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Take the DMA Pledge – The New Data Driven Marketing Institute

Written on October 15th, 2012 | Posted by Stephanie Miller in Dma2012, Data driven marketing, Annual, Ceo keynote, Linda woolley, Dma pledge

DMA Acting CEO Linda Woolley embraces the power of marketing to transform our world. “Marketers have the power to transform politics. Marketers have the power to use big data to get exactly the right items to the right location at the right time,” she said. She talked about how Walmart and Kellogg’s use weather forecasts to ensure enough strawberry pop tarts are sent to Florida before a big storm. The data shows that when there is a storm, sales of pop tarts goes up.

Marketers have the power to feed the poor, save the environment, change the world, she said. We can predict customer intent by making educated guesses about that is needed when. “Big data is almost an understatement,” she said. Consider that we approach the production of a zetabyte of data is around consumer and marketing transactions, which is a LOT of data. It’s a 1 followed by 21 zeros. Linda said that $168 billion will be spent on products marketed in the US this year – that represents 52.7% of all US expenditures. Marketers and the companies they support account for 9.2 mm jobs in this country.

No kidding, the business of marketing is fueling the economy in new ways. That is a great way to think about how important it is to participate in our industry and do what we love to do.

Linda also showed a new video that the DMA created on how consumers rely on the data embedded into their daily life. They are “Thrilled and delighted to have that data help them connect with products, brands, people, causes and elected officials,” Linda said.

However, Linda warned us that the FTC has started going after data brokers – which is really all of us – anyone who uses data to do marketing to anyone else. The FTC wants to legally require us to allow consumer permission for every transaction. This would be the end of customer centricity. Imagine checking into a hotel when the registration clerk asked if you have ever stayed before. Unfortunately, privacy zealots have scared Congress with their hyperbole, Linda said. “They’ve frightened people with the idea that if you buy a deep fryer you will be denied health care.”

However, if marketers fight back hard enough, we can show Congress the value of data driven marketing. This is where the DMA comes in.

Linda asked for each of us to join her and the DMA in taking a pledge to support the mission of the DMA to advance and protect responsible data driven marketing. Please do take the pledge today and ask other sin your organization to do the same.

Linda herself pledged that the DMA will work tirelessly with every direct and digital marketer to make sure that the future is a world where we can give customer what they want , when they want it. Where marketers can play a significant role in social causes. A world where products and people get where they are supposed to be and on time.

“Together, we can transform how Congress thinks about marketers and data driven marketing,” Linda said. “we will make sure they – and consumers – understand that what we do improves lives, benefits the economy and strengthens our society.”

I hope you will take the pledge with us today – and provide us any feedback on what you need to ensure the DMA serves you the best way we can.

As Linda said, “We are DMA. And we’ll be there for you!”

-Stephanie Miller, VP, Member Relations, The DMA

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3 Subjects to Study to Boost Your Email IQ

Written on October 2nd, 2012 | Posted by in Email marketing, Roi, Return path, Eec, Email iq, Email optimization

 

If your business is seasonal, back-to-school time and the pre-holiday months of late summer and early autumn are likely major tipping points for driving revenue and ensuring you end the calendar year on a high note. More than ever, this is the time that marketers, especially those with a retail and/or e-commerce business, need to harness all the tools they have at their disposal and implement smart email program decisions.

After all, the bottom line isn’t graded on a curve and there’s no such thing as summer school when it comes to missed opportunities for recognizing ROI from the email channel. When Sam Cooke sang, “Don’t know much about history. Don’t know much biology…” his “Wonderful World” put academics second and love first. Unfortunately, email marketers can’t afford to ignore their IQs when it comes to email intelligence.

While being an A+ student in all aspects of email marketing might be unrealistic, there are a few subjects that marketers definitely shouldn’t ignore:

  1. Security: Phishing and spoofing activity has never been more rampant and marketers need to be proactive in protecting their brands. Contrary to popular belief, fraudsters aren’t just going after financial institutions like banks, payment services providers and credit card companies; they’re targeting any legitimate brand that subscribers may be familiar with. This includes social networking sites, shipping companies, wireless phone and internet providers and many more. A phishing or spoofing attack has the power to undo all of the good ground work that has been laid for optimizing inbox placement rates and performance metrics. If a subscriber’s personal details or finances are compromised as the result of clicking on a link in an email that pretends to come from your brand, you’ve not only lost an email subscriber and potential (or existing) customer, but your brand reputation has plummeted. In this age of social sharing, that negative outcome likely includes anyone in that subscriber’s network of friends and family as well. What can you do? Protect your brand by using an anti-phishing and anti-spoofing tool that monitors fraudulent activity and blocks any attempts to hijack your domain. Learn more about Return Path’s solution here.
  2. Inactivity: Having a large portion of non-responsive addresses on your file is the equivalent of blaming the dog for eating your homework. Not only does this segment reflect poorly on your list hygiene practices, but the inactive portion of your file isn’t going to diminish by ignoring it or pretending it isn’t there.  Most major ISPs such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL are factoring engagement metrics into their filtering decisions. This includes metrics like whether or not the message was opened, replied to, clicked on or added to a subscriber’s address book. The more messages being sent to inactive addresses, the greater the likelihood that sender reputation and inbox placement will be impacted, negatively affecting response rates and overall program performance. In addition, depending on how long these addresses have lingered on the file, there could be a large percentage of spam traps. When it comes to email intelligence around inactivity, marketers should have a solid and ongoing plan in place for communicating to pre-defined inactive segments with a specific strategy to reengage and ultimately remove any persistent non-responders.
  3. Skimmability: Optimizing your creative templates has never been more important as subscribers increasingly use their mobile devices to check email. Return Path’s latest research study “Mobile, Webmail, Desktops: Where Are We Viewing Email Now?” shows that email opens on mobile devices grew 82.4% year-over-year and Apple devices account for 85% of all mobile email opens. Designing email for mobile viewing has its own unique set of best practices to experiment with based on the devices your subscribers are using to view email. Whether it’s testing single-column or multi-column layouts, trying a variety of “finger-friendly” sized buttons that allow for easy clicking, using a text size that can be easily read on a variety of screens or designing mobile-friendly landing pages and websites that support on-the-go conversions, email messages read on mobile devices need to work even harder to be skimmable. The decision to click-through on an email viewed on a mobile device is made in a split-second, so the clearer and concise your message is, the better.

When it comes to realizing ROI from the email channel, what you don’t know can definitely hurt you. The good news is that with a little studying (along with testing, adjusting and optimizing), you can go a long way toward ensuring your program makes the grade for the back-to-school season and beyond.


Margaret Farmakis
Senior Director, Response Consulting
Return Path

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Feeling Abandoned? Two Reasons a Re-Engagement Campaign Makes Sense

Written on October 2nd, 2012 | Posted by Marco Marini in Re-engagement campaigns, Email marketing, Relevance, Roi, Abandoned emails, Eec, Clickmail marketing, Smarter remarketer

 

If your direct email marketing program is intended to drive traffic to a landing page or website, chances are you have abandonment issues. Not because you’re doing anything inherently wrong, mind you. It’s just the nature of the online world. Some people will show up at your website and simply not buy. Even the best email marketing will have people abandon their shopping after following through on a call to action. In fact, 88% of online shoppers abandon, according to a 2009 Forrester Research estimate.

It might be the prospect lands at a page then clicks away without buying (called up funnel abandonment) or it might be the prospect goes as far as starting to buy from you--or register with you--then clicks away (called down funnel abandonment).

Either way, they’re clicking away. And every click on the Back button is a lost revenue opportunity for you.

Is that it? Are you done? Must you stand idly by and let them go? Not if you use a strategic email abandonment campaign to re-engage those who clicked away.

At ClickMail Marketing, we’ve been partnering with Smarter Remarketer, helping clients use re-engagement campaigns that kick in when a prospect abandons a landing page or website. During that time, we’ve realized there are two vital reasons for implementing an abandonment campaign: relevance and ROI.

  1. Relevance: Emails that follow up on a specific prospect action, such as clicking through to a landing page or adding an item to a shopping cart, are by default highly relevant to that prospect. We can’t know the reason for not following through and purchasing. For all we know, the cart was abandoned because company showed up unexpectedly or the boss called the prospect into her office. It might not be a decision not to buy. It might be real life got in the way. So imagine the relevancy of an email sent to a prospect who was that close to purchasing? The email could remind them of the selected items or even offer a discount if purchase is made within a certain time.
  2. Return on Investment: The same logic we apply to factoring the real cost of email deliverability issues applies when computing the real cost of losing a customer because they’ve abandoned your website. Simply look at your abandonment rate and multiply that by your average sales amount to get an idea of the money you’ve left on the table. Chances are, you’ll see a potential ROI that makes the time and cost of implementing an abandonment campaign make both dollars and sense.

In addition to the immediate benefits of higher ROI, consider the longer term benefits of brand and customer relations, plus having a bona fide reason to send that prospect an email. And not just any email, but a very targeted and relevant email, one very likely to get opened, which in turn will help your email deliverability by showing the ISP a high level of engagement.

Getting started
Due to the importance of adding a re-engagement element to your email marketing program, you want to be sure you’re using the best email service provider you can, one that maximizes deliverability and helps automate or simplify abandonment and other triggered emails. Make sure your current vendor (or any ESP you are considering) has a proven record of actual, real life successes too. Ask about measuring and tracking results, and how the vendor will be held accountable for helping you to implement such a campaign. You can learn more about abandonment emails and get advice on choosing a vendor here.

There’s more to reaching out to abandoners than a simple, “Hey, what happened?” email. Adding an abandonment and reengagement email program into your mix makes sense, not only because abandonment emails are perfectly relevant, but because they make an essential tool for ROI, thanks to their ability to reclaim what would have been a lost sale.

Marco Marini, CEO
ClickMail Marketing

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Five Ways to Optimize Email for Mobile

Written on September 7th, 2012 | Posted by Stephanie Miller in Eec, Email marketing, Email optimization, Mobile marketing

“New and improved” might be the most overused catchphrase ever . . . but it also might be the most effective. Whether it’s a “new and improved” shampoo, diaper or menu, the slogan has staying power because there is always, always room for – and excitement about – improvement. 

These days “new and improved” is also the mantra for smart email marketers. Call it agility, nimbleness or responsiveness, optimizing and re-optimizing your emails for new (and newer!) devices is quickly becoming the new normal. As technologies evolve, so do users’ expectations – and that means your tactics have to keep evolving, as well.  How you design your email messages, what content they contain, when they arrive, etc. all factor into whether customers will stay loyal to you or turn to a more appealing “new and improved” approach. 

According to a study by Litmus, more email is now read on mobile (36 percent) than on a desktop (33 percent) or via webmail (31 percent), and opens in mobile devices have increased a full 80 percent in the last six months. With more and more people reading their emails on the go, it is now critically important for marketers to understand how to create an effective (read “new and improved”) mobile email.        

Do you know what your email campaign looks like on a mobile device? Are you making it easy for customers to read and understand the information you are sending them? 

You’ll increase your response rates (and nurture brand loyalty at the same time) if you keep these five proven techniques top-of-mind: 

KISS your content. The old “KISS” principle (“Keep it simple, stupid!” or more kindly, “Keep it simple and sincere”) never was more applicable than for mobile email messages. We all know how easy it is to delete an email on a mobile device, and this “read or delete” mentality means you need to keep your emails short, sweet and to-the-point. In particular, a short subject line is key; several studies have shown that shorter subject lines dramatically outperform longer ones.

Test, test and test again. Are you images loading correctly? Are links easy to open? Is your layout mobile friendly? To make sure your message is delivering properly, check it on a variety of different devices/formats. Your email might be a creative director’s dream, but it also needs to be easy-to-read, no matter what screen it’s viewed on. Subscribers will lose interest if they have to keep scrolling to understand your message or if they get stuck waiting for data to download. 

Link smart. If you want a link to get clicks, don’t bury it in clutter or hide it among other links. Set the link apart and make it accessible. (This is especially important on touch screens.)  Frustration with links leads to deletion or departure, which defeats the purpose of your email. One more point here: If you have mobile apps, be sure your emails include links to download them (probably best located toward the end of your body copy). 

Define your call-to-action. Your mobile email recipient is usually multitasking, very distracted and on the move –so you need to be direct and unobtrusive. Deliver quality content containing compelling offers, relevant information and clear calls-to-action. Use segmentation and targeting so you can deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time. (The last thing you want is to for your customer to tag your email as spam.) According to e-Dialog, the key driver for mobile opt-in among US consumers are special offers or discounts available only via mobile messaging (18 percent).

Timing is everything. A study from Return Path found that mobile email use shows a fairly steady pattern through the week, but then starts to rise beginning on Thursday,  and then continues to increase on Friday and Saturday before it starts to taper off on Sunday. Monitor your results to learn what days/times are optimal for your customers. Also, watch as technologies develop to empower you with information about customer location and purchasing patterns in real-time.  Analytics like these can help you deliver messages that impact point-of-sale.

What can you do to boost response rates for your mobile email campaigns?  Remember, even seemingly small changes can significantly boost your results and help you create a “new and improved” approach to revenue growth.

 

Stephanie Miller | VP, Email & Digital Services   

Aprimo

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4 Factors That Influence the Best Time to Send an Email Campaign

Written on September 4th, 2012 | Posted by in Eec, Email marketing, Email tactics, Email campaigns, Content relevance, Subject lines

Living in a society where we constantly need more than 24 hours in a day, is there a perfect time to press the send button on your email marketing campaign?  The answer is yes and no.  How can that be?  Well, there is not a single perfect time for every marketer to send every email.  That’s the “no” part.  But there probably is a nearly perfect time for your company to send your messages.  And that time may even vary by message, with different messages to different audiences having its own “perfect” time.  That is the “yes” part.

Instead, look at the bigger picture.  Whether you’d like to admit it or not, we all have some sort of daily routine.  The answer as to why timing is not so sensitive lies in how people engage and process their email inbox.  Personally, I’m checking my email on my iPhone the moment my alarm goes off in the morning.  I always notice the influx to marketing emails between 6am-10am.   But does being the first to the inbox all that important?  If you find yourself asking this question, please refer back to the beginning of this paragraph.  As the industry shifts to weighing heavily on engagement rates, marketers should be focusing on other aspects besides what time to send a campaign.

Consider the following factors:

Content relevance:  Subscribers are more likely to open emails that contain content relevant to their preferences.  When a customer sees a preview of an email in their inbox, they are more likely to participate if they can relate directly to the content.  The ultimate goal is to build a relationship with your subscribers by offering valuable content that encourages engagement.

Subject line and FROM name: Is your brand easily recognized by subscribers?  Are you telling your valued customers who you are and what you’re offering immediately when they see the subject line?   People are naturally attracted to timely and relevant offers, thus your subject line should be tailored accordingly.

Brand Loyalty: Marketers love returning customers.  Take special care of these subscribers, as they will become your most loyal fans.  Allow subscribers to choose which lists they would like to join.  Personalized targeting will make a more enjoyable experience for the customer.

Previous experience with your messages: Each subscriber is unique, so pay attention to how they’re interacting with your messages.  Can subscribers easily access your website from the email?  Is the message easy to navigate? Create messages which meet your customer’s needs.

An infographic released by Pure360, an email marketing software company, breaks down the best and worst times to send emails.  Generally, email open and click rates varies about 10% throughout the day.  If you’re a sender offering a 12 p.m. flash sale, then you want your message in the inbox a few hours before.  If you found through testing that having campaigns deployed by 6 a.m. drives the highest response rates, keep sending at that time. Periodically test to see if there are any trend changes.  Return Path offers a tool called Campaign Insight that can also help determine optimal times to send emails.  Campaign Insight provides additional data regarding the active users of your email program.  You can easily identify when a campaign was opened and look for trends.

It all comes down to what makes sense for your brand. Is there a best time to send an email campaign? Yes and no.  If you’re waiting around for the perfect time to press send, you’ll probably never launch the campaign.  Prioritize your mail deployment based on what your subscribers are telling you.  Listen!  If your audience tends to purchase after lunch, make sure they have your campaign in their mailbox before then.  Target the loyal customers with relevant and appealing content and any time is the perfect time to hit send.

How are you determining your perfect time to send?

Shannon Rosic

Account Coordinator

Return Path

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