Archive for August, 2011

V A Shiva was 14 years old when he was asked if he’d like to have a go at inventing an inter-office communication method.  He writes beautifully about that journey, and even includes the prerequisite infographic, here in an article called Inventing Email.  If you never click links in blog posts this is the time to start – it’s a great article.  Go have a read.

As I recall, turning 29 was a weird event, kind of a quarter-life-crisis thing and there was a lot of change going on.

Today, email turns 29.  I envisage it at it’s own party, happy but a bit tired of beating off people who claim it’s ‘dead’ every couple of years – killed by spam, mobile and social media… etc.   When it comes to email, there is always a lot of change, and there’s also a lot of the same.

To prove this point, here are the first ever blog posts we did back in 2008 – and we had been working in email marketing for 8 years already by then!   They are pretty similar to the conversations we have each day with our clients today.  What doesn’t change is that great email marketing returns the highest ROI of any other marketing channel, year in, and year out, and that’s why we and our clients love it so much.

Congratulations V A and cheers to you, email, many happy returns from the team @ Jericho.

It’s not about size, it’s what you do with it right?

Well, yes… and no.  Small databases may just be perfectly formed, but your contacts are always changing, so some growth is essential.

The real question is, if your’s is too small, what can you do about it?  Growing your database relies on some MUST-DO’s. But cry, wail, berate though we do (even to *gasp* our own clients) every single day, they are not done, all over the web, on sites from all over the world.

Don’t be one of them.   Here are a few of the MUST-DO’s to grow your email list:

  • Ask. This is direct marketing. You must ask, directly, in many ways – buttons, text links, in-copy prompts, and from landing pages, blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn, etc.  If you are a large business with a busy website this is even MORE critical.  Get someone who has no involvement with your website – you mum for example – and ask them to get their name on your mailing list; watch over their shoulder while they sign up.  Everywhere they attempt to look should have  a text link, button or directive to join.  Note how the GAP family of sites and do this right on the home page – their most valuable real estate. And they should know – we’d guess their testing budgets are big…

  • Be attractive and useful. Now is not the time to be coy. Describe how you will help and waggle your benefits right in their face.   Use pain-points that demonstrate you know their difficulties, and can help them solve them.  Use value-adds and bonuses to incentivise their action.   We developed our SmartMail Pro’s email series tools for just this purpose (Get our monthly specials and we’ll send you the ground-breaking tutorial ‘Get the most from health insurance’ in 5 parts, each week for the next 5 weeks, for free’).  Yes your content is worth something but their email address is worth a lot – to you, and, even more to them.  Use examples, testimonials and clear language to exchange value and to minimise their risk: ‘We will never ever give your details to anyone else’.  Are your emails beautiful, and functional?  It costs the same time and money to send an ugly email – but risks less pass-along, poor response rates.  Make it rock.  See email design examples here and ask us for some before and afters to see what a difference design can make.

  • Make it easy. See the Bonus Resource on form design below and the example above of the Metrics Report Download on our own website (fill out your email address and then see the form on the next page) - DO ask for the personal details you can (and that you will) use to vastly improve the customers experience, such as Gender, Location, and broad preference categories.  Date of birth is nice if you will use it to acknowledge their birthday.  We’ve already said Do NOT hide the subscribe button deep in your site – get it out there!  Please don’t ask for a mailing address, unless you really, really need it – it’s very offputting.  If you have a call centre or CSR’s calling customers on the phone, or viceversa, then make sure they are asking for the email address, and getting permssion by explaining why it will be good to recieve emails from your company.
  • Close the loop.  Do what you said you would, when you said you would do it. Fulfilling the promises that you made is key to extend permission and take Seth Godin’s journey from stranger, to friend, to customer and then advocate.  Handing over the email addy is a risk – make the risk pay off and you will have them. and their wallets, right where you need it.
  • Use Advocates.     Pass along, and social sharing using social media is one of the strongest advantages email has over other marketing channels, so use your SWYN tools not to send readers to your Facebook page but to get yourself on theirs, and if you don’t have  these tools get us to set you up. Make sure you have clear path to subscribe in every email you send – we explain that fully here. Check out this post Fan, Follower, Subscriber – which one will buy?, and other previous GetSmart posts on social media and email marketing.

Bonus Resources

-Sign up/Registration form design: I have found a fascinating resource on web design usability that has several posts about form design, I recommend them all – just search their site.  Your goal is to optimise the form, and the path to the form, so you increase the chance that web page visitors will persist and complete your form.   
The first post is about the layout of the form: Vertical arrangement works fastest

-How New York Public Library grew their database by 50%.  A case study.

Do you need plans, extraordinary design creative, and a real life team of global email experts to drive your email marketing and social media? Here we are – down under and always ready for action.

I’m working on a presentation for a Financial Institution  – we’re looking at examples of  campaigns that are doing well, examining what they are finding hard, and presenting ideas that they might take from non-FI email marketing successes.  All BAU, and collecting great examples to discuss is a part of this, so it was coincidental that I was interrupted by the arrival of an email from American Express a few minutes ago.

Last year when AMEX ran a digital promotion, we checked it out and found some things were amiss.  You can read that post here.

This year, there are some improvements (the personalisation is correct) but the key issue is still the same:  it uses the same techniques that phishing scams do. AMEX ask you to enter your credit card number into their form despite the fact that they already use several digits of it in the email as a personalisation field:

My inbox receives phishing spam a lot, and many are hard to tell.  I get messages looking like they are from my own bank, and sometimes they seem to arrive right after I’ve been online banking… spooky but unrelated.  Less experienced customers get caught every day.   To help, there are Govt organisations and sites dedicated to protecting people from scams, like – who’s article Consumer Advice: How to Avoid Phishing Scams leads with the advice to never enter your account or credit card number…

I just don’t understand why AMEX are playing this again…  Do you?  Here’s the landing page:

Love to hear your comments.

Today wrapped up the ETail conference at Boston, and as I followed the Twitter stream (#etail) some great little gems appeared, so I thought I’d share them here.  They are not all attributed – that’s the nature of Twitter sorry!

The big main theme for the day… be customer-centric. Make the experience as easy as possible for them in order to succeed.  People need to be heard. They hate to feel like the brand they spent $ on is ignoring them.

Listen to the customer and field staff. Define a feedback mechanism. Be willing to change for a better customer experience.
Invest in keeping visitors on your site. Keep them in the funnel and keep them moving down.
Critical key to success – 70% of customers were repeat purchasers in 2010. That’s up from 28% in 2002.
The average upclick from consumers shopping on websites w/ the green “Trusted” browser bar is 17.8%.
35% of @amazonrevenue comes from product recommendations. Personalize your customers’ experience!

ECommerce tidbits from Lucky Brand Jeans:
If you are measuring ecommerce (as you must be) then Lucky Brand Jeans @luckycharliec say there are 6 must have reports:
1. Marketing source by day.
2. Product sales by day.
3. Conversion report by day.
4. Product sales by channel.
5. Homepage link analysis.
6. Detailed Daily Reporting by Marketing Mix.
Lucky also say:
Sending their cart abandonment email ‘right’ away doubled Lucky’s conversion rate.
Sometimes you tweak it ’cause you don’t like it. That’s OK as long as you measure the results.

Craig Wax on why video works: 65% people learn thru visual, 25% auditory, 10% text. Webcopy can’t compete.
YouTube or Vimeo? Either but push contextually relevant way.
‘Man on the street’ video or ‘highly produced’? Again, both work well.
Average customer satisfaction score increases by 20% when video is included on eCommerce site. – Javier Salom
The more complex the product the greater the conversion rate of product video. – Show an awesome branding video around “easy” campaign – how it’s evolved strategically & how it becomes operational.

Mobile Search:
Google reports mobile originating searches for the word “Shopping” up 30X (yes 30X) from 2007-2011.
Sales or visits, either way 30% contribution from mobile channel seems to be a remarkable number.
Mobile search is the top of any conversion funnel. Failing to invest could mean missing customers in the beginning.

Lastly - talkabout a wake up call to how far behind NZ is from the USA – many of our clients are just getting cart abandonment emails started, and then we hear this!:
#Birkenstock sends up to 5 cart abandonment emails out to shoppers and they may do more! No offer on 1st three, then 5% and 10% off

For more information on Etail visit the official website.

And search for presentations, you might be lucky and find some shared!  What’s your next conference?