Introducing CertainSource!

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169affceWayDirect has been going through some changes…

CertainSource, an eWayDirect company, provides B2C marketers with the industry’s first Customer Acquisition Management (CAM) platform for managing and optimizing ongoing omnichannel customer acquisition.

Based on eWayDirect’s decade-long experience in retention marketing technologies, the CertainSource SaaS platform includes: CertainSource Acquire, which manages customer acquisition; CertainSource Amplify, which provides novel social tools for using newly found high-value customers to identify similar customers; and CertainSource Engage, for follow-on campaigns with developing customers.

Sold directly to marketers in partnership with leading cross-channel marketing and email service providers, CertainSource helps marketers keep ahead email list attrition and dramatically increase email list performance through acquisition of “high annual value customers.”

CertainSource is privately held, and headquartered in Fairfield, CT, with offices in San Francisco, CA, Raleigh, NC, Yardley, PA, and Ft. Lee, NJ. For more information, visit

Timing is Everything: Segmentation by the Clock

shutterstock_133890674What many email marketers don’t know is that there are specific times of day that certain emails are best sent. Segmentation by the clock is just as important as any other kind of email segmentation.

Patricia Wilson has been involved in customer relationship management for over twenty years, the last twelve of which have been heading up eWayDirect’s Raleigh, North Carolina office, helping clients use emarketing to its full potential. A frequent question she receives is email list segmentation in terms of time, so she agreed to an interview to share her views.

So let’s start with the issue I touched on in the introduction: what’s the best day of the week and time of the day to send out emails?

There is no doubt there are best time of the day to send/time your email campaigns, and best days of the week. However, it differs for every company and you need to learn what works best for your company by understanding the email habits of the audience you are sending emails to and the goal of the specific emails you are sending. Based on this information the day/time answer may be different. In addition B2B and B2C campaigns will perform better at different times and different days of the week.

Here are a couple of examples: If your goal as a B2B is to attract professionals to your booth at a trade show, you will want to reach those subscribers early morning before they reach the office, or at the end of the work day when they are checking their email one more time before leaving the office.

If you are a B2C company selling children’s clothing your best time to reach the moms is mid morning after the children have left for school, and second best is after 8 pm when the kids have gone to sleep.

These two examples should give you a good idea of what I mean by timing depending on your audience.

Of course, the real answer is to test. Test, test, test. What works well today may not be as effective two months from now. Subscribers change habits frequently. Testing is easy yet studies show many companies don’t it, often because they are rushed for time or don’t have the discipline to test in an organized manner over time. Consistently test the day of week and the time of day.

And remember, in this day of complex delivery issues, be sure to monitor daily your inbox delivery rates, opens and clicks. When one or more of these change negatively have a sense of urgency to understand what is causing the change(s) until your response rates return to desired levels.

Okay, now I have a sense of how to find out when to send these emails. What about frequency? How much is too much?

resending emailsAgain, there is no magic number to answer this question. What is right for your subscribers? If you are sending stock market updates, people might need to receive emails multiple times every day, if you are sending vacation offers, weekly might be all that is appreciated by your subscribers.

That being said, new subscribers should be messaged more frequently then your overall subscriber list. This is true because you are “growing the relationship” and these people are hungry for information about your company and your products/services. In addition, the first 30 days of an online relationship are, for most companies, the most valuable 30 days in the relationship and you want to optimize the opportunity.

Subscribers who are familiar with your products or service tend to be highly interactive with your campaigns, and can be messaged less frequently. But the information you have on these subscribers, information you have built over time, allows you to make the most of every message with highly targeted, relevant content, based on their buying habits.

And always work off a frequency plan that is tweaked on a regular basis, based on ongoing results from all campaigns.

How about special-offer reminders? Should I send them? If so, when?

Online retailers do very well when sending a simple resend of the same offer to those who did not open and/or to those who opened but did not purchase. Send these offer 24 hours after the initial message with an updated subject line. Doing so an easy low cost way to remind the subscribers of your great offer and gain additional revenue.

Other types of activity messaging may be the most effective email messages you can ever send. Send email reminders to people soon after they leave your website, based on specific pages they visit, and send reminders to people soon after they call your helpdesk or sales desk, and of course after they place orders or email your company for information. Activity based response email reminders will deliver six to ten times the response rates of your standard email campaigns.

Is there a safe way to increase my email frequency and not increase complaints, unsubscribes, or list fatigue?

The trick to increasing your email campaign frequency is twofold, testing, testing and testing, and providing relevant variable content. We tend to think about frequency results in terms of how the whole list behaves, and it is important to consider this. But within a list, there are segments that can be messaged more frequently then other segments and you need to always be watching to see which groups these are.

Create a plan to segment your list into testing/timing frequencies for best results and stick to the schedule and watch the results. And be sure to review your content for relevancy and variation. Sometimes people mistake the idea that response rates are going down because they are emailing too frequently, when in reality they are simply sending the same or similar content to people over and over again.



3 Tips for Better Customer Acquisition Management

shutterstock_51955312If we see customer acquisition management as a process not unlike customer relationship management, then it’s important to consider every step of that process.

So what do you do when leads come in to you?

In a study done by Harvard in 2013, companies that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision-maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.

Those are sobering statistics. What can you do with these shiny fresh new leads?

  1. Message them differently. A welcome email along with some information about your company should be the first thing in the lead’s mailbox.  Your message should thank them for doing what you asked of them, like signing up!
  2. Message them quickly. The studies above show that very few companies are really doing this right: make sure that yours is one of them!
  3. Hit them with activity. Don’t just tell your story (yawn!): ask them what you can do for them. Make an offer for new subscribers. Make them want to do something.  Also, ISPs like consumer interaction, which also increases inbox delivery.

Ask for sources of the data from your broker or contacts. What is the website where they opted in to receive third-party offers? This includes asking for names of other marketers renting the file or data and how it is working for them. Ask if those clients would be willing to give verbal references.

The more interactive you are, the better your chances of turning that lead into a customer. The more you tailor your emails to not only the customer’s expressed preferences, but also to his or her location on the lead-acquisition continuum, the better your chances of turning that lead into a customer.

Do it right the first time and you’ll have far better customer lifetime value—and ROI!

4 Customer-Acquisition Tips for Cleaner Leads

man in pipeline 2Everyone wants clean leads. It’s the law, for one thing. It’s cost-efficient, for another. It helps with your company’s ROI. But as you already know, lead cleansing can be a problem. Your brand’s reputation, your customer-acquisition budget, and your final ROI are all on the line.

Co-reg has somehow become a dirty word in marketing, and many marketers are not taking advantage of an important lead and prospect generation tool. Co-reg simply means that the lead has signed up for more than one offer or agreed to have third-party offers sent to them. That’s it. Nothing evil lurks below the surface. In a sense, these are “shared” leads, leads that are getting emails from other people. There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing co-reg. The issue lies in the increased possibility of having some impure data collected along the way.

The reality is that almost all purchased leads end up being co-reg leads, since most lead generation services sell their leads to more than one retailer—who then may sell them to several customers. How much have you been paying for “exclusive” email leads? How much have you been paying for clean ones?

There are four easy steps you can take to ensure clean leads:

  1. Don’t start out too big! Some companies begin with an overwhelming 10,000 leads per day, most of which will need to go into the gutter. Go slowly, and be patient.
  2. Use all available technology. Technology can tell you at the front end—where it’s the most important—whether or not an email address is valid.
  3. Target the right places.
  4. Know where your name is being used. Blind networks don’t tell you where they’re placing your offers. Some affiliate networks and reputable publications will tell you.

Once you’re sure about your leads being clean, you can think about activity on those leads.

It may seem like common sense, but many companies fail to contact leads in a timely manner. (By “timely,” I really mean “immediately.”) The Harvard Business Review audited 2,241 U.S. companies, measuring how long each took to respond to a web-generated test lead.

Although 37% of these companies responded to their leads within an hour, and 16% responded within one to 24 hours, 24% took more than 24 hours—and 23% of the companies never responded at all. The average response time, among companies that responded within 30 days, was 42 hours.

CAM: Customer Acquisition Management

light trails on streetMarketers are brilliant at outlining and strategizing around the buying lifecycle of customers, but they generally start once the customer is—well, a customer. CRM needs to start before that, when prospects begin to show an interest in a brand or company, and the relationship should be strategically managed starting with the very first contact.

Using a hosted customer acquisition management system that includes lead generation and management, analytics, source management, and responsive technology is the best way to make sure that prospects are not dropped on their way to becoming customers—and that it’s the best prospects, the most qualified, who make it through the system. It’s a truism that follow-up is the most important part of customer prospecting, but without a strategy and a system in place to do it, it’s easy for customers—and therefore income—to slip through the proverbial cracks.

For marketers who are putting increasing resources into customer acquisition, it’s essential to determine where those resources will go, and that can only happen with a CAM solution offering top-notch analytics. Customer acquisition management requires excellent metrics so that marketers can strategize campaigns and tweak them as results come in. Getting well-qualified leads and nurturing those leads into customers cannot happen if there is no way to measure progress, to see what works and what doesn’t, and to change strategies if one isn’t working. The results of these metrics will be different for every company, but the most important factor is being sure that the changes and adjustments made are on the back-end … not in the customer experience area. That needs to be smooth, clear, positive, and consistent.

Chart_4431Lead-generation managers often make the mistake of getting caught in maximizing quantity acquired for the lowest cost per acquisition. Once a marketer has instituted a overall customer acquisition management strategy and solution—again, best done by using a third-party hosted solution—then only the best, most qualified prospects from the strongest sources will  be coming through the pipeline, and CAM managers will be able to devote themselves and their resources to nurturing positive qualified prospects rather than tremendous quantities of bad leads. and the CAM strategies will flow automatically and seamlessly into CRM strategies as prospects become customers.





Mobile Usage Continues to Climb

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 11.52.52 AMFrom Smart Insights’ Mobile Marketing Statistics 2014:

“As Rob Thurner explained in his post on KPIs to review mcommerce effectiveness, it’s important to keep track of the split between users of mobile and desktop devices visiting your site(s). Using advanced segments in Google Analytics is the best way to do this.

“New insight from comScore published in their February 2014 market review shows the picture that marketers need to build up. This panel data shows that the majority of consumers are “multiscreening”, accessing retail sites on mobile or desktop, so consistent experiences across device need to be deployed.”

On the other hand, you can simply use a platform that tells you which of your emails are being opened on which devices. That knowledge makes the statistics actionable: it means you can send specific emails to users of specific devices. And it’s not in the future—it’s what eWayDirect offers today!

How to Create Actionable Lead-Generation Offers

shutterstock_51955312Think of your online offer to a prospect as a first impression. That 160-character introduction to your brand can either make or break someone’s notion of who you are and what you sell… and could determine whether or not they buy from you.

An offer can perhaps be the most important part of lead generation, and it’s frequently overlooked or only given limited attention. If the famous Bill Gates quote “the Internet moves at the speed of thought” is true, then it’s time to rethink your approach to creating the right offer, because prospects are moving fast, and your brand is one of many they glance at.

So you may want to start with a few questions:

  • What are you currently saying to your clients, in store or online?
  • What marketing messages have worked for you in the past?
  • What are your competitors are doing and saying?

The real issue lies in the fact that every lead source requires different messaging, and messaging is the key to lead generation. Messaging is not one-size-fits-all, as we all learned when we moved from direct mail to online emails. So the best way to see what messaging and which offers work or don’t, and when, is to test, test, test.

First, look at your various lead-generation tools. They may include banners, co-registration, email, trade publication ads, third-party emails, and others. Each will require a different offer. And to improve results further you’ll want to create different offers for different customer segment that you’ll reach within each channel — so you may end up with sublists of appropriate offers. The more you can segment, the more your offers can target the most likely group of consumers for your services or products.

shutterstock_107479076So what do you test? There are myriad options and you need to nail down a strategy for testing. It’s important that you don’t just stick to one testing method: multivariate testing will yield the most information. But remember, the more knowledge you have about what works and what doesn’t, the better position you’ll be in to attract targeted customers who will actually make a purchase. So also try A/B splits and test the offer itself—should it be free shipping? Discounts? You also need to test other messaging, like different subject lines. What about timing: Are you getting more leads midweek? In the evening?

Be sure that you have a plan behind the testing and aren’t just throwing out random changes. Determine what you want to test based on what you want to learn, then track results, and tweak as necessary.

Whatever you test, there are a few constants: keep the copy light, and keep the call to action large. No matter what lead-generation tool you’re using, you still have only a few seconds to catch and hold a prospect’s attention. Make those seconds count for you by presenting something relevant and targeted—and by presenting it in such a way that it clearly seems irresistible to the consumer.

What’s the Best Way to Pay for Customer Acquisition?

light trails on streetIt seems that everyone is trying out new ways of finding new customers and reviewing the already-established methods for effectiveness and cost-effectiveness alike. Co-registration has come under fire lately because of the danger of partnering with a less-than-scrupulous list broker. (Note that we’re not against co-reg: If you have a reciprocal arrangement between your organization and a few others in related areas and negotiate paying for only valid, usable leads, you’re fine—honest and effective data collection is essential to the online industry and is in everyone’s best interest; no one benefits by gaming the system or cutting corners.)

New lead-generation companies are popping up every day and it’s difficult to cut through the static to see what has the potential to really work.

For a very long time, the CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) pricing model, in which advertisers must pay upfront for a bulk amount of consumer data (and where only a fraction of that number may end up interested) seemed to be the norm. Leads were obtained, sure, but at what cost? How many non-leads had to be part of the acquisition process for it to work? How much time, energy, and money was being wasted? These questions become more and more pressing as organizations seek to streamline their lead-generation and acquisition processes.

Enter the cost-per-lead.

In cost-per-lead pricing, the advertiser pays only for a specific signup from a consumer interested in its special offer. For example, it’s not enough for a consumer to click on an advertisement; the consumer must then do something else (sign up for something, etc.).

CPL placement allows advertisers to generate guaranteed revenue as well as set both budgetary and return expectations within their organizations. Letting their feet get wet and treading lightly during these tough economic times has given the CPL visibility and marketing departments the freedom to test.

42213300-resize-380x300So what does the future hold? It’s possible that we’ll see the CPL model morphing more and more into CPA (cost per acquisition) deals, so that payment is made when a customer actually makes a purchase. Think about it: isn’t that a more efficient way to spend your acquisition dollars – by actually making an acquisition?

The bottom line? Each marketer must test their own efficiency curve, understanding the volume/cost relationship for your particular market. As campaigns are being optimized, data is been gathered, and you need to take a step back and analyze your options.

Don’t throw money away or jeopardize your brand: create a clear CPL strategy, analyze the results, tweak as needed, and repeat.

How to Avoid Lead-Generation Risks

Lead generation 2If you’re taking your marketing dollars and betting them on acquisition, you may need a crash course in associated risks and rewards. Both can be plentiful, but without a solid understanding of the space’s intricacies, your brand and budget could be on a collision course.

Let’s talk risks, which include click fraud, autobots, and lead schemes:

  • Click fraud occurs in pay-per-click online advertising when a person, automated script, or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad. This is generally automated, though one hears of sweatshop human alternatives as well. The point of click fraud is to generate a charge per click without there being any legitimate interest in the target of the ad’s link.
  • Autobots (no, not the Transformers kind!) are in fact the technology behind click fraud: they auto-click settings on a computer timer to make it look like an email file is performing — i.e., consumers are actually on the receiving end of a campaign, interested and clicking away.
  • In lead schemes, the potential leads receive an email saying they’ve won a prize or a contest. Such companies get leads from the bulk mailing of entry forms with an easy question to answer, or by clicking on some moving object. Instructions tell the person to respond to the promoter with certain information. Such leads may get a followup call because the company now knows the target is prone to such gimmicks.

The reality is that any company is also a possible victim of such fraudulent behavior from lead sources, so it’s more important than ever to stay alert to them. But how can you be sure that you’re getting quality leads from quality sources?

There are a few things you can consider doing.

  1. Hire a lead-gen representative or company.
  2. Put in some back-end analytics to give you solid metrics on what leads are performing and what leads aren’t. Google Analytics and/or CoreMetrics can help here.
  3. Look at conversions, not clicks. Use cookies and pixels to tie offers to campaigns.
  4. Always know the cost per sale.

shutterstock_143867509The important thing, as we’ve stressed elsewhere, is to always know how much you are actually paying to make this lead into a customer. This will keep you from paying for leads that go nowhere—but will also give you a good handle on whether the leads you’re getting are good ones.

Armed with as much information as possible, the guarantee of enjoying the fruits of your labor are directly ahead with:

  • flexibility on offer and creative changes;
  • volume and budget control; and
  • fluid scheduling that makes it easy to make swift decisions on placement, sources, etc.

Don’t ever put yourself at the mercy of third parties: if your list broker isn’t giving you the kinds of leads you need, then it’s time to tell them so … or risk losing ROI and reputation.




5 Tips to Keep Customers Engaged

blog-image-11-18-13-006Getting someone to join an email list can be difficult, but it’s even harder to get those who have stopped opening and responding to re-engage. What can a marketer do?

  1. Use your analytics. Cross-referencing website visits with the email list can reveal interesting information—for example, that a subscriber is ignoring emails but still browsing website content. In such a case, the marketer could attempt to re-engage the subscriber by sending an email related to what he or she is viewing on the website.
  2. Resend messages that were never opened. If their content is good and relevant, marketers can give prospects another chance to read them by resending the message with a different subject line.
  3. Analyze the last messages that were opened. Marketers can learn a lot about why subscribers aren’t opening messages—and what to do to get them to re-engage—by looking at what excited them in the past.
  4. Don’t up the offer. One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is they simply keep sending emails with bigger and better offers, hoping that one will catch a prospect’s eye. This trains people not to open emails or respond because they know there’s always going to be a better offer.
  5. Ask them back—or let them go. Sometimes, remarketing to prospects and customers can help clean the list. Marketers can send out an email asking whether or not they’re meeting subscribers’ needs. If not, there’s no reason to keep sending.