Monday, April 23, 2012

Question: Is Email Marketing Dead?

I was recently asked if Email Marketing was now ineffective, useless and a waste of time and money... 

After you read my response, I’d love to hear your viewpoint.

Here was my response:

Email marketing success is affected by many factors.

The lack of success in email marketing is also affected by several factors.

There are many mistakes being made in email marketing but here are the top three success zappers that I have seen all too often:

·         There is an overall belief that email marketing is the only effective tool to acquire customers. As a result, follow up activities and/or other channels are not given funding or attention and tactics that would support the email marketing activity would bring acquisition are not practiced. As a result, the "email campaign" is viewed as ineffective.

·         There is a belief that "the more the merrier”.  As a result of ‘over touching’ prospects by email, they tune you out or just drop you into their junk folder; thereby making email marketing ineffective.

·         Lists play a huge role in email marketing success or failure. Often lists are purchased or gathered in random ways such as contests, transactions, etc. Then email blasts are done, regardless of any correlation to the way in which the list was gathered.

For example, if someone enters a contest for a free vacation, they are most likely interested in leisure activities. Unfortunately, a plumber may use the free vacation ploy as a way to gather a list and then email to those hopeful "free vacation" people over and over again.

 It is very important that the list be segmented and the email that is sent be relative to what the recipient is interested in. Otherwise, it is no better than the "spray and pray" direct mail days and you must have a very large list with a very large budget (due to CAN SPAM Laws, Opt In list are very pricey to acquire). If you take this approach, you can expect a measly 1% response and then you still have to convert them to an acquired customer! This can be a very time consuming and expensive approach.

 There is a way to make email marketing effective as part of a multi-channel marketing approach but unfortunately, the days of email marketing being the silver bullet for acquisition are gone. The space is just too crowded.

Do you have a success story or failure to share that will help others with email marketing? Write and let us know.

Happy Marketing,


Monday, April 9, 2012

Think You Know Who Your Customer Is…Think Again!

It never ceases to amaze me when I ask business leaders who their customer is, inevitably, I find that they really don’t have a clue. (This goes for both B2B and B2C by the way.)

I have challenged many business leaders to tell me who their best customers are. I make a deal with them that if I can’t tell them something about their customer that they didn’t know; they don’t have to pay me for the work. I have always been paid ;)

What I find most common, especially with entrepreneurs and start ups, is that the business leader had an idea of who s/he would sell the businesses products/services to. This idea stuck in their head and it is often who they believe they are truly selling to now.

Once I am engaged, I inventory their belief about who their customer is and then I look at data and some appends and I am able to profile their customer to a geo, psycho and behavioral level that usually enlightens not only the business leader, but the entire executive team. Once the “best customer” is identified, I often provide an analysis that shows the other ‘good’ customer groups and provides the business with the most effective ways to acquire, keep and get more from their targets.

Once armed with facts about their customers and what motivates them, the business leader is well equipped to out play the competition in defining a strategy that works and drops serious results to the bottom line.

One example I can give you is a graphic artists’ shop that was keeping up on technology advances but was not on the cutting edge of advances. When I did a profile of their customers and reviewed the landscape of the customers in their area, we identified a target market and the best way to interact with them. In this case, the best way to interact was a very “old fashioned” approach, the local Chamber of Commerce. As it turns out many years later, this company is thriving and healthy (and even turning down work) as they are a good fit for the businesses that join the Chamber. The plan we designed several years ago is still effective today and the company has gained top rate status in their Chamber and as a result, they get a lot of business.

Stories like the one above are not just a win for the client; they are a win-win for all. I truly look at the seller-buyer relationship as a matchmaker’s job. I help businesses identify who wants their products/services and then I help them to design a strategy that gets them to the buyers’ who need and want them. It is really satisfying work. One of the most fun parts of doing what I do is surprising the client with who their customers really are. Many are skeptical at first, but after proper testing and well designed campaigns, nothing speaks louder than success.

It isn’t a one size fits all world out there. I shudder at businesses blindly putting all of their eggs in an online presence or email marketing or direct mail without knowing what and how their customer really looks for and is attracted to goods and services.

Its 3:00 pm PDT, do you know who your customers are and what the most cost effective way to acquire their businesses is?

If not, I’d love to help you find out.

Happy Marketing!

Mary Mussard Woods

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Follow the Data Brick Road

So much is being written and debated about data: Big Data, Relevant Data, Data Your Boss Wants to Hear and more. A lot of it sounds like complaining and whining to me! It seems as if Technology has provided this big, huge lump of information to Marketers and many seem to be trying to figure out how to make it go away or at least how to minimize the quantity. I say it is a huge, wonderful gift and Marketers should be so thankful for ALL of the data available to them today. Stop worrying about the quantity, focus on the quality and listen to what it is telling you.

Let me take a non-product example and illustrate how data has utterly enhanced our chances for success. Let’s look at the entertainment industry, specifically a television series...

You may or may not be a fan of one of your favorite TV show’s many Social Media venues, but there are a lot of people who are. Just for fun, take a look at a fan page or the show’s web page and look at all of that viewer interaction. It is amazing how much and how impassioned the communication is and it can serve as a recipe for success if listened to. In fact, taken to the extreme, if the writers and producers listen close enough, the fans will tell them what they like, don’t like and can’t wait until the next segment to see.

Now, you could argue that takes a little bit of the creativity away from the writers, but I argue that it provides them with a desired story outline from which they can provide their viewers with what they want to see. Then the writers can utilize their creativity in developing the twists and turns in the way in which the story unfolds for the viewer. With the almost instant feedback, writers have a much better “applause meter” telling them whether or not they are hitting their audience with what makes them come back week after week after week.  This is not detrimental to the art form of writing, it is extremely helpful. If you give the viewing public what they want, they will continue viewing, the show will stay on the air and the writers will keep their jobs. This doesn’t dilute creativity. It ensures that it has a viable place to live!

How can you use this same process to interact with your customers to get their valuable feedback in a fast and usable vehicle to ensure your success in the marketplace?