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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