Category Archives: Email Marketing

Educating A New Generation

“Things have changed since I was in school.” Sounds like something your parents said to you growing up, huh? That statement still holds true. Kids are a part of a whole new learning generation; interaction is mostly via instant message, text message, Twitter and Facebook and the internet is the first place they turn for research. The shift in marketing is taking place as we speak, but are Marketing and Public Relations instructors and professors educating their students about the phenomenon that is social media?

Back in the day, marketing majors were required to learn the 4 P’s (Product, Price, Promotion, Place) and that is still relevant, but along with the 4 P’s they need to have a basic understand of HTML, design software, e-mail marketing campaigns, search engine optimization, and knowledge of social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube,etc). However, are recent grads receiving said education?

We’ve all read that many companies are struggling to understand social media and how it can be used in their industry. With this occurring, companies are looking to hire recent grads with degrees in Marketing and Public Relations to fill the social media gap. But, are colleges and universities integrating the new trends in marketing into their curriculum – such courses as Internet Marketing, Digital Media and New-Media Marketing? Another challenge: are college professors and faculty on top of the changing trends in the marketing world? If not, they need to be. How can you teach it, if you don’t fully understand it yourself? As the old adage states, “lead by example.”

Here’s a questions for all our Marketing & PR majors out there –Are NC State, Duke and UNC teaching courses on new-media and internet marketing? Or are you educating the professors on social media?

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Filed under Email Marketing, Facebook, marketing basics, north carolina, social media, twitter

Interactive Marketing Will Grow – Is It Right For You?

Interactive marketing (e-mail, social media, online and search) is contributing to a major shift in the marketing landscape. With social media sites and mobile marketing emerging as the next big thing, some marketers are moving away from traditional tactics (print, television, display advertising), but is this wise? A recent report from Forrester predicts that interactive marketing will “cannibalize” other channels.  In fact, 60% of those surveyed will increase their interactive marketing budgets by shifting funds from traditional media.

Here’s our take:

Yes, interactive marketing and social media are becoming increasingly popular, but it’s risky to place all advertising dollars in one basket or move away traditional channels altogether. It’s clear that social media’s not just for kids; the largest group of Facebook users are aged 35-54. There are still people out there that don’t engage with social media and prefer old-school communication channels-direct mail, newspapers, magazines and television. Furthermore, a recent report from Razorfish suggests that people don’t trust their online friends as much as their offline friends.

For most companies, a combination of traditional and interactive marketing still makes sense. An integrated strategy will give you a better opportunity to reach your target market through various channels.  A blend of online and offline messages support each other –print ads can drive people to a Facebook fan page and a Twitter stream can direct prospects to get a coupon to test out your service.  For example, Starbucks is currently giving away coupons for free pints of their ice cream via Facebook.  Are they still running print ads for their ice cream?  It’s likely.  An online channel (Facebook) supports an offline channel (in-store advertising).

One last thing to drive the point home, marketing and technology are ever changing, so be sure to know who your target market is and what marketing channels they prefer before making any drastic changes  in your marketing plan.

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Filed under Email Marketing, Facebook, marketing basics, social media, twitter, Web Marketing

Back to the Basics

data driven salesAs the old saying goes, time is money.  Companies are looking for ways to trim their budgets and reach a more targeted audience with less.  Here are four quick ways to use the information you have in your customer database to your advantage:

  1. Make a list – many marketers have data in several different locations; consolidate this information and store it in one location that is easily accessible.  Also, be sure to rid your list of addresses that have bounced in the past campaigns; practicing good list hygiene can lead to a higher open rate.
  2. Become one with your IT personnel – Don’t consider the IT staff your enemy; marketers need them to grow business opportunities.
  3. Identify basic, but relevant customer data points – find information that will allow you to reach your target market with information that is of significance to them. Such as customer IDs, purchase history, sales data, and order values.
  4. Conduct a test drive with e-mail – E-mail marketing continues to grow and drives the most ROI versus any other online-marketing channel.  Like a scientist testing his or her hypothesis, use a control group and test group to test what works and what doesn’t.  For the test group, use a data-driven campaign.  For the control group, use standard messaging.  For example, the test group is selected email addresses that are relevant for the targeted campaign, while the control group is randomly selected email addresses.

Test and Learn – Send out the pilot e-mail and track the results using web analytics.  Use the information to build a more integrated approach for future campaigns.

Don’t expect high numbers right off the bat.  Remember: “Slow and steady wins the race!”

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CEOs Aren’t Feeling the Social Media Love

Does CEO Barbie Twitter?

Does CEO Barbie Twitter?

A recent report by UberCEO indicates that top CEOs are not participating in social media, despite the staggering growth of social media marketing. They researched Fortune’s Top 100 CEOs of 2009 and the key findings were:

•Two CEOs out of 100 have Twitter accounts.

•13 CEOs have LinkedIn profiles, and of those only three have more than 10 connections.

•Over 80% of CEOs don’t have a personal Facebook page.

•Three quarters of the CEOs have some kind of Wikipedia entry, but nearly a third of those have limited or outdated information.

•No Fortune 100 CEO has a blog.

Clearly, despite the buzz around social media, top CEOs are not buying it. This could be for a couple of reasons:

•CEOs are usually not the public face of the brand. Of course, Steve Jobs and Apple go hand-in-hand, but many consumers are not closely acquainted with CEOs. Does following the CEO engage the consumer more with the brand? It’s debatable.

•The ROI around social media is fuzzy. For a busy CEO, does the potential benefit of engaging through Facebook, Twitter and other channels really reflect the time invested? For most in the CEO spot, probably not.

•Most CEOs are at the top of the heap, so to speak. They have done all the networking they need to maneuver to the leadership position in business. Connecting with via LinkedIn, primarily a business-networking site, likely does not enhance their career prospects.

•It’s just not worth the risk. After many notable social media flubs, it’s entirely too easy for one false move to start a negative chain reaction that’s difficult to combat. To be inoffensive and authentic online is a challenge.

Despite the behavior of top CEOs, social media can be an integral part of a strategic marketing plan. For many businesses it’s still a great way to reach out to targets, engage them and build online real estate for the brand.

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Filed under Email Marketing, marketing basics, social media, twitter, Web Marketing

Top Ten E-mail Marketing Mistakes

With the presence of bulk e-mail services and new software, e-mail marketing has become increasingly easy to execute.  Now is not the time to let your guard down – make sure you aren’t making any of these common mistakes:

1. Sending An Email Without A Strategy. You must have a strategy detailing the who, what, and why for each message.  Otherwise, you might be reaching the wrong audience.

2. Using A Old, Tired or Just Plain Mysterious List. If contacts haven’t opted-in to your e-mail list, you may be flagged as spam and prohibited from sending messages in the future.  Also, a fresh list cuts down on undeliverable emails.

3. Missing Subject Opportunities. Your top-line message should include a link to a Web-based version in case your message is being viewed by a reader with a PDA or other e-mail system that doesn’t support HTML content.

4. Focusing On The Wrong Content. The audience of your message needs know that it is important.  E-mails with the highest open rates come from thought leaders in the industry or from personal insights on industry trends.

5. Being Too Graphic or TextHeavy. Having too much text or graphic content in your e-mail can be overwhelming to the reader if there is nothing there to move them smoothly through the page.

6. Having An Obvious Sales Pitch. If your readers sense a sales pitch, they are likely to stop reading, delete the email, and may even report your email as spam.

7. Testing On Only One Browser. Don’t assume that all e-mail systems will display your message the same.  Testing with a Mac, PC, Internet Explorer, and Firefox and in the most used email clients will ensure that readers are able to see all of your content correctly.

8. Ignoring Statistics. Metrics will reveal whether your message was successful, along with showing bounce rates, open rates, opt-outs, and spam reports.

9. Sending At The Wrong Time. Keep your contacts’ time zones and business hours in mind.  Recent data suggest higher open rates occur on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

10. Forgetting To Lead Your Web Traffic.  Opinion-driven news letters are most effective when they have content directing web site traffic.  A portion of your story should have a link to “read more” and have links relevant to specific website pages.

One more thought – what are you using for your “From” line in your marketing e-mails?  B2B Magazine recommends using a real person’s name for this line because, after all, B2B buyers are still people.  Personalize the “From” and ‘Reply to” fields so that they are coming from the sales representative that the particular lead or contact “belongs” to.

What strategies are you using to give your e-mail a more personal touch?

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Filed under Economic Downturn, Email Marketing, marketing basics

More Evidence that E-mail Should be Added to Your Strategic Marketing Mix

email_A recent study by Forrester Research indicates that the weak economy is not impacting consumer’s e-mail-driven purchases. Around forty-two percent of more than 2,000 North American consumers surveyed in November 2008 reported having made at least one e-mail-inspired purchase compared to 45% who reported doing so in April of the same year, according to the study.

The report also indicated that 82% of those surveyed expected to make no cutbacks to their Internet spending in the next 12 months. (Granted, this survey is from November, and consumer confidence has taken more hits in the recent  months)

However, consumers are looking for bargains. In another finding, 41% of consumers said that as a result of current economic conditions, they are more likely to click on ads for coupons, the report said.

Here at Strategic Guru, we’ve long championed e-mail marketing as a trackable, cost-effective tactic that cultivates relationships with customers and prospects. And it’s not just for retailers or e-tailers; e-mail marketing is an ideal tactic for service industry businesses such as construction, too. Leverage the power of your customer and prospect list as a lead generation tool. Is it time to consider developing a direct marketing solution, including email? Talk to the Guru.

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Filed under Economic Downturn, Email Marketing, marketing basics, Web Marketing

Email Design Pivotal to Campaign Success

envelope1As marketing budgets tighten among companies of all sizes, folks are looking at low-cost tactics that are trackable and measurable. Because your company is known to customers and you have determined which recipients have opted-in to your list, e-mail design and messaging is the most critical element of this a campaign’s success.
Here are two points to consider when crafting an email campaign:

1. “Less is more” for an effective e-mail. An email with a shorter copy and fewer graphics work best. A clean presentation helps potential customers see your message clearly and eliminates unwanted confusion.

2. Bring in customers with a call to action. Clearly marked calls to action are important so that the customer knows the who, what, why, and where of your e-mail communication. An email with a weak or missing call to action is as ineffective as simply not sending a message at all.

Stay tuned for more email marketing tips in March.

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Filed under Calls to Action, Email Marketing, marketing basics