Friday, 29 January 2010

How marketers can (deep breath!) learn from Sales on how to do marketing

Cats and dogs, Shi'a and Sunni, Mods and Rockers, Windows and Macs, “Subo” and The Brit Awards shortlist committee, throughout our lives we will always encounter rivalry’s and dislike between two parties. A polarised right or wrong depending on which side of the argument you sit.

In work it’s the same, and having been employed as a marketer for the past dozen or so years, I have been conditioned over and over that my own professional enemy is the sales person.

Marketing and Sales aren’t supposed to get on. Marketers spend (squander?) their time and the company’s money on generating leads that are barely qualified and amount to nothing more than a vague list of people who might or might not have said they are interested in something we might or might not sell.

Sales spend their time burning out every single Marketing Qualified Lead the business creates. They fail to understand subtlety and blame marketing for them not earning enough that month to buy the good lady wife a new fur coat.

And that’s how it shall always be. Period.

That’s unless a marketer wants to learn from sales people on how to finish what they started, all on their own.

In my experience the most successful sales people I have worked with (or been sold to by) are the ones that never give up. They follow up on meetings, they drop you an email two/three/four/five times until you are ready to see them or to sign off what they are selling.

But most marketers, by nature, shy away from this behaviours. Preferring instead to ask once very politely if I would like to buy and then not following up for fear of offending me.

Consider how we can take a few sales-esque techniques into email marketing and achieve incredible results.

This table is an exert of a case study from Email Service Provider Adestra, and illustrates the point perfectly.

The first line (Send 1) shows the results of an email send (for an online camera/accessories provider) and the second (Send 2) the email that was sent to all of the recipients who opened but didn’t convert from Send 1. This second email was the same message again, bar the addition of “Reminder” to the start of the subject line.

Clearly the first send generates a far greater Open and Click Through Rate, but what really makes the point for me is the %age of sales that came from Send 2 – 31%.

That’s nearly one in three sales in total that came from the owner of this campaign taking the time to go back to those that had shown interest (had opened) from Send 1.

I have seen these kind of results so many times before but am still staggered by how few companies take the time to use this simple yet effective method – remarketing.

We are all busy, we are all easily distracted and so using reminder messages (be them emails or sales calls, or DM drops or etc etc) we are nudging people to follow through on what they intended to, or what they were intrigued by before the phone rang, or they were called to that meeting or they lost their Internet connection on the train.

Use the example of the above to experiment for yourself. How can you learn from the dogged persistent of a sales person to go back to your audience and encourage them to finish what you and they started.

This may not end that great business divide, but it might just make you a more successful marketer.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Email data: How safe is yours and who is looking after it?

Data theft or data loss. One of those things that we all pray doesn’t happy to us as when it does it makes us headlines stars for a week or two and seriously dents our employers bottom line and our long term career goals!

Give that data theft is a huge risk, it’s amazing how many business do not give a second thought to this elephant in the board room, or arm themselves to ensure one of their biggest assets is well marshalled.

The shift to towards cloud computing has many, many benefits and I for one am a big fan. But it does leave us with a few important questions in terms of how we manage our data securely, whoever it is that is entrusted with it and wherever it may sit.

But the cloud is not the only place we should be looking to – how about the various suppliers you have that look after your data?

Surely top of the list must be your Email Service Provider (ESP)

Any company that uses an ESP is allowing their data out of the building and to be hosted by a third party. Meaning your valuable email data is as safe and secure as that ESPs own security policies.

Add into the mix the sheer number of employees in your business that might have access to the email platform to send email (and help themselves to your data) and this surely is something that should be given more consideration?

It’s with this in mind that reading about the imminent launch of the DMA Data Seal gives us reason to insist on an accreditation scheme to be sure that our third-party supplier has the safety of our data at heart.

Some advice then.

Look into your data and where it is hosted right now. Ask your ESP, or any other company who looks after your data, how they ensure it is safe and what, if any, procedures do they have for monitoring – a good ESP will be able to offer you email seeding for example, so you can be sure exactly who is sending to your lists – especially useful (alas) in the current times of redundancies and the disgruntled ex employee who decides to “help themselves” before they leave.

Ensure that your ESP signs up the DMA data seal or has an equivalent pedigree – ISO27001 for example.

Small steps that will keep your data safe, ensure you minimise the risk of becoming headline news for all the wrong reason and leave you one thing less to worry about.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Email marketing? Say no to newsletters and yes to a bit of clever

Like many others, I have read various trends, predictions and comments on the year ahead for email marketing; what it will all mean, what will change and where the smart money should be spent to ensure a slice of the pie.

Well, here’s my prediction:

"Even more email will be sent in 2010 than in 2009. Even more money will be wasted by marketers on email marketing."

Yep, that’s it. And that’s from a bloke who “does” email marketing for a living.

That said, I am not special, I am not unique. I am occasionally clever, or deluded, or both, but essentially I am like everybody else. And like everybody else I already receive way too much email.

Way too much email from companies trying to grab their share of my brain, heart and wallet. Trying to entice me with email marketing that looks like it was written and conceived by a time-poor, enthusiasm-deficient marketer who has lost the love and passion to craft and create, instead opting for the “gotta get this bloody email out by 3 pm or I’m dead” approach to email marketing.

With more and more companies turning to email to communicate and sell to customers and prospects alike, so more and more irrelevant, time-wasting and frankly boring email is churned out. And that is a huge threat to us all. If we don’t try something different then we will be lost in the noise along with everybody else.

But does it have to be like this? Do we have to continue to send that woeful monthly newsletter for example? That newsletter that said pretty much the same as the newsletter the month before, and the month before that and the month before that.

What if some of us were brave, what if some of us said no to newsletters? What if some of us stopped sending them all together?

How about ceasing all monthly newsletters and instead using that time, effort and money to identify two or three product or services that every single customer we have on our database would want to know about and only sending them three email on those products throughout the year?

We do this by segmenting our database. By looking at previous purchases from those customers, from the paths they take on our website, from what they are saying when they phone us, or email us, or twitter or blog, or whatever else they do that gives us some insight?

What if we did that? Maybe only for our best 10% of customers to start with then? Or our worst 10% who have long since give up on us (because we have spent too long sending them irrelevant nonsense via email)

Maybe that would make us more money than what we have always done? Maybe if we sent a few follow up emails to those that opened the email and went on to read all the information we sent them, then maybe we would be begin to feel useful and valuable to those people again? They then might tell their friends about us, or their colleagues, or both and then they would start to ask for email from us and slowly we would be sending more email.

But we would be sending more email that is valuable, useful and interesting than before. We would also have stopped sending so much of that useless email that we would have at least made my bold prediction about email volume going up throughout 2010 complete nonsense.

I can live with that. I can live with email volumes going down because value and relevance has gone up.

Go on, try it, if not you, try something like it. Find yourself some time to step back and review what you have been doing and work out a way to change and do less but with more clever!

It’s worth it, I promise. Because regardless of how many people read these words, 9 out of 10 won’t change and that does really make it so easy for you to stand out and be better.