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shopper silhouetteCustomer acquisition management is only as effective as the profile you have of your ideal customer. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of resources tossed into the wind, hoping that something might magically stick somewhere.

We talk a lot in this column about the various different channels available for customer acquisition, but the reality is that none of them will be effective without that profile. Who do you target with your list acquisition, your social media marketing, your SEO? Even if at one time you had an idea of what your ideal customer looked like, that may have changed over time. When was the last time you revisited the profile?

You may be unsure of how to create an accurate profile.

A good place to start is to identify the different segments among your existing customers, which you do by looking for groups with similar characteristics. Segmenting your market should help you identify the similarities (and the differences!) between your different customer groups. This is turn will enable you to identify what aspects of your offer appeal to each of the groups, and adapt your approach to what it is that group responds to.

50s marketThe more you know about your current customers, the better you’ll be able to reach out to new ones. Have you ever tried doing market research? If not, you may want to consider it: research can reveal the needs, tastes, and spending habits of different groups of customers. The information you glean will indicate which customer segments are most likely to respond to which offers, marketing approaches, and sales activities.

Once you have a handle on your best customer groups, then check out how your competition is handling them. This will round out your customer profile by showing you how they respond in real life to real-life offers, and will help you craft your own approach to them.

Know thy customer is probably the first of any marketing rules, and it doesn’t hurt to refresh it from time to time. Segmentation by age, gender, economic status, device used, and more can help you reach the right new customer at just the right time for conversion. And who isn’t looking for that?

 

social media chatter figures

Starting The Year Off Right with Social Media Acquisition

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 8.53.03 AMSocial networks can allow you to reach and influence thousands of people, which can generate more traffic to your website. When optimizing your site for social networks during this first quarter, it’s important to keep some general tips in mind:

  • Incorporate buttons/links that enable people to easily share your content with friends on social networks. The Facebook “like” button is a must.
  • Include functionality for people to rate, review and comment on your articles and products.
  • Promote your company’s presence on social networks and encourage people to follow you there.
  • Think about ways you can foster community and create dialogue on you own website, and reward people for participating.

People want to talk to real humans. It’s important to avoid corporate-speak and treat people like they want to be treated.

shutterstock_134112389 (1)You need someone at the company who can engage with the audience:

  • blogging
  • sending messages
  • being an actual member of the community.

 

It takes planning and strategy, but engaging with people on social networks and creating specific campaigns to reach people on them can be a positive addition to your customer acquisition and will help you start the year right!

 

light trails on street

It’s All About Deliverability

datastream3Deliverability 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’s 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.

If you don’t know what is going on with your mail at the individual ISP level, there is 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.

email sign with laptopAt CertainSource, we continue to believe—and continue to see results confirming—that the answer to inbox deliverability is clarity. We call it “make a promise, keep a promise.” Be totally clear to all people signing up for your communications that “if you do this, here is exactly what you can expect.” And be as explicit as possible! “If you sign up, we will send you an email every day with special offers and news about our company. The email will arrive in your inbox with the my company from line.”

In addition, include with each email you send a confirmation that you are living up to your part of the bargain. “When you signed up, we told you we would send you daily great offers, and here is Tuesday’s offer. Thanks for continuing to be a part of our email list!”

Make a promise, keep a promise, and get your mail sent directly to the inbox!

Icon man holding a smartphone in hand.

Keeping it Simple: Emarketing for 2015

new year clockSo here we are: the beginning of the new year. It’s a good time to assess whether your emails are really doing what you want them to. And here’s the message for 2015: keep it simple!

We all know that marketing emails should include a clear call to action, something for the consumer to do in response to the newsletter. But this month we’d like you to think about something so obvious, you may have overlooked it: the value of simplicity.

Take a look at your current email campaign, and at the landing pages on your website to which the campaign directs customers. Is the call to action clear? Is doing what you want them to do the easiest thing for customers to do?

If you want to make somebody buy something in an email marketing campaign, the process must be as easy as possible.

In addition:

  • Link directly to the landing page of the product offered in the email. Make it easy for consumers to find what you just advertised.
  • email iconMake sure the design of the landing page that the email message links to matches the design of the email message itself. People like a sense of continuity, and this reassures them that they have indeed reached the correct page.
  • Use information that you have about your customers to make purchasing a clear and easy transaction (pre-fill forms with names, shipping addresses, and any other information that you already have on hand).
  • Remember that shorter subject lines yield greater open and click-through rates, and keep your subject lines short and simple.
  • Make sure that your creative doesn’t overwhelm your message. Copy and creative should go hand-in-hand. When you want to add something, think it through carefully. Will it clutter the email? Make it more complex and more difficult to read? Consider saving the addition for an email of its own.

 

Keep it simple, and you’ll keep it effective!

row of lightbulbs

Finding Valuable New Customers

shoppingIf you do digital B2C marketing, then you know that the best ROI ever comes from email marketing, and you probably have a reasonably good email marketing solution in place. But how do you find customers to feed into your email-marketing cascades?

Finding valuable new customers and keeping them is an engagement that starts from your very first contact with the prospect. No one wants to receive emails that they didn’t sign on for, but getting that first signup can be tricky, and sometimes it’s difficult to set up and maintain the constant testing that’s required to sanitize email lists.

And yet data, and learning from that data, may be one of the most critical jobs of any B2C marketer today.

Performing list hygiene after the fact can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. A far better idea is to pay more attention to how those lists are obtained at the onset.

Excellent list-acquisition is a process that begins by automatically evaluating each and every individual lead source, rather than lead quality and performance in the aggregate. Aggressive acquisition practices will harm your inbox delivery rates and may even get you listed on email reputation sites; so proceeding with traditional acquisition processes is not only risky, it also tells potential customers that they are of little value to your company.

question markBut if your customer-acquisition solution performs this evaluation at the source, you will automatically identify the sources of any risky leads and eliminate those sources, as well as identifying your best-performing lead sources and subsequently increasing budget to those sources.

How? By turning off lead sources that provide a disproportionate number of high-risk leads before they injure your ISP reputation, and automatically throttling to receive more leads from your best-performing, clean, low-risk lead sources.

Many acquisition processes implement auto-responders for new-customer signups, but isn’t it time that we went beyond auto-responders? Why shouldn’t marketers use a system that immediately nurtures leads?

That system would deliver a cascade of behavior-based promotional emails, so that the same cascade would not be delivered to every single lead that comes into the system. Instead, the cascades will respond in near-real time to prospect actions. What cascade is received depends on what the person did, requested, commented on, or filled out. And that continues once the prospect has become a customer and begins to watch for your emails: once they become customers, people get cascades that react to the actions they take.

Combining the best list hygiene with the use of live data is the best way to grow your email lists, convert prospects to customers, and maintain high customer lifetime value.

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Adding New Customers Through Diversification

42213300-resize-380x300In customer acquisition, diversification isn’t just a good thing, it’s the only thing. Using one channel only for acquisition is like reading one book: it gives you something, but not everything. Your customers probably come in all shapes and sizes, with differing needs and interests: why confine them to only one method of approach?

Diversification in customer acquisition is necessary because:

  1. It reduces risk—you’re not leaving anybody out
  2. It provides data for analytics
  3. It allows you to leverage every possible avenue

shutterstock_76696936Customer acquisition management sets up an overall strategy for your acquisition methods and can create a synergy among them. Social media can bring prospects to a landing page that in turn can feed them into an email marketing cascade. Thinking creatively about how one channel can complement the others will help you save resources and plan an effective overall campaign strategy.

Remember to consider, if not include, the following channels:

  • Public relations
  • Organic and paid search
  • Content marketing
  • Lead generation lists & programs
  • Affiliate programs
  • Social media marketing
  • Direct mail marketing
  • In-store specials
  • Events
  • Mobile
  • Direct sales
  • Referral programs
  • Traditional advertising
  • Add-ons for existing customers

 

Whatever channels you decide on, make sure that they’re part of an overall customer acquisition marketing strategy and that at all times you keep your ideal customer in mind.

customer inside arrows

Acquire: The Best Customer Acquisition Solution

people shoppingAs marketers, we need to constantly be tuning and retuning our online customer acquisition strategies. There are more and more channels open to online marketers than ever before, and competition is high to find and convert high-level qualified prospects.

And the reality is that customer acquisition is moving from the mystical to the scientific. Once upon a time, marketers used a scattered approach: do some of this, some of that, and see what comes in. Oddly enough, those same marketers tended to be very good at analyzing their email marketing campaigns, but didn’t bring the same focus to online acquisition.

Now that we have a clearer sense of what customer acquisition channels are available to us, we also needs to find means of analyzing exactly what we’re doing in each of those channels, and what results we’re getting. In other words, we need to approach B2C customer acquisition with the same rigor we would apply to any other marketing strategy.

Marketers need a solution that delivers clear analytics on customer-acquisition costs and returns before they can articulate a scenario that will take advantage of the data received through these analytics. Data includes number of customers acquired, the acquisition rate, the cost of acquiring a customer, the total new-customer investment, and the total new-customer investment as a percentage of sales and profits.

red emailLet’s face it: your business survives or falls on your ability to acquire new customers, and to approach acquisition with any less scientific precision than you conduct any other strategy or campaign is a little like shooting yourself in the foot. You may still eventually get there, but the journey’s going to be painful!

Our customer-acquisition solution, CertainSource Acquire, provides marketers with all the data and analysis they need to track what is working and tweak what isn’t.

Practicing Online Acquisition: 3 Tips

abstract-world-health-day-concept-with-illustration-of-doctor_zkjB8cP_Marketers are like doctors and lawyers: we’re always practicing! Sometimes we call it testing, yet we know the truth—it truly is the practice of marketing.

And because we are “practicing” marketing, I’m always surprised by how many marketers ignore best practices—that well-defined marketing roadmap that marries what is best for the target audience while meeting success metrics determined for a specific campaign. Why would anyone overlook the very things that drive the best results?

Online acquisition is a great case in point as to best practices that should never be ignored, but are rarely followed. Most people don’t realize that there are a few clear steps in the online acquisition process:

  • getting someone to raise their hand and show interest in your company (lead generation)
  • nurturing that lead to help people establish the beginning of a relationship (prospect qualification)
  • closing the deal by providing relevant content and offers that meets the prospect’s needs.

 

digital documentsTo successfully accomplish this, and get a positive ROI, is another matter entirely. There are three simple best-practices that are straightforward and must be followed:

Best-practice number one: Freewill opt-in

This is not only what consumers want, it’s also what you should want: to build your pipeline and customer base with consumers who are the right fit for your company. Whatever you do, you do not want to damage the reputation of your company by ignoring freewill opt-in.

Best-practice number two: Make-a-promise, keep-a-promise

From advertisement right through customer lifetime value, you need to promote a consistent message flow. Your first email should refer to the ad that caused the prospect to raise his or her hand and provide information consistent with the ad message. This should be standard email practice for your company.

Best-practice number three: Use email to immediately respond to consumer actions (live data)

Actions taken by consumers show they are ready to do something, whether it’s to learn more about your products and services, make a purchase, or disassociate from your company. Responding in real time to these actions increases conversions and often brings people back in the fold who were ready to leave.

Content marketing concept in word tag cloud on black background

B2C Customer Acquisition Through Content Marketing

Many marketers believe that content marketing is best done in the B2B arena, and we won’t argue that it’s an important component; but the truth is that it’s equally important for B2C marketers.

Blog Map Displaying International or Worldwide BloggingFor many people, the term “content marketing” is roughly equivalent to the term “blog.” Right? The reality is that blogs are only part of content marketing. In fact, content marketing refers to any digital communication: a well-written email is content, a video is content, a great landing page is content, and social media posts are content.

So what kind of content marketing will help you with B2C customer acquisition? There are five pieces of content that can be particularly useful in promoting your brand and attracting followers, visitors, and prospects… and then turning them into customers.

  1. Blog posts: Yes, of course, you probably could have guessed that we’d begin with blog posts, since they are indeed what first comes to mind when most people think content. What blog posts can become customer-acquisition tools? Posts that are helpful, useful, informative, posts that show your brand to be aware of what’s going on in their world and has prepared a thoughtful response to it, these are blog posts that people will read, think about, and eventually act upon.
  2. Micro-content: Tweets, LinkedIn, and Facebook posts can’t go into the same detail that blog posts do, but they can point new audiences to your blog, your website, and other longer content that you have on offer. On their own, your micro-content can intrigue, engage, and interest potential customers.
  3.  RSS button- subscribeWhite papers: Blogs and micro-content pieces are conversational in tone, easy to read, and generally pull prospects in. Once at your site, however, you have to deliver the goods—that is, some more serious and useful information. White papers written on the subjects that are important to your prospects and customers deliver in-depth information that clearly shows you as a thought leader.
  4. Industry articles: Speaking of being perceived as a thought leader, writing articles that are placed in industry publications also indicates that prospects can trust your knowledge—and your generosity in sharing it for free. Make sure that your bio points them to a landing page where they can sign up for your email list.
  5. Sales page: The the most important of all the content marketing that you do is your sales page: presenting exactly the right content after your prospect has read all your other content is what finally will make the sale.

 

Content marketing is as important for B2C marketers as it is for B2B marketing firms, and will lift your customer acquisition significantly when used as part of an overall marketing strategy.

Car wash

Get New Customers With This Small Trick

car wash imageHere’s an interesting story:

Two researchers, Joseph Nunes and Xavier Drèze, conducted a customer loyalty experiment with a car wash and they found that “artificial advancement” increases customer loyalty by 82%. On two consecutive Saturdays, they gave out loyalty cards to car wash patrons. Half of the cards required eight car washes to earn a free car wash. The other half required 10, but instead of requiring the full 10, the car wash gave a two-car wash head-start as a free bonus. This bonus is known as artificial advancement.

During the next nine months, 28 out of 150 people earned a free car wash when they didn’t receive artificial advancement. However, 51 out of 150 people earned a free car wash when they received artificial advancement.

Why does it work? People are more likely to complete tasks when they’re closer to the finish line. When you start with a loyalty card, and you only have one car wash punched, that means you’re 12.5% complete.

vector-thank-you-notecard_fyejzXKOBut when you start with a loyalty card that has three car washes to start, you’re 30% complete.

Even though the patrons need the same eight car washes, in one instance they’re 70% away from the finish line… whereas in the other case they’re 87.5% away.

So you can do a lot with that concept in customer acquisition for email marketing. Make an offer to your current subscribers that will earn them something free, then give them some artificial advancement toward that goal—and watch subscribers turn into customers!