Online Marketing


Bri Bauer  of iMedia Connection provides some interesting tips on how to get customers to open emails and act on them.

Understanding the ROI

An effectively implemented email marketing program can drive significant traffic, According to the 2012 Channel Preference Survey, conducted by the digital marketing group ExactTarget, email is the preferred permission-based marketing and service channel:

  • 76% prefer email over all other channels for customer service messages.
  • 66% of teens (ages 15-17) prefer email over all other channels for permission-based marketing.
  • 96 percent of online consumers use email at least weekly.

It’s also highly effective:

  • 66 percent have made a purchase after receiving an email marketing message
  • Email marketing drives more consumers to make a purchase than Facebook and text messaging combined.

Once people have signed up to hear from your brand, they want to be kept informed. You want to provide them with communication that gets opened and drives them to take action. Here are 5 practices that drive results.

1. Refresh Your Address List

A recent Experian survey found that more than 90 percent of companies suspected that up to 25% of their data is inaccurate. Look at the number of bounce-backs or routinely un-opened emails.

2. Create An Engaging Title

To avoid getting preempted by a spam filter, avoid spam filter-friendly language such as “free,” “act now” and “limited time”.

3. Develop User-Friendly Design

Make the communication responsive and scalable to  multiple platforms, allowing users to take action, whether they are viewing it on their mobile device or desktop computer. “Avoid the sophistication trap – email marketers see the most success with layouts that have  little noise (graphics, photos, video and scrolling)  with a clearly visible call to action.

4. Understand Their Motives for Signing Up

Knowing what motivated people to sign up for your emails in the first place will help you understand them as a community and facilitate delivering what they want:

  • Are they looking for discounts?
  • Do they want something to do?

Based these insights, you can provide them with relevant content to inspire their curiosity.

5. Provide Value

Your emails should offer relevant substance and value to your readers, including news, brand insights, and customer survey information and spare body copy.

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Top 5 Challenges Marketers Face

Hubspot’s analysis of the top Challenges for B2B vs. B2C shows that the most common challenge across both segments is driving awareness and traffic, in other words, optimizing the top of the funnel to grow their reach. Here are the top challenges:

The top 10 challenges across both B2B and B2C companies are:

  1. Awareness/traffic (22.5%)
  2. Lead generation (16.2%)
  3. Social media (6.3%)
  4. Targeting (5.4%)
  5. Branding/brand recognition (4.5%)
  6. Converting leads to customers (3.6%)
  7. Keeping up with marketing trends (3.6%)
  8. Increasing/proving ROI (2.7%)
  9. Content creation (1.8%)
  10. Budget (1.8%)

The top 5 B2B marketing challenges are:

  1. Awareness/traffic (22.5%)
  2. Lead generation (16.2%)
  3. Social media (6.3%)
  4. Targeting (5.4%)
  5. Branding/brand recognition (4.5%)

The top 5 B2C marketing challenges are:

  1. Awareness/traffic (19.6%)
  2. Social media (17.9%)
  3. Targeting (10.7%)
  4. Budget (8%)
  5. Lead generation (8%)

The HubSpot Inbound Internet Marketing blog’s Sarah Goliger identifies 5 Major Challenges Marketers Face (And How to Solve Them). While we all face different challenges, there are some areas that any marketer can improve on. HubSpot’s quick 3-question quiz – “What’s Your Biggest Marketing Opportunity?”  can help you hone in on where you might best focus your efforts to improve the effectiveness of your marketing more effective.HubSpot’s analyzed their results to identify some of the most common challenges marketers have told them that they face, and suggests solutions.

1. Generating Awareness and Driving Traffic 

Challenge: To beging generating leads to convert into customers, you need to get your audience’s attention. This means generating a large enough volume of interested prospects by understanding which channels can get you the highest return.Solution: You first need to determine if you are using the right social networks where your natural audience is.  Some suggestions include using tools to “widen the top of your marketing funnel, such as:

2. Targeting Effectively 

 Challenge: Hubspot recommends that you identify your buyer personas. In other words, make a clear determination of who it is you should be marketing to:

Offer some sort of value to them (fulfill a need or desire – for instance, to learn or understand something about your industry or alleviate a problem that your product aims to solve.)

Make your message relevant to your audience.

Solution: Start by developing a detailed picture of your target audience, building buyer personas through a 3 step process:

  • Segment by demographics.
  • Identify their needs.
  • Develop behavior-based profiles.

Then determine what each buyer persona is looking for for and how you can provide value to that persona and tailor your content to make your message relevant to every individual lead.  Hubspot provides  and developed a  to help you research and create detailed buyer personas.

3. Using Social Media to Generate Customers and Revenue

Challenge: Increasingly, companies understand the business value in social media marketing. The problem is, they don’t know how to convert social engagement into dollars – the science of targeting, engaging, and nurturing a social following that can be a source of quality leads for conversion.Solution: Managing media marketing requires that you:

  • Recognize influencers.
  • Segment groups of users based on their social activity and interests.
  • Properly time and manage appropriate follow-up communication.

Social media lead intelligence about a lead’s behavior and interaction with your company in social networks will enable public facing representatives to have more meaningful and targeted conversations with specific, tailored information about that person’s activity. Personalized conversations based on information that is personally relevant to the customer lead to higher conversion rates.

4. Keeping Up With Marketing Trends and Strategies

Challenge: Marketing has increasingly shifted its focus from print media to online media, and social media is becoming a dominant platform for two-way communication and feedback collection. How can you keep up with new technologies, trends and strategies in this quickly changing environment?Solution: Effective marketing means investing in consumer research and ongoing marketing resources to know:

  • Where your audience is.
  • How to provide value to them.
  • What the best tools and methods are for doing so.

5. Proving ROI

Challenge: The proliferation of advanced analytics tools means that marketers are held to a higher standard. You must be able to measure the value of your efforts in terms of leads, customers, and revenue, tying every single lead, customer, and dollar back to the marketing initiative that created them.

Solution: Some suggestions Hubspot presents are as follows:

  • Closed-loop marketing cuts through the vagueness of marketing myths and assumptions and reveals real data about the results of your marketing efforts.
  • Advanced marketing analytics can track which marketing activities are generating leads, customers, and revenue.

Closed Loop Marketing means developing a loop of two-way messaging with customers. Done effectively, messages are pushed to the customer based on insights on customer preferences, or accessed in a self-service model. Data is gathered during the interaction leading to a cycle of continuous improvement. Enhanced knowledge about the customer and customer preferences allow you to refine the message or content to improve subsequent interactions.

In other words, it is about relationship building using data gleaned from customer interactions through various communication channels to support the continuous refining of relationships:

  • Selection of the channels and messages are driven by customer preference and receptivity.
  • This provides an improved customer database for refined segmentation by behavioral attributes.
  • Data about which content was presented, duration, frequency,which customers, feedback, responses to surveys, and click stream data, along with additional data sets such as sales, market share, sales growth provides you with the analytics to compare data sets for cause and effect in order to recommend corrections to the next approach.

In Closed Loop Marketing, when the insights gained during a customer interaction are used to make a change in the sales and marketing approach in order to improve a subsequent interaction, the loop is closed. Additionally, this intelligence can be extended to:

  • Multichannel Marketing – closed loop marketing with multiple interconnected channels.
  • Continuous Loop Marketing – allowing for improvements to happen on an ongoing basis, rather than one time only.

Online and Offline Marketing Are Merging

According to New Media and Marketing.com, an online survey of 1,500 holiday consumers conducted by market research organization Ipsos OTX and Google conducted show that that online and offline shopping are merging into a new consumer buying process.  According to the study,

  • 51% of surveyed consumers intend to research a product online and visit the store to buy it.
  • 32% plan on researching an item online, inspecting it in the store, and then completing the transaction online.

The study attributes this largely to the comfort consumers now have about buying online, including the convenience of shipping and not being greater faith in credit card information security, and the desire to make a more educated purchase. Increasingly, rather than go to the store to get educated, they want to go to the store already educated.

The Growing Role of Social Media

The study finds that consumers are seeking recommendations, but social media adds a personal touch to support a buying decision:

  • 24% of consumers will turn to social media for their holiday shopping this year.
  • Only 11% will rely on blogs or message boards. Although both sets of

It Depends on the Product

This doesn’t apply for all products, including everyday groceries and impulse items, where few consumers would bother to do extensive research.  The rule of thumb:

  • The higher the cost of the product the more time online or the more the product requires a change to behavior the more time they will spend researching it online.

Companies like Target do merchandising well, and should continue focusing there. However, for products like those offered by Apple, the web presence is integral, and Apple’s website is ranked one of the top eCommerce sites within the US.

This infographic from Infoys shows  the strength of offline marketing and how an offline strategy can run in conjunction with an organization’s online marketing efforts:

small business concerns with email marketing

A research report conducted by Hurwitz & Associates and sponsored by Campaigner Associates on email marketing shows the widespread use of email marketing:

  • 46% of small businesses are using email marketing;  and 36% plan to start in the next 12 months.
  • Larger companies that have been in business longer are more likely to use email marketing than smaller, newer firms — up until they are 5 years old, when the trend starts going in the other direction as they look to deploy a broader marketing automation solution that incorporates email marketing.
  • On average, email marketing accounts for about 15-22% of the total marketing budget for companies that use it.

The study also shows that there are challenges, including:

  • fear that customers will perceive the email as spam.
  • fear that their messages get filtered out.
  • fear of poor response rates.

5 Tips For Email Marketers

Corey Eridon‘s Hubspot post, 8 Dangerous (But Common) Misconceptions About Email Marketing, addresses some of these challenges by sharing some of their insights about email marketing. Here are 5 key lessons:

1. How Do You Avoid SPAM Filters?

Although email marketers try to avoid certain words, particularly in the subject line like “Free,” “Cash,” “Quote,” and “Save,”  this practice derives from days gone by when email spam was more numerous. Since that time, spam filters have gotten far more sophisticated at identifying spam messages and senders, and look far beyond the email subject line. A test showed that the inclusion of the word “Free” did not impact the delivery of the email message.
To increase the likelihood of getting into inboxes, consider the importance of your sender reputation. Hubspot shares some good tips on “How Marketers Can Avoid Those Dreaded Email Spam Traps” and how to remain CAN-SPAM compliant.

2. Do People Who Opt-in Really Want to Hear From You?

Surprisingly, not everyone who opts in wants to receive your emails. Unsubscribes are not a reliable measure of whether your email contacts want to hear from you. Email engagement is also important. There are several reasons unengaged people fail to unsubscribe:

  • Some people may have opted in with a differing expectation of what your emails would be. After the first few emails, they lose interest, but may not get around to unsubscribing.
  • Some contacts read your emails but eventually become disengaged, and also don’t bother to unsubscribe from your emails.

The solution is to periodically monitor email engagement, attempt to re-engage those who aren’t engaged, and cleanse your list of those who don’t respond to the re-engagement campaign. Hubspot’s post here it here provides a process you can follow. It’s good to have unsubscribes instead of frustrated subscribers who just mark you as spam. A rate of generally under 1% helps you keep a healthy list

3. Is Email Just a Lead Generator?

While email is a is a nurturing tool  that helps to convert leads into qualified leads, it also generate net new leads? Because emails are often shared to recipients who are not on your list, you can include a lead generating call-to-action to create opportunities to generate a new leads. Including forward and social sharing buttons in your email messages, can be fery effective.

There are also cross lead opportunities, because recipients may only be subscribing to receive email notifications when you publish new blog posts, but haven’t opted in to invites to a webinar. Emails alerting them subscribers to a new blog post can also include a lead generating call-to-action, upgrading passive subscribers to leads.

4. Should Emails Be Highly Designed?

Benefits to sending plain text or simply designed emails include:

  • The recipient doesn’t feel like he or she is being marketed to. Tests conducted by Hubspot find that  certain email list segments show better response rates to these than to HTML messages.
  • It’s easier for the email message to render. The more elaborate the design elements the more potential loading problems there can be, and some may not render well or just take too long to load on a mobile device.

A good rule of thumb is to start simply, and test more sophisticated design elements incrementally for their impact on your conversion rates.

5. How Much Do Open Rates Matter?

The email open rate metric does not really tell you how many on your list actually opened your email. Email open rates are unreliable:

  • Outlook and increasingly other email clients block imges by default. An email is recorded as opened when an image in that email is downloaded, so blocked images do not record opens.
  • Mobile devices often default to a text format for emails in which images aren’t automatically downloaded, which will also result in a decrease in open rate.

Better metrics are clickthrough rates on the email’s calls-to-action, and leads generated from that email send.

While open rate isn’t a reliable email marketing metric to gauge how many people are opening your emails, it can still be used as a comparative metric to tell you what subject line people are more likely to open, for instance, so you can segment and compare the open rates

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