Are You the Toast of Your Customer, or just Toast?

October 28, 2013

on Sales & Marketing tech as core competencies

Spoiling customers rotten is the new black, the new mantra, the new grail quest.  Worst case: it seems out of reach, and you are toast.

champagne or toastWe see it everywhere.  We have come to expect each next interaction with our product and service providers to feel like progress, not another blind date.  Is that too much to ask?  It certainly has become a new watershed basis for satisfaction.  Ask any Amazon customer.  Examine your banking relationships.

As William Gibson famously said: “The future has arrived – it’s just not very evenly distributed”.  It seems that every day we are yanked between extremes. At one moment we are marveling at modern convenience, and the next moment we are musing about its glitches and unmet expectations, as if somehow entitled.  Maybe we are.  Maybe your customers think so.

Measuring up

Some organizations are equipped, focused and successful at doting on their audiences and customers.  Are you?  If so, great.  If not, why not; what’s keeping you from getting started?  The answer: a lot less than you think.  Of course you could cite the usual hindrances like people, time and resources, and yet today competing at selling, serving and pleasing customers is not an option or a choice, or even a competitive advantage. It’s a baseline expectation.  Table stakes.

Right now, as you read this, your business is either delivering value before, during and after each transaction, or you risk being replaced by a phone app (yep, there’s an app for that).  You can prevent ending up in that scrap heap by making up your mind to compete – affordably, and at scale. The tools are becoming easier to use and more sophisticated.  You just have to be motivated to change.

Our inflated expectations

Before even getting into a discussion on Sales CRM software, or Marketing Automation (or, as I like to call it, “ARM” – Audience Relationship Management), let’s look at one simple example of how tech tools have changed our behavior: the lowly appointment calendar.

Today, you can easily set your calendar software to remind you ahead of each appointment and keep you punctual, reliable and prepared. In business, we use it to update meeting schedules, locations and agendas, synchronize participants, and keep progress on track. Without it, we risk gridlock, confusion, wasted time and missed opportunity.

Getting and staying in calendar-sync, in some organizations, is a baseline expectation – not a choice. Indeed, for some, being on time is a core part of the business model. From Fedex to Comcast to Delta, we can now know precisely when the next step will occur, often within a time window measured in mere minutes.

Likewise, you can program your Sales CRM software and your Marketing ARM software to notify you when a potential buyer or customer is visiting your website, asking a question, mentioning your brand name in an online forum, or complaining.  If you’re not listening and participating, that’s the same as ignoring.  Is that the reputation you want?  Wouldn’t you rather be as aware as everyone else when your customers praise or complain?  Are you making it difficult for people to buy? Are you even listening? Isn’t ignoring a customer complaint posted on a social media channel the same as ignoring their emails and phone calls?

Expand your capacity

This seemingly new competitive edge – marketing and sales automation – has actually been going on for years in leading organizations. If you are not using CRM or ARM solutions, admit it:  you are limited by human scale and fallibility. You have limited visibility, difficulty forecasting, an over-reliance on intuition and guesswork, and are probably making costly but avoidable mistakes.  What’s worse: you don’t even know the extent of your self-inflicted damage because you aren’t equipped to pay attention.

Conversations today are rife with examples of fumbled relationships and millions of dollars in lost deals that could have been prevented, if only the right hand had known what the left hand was doing. Has this ever happened to you? If you answered no, how can you be sure? Do I smell burning toast?

Quick quiz: assess your readiness for CRM

Imagine what’s possible

With a tuned, integrated “software layer” embedded in your business, you can:

  • create self-guided online experiences, complete with landing pages, call/response email exchanges, up-sell and cross-sell processes, social media engagement incentives, and other valuable interactions;
  • detect the faint signals of purchase intent or dissatisfaction, and intervene to guide decisions;
  • enable your customers, prospects and suspects to research solutions, evaluate yours, and even whimsically waltz among various decision stages and feedback loops toward eventually deciding whether to inquire, pay, receive and use your offerings, all with minimal human intervention; of course you can program it to notify you at key junctures, so you can intervene and assist.

You might think this online commerce model only makes sense in big businesses, large catalogs, complex workflows or servicing a previous purchase, but not in yours.  On the contrary; just about any organization can benefit from marketing and sales automation to help you scale up, optimize your business, and use the reports to discover ways to simplify, improve service, and get better results.

Put simply: there are 7 billion humans, and not enough time or resources to do each task by hand.  It’s time to automate.  Put differently:  we are now all technology companies.  From Amazon and Nordstrom to state and federal government services, we expect technology to facilitate everything from transactions to relationships.  Right?

So, how big is it?

Virtually all the major business analyst firms, from Gleanster and Aberdeen Group to Gartner Group and Altimeter Group, report that top performing organizations are performing better partly as a result of adopting marketing and sales process automation solutions.  Personally, having spent over 15 years programming these customer decision journeys for companies large and small, using a broad palette of tools (see right sidebar),  I have seen the transformation firsthand: clients scaling up to cost effectively satisfy more people, to more cost-effectively and efficiently manage buyer, customer and user interactions, discover customer and buyer behaviors that indicate satisfaction or need, and more.

CRM and ARM software can make you more productive and competitive, freeing you to focus on the creative, intuitive and intellectual  aspects of improving your business, and support you in making better-informed decisions.  Marketing, sales and service organizations are doubling down on tech; indeed, analysts and industry forecasters expect Marketing and Sales organizations’ tech budget growth to outpace Information Technology departments in coming years.  This isn’t necessarily a replacement of the IT organization; rather, IT can be your closest ally when evaluating tech options.  Knowing one another’s agendas can help you transition more effectively to a premises / cloud blend of agile business resources.

The choices

So, if you’re feeling bogged down in drudgery, overwhelmed by the escalating demands and expectations of your customers, outpaced by better performing competitors, working harder yet not gaining ground, or possibly even mystified about flattening or declining business, please know that it doesn’t have to be that way.  You can enhance your chances of growth and success by having the right systems in place.  Consider investing in Marketing ARM and sales CRM tools.  Or not.  The choice is yours.  There’s that burned toast smell again.

Take this quick quiz to size up your growth opportunity.

As always, I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.


Prevent a Marketing Automation Shipwreck

August 27, 2013

Fifteen years and 40 client projects later, we have seen some Marketing Automation (MA) and sales CRM implementations deliver significant revenue improvement for some clients, while others have struggled to achieve break-even.  Some clients have become top performers, while others are challenged to adapt.  What made the difference?

The answers can be sorted out three ways:  expectation, preparation, and perspiration.  Here we focus on the first issue:  Expectation.

shipwreck

The Challenge of Change

Marketers usually enter a Marketing Automation (MA) implementation expecting to improve multi-channel communications, streamline email marketing, analyze response, centralize data, prioritize leads and meaningfully engage buyers throughout the buy cycle.

All this is possible, and more – assuming you expect deeper changes to business processes where the greatest improvement opportunity exists.  Hint: If you don’t have processes in place, but expect your new Marketing Automation solution to solve that, it’s not a good fit.  Technology probably won’t help, simply because you cannot automate a vacuum.  In that case, you might instead consider a “readiness” project involving an audit of current information flows, along with recommendations for adapting to keep pace with customer needs, competitive top performers and best practice. Yes, we can help there.  Try taking this self-assessment, for starters.

Perils of Not Changing

If you have rather well instituted processes but you don’t plan to examine process change opportunities during your MA implementation, preferring instead to have your new system mirror existing practice exactly “as is”, perhaps expecting that this path-of-least-resistance approach will ease implementation or make it more palatable to users, you may expect to take longer to see a return on your investment – and you may even have difficulty measuring it.  For example: using MA to do “batch and blast” email doesn’t leverage the technology, and you will likely miss out on the benefits of data analytics and audience segmentation available with most MA solutions and which could improve your audience response rates, shorten sales cycle time, and accelerate ROI.  Our top performing clients generally see this new “software layer” as a source of innovation and continuous, positive change.

deckhands

Downstream Effects

Marketers need to have reasonable expectations regarding the nature of workflow and how it could likely change.  Marketing Automation doesn’t always reduce the burden, and could actually increase it.  For example, the new software can be difficult to learn.  It often demands new content, or at least changes to existing content. It makes good/bad results more visible.  It often requires new skills, new ways of thinking and, consequently, changes to workflow. It requires flexibility and adaptability to make refinements as new discoveries occur.  It is, in other words, disruptive in many positive ways – but only if you the resilience to maintain a positive focus and the mindset to adapt.  This points to a need to communicate early and often to your organization and audiences about your marketing automation implementation, to avoid surprises and disruptions downstream.

Three big wins

Some of the greatest improvement opportunities in MA and, not too coincidentally, the three areas where the learning curve is most intense, are the areas of lead scoring, response triggers and workflow.   All three involve close collaboration among many internal stakeholders – starting with marketing and sales, but often expanding to the service and product teams, and to your executive team who consume the reports based on the complex information flows within your MA technology.  Expect, therefore, that your internal processes will be laid bare and examined closely by multiple stakeholders.  You all stand to gain from this new openness.  This is another great reason to widely communicate about your MA implementation plans, with an eye to extending its benefits to all your stakeholders.

You should expect to assume the role of chief communicator on behalf of all parties, which means more work for you, but the results can be well worth it.

Customers Weigh In

Customers and buyers, meanwhile, have new, more sophisticated expectations.  Just a scant decade ago, Sales and Marketing were the main information gateway for buyers.  Today, by contrast, a buyer can be substantially finished researching a purchase before you even become aware of their interest.  What are you doing to help nurture those potential buyers and help them buy?  How effective are you at competitively positioning your products and pricing?  Marketing automation solutions cannot fix a problem with a product, price, competitive position, or flat-out bad marketing.  Be honest with yourself about other shortcomings, and consider fixing them first.

Seek Counsel

Finally, it would be prudent to discuss your plans with someone experienced in marketing and sales technologies including SFA, CRM, marketing automation, email marketing, and mapping  their related business process flows.  You could gain perspective on the challenges and opportunities a marketing automation solution can offer.

How does your experience compare?  Is your marketing automation delivering its expected results?   I welcome your comments, ideas, tips stories.

If you have questions, feel free to contact us.


Data, knowledge, power: Yours? Mine? Ours?

June 27, 2013

online surpriseThanks to a rich online experience, buyers indeed have greater purchase influence these days, but where does the true power reside?  It’s shared, really.

Marketers have made much of this “empowered customer” phenomenon.  Online, you can research and get close to a buying decision – right down to vendor, product, price and feature selection - before the seller even becomes aware of your existence.

Salesreps, just a scant decade ago, guided purchases with probing inquiries about interest, budget and other decision factors.  About 2/3 of buying and selling decisions today are salesrep-facilitated, but a full 1/3 of buying and selling is of the buyer-driven, “salesrep-lite” variety.  We can expect to see considerable rebalancing from time to time, thanks to (a) recent advances in mobile digital profiling ; (b) a coming wave of marketing technology mergers, acquisitions and partnerships, and (c) a currently proposed standard for profile data interchange currently before the Worldwide Web Consortium – the W3C.

Profiling – It Really Is All About You

dog sufing webToday on the internet, so the updated joke goes, if you’re a dog everyone knows it – as well as your breed, age, gender and preferred kibble brand. Today, your online behavior – actions such as clicking “Like” buttons on Facebook pages you visit, for instance - helps marketers (interpretive algorithms, really) make inferences about your identity including gender, age, political and social tendencies, then use that info to tailor your online experience so you see ads and content that cater to your digitally harvested “buyer persona”.  That preferences profile of you is continually enriched and refreshed based on your online and mobile behavior patterns.

Stated differently, “free” isn’t really “free”. It never really was. When you surf the web, you reveal (“lend”) bits of your identity to savvy marketers who trace your online behavior patterns to compile that rich profile of you that can be then used to tailor your online experience in such a way that your satisfaction from the online experience is improved and, of course, increases the likelihood you will buy from them.

Emerging Standards

Recently, a consortium of retail and insurance companies including Adobe, Google and BestBuy have proposed to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) a set of standards for commerce data interchange that would make it easier for us all to do business online.   Merchants, health care providers, finance firms, and consumers all stand to gain from this.

Who Goes There?

mobile surpriseAs long as you consent and your privacy is protected, all is well.  Increasingly we have come to trust certain online identity repositories curated by the likes of Google Wallet,  Amazon, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.  In the broader commerce world, however, small and midsized organizations have not built, bought or hired the depth of technical ability to make sense of all that data, let alone apply it to their business or curate it responsibly.  The above-mentioned W3C Web data acquisition standard could really democratize things.

Leveling the commerce field

Larger organizations may seem more capable, but that isn’t always the case; they typically are running legacy apps (archaic programming and hardware) whose code is tough to maintain, let alone modify to take advantage of the proposed newer standards.  Fortunately, companies like AppDirectApigee and Nexaweb Technologies -  experts at modernizing all those legacy apps for large financial, trading, shipping and consumer facing companies - are hard at work on the challenge.  (Disclosure: I own a smidgin of stock in Nexaweb).

We buyers can tell who is “with it” and who isn’t, based on whether the ads that get served to us, or our repeat visits to favorite sites,  are tailored based on our browsing behavior or our location.  For example, I recently visited a jewelry website, after which my visits to other websites, including Google Search, became peppered with jewelry, wedding and dating ads.  With the recent accelerating consolidation among solution providers in the marketing automation, sales CRM, email marketing and web analytics space, those web commerce architecture elements are becoming knit more tightly.  Expect the next few years to bring an expansion of already existing analytics, buyer profiling and content tailoring solutions, more broadly affordable to midmarket and smaller enterprises with whom you regularly do business.

Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

If you consider the ability to track user behavior narrowly through the buyer / seller lens, Consider the implications.  Will buyers’ online preference profiles tailor each netizen’s digital experience so greatly that the reinforcing effect of a profile-driven, tailored on-the-fly web experience merely helps bring relevant online information conveniently into sharper focus, to your benefit?  Or, could the online experience become so digitally mutated by profile-driven content tailoring that its “echo chamber” effect distorts your online experience in ways that prevent you from viewing other available alternative information to consider broader options and render well-informed decisions?  Will the rich have a different web experience than the not-so-rich, based on their profiles and harvested data?  In other words, how much is too much?

If you broaden your focus beyond commerce and consider the ability to track population behavior to detect and help resolve anything from traffic congestion (like, say, Waze) to disease spread, then the benefits become more clear.

Shut it down if you want to

Do you know how to “shut down” your behavioral profile and surf the Web anonymously to obtain a more random, unfiltered experience? It’s possible, you know, without a lot of geekery. Tools abound, such as Google’s InPrivate Browsing feature and other tools that let you assume a random IP address (Google that boldface phrase to see some options) when surfing.  Your mobile experience can also be made private if you know how to turn off geo-location, but you’re still registered on a network when your phone is on.

This delicate balance of individual privacy, public disclosure, information gathering and sharing between big firms, security agencies and other firms is now being played out in the world headlines.  The NSA and other entities regularly approach Google, Facebook and Microsoft, as well as telecommunications companies, to obtain customer activity  information for the purposes of national security and law enforcement.

Our Best Behavior

If, as marketers, we hew to the goal of providing a more satisfying experience to you while keeping your privacy sacrosanct, that’s all to the good.  As tools become more broadly available and powerful to enable deep customer profiling and tailored online experience, you may come to expect a more gratifying relationship with your favorite brands.  After all, consumers already have heightened expectations.  They don’t want every interaction with the same business to feel like a first date.

How do you feel about the coming boom in digital profiling and data exchange?  Comments welcome here.

Other Resources

PRISM Bad, Tracking Good – Why 99% of Online Tracking is in the Consumer’s Interest (Canddi)
Death of the Active Check-in (David Peterson, CEO, Sense Networks blog)

LinkedIn Invitations and Stranger Danger

June 21, 2013

Prevent Online TrollsShould you accept a LinkedIn request from a stranger?  Some legitimate, real people (but also a few spammers, trolls and competitors) send LinkedIn invitations to complete strangers.  I extend the term “stranger” to include belonging to the same LinkedIn Discussion Group but not having had any substantive dialogue or value exchange.  Should you link to them? Okay for some, but not for me. Here’s why.

The “Start-up of You” Philosophy

My LinkedIn policy tends to follow LinkedIn’s Founders’ “Startup of You” philosophy of linking to:

  1. Allies - Domain experts whom I know well, and who add perspective.  This means we’ve met, collaborated and significantly influenced one another’s lives; maybe a customer, partner, supplier, or coworker.
  2. Acquaintances – non-allies with whom I have actively exchanged value in the form of work, knowledge or perspective.  Merely belonging to the same LinkedIn group without jointly participating in that group’s dialogue does not qualify.

Okay, Stranger, I’m off my horse now and indeed looking forward to starting or joining a dialogue as a part of getting to know you – especially if we share a LinkedIn Group or two, where the chances are thus quite good. But don’t get me started back on the subject of Trolls.  We both know they exist.  Heck, if you are sending me – a total stranger – a LinkedIn invitation, aren’t you risking it a bit?  I could be that Troll.  Of course I’m not; I’m just saying.

Troll-spotting

Scam Puzzle

Typical scam puzzle

It’s actually pretty easy to spot a Troll even though the more sophisticated ones create entire fake Company profiles on LinkedIn, complete with fake recommendations and group memberships.  Dig a little deeper, though, and you may see no active Group participation, and no traceable business listing.  Oh, yes, and some of these fake profiles are sending LinkedIn invitations to strangers like you.  Why would a Troll go to all the bother?  To leverage the trust between you and your network, gain access to your contacts, access and extract your network’s profile data, spam them and, in the process, quite possibly mar your reputation – and maybe deservedly so, if you’re that careless.

Link (and think) like the Pros

Let’s look at how LinkedIn is used today in the corporate world.  Recruiters searching for talent increasingly use LinkedIn to find candidates.  Researchers and sales pros with legitimate needs use LinkedIn to search among their contacts  and extended networks for knowledgeable references.  If you appear in one of those search results, and the recruiter / researcher notices you are LinkedIn to a colleague at their company,  or a relevant influential person:  Bingo!  Instant inferred trust and credibility, as if your reference check is already done and your credibility is established….unless you’re not really acquainted and just pecked the “Accept” button simply to amass more pointless, relatively anonymous Connections.

If you are linked in to a bunch of strangers who can’t remember you, imagine what that recruiter or researcher must think about the veracity of the rest of your LinkedIn profile – or your ability to discern, cultivate allies, and align resources.  Do you want to be seen as trustworthy, honest and accurate in your communications?  Well, then, don’t damage your credibility by linking to people you don’t know and, incidentally, diluting that critical Social Currency known as Trust, or devalue of your network of trusted associates.

We CAN-SPAM compliant marketers know better.  Relationships, trust and respect are hard-won and sacrosanct.  You get what you give.  Of course, if you don’t discriminate  on LinkedIn between strangers and trusted relationships, then by all means, link away.  Just don’t expect me to reciprocate until after we have established a mutual, credible dialogue. Until then, keep smiling.

Cheers,

Ed

@fanfoundry

Additional Resources

The Startup of You (book title and website by Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn


Dear Graduate: Social Media is Part of Your Job

June 3, 2013

Social...how?In a recent visit with a class of college seniors, I was asked rather pointedly: are there any jobs in Social Media?  Pondering this question, I had to answer it from two perspectives: the marketing agency, and the business organization.

Agency Perspective

This is the far easier perspective.  There are indeed roles that focus largely on social media.  Marketing Agency clients are either resource strained or lack the native expertise and so often outsource some aspects of social media communications to agencies whose mastery of branding, marketing communications, audience analytics, CRM, user experience design and social listening across various social channels and technical platforms can help the client achieve their audience goals.

Corporate Perspective

This one is by far more nuanced, but the answer is still a qualified yes.  While there not be corporate social media “jobs” per se, social media can help you perform just about any role better.  Consider the following work roles and the importance of social media savvy for each role – no matter what profession or set of duties you are considering.

The Producer’s Role

Just about every job requires you to produce a  measurable output.  That could be a product, a process step, a calculation, a recommendation, or some such.  As a producer, you may need to master certain skills such as content development to effectively communicate your process and results.  It is useful to develop a “voice” within your team, company, or industry.  Having an authentic, trusted, competent voice builds credibility for your ideas and for communicating results.

Social media tools and channels can help you build and amplify your voice, whether you choose to publish your ideas in a tweetstream or a  Facebook post series linking to your report.  A blog, wiki or website, a SlideShare-hosted PowerPoint presentation, or a Prezi-based rendering, or perhaps even a short video illustrating your message – all are useful tools and avenues for publishing non-proprietary reports. Learning how to tag your content, so it is searchable and visible online, is a baseline skill.

The Analyst’s Role

Often your job requires you to analyze information, interpret it in light of your organization’s needs and priorities, and present your interpretation in a way that is sensitive to your audience’s culture and the impact of your analysis on their behavior.  Learning to monitor social media channels within your industry, profession and business community can help you develop your “antenna” – that sensitivity to audience needs, requirements and trends – that can then help you better communicate your analyses and interpretations, raise awareness, and stimulate action.

Time spent on social media channels can also help you make sense of information, intelligently filter information,  separate signal from noise, and draw more solid conclusions about the relative value of various voices and sources.

The Designer’s Role

Designers need to balance multiple roles, such as upward accountability for results as well as lateral, cross-organizational collaboration.  Use of social media technologies can help you perform these functions better.  Even simple schedule, survey and other collaboration tools can help you improve the quality and timeliness of your contribution to results.  Enterprise software tools may often include intra-organizational social features, such as chat and wiki.

Crowdsourcing your ideas can invite a broad array of new ideas and inputs, and provide validation for a concrete course of action.  Since it is widely accepted that at any given point in time the smartest people on any subject probably do not work with you or for you, consider crowdsourcing!  Invite others’ input, learn to mitigate and moderate among various idea directions, and you can achieve far better results, and possibly even avoid costly mistakes.

The Dispatcher’s Role

Sending information is a standard function in most jobs.  Social media tools give you practice at building an audience, understanding communications and cultural dynamics, and packaging your communications in ways that are socially acceptable and more clearly understood.

The Leader’s Role

The effective leader shepherds activity toward productive outcomes.  Building omni-directional communication skills within channels, and cultivating a multi-channel audience, helps the organization leader communicate more effectively, support collaboration and achieve communication goals.

So, dear Graduate, think not just about a social media job; think about how social media helps you do just about any job better.  Can you think of a way it has worked, or could work, for you?   What tools are you finding effective?  I deliberately didn’t name many here.  Love to hear your comments!


Boston Marathon 2013: Charity Outpaces Terror

April 16, 2013

I am among the fortunate millions who have run in, and experienced, the Boston Marathon many times before his year’s mayhem. I am sure I speak for many of those millions when I say I the Marathon represents many positive things – humanity, charity, euphoria, competition, vitality, camaraderie.  Those qualities were no less present on April 15, 2013.

Marathon Memorial

Months later: public solidarity at the Marathon finish line. Click to enlarge.

If you are troubled or injured by the Boston Marathon bombing, your suffering is very real, and you have my utmost sympathy and support.  I only hope my words can somehow help to ease your suffering, neighbor.

We heard it many times this day: “The Good outnumber the Bad, and we always will”.  In the heroism of the willing spectators who joined with medical and law enforcement officials on April 15, we proved it again and the world noticed. 

Let not the acts of a few disturbed individuals lead us into believing the world is so proportionately evil or dangerous.  It is good to be prudent but not overly intimidated by the irrational few.

Thanks for all the well-wishes pouring in worldwide.  In the marathon of life, we run side by side.


How our Email Marketing Beats “Best in Class”

January 30, 2013

at sign dollar sign

“I loved your email!”

“Great email, thanks! ”

 - Quotes from our audience. What do yours say? 

Higher email conversion rates are “found money”, so why should you accept mediocre results from your email marketing?  At a time when email inboxes, while still hugely relevant, are increasingly locked down by users to ward off irrelevant content, the ability to get improved email results is a complex and coveted skillset - part brand journalism, part technology, part consigliere.  Our ability to repeatedly outperform marketplace benchmarks for our clients – and our own audience – underscores our expertise at leveraging that skillset.

Crushing It Again This Year; You Can, Too

In reviewing our portfolio of client sales and marketing campaigns related to events, new products, brand building, sales expansion, environmental and business development, we repeatedly find our results to be at or above “best in class” benchmarks as reported by Eloqua, a category-leading CRM software solution provider.

The free, downloadable presentation below offers a simple cheat sheet to help you monetize your email marketing, meet or beat “Best in Class” benchmarks, and turn your organization into a Fan Foundry.

Why your open rate may seem low

Like most email marketers, you are probably haunted by the question: what about the 3/4 of our list members who did not appear to “open” our emails?  Bear in mind, the vast majority of people preview email.  This doesn’t create a “hit” in the “Opens” bucket, but they still consume the first visible screen of your email.

Your results may vary from ours also based on what you measure.  The “Best in Class” numbers pictured in the presentation above represent a combination of all email list activity across many campaigns; naturally, “raving fan” lists far outperform other general interest lists and content.  Our Fan lists generally see an open rate north of 60%.

Note, too, that this article isolates email marketing from all other digital marketing we do (mobile, websites, etc.), which we measure separately.  For a sampling of some of the CRM, email marketing, Sales and marketing automation solutions we support for our clients, see this site’s right sidebar.

Dollars and Cents, Illustrated

Using the “Email click rate” data in the table on slide #2 above, you might reasonably assume that if you are among those “best in class” companies and attaining a 5% Click rate, and your annual click-through sales are $5M, then just by being our client last year you might instead have enjoyed our benchmark-beating 7.37% click-through (average) results, thereby attaining $7.37M in revenue.  Who couldn’t use that additional $2.7M?  In fairness, there are many success factors involved and your own results may vary. Here’s how.

This is How We Do It  - Year after Year (not a fluke!)

That answer to this headline is multi-faceted, but the key factors we found (see slide #4 above) were:

  • Benefits-oriented messaging (more on this below)
  • Data / list quality
  • Thoroughly leveraging marketing technology
  • Compelling content
  • Mobile-first formatting - fully half of all email opens are on mobile devices
  • Simple, “3-clicks to convert” navigation
  • Continuous refinement in all of the above areas

Benefits-oriented Messaging

Put simply, you give in order to get.  Lead with an offer, and follow up by exceeding expectations.  In practice,  we found it even more effective to give, give, and – oh yes – give again, without expecting anything in return.  As one example, our success in producing the sales, marketing and digital media event series “North by North Shore” illustrates how treating even unknown remote prospects to a “friends and family” plan resulted in a tripling of the audience size and a corresponding lift in attendance.   To read more about that case, click here.

Obligatory Disclaimer

We report only aggregated results.  While our total activity reflects messaging in the hundreds of thousands, and the Eloqua study covers millions of messaging units, nonetheless we are encouraged by both the consistency of our year-over-year results and our painstaking methodology in capturing, measuring, reporting and verifying those results for our clients so that we can confidently report them here – and, incidentally, win some repeat business.

Learn More about the “How”

Subsequent blog posts (and some previous ones - see Related Articles below) will cover the other  “How We Did It” success factors in greater detail.   Use the “Keep in Touch” button (above, right) to get those updates.  Meanwhile, if you have a question, or would like to have us present our case to your organization, or to explore ways we might help you succeed, feel free to contact us.

Cheers,

Ed

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