had this to share regarding their strategy, “Outside-In is our name for centralizing around the conversations customers are having. It is the starting point for naming products and services to be recognizable and the initial scope for web site information architecture (navigation paths) and content strategy.
»  “We update and modify something every 2 weeks. The front pages and rotation topics change as the customer conversation changes.”
»  “In order to maintain a high search ranking, we avoided use of ‘IBM speak.’”
The company launched a new cloud web experience, and per Beckmann, “Day one of the launch was tied to social media launches in Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and "ThoughtsOnCloud" SME blog.
The Results:
» The most retweets ever from @IBMCloud
»  Trending on LinkedIn for two days with over 900 shares
»  Over 300 recommendations on Facebook
»  A 400% increase in social referrals to IBM.com/SmartCloud in July
»  Page visits went from less than four thousand to over forty-thousand per month, by intercepting conversations.
"We feel strongly that access to our experts in social forums is critical to engaging in conversations. Delivering cloud content based upon the existing conversations while simultaneously allowing for questions in forums like LinkedIin and Facebook was key. Quality content immediately brought additional social referrals connecting us to the “Right People”, in a way database marketing never could."
Key Takeaways:
1. Develop a content strategy built around customer personalization including: education about your products, how they can be purchased, where they can be purchased, and how it meets customers’ needs.
2. Have a fully integrated multichannel strategy so that each aspect of your marketing is supported and integrated across channels.
3. Have conversations with customers regarding what they want to know, not just what you want to sell.
4. Authentically be ready to engage in conversation in a sustainable way. Customers expect you to answer their questions when you step into social environments.