The word Listen in many speech bubbles spoken by people who are gathered to make their voices heard and get you to pay attention and hear their demands

Great Calls to Action Increase Customer Acquisition

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Flat design style modern vector illustration concept of copywriting. pensive man writes.Millions of emails are trying to entice people to purchase something, but none of these emails are going to do a marketer any good if they can’t be backed up with a clear and compelling call to action. That call, along with myriad other communication issues, is the domain of the copywriter. A good copywriter has a flair for writing content that’s inviting to share and link to. She needs to have top-notch writing skills for her content to be clear and optimized and convert readers to buyers. That’s why a copywriter is a vital member of any serious marketing team.

You’ve probably received emails about so-called “copywriting secrets,” and you may have been tempted by some of them. But are there really secrets to knowing how to create an email that gets results?

There definitely are components to good emails, but the secret part usually has to do with someone telling you how to do something that they don’t themselves do very well. (Let’s face it, if they actually made millions, why are they trying to get your money to teach you their secret? Why aren’t they by a pool somewhere, sipping a drink with little umbrellas in it?)

If there’s a secret at all, it’s about constantly improving your marketing efforts. Let’s face it, I look back at copy I wrote years ago (and sometimes even months ago) and I cringe, because I could write it so much better now. And if you look at past copy and don’t cringe, then that tells you something about yourself – that you’re not learning and changing and getting better at your craft. The online marketing space is constantly changing, and we need to be able to be flexible to speak to today’s customer needs.

blog-image-11-18-13-007Consumers are far more sophisticated than ever before. The snake-oil salesman could count on the incredulity of his audience; our audience is online, uses Google and Facebook and Twitter, talks to others in social networks, reads blogs and compares prices. Selling is selling is selling … but the way we sell has to adapt to new contexts and new environments. I will say that some things stay the same, and the fundamental one is the call to action.

And that starts with a great subject line, because these 50 characters can make or break sales! Here are some suggestions for constantly improving your email subject lines.

  • Reading newspaper headlines will help you see how to encapsulate a lot of story into a very few words. Just like a headline, an email message should clearly state what is in fact in the email.
  • Secondly, there’s no secret formula: email subject lines are all about campaigns, and should be targeting that campaign and no other. Make sure that your “from” line is your company name, but you may want to use that name, or the name of the newsletter, in the subject line as well to make it stand out.
  • Always personalize your emails; I’ve never understood why this works, but it does.
  • Put in a little urgency – remember those TV infomercials? Call in the next two minutes and you’ll receive? Works here too.
  • List key information first, and test. Mailchimp did a study of best and worst subject lines; you might want to check them out!

 

Okay, so now I have a great campaign-specific, personalized email subject line. What does the email itself need to do?

AIDA is an acronym used as shorthand for:

  1. Attention – Get them to open the email
  2. Interest – Introduce the email well. Give them something interesting to read so they don’t hit delete right away
  3. Desire – Build motivation in the body of the email
  4. Action – Drive the reader to click your link

 

So Attention is your email subject line. Let’s look at Interest and Desire. You need to make this sales pitch be about them, not you. It’s not what you have on offer, but what need they have that you can fulfill.

Instead of chatting on about your products and all the fantastic things you can sell, write about your list members’ problems and how to solve them. Your products and services can be introduced as part of that solution.

Just as the subject line is there to get the email open, your intro needs to do one job; get them to read the rest of the email The introduction is a landing strip that leads to the body of the email. Tell a story, capture some interest, build a mystery, whatever it takes to make your reader stop thinking about what is for lunch and take notice of what you have to say. It doesn’t need to be pushy; in fact, conversational works best.

And then on to Action— again, don’t be pushy. Make the call to action clear: click here, fill this out, press this button; but also make sure that it answers the problem you’ve set up in your email.

Consider what your most wanted response will be, create a compelling subject line that invites opening, write your email content to build up motivation. Make your call to action clear and easy. And test—track your responses to figure out what worked and what didn’t.  That’s the best way to great emails … and great sales!

email deliverability

Deliverability Revisited

shutterstock_136613396Yeah—deliverability. Back to that. No matter what else is going on in the marketing world, inevitably we’ll need to circle back to deliverability, because it’s the only way that you will ever reach your prospects’ and customers’ smartphone, tablet, or computer inboxes.

And when it comes to email deliverability, the more information you have, the greater your ability to get your mail to the inboxes of your recipients.

Deliverability is an ongoing process in an ever-changing environment. It relies on best practices on the parts of both the marketer and the ESP. We know about all the technical things you need to do; we know about authentication, about building true free-will opt-in lists, and about managing your lists to optimize performance. But accounting for all of this doesn’t guarantee great deliverability, or even make it very likely. There are always new challenges.

So you need to track your campaigns frequently and consistently. You need to know which ISPs are accepting your mail and which ones are rejecting it, know where it is going into inboxes and where it is going into bulk folders, and, yes, where it is being dropped (most ESPs report dropped mail as delivered!). It is likely that these deliverability factors will change on a week-to-week and on a month-to-month basis. Even being whitelisted doesn’t ensure inbox delivery.

shutterstock_124987325If you don’t know what is going on with your mail at the individual ISP level, there’s nothing you can do to improve performance. But when you do know, you can test creatives, change content, and work with the ISPs to eliminate factors that hinder your deliverability.

You need all the information you can get from your ESP, especially inbox, bulk, and dropped mail percentages at the individual ISP level. That’s when you can make the best decisions.

Young woman shopping online by using digital tablet

Email: The New Instant Messenger

woman using smartphone on park benchOne of the reasons people speculate that email will soon be dead is because it can’t deliver as well as other applications on the need for instant gratification. Instant messengers, texting, and smartphone and tablet apps all provide people with information they request more expediently than email.

Well, maybe.

Emails triggered by customer actions provide incredibly fast access to relevant content, and often to a company’s best up-to-the-minute offers. Information delivered between thought and action. Information that can arrive faster then anything search engines can deliver, faster then product intelligence sites, faster then cell phone connections, and importantly the information is intuitively on target.

Click on a travel banner and flight information appears instantly in your email box, visit a specific page on a website and the best offers involving products on that page appear in your inbox, or you might receive more in-depth information about the products on that page along with great offers. But why is that important if I can just click through the web pages and get all the information I need?

The answer is that while consumers are looking for instant information, they are probably not looking to make instant buying decisions. They frequently travel from one website to then next doing their research, and in the process forget which of the websites they visited that provided the most valuable information.

They get information from brand websites, product review sites, deal sites and auction sites. And they may visit five or ten of each of these kinds of websites simply reviewing information and pricing.

The winner is the company that sent the IMM—Instant Information Message—to their inbox. That company wins because it was not only there during the research process, it was also right where it needed to be when the customer was ready to pull the trigger.

Business woman shopping online by using mobile phoneThe customer never asked for a single thing! She gave the company permission to send her email, but the company figured out the content to send by listening to what the customer was doing on the website, which pages she was visiting, which links she was clicking on, how long she stayed on specific pages, which pages she visited multiple times, and so on.

The company accomplished this magic using keyword tracking, tying keywords to every page and every link, and every image on its website and on its social network pages, and to its banners and videos. And each time a visitor “hit” a keyword, it told the company which content to send, instantly.

And there, at the end of the day is all the good stuff, the in-depth content and the relevant offers, sitting in the customer’s inbox, ready to be perused at her leisure, and acted on at her convenience.

 

 

customer-acquisition-tactics

Need Acquisition? Think Retention!

shutterstock_102676493It’s more imperative than ever to focus on supporting and growing relationships with your core customers, and turning those customers into your best salespeople. When people get really excited about a company with which they do business, they share their love with colleagues, friends, and family; they brag about how great it is to work with your company, and how clever they were to find you. Most importantly, they will passionately recommend your company to everyone who will listen.

Retention is the way smart businesses are growing their customer bases; it’s the new acquisition. While other companies spend the majority of their acquisition budget interrupting people with too-frequent emails and in-your-face advertisements, smart marketers leverage the Internet and focus on keeping their current customers both happy and armed with the tools and information they need to become brand advocates and ambassadors. Simple tools like shares and likes, when put in the hands of your most enthusiastic customers, can drive dramatic growth, and at low or no cost.

shutterstock_134112389 (2)Make the customer experience of buying from your company an event, like going to a great party. Make the customer service experience over-the-top easy and straightforward. Enable group buying discounts. Enable your own branded community, where customers can feel like they are part of the company. Enable subgroups on your social pages. Enable product discussions and allow your customers to feel they participate on the product development team.

And finally, make it easy for your customers to bring their friends along for the ride, which makes the party better for everyone.

changing email address

Making Address Changes Easy: The How and The Why

Message evolution the past old mail and next generation smartphone.Today we’re continuing our week of looking specifically at email marketing with some more thoughts about CRM, and specifically how to keep customers engaged when they change their email addresses.

There’s a saying in software design: never surprise the user. This refers to making applications as intuitive as possible: if people are used to seeing a button, for example, put in a button. Marketers carry the saying a step further: make everything easy for the user. The best websites are designed around that principle, with easy navigation and obvious calls to action.

Email marketing has followed the trend … to an extent. Required by law to allow users to unsubscribe easily, marketers do so. But what’s the most common change that subscribers to newsletters must make?

If you answered “change of address,” then you got it right. And you want your subscribers to keep subscribing, no matter where they work or what ISP they use, correct? So it should follow that changing one’s address should be the most obvious option available in your newsletter or email campaigns.

Is it?

businessman hands holding modern digital tabletIf it isn’t, then it’s time to set some best practices in place, such as:

  • Make your customer preferences link clear and immediate. If at all possible, don’t hide it at the bottom of the message.
  • Few people remember their user names and passwords for all their newsletters, so make it easy for them to retrieve this information.
  • Give customers a reason to change their address with you. Remember that you want to keep them! So offer a special or an incentive to fill out the form.
  • Send a confirmation email that includes a special thank-you. If a customer likes your company enough to want to stay with you through a change of address (seen by many as an opportunity to clean house and get rid of unwanted subscriptions), make sure they know you appreciate them and their business.

 

Making changes easy for your customers will keep their opinion of your company or brand positive, and is likely to make them good ambassadors as well.

 

email icon

Update Your Opt-In Permissions!

deliver on your promisesSince opt-in seems to mean different things to different marketers, what we suggest is that you make it mean what it should mean: no hidden agenda, no giveaway gimmicks––just the email recipient choosing (or not) to receive your emails. It’s a simple plan that works best.

Consider, if you haven’t already, adopting a RE-opt-in campaign: it’s the best way to ensure that your lists remain squeaky-clean and useful. Any old or unengaged email recipients are costing you money and time, so checking in from time to time to be sure that everyone on your list really wants to hear from you is a best practice that’s gaining more and more popularity.

Here are some tips on how to do it:

  • Don’t add an incentive for the recipient to respond positively. This is one place where the only call to action should be a yes or no answer. Trying to entice customers to stay with you by offering free merchandise, a discount or special sale, or any other incentive will backfire: it is not a true opt-in request.
  • Do be clear in your subject line. An ambiguous subject line dulls the message and may be ignored. “Good-bye” is a subject line that is effective in emails asking subscribers to verify subscriptions.
  • imagesDon’t assume that everyone receiving (and reading) the email will know what it’s about. Remind them, briefly, of who you are and what this subscription entails. Be upbeat and positive; feel free to say that you hope the recipient will choose to stay with you––but, again, don’t make anyone feel guilty about choosing not to. Chances are they weren’t going to buy from you anyway.
  • Do give recipients the option (though not a requirement) to tell you why they are choosing to leave. This can provide you with valuable information.
  • Don’t force the recipient into only one course of action. Give “yes” and “no” options and space for feedback. Even for those confirming their subscriptions, the option of telling you why they like you can generate useful data.
  • Do send a second re-opt-in email a week after the first one. The reality is that people who didn’t respond the first time often do the second.

 

And schedule your next subscription confirmation campaign for six months or a year out. The time and cost it takes are more than offset by the advantages of cleaning your list!

Closeup retro image businesswoman hands holding white sign or card with message we love customers isolated on grey office wall background

5 Steps to Successful CRM in Online Marketing

Customer Service concept in a filament lightbulb.Today we’re going to veer off the topic of customer acquisition and talk a little about what happens once you do acquire your customers—and how to treat them.

The business world is becoming more and more competitive every day—and let’s face it, not every company creates widgets that are light years ahead of everybody else’s widgets. The edge that most companies can create in today’s marketplace is around always following best practices—and getting back to the basics of creating an outstanding customer experience.

If you’d like to create that kind of experience for your customers, here are five steps you can implement that will help put the relationship back into your customer relationship management:

1.    Create the best product or service that you can. This may sound like a no-brainer, but without it, all the CRM in the world isn’t going to make you successful. Follow Steve Jobs’ advice to make something that is “insanely great” and you’ll be able to sell it … and thus sow the seeds of good CRM. It’s also a no-brainer to realize that your CRM efforts will be made easier by having a product or service that you can stand behind, that generates few complaints, and that people want to purchase or use.

 

asian businesspeople bowing2.   Know your customers. Who are they, and what do they need? Being able to anticipate the next problem for which you might be able to supply a solution is part of excellent CRM. Also, knowing these same customers well enough to avoid problems is even better! The best customer service used to come from the small-town shops that knew their customers inside-out and could anticipate what product might suit them next. Why can’t you do the same thing today?

3.   Communicate! Too often the communication tapers off after the first sale, and customers receive lackluster emails urging them to buy from time to time. Communication is key. Part of chatter marketing is putting #2 and #3 together to send messages that are crafted to a particular customer’s preferences, or to send transition marketing cascades to new customers, or to follow up with customers who have left your website without making a purchase. Finding the right balance between a comfortable number of emails and too many emails will depend on your product(s) or service(s) and on your customers themselves; but steady, reliable, well-timed communication is key.

4.   Create tools that will help your customers. Your website should never be static. You should be constantly on the lookout for what will make the customer experience a more positive one, be it a Facebook badge, an easy-payment option, or an autofill screen. Ask your customers what they want, listen to their answers, and respond. Automating your email marketing so that certain customer behaviors will trigger immediate responses is a big part of outstanding CRM.

5.   Track customer behavior. Analytics are a marketer’s best friend. Test, retest, and then test again. Find out which emails are the most effective, sent at what time of day on which day of the week. Find out which webpages are the most visited, and by whom. The only way that you’ll find out what works is by seeing the numbers, adjusting your emarketing, testing again, adjusting again. 

 

 

Pictures display in motion making a multimedia broadcast. All photos are mine. Concepts of television, adverstising, entertainment.

Engage Your Prospects!

Okay gesture. Hand on the collage of pictures, photos background. Concepts of internet, modern communication, networkMarketers spend a significant portion of their budgets on acquisition. They do it through search engine marketing, co-registration, list appends, banner ads, social networks, blogs, and offline media.

But no matter how you acquire prospects, successfully converting them to customers directly correlates to recency and frequency.

While optimizing the lifetime value of every customer is key to success in business, starting with the time they sign up, the truth is that Minute One is when they actually deliver the highest ROI. Day One is when they deliver the most revenue. Month One is the most valuable 30-day period. That’s why a clearly defined, perfectly executed transition marketing program is vital to optimizing conversions.

Once a prospect is acquired, transition marketing begins with an auto-responder email. This email is delivered immediately upon signup, and generally delivers twice the open rates and 10 to 12 times the revenue of a standard email program.

The cascade doesn’t stop there. It includes that initial campaign, plus specially designed followup campaigns designed for new subscribers. These followup campaigns take place between 30 and 60 days, immediately following signup. They are all fully automated and scheduled, saving you time to focus on other tasks. Your new prospects are being treated to personalized and carefully timed emails without you having to push a single key.

Happy people and dog jumping together on the sunset beachNew customers and prospects respond well to frequent contact. They want to know how your company works, learn about your products and customer service – and, of course, they want to see a sampling of the types of promotions you offer. The cascade tool keeps them informed and engaged. Every contact is a chance for a new sale.

What you must have in place at this point is a set of reporting tools that can provide you with detailed monitoring of your campaigns, tracking results directly to the acquisition source so you can continually improve the overall ROI of your acquisition programs by weeding out non-performing sources and expanding those that work best.

This process of taking new prospects through a carefully planned introduction to your company is called transition marketing. A well-executed transition marketing program increases the conversion rate of prospects to buyers 15 to 25 percent as compared to programs that simply add new subscribers to a regularly scheduled email program. 

puzzle pieces

Get Creative About Adding New Customers

lancome-omega-email-marketing-design-copywritingSo here’s the thing: You only have a few seconds in which to catch your prospect’s attention, so make those seconds count! When you’re designing that first (and second, and third) email to convert prospects to customers, make sure that your design is eye-catching and inviting. It needs to draw people in and engage them immediately with your brand.

But it’s not just the design that you need to worry about!

  • email copy: Once you’ve captured your prospect’s attention, it’s time for response-oriented copy. From the most effective subject lines to clear and motivating copy, we give you strategically planned and well-written content that converts.
  • multimedia optimization: It’s reality: more and more of your prospects and customers are on mobile devices, so make sure that your emails are easy to view—and respond to!—on tablets and smartphones alike. Anything that works on a small screen will also work on larger ones, so design first for smartphones. That way, your content will look great everywhere: smartphone, tablet, laptop, or full-sized monitor.

tissot-mobile-optimization-email-marketingAll of this takes work and resources, but you don’t need to have an inhouse team : you can outsource your creative services department so that you get interactive graphic design and copywriting to provide creative development, copy, content, layout, and design for:

  • email cascades and campaigns
  • engagement newsletters
  • repeat engagement landing pages
  • lifetime loyalty website content
  • lifetime loyalty banner advertisements

 

Finally, be sure to include rigorous testing to ensure browser compatibility and proper rendering. All of these steps will ensure that your prospects take the next step, raise their hands a final time, and become loyal customers! Outsourcing your creative services puts less pressure on your team to work outside of their comfort zones, and provides you with the time and bandwidth you need to do what you do best—create and sell your product or service.

 

 

Business man and woman isolated on blue background

10 Steps to Finding New Customers

Pretty blackhair woman sitting in the cafe and doing shopping online. Flat modern styleSometimes “new” doesn’t equate with “best.” Despite the significant changes in the marketing arena over the past three years—notably the rise of mobile and its stepchild, wearables—some advice about customer acquisition remains evergreen.

So it is with delight that we re-read an article from Forbes magazine written by Alan Hall and published back in 2012; its advice is as relevant now as it was then:

  1.  Start by knowing your current customers and everything about them. I suggest that you develop a precise profile of shoppers; age, education, gender, marital status, employment, hobbies, and the places they visit, on-line and off.  Once this is complete, it will be very clear to you who your true clients are.
  2. Know their needs and wants.  Take time to visit with them. Ask pertinent questions.  Listen and learn.
  3. Know what they think about your solution and what they think about the competition.  Look for problems and opportunities.
  4. Know what they watch, listen to and read.
  5. Recognize that your customers have friends who are like them.
  6. Ask your customers to invite their friends to engage with you.  Entice them to connect with these friends via the internet on your behalf.
  7. Invite these prospective buyers to try your offerings.
  8. Provide a special introductory offer to them and likewise reward your current clients who helped.
  9. Ensure a splendid buying and user experience.  Go out of your way to take care of these new shoppers.
  10. Ask your new customers to also make referrals.  Don’t be shy.  It’s how business grows.

 

As we noted, all of this still works, and still works well, in 2015. And while you’re thinking about your customer-acquisition efforts, why not take a moment and see how CertainSource Acquire can help your business?