Top Priorities for Marketers in 2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 6.53.20 AMWhat are the top priorities for marketers in 2014?

According to DM News:

  • 28.16%  will be increasing their online presence
  • 23.61%  plan to adopt email marketing automation to easily and efficiently reach customers
  • 20.52%  want to use email to effectively inspire social referrals and sharing
  • 13.76%  will be implementing mobile marketing best practices
  • 11.05%   want to ensure email marketing efforts don’t end up in spam filters or Gmail tabs

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 10.01.10 AMMarketingProfs add that:

Increasing conversion rates is a top digital priority for 47% of marketers in 2014. A survey of over 2,500 global marketers found that increasing/improving brand awareness (46% of respondents) and collecting/measuring/using behavior-based data (29%) are also major digital marketing to-dos in the year ahead.

Acquiring new subscribers (28% of respondents) and improving channels (24%) were the next most commonly cited priorities.

The acquisition through customer-lifetime-value continuum remains important. How are you establishing your priorities?

Want New Customers? Here Are Your Options!

blog-image001Like 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.

For the full results, see our free ebook at eWayDirect.

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.

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.

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. is essential. It’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.

shutterstock_100511437It’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 optimize their budgets so that the majority of any marketing budget can be spent on top-performing lead sources.

Spending acquisition dollars on the top-performing channels will remove both the time and the cost of going after bad or underperforming 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.

Put Mobile First

shutterstock_76696936The statistics are in. Mobile platforms have cracked the 50% mark as the device of choice for checking email. The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 91% of Americans own a cellphone, and of those, 52% send or receive email on it.

That’s huge.

The troubling part of the mobile story is that marketers aren’t realizing just how huge it is. We conducted a survey last year and found that 58% of marketers didn’t optimize their emails using responsive design for emails. Um… do they think that this mobile thing is going away? A flash in the pan, a passing fad?

But it gets worse. Even those marketers optimizing their emails for mobile use don’t start with mobile: they create emails for desktop viewing and then optimize those emails for other platforms. Yet other studies have shown that while consumers are seeing the emails on their tablets and smartphones, more are still clicking through via desktops … because most emails aren’t designed with mobile devices in mind. They’re designed with desktop computers in mind and then adapted for mobile.

Remember when people thought that Twitter’s 140-character limit was too confining? Well, the iPhone allows for 30 characters to be seen on an email subject line. And wearables, arguably the Next Big Thing, may allow for even fewer. In any case, if the best part of your offer isn’t within those first 30 characters, then half of your customers are missing it.

shutterstock_164734346There’s a clear conclusion we can draw from this data: put mobile first. That can be done in two ways:

  1. Use mobile analytics to determine which devices are opening emails, and target them with device-specific campaigns (see yesterday’s post for more about mobile email marketing analytics)
  2. Design emails first for mobile, especially subject-line copy and graphics, and then adapt that design to desktop computers. Making click-throughs easy to do means that more people will do it.

Want the most sobering statistics of all? According to Kissmetrics, 89% of consumers will delete a poorly formatted email when it’s viewed on mobile, while 27% will unsubscribe from an email list when they receive poorly formatted emails on their smartphones and tablets. That’s huge, too.

Which side of these stats do you want your brand to be on?



Target Your Mobile Users

shutterstock_143867509You’re so used to segmentation by now that you can probably do it in your sleep. Marketers segment lists using all sorts of criteria—age, gender, geographic location, previous buying history, interests, and so on. The goal is always the same: to send the right email to the right person at the right time in order to make a sale.

With the explosion of mobile usage—some statistics put it as high as 70% of emails being opened on mobile devices—there’s a whole new world of targeting available. Problem is, most marketers won’t use that data because they can’t get at it.

Well—maybe. Forgive my cynicism, but data isn’t the only obstacle standing between most marketers and their mobile customers. Last year we conducted a survey and found that a whopping 58% of marketers, in some inexplicable act of self-sabotage, were not even optimizing their emails for mobile usage … much less exploring what else mobile might be able to do for them.

For the other 42%, however, there is great news: now you can see which emails are being opened on which mobile devices, and when. Think about that for a moment. Think about campaigns that might be targeted specifically at tablet users, who use their devices in the after-dinner primetime of TV viewing: that’s a great moment for ordering something online. Or how about a campaign targeting smartphone users, offering a coupon that can be accessed and used via one click while they’re on the commuter train.

Imagine sending a coupon directly to your smartphone users in the immediate vicinity of your coffee shop to bring them in off the street, right now. All the server needs to do is scan the coupon off the smartphone and the sale is made. Or imagine creating a campaign at, say, 8:30 pm with an offer that’s good for only one hour … the very hour that your customer is curled up in front of the television with a tablet.

shutterstock_174167894That’s not to say that the responsive design idea is unnecessary: that’s a given. As the current car-insurance commercial would say, “Everyone knows that.” You still need to follow best practices and not make the common design mistakes that include placing too much information above the fold, creating entire emails using images, and not using email-safe fonts. You still need to deliver both copy and design that will catch customers’ eyes and give them the information they need quickly and clearly.

But the analytics are really the place where you can own mobile. The more you know about your customers, the better you can serve them. And serving them in their current native habitat—mobile devices—offers a significant boost to your potential sales, sales that would have been lost had they merely received your standard generic online offer. Understanding which device is being used enables device-specific campaigns that are truly the greatest New Thing to hit email marketing.

Email marketing for mobile is here to stay. Leave that 58% of other marketers in the dust, and start analyzing your mobile users’ stats today.





Want New Customers? Start with Great Prospects!

shutterstock_155050016Lead generation. It’s every marketer’s holy grail, isn’t it? Sales teams go after leads every day. And for a long time it’s been a sensible way of thinking about marketing. But simple lead generation can be a waste of time, money, and energy.

And it’s not just that. Amassing email lists that may or may not be relevant to—and generate income for—your brand can backfire and hurt your online reputation.

I’d like to suggest another way of thinking about new-customer acquisition. Rather than thinking about leads, it’s important to think about qualified prospects.

What makes a prospect qualified? Well, we used to think in terms of demographics: if that individual or company fit into a certain list of qualifiers (financial, verticals, geography, etc.), then the prospect was qualified.

But demographics are static and, at the end of the day, not of much real use. What qualifies a prospect today is live data—in other words, something that they did. They clicked, they opened, they filled out a form, they asked for information: this constantly moving stream of data culled from websites, social media sites, and email is how companies today determine who is a qualified prospect.

shutterstock_59406445The live data, when received, should trigger an immediate response from you, and that’s the beginning of your email marketing: companies responding to the actions taken by prospects and customers, rather than telling prospects and customers what it is that we think they need.