Several people have compared my obsession with refining ROI and open rates to a religion, so I took the logical next step and identified the sinful motivations behind seven common email marketing traps.
The deadly sins according to Christianity are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. All of those seven sins can prove tempting to the email marketer in a hurry, and they can have a seriously negative impact.
If you’re interested in optimizing your campaigns at all, you’ll steer well clear of the following email marketing sins…
All the results of your most recent email campaign are an enormous success—not just good, but better than anything you’ve ever done before!
For me, incredibly good statistics are just as much a warning sign as incredibly bad statistics. Your first instinct must always be to take a closer look at what’s going on, and then relate to each other all the statistics you’re seeing… Are those phenomenal open rates also translating into click-throughs? Are those click-throughs translating into conversions? (And so on.)
Pride in your work is great, but remember that software and people can both act in some very odd ways. Be sure to track every anomalous result to its source before you break out the champagne.
As soon as an email marketing campaign is delivering (real) results, I have to resist the urge to simply expand it to cover a broader list.
Someone who is subscribed to my newsletter and is following me on Twitter has to be approached in a completely different way from someone who bought a product from the company once and opted in to receive only occasional updates.
If you expand your campaign simply for the sake of increasing quantity, you are going to run into some serious problems, including subscriber churn and your emails’ being flagged as spam.
Sex does sell, but it’s still too risky to put it in email. Anything designed to prey on lust has been done a thousand times by spammers, from herbal supplements to Russian brides and scams.
Even if you have a sexy product, keeping the language low-key can help your email get past those spam filters.
“How do they get those results when I struggle?”
They’re working for a bigger company, their target audience is subtly (or significantly) different, they have a trustworthy IP that has been around forever… the number of factors that are completely out of your control makes envy completely useless, and anything useless is a drain on your time.
If you try to ape a campaign just because it worked for someone else, you will probably get suboptimal results. Paying attention, instead, to your brand’s own identity, and crafting your campaigns accordingly, is the path to take.
In email marketing, I see “gluttony” as almost the opposite of “greed.”
The greedy email marketer expands his or her emailing list too far, too fast, in an attempt to grab more and more.
The gluttonous email marketer, on the other hand, bleeds his core audience dry, constantly targeting, cross-selling, up-selling and never letting up. In moderation doing so is superb practice, but taken to excess it will leave many of the targets feeling ambivalent toward or even annoyed by the brand—and that’s when unsubscriptions happen.
Where the cutoff point between good email marketing practice and annoying pestering is not always clear, so some trial and error and apologies will likely be in order along the way.
I shouldn’t have to explain this one, but if you’re working in any form of marketing and you get angry with a customer for being angry with you, you’ve already lost.
Turn the other cheek, and avoid becoming a viral hit for all the wrong reasons…
When your email marketing campaign is just chugging along nicely, generating a decent ROI, healthy open rates, and a satisfactory CTR, that’s when sloth and apathy come calling.
If you think you’ve hit a formula for writing good email marketing copy, trust me… you haven’t. You’ve found a way to sell based on your natural personality and charm that got people to listen to you in the first place.
Keep making your emails snappier, more sophisticated, or funnier than the last, and you’ll keep improving all the stats that matter. Experiment with link placements and adding or removing images.
Stay curious and stay engaged, and you’ll keep your list curious and engaged too!
Punishment for Your Sins
I’ve never experienced any recipients trying to pull a Se7en on me, though I’m sure there must have been one or two who thought about it when I went through a brief “pun fixation” phase a few years back.
The punishment for these seven email sins is usually too slight to notice. A campaign looks like it’s running fine… when it has the potential to run beautifully.
That’s exactly what’s so sinister and powerful about these seven deadly sins. They spring from an attitude of complacency—the one thing that you can never afford in email marketing.
2013 is right around the corner, and if you are like 90 percent of the businesses in the U.S. already using social media, you are probably wondering what’s next on the horizon.
Here are five things you won’t want to miss as you develop your social media strategy for the new year:
1. Social media moves beyond marketing. This means it’s time to involve your entire organization in planning and execution, not just your chief marketing officer.
2. Intelligent filtering. Expect more tools to help you cope with information overload.
3. Analytical adaptability trumps static strategy. There are great analytic tools at your disposal; you’ll find greater success if you use these to shape your plan in real time.
4. Online video continues to rise. Customers who watch videos of products or services are 85 percent more likely to buy. You can’t afford to pass that up.
5. Forget search engine optimization. Focus on user experience optimization. As search engines grow ever-more sophisticated, you’ll stay in front of the pack.
Well, it’s that time again—time to start rolling out the New Year’s resolutions. Some of us will vow to eat less, exercise more, live in the moment, be more grateful. You may even decide to bury the hatchet with the family member who makes you so crazy.
But what about your New Year’s business resolutions?
This time of year is a great time to start making—and keeping—business resolutions, too. But sadly, like our personal goals, we often make them (year after year) with sincere intent only to see them quickly fall by the wayside, as we revert to (bad) habits that we have vowed to break.
But what about the most successful people and their resolutions? Have you noticed how the most accomplished people just seem to identify important things and consistently get them done?
Study successful people long enough and you start to pick up on the resolutions they seem to consistently make.
Here are ten of my favorites:
#1 Spend more time on the not-to-do list
Strategy is the art of sacrifice. That’s why you may consider creating a larger clearing for what really matters by first identifying, and then avoiding, what matters the least. Your time is a treasure to be invested. Creating a list of things that you are not going to do, allows you to invest more of your treasured time on the few things that matter the most.
#2 Essential first, email second
What’s the first thing you do in the morning? For many of us, it is looking at email. We wake up with a renewed mind and spirit, ready to take on the world, and then we immediately allow ourselves to be distracted by an insignificant email. Instead, wake up, take on the most important task of the day, and then (and only then) hit the email.
#3 Resolve to think about “Who” instead of “What”
Do you work for a “What” business or for a “Who” business? Successful companies run the risk of focusing too much on their current products and distributors thus—the “What”—losing sight of the constant and dramatically changing needs of their customer base. (The “Who.”) Insurance, pharma, health care, higher education often listen too much to their agents, doctors and professors. The real innovation starts with the end consumer.
#4 Resolve to find your purpose
As my friend Simon Sinek will tell you: People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Starting a career, a company or any kind of journey that is based firmly on your purpose is foundational to success and happiness. If you don’t know your company’s purpose or even your own, finding one is the worthiest of resolutions.
#5 Resolve to support a cause
If you’re reading this, chances are you are one of the rare people who know how to start things. Fortunately, there are people like you who have already started causes that make the world better—they feed the hungry; they save the rain forest; they fight cancer; they do good things. There is virtually a cause for everyone, and contributing will make your year happier. Promise.
#6 Resolve to invent more choices
Here’s a secret that happy people know that I learned from my friend Dr. Dan Baker: You can’t feel grateful and fearful at the same time. And one certain way to become afraid is to feel trapped by any situation. The remedy is choice. The more choices you feel you have, the less trapped—and happier—you will feel. So this year, resolve to do a bit of brainstorming every time you feel unhappy.
#7 Resolve to find a Yin for your Yang
Walt Disney had Roy Disney, Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak and Orville Wright had Wilbur Wright. Wherever there is great innovation, there is a Dreamer and an Operator; an Idea Monkey and a (Ring)leader. First, determine where your passions lie, then go find an equally passionate partner, then go change the world.
#8 Resolve to get outside your jar
You can’t read the label when you are sitting inside the jar. The sad irony of being an expert is that it keeps you from seeing possibility. After all, you know what works, what doesn’t, what you can afford, what’s been tried in the past. Instead of relying only on your expertise, learn how to find other experts solving similar challenges to the ones you are facing. Go ask them what you may be missing.
#9 Resolve to be the creator
What is the outcome you want? What stands in your way? How do you overcome these obstacles? These three simple questions will keep you from being victimized by any situation. Creators change the world. Victims just bitch about stuff.
#10 Plan vacations (now)
You have probably heard the saying, “Life is what happens when you are not paying attention.” Unfortunately for many of us, we let this become true. Do yourself a favor and plan your vacations for the next year today. I promise you that the days around your vacation will fill in nicely. I also promise you that you’ll have something to look forward to and the life that happens during your vacations will be precious.
I know, I know. You’re probably reading this and thinking, “Great, another end-of-the-year list!”
I’m with you, friend. But, it’s easy to get contemplative when the last quarter draws to a close. And there are real lessons to learn.
I picked up several when we at Eloqua released 40 Must-See Charts for Modern Marketers.
Here are eight lessons from 2012 for B2B marketers.
1. Manual is just too… manual
Marketing has grown far too complicated to be run in an entirely manual way. Among the chief roles B2B marketers can play is nurturing and qualifying leads for Sales. Manual processes just aren’t enough for doing that effectively.
The proof is in the chart. We looked at automated campaigns versus campaigns that weren’t automated. Those that were automated resulted in huge increases in conversion rates—to the tune of 200%.
2. Yes, influencers matter
Klout, Kred… Influencer relations is having its moment. But is reaching out to folks with followings and fans in your market actually working?
According to research, yes. We looked at what happened when folks with high Klout scores shared a brand’s content with their network. The result was a six-fold increase in traffic and twice as many conversions.
3. Events have unexpected benefits
Like many B2B marketers, we spend a lot of time putting together and flying out to events, manning booths and giving demos, and presenting slides. The goal is to generate leads, but there are also unexpected benefits.
Using Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce as a proxy, we found that event sponsors had, on average, a 25% increase in traffic to their Web properties during the conference. We also looked at attendees to our biggest event, Eloqua Experience, and discovered that attendees were our best customers, generating more leads per marketer.
When you’re justifying the expense of hosting or sponsoring an event, consider such ancillary benefits.
4. Conversions and measurement are big issues
The best way to find out what is freaking out B2B marketers most is to just come out and ask them. That’s what we did. What we found out is that measuring Marketing’s effectiveness and managing contacts were among the top concerns.
Specifically, among the main issues were standardizing data, producing conversions throughout the sales cycle, accelerating those conversions, and getting better spend analysis.
5. Don’t let the pursuit of perfection hinder you
Obviously, marketers want to excel. But the pursuit of perfection can hinder as much as help. Consider your lead-qualification process. We looked at marketers’ lead-scoring models and found that only 40% had any “perfect” leads—those with a score of A1 (signaling buyer fit and high engagement).
We never advocate settling for unqualified leads, but that finding might actually signal that marketers are being too strict in their definitions of a perfect lead. If your results are similar, you should probably re-examine your scoring.
6. More isn’t always better
Marketing has always walked a fine line between engaging buyers and overwhelming them. When marketing via email—a mainstay in B2B marketing—tripping over that line is easy.
We examined 6 billion emails and, as might be expected, found that though an increase in emails might lead to more opens, it doesn’t mean a higher click-through rate. Every organization should monitor the noise-to-value ratio of their messaging, being mindful that sometimes less is best.
7. Sales enablement isn’t just about Sales
Any B2B marketer probably faces a mandate to help Sales. Your job is to work the leads, qualify them, pass them onto Sales, and give Sales tools to help close the deal. But doing so doesn’t help just Sales.
We looked at organizations that equipped their sales reps with tools to share marketing content. Giving sales that ability resulted in big increases in marketing’s reach. The lesson: Your sales team can really help extend your marketing.
8. The packaging matters
If you’re throwing a mess of figures onto a spreadsheet, don’t be surprised if eyes glaze over. When your executive team asks for numbers, they really want to know what the numbers mean. So pay attention to how you lay out your results, include the numbers that matter, and provide insight. Tell the story behind your marketing dashboards.