Email marketing: Are you getting these type of results in your business?

By Adrian Swinscoe

Email marketing opens to click throughs are you getting results like these in your business?

Are you using email marketing in your business? What results are you getting?

The reason I ask is that I just came across a really interesting new report about email marketing across different sectors that I thought that I’d share with you. Whilst many people argue that social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, MySpace etc are taking over from some of the other, more traditional marketing channels, email and its 1 to 1 nature still is and will remain important.

However, like all marketing, to make sure that you are getting the results that you desire you should be benchmarking and testing the effectiveness of your messages all of the time. The new report I mentioned comes from UK based permission marketing company Sign-Up.to and should prove very useful. The report is short and makes some fascinating reading. A couple of the highlights that the report picked out include:

  • Restaurants, when using permission-based email marketing, have benefited over the course of the last year in their open rates (people paying attention to your email) and click throughs (people taking action in response to your email) as they have moved to focusing on offering more vouchers and discounts. By thinking about their customers, listening to them and giving them what they are looking for they have been able to boost engagement significantly.
  • Music retail follows a similar path with improvements in opens and click throughs as they lead with free track giveaways, discounts etc to improve engagement.
  • Finally, the legal & accounting sector also saw big rises in open rates when they moved towards being advice rather than sales driven as this has helped them build credibility with business customers looking for guidance in the challenging economic times that we find ourselves in.

The table below shows a summary table for all sectors that were surveyed.

Email marketing: Which sectors get the best open and click through rates?

The 7 Cs of Business Communication: Make Your Posts Shareworthy Every Time

by Marya of Writing Happiness

 

When I finished my MBA degree about a decade ago, I undertook a course which taught me how to write great content for my blog.

Sceptical? I know what you are thinking: blogging wasn’t even around then! I know. Allow me to explain.

Doing MBA, I did many subjects like Marketing and Management which are great for anyone who is a webpreneur or looking to become one. That being said, Business Communication was, by far, the most enjoyable subject of the whole course. And I knew it would come in handy one day.

I just didn’t know that blogging would be the area that would benefit the most from it.

Time to dig through the dusty old boxes, locate the Business Communication textbook and revisit the well thumbed pages once again!

Blog writing is effective communication

We all agree that at the heart of great content lies effective communication. If you don’t, you are almost guaranteed to fail at whatever you are trying to accomplish with your posts.

To compose effective written or oral messages, there are certain principles that we need to apply. These also provide guidelines for your choice of content and style of presentation, be it a post or a video on your blog.

These are 7 Cs of communication:

Completeness

Your post is only complete when it contains all the info that your reader requires in order to have a reaction you want them to have.

Remember when you are writing a post, only you are aware of what’s happening inside your head—the readers don’t. They don’t have access to all the voices in your head. For them to interpret the message as you intend, make sure you provide them with all the necessary information.

That could be a back-story to your post; it could be the questions you were contemplating while that thought popped into your head to do your post. Readers need to know what motivated you to write your post. Answer all the questions that are bound to come up and relate to your purpose.

Give your readers the whole picture, laying down the benefits, and talking about the results to convince them. Bring your reader to the page where you begin, or much context will be lost or misinterpreted.

Conciseness

Ahh… I am really partial to this one—it’s easily my favourite child of them all!

Conciseness is saying what you have to say in the fewest possible words—without sacrificing the other C qualities. Pay attention to the last bit as this is gold. It won’t help you to write briefly if you haven’t provided complete information, lack clarity, and are not courteous.

A concise message saves time for both you, the blogger, and for your readers. By being concise you are showing respect for your readers’ time. You lay emphasis on important ideas by eliminating unnecessary words, including only relevant information and avoiding needless repetition.

Wordiness has been the bane of writers for ever. So avoid long introductions to your post, omit unnecessary explanations, and don’t insult your readers.

Cut down pompous words, trite explanations, and gushy exclamations. Stick to the purpose of your post. When combined with the “you view,” which I’ll explain in a moment, concise posts are that much more interesting to your readers.

Consideration

Write each post with your readers in mind. What do they need? How much of a difference will your post make in their lives? Be aware of their desires, problems, circumstances, emotions, and expectations.

Put yourself in their shoes. This is “you view.”

Most new bloggers are actually surprised to find that the most important word in their posts is you and not I. Yes, it might seem contradictory; I mean, you started blogging to air your thoughts, right? Well, that’s probably not entirely true. Don’t let your posts become an exercise in navel-gazing: write with the goal of helping your readers in some way, be it educational or entertainment.

Show them the benefit of reading your posts, and gently encourage them to take the desired action—sharing your post, commenting on it, or buying something from you.

Clarity

Getting the meaning from your head into the head of your reader—accurately—is the purpose of clarity.

Choosing the right words to convey your message will work wonders for your writing.

Be conversational, and avoid being superior in your writing. Your writing doesn’t need to be pretentious to be taken seriously. It doesn’t matter how big your vocabulary is, you won’t achieve any results if nobody understands you. Use familiar language, and words that you are well versed in, and are appropriate for the situation.

Use short words if you have a choice between using long or short. Avoid using technical jargon and, when you have to, explain it once for people who might be beginners in this area.

Construct effective sentences and paragraphs by laying emphasis on the main idea. Generally, short length works best, and be sure to have unity and coherence in your sentence structure. Look into style elements if you feel you need some help in this regard.

Courtesy

Do you reply to your comments? Do you thank people for sharing your posts, tweeting them, and linking to them?

Your sincere “you attitude” makes you courteous—and it makes you likeable. Courtesy is politeness growing out of respect and concern for others.

Be thoughtful, appreciative, helpful, and truly respectful to your readers. Remember you are building a community here, so you want to promote values that define you as a person.

Concreteness

Be specific, definite, and vivid in your writing, rather than vague and general.

Use active verbs rather than passive, and choose image building words. Use analogies to make comparisons when appropriate, and avoid dull language. Show off your personality and your voice—that’s what makes readers hang on to every word.

And lastly, an extension of that is the final C.

Correctness

This issue is the easiest to fix, and should never ever see the light of the day—there is simply no excuse for it.

Use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Check the accuracy of facts, figures, and words. For oral presentations, substitute spelling with speech etiquette. Enough said—you are a bright reader, I can tell.

Do you follow these 7 Cs of communication when you write your blog posts? Tell us your approach in the comments.

How Not To Be Shy Around People: 5 Easy Steps

By Michael Lee

Want to know how not to be shy around people? If you often feel self-conscious and awkward, find yourself saying all the wrong words (or shutting up entirely), and not being able to do or say what you want… then it’s time you get your shyness out of the way. How? Just follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Understand Where Your Shyness Is Coming From.

Each one experiences shyness differently. Find out how it manifests in your life and what triggers it. When it happens, what are you concerned with?

Step 2: Turn Self-Consciousness To Self-Awareness.

The world is not looking at you all the time. Most people are like you, anyway, busy looking at themselves. Stop looking at yourself through the eyes of others. Focus your awareness inwards instead and work on your presence of mind.

Step 3: Find Your Strengths.

Surely, there is something you do quite well. Find out what you’re good at and keep doing it. These strengths will not only help you accept your identity, these will teach you how not to be shy around people.

Knowing that you’re good at something makes you feel good about yourself. Use it to your advantage!

Step 4: Appreciate Yourself.

Give yourself some credit. Being shy doesn’t cancel out all your other good qualities. In fact, if you look deeper, you will see more beautiful things about yourself. And don’t worry, it’s okay to be different.

Learning how not to be shy around people first requires that you like yourself. When you become comfortable about yourself, you build your confidence as well.

Step 5: Keep Practicing Your Social Skills.

Just like any other skill, your social skills can be developed through practice. Take the bold step to introduce yourself in parties or meetings. Ask them and talk about their interests (hobbies, family, friends, career, goals, etc.)

It may be awkward and difficult at first, but with enough practice, it will be easier eventually.

It might also help if you visualize a certain scenario and practice what you might say or do ahead of time. Don’t expect to see improvements right away.

When you experience mistakes and rejection along the way, don’t be disheartened – they happen. Learn from them and just keep trying.

Learning how not to be shy around people, especially when you’ve been timid for so long, can really be challenging. The key to confidence is accepting and appreciating yourself. Keep putting yourself out there. Remember, the more you try, the easier it will be next time!

Five reasons why data is more important than ever for digital marketers

by Rob McLeod

 

As a planner, data has always been the bread and butter of my professional career. Since the rise of planning teams in advertising agencies during the 70s, it has been our job to really get to know the consumers we are looking to reach, to get under their skin and understand what makes them tick.

We focus on collecting as much useful data as possible that can then be used alongside considered insight and observation to create more targeted campaigns that hit the nail on the head.

Digital marketing makes the collection of data a lot easier and, with the growth of techniques such as retargeting and personalisation, there has never been a time when we, as marketers, have more data at our disposal and more ways to use it effectively.

But with so much data out there, it is easy to become lazy or complacent. Information overload is a growing problem on the web with consumers often finding it harder and harder to keep their heads above the constant barrage of online noise.

For brands therefore, the challenge is to cut above this and create campaigns that truly engage and inspire, without dictating what the consumer must do. And data has a key role to play. Here’s how:

1. Identify common behaviour

Knowing how consumers behave online is one of the key ways to understand how to build campaigns that will gain traction.

This can be at a macro level (such as identifying which sites are most popular with certain demographics) but also in relation to less strategic concerns (for example, how long will the average consumer spend watching a video).

This will not only allow you to target the right channels, but will allow you to work with creative and technical teams to develop campaigns that get results.

2. Improve relevancy

Following on from this, it’s now possible to use data to ensure campaigns are relevant to the audiences you are looking to target. Data can help you identify topics and themes that are popular – what the audience wants to hear – and use this to inform your strategy and your campaign.

3. Be flexible

Data can help you to be more flexible in the way you communicate online and can help your digital campaigns become more agile.

Once a campaign is up and running, you can collect real-time data to see how it is progressing and use this to make changes and tweaks as it continues. This is a luxury that just wasn’t possible in the days of print or TV advertising.

4. Not all audiences are created equal

Now more than ever we are seeing increasing diversity across all online channels. Broad-brush assumptions and sweeping statements no longer hold sway.

Brands and agencies that realise this will be able to create highly personalised campaigns that make audiences feel valued like never before and get results.

5. Be social

Social media has transformed the way we plan campaigns. Social networks are increasingly opening up to let marketers have more and more insights into how users behave, their preferences, likes and dislikes.

Ultimately, the social media space is where the consumer is most likely to be open to hearing from brands that they will identify with.

But brands need to use this opportunity in a respectful way. A new two-way marketing approach, which focuses on engagement, is the only way forward.

By considerately using the data at your disposal, you can develop a real understanding of the culture of your audience and be part of it rather than trying to lead the conversation or push or force marketing messages at them.

Being social these days really means being shareable: delivering content that the audience wants to hear and wants to share with their network. This enhances your reach dramatically and also delivers to the contemporary behaviour traits of your audience who share a plethora of content from a wealth of sources daily.

Avoid These Three Mistakes When Presenting

By Guide to Persuasive Presentations

Delivering a successful presentation requires preparation and practice. You need to gain the trust of your audience and convey your message clearly. Here are three mistakes you should avoid next time you’re preparing to stand up in front of a crowd:

Not knowing your audience. Long before you walk into the room, determine who your audience is and what they will do with the information you present.

Failing to grab your listeners’ attention. Give the audience a reason to care. Hook them by describing the problem you’re trying to solve, or use an anecdote or a counterintuitive fact.

Using unrelated visual aids. Just because a chart looks good doesn’t mean you need to include it. Your audience may be annoyed and possibly confused if your visual aids aren’t directly related to your message.

 

Social Media Marketing and Word-of-Mouth Marketing Are Now the Same

By Steve Olenski

Reading several articles all based on the same survey made me realize that many people still don’t get it… they don’t get the fact that Social Media Marketing and Word of Mouth Marketing are now the same thing!

The first place I saw it was on the blogs section of the Wall Street Journal website… To Heck With Twitter, Business Owners Say. Then I saw it on MediaPost.com Small Biz Ambivalent About Social Media. Then just yesterday I read this headline on MarketingProfs.com Social Media Gets Mixed Reviews From Small Business.

The survey was commissioned by the Hiscox Insurance Company who worked with market-research firm Opinium Research LLP to query 304 U.S. small business owners this past May. Overall, 47% of small business owners and managers surveyed said they don’t use social media for business purposes at all. The survey also broke down each of the big players in the social media world, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and the numbers for each of these individually are low with Twitter bringing up the rear as only 4% of respondents said they use Twitter.

And good luck trying to decipher what kinds of businesses these were that were surveyed, were they B2B, B2C, what industries were they in, etc… cause I couldn’t find that information. You can click on any of the above links for the gory not-very-detailed details if you so choose but… what caught my eye and raised my proverbial ire was the fact that 50% of the respondents cited Word of Mouth Marketing as the one channel they couldn’t do without compared to the 12% vote social media received.

Of the three articles I referenced earlier, only one, the MediaPost.com piece even made a reference to the connection between Social Media Marketing and Word of Mouth Marketing: “… Notwithstanding the obvious potential for overlap between social media and WOM…”

Potential overlap?

No, there is no potential overlap, there is a real and distinct overlap!

I’m reading these articles and wondering aloud, ‘doesn’t anyone get this?’ There was one commenter on the WSJ piece who got it for sure…

“…What these business owners… are missing is the fact that Social Media is set to become THE way to spread word of mouth. Facebook is becoming the sewing circle of the future, and if you can get a group of people buzzing to each other online about your business, you can bring in more customers.”

I will disagree with this POV only in the fact that Social Media is not set to become the way to spread word of mouth… it already is!

C’mon people, business owners, marketers, advertisers, etc… where do you think people are “talking” these days?

I will surely not trot out the latest Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn stats nor remind you of the accelerated growth of Google Plus… by now you know and have seen all the statistics.

Sure, are neighbors talking to neighbors as they mow their lawns about the new laundry detergent one just used or the great restaurant the other one went to the night before? Of course, that part will never change.

But what HAS changed is now those same neighbors, after mowing their lawns, are going back into their homes and going on their computers or back into their garages and whipping out their smartphones and telling all their friends… their ONLINE friends all about the new laundry detergent and great restaurant.

Their PCs, smartphones and tablets are now extensions of their mouths… in a matter of speaking.

They are now using their keyboards in addition to their mouths to spread the word.

Why does that seem so obvious to me yet seems lost on so many others?

Sources: blogs.wsj.com, mediapost.com, marketingprofs.com, hiscoxusa.com, Google Images, Social Media Marketing And Word Of Mouth Marketing Are Now The Same

Google+: How relevant is it for Event Organizers?

by Michael Heipel Concept & Consulting

The circles feature is a great way to categorize your followers/friends according to different criteria. Hence, you can share specific content just with a particular circle, and not bothering others with non-relevant content. That … is really a great feature where we’ll soon see the potential. You can create circles for different conferences or trade shows. And getting people in those circles and thus expand your reach is comparable to Twitter. You get a notification when someone added you to any of their circles (although you don’t know which one that would be), and then you can decide if you want to add them in any of your circles.

  • Hangouts: I have already seen implementations of the hangout feature for press conferences, concerts, live educational sessions… There are a lot more things you can think about, like exhibitor briefings, pre-conference chats with your speakers etc. etc. This is really a great feature, and it is built in to the network right from the start.

Apps: Well, as we’ve seen with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, there will soon be apps all over, integrating Google+ in whatever it is you’re doing.

So, all in all, I don’t think we should all abandon FB, Twitter and Co. immediately. But I do think Google+ is serious business and we should be active on this platform, because a lot of attention will be given to it in the short and medium term.

Location, User Interest Remain Key to Successful Mobile Marketing

By Michael

Mobile Marketing Location, User Interest Remain Key to Successful Mobile Marketing

In a beginner’s guide style commentary in Tuesday’s online edition of Forbesmagazine, Mike Tittel of gyro shared what surprisingly remains a secret to many advertisers and business owners – location is key to success in mobile marketing.

“Most clients are asking about mobile technology,” Tittel writes. “They have immediate concerns: Android versus iPhone or BlackBerry, apps versus mobile-enabled Web pages, Japan versus North America, GPS, QR codes, mobile wallet, mobile couponing, technologies and execution.”

“But often they need to take a step back,” he adds. “Mobile devices have for the first time ever made location and context the most critical things to consider in mobile marketing.”

Last week, however, we were reminded that while mobile ads rooted in location are important, catching a mobile user’s interest still involves much, much more.

A study from Upstream revealed precisely the types of mobile advertising that consumers prefer to receive. In a continuation of the company’s North American Consumer Attitudes to Mobile Marketing research, undertaken by Luth Research, survey respondents indicated that mobile advertisements that are tailored to their “tastes and interests” far out-perform other offers that are based on time, lifestyle or location.

Assaf Baciu, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Upstream says: “While location remains an important factor in delivering mobile ads, tailoring interactions via mobile to consumers’ ‘tastes and interests’ clearly presents much greater potential for driving higher response and conversion rates.”

“Interestingly, despite more sophisticated forms of mobile marketing out there, opt-in text alerts or messages still score very highly with regard to consumer responsiveness,” Baciu adds. “This data reinforces the very intimate, personal nature of consumers’ mobile devices, and the singular priority for mobile marketers to carefully manage and optimize their engagement and number of interactions with customers.”

5 Marketing Tips from a New Generation of Celebrity Entrepreneurs

By Susan Gunelius

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17:  Designer Gwen Ste...

When we think of celebrity entrepreneurs, names like Paul Newman and Oprah Winfrey typically come to mind, but today, an entire new generation of celebrity entrepreneurs is making strides in the business world. These celebrity business men and women have something in common. They all benefit from instant name recognition and brand awareness, but they don’t all follow the same path to attain success in business.

I’ve always been a proponent of taking a page from celebrity marketing plans for brand building, and we can do the same with celebrity entrepreneurs and business development. Following are 5 marketing tips you can learn from celebrity entrepreneurs who are finding success not just in the world of entertainment but in the world of business, too.

1. Go with what you know.

P. Diddy knows hip hop music. He turned that knowledge into a hugely successful record label, Bad Boy Entertainment Worldwide, before branching out into other media endeavors with television shows like Making the Band and Run’s House. P Diddy knows more about hip hop music than just making it and performing it. He also knows the culture of the hip hop audience and extended his business to a fashion line (Sean John), fragrances, and a high-end liquor (Ciroc vodka).

In 2010, P Diddy told a CNN interviewer that he wanted to start a business school in Harlem. He explained, “I want to have an academy that’s known for building leaders. I feel that’s one of the things I can have an impact on.” It’s safe to say he’s not done building his business empire which is rumored to be estimated at $400-$500 million.

2. Focus on your strengths and passions.

Gwen Stefani loves music and fashion. When she decided to start a fashion line with a alternative pop-inspired style that would appeal to her existing female audience as lead singer for No Doubt, she chose the brand name L.A.M.B., an acronym for the title of her first solo album, “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.”

Stefani’s business has expanded to other areas of fashion and accessory design to include a children’s line, and a brand of bags for Apple devices, Harajuku Lovers. Her passion for music and fashion helped her build a brand that brings in $90 million each year.

3. Recognize and respond to demand, but you don’t have to go it alone.

Beyonce’s mother, Tina Knowles, designed all the costumes for her daughter’s music group, Destiny’s Child. It seemed like a natural progression for the two women to team up to launch a fashion brand, and House of Dereon was born. A less expensive junior line, Dereon, was launched later by Beyonce and her sister Solange Knowles.

In a September 2011 interview with CNN, Beyonce explained that the fashion line evolved in response to consumer demand, “I grew up in a fabric store. Unfortunately my mother would say, ‘Come on let’s go to the fabric store,’ and she would make all of these beautiful clothes for myself and the other ladies of Destiny’s Child. After so many years, my fans said, ‘We want to buy these clothes somewhere,’ so it was a natural thing for us to do this line.  It’s so great for us to be able to do it together, number one because we get to spend time together and two because we have such respect for each others’ tastes.”

4. Leverage brand extension opportunities.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Kardashian sisters have built their boutique clothing store, Dash, and the Kardashian brand into a business empire. They did it through brand extensions. Not an opportunity goes by for a brand extension that the Kardashian sisters don’t take (or at least consider). From television shows to fragrances and clothing lines, the Kardashian sisters follow the celebrity promotion edict that no publicity is bad publicity.

Of course, this isn’t a business strategy that every entrepreneur should follow. There is such a thing as over-saturating the market with a brand. With that in mind, weigh your long-term business goals against brand extension opportunities to make sure you’re heading in a direction that’s appropriate for you.

5. Diversify your business ventures.

Justin Timberlake may have started his career on the Disney Channel, but today, he’s a successful business owner. His diverse business ventures include the William Rast clothing line, 901 tequila, several restaurants, and the eco-friendly Mirimichi Golf Course in Tennessee for which he received the Futures Award at the 2011 Environmental Media Awards.

Timberlake’s business strategy isn’t a new one, but it is a solid one. Diversification insulates the business owner from macro- and micro-environmental events that could negatively impact a specific business or industry. It’s a growth strategy that all entrepreneurs should consider. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

6 Event Power Tools for building positive change

By Peter Straube

What’s in your toolbox when you’re planning or executing an event?  It doesn’t matter what kind of event—it could be a conference, music festival, product launch, sporting event, trade show, or celebration.  As the builder of the event, you’ve got valuable resources at your disposal that can be used as effective tools for enhancing the overall impact of your event.  I call these Power Tools because, well, they give you the power to make a far bigger difference than what you could ever hope to accomplish on your own.  Here is a set of six power tools you have available for your use in the process of planning and executing any event:

PLACE – the site you select can have a significant effect on the surrounding area.  After Katrina, many planners considered holding events in New Orleans as a way to bring more economic activity back to the city.  Far-away destinations have become less attractive because of the significant carbon footprint from participants traveling to get there.  And wherever an event is held, there are people or organizations nearby that could be offered assistance or support. 

PEOPLE – events bring together LOTS of people: participants, volunteer or paid staff, vendors and service providers, exhibitors, sponsors, performers…and each one of them has the potential to contribute.  Within each of these groups, you will find people with specific experience and expertise that can be shared: helping to build something, teach or advise, or solve problems.  Your board of directors, hotel or food & beverage staff, contractors—they can all be invited to channel their talents and ideas to assist a disadvantaged population or provide a benefit to the community in some way.  You’re bringing them together; now make the most of it!

PROGRAM  – as you design the entire experience for participants, weave in opportunities to educate, inspire to action, or create a physical change that leaves a site or organization in a better place. Connect a cause with an audience by giving them the stage for at least a few minutes or, better yet, involving them in an interactive activity.  And while you’re at it, offer all participants the opportunity to contribute time, money or ideas to a cause during the course of the event.

PRACTICES – certainly group events are excellent opportunities to model and employ sustainable business practices.  Mandate recycling, composting, bulk water stations, printing stations…all measures that will reduce your lasting footprint.  Buy local.  Offer healthy menu selections.  Wherever it makes sense, convert printed materials to electronic. Specify your expectations in your RFPs to influence venues, vendors and service providers to meet your standards.  If they want your business, they will deliver.  Want some great practical examples? Check out this MPI Sustainability Report.

POSSESSIONS –
this one is about “stuff”, and events have lots of it! It’s just a matter of getting things organized.   The traditional fundraising approach would be to simply make a direct contribution of a portion of revenues from the event.  If you’re a vendor or exhibitor, you might consider donating a percentage of your sales: that benefits the company by promoting sales and also the consumers, who get to contribute to a cause “for free”.  Venues and service providers can donate space or services at no or discounted charge.  Targeted populations can be granted free or reduced-price admission.   Participants can be encouraged to donate money or unused possessions (discarded cell phones, used clothing) to the cause. 

PROMOTION – most events employ a number of promotional messages during the process of building attendance and communicating information people will need in order to participate.  In your messages, provide causes or non-profit organizations with the same kind of exposure that you would for any paid sponsor.  Whether it’s media ads, printed programs, social media campaigns, radio interviews, whatever…each message offers you the opportunity to work towards positive change by increasing awareness and concern for social causes, supporting behavior change campaigns, or inspiring others to action. And while you’re doing this, you’ll be making people feel even better about your event and the people behind it.

Of course, you always need to keep your focus on accomplishing the original objectives for each of the stakeholders, or the event won’t be a success.  But skillfully used, these power tools can get big jobs done.  How have you seen these tools used to build positive change through events?  And do you have any others in your own toolbox?