Email Is Far From Passé

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Email_CustomerOne 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 messaging, texting and smartphone apps all provide people with information they request more expediently than email.

But not so fast!

Emails triggered by consumer actions provide incredibly fast access to relevant content, including a company’s best up-to-the-minute offers. Information can arrive faster than search engines can deliver, faster than product intelligence sites and faster than cell phone connections. More importantly, the information is intuitively on target.

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

The answer is that while consumers are looking for instant information, they’re probably not looking to make instant buying decisions. They get information from brand websites, product review sites, daily-deal and auction sites. They may visit five to 10 of these kinds of websites simply reviewing information and pricing. Consumers frequently travel from one website to the next doing research. In the process, they often forget which website provided the most valuable information.

shutterstock_59406445The winner in this situation is the company that sent the instant information to the consumer’s inbox. That company wins because it wasn’t only there during the research process, it was right there when the consumer was ready to pull the trigger.

And the consumer never asked for a single thing. The company figured out what content to send by paying attention to what the consumer was doing on the website — which pages were visited, which links were clicked on, time spent on specific pages, which pages were visited multiple times and so on.

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

At the end of the day there’s in-depth content and relevant offers sitting in the consumer’s inbox ready to be perused at their leisure.

Lead Generation Through Content Marketing

50s women gossipingContent marketing seems to be currently perceived as the Next Best Thing, which is quietly amusing to those of us who have been doing it—without the moniker—for years. The reality is that sharing information will always draw prospects to your business, as more and more people and companies see you as a resource. And, best of all, quality content is consistently shared.

Quality content can

  • educate
  • inform
  • generate leads
  • entice customers

Online visibility is obviously enhanced by providing free resources, and building your brand’s image and reputation through corporate websites, blogs, and social media is helpful; but how does it translate into new customers?

The first step is to design your landing pages with care. Persuasive content on the landing page can bring good prospects through the purchasing funnel. Don’t know what content works? Test! Try different content formats to see what works best with your particular customers and prospects.

Make sure that the content you offer is a good fit for your customers and subscribers, and prospects looking for the same kinds of content will follow.

Marketing content isn’t confined to web pages. Make sure that you bring the same content, branding and messaging through online articles, guest posts, blog and social media posts, ebooks, conference talks and presentations, product FAQs, videos, graphics, info graphics, and customer reviews.

However, this isn’t a question of “if you build it, they will come.” Content does you no good if no one sees it. So make sure that you promote your content through strategic promotion and integrated marketing communications.

The result will be better conversion rates and better lead generation. Content marketing cannot be the whole of your lead-generation efforts, but it should have an important place in the overall strategy.

The Best Customer Acquisition in the Business Starts Here

man in pipeline 2Marketers know that email marketing delivers the best ROI in the digital world, and they’re acting on it… with the result that consumers are being overwhelmed by the sheer volume in their inboxes. Keeping your prospects and customers engaged in reading and responding to your emails is what makes for the best deliverability anywhere.

That engagement 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 many marketers shy away from the constant testing that’s required to sanitize email lists. And yet data, and learning from data, may be one of the most critical jobs of any B2C marketer today.

The reality is that 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 being obtained in the first place.

Excellent list-acquisition is a process that begins by automatically evaluating each 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 not only makes your company assume a good deal of risk, but also tells potential customers that they are of little value to your company. Not the best idea from a CRM point of view!

pipeline at sunset 2So if you perform this evaluation, 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 up 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live Data is Your Best Data

imagesSlow, expensive, time-consuming, minimally effective, and so yesterday, are all adjectives that can be used to describe the way many companies still use static demographic data to target marketing campaigns. It’s been done that way for so many years that it is difficult (and uncomfortable) for companies to think about how the level of expense they have invested (and continue to invest year after year) in data warehouse initiatives aren’t paying the kind of dividends they would like to think they are getting – and just maybe there is a fast, inexpensive, and far more effective way to target marketing campaigns, using live data.

Live data has always been the most effective way to target marketing initiatives, especially email marketing. Simply think about how loyal customers are generated from thank-you notes sent to customers immediately after they make a purchase, or even when they visited a store and didn’t make a purchase.

What has changed in the last year, and what makes the use of live data today revolutionary, is that there are significantly more readily available sources of live data than ever before: it’s simple to collect live data, and even easier to automate the campaign process that triggers email campaigns to individuals based on live data they generate. Note: triggering snail mail campaigns based on “live” data is also more effective than demographic data, but it doesn’t have the impact of online campaigns due to the lack of immediacy.

Live data includes online behaviors such as when your customers or subscribers visit your website or your Facebook page, send your company an email for any reason, make a purchase or return a product, re-tweet one of your tweets, or read your blog, view one of your videos on YouTube or post a photo on Pinterest, fill a shopping cart but don’t complete the purchase, click on one of your banner ads, download your app to their cell phone, “like” your company, “share” your content, forward information about your company to their friends and colleagues, and hundreds of other actions.

shutterstock_155376581And live data has real depth. What specific page on your website did they visit, which specific link(s) did they click on, what was the actual content of the email they sent, which video did they view on YouTube, and which tweet did they re-tweet? While many of these actions show intent to buy, others simply provide opportunities to get to know your prospects and customers better, so you can reach out to them with relevant content, and generally set the stage for future purchases.

Live data goes way beyond showing companies what products and services consumers have an interest in purchasing or learning more about. Live data also exposes intent to buy and urgency to buy, allowing companies to set up a scoring process for consumers the way B2B companies view lead qualification. Live data also shows companies how people buy; do they respond to quick sales, or are they influenced to buy mostly from friends and colleagues, are they quality researchers or do they buy based on price?

Even in the days before most data warehouses ended up in the main frame junk yard, people were trying to get to live data paying the highest premium for hot lists, people who took actions recently.

With live data, recently means less than one second ago, and the response to recently will happen in less than one second. Initiating live data campaigns costs a tiny fraction of traditional data warehousing costs, involves far fewer internal resources, and delivers immediate results.

The live data revolution is on us today and the companies that take advantage of the opportunities drive a hell of a lot more revenue at a fraction of the cost. Think about building a live data marketing engine for your company today!

Your Customers’ Lifetime Journey Starts with CertainSource

shutterstock_102676493One way to look at your interactions with your customers, from lead generation through lifetime value, is to see those interactions as an ongoing journey. And eWayDirect’s CertainSource makes certain that the prospect continues on the road along with you.

The journey starts when the prospect first hears about your brand …

  • ACQUIRE: Take the first steps by targeting the most effective lead sources to find the best customers. Thanks to us, you can do this without risk to your brand or ISP reputation.
  • RETAIN: Next stop on the journey is to engage and re-engage new customers through persuasive email cascades. A strong strategy and testing ensure ongoing enthusiastic engagement.
  • PROGRESS: The journey continues as real-time triggered email interactions help you learn where your best customers come from and how to guide them to the next step.

CertainSource is your way to be certain that you’re getting the highest ROI for your acquisition budget. Using CertainSource ensures that prospects rapidly become customers, and that customers value their journey with your company.

Why not ask us about CertainSource today?

Where To Spend Your Lead Generation Dollars: 4 Steps

shutterstock_155050016B2C marketers have more choices than ever when it comes to spending their lead-generation dollars, and that means that it’s really easy to spend your budget haphazardly.  But you can spend your customer-acquisition budget wisely and effectively if you follow four simple steps:

  1. Measure to ROI. Most marketers get caught up in the nonessentials of customer acquisition: clicks, impressions, even opens are less important than the money that you are making—or not making—from that prospect. You are investing dollars in your customer-acquisition program, so you need to measure its effectiveness in dollars too.
  2. Move quickly. Amassing lists of prospects won’t help you if you are not prepared to move quickly to convert them into customers. This is what will distance you from the competition. Remember that lost time always equates to lost money in lead generation. Launch, optimize … and do it quickly.
  3. Toss garbage data. No marketer likes to throw anything away, but there are email addresses in your database that will never make a purchase. You are looking for opportunities that will move you forward, not useless data that will hold you back. Nate Silver says that “the signal is the truth. The noise is what distracts us from the truth.” In this case, you can equate the “signal” to your best prospects, while the “noise” is the tracked behavior of the other 90% that you’re holding onto.
  4. shutterstock_81800170 Follow up. Studies have shown a 45% improvement in lead-generation ROI for companies that nurture leads. With that in mind, make sure that your followup uses the best segmentation available so that you can zero in on your prospects. Remember that personalized emails deliver six times higher revenue per email than non-personalized emails, so segmenting your followup is just as important than the segmentation you’ll be doing once these prospects become customers.

 

 

 

In addition, automating this process is the fastest and most reliable way to spend acquisition budgets efficiently. The B2C ecosystem of customer acquisition is complex, so make sure that the leads you pay for are the ones that will bring you the best possible ROI.

 

Developing A Goal-Based Social Media Strategy

shutterstock_134112389 (2)For many companies, it’s no longer a question of “should we be involved in social media?” but “how should we get involved?”

The most important thing companies can do now is to set out a goal-based social media strategy. Yes, you should probably be on sites like Facebook and Twitter if your audience is there and it fits with your goals, but you still need to have a larger plan. Here are a few questions you should be asking:

  • How can social media support your larger business goals?
  • What can you measure?
  • How are you tracking what people are saying about you and mining the data for useful insights?
  • What resources and assets do you have to set out a content and engagement strategy?
  • What processes need to be put in place to ensure you’re engaging with people and responding the right way.
  • What does success look like?

Get a group of smart people together in a room and ask the tough questions, so you’ll be better prepared to do social media the right way!

What is “Good” Customer Acquisition?

long-term acquisitionWhat is a responsible, efficient, and “good” acquisition process?

It’s a process that begins by automatically evaluating each individual lead source, rather than lead quality and performance in the aggregate. Aggressive acquisition practices can harm a company’s inbox delivery rates and even get it listed on email reputation sites; so proceeding with traditional acquisition processes not only makes your company assume a good deal of risk, but also tells potential customers that they are of little value to your company.

What happens if you implement the process is that 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.

And then we come to live data.

Many acquisition processes implement auto-responders for new-customer signups. That’s all well and good, but it’s time that we went beyond auto-responders. What that means is setting up a system to immediately nurture leads, and that system includes a cascade of behavior-based promotional emails. In other words, not every lead gets the same cascade—it depends on what the person did, requested, commented on, or filled out, just as once they become customers, people get cascades that react to the actions they take.

shutterstock_100511437From that initial cascade you can move your customers neatly into a series of transition marketing cascades; but, again, it’s essential to go beyond the obvious. While you want to begin with the traditional mailings that introduce customers to This is the best time to incorporate live data into the mix. We used to think of transition marketing as introducing the company to the customer, but now it’s also about introducing the customer to the company, as you keep track of where and what your customer is doing, saying, clicking, sharing … and respond to all that data immediately.

This isn’t the only route to customer acquisition… but it’s one of the best!

Using Social Media to Attract New Customers

social media chat shapesIt’s clear that more and more people are spending their online leisure time actively participating in social communities of one sort or another, representing a terrific opportunity for emarketers — who have, however, typically found these social networking sites difficult to penetrate and monetize.

Yet there’s a great deal about these social communities that could benefit marketers. A study by the Howard Rheingold Associates notes four distinct assets:

  1. creating an early warning system (social network sites are the first places that problems with products or services appear)
  2. connecting people and building relationships
  3. creating an ongoing shared social space for geographically-dispersed individuals
  4. amplifying innovation (groups that are excited about something generally want to help it improve).

One model that provides all of these identified assets is a private branded social network that uses a social networking portal to enable community members (customers, prospects, subscribers) to set up personal social networks akin to private discussion groups — but with clear branding and easy access back to the emarketer’s website.

What happens inside these social communities?

  • members share content, photos, and files
  • members give the emarketer feedback on products and services via forums
  • members click on links at the community homepage that generate revenue for the emarketer
  • as they become more involved in and committed to the network, members invite their friends and family to join their discussion group(s), providing viral growth and content development that enhances search engine optimization mileage as they link back to the emarketer’s site.

And once they are involved, members become customers.

shutterstock_134112389 (2)Allowing subscribers to create their own personal social networks or discussion groups related to your company’s products or services creates the social aspects of community that consumers are looking for within a theme they can and want to relate to:

  • A company in the fashion industry could enable subscribers to build personal networks relating to fashion shows, fashion do’s and don’ts, what’s hot and what’s not, great deals on the latest clothes, and so on.
  • A pet-supply company might encourage networks in which members share pet photos and stories, grooming and health tips for pets, an “ask the veterinarian” forum, run member contests, etc.
  • A company providing content and supplies to diabetics could enable members to share diabetic recipes with one another, with another “ask the doctor” forum option.

As people in these discussion groups share information and chat, they do so within the branded portal of the sponsoring company. In addition, they participate in forums posted by the sponsoring company and interact with the company through feedback and other links tied directly to the company’s website.

Branded social communities build brand awareness, improve search-engine ranking, keep customers engaged for a longer period of time, and add a powerful acquisition program to any company’s overall marketing strategy. More information about these communities and the opportunity to integrate them into emarketing strategies is available at eWayDirect’s website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get New Customers with a Conversational Website

shutterstock_130809365Doing online sales is about two things: getting the customer to your website, and getting the customer to make a purchase from your website.

At the end of the day, those are the goals: we want to create new customers out of subscribers, and keep our customers happy so that they will continue to purchase from us and  go out and encourage others to purchase from us. All the rest is fluff.

So maybe it’s time to look at your website and determine if it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing: encouraging visitors to become customers, encouraging customers to continue to purchase, and encouraging them to spread the word about your company/brand/product.

Let’s start with the basics. Can your website hold an intelligent conversation with your subscribers each time they visit it? Can it analyze their behavior individually, and respond with appropriate navigation and follow-up emails to best meet their needs—and do it all quickly enough to keep their attention?

Most emarketing companies are getting very good at optimizing their websites with reporting, analytics, and technology. On the other hand, in most cases, the current level of website-subscriber conversation is not close to optimal. And that’s not all. If there is a conversation at all, it typically stops the moment your subscribers leave your website. This creates a less-than-satisfactory experience both for you and your subscribers each time they come back to your website. Look at it this way: you’d have pretty stilted conversations with your friends if you saw them once a month, with no communication in between, wouldn’t you? Of course you would: conversation needs to be ongoing in order to be effective.

There are two components to building a conversational website:

  • optimizing navigation and collecting data at key navigation points, and
  • using the data collected to continue the conversation once the person has left the website.

shutterstock_93512032Do you remember playing the game we used to call “21 Questions”? The object is to identify a person or item someone’s thinking about by asking questions, and the person getting the answer after asking the fewest possible questions is the winner. Why not play that game right now with your website? Why not ask others to play it while you sit back and see what answers they come up with?

There are two reasons to do this exercise:

  • it will help you improve the customer experience at your website and making it easier for them to find what they are looking for.
  • It will help you remove noise from the data you collect about your customers so that you can continue your conversation based on information that reveals the true purpose for subscriber’s visit to the website.

Once you have the data in hand, you can take your website examination to the next level: use it to answer the important questions.

  • How well do you currently identify relevant content and offers based on the visitors’ behaviors while on your website?
  • Are the content and offers likely to meet the visitors’ needs and goals?
  • Are you providing content and offers that can be sent via email shortly after the visitor leaves your website?
  • Does your website give content and offers that will both confirm the relevancy of the conversation … and add value to the subscriber experience?

Making your website work for converting subscribers to customers is all about developing satisfactory, fulfilling conversations with your subscribers every time they visit your website, conversations that over time generate more sales and higher ROI, because you’ve found a better way to provide your subscribers with exactly what they are looking for—and you’re doing it in a format that makes your site an interactive resource and destination they look forward to using over and over again.