Sunday, December 21, 2008

10 Tips for Using Twitter And Email Marketing for B2B

I was told that every blog needs a "top 10 post" and I thought today would be a good day to write one on a topic that is growing in popularity. That topic is Twitter and how best to use this tool for your B2B marketing efforts. I thought I would take a stab at providing tips on blending a tried and true tool like email with Twitter. Let me know what you think and if you have additional tips (let's see if Darren Rowse from Twitip is listening)

10 Tips for Using Twitter And Email Marketing for B2B

1. Add a link to your company's Twitter account to all mass email communications. Consider adding a link in the email footer to items such as your event invitations or email newsletters. This tip is especially important for any resource or newsletter autoresponder subscription emails. I've found that the autoresponder email from BreakingPoint does this quite well (and has an excellent newsletter!).

Quick note here: I already assumed that your company created a Twitter account. You can find many other blog posts out there on that subject. Here is a great one that should scare you into getting one: Don’t get BrandJacked: Confirming Your Corporate Twitter Account

2. Link to a form landing page from your company Twitter account. For example if you have a Twitter post such as "New white paper on how to increase ROI". Upon clicking on the link to the white paper, direct "Tweeple" (twitter people) to a landing page where you request their email address to get access to the white paper if you don't already have it. In this way you're converting your twitter followers into opted-in email subscribers.

3. Use Twitter content in your email newsletters. For example, create a feature called "Twitter Q/A". In this section, address questions/comments that came up on Twitter and what the response was. This goes back to being an Eco-Marketer and reusing content that you have. I would also recommend recognizing and thanking Tweeple that have contributed to your community. That's the stuff that builds social media loyalty and grows and nurtures your community. If you don't have enough content it means that your company is not leveraging this channel enough and it's time to get on that because it many cases, the conversation has already started.

4. Post links from your email newsletter articles on Twitter. Instead of including one twit that says: "Check out the latest newsletter" and links back to your main newsletter page, consider seeding individual articles on Twitter over a period of time (say a week). You can use a tool like Brightkit to pre-schedule your twits in advance. Companies should make each twit count and make the content as interesting as possible.

5. Ensure that all email newsletter article authors have their Twitter account listed on the email. This allows recipients to continue the conversation after they read the article. You may want to have a Twitter account for anyone mentioned in your marketing emails. This will require the individual to listen and contribute on Twitter which is a good thing (even if they object) :). A definite email best practice is personalization and I believe that Twitter is just an extension of this.

6. Provide instructions in your emails about how subscribers can follow conversations about your company on Twitter. For example, if you are promoting an event in your email, let subscribers know that they they can twit about the event using the hashtag character #. For example #myevent. You would replace "myevent" with the name of the event. You can instruct event registrants to use Twemes to follow the Twitter conversation about the event. Have a look at Karl Roche's excellent post on Twitter for events for more information.

7. Ask email subscribers for their Twitter ID when they sign up. Experiment with an optional field on a few key web registration forms and see how this affects your conversion rate. I recommend mentioning that you will follow the person if they provide their Twitter ID. This may an incentive enough as Tweeple are looking to get as many followers as possible.

8. On your email preference page, indicate to those who may want to unsubscribe that they can still follow you on Twitter. While you may have lost the person from your email list, you keep them in your community. This is the strength of Twitter and how it can be leveraged to enhance your existing marketing efforts.

9. Add a link in your emails and/or on your website that allows email subscribers and web visitors to easily tweet about an article, event or promotion. I learned this from Mr. Tweet. All you need to do is link to Twitter with the following URL: and add in a message under 140 characters after the "=" sign. Here is an example: post on Anything Goes Marketing: "10 Tips for Using Twitter And Email Marketing for B2B" This makes the process of spreading the word about your email article extremely easy. Does it take more time? Yes. Will it drive more traffic and help you get further bang for your email buck? Most likely. All you have to do is test it out.

10. Conduct Twitter interviews and use this as content for your email marketing. This type of "Twitterview" could be with a customer, partner, company exec (or any other employee), or industry thought leader. What makes Twitter great is that these types of interviews are easy to do and you can use email to promote these as "live events" as well. Here is an interview that Ann Handley from MarketingProfs did which is a great example of how easy this is.

I hope you have found this useful and please contribute additional tips by adding your own comments below.

Chad H

PS: If you found this useful, please tweet about it.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to Prevent List Attrition yet Drive Event Attendance

This week's blog post was inspired by an idea by Yaro Starak over at who suggested to look for blog ideas by scanning Facebook groups. I decided to do a quick scan on Linkedin instead and found a great topic on email marketing. Here is the question that was asked:
How does your company email customers about events and web seminars without sending too many emails to the same customer that may share several products within a product line?

How often do you email your customers and do you have a format that eliminates multiple emails to the same contacts within a short time frame?

This is a timely question as I was just reviewing a similar situation last week. While you can answer the question by saying "use a system that restricts how many emails you send within a given time frame", that may not be an acceptable approach for marketers that are measured on the number of event attendees. The best approach that was brought up in the Answers section in Linkedin is to send emails based on a person's specified interests. While the product that a customer has purchased can help you segment them, is that what they are truly interested in and can you go further in your segmentation (say based on their title or geography)?

Let's assume that the marketer may not know all of this information just yet. The bottom line is that the marketing team needs to promote events but the more emails that are sent may lead to list attrition. My recommendation is to use the right messaging based on what you know about the contact.

Using Dynamic Email Content the Right Way

This is a perfect situation for using dynamic content in email. Instead of creating one email for each event, consider creating one email and using dynamic content to display multiple events based on a person's product purchases. For example, if a person has only purchased one product, they will receive an email that promotes the event associated to that product. If a person is associated to two products (I would not promote more then two events in one email), you may want to promote the event that will be occurring next at the top of the email while including the event that is occurring later on underneath it. Another approach is to display both events side by side or to promote one event in the main column and a webinar in the smaller column.

Promoting Events in Your Newsletters

Another issue that you may deal with is the mix of newsletters, promo offers and event invite emails that you need to send. These items really should work together. For example, you can include a column on your newsletter that promotes upcoming events. You could even make this dynamic to only show events that are relevant to the individual based on their product purchases.

One approach I'm seeing more and more is to create an RSS feed of your company events and display this as a featured section in an email newsletter. It doesn't have to be an RSS feed but it does make it easier as you can update this in one spot- see Steve Wood's post called Content for Free on how to do this.

A Few Other Ideas to Cut Down on Event Emails

Here are a few small tips that you can implement:
  • Have a link on your event invite that says "I can't make the event but maybe next time". Surprisingly, there will be times when a person in your database has a conflict because their umm.... working? Instead of sending them a follow up email that invites them again to an event that they can't attend (send enough of these and you can expect an unsubscribe), give the person an out. If they do click on that "I can't male it this time" send them a follow up email after the event with recorded version and see if they download it.
  • Once someone has signed up for an event, do you really need to send 10 emails reminding them of the event (exaggerating here)? Perhaps all that is needed is an autoresponder confirmation email and an email on the day of the event or a day before the event. The way to cut down reminder emails is to get the event registrant to book off the time in their Outlook or Lotus Notes calender using an ICS file link.

Unfortunately, the question on Linked in was closed so I couldn't post my answer but that's why I have my blog. I hope you have found this useful and maybe inspired you on how to generate posts on your blog as well. Let me know if you agree or have other ideas.

Chad H.

PS: I did create a recent group on Facebook during the whole Canadian federal government debacle last week called: "I Prefer Celine as Canada's PM over Stephan Dion any day!". Even if you're Canadian it's not really that funny.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Recession is Here - Time to Become an Eco-Marketer

When I say that you should become an eco-marketer, I don't mean that you should add some corny green recycle image to your website (who would do that?) or support a "Save the Whales" campaign. Although I'm a big supporter of environmental issues and started my career running an environmental organization, I would like to focus on eco-marketing in terms of demand creation.

I focused my research this week on how I can help my customers build out a demand waterfall as defined by the smart people over at SiriusDecisions. During my research, I stumbled upon a great article by the Canadian Marketing Blog called "2009 B-to-B Demand Creation Trends" eh (Canadian joke). It's here where I came across the term eco-marketer and I wanted to build on the excellent analysis that they have already provided. However, after I drank 10 cups of coffee, I've created my own version of the eco-marketer. Here are my three Rs that I recommend to become the best eco-marketer you can be in a down economy:

The Three Rs of Marketing and a Bonus R
  1. Reuse: In a down economy you need to reuse all of your marketing resources that you have out there and maximize your marketing investments. Here are my recommendations:
    • Reuse your webinars. If you have run a live webinar, post the archived version on your website behind a form. It's been proven that archived webinars can generate more leads then the actual live event.
    • Reuse your email newsletters by ensuring they are posted on your website. This is a simple one but it's surprising how many e-newsletters remain only in email format. I would recommend to post in on your website and even create an RSS feed. With an RSS feed, you can promote in your email footers and it can be re-used by other bloggers and companies. You should even consider creating a blog and reposting your newsletter articles on it.
    • Reuse your live presentations. If anyone from your company or your customers are speaking on behalf of your company ensure that you film them and add them to the resource area of your website. You can even just post the slides or the speech text. Don't miss these great opportunities to build marketing content.
    • Use social media techniques such as Twitter and YouTube to maximize the effect of your webinars, videos and white papers. For example, you can mention on your twitter profile that you've just released a new blog post or newsletter. Think of social media as a big marketing ecosystem (see, I am focusing on the environment) and make sure you take advantage of all the tools out there. In this way, you can reuse your marketing materials as much as possible.
    • Reuse all of your marketing materials in your lead nurturing efforts. Having the right content for automated lead nurturing programs can be the most difficult part of a lead nurturing campaign. However, many companies have all of the materials they need already created. Even though some may be dated, if the materials are good they should be reused. You don't need to just focus on pushing out new content, you probably have some gold nuggets that may be hidden on your site.

      For your nuturing campaigns, create a document that outlines all of the marketing content that you have and map this to the buying process of your target audiences that you have identified (assuming you have created defined marketing segments).

      You would be amazed at how you can reuse the content you already have (blog posts, newsletter articles, industry white papers, demos) and create a specific and defined automated program that is designed to target a specific segment and has a specific marketing goal.
    • Create marketing campaigns that can be reused. For example, if you have a large marketing team, create processes so that you standardize your email and landing page templates. Tweak them as necessary based on your successes (or failures). Another example is to create automated program templates such as an event management or lead nurturing template. These templates can be copied and reused.
    • Reuse (and abuse) your whole company. If you have Jimmy from the development team who did a lunch and learn on how he coded a solution that will benefit your clients, get him to write it down and post it on a blog. If Sarah from your Support team came up with a great solution to solve a customer problem, video tape her and post it on your site or include it in your next newsletter. MAXIMIZE YOUR ENTIRE COMPANY IN YOUR MARKETING EFFORTS. Did I just write in caps?

  2. Reduce: Not only should B2B companies reduce the amount of lead leakage where leads are being lost is the sales/marketing funnel by tightening up processes, the following also needs the be considered:
    • Reduce the amount of communication that you're sending to leads. Are you saying to yourself "Are you on drugs Chad? Why would I want to send less communications when I need to keep up the number of leads to my sales team?". In a down economy you need to work on further segmenting your campaigns and matching your communications to the right person at the right time. Any emails, direct mail etc... send should be based on a person's interest and the stage of the demand waterfall that they are in. This type of eco-marketing will achieve the best results and ensure that you conserve (another eco-friendly term!) you're ever shrinking opt-in database in the tough times ahead.
    • Reduce the amount of time it takes for qualified leads to be followed up with. An automated lead nurturing process will help deal with leads that are qualified but not yet ready to buy and thus reducing leads falling through the cracks but a process needs to be put in place to put the best leads on the desks of your sales team so they'll follow up right away. The best solution for this is a lead scoring process that scores leads based on their explicit information (industry, job role etc...) and their implicit activity (offers they've downloaded, emails they've responded to). With this type of process in place, you can ensure that your sales team is "cutting through the crap" and following up with the best leads before your competitors.
    • Reduce the complexity to getting access to information on your website. Optimize your landing pages by removing any unnecessary fields. Ask for more information only if it makes sense to the potential lead. Consider building up a profile of the lead over time. This requires more effort as you need to think through the stages on getting this information but it is worth it.

  3. Recycle: By recycling leads that are in your sales and marketing funnel you will get the most out of your marketing investments. Just because a potential lead attends a webinar and doesn't respond to a sales call doesn't mean they're not interested in buying from your company. An eco-marketer may want to further investigate SiriusDecisions methodologies around calling webinar attendees "inquiries" rather then leads and not passing these on to sales until they've been further qualified through an automated marketing program. In fact, SiriusDecisions has demonstrated that webinars are typically viewed at the beginning stages of the buying process. This is just one example of how marketers need to go beyond lead generation to concentrate on the lead funnel and developing strategies to move leads through this funnel.

    Recycle your "inactive leads". Recycling doesn't just include those leads that are not "sales ready" or not yet ready to buy. You need to have automated processes that will detect those leads that you've been sending emails to (or other forms of communication like direct mail) and haven't responded. This means that they haven't visited your website, filled out a form or responded to your marketing communications. You can recycle these leads by placing them in a separate automated program with messages that are specific to this segment. This may include an email with a survey asking these "inactives" what they would like to receive from your company or a request to opt back in with a targeted offer. You may decide that it's time to take some of these leads to the curb but at least you have tried your hardest to maximize those leads that came through your front door.

  4. A bonus R is "Remove". Remove any of the following:
    • Remove barriers between the sales and marketing team. Everyone needs to work together. Think peace and joy on earth (just like a real environmentalist).
    • Remove campaigns or tactics that are not working. To do this, you need a mechanism in place to measure every aspect of your marketing efforts. This goes back to my original premise of researching the demand waterfall. Having a defined process in place where you can measure the success of your marketing efforts at each stage of the sales marketing funnel is crucial. For example, if the conversion rate of a Google AdWords campaign is failing as the effort to turn these "inquiries" into MQLs (marketing qualified leads) is too expensive and takes too long, remove it. Focus on sources that are bringing in more qualified leads.
    • Remove crappy data and automate the process if possible. You will probably have fewer leads coming in the top of your pipeline so you can concentrate on creating processes that will remove contacts that should never hit your database. This may include contacts with bad email addresses, your competitors etc... You can also look at your database for data that is inconsistent and clean it up. Where possible, you can fix this data using automated data tools. For example, it may be possible to standardize contacts that have various job titles or contacts that have different versions of a country (USA, U.S.A., United States etc...). Bad data prevents you from further segmenting your database. Clean out the crap and ensure it stays as clean as possible.
    • Remove or punish people that have not bought in. Relating this back to the environment, in Toronto we've implemented a new program for home owners that taxes you based on the garbage that you put at the curb. If you follow the three R's and reduce your trash, you save money. If you don't want to get with the program, you'll pay for it with your wallet. It's fairly straightforward.

      As an eco-marketer, you need to get the senior people bought in on your new eco-marketing mantra. If you have sales people that don't want to participate, have them penalized. If you have marketing folks that can't see the forest through the trees, remove them. It's obviously easier said then done but that's why you need executive buy-in.
I'm sure you can add here to my points above and I implore you to do that by leaving some comments. Good luck to you during some tough times ahead and be the best eco-marketer you can be.

Chad H.

PS - Here are some additional resources I used in my research (let me know if you have other useful resources)
PPS - Here are some tips to reduce the amount of water you use in your home.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Is your Company Being Blogged About?

Last week I mentioned how you can track your company's brand on twitter. Incidentally I did predict Obama winning the election and also the Dolphins beating the Seahawks today so I'm on a roll!

This week I found a new site that you can use to compare how you're company is doing on the blogosphere versus your competition. The tools is called I liked this site because it graphically represented the trends on a timeline and allows you to drill into them to see the actual blog posts. The home page also contains data on the most popular comparisons.

Here are a few comparisons I had fun with:
Try comparing your company versus your competitors and drill into the peaks to get a better understanding of why their was a high amount of chatter on a certain day. What are the trends? How is your company being represented when compared to your competitors.

This week and last week's posts should give you the kick in the but you need to ensure that your company has a voice in the social media world and if you've already delved into this that you listen very closely and refine your approach.

Chad H.

PS - a new source to look out for when tracking your brand is Linkedin.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Obama beats McCain... on Twitter

Are you having a tough time convincing your boss your company needs to get on Twitter? I checked out a site called Tweetvolume that tracks the number of times a term(s) is mentioned on Twitter and presents it in a bar chart. You can compare multiple items which allows you to compare the mentions of your company vs. another company.

Here's a few I tried:
Try it out and you can even send a link to your boss showing how your company compares to your competitor. That should be all you need to get your company's "Twitter on".

Good luck!

Chad H.

PS: You can follow me on Twitter
PPS: Smart companies use Twitter search to see what people are saying about them. While you may not actively on Twitter, the social community is twittering about you.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Landing Page Optimization: Mini Case Study

It's Canadian Thanksgiving up here today and I'm all about giving back. I'm always looking to help out marketers with their landing pages ever since I went to the Marketing Experiments Landing Page Workshop earlier this year (yes, it was in Florida and no, I didn't just go to the beach!). From time to time, I check out MarketingProf's Know How Exchange where people post their marketing questions and I try and help out.

The following was posted on MarketingProfs:

Landing Page Critique For Agency's Ppc CampaignPremium Member
Posted By: melissa on 10/10/2008 5:23 PM (CST) 125 Points
We are running a PPC campaign for a full-service marketing agency, and trying to decide on the best landing page for the promotion. The conversion goal is for prospective clients to call or complete the short contact form.

The pay-per-click categories/keywords are for: marketing agency, advertising, copywriting, design, branding, etc. Lead results so far have been pretty good, but conversions are terrible (we have not used any of these landing page designs yet). It's possible that we are not attracting the right audience, however it may be another reason.

We have developed 3 different variations for the landing page - please review these links (refer to each as 1, 2, or 3) and let me know what you think?

Thank you,

1 --

2 --

3 --

Here is my response (I admit I'm not modest and don't pull any punches). The picture above is the first example that is provided:

Let me preface this as I've been certified by Marketing Experiments in landing page creation. Out of the three, I liked the design of the first landing page but truthfully, I don't see your conversion rates increasing. Here's why:

a. What is compelling the web visitor to respond? What's in it for me? All I hear about is your company. I don't feel you've touched on any pain points of my company. This page seems way too broad. Create a title that is compelling and really hits on the keyword that someone typed in that led to them landing on this page.
b. The offer is the same old same old. Above someone mentions a case study. You'll have readers that do not want someone calling them right away. I would recommend starting the "conversation" with a simple download that hits on a pain point of the marketer as the call to action and not the "free discussion". Send them a follow up email with another call to action and see if they are interested. This will definitely increase your conversions.
c. This is petty but the letter looks like a 5 year old designed it. I'm not talking about the copy but rather the design. The letters are all sloped. This can be improved. (Actually, as I read this again, the copy is really hokey)
d. This is also petty but there is no submit button on the form!! You need something compelling such as "I want my free consultation" or "Have George call me".
e. Add a privacy agreement. This reduces the anxiety of the web visitor.
f. It's a best practice to remove the site navigation so keep the page as is. I disagree with a few of the folks above. Don't confuse the web visitor with additional information.

Good luck!!
I hope you found this helpful and feel free to send your landing pages my way and I'll try and review them (also feel free to go to the MarketingProfs forum and criticize my feedback or post a comment right here!).

Chad H.

PS: This case study on B2B online backs up my recommendations above.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Improved Email Click-Through Tracking Using Query Strings

If you have a call to action that is directed at the same landing page more then one time in your email, what is the best way to track which link received the most unique clicks?

Let's back up and review why this topic is important for marketers. As a best practice, it's VERY important to:

  1. Have more then one link in your email to the desired landing page. For example, one link may be an image while one is a text link
  2. Know which links in your email are performing better. You can use this information for future campaigns.
Jay Kulkarni over at B2B wrote an article on this subject called:"How can you ensure that you’re effectively tracking unique click rates on the same URLs within your e-mail creative?" Jay suggests using web redirects on subsequent versions of the link. For example, say you have a link to an event such as this HP event. Here is the original URL:
You could then create a redirect such as: that will redirect the web visitor to the original URL but will allow you to track that an email recipient clicked on the second URL and not the first URL.

Track Multiple Email Click-Throughs To The Same Landing Page Using Query Strings

There is another way of tracking mutiple click-throughs from different links in an email that go to the same page. This process I'm going to suggest may be easier for you as well - no need for setting up a redirect. I typically recommend using query strings to get this type of tracking. All you need to do is add a query string and a query string value to the URL and you can track multiple instances of a URL that go to the same page. For example, let's take the original URL example I used above. To make this a unique URL, I can add a query string called "link" with a value of "2" (I used 2 as this is the second instance of the URL). Here is what it looks like:

Looks easy eh (My Canadian accent coming through)? Well it is. This doesn't require any technical know how and any good tracking system should differentiate URLs based on query string values. Try this out and let me know how it goes.

Chad H.

PS: I talk more about query strings and how they can be used for improved tracking in my post called One way to tackle closed loop marketing.
PPS: Follow me on Twitter

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lead Nurturing - How to track ROI?

The concept of lead nurturing is something that is complex for some but very straightforward for others. To keep it simple, I look at it as a way of keeping your company top of mind to your potential customers or existing customers who are qualified but not yet ready to buy. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here so check out Brian Carroll's blog post for a more in depth explanation.

Quick Overview on Trends in Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing can present itself in many ways. It can consist of a sales or call center rep calling a prospect over a period of time or a series of emails sent by marketing. The shift that I've seen is to automate the process using technology. This makes it easier for marketing as messages can be delivered in a timely and consistent manner without a marketing person manually sending out the email each time. Sales benefits as well as marketing is performing "air cover" and with today's tools, the messages can look like the sales rep is sending it themselves with all of this being automated. The other shift I've seen is to use multiple channels as part of a well laid out plan. This may consist of a postcard sent out with an email being sent two days later so it coincides with the direct mail piece and then having a call center rep call 2 days later to maximize the impact of the campaign.

Great - How do I track ROI for Lead Nurturing?

If you are using a CRM with a campaign component, set up a campaign that is specific to your lead nurturing efforts (you may need several campaigns based on the number of programs you are running). On any of the emails that you send as part of the campaign, direct the respondents to a form landing page that when filled out, passes the lead to your CRM and tags that respondent as being part of the lead nurturing campaign that you set up. As deals turn into opportunities and then hopefully into closed deals, you can look back on how your lead nurturing program contributed to the pipeline and then eventually to your company's bottom line. I've also seen companies use a dedicated 1-800 number as part of their lead nurturing campaigns which allows them to easily indicate that the call was generated from a lead nurturing channel.

The explanation above is a summarized view on tracking ROI and some marketers out there may probably rolling their eyes and saying "if only it were that simple". There are many factors that go into this including getting sales and marketing working together as well as buy-in from the marketing team and the rest of the company to invest the time and resources in a systemized lead nurturing process. All I can say is that from what I've seen, it's well worth it and with a well throughout process the return on investment should not take too long to be realized.

Lead Nurturing - Getting Started

Starting a lead nurturing initiative is not the focus of this article but what I would recommend for now is to start simple and look for an area that you can run a pilot program. For example, pick a specific segment such as a key vertical and choose leads generated from a specific channel such as Google Adwords. A simple program may consist of 2-3 emails sent within a specific time period with key messages that should educate prospects and make it easy for them to reach out to your company. Obviously, the more automated you can make this, the easier it gets for the marketing team.

That's it for now - hopefully this was helpful.

Chad H.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Newsletter Content that Engages Your Marketing Database

Take a minute out of your day and have a look at this ad (it's worth it):

Yes, this is an ad but what is appealing is the message. This is not about beer. This is not enticing you to go out and drink beer. It's providing a message that hits you on an emotional level and when they have you right where they want you (at the "Thank You"), they flash their logo up there. This beer company is going beyond their product to focus on their target audience. I can imagine the thought process of the agency in their board room: "What content can we produce that will engage Anheuser Bush's customers?" They succeeded with this ad.

Who are you Writing Your Newsletters for?

For many companies, newsletters are key to either keeping customers, creating repeat customers or nurturing prospects who are interested in your products but not yet ready to buy. Many company newsletters you receive in your inbox today talk about how their company is changing and what new products are being released. So what? Why do I care about that? How is that going to help me finish my work for the day? Why would I want to open your newsletter? Before you click the send button on your next email blast, you need to consider these questions.

Creating Relevant Newsletter Content 2.0

Creating relevant content does not just mean writing about an aspect of your product or service that appeals to the target audience. Of course you need these but it's the companies that go beyond this that are able to create, nurture and sustain a loyal audience that will keep your company top of mind. Consider writing about content that will entertain or enrich the daily lives of your email registrants. This goes beyond your product and beyond your company. Here are some examples:

  • Solar Ink (by Solar Winds). Check out this newsletter issue where they feature the "Game show for geeks". This B2B company is clearly in tune with its target audience
  • MEC Email Newsletter (by Mountain Equipment Co-op). Here is an example of their newsletter that contains how to videos on how to fix your bike.
  • The Smart Life (by TD Bank Financial Group). Here is a case study that outlines how this newsletter that is targeted at its customers is designed to keep TD top of mind so they renew. It doesn't just feature their products and promotions but includes "lifestyle topics about home and family, car care, vacation properties and vehicles, smart saving and spending ideas".
Based on these examples, here is the bottom line to consider: How can you provide content to your prospects and customers that goes beyond your products and services but focuses on what is interesting to them and will keep them interested so either they keep buying from you or will eventually buy from you?

Chad H.

PS: On a side note, it would be interesting to further investigate how these companies segment their databases and if they serve different content based on these segments. For example, does content differentiate based on past products purchased, geography, job title?
PPS: I receive these newsletters above and read them.
PPPS: This concept can go beyond newsletters and be used for your automated lead nurturing efforts or in an attempt to re-engage email subscribers that are unresponsive.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Right Way to Generate More Leads on Your Site

It's been a very busy month with lots of travel thrown in. Throughout my journeys much of the conversation comes back to generating a higher quantity of leads from the web that are of better quality. I had the pleasure of attending the Marketing Experiments Website Optimization workshop that was held in Florida earlier this month (still waiting for my landing page professional certification badge :) ). From that conference, combined with a very good study on email tactics in retail I've been inspired to write a post on this topic.

What's in it for me?

They key point hammered home at the Marketing Experiments Workshop is that all points of interaction on your website should answer the following question from the web visitor's perspective: "What's in it for me?". Therefore, if you have one of those newsletter sign up boxes on every page of your site (like the one I have in the top right hand corner) that says "Enter your email to get our newsletter", you may need to rethink this area as you're not providing a compelling reason for the visitor to sign up for your newsletter. A better approach may be "Get expert updates on X" (by X I mean a specific topic that is assumed to be relevant to the site's content or why would they be there in the first place). Even the submit button should be written in a way that answers the question "What's in it for me". For example: "Send me Product Alerts".

To use a simple sign up form or to not use a simple sign up form - that is the question.

To go back to my last point on that newsletter sign up - should this be a simple email only form or should you have a link that directs web visitors to a newsletter sign up page? This depends on your target audience as well as the type of segmentation and personalization you would like to perform in your marketing campaigns. B2C companies may only need email to begin the conversation but B2B companies typically collect company name and first and last name.

Here are the points to remember:
  1. Most of the pages on your site can be accessed from a search engine. Don't assume that web visitors come waltzing through the front door (your home page). A website is like a big semi-permeable blob (think back to your to your biology days) that can be entered from all areas. Therefore ensure that you have a call to action on every page to engage new visitors and turn them into leads that you can market to.

  2. Ensure you answer the question "What's in it for me" and don't assume that because they are on a website about say hot dogs that the visitor will know that the newsletter will provide the latest deals on hot dogs. Don't assume anything. You need to spell it out.

    Another bad tactic that I see is to use landing pages for multiple purposes. For example, directing newsletter registrations to the Contact Us page. This is not a good idea as the call to action doesn't correspond to the desired result and possible subscribers would be scared off as they don't want Mr/Mrs Salesperson calling on them asking them how many hot dogs they want.

  3. The more fields on your web form, the less conversions. For some marketers, this is OK as they only want serious submissions. For example, if you're inquiring about how you can fly into space through one of those private space programs, you first need some serious coin to be considered. It would be a good idea to ask subscribers for their annual income before having someone in sales call them back.

    However, if you are just trying to start a conversation to attract a larger audience to a subject area that you have expert content in, the less fields on your form that you do have, the higher the conversion rate. Always ask yourself if you really need those additional form fields (say for segmenting or personalization) and can you get that information in a future campaign or do you need this information right away.

    Another consideration is to ask subscribers what type of information they would like to receive. This is definitely recommended. It should also be clear how often you will be sending subscribers communications.

  4. Test, test, test... I know you hear that all the time. Imagine being stuck in a conference room for 8 hours straight each day in Florida right beside a PGA golf course and being forced to hear that when you could be outside. Of course the Marketing Experiment people are right. You need to test out the method that will work the best for your situation.
I hope that this post has been helpful and I should be adding some additional findings from my landing page workshop experience. In the meantime, feel free to check out my twitter profile for updates on marketing tools and info that I pick up. I just found an interesting tool that can tell you the type of email client that your subscribers are using to view your email in. This can be key in better understanding how best to design your emails.

Chad H.

PS: I just changed my blog updates sign up form text - we'll see if it improves conversions. I think I need to provide content more often. :)
PPS - image courtesy of

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Improve Email Conversions. Save Time. Watch American Idol

I just read a simple but effective white paper from Bronto on sending a repeat emails to those that don't respond to your first email. This concept is an obvious one but the article does provide some good strategies on how to improve email response.

What it doesn't discuss is how to make the process of sending a second email to those that don't open or click on the first email you sent an easy one. Instead of just blasting the entire list again including those that didn't respond, marketers should be segmenting their lists and only sending the email to those that either didn't respond (open or click-through) and/or those that didn't convert (fill out a form). Again, that's obvious but this can take time to do. How can you cut down the time it takes to send out the second email?

Making Re-Mailing Easy: Improve Conversions, Get Home to See Your Family

The tricky part is making the process of sending that second email an easy one. You don't have time to do extra work and you shouldn't have to. You want to get your job done and go home and watch the final of American Idol or the Office - so do I. Through an automated process using advanced automation tools, you can easily create a program that checks to see if a contact on your initial list has converted and/or responded to the email. If they haven't, have the program send the second email automatically by a preset date. Once you have your marketing assets ready, load your list into the top of your automated program, sit back, and measure the results. Ok, we all know you're not going to sit back but you get the point.

Thanks Bronto for reminding me that everyone uses this process but not everyone has optimized how to carry this process out to do it as quickly as possible. I'm going to create an automated program template that will make this easy for my customers.

Chad H.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Preventing incorrect email addresses

Do you have a lot of bounce backs in your database? Keeping your data clean is a top priority for the marketers I speak with. I was just reading a good article on Marketing Sherpa that outlines "4 Ways to Fix Misspelled Email Addresses". I really liked one of the ideas which involves displaying the email address to the web visitor as part of a second step in the registration process. A simple modification to this is to serve up a confirmation page after the registration that includes the email address that the person just entered in large letters. The content would be something like this:

Here is the email address you entered:
Is that correct? If it isn't, please update your profile (link to a profile page)

This is fairly easy to implement as a solution depending on your system and is something I'm going to recommend for clients to at least test out on a few landing pages. If visitors click on that update your profile link and update their email address, you'll know you're on to something. You can also sleep better at night knowing that the you're getting more out of your marketing campaigns as the data that enters in your system is correct.

Chad H.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In memory of my father in law

Below is a video that I captured of my nieces, my sister in law and my recently deceased father in law. He was a wonderful and generous person and the best father a son in law could have. In the short time we spent together, he taught me much and I will dearly miss him.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Should You Still Email Your Press Releases?

On B2B Online, Tricia Robinson answers the question "Any tips for using e-mail to send press releases?". She goes on to write about not placing the whole release in the email, not including attachments and some other typical email "best practices".

Here's a tip: "Don't do it". Does your whole database need to know every time you hire a new executive or win an award? Perhaps but you should really consider what you send and how you send it because email recipients these days no longer have the same patience as they once had. They expect to receive relevant and timely information that they have subscribed to. Before you know it, you'll have a bunch of unsubscribes and when you really do have relevant information, you'll miss out some key prospects/customers as they've already opt-ed out.

My suggestion would be to include press release snippets as part of a monthly or quarterly newsletter that has additional value added content. In this way, you cut down on the frequency of your emails and you provide content in a more regular format that your email subscribers expect to receive.

Chad H

PS: Here is a great article from Demand Gen Report that speaks to some of the points above in terms of using and not abusing your email list: Building & Leveraging A New Email List From The Ground Up

Email Branding Tip to Increase Open Rates

This is a quick post on a great tip from Stefan Pollard in hist post: Use Brand-Recognition Elements to Combat Inbox Triage.

Stefan recommends putting your company name in the "view online" link at the top of your email. For example:

"BEFORE: If you can't see the images in this e-mail, please click here to view this e-mail through your Internet browser.

AFTER: If you can't see the images in your edition of Browning eBlast, please click here."

I liked this tip as it's easy to implement and should make a difference. Since this link is typically at the top of the email, it's one of the first things that people see when they receive your email.

The other interesting suggestion was to ensure that not only the email from "name" is branded but also the email alias []. For those companies that have an ESP (Email Service Provider) where you can specify this, you'll know what I mean (or you can read his article.

Chad H.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Latest Trends in Email Marketing: RSS and Calendar Reminders

As we move into a new week there are some interesting trends and technology enhancements that will start to change the way that B2B companies use email. For those that are thinking "email is email - how can it change?", keep reading.

Trend#1: The Blogletter is Coming - Actually, it's Already Here.

You may recall I blogged about a concept called the Blogletter (combo of email newsletter and blog posts). I don't hold anything against the blog readers out there who unsubscribed from my feed en mass after that post (OK, well a few of you I do). Here's the truth - the blogletter will be arriving very soon and will revolutionize the way some companies can create and execute an email newsletter or any email campaign.

The concept behind a blogletter is to be able to publish blog posts (or any RSS feeds for that matter) directly to an email and send it to subscribers. One of my readers back then asked me how this concept would work. At the time I didn't have any answers except for Feedblitz's tool which allows web visitors to get updated via email every time you submit a blog post (they have some new paid tools as well). This approach works for the average blogger but companies need better tools. The tools are now here and here are two approaches that you can use to take advantage of this technology:

  • Integrating RSS feeds and emails. Imagine if you could integrate an RSS feed (if you don't know what RSS is and you are in marketing, you may want to read the following) with an email. For those of you who have feeds already (which include blogs) this would mean that you don't have to update content in multiple areas. You can update an RSS feed and have it publish to your website and email.
  • Automating email using RSS feeds. Let's take this a step further with automation. If you regularly post content to your RSS feeds, you could potentially create an automated program that would send an email newsletter (Blogletter or RSSletter) automatically on the date that you defined. The newsletter would consist of the latest articles/posts from your RSS feeds as well as any other elements of your newsletter. What's key here is that the whole process to create a newsletter becomes much easier as you have an automated program that sends the email for you and the content is content that you've created for a blog or other RSS feed. This process works very well for new subscribers to your site as they can get a newsletter with the latest articles from the RSS feeds that you have defined.
Other advantages? As I mentioned in my previous article on the subject, your readers can comment on articles which adds a new dimension to email as it's no longer a one way push marketing channel.

I hope you find this interesting as the technology now exists to do this. The above examples are the tip of the iceberg.

Trend #2: Helping Your Customers/Prospects Organize Themselves

This tip/technology isn't new but it's now easier and thus has many more implications. A while back I wrote about how you can improve webinar/webcast attendee rates by creating a file that when clicked on, can book off the time specified in your email recipient's Outlook (and other programs too) calendar.

This process was a bit of a pain as you need to create the .ics file and then upload it to your server. It's much easier now as some systems will allow you to create this on the fly and integrate directly into your email or website. What does this mean? Here are some ideas:

  • Set real milestones: There are many "How to" white papers out there that pose a problem that that you may be experiencing and provide a solution with next steps. For example, a white paper that outlines a ten step plan to turn around their business using your product or service. Imagine if you could create a solution with key milestones including REAL dates that the your prospect/customer can save on their own Outlook/Lotus calender. In addition, this information (email clicks) can be tracked. By tracking this information, you can have your inside sales/demand gen team follow up with these prospects on the actual date of the milestone that was outlined and ensure that they are on the path that was outlined which may include a meeting with someone from your company.

  • Read later reminder: Do you hate an inbox full of email? I know I do. I can't hit the delete button faster in many cases (still waiting for that voice activated delete email function). What if you created a standard feature for all of your emails that was a simple link that said "I want to read this at a later date". By clicking on the link, the user would be presented with a calender item that had an online link to the newsletter and a recommended calender reminder to read the email at a later date as well as a suggested time/day. This approach may book off 10 minutes of a person's actual day to read your email. The email recipient can adjust the date to suite her/his schedule. The mobile folk may also like this feature as they can set a reminder to read the email when they are back in the office. Will this work? maybe. Is it worth trying? Definitely as it's very easy to do with some of the new enhancements out there.
Email is going well beyond the traditional approach where it was used to just push out information. The interactivity described above is part of a trend in B2B marketing which is focusing more on the ongoing conversation with prospects and customers rather then a one-off batch and blast approach. The ideas described above may seem a bit off the wall but should be considered along with other ideas on how to make email more interactive and to integrate it with overall marketing processes rather then as a tool in itself. I hope I have at least made you start to think about new approaches.

Chad H.

PS - Thanks for the image Just Say Hi

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Are Webisodes Just for B2C? Who Hired Bob?

Kraft has an interesting new microsite that follows the life of Bob at his workplace and his quest to replace the existing coffee machine with a Kraft Tassimo. Bob is one of those crazy co-workers that has a few screws loose. In fact, you could probably open a Home Depot with the trail of hardware he leaves. However, as someone that has seen like 20 different coffee machines at work over a span of three years that all produce putrid coffee that makes me run to the local Tim Horton's (Dunkin Donuts for the Southern Folk and I go for Starbucks when I'm working around the clock and need something superhuman to keep my eyes open - what is in the bold coffee? Probably something that Nasa found on mars), I can sympathize with Bob. You can check it out at Here is a clip I found on Youtube.

While I think the webisodes are funny and entertaining, will it bring Kraft the desired effect of getting businesses to use Tassimos in the workplace rather then just at home? Possibly. I watched the first video and I got bored fairly quickly. There was little mention of Tassimo and what it can do until well into the video. What I did like was the contest that was encouraging web visitors to submit stories about their own Bobs to win a prize. We'll see if this site brings about the desired objectives but I think it's a step in the right direction on how to use video and user generated content (of course the fact that I'm blogging about this probably helps. You can thank me later Kraft).

Using Paid Search to Enhance the Campaign

I would use a tool like WordTracker to see which terms are searched on the most in search engines like Google and Microsoft but Tassimo may want to consider creating sponsored ads on Google for Keywords (have you checked out it rocks!). I checked out SpyFu which tells you which keywords your competitors are bidding on. They don't seem to have any Google AdWords that are specific to this campaign. Here are some examples of keywords for Kraft to consider if they go this route:
  • Tassimo
  • Crazy co-workers
  • Coffee in the workplace
  • Bad coffee at work
  • Who hired bob
  • Don't you hate when someone drinks the last cup of coffee at work and doesn't make another pot? Don't you want to find that person and hunt them down?
Ok, that last one may be a bit extreme but it may also be part of the long tail of search. Some additional ideas may include advertising on The Office's (TV show) official website.

Webisodes and B2B Companies

The budget for this Tassimo campaign is probably out of the reach for most companies and is most likely only doable on the B2C side. However, B2B companies are creating entertaining videos to draw attention to their product and services. Here are a few samples (click on these - they're great!):
Well, I hope you enjoyed these. Let me know if you're company has done anything similar or if you're planning to.

Chad H.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Anything Goes Marketing is Attracting Attention

Although I`ve slowed down my blogging (too many things going on and I have a new project brewing - more details soon) I`m getting some attention from around the marketing universe.

Bulldog Solutions has quoted me recently on their BullBlog from my post on using video with email: ``Anticipating concerns about the complexity of video, blogger Chad Horenfeldt of Eloqua notes, "If a three-year-oldcan play Guitar Hero and have it posted to YouTube, your marketing team can handle this." Thanks Bulldog! You even spelled my last name right (it doesn`t happen very often).

I also just found out that my post on Google Customized search was selected as one of BtoB Magazine’s Blog Posts of the Week. Thanks BtoB Magazine!

I will write more soon but I thought this post may inspire other bloggers out there to keep writing as your posts do get noticed. I would be interested to hear from Bulldog and B2B Magazine how they found these articles. I suspect it was through searching or via a customized RSS feed. In any case, people are listening out there and blog content is like a search engine magnet or a web traffic firecracker.

Chad H.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Give web visitors the resources they need - Customized Google

Raise your hand if you answer yes to all of the following questions:
  • My company has a website
  • We have great resources on our website
  • Some of these resources help our customers and prospects learn more about what we do and affect the buying process
  • It's difficult to find these resources on our site
Your hand raised? I've got a fairly simple solution. If you're on my blog (that's directed to my RSS reader friends), you'll notice a shiny new Google search box at the top of the site. This is an example of AJAX (new technology that doesn't require the browser to reload). Try it out! Search for anything you want (here's a good one: "Google Rocks"). Notice how the search results appear as a layer over the current page - isn't that cool? What I like about this is that you don't need to worry about the design of the search results pages and you get the power and authority of Google on your site. In addition, with this Web 2.0 technology, you never leave the page you are on so it's a better web experience.

The best news is that it's easy to implement Google Custom Search Engine and it's FREE. Here's what you do:
  • Go to:
  • Click on "Create a custom search engine"
  • Fill out the form fields on the next page (add in any number of sites you may want to index)
  • Within the search results hosting option section, select the new "overlay" option. The drawback for bloggers is that you can't get Adsense but hey, if I was blogging for the money I would have quit long ago.
  • Copy the code and paste it on your site
  • You can customize this but I really didn't do any customization and it looks fine.
There is also a business upgrade for $100 a year. I've set this search engine up for a non-profit site (because I make tons off this blog - heavy sarcasm) which means that no ads will appear in the search results. Businesses will probably want to purchase the business edition as you'll not want ads on your internal search engine (could be competitors). I think it may be the best $100 your company has spent. If you don't have a site search, you're missing out on an opportunity to help web visitors to find information on your web site and better leverage your web and overall marketing investments. The easier it is to find the right information, the better chance at conversions and eventually closed deals. I haven't tested this out but you can probably use Google Analytics to track what people are searching on and additional data. If you have an enterprise site, you may want to look at some of the more feature heavy tools out there like Inquira.

Let me know if you have questions or tried it out.

Chad H

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Email Tips for the New Year Part I

Greetings! I've finally had the chance to go through a number of email newsletters and reports and I wanted to highlight some interesting email tips.

Email Subject Line Tips: Use Personalization and Search Engine Optimization

I can blog about keeping your subject lines short but you already know that and I just reminded you. :) Here are some additional interesting tips:
  • MailerMailer's latest Email Marketing Metrics Report (pdf) indicates that personalized subject lines (eg: "Chad, open this amazing email") dramatically increased open and click rates. The average open and click-through rates for non personalized emails were 15.86% and 2.09% respectively while the averages for personalized emails were 18% and 5.02%. This is very easy to do and worth testing

  • Use the search engine optimization terms that drive the most traffic to your site within your subject lines. This is also easy to do by examining the search terms from your analytics program. Thanks Stefan Pollard over at ClickZ for mentioning that tip

    If your marketing database and your CRM data are synched, you may even be able to find out which words are used by customers vs. prospects and further segmenting the search terms to use for various campaigns.

How to Target the "Inactives" in Your Database

Wendy Roth explains in her article 6 tips to win back inactive subscribers suggests targeting those people that have not responded to your emails in the last 6 months. One suggestion is to send on an email to these "inactives" with an incentive to update their profile by entering them in a contest. This does a few things. It lets you know if these "inactive" contacts are still alive if you get a response and you can use the opportunity to ask these people additional lead qualification questions to round out their profiles. With this additional information, you can target these people accordingly. You may find out that there are some diamonds in the rough (as well as some bad apples). Overall, it's most likely cheaper to give away some IJunk (I use that word to summarize IPods, IPhones, ITouches etc...) then the cost to re-build your database.

This process can be automated by creating a program that sends 2-3 emails over a 3 week period with the offer described above. Other strategies may include further segmenting these inactives by the lead source and other qualification data and creating customized messages for the different segments and using different marketing channels (call campaign, direct mail). I would recommend that the first step is to determine the number of inactives in your database. This should give you an indication as to how active or inactive your database really is.

Various E-mail Tips from MarketingSherpa' Marketing Wisdom Report

I've read through MarketingSherpa's "Marketing Wisdom for 2008" which includes 101 real life marketing stories and lessons learned. Here are a few items I liked:
  • Send a text follow up email to those that didn't open or click on your initial newsletter/event (my tip: automate this process if possible using email automation tools). However, text based newsletters may not be received too well if they are used instead of graphical based HTML versions. The best bet is to conduct tests to see if this boosts response.
  • Have emails sent from Account Executives if possible. The more personalized the email, the better the response. Consider adding a personal touch above the email header image. For example "Chad - check out this great newsletter below. I think that there are some interesting articles that may be interested in."
  • Slightly change a headline or subject line in emails sent to different contacts using standardized information in your database. For example, for a newsletter change the subject line slightly for your different database segments by highlighting an article in the subject line that appeals most to that specific segment.
  • Consider using social media sites like Facebook and MySpace to grow your lists. Does your company have a Facebook group? Create one and use it to advertise events, product releases etc... Have a look at MarketingSherpa's facebook group. There are videos, pics, job postings, discussions - it's awesome!! PS - you will need to join Facebook to see it so stop saying "Facebook is for my 14 year old and I have enough 'friends' and have no intention with reconnecting with people from high school that I didn't really know in the first place". Seriously - join already. There is no such thing as private information in the 21st century.

I just realized that I waited too long to blog as I have a bunch of tips saved up. I will post a part II soon - I need to go see if any of my Facebook friends is celebrating a birthday this week and finish up that game of Scrabulous with my mother in law.

Hope the tips helped!

Chad H.

PS - feel free to look for me on Facebook.
PPS - Thanks Bulldog Solutions for mentioning my blog and quoting me for my post on using video in email.

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