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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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Lessons Learned in Cost Rica - Being Customer Centric

My brain is slowly de-fogging from my trip to Costa Rica. My wife and I had a wonderful jammed pack week full of tours, hikes and R&R at the beach. Beyond the beauty of this country and the relaxing siestas in the sun, I was reminded of a valuable lesson - go above and beyond for your customers.

We booked an eco-tour which means that we travelled to various areas of Costa Rica to learn more about this wonderful country and the different species that inhabit it. We thought that we were going to be traveling with a bunch of other tourists but we ended up on an empty bus with just a driver and a tour guide. Over the next 5 days we were treated to an entertaining and informative tour through the rain forest and beautiful country side of Costa Rica until we reached the beaches on the pacific side for a few extra days.

Going that extra mile for the customer

What made the trip was our tour guide Jonathon and driver Daniel from Central American Tours. Whatever we needed, they provided for us. They ensured that we got the most value out of our trip by:
  • helping us save money
  • telling us what was the real coffee to buy to bring back home (and taking us to a shopping center to buy the coffee for the best price)
  • suggesting authentic yet inexpensive restaurants
  • taking the time to answer all of our questions about the thousands of plants and animals as well as the culture, history and politics of Costa Rica.
  • providing multiple touring options that enabled us to do what we wanted.
  • being as flexible as possible.
  • Doing the unexpected. Here are two examples:
    1. We wanted to buy a special rosewood walking cane for my father in law. Our tour guide overheard my conversation with my wife and called ahead to the souvenir shop so that they would reserve the cane we wanted (it was the only one of its kind that we saw and we knew what it would mean to my father in law).

    2. Our driver provided us with a CD of some beautiful photographs of the Arenal Volcano that he took because it was cloudy when we went and we couldn't see that much. I've included one of his photos (while he couldn't speak any English, he was a wizard with his camera and loved showing off the photos he took).

    Now that is going above and beyond. Did it take a lot of effort on their part? no. Was it expensive or resource intensive? no. Would I recommend this tour company and my tour guide? I don't think I have to answer yet. They key here is the effort that was taken, the thoughtfulness and responsiveness. This experience is a good reminder for everyone as you begin 2008 -how can you easily provide greater value to your customers?
Happy New Year everyone!

Chad H.

PS - Here are some pictures from my trip that I posted on Facebook if you are interested.
Here are a few sample videos that I posted on UTube:

PPS - We met some great people from our trip and some of them joined our tour when they found out what a great tour guide we had. I plan to keep in touch with many of them via Facebook. Thanks for help making our trip a great one!!



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