Remote Work: It’s a Thing Now

Here at FanFoundry we support multiple clients, each with their own “tech stack” of technologies and tools. This means we have become quite adept at working in multiple remote office environments, each with its own blend of talent,  process and technology.

What have we learned?  Lots. Here are a few considerations for helping remote workers succeed, followed by a few resource links. Enjoy!

Leadership Considerations

Working from Home Has its Drawbacks (Safety, Creativity)

As many organizations have discovered, remote work may seem financially wise, but its very remoteness highlights the often overlooked importance of a work team’s needs for “psychological safety“.  Similarly, the lack of interaction can dampen creativity. Creative sparks fly during playful banter. Creativity doesn’t happen on a schedule; it happens through random, free associations during human interaction. So, you can’t schedule a creativity session with a remote team.  This has implications for how each of us implements a remote work environment.

Scheduling Meetings
Moving your team meetings online often involves compromise. Routine office schedules may need to be adjusted to accommodate remote workers’ competing priorities: parenting and family roles, privacy, internet connection speed, other interruptions. Involve your entire team in discussing this, and be flexible.

Cadence of Contact
You may need to replace the office environment’s casual cross-talk and breakroom conversations with a more frequent, formal check-in schedule at first. Monthly meetings may have to be bolstered with weekly check-ins, for example. Over time, your team can discover and settle on a suitable cadence of meetings and check-ins. Be sensitive to people’s questions and needs at the outset, and involve everyone in decisions on any needed changes.

Consistency Has its Place
Consider, too, continuing some of your work environment’s customs, habits and benefits, such as observing breaks, office hours, holidays and lunch hours. Dining “al desko” is now tres passe.

Web Conferencing Etiquette

Not everyone is adept at online meetings. Help people get accustomed by practicing on yourselves. Do a few “dry runs” and embrace the humor of people talking over one another, accidentally interrupting, and being out of focus or backlit on camera. You will need to identify a resource person to help your team learn to fully use all the features of online conferencing tools, such as “raising your hand” when seeking to contribute to the discussion, versus talking over one another.  At the end of this article you’ll find a few recommended resources for further reading and ideas.

Office Tech: Get it Right and Tight

Selecting collaboration tools is now a priority. Prepare to experiment. Poll your team to see what they know and use now. Prepare to evaluate some tools that can greatly help collaboration, and possibly even improve on the current status.  Below we’ve listed some of the most popular conferencing tools.  More are coming online daily, it seems.

Just…don’t. Don’t overload everyone’s inbox with a new email thread every day. Email is just about the least effective way for a team to collaborate. It’s at best a nuisance and at worst an exercise in futility.  All those forwards, reply-alls, nested comment threads, dropped attachments, etc. Instead, evaluate and select a robust, proven messaging platform. In addition to daily messaging, here are some other types of tools that can make working remotely a real boost for everyone.

How our Email Marketing Beats “Best in Class”

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.

Crushed 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 get.  Lead with a relevant 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.



Related articles

Marketing Automation: Masters of the User-verse

The customer is King, but Users are your Universe – your “User-verse”.   How do you stay at their center?

According to Forrester Research, by mid-decade over half of all purchasing will be done online.   For post-digital people (think: Millenials & their iGen progeny), who represent the incoming wave of buyers, influencers and decision makers, this has already come to pass.  Millenials are comfortable with technology; iGens are uncomfortable without it.  Today’s post-digital citizens deftly filter and apply information to move smartly through life.   Socializing and transacting online is ordinary and commonplace.  Today’s cadre of decision makers, too, use mobile and social filters to navigate decisions and find relevance in the bit-torrent of change.  Collectively, we are your expanding User-verse.  For us, B2C and B2B are becoming less different.  Now it’s U2E (Users to Everybody), and therein lies a challenge: filtering and relevance.

The challenge is especially acute for Marketing leaders, who are now being held accountable for ROI while also striving to maintain respect and relevance with audiences.   Some organizations do a great job at meeting the needs of our always-on audience. I call them Fan Foundries.  We recognize them by their digital presence in our lives: everything real-word is mirrored and ehanced online, where it can be detected and consumed by customers, suppliers, employees etc.  In turn, our digital travels are observed by these smart Fan Foundries to determine how best to help us through our decision journey and, where appropriate, engage and buy.  You know you’re dealing with a Fan Foundry when your next interaction feels like a continuation or enhancement of the prior one, rather than another blind date.

How are you doing?

How is your organization doing?  Are you at the center of your Userverse?  You probably know that answer, but try this experiment.  Visit Amazon, iTunes, or some other online account you admire.  Compare that online experience to that of your own business.  If you don’t measure up, be assured somebody is going to steal your business soon.  How soon?  How about…while you’re reading this?  If you’re still doing mainly interruptive, outbound marketing, yet your audience is filtering out your messages (via spamblock, TiVo, Unsubscribe, delete key, etc.), what are you doing to help yourself get found and stay relevant?

Fortunately, you no longer need a massive budget to master your User-verse.  What, then, do you need?   What does a balanced, humming Fan Foundry look like?  Layer by layer, it might resemble this:

A Marketing and Sales Governance Model
click to enlarge
  1. Front end – Web interfaces (desktop, mobile, kiosk, email, social media, etc.).   The online experience these days is spotty at best, but many good examples exist and they’re in plain view.  Good poets borrow, so why not learn from the best, then adapt and refine it based on what you learn from your User-verse as they navigate your content, make choices, and send you signals about what they buy and why.
  2. Content layer – main website content, product/service literature, user-generated content (reviews, comments, etc.), custom apps, partner portals, blogs, e-newsletters, online forums, social media, customer care & service channels, etc.   Rich content, re-formatted for channels and micro-audiences, is a golden opportunity to anticipate and delight users, keep you appropriately centered, and signal you on when and how to engage.  Just like your web navigation, your content navigation can be tested and refined based on user behavior.
  3. Information management layer – CRM, marketing automation, analytics, modeling, planning, supply chain, financial datastores, etc. Here, with an array of connected technologies, you can dashboard, orchestrate and analyze the flow of people, information and material to discover competitive advantage and facilitate progress.  Don’t let the geek factor frighten you from implementing some basic, essential tools.  Dig in and ask for help. Or not.  And be toast.  (Suggestion: call us)
  4. Records/data layer – In an age where more and more data is publicly available and public-generated, your ability to harness data to learn and adapt more quickly could spell success or failure.  Master this layer, and you can spend more time selling, transacting business and nurturing future customers while cutting out time-wasters.  By cultivating your own data sources and applying your own relevance filters you can speed learning and adaptation, and improve your ability to reliably forecast a profitable future.

What stands in the way of progress?  The usual responses are resources, people, skills, time, money, and appetite for change.   Okay, but wouldn’t you like to delight customers and win new ones?   Wouldn’t you like to substantially and sustainably grow revenue? Wouldn’t you like to still be in business and growing – or, if losing, at least know why you’re losing so you can adapt and improve?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, and you just need resources and expertise to make it happen, contact us.


Get started today! Visit our Resources page to download free planning tools.

Apple mobile users out-surf RIM bunch

I just reviewed  HandsetDetection’s monthly site updates on mobile web access stats, showing handset type, manufacturer/telco service, and percentage of web surfing traffic emanating from each, worldwide, by country.

This is important if you are wondering whether – and how – to format and test your company’s product and service offerings for mobile handset users, be they Twitterati or full blown cloud computing users.

Curious, I crunched the Nov 2009 and Sep 09 US data and found the following aggregate trends.

  • Apple:  45% (up from 34% in September)
  • RIM:    23% (down from 34% in September)
  • 12 others*: 32% (same as September)

* (Danger, generic, Google, HTC,  LG, Moto, Palm, Samsung, Sony, SonyEricsson, TMobile)

Upshot: Clearly, Apple just eclipsed RIM in Q4 ’09 for mobile web access via handset.

It will be interesting to see what kind of traction newcomer Google (Android) gets in the coming months.

What does this mean for mobile marketing?  How might this affect your own plans?  Comment below.