Strategies and Tips for Successful E-mail Marketing

email envelope

Great article in the July issue of Entrepreneur Magazine, “Go for Seconds” by Gwen Moran. The piece discusses strategies and best practices for email marketing. Ms. Moran provides an excellent summary of a free white paper by Bronto Software entittled “Re-Mailing: Targeting Those That Don’t Open.”

D.J. Waldow, of Bronto Software, reports how companies he worked with would send out e-mail campaigns and get open rates of 15 percent to 20 percent, even for targeted, opt-in lists. Waldow said he didn’t think it seemed like enough.

Ms. Moran included the following recommended tips from Bronto’s white paper:

  • Time your re-mails. Good rules of thumb are to resend one week after a monthly mailing or five days to a week after a semimonthly mailing. If you mail once a week or more, try resending
    only to those who haven’t opened the last three or four e-mails.
  • Change the content. Write a new subject line and change the look of the e-mail. That way, it will look fresh if someone caught sight of it before deleting. Focus on benefits to the customer in the subject line and give some sense of urgency. Waldow suggests including a time-sensitive promotion or some type of exclusivity, such as “for subscribers only.”
  • Test yourself.
    Testing is the best way to determine what works with your customer base. Go back to subsets that didn’t respond to one offer and try a different offer. The best e-mail marketers segment their lists and target promotions that work specifically for their audience segments.

Bronto’s white paper is worth taking the time to read and download on your own for more specific details and explanations about re-mailing– and their insightful conclusion:

“Pound for pound, it’s difficult to beat email for marketing ROI, and near impossible to best re-mails as a profitable concept. Re-mails are found revenue, costing nothing more than a new subject line and a few extra mouse clicks. Aside from driving more revenue with no further investment, re-mails also serve as a testing group for better subject lines and sending times.”

We’d love to hear from you–what are your experiences with email marketing? Have you tried re-sending? Was it successful for you?

[Note: corrections have been made to this post. Thanks to D.J. Waldrow, Bronto Software for bringing them to our attention in his comment below.]

ScribeFire Takes Blogging One Step Further

Sometimes when I find information on news sites and blogs which I’d like to share with our readers–I want to do it before it escapes my mind.

ScribeFire Blog Editor is an extension for the Mozilla Firefox Web Browser which integrates with FireFox and your existing blog software, to let you “drag and drop formatted text from pages you are browsing, take notes, and post to your blog.” I was able to get ScribFire set-up and working with our wordpress blog in no time–and the best part, no snafu.

ScribeFire Blog Editor makes posting a draft, or final piece, a very easy process–and one I’m excited about. In a recent post I described different types of blog writers, and as much as I’d like to be someone who has several works-in-progress at a time, I’m more the “epiphany writer” who taps away on my keyboard when inspiration strikes.

I think with ScribeFire I may make better use of my time and be more productive. Sometimes it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but I have hope!

Are you using ScribeFire-what have your experiences been like?

How Many Bloggers Does It Take to Maintain a Company Blog?

Have you ever wondered how many bloggers it takes to maintain a company blog? Well there’s the one who:

  1. dreams about the day they’ll push the publish button.
  2. gives credit where credit is due with trackbacks, linking and citing sources.
  3. sees the company blog as a part of the corporate marketing strategy.
  4. looks for images, video and podcasts to accompany the text.
  5. has passion and the willingness to commit to regularly scheduled posts.
  6. can be serious, whimsical, thought leader-ish, and at times– appropriately personal.
  7. uses a dictionary, thesaurus, and spell checker.
  8. tests links.
  9. reads and comments on other blogs.
  10. develops their own rhythm of writing, whether it’s keeping a folder of many drafts waiting to be completed-or the epiphany writer who taps away on their keyboard when inspiration strikes.
  11. reviews analytics and knows what people have taken the time to stop and read.
  12. isn’t apologetic when they answer, “I’m a blogger.”
  13. experiences blogging as a journey, and is proud to have a collection of recent and archived posts.

While it may take thirteen (and probably many more) processes to maintain and nurture a blog, it can be done with as little as one person!

If you already have a company blog, how do you keep it well fed and alive?

Your Website: Meet the iPhone

While standing in line today at the post office I observed a lady in front of me check her email, myspace her mom, and check the weather in London just before she was called for her parcels. While it was unfortunate that she wasn’t checking The Blogosaurus (I assume that had to wait until after the post office), it was another reminder of how businesses and clients alike need to focus their attention on the new method of accessing their websites: via PDA Smartphones.

iPhone Sales Chart
If we look at the rising sales of the most popular mobile PDA Smartphone – the iPhone – we will see iPhone sales in the second quarter of this year have reached over 5 million. Keep in mind this is a quarter before the latest G3 iPhone that just came out, with Forbes reporting the opening weekend sale of the G3 (July 11, 2008) added another 1 million users to our above list.

While this number is staggering, we must also keep in mind the iPhone is not the only phone that can reach the internet and your web pages. This list from wikipedia shows the breakdown of various PDA Smartphones with Internet capabilities, and the crucial web development related features like Flash support, Operating system and the web browser which will affect how your viewers view and access your website. We can easily see manufacturers are going to continue to create PDA Smartphones for the public, so you will need to know how to play nice.

  • The first thing you need to do is view your website with one of these phones, and see how your viewers are accessing your website and if it’s compatible. Knowing how your website is laid out and viewed in this environment will help change your outlook of your website, since you may be used to viewing it only on your computer screen. The Smartphone screen is obviously much smaller, and you might need to compensate. Even if you aren’t cool enough or have the equity in your home to purchase an iPhone, download this simulator iPhoney and you will quickly be able to see how your website is viewed in this environment.
  • Always place your navigation menu and website logo at the top of the page. Users should not have to scroll down the page to find the links for the rest of your website, or your website’s content. Make all links very accessible for both viewing platforms.
  • By now your website shouldn’t be using html tables and frames to support your website – the scourge of web design before CSS. Tables and frames can be inaccessible on many computer based browsers, and with the Smartphone this is especially true.
  • Developers can use the web browser Safari as a good proxy for designing your website for the iPhone. Testing your website using this browser will be almost identical in the iPhone and other Smartphones, and will save your web developer time with your website’s code.
  • If you simply don’t have the budget or time to rework an entire website for Smartphones, then simply create a smaller version have the viewer be automatically sent to the portion of your website. Webphone users will appreciate this greatly.
  • Build your website to load fast and scroll less, making it that much easier for users in both environments.
  • Images shouldn’t be so large that it will leave your viewer waiting for them to load. If your website uses large images, break the large image down into smaller sized images, or decrease the actual size of these images to save load time.

Usefull Links

Apple has a great website dealing with developing for their iPhone. iPhone chooses to work with similar browsers and web coding here. If your website is lucky enough to use the great blogging platform WordPress (which Impressions Through Media uses), there are several plugins that are very easy to place on your website which might ease any headaches from designing for your Smartphone audience – The iWPhone Plugin can be found here and WordPress PDA & iPhone Plugin can be found here.

In conclusion, it is very crucial for your website to reach every possible audience effectively, since any malfunction will quickly turn your viewer away to another website – or worse yet your competitor’s. Designing your website to easily comply with the millions of users trying to reach it now with their iPhones, or other Smartphones, will greatly help mend any divide that you may not even know about.

The Elements of Social Media Style: What Would Strunk & White Say?

Be Obscure

You may have an old copy of Strunk & White’s infamous book, The Elements of Style, cramped into your bookcase, or perhaps you’re using it to prop your window open on a hot summer’s night. Or possibly you’re like me, upgraded a few years ago and own a copy of the beautifully illustrated version by Maira Kalman. You have to wonder, if Strunk & White wrote the book today, what would they have to say about social media writing style–mobile communications, iPhones and the likes of twittering?

Roger Angell writes in the forward of the illustrated book, “How simple they look, set down here in White’s last chapter: ‘Write in a way that comes naturally.’ ‘Revise and rewrite,’ ‘Do not explain too much,’ and the rest; above all, the cleansing, clarion ‘Be clear.’”

I imagine Strunk & White would’ve been dumbfounded if they knew over one million iPhones were sold this past weekend; or if they had knowledge of the extraordinary numbers of people who are using cellular and wireless devices for mobile communication, web browsing and all sorts of online navigation in their business and personal lives.

Twitter’s 140 character limit, and the informal lower-case email style with its often omitted salutations and closings, makes you have to wonder sometimes. So what about this issue of social media writing style?

There’s an interesting story about a Twitter faux pas which occurred last year when one of my blogging heroes Steve Rubel wrote a tweet, “PC Mag is another. I have a free sub but it goes in the trash.” Unfortunately for Steve he didn’t make it clear that he does read PC Magazine, it’s just that he reads it online. Naturally, folks at the magazine were upset. People wrote on and on about the incident until Steve tried to put it to rest with an honest and sincere open letter apologizing for the comment “…it does not reflect my full media consumption habits.”

Not to rub salt on an old wound but I refer to this example because of the valuable lesson Steve (and many others) learned, “Post too fast without providing context and it can elicit an unintended response.”

Most of us can probably identify either as the giver or the receiver, and don’t have to dig down too deep to think of an incident when something was written too fast without the necessary context. The example that comes to mind for me didn’t have a public fall-out but it did make me have to stop and take notice.

A couple of months ago a friend emailed me back an answer to a question I’d sent her a few days earlier. Her reply consisted of five short words, and because of the brevity it had a certain je ne sais quoi--bite to it. Only recently my friend told me about the business trip and how she rushed to write and send the email as the flight attendant instructed her a second time,“Turn off your Blackberry, Mam.” Understandably, my friend thought an answer was better then no answer. However, from my perspective, the reply didn’t sound anything like my friend, or the way we usually communicate. I would have been more understanding if I’d known a flight attendant had been breathing down her neck when she secretly pushed the send button.

In deference to Strunk & White and all their good advice about writing naturally, being clear, do not explain too much– there are many aspects which warrant updating. Even though it’s 2008, and rules of usage and approaches to style are different, and most of us are feeling pressured for time, communicating on the go, and often limited by number of characters and screen size, it might help to remember — at least for now, there’s usually a human being somewhere on the other end.

Artwork by Maira Kalman from The Elements of Style, Penguin Press, 2005.

Take it from Yoda

Star Wars fans like me love Yoda. Who could resist his wrinkly green skin, protruding ears and hunched posture – not to mention his 66cm height from head to claw. As one of the wisest and most powerful Jedi masters of his time, who could have predicted his ultimate wisdom would translate to present day marketing.

“You must unlearn what you learned,” whispered Yoda as he instructed Luke Skywalker in his Jedi quest. The same can be said in today’s B2B marketing world according to David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

Scott recently spoke at MarketingProfs’ 2008 Business-to-Business Forum in Boston on the topic of, “B2B Viral Marketing: How to Trigger Word of Mouse that Spreads Your Ideas for Free.

According to Scott, three key concepts that we as marketers need to unlearn include:

The Old Rules to Unlearn
1. Reach key audiences by purchasing expensive advertising.
2. Beg your way into the media spotlight.
3. Think about your prospects as a group of nameless, faceless, prospects.

How true this is. The new way of marketing is more about “publishing your way in with great content in all of its forms.” Think about what great content you might have to educate or inform your customers or prospects on your corporate website, various social networking sites, your blog, e-book, or even social videos and podcasts. Create your own spotlight to reach your target audience.

Scott also discussed the concept of “buyer personas.” With today’s new marketing rules, B2B marketers need to think of prospects in terms of buyer personas who represent real, interested people that have specific problems or challenges unique to them. Start by identifying who your buyer personas are, and then work hard to create content and information that is specific to their needs. Buyer personas who feel “heard” with content that speaks directly to them are likely to share this content with others in the new social media world.

Enjoy your quest as a Jedi Master Marketer!

Facebook: What’s Good for a Political Campaign is Also Good for Business

Facebook

If you’ve been thinking about creating a Facebook page for your business and haven’t had a good handle on what the benefits of using Facebook are, a good article to read is The Facebooker Who Friended Obama, published today on NYTimes.com.

While your business may not resemble anything close to running a political campaign (and neither does ours), what you may find of interest is the ways in which Barack Obama has been using a “new-media strategy.” It’s important to mention that Mr. Obama has had the benefit of Chris Hughes’ expertise, one of the four founders of Facebook, to spearhead these initiatives!

The most encouraging aspects of their strategy for me are the value the campaign has placed on social networking, and the ways in which a large community of supporters have been using it. Mr. Obama respects and believes in social networking tools, and “credits these tools with a ‘big part’ of his primary season success.” Mr. Obama said in a statement, “One of my fundamental beliefs from my days as a community organizers is that real change comes from the bottom-up…and there’s no more powerful tool for grass-roots organizing than the Internet.”

Mr.Hughes created My.BarackObama.com (known within the campaign as MyBo) where supporters can join local groups, create events, sign up for updates and set up personal fund-raising pages. Mr. Obama’s presence on Facebook
is maintained by other staff members, purchase online advertising, respond to text messages from voters, produce videos and email millions of supporters.

Building Facebook Business Pages

If your interest has been peaked in creating a Facebook page for your business a good place to learn more is Facebook Pages: The Insider’s Guide. It’s important to note (to avoid confusion), Facebook pages differ from user profiles. Pages are public, anyone logging in to Facebook can see the pages. A user profile can only be seen by the user’s friends, and others in their networks.

Applications can be used on your Facebook page to share information, sell products, and engage consumers with rich media. Several applications are included with a Facebook page, mini-feed, photos, events, notes, video, discussion board, wall, and reviews. There are thousands of other applications you can add to your Facebook page and if you don’t see what you want, applications can be developed for your specific needs.

We recently published a Facebook page, which currently includes videos of interest, discussion questions, and rss feed of blog posts — and can be viewed here. We look forward to posting upcoming events and other social media interests. Facebook’s founding principles were to “keep it real, and keep it local.” If it works for Facebook, and apparently has worked quite well for Barack Obama–sounds like good advice to me.

We’re interested in hearing from you about your Facebook business experiences, with your own page and ones you’ve visited. What applications have you found most helpful? Or, if you’re still on the fence about whether to create or not to create…we’d love to hear your thoughts.