email deliverability

Deliverability and New Customers

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mailboxesBack in the days when we all used to think in terms of lead generation, some pretty bad things happened. Marketers began mailing willy-nilly to lists of names that hadn’t come from the best sources—and often came from the worst. The predictable result? Poor inbox delivery and some brand reputations in tatters.

Fortunately, we’ve moved beyond lead generation know more about how customer acquisition works. And keeping your acquisition in your prospects’ inboxes has everything to do with how your customer acquisition strategy is formulated and implemented.

We all need new customers, but cutting corners isn’t going to do any marketer any good. Good online marketing is—and always has been—permissions-based marketing. Good online marketing is the science of monitoring opt-in customer and prospect online behavior, and the art of translating that behavior in ways that allow marketers to deliver personal, powerful marketing campaigns, campaigns that provide your opted-in prospects with convenience, relevant content, and the least intrusive relationship possible.

And that can only happen through the prospect taking the lead in communicating with you.

For years marketers bombarded consumers with what they wanted to present to potential prospects; advertising still does this. But in the 21st century, that’s just not an option anymore for the online retailer. The shift in power from marketer to consumer that happened dramatically with the advent of social media has put the reins in the hands of the consumer. We can fight it, or we can make it work for us.

Let’s make it work for us.

digital documentsWe do it through giving prospects multiple touch-points where they can indicate interest in a company, a brand, or a product. They may click on a link on their smartphone asking for more information. They may fill out a questionnaire on their computer before accessing some additional content. They may connect with a company’s Facebook page or respond to a tweet. As many ways as there are to communicate, we need to give potential prospects that many ways to indicate interest … to opt-in to receiving more information.

As long as it’s done following best practices—making sure that unsubscribes are easy, making sure that email subject lines are not misleading, delivering what was promised to the consumer—then there won’t be any negative impacts to inbox delivery. Delivery has everything to do with the prospect wanting more, and requesting more.

Start as you mean to continue, and delivery isn’t going to be an issue in your customer-acquisition campaigns.

 

Competitive advantage

How Much Does Customer Acquisition Cost?

costing analysisIf you’re like most marketers, you’re keeping an eagle eye on your cost-to-income ratio. What you may not realize is that there are a number of different ways of calculating how much it costs you to acquire a customer.

And they’re not all telling the whole story.

For example, you might be hearing the term “impressions” when you send out a press release or an email. Impressions is supposedly the term used to quantify the number of people who will see your ad. Sounds good, until you realize that there is no way to tell whether or not those people actually saw the ad: what “impressions” really refers to is the number of people who will receive the magazine or newspaper. Does everyone who receives an item read it? Of course not. If you buy a radio spot or a TV ad, it gets even worse, because the “listeners” or “viewers” promised is the complete audience recorded in the latest ratings book.

Not exactly scientific, is it?

Data-driven budgets are the only ones that will deliver a real picture of how much it costs you to acquire each customer, and will help you adjust your marketing plans accordingly. The real cost of acquiring a customer is one large metric (the average amount of sales and marketing dollars you invest to acquire a single customer) that can be broken into smaller metrics:

  • cost you spend per visit
  • percentage of visitors that turn into leads
  • percentage of leads that become customers

cost per saleWant a real-life example? Okay: you’ve launched a PPC campaign that cost you $2,000. You know from your paid-search analytics that 1,000 people visited your site as a result of that particular PPC campaign. So you’ve paid two dollars per visitor to get those people there. Let’s say that five percent of the people you drew to your website through tho PPC campaign became leads—they raised their hands in some way, said that they wanted to learn more about your product, gave you their email address. So now you’ve paid $40 per lead. Let’s say that 10% of those leads carry on to make a purchase, then your final cost of customer acquisition is $400. The beauty of analytics is that you can see what you’re spending at every point of the customer journey and therefore increase your budget precisely where it’s needed.

Having a handle on what you’re spending, on what lead sources are going to deliver the best results, is what CertainSource Acquire does for you with a clear, easy-to-read dashboard that enables you to move your marketing budget responsively rather than haphazardly. Why not ask us about it today?

 

 

elevator sign UP

What You Can Learn About Marketing From an Elevator Pitch

elevator pitchImagine that you just stepped on an elevator with a stranger, who immediately asks you what it is that your business does. You have from the ground floor to the fifth floor to explain it to that person.

Explaining what we do doesn’t always fit neatly into an elevator pitch. There’s often jargon that gets in the way. There are variables. What we sell isn’t always as easy to explain as, say, just “shoes” or “books.” How would you describe Amazon, for example? (Would that we all should have that problem!)

But when you’re thinking about customer acquisition, there’s a lot you can learn from devising and refining your elevator pitch. It forces you to really think about the core of your business. How can you reduce your product or service to one or two sentences? Because that’s the time you have on an elevator, and that’s the time you have in an email, and that’s the time you have just about anywhere you’re going to be encountering prospects.

When you send an offer to your list, how clear and concise is it? Of course you’re always careful about including the marketing buzzwords. You personalize the email. You entice the prospect (“free shipping on orders over $50!”). But is your offer really clear?

Thinking about refining your elevator pitch will help you think about refining all of your customer acquisition content. And at this time of year, when the pressure is on, that can only help you acquire new, better, and more valuable customers.

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A Holiday Marketing Strategy Tip to Start You Off Right

holidays-11-4-14-001It’s the holiday selling season, the most frantic and exciting time of the year, so it’s time to put aside your marketing plan and your email strategy and just blast out mailings to everyone you’ve ever had on any list you’ve ever put together. Right?

Wrong.

What we just described is a mistake that many digital marketers make, and it’s never a good idea. You have an email strategy in place, and it works well. Why abandon it for this one season? On the contrary: this is the time to follow your strategy even more carefully, because you just know that your customers are getting inundated with email right now – both wanted and unwanted – and it’s not going to take much for them to reach their tipping-point and say, “Enough!”

A good holiday strategy may well include increasing the frequency of your emailings – twice a week rather than once a week, for example – but no strategy involves changing your overall plan, reacting rather than acting, adding questionable addresses to your lists, or modifying the way you treat your customers.

The holiday season will tempt you to become more frantic in your marketing efforts to grab a piece of the lucrative seasonal pie. You deserve your part; but claim it in a way that is consistent with your plan.

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Content Marketing for B2C Customer Acquisition

people shoppingNew customers are the lifeblood of every B2C marketer, and every online retailer’s priority has to be establishing and maintaining a steady flow of new customers.

How can you do it? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Think about what you’re already sending out to subscribers. If the content is fantastic, and you have a forward-to-a-friend option (you do have a forward-to-a-friend option, don’t you?), then there’s a good chance your email will get shared. This solidifies your current customer base and will attract new prospects and subscribers.
  2. Is there something you can create that potential customers will find helpful? A white paper, an infographic, an ebook? If you can offer something helpful, useful, or interesting for prospects to download from your website in exchange for an email signup, then you’re much more likely to have them become subscribers and customers, since they’ve indicated interest in what you have to offer. If you’re a shoe retailer, for example, a quick fun ebook on anything from the mention of shoes in fiction to a Q&A with a shoe designer would pique your target audience’s interest.
  3. A lot of B2B companies host webinars to generate buzz and obtain additional email captures; but B2C companies can do them, too. For example, if you sell beauty products, host a webinar with a well-known model or fashion expert as your guest.

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These are steps that almost any B2C company can take to increase its subscriber list with qualified prospects. Think about them, see what might work for you—the more imaginative your thinking, the better your results!

And if you’re interested in learning more about customer acquisition and how CertainSource Acquire can help, take a moment to give us a call at 888.655.0464 today!

 

shoe shopping

Newsletters and New Customer Acquisition

email icon digital backgroundEveryone knows, by now, that email marketing provides the best and most consistent ROI of any digital marketing channel. But we’re all, of course, looking for new customers, people to whom we can send our email specials and announcements. One way that the giant marketer Microsoft suggests you spread the word is by placing your ads in relevant newsletters, newsletters that already reach out to the same demographic you’re targeting, making it budget well spent. But Microsoft Business also suggests creating and distributing your very own newsletter:

So you hadn’t thought of this already? Regular email newsletters provide an incentive for people to stay in touch with you and your business if you provide worthwhile content. What tips, advice, resources, and other information can your newsletter provide beyond simply touting your services? (Yes, you could do that in places throughout the newsletter.) A bigger question may be: Who could you get to write your newsletter, if not you? An employee? A spouse? A friend? A professional writer? Be creative. And don’t be afraid to start small, Weil says. Even peaking at a subscriber base of 500 may be worth your while in terms of customer loyalty and industry visibility.”

newsletter wordcloudNaturally, here at CertainSource we believe in the power of email marketing for customer acquisition and customer retention. But too often we see companies focus on just using their lists to announce sales, to unveil a new product line, or to offer a closeout deal. Oh, yes, there’s usually a small paragraph at the top that is chatty, that makes the customer somehow feel connected to the brand. Usually.

Maybe “usually” isn’t enough. Maybe it’s time to rethink the newsletter as something that can reach out on your behalf and bring in new customers. Content marketing is all about offering something that is of value to the prospect or customer, and offering it for free.

I challenge any retailer out there, whether selling goods or services, to say that their industry doesn’t lend itself to a newsletter. There are “quaint and curious” facts about everything in the world, and finding them and telling their story provides meat for a newsletter. Tips. Tricks. Places to get more information. All of this gives you something in the inbox that subscribers will actually look forward to.

envelope iconMost newsletters today are in the B2B arena, but let’s consider widening our viewpoint. B2C businesses need to think of new and different ways to capture the wayward attention of the public, and a newsletter will get your brand name out and actually “sitting around” on computer desktops as subscribers read first one article, then another.

“Newsletters,” writes Susan Baka, “are a terrific sales tool for showcasing your expertise and professionalism to prospective customers and for disseminating information about your comnpany and its products or services in an interesting and readable way.”

So why not think about an inaugural newsletter to celebrate the holiday shopping season? You have a lot of people’s eye on you during this time; make the most of them!

winter shopping night city

Holiday Email Marketing Tips

Christmas shoppingMostly at CertainSource we talk about customer acquisition—frankly, because we believe that we do it best—but it’s the end of October already, and time to really get in gear for this year’s fourth quarter and year-end email campaigns!

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Start holiday promotions early! Consumers tend to wait for the last minute (and still want delivery by Christmas!). There are only 20 business days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so the earlier you can get your customers’ attention, the fewer potential shipping issues you’ll encounter.
  • Provide incentives and create a sense of urgency for early action. There are dozens of ways to do this, and offering a special deal makes consumers quicker to act, especially in slower economic times.
  • Go back and see what worked (and didn’t work) last year. If you have the data, base your evaluation of last year’s mailings on sales generated per email. Opens and clicks are important, but it ultimately boils down to how much money you made. There’s still time to track sales per email for this holiday season – and we can help!

Christmas shopping online

  • Establish campaign objectives. Before you can design an email or decide to whom you want to mail, you need to decide what you want the campaign to accomplish. Campaigns designed to generate sales are very different from campaigns used for building brand equity, new name acquisition, etc. No matter what the desired outcome, the only way to know if a campaign is successful is to establish campaign metrics. We recommend tracking both email and result metrics:
    • Email metrics include emails delivered by ISP, bounces (hard and soft), opens, unique clicks, unsubscribes, forwards, etc. It is also important to track the effectiveness of an HTML email – the relative effectiveness of each link – by tracking clicks per location.
    • “Result” metrics include sales per email, cost per new acquisition, average order size, campaign ROI, reactivations, etc.
  • Review your database (list):
    • Eliminate bad email addresses. This is one of the most important actions you can take. After complaints, the single most common reason for ISPs blocking your emails is bad email addresses (hard bounces).
    • Review your list; any email address that hasn’t been mailed in the last six months is suspect. Create a separate list of these and send a special reactivation mailing to this group.
    • Segment your database. Even if you don’t have a lot of demographic data about your customers, you can still significantly improve your response rate by creating separate segments and mailings for openers, clickers, purchasers, the top 10%, the bottom 20%, and so on.
  • Review your landing pages: Make sure they’re relevant and that all the links work. Consumers who have opened their emails and clicked on a link to get to your landing page are your best prospects. A great landing page goes a long way to converting prospects into buyers! An irrelevant or poorly designed landing page will not only cost you current sales, it will cause these high-value prospects to think twice about opening the next email you send them. In particular, you’ll want to develop your messaging strategy:
    • Personalize your messages. Email provides a unique opportunity to communicate directly with your customers on a one-to-one basis.
    • Make your messages clear, concise, and relevant.
    • Have a visible call to action.
    • Target your messaging by segment. This kind of targeting can have a significant impact on response rates.
  • Review your creative:
    • Is the look and feel consistent with the landing page, your website, and your brand?
    • Is it clear, concise and easy to read?
    • Will consumers know what to do when they open your email?
    • Is it CAN-SPAM-compliant?

 
Following these tips will help you make the most of the 2014 holiday season’s sales. Happy marketing!

 

vampire in coffin

5 Tips for Better Customer Acquisition

You want more customers. Join the club: there’s not a marketer on earth who isn’t looking ahead to gaining more market share. It sometimes feels like everyone’s doing the same thing to attract the same pool of suspects—er, prospects! And with Halloween approaching, you’d be forgiven to think that the competition can get a little … well, bloodthirsty.

Today, try breaking out of the herd and trying these tips, which dig a little deeper into consumers’ buying decisions and habits:

tightwad- fist with dollars1) Understand who you’re selling to. Consumers’ spending patterns fall into three general types: tightwad, average, and spendthrift. Each type needs a different marketing approach. We generally know how to approach a spendthrift or an average spender; but give some thought to the tightwads you want to approach, and infuse more added-value into your sales pitch when you’re targeting them.

2) We all know that the concepts of urgency and frequency spur prospects and customers to action, but a Rutgers study found that they only work when there’s an immediate follow-up showing the consumer what action to take. Clear action steps are essential to capture the energy of that urgency.

3) In a paper published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that setting a minimum amount when soliciting donations made it more difficult for people to decline and in fact a small defined amount request was more likely to be successful than not putting any amount on the table. Marketers can use this to their advantage in a number of ways: offering a special shipping price for “three or more items,” giving a discount when an order goes over a $50 minimum, etc.

male vampire4) Work the competition. No, this doesn’t mean stealing their customers, but be very aware of what differentiates you from your major competitors. Think of the Mac versus PC commercials. Think of Twilight’s “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob.” Differentiating your brand from the competition through a similar either/or proposition will get more people on board and build brand loyalty. Read some of Henri Tajifel’s work for more information on this impulse toward social differentiation.

5) Keep it simple: another study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that when people can recall something easily and quickly, they’re much more likely to have positive feelings about it. This speaks volumes to the power of content marketing: having your brand’s name in front of your target audience will help them with this recall—and associate positive feelings about your brand.

 

Getting Quality B2C Leads … Creatively!

wifi symbol on handMany marketers have embraced the need for content marketing as part of an overall marketing strategy. It keeps your company’s name out in front of people, it establishes you as a thought leader in your industry, and it creates a sense of familiarity that comes in handy when people are thinking about making purchasing decisions.

One creative way to use content marketing—one that B2C marketers haven’t been exploiting to a great extent—is via guest “appearances” on other industry blogs or in webinars and podcasts.

Think about these venues for a moment. What we are talking about is, typically, a very focused audience. If the blog or podcast is about designer shoes, then you can be sure that the people reading/listening to it are very interested in designer shoes. If you happen to sell designer shoes, this is your perfect audience.

podcast icon purple smallThere are also minimal distractions to tear someone away from reading a blog post or listening to a podcast. After all, they’ve elected to be there and to listen to or read the content being offered, so there’s an innate resistance to distractions. The interest alone will keep the prospect focused on the content.

And while you are no doubt building your own audiences for your company blog, webinars, and podcasts, being a guest on someone else’s opens up a wider range of opportunities… with an already established self-selected group of prospects!

blog in wooden lettersSo take the time to offer your expertise to others. Be smart about it:

  • have a dedicated page to which you can send the leads acquired (for example, www.domainname.com/podcast-or-blog name)
  • offer a special piece of content (this audience has already indicated that it is interested in learning, so it’s a perfect place to make a great offer)
  • be sure that you mention your call to action at the end of the webinar/podcast or blog post, and request that the call to action be included in show notes, if any

 

Content marketing works best for lead generation when you think creatively about what might work. Have other “out of the box” ideas or suggestions? Share them here!

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20 Channels for B2C Customer Acquisition

customer-acquisition-tacticsLike all marketers, B2C marketers begin with an acquisition budget and need to know where to place the dollars within that budget, where they will get the most return for their money. But B2C customer acquisition is complex—and significantly different from B2B customer acquisition. B2C marketers are spoiled by choice: so many channels, and so many sources within those channels to choose from.

With that in mind, we’ve isolated 20 channels for customer acquisition and asked media service experts to analyze industry data to deliver an average rating for typical results using each of them. We’re looking specifically at the average cost to run the channel, as well as the channel’s potential to grow a customer list. Each scale is assessed on a 1-3 metric, with 1 being the lowest and 3 the highest.

Marketers approach each of these channels with two goals in mind: to get someone to purchase a specific product, and/or to capture an email address to add to a list of subscribers for future purchases. Each of these channels contains specific sources that we’ve scrutinized for cost and growth potential.

The channels

  1. Facebook. Facebook ads score a 2 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth. Two URLs can be captured and analysed here: the ads themselves, and postings on the company’s FB page.
  2. Mobile. Mobile ads score a 2 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth.
  3. iAds. iAds score a 3 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth.
  4. Display. Display ads score a 3 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  5. Contextual. Contextual ads score a 3 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth.
  6. Twitter. Tweeting a URL for followers to click on rates a 1 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth.
  7. Organic search. SEO scores a 2 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth. URLs can originate from the search page, from directories, or from links from other website pages.
  8. Paid search. PPC scores a 2 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth.
  9. Google +. Ads on Google + score a 2 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  10. Google AdSense. Ads on Google AdSense score a 2 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth.
  11. YouTube. Video advertising on YouTube rates a 2 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  12. Co-registration. Co-reg rates a 2 in program cost and a 2 in customer-list growth. Giving customers multiple opportunities to raise their hands may increase this ratio.
  13. Blogs. Blogging URLs for followers to click on rates a 1 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth. Blogging can feed into viral marketing as well.
  14. Landing pages. Website landing pages capture email addresses and other information, and score a 1 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  15. Affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing scores a 1 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  16. Webinars. Webinars score 2 in program cost and 1 in customer-list growth. Webinars can feed into viral marketing as well.
  17. Email client advertising. Using emails scores a 1 in program cost and a 3 in customer-list growth.
  18. Point of sale. These large display ads in brick-and-mortar sites score a 2 in program cost, and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  19. Third-party email. Using Groupon or other third-party affiliates will score you a 2 in program cost and a 1 in customer-list growth.
  20. Viral marketing. Getting the word out via satisfied customers scores a 1 in program cost, and a 1 in customer-list growth.

While mobile, SEO, PPC, Google AdSense, co-reg, blogs, affiliate marketing and viral marketing are all even—that is, they score the same in cost and in growth—and Twitter comes in ahead of all of them with a 1:2 score, the clear winner (at a ratio of 1:3) is email marketing.

This confirms what other recent studies have been showing: that email marketing delivers consistently significant results in ROI and customer growth while keeping the cost of acquisition down.

Return on investment

The best ROI comes from selecting the best sources within each channel. So determining which channels perform best and then drilling down further to uncover the best sources within each best-performing channel.

people shoppingIt’s a significant distinction: one channel could, for instance, offer high volume and low cost—but only 10% of its sources might be performing well, whereas another channel could be expensive with low available volume but with all of its sources performing well. So testing and constantly refinement are critical.

It’s important to reiterate that success is driven at the customer-acquisition source level. Every acquisition platform and channel uses multiple discrete acquisition sources—each one of them a unique URL where consumers indicate their desire to become a prospect—and keeping the costs down while identifying the top-performing sources is how marketers use every platform and channel successfully to get the most out of their marketing budgets.

Marketers therefore need full transparency into acquisition performance across channels and platforms to optimise their budgets so that the majority of any marketing budget can be spent on top-performing lead sources.

Gaining the edge on the competition

Spending acquisition dollars on the top-performing channels will remove both the time and the cost of going after bad or under-performing ones, which is for many marketers an ongoing drain on acquisition budgets.

Spending acquisition dollars on top-performing channels will also allow marketers to become wiser with their spends, giving them a sharp competitive advantage over other companies.

When marketers optimize their acquisition strategies, several things then happen. They spend money in the right places and reap a better ROI. They turn off low-performing channels and save time and money. They free up acquisition dollars that can then be directed back into the higher-performing channels. And they know that their acquisition strategy is not based simply on guesswork, but rather on clear actionable data.