Monday, December 17, 2007

Anything Goes Marketing on the Globe and Mail

Here I was minding my own business, taking in some caffeine while I scanned my web traffic. What did I find? I`ve been added to the blogroll on Canada`s largest national newspaper. The blog is called Hard Sell Blog by Keith McArthur who writes for the Globe and Mail. His blog is about the latest in marketing and advertising. I know my American friends are saying `Whoppie` but it`s nice to be listed up there with Seth Godin on a widely read and respectable website (unlike those others that we will not mention at this time - kidding!). So there Seth and Keith, I am open to do an interview!


PS - Ok, so his last post was from June 2007 but you can`t take that screenshot away from me!


Resources on Aligning Marketing and Sales for B2B Companies

If you somehow stumbled on this post and said "Yes, this is just what I was looking for and will help save our company" you really need to get a hold of yourself! This article may give you some additional information that you didn't have but it's not going to make your sales team start using the CRM properly or get marketing to only pass on qualified leads to sales. It's time to get a grip and at least know that you are not alone.

I visit many companies and I repeatedly see the same issues that revolve around marketing and sales are not being on the same page. I do see a few exceptions but I typically see the following:
  • Marketing and sales do not have a common definition of a lead (or anything for that matter).
  • Marketing and sales are not in alignment in regards to the sales and marketing funnel
  • Sales do not follow up on leads passed over by marketing
  • Marketing passes on "crap" (unqualified) leads to sales
  • Sales do not attribute opportunities or closed deals to marketing campaigns (sales is the broken link in closed loop marketing)
  • Sales use excel to manage their lists and pipeline which limits marketing's visibility into the effectiveness of their efforts
  • Marketing does not provide sales with the materials and/or messaging needed.
  • There is no defined process to route leads to sales
  • There is no defined process to handle leads that are qualified, yet not ready to buy
  • Sales are given the tools to make their jobs easier but refuse to adopt to them.
  • Marketing doesn't pass over enough leads
  • Sales don't follow the sales/marketing process as it's not enforced by management
I think I could probably go on here forever - please feel free to add a few more. If you can relate to any of these items above, I've assembled a few resources that you may find useful.

Five Resources on Aligning Marketing and Sales

  • B2B Marketing and Sales Tip #65 - Defining a Lead: This post deals with the issue of how to get sales and marketing on the same wave length in terms of defining what a lead is. This post is part of B2B Lead website and is run by true marketing professionals - worth taking a look for some actionable marketing and sales alignment tips.
  • 7 Tips to Improve Sales Follow-up & Close More Leads: This post provides some quick tips that can help you steer marketing and sales teams through the rough waters of alignment. What I like about Brian Carrol's post is the give and take. marketing promises to get leads to sales as quickly as possible but if sales doesn't follow up with a lead by a certain time, it will be reassigned. I highly recommend Brian's Lead Generation Blog.

  • What Sales Really Needs from Marketing: Jill Konrath over at Selling to Big Companies has been there and done that when it comes to working with sales and marketing teams. She has written and excellent e-book which will help marketers get a better understanding of how they can get sales better aligned with their marketing objectives. It really comes down to providing sales with what they need to succeed.
  • Marketing & Sales with a Single View: This post is a good one because it provides some immediate action items and brings everyone back to the reason you are in business: to serve the customer. Ardath Albee at Marketing Interactions stresses that a common definition of what the customer is looking for will help bring together the various strategies and tactics that are being deployed by individual marketing and sales groups.

  • Need to Improve Salespeople’s Behaviors? Don't Bother with Sales Training or CRM Until You Face the Facts: I really enjoyed Michael Webb's post over at Six Sigma Selling. He doesn't pull any punches. If you want sales to buy into new processes, then make sure that the process has been firmly established, it's proven it will succeed and that management is completely bought in.
I hope that you find these resources useful. If you have any additional articles or posts, please share them by adding a comment below.

Chad H.

PS - here is a additional article that I liked that refers to aligning metrics in the sales and marketing funnel: You're Measuring What?! Why Marketing and Sales Metrics Aren't Customer-Aligned

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tips for Confirmation Pages

Well, here I am on the east coast and stuck at the airport due to this freezing rain. Grrrr!!

I came across a few interesting tips for your confirmation pages:

Using Audio and Chat on Your Confirmation Pages

In what seems like ages ago, I wrote a post about blogging while being stuck at airport.
Use an audio confirmation clip on your confirmation page. Check out how this is done on Delivery Monitor after you sign up for their newsletter. It's brilliant as it sets expectations (i.e. when you can receive emails, what will be in them) and gives you a bit of the company's personality (which is boring by the way). This is a great idea and you can do a lot with this concept as the confirmation page is like a gateway into receiving additional information. The web visitor has given consent for you to send them emails and an audio message sets the tone for a great relationship. You might also notice that these guys have added a chat feature so you can ask them questions as well. These Delivery Monitor folk are some really bright people.

Tips for Your Unsubscribe Confirmation Pages

Stefan Pollard continues to write some brilliant posts on the unsubscribe process. He recommends making this a two step process. Have an unsubscribe link in the email and make the email recipient chose to unsubscribe from the landing page. On the confirmation page, he recommends adding the following:
  • Include a customer contact number
  • Have a link to a contact form
  • Include a feedback survey
  • Add a manage your profile link. Perhaps they still want to receive your emails in some capacity. For example, have a way for them to unsubscribe temporarily
  • Tell them how they can re-engage with you at a later point
  • Let them know that they can subscribe to a blog feed via RSS.
The bottom line is that you shouldn't give up on these guys just yet. Your marketing and sales team has fought to get them in your database and you want to keep them there. You also want to extend the same courtesy that you gave them when they first opted in as it's part of the brand experience. It's time to test out some of these concepts to get the most out of your database.

Do you have any great ideas you've tried?

Chad H

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Email and Video: Tactics you can use Today

I may be getting older but I had a crazy flashback yesterday. I went to the movies to see August Rush (I give it 1 thumbs up) and of course I was forced to sit through about 20 commercials that mostly focused on gifts I must buy before the move started. One commercial stood out - a new video phone that is being offered by a mobile carrier up here called Rogers (Verizon is the equivalent the US). I remembered seeing this concept in Star Trek and Back to the Future but low and behold, we finally have created this technology on a portable device!! The bottom line here is that video has come a long way.

How to Incorporate Video and Email

In a recent article on ClickZ called Testing, Testing, Testing... Karen Gedney reported that Bulldog Solutions started adding video highlights to their emails. For example, for an upcoming webinar they shot a very short webinar introduction video, took a screenshot of the speaker from this video and included this in the email invite (see the screenshot). When you receive the email, you can click on the video screenshot and the video opens in a new window. Looks difficult? It's easier then you think.

While the image in the email looks like the video will play directly in the email, that's actually not the case and not recommended as email clients (what you use to read your emails) render emails differently. It's much easier and safer to make the image a link in the email to the actual video player.

The Results of Incorporating Video and Email.

Bulldog Solutions reported that with the inclusion of video in their email, open rates have increased by 30 percent to 14.09 percent and CTRs nearly doubled to 2.20 percent. This trend continued for subsequent email campaigns. The results definitely show how video can improve your email success rates.

Tactics to Incorporate Video and Email

Here are a few ideas that you can use today:
  • Adding video intros to event invites (highlighted above)
  • Customer testimonials. If you go and visit your customers, take a long a camera and record a 10 second testimonial. Sales can incorporate these in their communication pieces to prospects.
  • Have sales create short video intros that they can include in follow up and intro emails. For example, you meet a prospect at a trade show or live event - what better way for them to get a better sense of who you are and what you've accomplished then by sending an email with a video. This email may then be passed around the company so that everyone has a good sense of who the sales person is that they are dealing with.
  • CEO video messages to customers, prospects and employees. Have the CEO record a video with their video phone at the airport while they're waiting for their flight. This can be used in an email, blog, main website etc...
  • Company videos for holiday cards. You can really show off to your customer base the people that make up your company by creating a short video. Individuals from the company can include a short holiday greeting. You can't get more personal then this!
  • HR videos. These can be corny but if you're a growing company and you want to attract the top people, use video to help paint the picture of who you really are.
I'm sure there are many more ideas out there. How have you used video?

Incorporating video into Email is too much Effort

Yes, this does take some additional planning as you need to get someone who can speak in front of a camera, setup the camera, write a script etc... But come on, how difficult is this with today's technology? We have video phones and YouTube!! If a three year old can play Guitar Hero and have it posted to YouTube, your marketing team can handle this. It's no longer "Back to the Future" but the future is here and it's time to accept that video should be a key part of your marketing efforts.

Chad H.

PS - make sure that if you do create videos, upload them to Youtube to increase the distribution of it.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Adding a Feedback Survey to an Email

Should you or should you not place a survey (form) in your email? I've seen both positive and negative results and all that I can suggest is to test this for yourself. It's a known fact that forms in emails will not render properly in Outlook 2007 and Hotmail but you may find an increase in conversions for forms directly in the email. Again test this for yourself and let me know how it goes. This email goes beyond adding forms to your email.

I read a great blog post by Adan Covati called: Quick And Easy Surveys. Adam makes the point that you don't need to add a form to an email but you can use links that make it appear like you've added a form. Here is the image he used:

To take this further, why not add a simple link in the footer of your email (or at the bottom) that says: "Did you find this useful? yes/no". The idea here is that some people may be reading your emails but don't feel that the email is applicable to them or are not interested in this topic. You can analyze this data by cross referencing the people who selected "no" with their past email activity and contact data (title, demographics etc...). You can do the same with the people that selected "yes". This may be another way to analyze the success of your email campaigns.

Try it out and see if it works on a campaign and then you can decide if it's something that you want to implement across all campaigns. I would start off with your newsletters.



Sunday, November 11, 2007

Email Personalization Tip: Improve Response Rates

I have a great email marketing tip for everyone this week based on a real email campaign. As part of this campaign, an email was sent out to all customers asking them to fill out a survey. The first email used a generic personalization method. This meant that the email came from a VP which only some of the recipients may know.

After achieving a decent response after the first email, a follow up email a week later to those who had yet to fill out the survey. Typically, you see the response rate tail off for subsequent email invites, however, in this case, the number of survey submissions tripled from the original email. Why were response rates so high the second time around? It's all about personalization!

Email response rates tripled for the follow up email

A few tricks were used to seem as if the account manager was forwarding on the original email. Here is an example of what the top of the follow up email looked like (text was changed and the original message was not included):

Subject FW: Looking for your feedback

Hi Sam,

We recently sent out this survey to our most important customers to get feedback on how we're doing. Would you mind taking 30 seconds to fill out this short survey? I'd appreciate it.

Kind regards,

Charles Simmons
Account Manager

P: 555.432.2537

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Executive, Hello Marketing [mailto:]
Sent: October 30, 2007 9:07 AM
To: Sam Perkins
Subject: Looking for your feedback

Click here if your email program has trouble displaying this email


While it looks like the individual account managers just forwarded on the original email, that's not the case. The marketer who executed the campaign just added the above text to the top of the original email, used some simple personalization technology enhancements and fired the email out again to those who had yet to respond. Here are the changes that were made for the follow up email that lead to the high response rate:

  • Dynamic Personalization Part 1: The sender. The "from line" is from the account manager Charles Simmons and not from Jim Executive. Typically, your clients will know their account managers (if they don't, that's another story). Most of the information coming from account managers is valuable and customers are more likely to open and respond to these emails. The email vendor that you use should allow you to have emails look like they are coming from specific people from your organization and perhaps key off data from your CRM. That's exactly what was done here and was the reason that the "from line" and email signature were dynamically generated for the specific email recipient.
  • Dynamic Personalization Part 2: The recipient. This part was "easy". The "Hi Sam" section dynamically populated the first name of the recipient. Notice that in the "To" line above, the first and last name were also dynamically generated. This is part of making it look like the email was forwarded by the account manager rather then being sent by one customer marketer. This leads to my next point on subject line techniques.
  • Selling the email as a forward. An "FW" was added to the subject line for the follow up email to make it look like the email was forwarded on from the account manager.
  • The final personalization touches. The "Click here..." link was not used at the top of the follow up email so the first text is displayed at the top of the email is "Hi Sam". Therefore, the email really looks like it was forwarded on rather then sent using a mass email tool. The copy was also very effective as it's very personal. Lastly, notice how the original email header info (from, sent, to information) was used. This made the email more authentic.
All of these techniques resulted in a very successful campaign that was designed to get the highest amount of response possible. The lesson from this campaign is that the time needed to set up the personalization features is worth it if you believe that the email recipients will respond better to emails sent from specific people who they know within your company. In the example above, marketing can send emails on behalf of the account managers which makes the entire team more efficient and helps achieve the desired company objectives.

Do you have any good personalization examples?

UPDATE 11/14/2007: This example is an internal campaign that my company ran.

Chad H.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How do Marketers Measure Online Marketing?

While there is a big push these days to get to the true ROI of your online marketing campaigns, we don't seem to be there yet.

According to a Penton Media Custom Research study commissioned by PROMO Magazine, click-throughs and response rates are still mostly used to measure the success of marketing campaigns.

Measuring Email ROI

On another note, the DMA found that e-mail's ROI will reach $45.65 for every dollar spent in 2008.

Anna Chernis of the DNA claimed: "E-mail produces the highest response rate for lead generation —especially for house campaigns—of direct mail methods we have studied,"

The one item to note is that in 2005, email delivered
$57.25 for every dollar spent on it so there is a downward trend here.

Bottom line: You can produce with email but in order to secure your marketing budget, you need to prove that sales are directly related to your marketing efforts. Can you really prove marketing's effectiveness based on click-throughs? Here is one way you can use to improve the way you track your marketing campaigns using a closed-loop approach.

In addition, email ROI is decreasing but there are ways to leverage email with other marketing channels such as search, direct mail, podcasts and videos to help increase the effectiveness of email.

Happy marketing!

Chad H.

PS: Here's a related article over on ClickZ called:
Why E-Mail ROI Is So Amazing


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Americans Hate Canadians

I'm pretty steamed at the moment. I don't know how else to explain this but to say that Americans hate their brothers and sisters to the North. Are you guys jealous of our health care system or something? What is it??

If you try and access TV show episodes like The Office, you get messages like this: "We're sorry, but the clip you requested is not available from your location". I'm sorry, what?! I have a job that depends on this (refer to my last post). I thought, "OK, maybe this is coincidence" but then I just read in national Canadian newspaper, the Globe and Mail, that Comedy Central did the same thing with the Daily Show. Websites can detect which country you're coming from based on your IP address and block you. I guess I shouldn't complain that much as it's not like it is in China, but come on!

It turns out that Americans don't hate Canadians (well, some may). The reason that Canadians are blocked is because Global TV and other Canadian TV networks have paid a pretty penny to re-broadcast these shows in Canada and don't want Canadians to access these shows for free on the net. Therefore, Global is really to blame here but here's the reality:

  • Canadians don't care who is blocking the videos, they are being blocked. We live in a free country up here and we don't look highly on being restricted in our web browsing (especially on US web sites!!)

  • The brand of these TV shows and US networks suffer - not the Canadian networks. I think that this is grossly underestimated. Negativity is very powerful these days as bloggers can write up how dissatisfied they are very easily via blogs. :)

  • Why not add a comment that tells me the reason I can't watch the video? I guess that would get Global in trouble. It looks like that the problem was rectified by the Daily Show as it now redirects you to a Canadian network called the Comedy Network. They learned their lesson - why hasn't The Office (notice how I blamed the show and not NBC - I actually am holding Steve Carrel responsible as he runs the office).
Don't set the expectation of placing videos on the net and then make them impossible to reach because of the country you live in. This is a web 2.0 no no - especially when video is so easily accessible via YouTube and other channels. While the web can be used to virally promote your product/service or TV show, it can just as easily destroy it.

Chad H.

PS - Question for the Global TV people - why do you have other videos on your site and not The Office? Please let me know.
PPS - Hey Global TV: ET Canada really sucks.


I have a new job... in viral marketing

No, I haven't left my current job. I've added a second job working for the Dundler Mifflin Infinity team, Sudbury Ontario Branch. I'm not joking!

I submitted my application on the new Dundler Mifflin Infinity website which was accepted and I plan to help them sell paper. My first task was adding that nice banner ad over there. Go ahead and give it a click. You use paper, don't you?

If you watch the show The Office on NBC like I do with my wife most weeks, you'll understand what Dundler Mifflin is all about. This season, they've launched a new website that allows their customers to buy their product online (if you're asking what took them so long, you need to watch the show). NBC has created an entire online campaign to build on the theme of the actual episodes. This includes all of the web 2.0 mix such as social networks, videos etc... What I liked about this site is that they really make you feel part of the team and it really isn't all that difficult to participate. By including features such as adding web banners as part of the tasks that your "manager" has set out for you, your adding to the viral effect - it's brilliant! In addition, "applying for a job" was a snap. Online "branches" from across the globe compete against each other. For this week's task, the branch with the most clicks, wins. Go Sudbury branch!

What is more important is the passion you see on this website. These people really are Office fanatics. Depending what type of business you're in, you may have your own fanatics - these are people that love your product and/or services. Think about ways that you can harness this passion so it's not just your company evangelists who are spreading the word about the great things that you do but it's your customers doing this for you.

Any other Office fans out there?

Chad H.

PS - I added The Office theme music myself (wasn't part of the task). Just click play above.
PPS - I'm serious about clicking on the banner ad. Do you want me to get fired on my first day?
PPPS - Notice how NBC uses query strings on the banner ad links. This is similar to my recent post on closed loop marketing. You need to see the post and click on the banner above to better understand what I mean


Monday, October 22, 2007

Subject lines that work

Good post on how to write subject lines with examples from Adrian Singer over at software projects.

Here are his four main characteristics of how to write a successful subject line:
#1. It needs to reference something you know about

#2. It needs to be something that is important to you

#3. It needs to have an expiration or urgency factor

#4. It needs to be something you yourself can act upon

Here is his top example:
Your Mortgage is late. Pay today to avoid a penalty

Thanks Adrian,

Chad H.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

What is RSS? Check out this video

Instead of me writing about what RSS (Real Simple Syndication) is , I'll let this whiteboard geek tell you all about it (thanks MarketingProfs!). Feel free to pass this along to your manager who doesn't understand what the hell RSS is and doesn't want to invest in it:


Automated Customer Scoring - Going Beyond Leads

Automated Lead scoring is a term that many in the B2B world are familiar with. Essentially, you take the typical manual lead qualification process that a sales rep or call center does over the phone to find the best leads and let technology do this for you. Can you apply this same concept to customers? I think you can and those of you in B2C already do this quite well.

At a recent MarketingSherpa's Boston Summit, Liz Thibeault, Senior Marketing Programs Manager, EMC Corp., described a process of having account reps manually deliver important names and lead qualification information to the marketing team for possible upsell programs. Knowing the account rep role myself quite well, wouldn't it be easier if you had a mechanism that scored existing customers through automation rather then waiting for account reps to pass on this data? For example, a highly qualified customer would be one that attended a webinar that was focused on a new product or service as well as downloaded a white paper on that topic. You can also blend into the mix data based on past purchases, role within the organization etc... If the score was high enough based on the defined criteria, the account rep would get a notification to follow up right away or the customer could be placed in a program that would deliver a highly targeted email asking the contact if they would like a live demo. It's this type of automated approach that could assist account reps in following up with the right customers at the right time which can lead to more closed deals.

The B2C world does this all the time. For example, if you purchased tickets to a Disney ice show in the past, you may receive an email letting you know that the Wiggles on ice is coming to town. Amazon shows you related books on the same page of a book you are looking at. In both cases, companies are using technology to inform customers of other offers that they may be interested in based on past activity.

If you've yet to get into lead scoring, I would first start down that path but if your main source of your business is return business from your customers, it's time to start thinking about Customer Scoring.

Chad H.

PS - Has anyone tried a Customer Scoring program?

Image from:

Monday, October 08, 2007

Your Reply To Email Should Allow Me to Reply!

I just wrote a post, went for my run and checked my email again. I realized that I have a ton of unopened email from MarketingVOX. I get daily emails from these guys which help me keep up on the latest but you know what, I can't keep up with it and it's mostly just too many details that I am not interested in. I gave up and I unsubscribed as I had no other choice.

I figured, hey, I'll take an extra minute and write them the following email:
"Daily emails are too much. Can you make it weekly and perhaps categorize some of this? I've unsubscribed - too much clutter."

I thought I was being nice here and providing some free advice. I did receive an immediate response from them but not the one I wanted:
This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification.

Delivery to the following recipients failed.

I consider this to be BS and an email worst practice. If you have a reply to email address:
a. make it a real one
b. have real people checking it regularly for useful requests that come through

Hey MarketingVOX! I still want your emails - just make them weekly!

Chad H.


One way to tackle closed loop marketing

Now that the summer is behind us I feel that I have a few extra pounds from the BBQs and beers on the patios. I've promised myself to go for at least 2 morning runs during the week and a trip the gym on the weekend. I'm still working on the 2 runs per week but I'm getting there. I know that if I don't go, I see the results of the hamburger that I had for lunch the next morning on the scale. When I do go for a run I see the positive results - great motivation to keep on exercising.

If I compare my exercise achievements to "closed loop marketing," I get half-way as I am able to track if I've lost weight on my scale but I don't know what exactly contributed to this weight loss. Was it the distance and intensity of my run or was it my avoidance of the free donuts that are passed out at the office? It's this unknown factor that contributes to your success that is the "magic number" or as Rod Tidwell in Jerry McGuire would call it "the Quan".

This post is not meant to define or re-define the term "closed loop marketing". It focuses on a few methods that are used to track various marketing initiatives which can be rolled up to larger marketing reports and/or dashboards. This type of reporting can guide marketers to determine which campaigns and channels are more successful then others by tying marketing initiatives to closed deals.

Closed Loop Marketing And Query Strings

Query strings are those weird characters you see in a URL. Here's an easy example: Go to Google and type in "Toronto Maple Leafs". On the right hand side, you'll probably see a StubHub ad (unless they removed it after people reading this clicked on it too much which I highly doubt). Click on the ad. Don't get alarmed at how expensive the seats are - that's not why you are here. Check out the long URL:

The query string part of the URL (typically found after a "?" or "&") is gtse and gtkw. The query string values are "goog" and "Toronto%20Maple%20Leafs". In this case it seems that StubHub is tracking the search engine which is Google and the search engine keywords which are "Toronto Maple Leafs".

In a finely tuned closed marketing system, StubHub will save the search engine and keyword query string data to the profile of the people that purchase tickets. StubHub can then evaluate which search engines and keywords resulted in the most sales and invest appropriately.

Closed loop marketing seems easy eh? It isn't. This was a fairly straightforward B2C transactional example. What about the other marketing channels like email and my website? Query strings can help out there as well!

Moving Beyond Search - Query Strings and email, website, online ads and direct mail

You can take the example above and use it for your other marketing channels. For example, on your website, consider using query strings for links on your home page or category pages. This will allow you to track the source if web visitors downloaded a white paper or purchased a product. The same goes for email. If you add a query string to your web links, you can save the query string data to the web profile of the email recipient, if they click through and fill out a form.

They key to this closed loop reporting method is:
a. Having a marketing team that is bought into using this method. This includes the bandwidth to create query string values to track each individual campaigns
b. The technology to capture the query string data so that it can be reported on

Closed Loop Marketing, Query Strings, B2B, and Your CRM

With B2B, many sales cycles are prolonged and may take weeks or months before a deal is closed. In addition, your sales are not transactional - i.e. responding to an email and buying some Leaf tickets. Therefore, the deals take longer to close, more individuals on the client side are involved and you typically have your sales force that you need to work with (however, I'm focusing mostly here on online lead generation).

In this case, you need to sync up your query strings values to an object in your CRM - typically called a campaign object. Campaigns can represent an online webinar, a trade show, a demo or case study download, a request for contact etc... With the CRM, you can associate Campaigns to a Lead or Contact. Campaigns are then associated with Opportunities (potential deals) and when they are closed, marketing gets the credit if a Campaign was associated with the Opportunity. Which Campaigns get associated with the Opportunity is way out of scope for this post.

Here is the takeaway: You can use query strings to represent campaigns that can be recorded in your CRM. You can then implement closed loop reporting as you can run reports on the opportunities that closed and the campaigns that were associated to them. Again, you need a marketing and sales team that has bought into this concept, the resources to create campaigns and query strings that are integrated with your online strategies and the technology that will allow you to capture this data and easily sync it with a CRM.

Are there easier ways to do this? Definitely and the technology is constantly evolving. In fact, I should have an update for you soon on different ways to perform closed loop marketing. As I mentioned, I wanted to present one way to do this.

Now that I may have confused some of you, I'm going for a run.

Chad H.

PS - Here are some additional resources on closed loop marketing:

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Looking for Ideas to Generate More Leads?

If your company is generating enough leads already, please stop reading right there.

Still here? There is an excellent FREE report from RainToday that has just been launched called: The One Piece Of Advice You Can't Generate Leads Without. It's full of great articles from the industry experts (not just a RainToday person writing a bunch of articles) such as Brian Carrol and the MarketingSherpa crew. It's an interesting read and while it may be like "child's reading" for the advanced B2B marketers, it's a nice refresher, keeps you focused, and may produce some new ideas that you can implement right away. Did I mention it was free? Nice work RainToday. Keep in mind it's also a blatant self-promotional tool for the contributing authors but don't let that bother you as they have some great stories to share.

Here are some highlights:
  • Suzanne Lowe includes some tactics on measuring the effectiveness of your lead generation efforts. For example, your call center or sales can track the number of engagements vs. the number of appointments.
  • Forrester provides a great example how a medical research services company is nurturing leads and has resulted in closing business with over 80% of the people that sign up for their trial.
One of the main themes from this paper was the need for some sort of lead nurturing effort. Besides the planning involved, it's crucial to ensure that both marketing and sales really understand the different parts of the program to maximize it's full effect.

Happy reading!

Chad H.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Easy Tip: Maximizing Your Whitepaper Downloads

I'm going through my old emails and I found one of those rare MarketingSherpa studies that are "open to the public". This is a great one that focuses on B2B lead generation.

Effectiveness of white papers in B2B marketing

As you can see from the chart, people who are accessing white papers less frequently would prefer not to have to fill out a form. Really? I don't think you knew that! It's pretty obvious that we all hate filling out a form. Just give us the damn white paper!

One item that Anne mentioned in her audio for this presentation gave me an idea. She says "If you want your white paper to go viral, you need to loosen the strings early on and get rid of those barriers. Set the white paper free!" They're right that if you just allow a user to access a white paper without placing a barrier in front of it, you'll turn a lot less people away. But what about your lead generation efforts? How do you grow your lead funnel? We know from previous studies that web visitors will fill out a form if it's easy and the page provides a good summary as to what they can expect. How can we have our cake and eat it too?

Add a Little Viral Marketing, Get a Bigger Bang Out of Your Marketing Buck

Ok, so here is my idea. If your white paper is good and you've followed the landing page best practices, you'll get some web visitors to download it. Now what? When the person fills out a form, some marketers push them directly through to the white paper which is a good idea as it's one less click if they first go to a confirmation page. Why not also send them a confirmation email with the white paper as a link in the email? Your copy could be something like this:

Thanks for downloading the white paper on XXXXX (link to the white paper). If you know someone who may find this useful, feel free to forward it on to them.

In the above example, the web visitor gets a reminder via email as to what they downloaded and now they can easily forward it on to other people within their organization. The copy above spells this out which may be needed for some folk.

Kicking Viral Marketing Up a Notch - Turning the follow up email into Lead Generation

How could we improve the example above? For starters, we could have added a second paragraph with a link that says:

Interested in learning more about xxxxx (your company's specialty)? Sign up for our monthly newsletter!

If the email was forwarded on, and another person viewed the white paper, they can now easily click on the newsletter sign up link and add their email to your list. They'll be more inclined to do this because:
  • Their friend recommended your company to them
  • They just read an interesting white paper that their friend sent them and want to learn more.
You've just added an additional lead generation weapon! You can make this email more interactive by using dynamic content based on the subject matter of the email. For example, if the white paper was focused on a specific industry or targeted a specific business group, your email content could reflect this. However, you never now who this may get emailed to and it's best to keep it generic.

Kicking Viral up a Further Notch: Using B2C techniques

You can also turn this into a bit of a contest that you see more in the B2C realm. What if you gave an incentive to the original white paper recipient to forward it to 5 of their friends and they could be entered into a draw to win an IPhone? Has anyone tried this? This would encourage a more viral effect so it would be interesting to see the results of this.

Hopefully these ideas inspired you to further maximize your white papers and other website downloads.

Chad H.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Who will be the Next President? Mr. or Mrs. Widget

Widgets are becoming more and more popular these days as additional tools for marketers. Widgets have been around for a while but they are being used more frequently (especially on social media sites) which is why they are gaining additional attention. There are different types of widgets but I will be focusing on web widgets as I found a great one for all of my American friends.

According to Wikipedia, a web widget is a small piece of code that you add to a web page. You also have desktop widgets (for example, the ones that come with Windows Vista, Apple and Yahoo widgets).

Why should I care about widgets?

  • They are helpful as they provide useful information. For example, I have a weather application right on my desktop so I easily know the weather for the week.
  • Market to your prospects. Are you trying to demonstrate leadership in your industry? Building your brand? Trying to drive people to your website? Consider creating a widget that will include your logo, a link to your website and provides useful information (see point #1) that will demonstrate your knowledge on a particular subject. It can even be something fun like a game - anything that reflect well on your company and/or brand.

  • Communicate to customers more efficiently. Imagine if you were able to alert your customers instantly with a widget (for example, new tickets go on sale or a software alert) or provide them with a widget to receive mission critical information to their mobile device (this is a mobile widget)? The possibilities are endless. With widgets you get around email. If your widget is deemed useful, people will download it and use it.

What do Widgets and the Next US President have to do With Each Other?

This is an easy one - check out this widget from the Washington Post that I easily added to this post. This says it all. It provides an easy synopsis of the major presidential candidates and their positions. It demonstrates that the Washington Post knows its stuff and helps readers cut through the political rhetoric. It also provides a plug for Daylife - the company that built this widget.

The new craze is using widgets with social media sites such as Facebook and MySpace. For example, I downloaded a widget for the show The Office for Facebook that displays quotes from the show. Widgets demonstrate how companies are working together more to build on existing platforms and provide more useful applications.

Let me know if you have found other interesting widgets and if you find these useful.

Chad H.

PS - widgets can be a huge time drainer as well so watch out!
PPS - Larry Chase pointed me to Widgipedia: It's a widget search engine and directory . Get your widget on!


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

5 Ways to Set Expectations in Online Marketing

I was camping this past weekend and my sister brought with her a CD of this hilarious comedian, John Pinette. If you haven't heard of him, you will soon enough. Here's a clip of him describing how he hates lines of any kind.

Why is this so funny? I think we all hate lines. We all hate waiting. We want what we want and we want it now! The reality is that we're going to have to wait. If this means waiting for a Starbucks latte that you ordered or for that technical assistant from your local cable/Internet company we all know that waiting is a part of life. If that's the case, lets make sure that we know what we're getting ourselves into ahead of time and if we do need to wait, provide some added value.

Setting Expectations the Right Way in Online Marketing

1. If you want people to register or sign up on your site, tell them exactly what they're going to get. This means using images to provide context. For example, if it's a webinar that people are signing up for, provide a pic of the person who is going to speak. If it's a contest for an IPhone, show an IPhone.

2. Make the registration process as easy as possible. Only ask for the information that you need and let the visitor know that they will only need to register once (it's a best practice to configure your site this way if possible). If you're looking to setup an e-commerce site, look at the heavy weights such as Amazon and EBay.

3. Make sure the information is relevant. Don't blast your entire database and expect magic to happen in terms of conversion. Use relevant information such as a person's title or the pages that they have previously clicked on to determine the messaging.

4. Allow your customers/prospects to set their own expectations for marketing messages. They should control the type of email, the frequency and the content. If you don't give them this control (and you should), make sure they know what type of marketing messages they can expect to receive and how often. If you don't, welcome to unsubscribeville - population, your company.

5. Use appropriate messaging on your site and email and provide something in the meantime if you can't deliver the goods right away. I can see why John Pinette is losing his brains at McDonald's. I was there yesterday at a roadside service center (OK, I admit I have the odd Big Mac attack) and I was waiting for what it felt like was forever. Whether it's unacceptable or acceptable the only thing that kept me sane was my Blackberry. I'm not asking for Ronald and the gang to sing show tunes while I wait but it would be nice if:
a. I had a sign that told me that the wait would be less then 5 minutes (this would be updated automatically like a scoreboard)
b. If there was a TV or something so I could watch a sporting event while I wait. How about a contest of some sort like "Where's Waldo?". Get creative!

I don't think I'm asking for much here. Do you? I'm sure John doesn't.

When it comes to email and your website, tell people when they should receive a confirmation email regrading a webinar that they signed up for or for a recent purchase. Tell them when they can expect their new computer to be shipped to them. Provide easy access to FAQs and contact information and have someone on the other end of the line. If I send a customer request to Bell, I want to receive an email that tells me how long I will be waiting until I hear from someone.

Here's a bonus one:

6. Go Beyond Expectations. Have you ever been at Starbucks sipping a coffee and they offered you a free sample of a cookie or beverage? Typically I've had way too much caffeine at that point and another coffee may turn me into a jabbering idiot but the offer is appreciated. Why? Because the interaction is personal and shows that you, the customer is rewarded for being a customer and that Starbucks cares about its customers (if only they could fix their line ups!). I'm not saying that McDonald's should go around giving out free hamburgers to kids who are playing in the play area but there are many opportunities that companies miss out on.

Here's an example: Company X has been a loyal customer for the past 5 years. Treat them like they are private members to your exclusive club and offer additional incentives such as a free upgrade - go beyond their expectations and they will remain loyal to you.

Let's get even simpler: I just signed up to receive your newsletter. They are sent every three weeks. Here's an idea: Send me the most recent one right away! Here's another one: I just purchased a computer or expensive software from you. Why not send an email with links to tutorials, social networks etc... In this way, you can keep the enthusiasm going that you had when you purchased the product/service and relieve some of the cognitive dissonance (wasn't psych 101 great?) that you may have after the purchase or after you just provided your contact information.

Getting to the Front of the Line

Web visitors need to understand how much time they need to invest in an activity and how it will benefit them. Those that are loyal deserve some extra TLC so giev it to them. Think about the tips above and how your company can bring potential customers and prospects to the front of your line, and how to get them there as fast as possible.

Chad H.

PS - any examples that you have on setting expectations would be greatly appreciated.


Friday, July 20, 2007

How to Adjust Your Landing Pages For Search

Does your website have a home page? Ok, that's a stupid question but because of the preponderance of use of search engines in browsing the web, home pages are just not the same as they once were. A site can now have multiple home pages depending on what search query was used to end up on your website. Is your website ready?

I was reading a great article on Imedia called Websites: The Secret to Landing Pages and Shopping Carts by Joseph Carrabis who pointed out a great point: Landing pages for visitors that enter your site from a search engine must also serve as home pages. "Joe" (if I can call you that) believes that when users search for something in particular and enter your site, the content should be centered around this topic which would form a mini-site or microsite (a subset of the greater website). Joe states: "Thus, the entry page that focuses on a specific car or hand lotion or food item or whatever must also serve as the "homepage" to a microsite. This microsite may be one, two or at most three pages within a larger website system..."

These new home pages (or "side pages" as I call them) should be very specific and geared to the search query that led them to that page. The content should be easy to follow and the user should be able to quickly decide if this company can help them or if they need to try again. If the company is of interest, it should be fairly easy to request for additional information.

Joe inspired me to see if companies are gearing their websites around search and if they are creating these new types of home pages. I've used Google and randomly chose the search query "software integration". I've selected a few of the paid search results from this search and reported my findings below.

Search Landing Pages (Side Pages) That Need Improvement

I've learned from my research that marketers need to distinguish between different types of landing pages. There are the landing pages that companies use to drive people to from emails and direct mail and there are landing pages used for search results and other forms of online advertising. There really are different best practices for each of these.

Let's look at the first example from my search on "software integration" from BEA Software:

I've highlighted the areas in the image above that I felt are important. Here are the positives:
  • The headline and copy is crisp and concise. The web visitor will know after a few seconds if this is something that they are interested in
  • It's easy to request additional information and all that is required is to fill out two fields to complete the web form.
The main drawback of the page is that the copy is geared to someone who visited this page from another page on the BEA website or from a BEA email. The first line says "Thanks for your interest in our white paper for developing the organization & governance plan". That doesn't make sense coming from a Google search query! I never expressed interest in this white paper. BEA seems to have re-purposed this landing page and the result is a poor one.

What if I was interested in something else from BEA? Now what? Unlike an email landing page where you're typically driving someone to a very specific action (such as signing up for an event), search results landing pages are different. While the visitor should be driven to a certain action (such as requesting additional information), additional options should be included to allow for browsing other areas of your website (like a home page but coming through a side door and hence why I call these side pages).

In this case, the web form was very short and probably worked. However, a web form may seem obtrusive to someone who just came in from a search engine. Before someone divulges personal information, you need to earn that trust and providing valuable information first without first displaying a form may be a better way to go (I'll let you determine this from your testing).

Here's another example from Agilent:

This landing page does a few things right. It has a call to action right at the top which outlines how to purchase the product and has a good first paragraph that summarizes the product. The problem is that there is too much extra text on the page. For example, there is a "What's new" section. If this was setup as a real microsite, the "What's New" section would be on a separate page. This main page should focus on outlining the features of this solution in a clear and concise way while providing options to the web visitor to explore additional information on this product.

Search Landing Pages (Side Pages) That get it Right

The following search landing pages are worth looking at perhaps mimicking. The first example is from Cisco:

The content on this landing page gets right to the point and it starts with a great headline. Using bulleted points also helps the reader quickly scan the page.

What I like even more about this page are the call to action options that it provides at the end of the copy (but without the need to scroll on a typical monitor configuration). If you're ready to download the product, there is a section that says "I'm ready" and if you're not ready just yet you can select the "I'm interested" registration. The fact that it spells this out for you and uses clear images to delineate the two sections is extremely cool. That way, Cisco is accounting for two types of visitors - the serious and the non-serious. In addition, Cisco has provided the top-level navigation if this page doesn't satisfy the users' needs.

The last example from my research (excuse the pun) is from a company called Adeptia:
This was another good example of content that is clear and concise. In addition, I liked how the product name was highlighted at the top of the page which allowed those web visitors that already knew the product name to go to that page. For the rest of us, the page provided examples and benefits of the product while providing call to actions such as viewing a demo or case study without the need to scroll. The page also allowed you to browse other areas of the Adeptia website to view their other solutions.

Landing Page Conclusions

Here is a summary of my findings:
  • Keep the content clear and use headers and bullets to break it into chunks that are easily digestible.
  • Only provide content that is directly relevant to fulfilling the desired action on the page. If you have additional content that is related to the product or service, consider providing a link to it (for example, updates to the product)
  • Call to actions need to be viewable without scrolling
  • Provide multiple call to actions. Since people are coming from a search engine, you don't know if they're in the final stages of the buying cycle or just at the beginning. The Cisco example provides for both scenarios.
  • Consider not placing a form on the first page that a web visitor sees when coming from a search engine. If you do, keep it short.
  • Allow web visitors the opportunity to browse other areas of your website. As mentioned above, search landing pages (side pages) are side doors to your content. These are people that are not coming through the front door but may have randomly happened upon your site. If your call to actions don't appeal to them, allow them the opportunity to view other areas of your website.
I hope you have found this informative. Feel free to use the term "side pages" and be sure to continuously test and optimize your landing pages to get the best results.

Chad H.

PS: I want to apologize in advance to the companies listed above for spending their valuable marketing dollars and for my abusive click fraud.
PPS: You can take this concept beyond paid search to organic search - are your pages fully optimized to drive web visitors down a certain path?


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Combining Direct Mail with Your Online Marketing Efforts

Many B2B marketers today are either slashing their direct mail budgets or drastically changing the focus of these campaigns to make them more targeted. MarketingSherpa in conjunction with KnowledgeStorm have released a recent study that demonstrates that direct mail is still relevant.

I like to read a white paper on actual paper!

If you think waaaaay back, there was a time when all newsletters and white papers were sent by mail. I actually remember those days (hey - it was only a decade ago). Then there were the transition years in the early part of the decade when some of your customers and/or prospects still had the option to read your materials offline so you provided this option. Many companies still have this option but most don't. Why did we stop doing this? Most likely the answer is cost as well as the belief that everyone reads and has easy access to email. Your online materials are also more easily measurable. So why should we even think about going back to the "stone age" of direct mail?

Why Direct Mail?

Because there is demand for it and it produces results! The MarketingSherpa study indicted that 44% of survey respondents would choose to receive a white paper by direct mail if the option existed. Instead of just having your online visitors sign up to receive a white paper or e-book online or by email, why not provide the option of having it mailed to them if they select this option? You can use some fancy Java Script to make key fields such as address, city etc... appear on the landing page if the "snail mail" option is selected.

As another idea, send the individual an email in a few days after they registered to receive something in the mail to indicate that they should get ready to receive the white paper by mail. This is a good way of maximizing your direct mail investment and increasing response. Some people may forget why they received the direct mail piece when it eventually gets to them. Here is something to think about - include a picture of the sales rep for that person's regions on the email and also have it on the cover letter of the white paper that they will receive. How is that for personalization?

The other great thing about direct mail is that it's visible outside of your computer. This means it can get passed around an office, be put up on a bulletin board etc... etc... Depending on how good the content is, people may keep your materials around for years - something that typically doesn't happen with the online versions. You can also include a cover letter and additional offers to continue the conversation and move the prospect further along the sales funnel.

Question: How do you make direct mail easy to execute without burning your budget?

Automation of Direct Mail is the Key

If you're a smaller business and you get minimal leads, this is typically a non-issue. You are typically happy to get the leads and you can do this fulfillment yourself. You can also manually decide if the order is worth fulfilling.

If you're a bigger business and you're thinking about going this route, the one thing you don't want to do is create too much additional work for your team. What you need to do is to automate this process so that you can easily send out direct mail pieces in a "just in time" format. You may even want to restrict who is sent a direct mail piece. For example, what if you could automate the lead qualification process to automatically determine if the individual was qualified to receive a direct mailer? If they weren't deemed suitable, you could send them an email apologizing and saying that you're unable to send them a direct mail piece at the moment. I'm thinking off the top of my head here but there are many possibilities with the goal of sending the right people, the right information at the right time so that you maximize your marketing dollars and convert more leads into opportunities and eventally sales.

In terms of automation, your form capture tool could be linked up directly to a mailing house which would take care of the printing and mailing. Again, these are further ideas to explore. You would also want to ensure that that you could track the success of these campaigns. This may include tracking those individuals that follow up by calling, emailing, or visiting the site.

I hope this gives you something to think about!

Chad H


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Driving More Web Traffic: The Community Effect

I was at a wedding this past weekend and I was talking to a 10 and 12 year old who were avid "gamers" (video game players). As a side note I equate gaming with gambling as they both can be costly and are ridiculously addictive. I myself am not a gamer but was recently handed a free Xbox (the old one) and couldn't help playing a "few" games. I was feeling confident that I could speak to these tweens on how I'm down with gaming - boy was I wrong.

During my conversation I got the low down on "what's in" these days which includes RPG games (don't know what that is? Come on, what's wrong with you? :) ) and playing with your friends online. This is where gaming is like gambling. Like a slot machine, Xbox (Microsoft) makes you not only shell out for the system and the games but if you want to play online, you need an Xbox Live subscription. If you're a parent you probably know all about this. How does this relate to driving web traffic?

Gaming - The Online Community of Youth

Besides Facebook, MySpace and other web 2.0 online communities, my wedding table guests explained that they spend a tremendous amount of time playing online Xbox games. Why? Because it's a chance to play with your friends online which is far away from reality, parents, school etc... Did your parents ground you? No problem, you can still hang with your friends in a make belief world. It's no wonder that one of the more popular games is called "Fable" as this is a fairy tale world. These games are addictive as it's no longer the challenge of just you against the computer - it's also you "against" your friends. You now have a type of peer pressure to keep you coming back and spending more money and time online (with Microsoft).

How do You Capture the Online "Gaming" Effect?

This is the big question. Today, there are many articles out there on "marketing conversations" like this one called "Conversational Marketing" by Diane Hessen. What is the "social glue" that will keep people coming back to your site, opening your emails and buying your products and services? A great example of this is MarketingProfs Know-How Exchange. This is almost like gaming for marketing professionals (almost - there is no sniper fire or three pointers).

The Know-How Exchange allows small to mid-size businesses to post marketing questions on a wide variety of topics and the community provides responses. These questions are sent to the community daily via email. Points are awarded to the people with the best answers by the people who asked the questions. These points are called expert points. You now have a rating that you can compare with others. I have responded to 13 questions and had 8 of my answers accepted. I've accumulated 501 points and I have a batting average of 615 - not bad! Watch out A-Rod! The key item here is that very little engagement is required by MarketingProfs as the community drives itself.

The Know-How Exchange really works. It's a free service that allows its members to have their say (the ongoing conversation effect), it provides real answers by real professionals (usually) which gives it authenticity, it gives companies the chance to win new business by finding opportunities and it demonstrates that MarkingProfs is the place to go for marketing resources and thus promotes its premium memberships. This is really win win at its best.

Does it have the peer pressure effect? Yes as it lists the "experts" that have accumulated the most points overall which is like a video games high scores that everyone is trying to beat. It may not be the same as playing a collaborative video game but it's close as many of the regular experts tend to way in on the questions.

How can you Start Your Community?

This post was more to get your mind thinking of the possible and how communities can work. A few easy ideas on starting conversations in your industry is to have an "ask the expert" knowledge exchange. You can start this off by asking your customers for questions that they may have about their industry. For example, I work in the online marketing world so clients may ask what is the average open rate for software companies that have revenues over $500 million. Get the conversation started and use your team to answer these questions (perhaps the service component of your business). As this concept grows, you will start to develop a repository of resources that you can use to post on your site or your blog which is great for new content (think SEO). You will also start to grow a core group of members. As this idea grows, you may want to move to a format where you bring in advocates of your products and services. These may be clients and partners that may already have blogs and websites that support your cause. You can then move to more of an online community effect where the content is no longer solely dependent on your company.

I hope that you have found this informative and I wish you luck on building your online community. Remember to ask yourself what is the social glue that will keep your community together. If you can't answer that then you're not ready to start an online community.

Chad H.

Tags: , , ,

Image is from (Microsoft - please don't sue me)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

How to Improve Your Email Newsletter

Do you have an email newsletter? Many B2B and B2C companies produce a newsletter or newsletters that are geared to a specific audience or audiences. There is no question that newsletters are a great way of keeping your company top of mind to your customers and prospects and increasing brand awareness as well the perception that your organization is the industry expert. Here's the issue: How can you distinguish your newsletter from your competitors and take it to the next level? How can you improve your email opens and click-throughs?

Email Newsletter 2.0

Taking your newsletter to the next level really isn't that difficult. In the "new world" of web 2.0, your target audience no longer just wants to receive information from you but they want the ability to respond and have their say. How do you do this? You allow people to comment on your newsletter articles. A while back I wrote about the concept of a "blogletter" that combines a newsletter and a blog. We see this concept more and more. In fact, many newsletters will display the number of comments that an article has right in the email (you can see the example I provided from the Globe & Mail)!

Why Should I Allow Comments on my Email Newsletter

Here are the benefits:
  • New metrics to measure success: With many email software providers you can see who has opened and clicked through from your email newsletter. Allowing comments takes this further as you can better gauge the uptake of your newsletter. A new email newsletter metric could be number of comments per newsletter or average amount of comments per article

  • Receive valuable feedback: Email communication is typically one way. Your organization writes articles and you blast them to your list. Comments allow your readers to have their say. They can tell you what they like and what they don't like about your newsletter.

  • Lead qualification: There are two benefits here. In order to leave comments, you could add some additional lead qualification questions to the registration process. Typically you would probably only request the basic information for someone to receive your newsletter (name, email, company for B2B). When someone wants to leave a comment, it provides an opportunity to request additional information to help your marketing and sales team have a better understanding of the customer/prospect.

    In addition, if your organization gets its share of leads, you can use newsletter comments to help in the lead qualification process. For example, how about metrics such as the number of comments that contact has written and the recency of the last comment? These stats could be used as part of an automated lead qualification process and be displayed on the contact record of the CRM (Customer Relationship Management like that you use.

  • Better insight into your customers and prospects: Positive, negative or indifferent most comments are important. If you were able to include these comments in the contact record of your CRM, your sales and customer support team can get a better sense of the contact, their business and any issues/opportunities that exist. When you leave a comment on my blog, I get an email that tells me what you wrote about. What if you were able to have comments go right to the customer/lead owner as defined by your CRM (If you are doing this right now then I am thoroughly impressed - this can be done)? If the comment is negative, have that person contacted right away! If the person has a question about your industry, product or service have that person contacted right away!
  • Newsletter readers become newsletter contributors: Your email recipients are no longer just contacts that make up a list. They become real people who have opinions. Your newsletter may even create a community of loyal readers and contributors (like an online "Cheers" where everybody knows your name and they may or may not be glad you came). You'll get your regular "commenters" who will express their opinions. You may even want to let one of them write an article. The great part of this is that they will give you ideas about what you can write about in the future. When no comments are provided, this speaks volumes as well as your newsletter article may not appeal to your target audience or it may be over their heads.

  • Your newsletter gets better results: The more you allow people to participate in the conversation, the more you engage them and the better results you will get. If you don't believe me, I urge you to test out this concept for a month and see how it goes. If your results improve, I will expect a cheque.
Here are drawbacks:
  • You need to monitor the comments: Typically, you will want to approve comments before they are added. In addition, you will want to have someone that can quickly respond to negative comments. This can take time and cost money. There are systems that automate this process though.

  • The comments can be negative or just plain stupid: You may have some disgruntled people out there that don't like you or what you have to say. That's OK actually. Having some negative comments shows that you're company is human - hey everyone makes mistakes. The important point is how you respond to those mistakes and turn negatives into positives. As mentioned in my first point, you need to respond to these fairly quickly. You also get the idiots out there who have nothing to contribute except for wanting to advertise their product or service. These just waste your time and there are ways to automatically filter them out.

What do I do to get this moving?

This really isn't too difficult. Most email newsletter articles are posted on web pages. There are a number of software packages out there that will allow you to add comments to your newsletter web pages or to merge a blogging software (like Wordpress) into your website template. Your IT team can assist here or there many consultants out there. I know MarketingSherpa does this and I'm sure they would let you know how they did this. Some of the ideas around lead qualification and capturing metrics in your CRM still need to be flushed out. This was me thinking out loud. To add the number of comments to your email newsletter, why not either publish your newsletter to your site a day before you send out the email so you get some initial comments and then add in the code on your email newsletter. Some software packages out there may allow for this to be dynamically generated - I don't know enough about this (that's not the case for the Globe & Mail example above).

Good luck with this and I hope that it improves your results. If you have tried this already, please let me know.

Chad H.




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