Category Archives: Email marketing

Email Marketing: Who’s on First and What’s on Second?

Abbott and Costello for those of you too young to remember made the title of this article famous.  Their comedy bit about baseball and Who’s on First (see below) is a classic.  When it comes to email marketing, remembering those two lines might just help you with your next campaign.

When you plan to send an email marketing campaign ask yourself: Continue reading

Email vs Social: Channels aren't social, humans are

Email vs Social: Channels Aren’t Social, Humans Are

Email Marketing vs Social: Channels aren't social, humans are

The discussion regarding email and social and which one is the better channel (email is dead yada yada) is getting rather tedious. What makes this entire debate really frustrating is that it’s completely worthless in the larger scope. Oh sure, email marketers feel compelled to douse any suggestion that email is dying in order to reassure clients that they should still be spending with them, but other than that, what’s the point?

The people we market to will make the decision as to what channel is best suited to their needs and that’s the only choice which matters. Everything else is simply politics and drama.

Email is a social channel because by definition, any interaction between humans is social. It doesn’t matter if that interaction took place in person, via email, by phone or Twitter. We are social, we build communities wherever we go because they suit something bred in the bone which spurs us to seek out others and interact. The web hasn’t reinvented humans. Quite the opposite in fact! We’ve colonized cyberspace, bringing all the light and darkness which dwells within us. Virtual reality will not make people better in and of itself, but hopefully, we’ll apply it to make the world a better place for our kids to grow up in. Continue reading

Highlights from European Social Media and Email Marketing Study

Highlights from European Social Media and Email Marketing Study

Highlights from European Social Media and Email Marketing Study

I’ve just been reading The European Social Media and Email Marketing Study from eCircle and I thought I’d share some of the high level observations with you.

The survey was conducted online with just over one thousand participants.

When considering how people use email and social networks, eCircle reported that 73% of respondents have at least one social network account. The study also concluded that Facebook is the social net with the largest multiplier potential – regarding reach, number of friends and usage intensity.

Those seeking information on products and companies via social remains relatively low at just 28% and that seems consistent with other surveys.

Only 32% of those using social networks are fans or follow a company brand and half of those fan/followers are doing so because they are looking for discounts or special offers from the brand. Are you aware of this desire? Are you doing anything to meet it?

When it comes to advertising, not surprisingly, social network users regard their network as a private garden where they control who they communicate with. Again this study supports the conclusions of others surveys which revealed that advertising in email is generally more accepted than on social networks.

The survey found that 95% of people are checking their email at least once per day. One quarter of email users check their email daily from a mobile device. Even the social networkers still see email as relevant with 85% of them using their email accounts for ecommerce.

Share With Your Network (SWYN) doesn’t seem to be catching on too well with Europeans as only 8% of respondents reported using it. Yet when sharing does occur it can have a reasonably wide reach. 43% of social networkers have more than 100 friends or followers and on average, each shared message reaches 77 people.

Here’s the one bit of information that I loved from the high level findings of the survey: 13% of fans and followers of a company or brand want to be called upon to do something. That’s awesome! A pretty good percentage of people actually do want to get involved and participate with you. So, what are you doing to fulfill that desire? Are you allowing your fans and followers to participate and interact with you?

Fusion Marketing Experience Wrap Report

Fusion Marketing Experience Wrap Report

I knew this event was going to be different from your standard online marketing conference, but until you experience it, you just don’t realize how refreshing a whole new presentation style such as this can be!

The speakers were not just there to do their strut on the catwalk and then leave — they mingled and networked before and after their presentations. They shared their insight and gathered wisdom from attendees. From the excellent food to the intimate layout, well integrated social media (Twitter Wall) to the loose format which allowed for lots of learning in the halls; this was an event which remolded the genre.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m privileged to work with Both JP De Clerk and Rien van den Bosch, the two organizers, but even so, they still blew my mind with an event which was everything an online marketing conference should be.

Quarterly Magazine, Reviews & Reports

[superbutton link=”” title=”Fusion Marketing Experience Quarterly Magazine” image=”” class=”sprbtn_green” target=”_blank” rel=””]Fusion Marketing Experience Quarterly Magazine[/superbutton]

[superbutton link=”″ title=”Chris Tompkins: Review, Interviews and Photo Album” image=”” class=”sprbtn_blue” target=”_blank” rel=””]Chris Tompkins Review, Interviews and Photo Album[/superbutton]

[superbutton link=”” title=”Event Report: Fusion Marketing Experience by Remy Bergsma” image=”” class=”sprbtn_purple” target=”_blank” rel=””]Event Report: Fusion Marketing Experience by Remy Bergsma[/superbutton]

Slide Decks from Fusion Marketing Experience

[superbutton link=”” title=”Social Media Marketing Presentation by Olivier Blanchard” image=”” class=”sprbtn_lightgray” target=”_blank” rel=””]Social Media Marketing Presentation by Olivier Blanchard[/superbutton]

[superbutton link=”” title=”SEO & Content Marketing by Joost de Valk” image=”” class=”sprbtn_darkgray” target=”_blank” rel=””]SEO & Content Marketing by Joost de Valk[/superbutton]

[superbutton link=”” title=”11 Digital Marketing Strategy Issues for 2011 by Dave Chaffey” image=”” class=”sprbtn_lightgray” target=”” rel=””]11 Digital Marketing Strategy Issues for 2011 by Dave Chaffey[/superbutton]

[superbutton link=”” title=”Multichannel Engagement by Richard Sedley” image=”” class=”sprbtn_darkgray” target=”_blank” rel=””]Multichannel Engagement by Richard Sedley[/superbutton]

[superbutton link=”” title=”eCRM and the Art and Science of Being Social by Gianfranco Cuzziol” image=”” class=”sprbtn_lightgray” target=”_blank” rel=””]eCRM and the Art and Science of Being Social by Gianfranco Cuzziol[/superbutton]

[superbutton link=”” title=”The Evolving Inbox by Kath Pay” image=”” class=”sprbtn_darkgray” target=”_blank” rel=””]The Evolving Inbox by Kath Pay[/superbutton]

We’ve launched a redesign of the Fusion Marketing Experience website here!

Have I missed anything? Please leave a comment with link with related content so I can add it to the post!

Update: please join us in paying respect to Fusion Marketing Experience speaker Trey Pennington who unfortunately is not among us anymore. He will be missed.

Email Marketing Testing Tips from Muppet Labs

Email Marketing Testing Tips from Muppet Labs

Email Marketing Testing Tips from Muppet Labs

Dr. Bunsen Honeydew is legendary among the scientific community. He started Muppet Labs in 1976 with the mission of bringing the world of tomorrow to us today. He’s broken a lot of ground and amazed us with his achievements and I dare say that he and his assistant Beaker have made the world a better place.

Obviously, Dr. Honeydew is a proponent of testing! On every episode of the Muppets, he would be demonstrating and testing some new invention. So, since testing is so important, it seemed a good idea to look to his years of testing examples for some basic tips about testing your marketing via email and the web.

Muppet Labs is big on A/B split testing

Splitting your list and testing the components of your campaigns is something not enough email marketers do. Test everything from CTAs to rendering to subject lines and a lot more. When Dr. Honeydew developed his “exploding attire” he had several things to test and dutifully tried out each one. What he found was that people seemed to be a lot more concerned about the exploding ear muffs than they were about the exploding neckties. Now, you may point out that there’s not much difference in threat levels there, but the testing did indeed show a preference.

Test your subscription and unsubscribe forms on a regular basis

When people fill out that form to opt-in and especially when they decide to opt-out, you don’t want to cause them frustration because the script is broken and the button does nothing. Even if the form seems to be working at a casual glance, it could still be broken – test the entire process on a regular basis. A non-functioning unsubscribe form especially is going to have a very negative impact on your image.

As the Doctor points out: “I test my Gorilla detector every month to be sure it’s working properly because you just never know and the last thing you want is to be surprised by an angry Gorilla!”

Test and optimize your landing pages

Dr. Honeydew knows quite a bit about landing or perhaps, it’s better to say that his assistant, Beaker knows a lot about it. That’s mainly because Beaker seems to get blown up a lot which is followed by the obligatory and sudden return to solid ground. Just as you test your actual emails, test every component of your landing page to see what is working and what is not. Something as simple as streamlining the content or adding some testimonials can make a big difference.  On the landing page what you want to do is ask that question which perhaps Beaker should be asking more before he volunteers for testing: “What’s in it for me?”

Speaking of Beaker, it’s only right that we give him the last word on why testing is so important…

“Meep mee meep woo woo meep woop!”

Can I get an “amen” please?

The Death of Email Marketing and a Bowl of Petunias

The Death of Email Marketing and a Bowl of Petunias

The Death of Email Marketing and a Bowl of Petunias

“Curiously the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias, as it fell, was, ‘Oh no, not again.’ Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly *why* the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now.” – The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I feel like that bowl of petunias every time we go through yet another round of the “email is dead” discussion. Oh no, not again! How many times do we have to dance this jig before it gets old?

The sad fact is that it will happen over and over again. We are in transition and email is evolving. If it was dying there might actually be some hope that at some point we wouldn’t be subjected any longer to what seems like a never ending cycle of faulty pontification and the consequential hand wringing which follows.

Remember when the Wall Street Journal declared last year that email was dead? People fell all over themselves either trying to refute that post or substantiate it.

Oh no, not again.

It got even worse when Ben & Jerry’s in the UK announced they were going to focus more on social and HubSpot ran a post (lacking some information) which spurred countless erroneous tweets and blog posts suggesting email was being forsaken wholesale for social marketing. It turned out Ben & Jerry’s wasn’t dropping email marketing, but it gave some of us ice cream headaches.

Oh no, not again.

The latest round of virtual “whack-o-mole” was started by a comScore study which reported that web based email usage was dropping like the proverbial stone, especially among teens. Keep in mind that’s web based email they are talking about – when was the last time you used a web based email interface? The data was misleading but, dramatic and that made it good fodder for posts.

When heavy weights such as Simms Jenkins and Loren McDonald feel the need to step into the ring to punch something silly, you know someone said something really kooky. They both posted last week on the issue and give excellent perspectives on the latest round of drama.

Oh no, not again.

Young people coming into the workforce will adopt those tools which are best suited to attain the goals set for them. That’s not conforming, that’s just plain smart and today’s kids are damn smart. Smart enough to recognize and develop new channels (while using the current ones) for communicating and doing business, and establish those in the workplace as well. While we’re all focused on how well the young are adapting to our way of doing things, they’ll be busy changing how it’s done.

Young people are cross-channel animals and they already have adapted to communicating and interacting via multiple channels. They’ll use email at work, but I’m not sure they’ll find it any more relevant personally just because they use it professionally. It’s just one of many channels to them and it’s as relevant as the content it delivers.

Oh no, not again.

At times it almost seems that many of us want email to fail. Is that perhaps because we are finding it harder and harder to connect with consumers? Has the effort become so taxing that many of us secretly just want to start all over with a new miracle channel? Do we just expect that email marketing should make pennies rain down from heaven even if we just keep doing the same thing over and over? It’s not the channel which becomes stale and irrelevant first, but the content being delivered by it and whose responsibility is that?

Things don’t have to die to lose relevance. It’s not about how dead you are is it? It’s about how alive you are.

Gianfranco Cuzziol: The new reality of eCRM

The New Reality of eCRM

Gianfranco Cuzziol: The new reality of eCRM

A degree in Astrophysics wouldn’t normally lead one to a career in digital marketing, but that unlikely path is the one which Gianfranco Cuzziol has walked.

Gianfranco is fascinated with the cross-channel journey of the consumer and works with clients to help them leverage points of impact along that journey.

He recently joined the EHS 4 D Group as Head of eCRM, where he looks after the development of their eCRM vision, strategy and delivery. He’s worked with a number of leaders including, Publicis Dialog and Golley Slater Direct – his experience includes working with major brands such as Hewlett Packard, Zurich Global Coporate and PC World Business.

Gianfranco will be in Brussels on March 23rd as one of the keynote presenters at the Fusion Marketing Experience. You can follow him on Twitter here.  An interview.

Do loyalty programs actually work and do you have any tips on how marketers can make them more effective?

I think they would work better or rather be measured differently if they weren’t called Loyalty Programs. Most ‘’Loyalty’’ Programs are nothing more than cross sell up sell schemes based around often very clever data insights.

In my opinion there are 2 elements to loyalty – behavioural and attitudinal. Loyalty programs really focus on the former and although they may have an impact of the latter there is more to changing my overall attitudinal loyalty than suggesting I buy a bag of Doritos Chips to go with my regular 6 pack of beer.

But yes they do work. The Tesco Clubcard is a prime example of how to use data at the heart of a successful program.

And the use of data is the clever bit that marketers need to focus on to make these behaviour loyalty programs work.

And of course, part of the insight gained from the data is also an understanding of where and how the customer wants to hear from you. In today’s world of the connected customer, brands need to engage on the customer’s terms, whether that is via email, social or face-to-face.

In a recent post, Gretchen Scheiman stated: “The same is true for marketing emails. We may aspire to “conversation,” lead “nurturing” or any number of euphemisms that imply an engaging back-and-forth communication between brand and customer, but the reality is, we can’t handle a discussion.”

If we can’t handle a conversation, then isn’t the whole idea of relationships with customers a myth as well?

Ok, I think we all get carried away with what this conversation is. A large part of conversation in the real world is body language. In the digital world body language also plays a part in conversation. That body language is how we as consumers engage with an email, when what and how often we click, how we share its contents, how we browse the retailer’s website after the click.

All of this forms part of the conversation. Conversations do not need to be a discussion in terms of a debate, but more of ‘an exchange of views on some topic’ where the exchange of views is demonstrated by a click or by browsing behaviour. At its basic level, this can form part of a conversation between a brand and the customer.

How do you define “relationship” in the context of marketing?

In my view, for ‘relationship’ read ‘connection’.  In fact one definition of relationship is ‘a state of connectedness between people’. Of course in every day life we want to imply some emotional connectedness in that relationship. Well that to me is where the stretch often goes too far.

Being Connected could very well be at a transactional level where I tell what the latest deals are on my website, you show an interest and buy.

Of course that Connectedness can grow and become much more. You might decide to give me feedback on my products or services, and even be an advocate whether by traditional word-of-mouth or via some social channel.

What channels do you think are the most effective for CRM? Phone? Email? Social?

They all have a part to play depending on many factors. Whether that is B2C or B2B and at what point in the ‘relationship’ we are.

I remember being asked at the end of my presentation at Webtrends Engage in London, on how a financial services Institution might tackle comments via Twitter. My rule of thumb was:

  • Publicly acknowledge that comment on Twitter – this not only shows your commitment to the channel but also heads off those members of the public who use social to vent their frustration partly because they think that no one is listening. So it’s also great as a PR tool.
  • If the customer wants to take it further, then email takes the conversation out of the public arena and shows a certain level of sensitivity that possibly isn’t what Twitter is for.
  • Next comes a phone call and even possibly face to face depending on the situation, and the real human touch comes through.

So they are all effective in their own ways and for different reasons.

How much of CRM should be automated based on behaviour, transactions etc.?

Well I guess because we are often dealing with millions of possible permutations based on customer actions, commercial priorities and the context within which CRM operates, it makes sense that a lot of it is automated.

But I think that sometimes the human touch can play a part in creating those Moments of Wow, when something unexpected really takes the customer by surprise and makes them a fan for life.

Unfortunately the economics of it all often don’t allow us to do that. We just need to remember that we need to treat all customers as equals….even if some are more equal than others.

For more provocative thoughts on marketing in the new digital age, join Gianfranco Cuzziol and a host of digital marketing “thought leaders and disruptors” at The Fusion Marketing Experience in Brussels on March 23rd!

mobile email

Survey Reveals Mobile Email Trends: Where Is Your Subscriber?

We are on the go and so is our inbox, according to a new report from eROI. For some time now the focus of email marketers has been getting to the inbox and making sure that the message is compatible with whatever email client the subscriber is using.

While the personal computer has stabilized and standardized to a great degree and the email client wars have shrunk to only a few major combatants, what seems to have snuck up on the outside are new devices for accessing those inboxes. It’s no longer only a case of what client they are using, but what device and even where they are at which affects readability.

Now marketers have to contend with where their subscribers might be when they read the email. Are they at the office or on a train or at a football game? You just can’t be sure where anyone is these days and that complicates the issue. Where your subscriber is may well be as important as the day or time you send the email to them.

In other words, it’s 11 PM and do you know where your subscriber is? A key finding of the report is that there is no real universal case study for mobile subscribers. Your mobile messaging should be tailored to your specific subscriber base.

The report found that subscribers are more likely to be mobile from Thursday afternoon through the weekend. While that may not come as a surprise, it does mean that if you send your emails out in that range, you need to be even more mobile device friendly.

Mobile devices started out at a reasonably slow pace, but this is accelerating as would a sled on an icy slope. The technology is picking up speed and adoption is increasing at an exponential rate. Those who do not now take a good look at how their subscribers are interacting with their messages will find themselves left behind fast.

The report suggests marketers use a tool such as Litmus to determine what devices subscribers are using and when. Tracking this information over a 30-60 day period should show some trends and give you a deeper understanding of how to optimize your campaigns to suit your subscribers best. Knowing this will allow you to efficiently allocate the resources you have available.

As well, don’t forget using this data to optimize the content and landing pages you are driving subscribers to. If that content and those pages are not optimized for the preferred platforms, then your work is not done.

And while device detection is pretty much a non-starter for email clients, there is technology available to detect devices for your website and landing pages and you can then tailor that content accordingly.

As well, simply putting a “mobile friendly” version link in your emails can go a long way to smoothing the user experience for mobile users.

social media privacy and personal data and information concept

Online Privacy Matters: People Are Responsible And So Are Marketers

I had a very interesting discussion this past week regarding online privacy. The crux of the debate was whether there was any such thing as privacy online. Is it a myth? Should we just accept that the traditional notion of personal privacy is passé and move on?

15 years ago I remember having a chat with someone when the web was young and people had lots of questions about it. I was very cautionary about the web and personal information. I made it clear that any information you elected to share via the web and even some you hadn’t personally elected to share could and likely would be used to manipulate or even control you.

I’m not going to say I told you so. It didn’t take any great talent or foresight for me to make that observation. Anyone with knowledge of history can tell you that information has always been power. The more you know about someone the more potential control you have over them. Blackmail for example, is an art as old as civilization.

You and you alone are responsible for your personal privacy online. Consider this quote from social media blogger, Xan Pearson: “While privacy policies are a vital component of social networks, and users should always evaluate how changes impact their personal information, no one should take for granted that this is an evolving medium on the information super highway.  Whether it’s a business or personal account, what is shared is ultimately controlled by you.”

Your information is the business of a business

You are responsible! It’s idiotic for us to expect either government or business to ensure our personal privacy as things stand now. Information is their business and the more information they have the more effective, productive and profitable they believe they will be. Any consequences to their customers or constituents are simply the cost of doing that business. Mistakes are never intentional of course. What Google, Facebook and all the others really want is your personal data and digital identity. Madison Avenue pays a lot for it.

I’m not trying to be Orwellian here. I’m simply trying to be realistic. While we may not have to fear for our privacy, we should certainly be concerned about it and the only one who will be concerned about it is you. Expecting anyone else to protect you is at best short sighted and at worst, stupid.

To really be a part and thus, get the most out of any community online or off, you must share part of you and to some degree relinquish a little precious privacy.  However, perspective is absolutely vital to avoiding the pitfalls of online privacy. Before you post something or type something, ask yourself if you are sharing too much. Just because other people in any given community choose to share themselves, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you. Each of us has their own comfort level regarding personal privacy and each of us must be their own personal privacy guardian.

So, I do not agree when Zuckerberg says “privacy is dead”. It is a basic human right. Of course the pressure to be ‘open’, ‘transparent’ and ‘authentic’ is huge. But this doesn’t mean you have to share everything.

When Mr. Zuckerberg states that “privacy is dead” what he is really trying to do is lower the reasonable expectations we have regarding it. Privacy isn’t dead so long as you care about your own.

Marketers: don’t play with people’s digital identity, your reputation is at stake

Privacy is like safety. If it’s cheaper for corporations to risk your safety then it is to ensure it, they will choose the cheaper option. The airline industry is a good example of this twisted logic. Once it really costs corporations to breach trust and privacy, they will value it. But they will never value your privacy as one does their own.

These days, we even have to add all kinds of clauses in the emails we send. Everything we mail can be shared by anyone wanting to (I went through the experience). There is no “off the record” anymore and the privacy and confidentiality we once supposed in person-to-person email interactions is gone.

Finally a word for marketers since, in the end, that’s the target group of this blog: don’t play with privacy and don’t look at permission to converse, regardless of the channel, whenever you choose.

An email address today is part of a person’s digital identity. He or she uses it to subscribe to a gazillion of services. These include social media by the way. There is some irony in this: social media, often called the death of email, require an email address to sign up.

My email address is part of who I am in a digital world. And in that digital world we all have the right to some privacy. Social or not.

It will also be interesting to see how all debates regarding behavioral targeting will turn out in various countries.

So, in the end, privacy is our responsibility but also that of marketers. Abuse it and pay the price: reputation and more.

Agree? Disagree?

marketing lessons

Ten Lessons Social Media Marketers Can Learn from Email Marketers

A while ago I posted an article on The eMail Guide, as the name says a site about email marketing and run by a few extremely nice people.

As I write a lot about social media marketing and email marketing I wrote a post called “Why email marketers understand social media best (even if they don’t know it)”. But there was some irony in it. Since I talked about “good” email marketers, hoping to convince email marketers to embrace social media.

At the same time, it is true that people who specialize in social media marketing can learn a lot from email marketers. In fact, all kinds of marketers could learn a lot from each other and from sales people as well. So I decided to put the post here because I feel that it can provide some insights about social media, email and integration. If you disagree, please say so.

A lot of email marketers are still hesitant about integrating social media. It’s often said that this is because email marketers have a broadcasting mentality and don’t know what ‘conversations’ and ‘customer relationships’ are.

I don’t agree with that. On the contrary: I believe that email marketers could be the best social media marketers. Do I hear some protest among social media marketers? Let me explain before you declare me nuts.

First of all, an email marketer is not a broadcaster. Because someone that broadcasts bulk messages is not an email marketer (maybe an extremely bad one).

That still doesn’t explain my bold statement that email marketers could be the best social media and inbound marketers, does it? Don’t worry, I’m coming to the point.

What are the typical characteristics of social media marketing?

  1. It is based on relationships
    Social media marketing is based upon the way you move from connections to relationships by being a valuable partner, offering relevant content (including promotions) and engaging and respecting people. Email marketing is about relationships as well. When someone signs up for a newsletter he says “I want your stuff in my inbox, here I am, add me to your list”. A good email marketer understands that. Just as he or she knows that you should respect your subscribers by taking their needs into account.
  2. It is about the value and content you provide
    In order to receive value, you have to provide it. Smart marketers know how important it is to offer good content and other valuable items to their subscribers. Content, value and relevance are key in email marketing. They are key in social media marketing as well.
  3. It’s the people, stupid
    Brands are people, customers are people, the whole social web is about people. Chatting, tweeting, liking, blogging, commenting, caring and sharing. Every good email marketer knows that there are real people behind the email addresses that sit in his databases and that they should be treated as such.
  4. It’s about sharing
    One of the most popular activities on social networks is sharing. Thoughts, posts, video’s, images, coupons, you name it. Social media marketing thrives on sharing, buzz, viral effects, etc. Email marketer have known that since ages. Who invented “send-to-a-friend”? Who understands that email has a strong viral potential if the message is relevant and share-worthy?
  5. It is based on listening
    Social media marketers know how important it is to listen to what people are saying about their brands, their competitors, market trends, etc. and to act upon it. That’s why they use all these social media management tools. But what’s new? All email marketing professionals listen to their recipients: they ask them what they want, run satisfaction surveys, they even ask people who unsubscribe why they do so and provide them an alternative, so they listen and act as well!
  6. It’s integrated and cross channel
    Social media marketing is part of an overall marketing strategy. It’s about having a cross channel and holistic view. Email marketers are experts in cross channel strategies. They know that email marketing has an important role in the overall marketing strategy, including providing customer service, improving customer loyalty, acquiring and nurturing leads, CRM and much more.
  7. It’s about content
    What do people share most on social media? Content. What do people tweet about often? Content. What’s the reason why a blog post get’s shared, tweeted, liked or socially bookmarked? Content. Social media marketing and inbound marketing are about being found and noticed by good content. This content becomes a story that leads to word-of-mouth. Good social media marketers also highlight the content and stories of other people. Email marketers know all about good and relevant content. They know that content is what makes your email opened and clicked. They even test their content and look at what converts best and thus is most appreciated!
  8. It’s about context and personalization
    Social media marketers understand the importance of context. They know how to track the digital footprints of people, segment, choose channels and act upon “digital signals” by providing personalized content via appropriate channels or engaging in contextual dialogues. Email marketers are the kings of personalization, offering choice, segmentation and swiftly acting upon the digital signals of their recipients.
  9. It’s about trust and respect
    Brands and businesses that use social media know that they have to be authentic, real, transparent, participative and respectful. They know they are joining a global and continuing stream of conversations, and that they have to gain the trust of people by listening, answering, providing value and having a personal approach in times where people increasingly control communication and lose trust in businesses. Email marketers know that as well, from long before social media even existed. They understand you have to listen and talk to your recipients and they most of all understand that an email relationship is based upon trust, reliability and permission, starting from the subscription form.
  10. It’s about engagement
    Social media marketing is not only about listening and talking. It’s about acting, engaging people, sharing passions, involving “crowds” and communities and inviting people to participate in what you, as a business, do. All good email marketers know that they need to engage recipients and emotionally appeal to them. They also know that people act, buy, forward and click for sentimental reasons, more than for anything else.

You see: when looking at just ten typical aspects of what social media marketing really is about, you notice that there is not much difference between email marketing and social media marketing.

So why not combine and integrate them to have a better reach, offer people more choice and provide them relevant content and value in function of their needs? Because, ultimately that’s what both email marketing and social media marketing are about: customer-centricity and of course just…marketing.

Good email marketers know this. As do social media marketers. Right?

reactivating and engaging inactive email recipients

Reactivating and Engaging Inactive Email Recipients in 8 Steps

All email marketers have them: inactive recipients and dormant email addresses. People that are still subscribed to their email lists with a valid email address but never open their emails and thus don’t interact with them anymore.

How do you re-engage these subscribers? Well, obviously, it starts by defining what an inactive email recipient is. The best way to do that is tracking your metrics (opens and clicks) over a certain period of time and then simply looking at the recipients that didn’t open their emails. Of course you can define other rules such as recipients that opened one mail out of ten but never once clicked.

The next thing to do is understanding why the email addresses of these recipients simply are sleeping in your email database. There can be several reasons.

Maybe the email address is dormant. Think about webmail addresses that have been created once but are not used anymore (or very rarely). Another reason can be that the subscriber is not interested anymore. Or maybe he thinks the value of your emails is not what it used to be. You can find dozens of other possible reasons.

However, let’s assume in this post that the email address is not dormant and look at some steps and tips to re-engage the uninterested and inactive.

I’ve divided this process in a few steps as you can see in the image below.

Reactivating dormant email subscribers in 8 steps

Step 1: Identify inactive recipients

This is what I just briefly explained, but of course it’s important that you think about this carefully. What is an inactive recipient for you and how do you identify him?

This step isn’t too hard. Analyze the metrics you picked, export them in a spreadsheet (or use the tools your email marketing platform offers) and do the math. Of course, you should not confuse the email addresses of inactive recipients with hard bounces.

Step 2: Segment your inactive recipients

We all know what segmentation is: dividing our email recipients in all kinds of segments, based on various parameters, in order to offer them a more personal email experience (and at the same time improve deliverability and conversion).

Why don’t you use the same for your inactive recipients? You can check the demographics and other data you have about them. Maybe you’ll discover that a large percentage of inactive recipients has something in common. Of course this will depend from the quality of your list. You might, for instance, discover that many inactive recipients have signed up for your email when subscribing for a webinar about a specific topic (that you since didn’t cover anymore, you know what to do…).

Step 3: Ask subscribers why they are inactive

Obviously, inactive recipients will not massively answer to queries about what they want in your email if they don’t open your emails in the first place. However, a more personal mail from a person they know, might do wonders. In order to understand why people don’t open your emails, you simply ask them. If the percentage of respondents is low, which it probably will be, you can contact subscribers via other media.

Here also the quality of your list (meaning the data you have gathered via various email and other ‘touch points) is crucial. If you don’t have a company name and name, it’s hard to give people a call. When you have a large list, obviously you won’t call everyone but if you segment your inactive recipients, you might contact a representative number of them for a survey.

Step 4: Listen

Listen to the data and patterns you have discovered in steps 2 and 3. But most of all, listen to the input you got from inactive recipients that could be reached and took the trouble to answer.

Listening alone is the beginning of analyzing, understanding and responding. You will soon discover why people don’t open your emails and know if it’s a matter of frequency, content, format, perceived value, lack of personalization and/or maybe the fact that some subscribers want to keep in touch with you via other channels. Times are changing and the utilization of communication channels as well, remember.

Step 5: Change

When you know what recipients and recipient segments want, it’s a matter of deciding on what should be changed. You will probably not receive one answer that solves all your problems. People fortunately are different and the reasons why they don’t open your emails anymore, will vary.

Analyze the cost and benefits of certain changes and then implement them. Some changes might be simple. If your content is not relevant enough, then improve it. Others will be harder and might require an investment. You might need some new tools if you find out that recipients want highly personalized emails, this might also require the creation of additional content. There is a cost attached to all this, do the math.

I guess you will not do a large investment to solve an issue that has been brought up by 1% of all inactive recipients. ROI, right?

Step 6: Testing

There is a difference between what people say they want, and what they do when they get it. You might have done all changes and still find that a percentage of the recipients that were inactive…remain inactive. Maybe the changes will not be good enough or maybe people gave an answer to your questions in good faith but in fact simply are not interested anymore. A nice little incentive and some buzz about your changes might be a good idea.

You will normally also not be able to reach out to all inactive subscribers. So, it’s back to good old testing anyway. Try out other content, headlines, subject lines, offers, frequencies, formats, whatever. Test several things step-by-step and analyze the effects. Even if all this improving and testing doesn’t re-engage the majority of your inactive recipients, realize that testing and increasing the value and relevancy of your emails also serves another purpose: improving your email relationships with active recipients….

Step 7: Adjust

You don’t change everything in one day. It might even scare off active subscribers. Of course, you can only change things for inactive recipients but why leave out active subscribers of positive change?

However, take it step by step. Normally, when you test emails, whatever method you use, you assess the impact of every little change (unless you have the most sophisticated multivariate testing methods that exist maybe, and then again).

Test and adjust, analyze, adjust more and test again, etc. You know how it works.

Step 8: Monitor

Reality is dynamic. New communication channels come (and sometimes go), the needs of people change, everything changes.

Looking at the (in-)activity of email subscribers is not a one-time exercise, it’s something that should be done regularly. In fact, when monitoring activity and performing all the steps repeatedly, you will probably pro-actively avoid having too much inactive recipients in the future.

Monitor, analyze, ask, listen, enrich your database, segment, identify and test, test, test,….

What do you think?

social networking concept

Social Media and Email Integration Beyond Sharing Tools

Sharing tools are just a tiny detail in the convergence of social and email. Some thoughts on taking your social email marketing some steps further as I posted them recently on my blog.

Many email marketers have discovered that social media and email marketing can be a perfect fit. The list of ESPs that provide sharing tools and functions in their email marketing solutions keeps growing. Cool. Now email marketers can look at conversion in new ways, increase the reach of their campaigns and so on. Everybody happy: the link between our email campaigns and social media is a fact since we offer sharing tools, right?

Wrong! Integrating sharing tools into email marketing is just a small part of cross-fertilizing both channels. On top of that, those sharing tools should be used wisely.

What I call social email marketing is about much more than just adding some buttons to share content via Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn and the likes.

Combining social media and email: how far does your imagination stretch?

We are just starting to see great examples about what really matters and where marketers truly think across both forms of media to innovate and come with original and relevant approaches.

Using Twitter as a landing page for instance, including the text of the tweet. Or linking to product reviews of your products instead of to the products themselves. Or monitoring trends to act swiftly via a topical e-mail. Or using a subject line that gets shared on Twitter with a strong message and even including the @ Twitter handle of the sender. Or identifying influencers by tracking the people that retweet or bookmark email messages your recipients have retweeted or bookmarked.

The possibilities are endless. Your imagination the limit. So, go beyond the obvious. There are many tips I could share, too many for one post. However, let me share some tips and considerations about the sharing tools I started this post with.

Social media sharing tools don’t equal sharing

You already know that, in order to be shared, content has to be…share-worthy, you also know that wisely including sharing options in email can lead to great results as several case studies have shown. But the truth is that you should not expect miracles from simply focussing on social sharing tools and share-worthy content alone. In fact, you might get no results, whatsoever if you just do that.

People need to be motivated and teased to share and you have to come up with innovating ideas to get the sharing going. On top of that you need to choose the sharing tools wisely and place them in the proper place inside your email templates.

Using the right sharing tools in the right place and beyond your emails

How do you choose the right sharing tools for your mails? Simple: look at the social networks your subscribers are using, test and be sure that you use those that are…relevant for your subscribers, their connections and obviously your business. A simple example regarding the latter: if the primary goal of your emails is to generate traffic towards your website – like it’s the case for many publishers – then focus on the sharing tools that enable this first.

Finally this: don’t limit the use of sharing tools to your emails alone! Email marketing is a process and the most important things happen after the click. So add sharing tools to other elements of that process as well, for instance on the landing page.

Now that we start integrating email and social media we better try doing it even better, right?

Originally posted here.

email marketing

The Digital Leverage Effect of Social Media and Email Marketing Integration

Earlier this month I read an interesting post by Karen Talavera on The eMail Guide blog, a great resource for those who want to be kept well informed of every new development in the email marketing world. It made me think more than I already do about the role of content, e-mail marketing and social media from a cross-channel perspective. I wrote a post about it on my blog. Here it is.

It seems that Karen and I are kindred spirits; her profile describes her as ‘passionate about integrating email, social media, content marketing, and more’, to create what she calls ‘online synchronicity’.
And, as chance would have it, cross-channel social media, and content and email marketing are also my passion… for the simple reason that in reality people use a variety of channels simultaneously and so should we, as marketers. And it’s all about people, right? Moreover, it’s becoming more and more clear that if properly aligned (we want to prevent our customers from becoming overwhelmed with messages, remember?), all channels can reinforce one another if they are aligned in function of the reader and customer experience.

Introducing “digital leverage”

Karen shared an interesting concept in her post, titled “Content+eMail+social = digital leverage”.  The “influence” which we all so enjoy discussing in this time of social media but, more importantly, the individual impact of communication channels – those carriers of interactions and content – actually do not matter this much. What matters more is ‘leverage’.

Leverage may seem the same as influence, but it’s not. Karen begins with several definitions of ‘leverage’, but I’d like to write down one myself. Not leverage in the financial sense, but in the general sense: ‘when a small influence is used to achieve great effect’.  Replace ‘a small influence’ in this context with ‘small integrated influences’. Leverage is far more encompassing than influence. It’s a combination of various factors which combined result in a bigger effect.

We’re all going blind staring at ‘influencers’ and the impact of all the channels we use for marketing purposes. However, we need to abandon that vision. This is not to say that we should do away with marketing activities such as email marketing, social media marketing (which is, as I often say, actually a collective name for many social innovations in the area of SEO, customer service, community marketing, PR, management, customer relationship management, the way we sell, the way we conduct business, etc.) or content marketing. It is in fact the opposite: we will continue to need specialists in various specific areas.

However, despite these specializations, integration is key in success. Here is why:


First of all, the way we integrate and combine the carriers of content and interactions, should depend on the customer, prospect, fan etc.

The mutual strengthening of integrated channels:

Secondly, it depends on the reinforced effect of the various channels which lead to the ‘leverage’ effect.

Customer experience and perceived value as guiding principles

The businesses that are going to make it are not the ones who know how to make good use of social media, or whatever. The ones who are going to make it are the ones who are intelligent, customer and data driven, and know how to combine moments of interaction into relevant dialogue, in a personal and value adding way.

Karen’s post is about some of these things and some others, but basically what she writes is the same thing. Her post also provides a few examples which you can read her.

Perhaps the most important conclusion one can draw from her post is this: “it’s not about working harder, but about working smarter”. I couldn’t agree more. Smart businesses will be working in an integrated, holistic and cross-channel way, with the ‘customer experience’ and his perceived value as the most important guiding principle. This goes as well for the content, the channels and the way we combine them. Forget the best day to do this or the best frequency to do that. Let the customer, recipient, follower, fan etc. call the shots.

This way, integrated interaction efforts result in a real and significant leverage effect.

Three immediate implications of working in an integrated and synchronized marketing way:

  1. Organizational implications:
    This approach requires cross-departmental cooperation with respect to value (for company and customer), fine-tuning, synchronizing, collaborating, messaging, data gathering, defining cross-channel and business-wide metrics, and of course optimizing conversion through consistency in content, experience, etc. But most of all, it requires a customer oriented vision. Again, customer-centricity is key.
  2. Implications regarding communication channels and (social) media:
    As a business you don’t have to be everywhere and use every channel you can to interact with people. This may seem obvious, right? In reality, you need the channels that are relevant for your (future) customers and deliver a good average ROI (some channels deliver more, some less but you have to innovate and look at the overall integrated impact, again ‘leverage’). The reason why I mention this, however, is that – when it comes to social media – I often hear people say; “it’s so much work, it’s so difficult, we don’t know where to start”, etc. But this is often an excuse to avoid having to get involved in social media marketing. Social media, in the interaction channel sense, today have to be part of the integrated effort because people use them period. Maybe it would be less “difficult” if businesses looked at it from the cross-channel perspective.
  3. Implications regarding content, metrics and conversion:
    I said it twice before in this post: channels and media are carriers of content and interactions. It is obvious that from a conversion viewpoint these interactions and the content you share should be relevant for the people you interact with. But their “content” (feedback, comments, replies) are equally key to optimize all the other interactions. In order to measure all this, you need metrics that can be used in a cross-channel way (also remember the need for a closed loop of content and customer data). But you also need to be able to adapt your content in function of, besides the needs, the channels!

Think it over; I’m curious about your opinion.