All About Email - The Last Word in Email Publishing

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A question of surveys

I seem to be getting a lot of surveys right now - all prompted by email. In principle, I think that's a good thing - customer interaction logically follows customer engagement, and if you have dialogue via email, why not make the most of it.

But, and it is a big but, without exception, all of these emails have left me cold. Why? Because they are without exception from emailers who have never engaged me - companies from who's lists I am simply too lethargic to unsubscribe.

And to compound matters, they seem to recognise this - by trying, and I use the word in it's broadest sense, to incentivise me to take part in their survey.

Now, again, in principle I am all in favour of this - incentives are great. But they must be good incentives, or they actually disenfranchise readers.

Complete our really boring survey and go into the draw to win one of 3 $50 vouchers. Whoopy-do!

And it gets worse. For some reason, companies outsource not only the mechanics of the survey, but also the wording of it. These surveys completely fail to continue the dialogue style of email which can be so engaging. Impersonal barely covers it. Inadequate is about right. They certainly don't inspire you to eagerly await the next.

So if you have a well engaged database, and you want to interrogate them, do it properly - make the incentive worthwhile, write the survey questions yourself, and then you might get some decent results.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why are you selling this?

Many retailers who use email as a marketing channel send their customers a weekly shot of offers. I like the idea. In principle.

But their is a perception danger which seems to get overlooked, especially when those offers appear very good. "Why are you selling these, and how come they are available at such good prices"

In other words, is this just a load of unsold crap you need to offload quickly on us poor unsuspecting punters?

Now that may very well be the case, but it's not advisable to say so. Rather than giving the impression this is something you want to sell, you have to presnt your weekly offers in such a way as to craete demand, and highlight yourself as a valued supplier to that demand.

There are three basic strategies for doing this:

1. With every email, emphasise and re-emphasise your mission - to deliver great product at great prices to your favourite customers - you email ones

2. Underline that these offers are only available by email and to email recipients

3. Theme the offers - provide a reason for them to appear in this weeks email.

It should be marketing 101, but for some reason many email markeetrs ignore it, and give their audience the entirely wrong impression - every week.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

That missing email!

Sorry, it ended up in my spam folder!

This is now in line for the most overused and underbelieved excuse of 2011.

Three times last week I heard this - from three separate clients, none of whom had ever previously had an email of mine land in their spam folder before.

By some strange quirk of fate, all 3 emails dealt with a similar subject - invoices, and remarkably all were overdue, unpaid invoices.

It falls into the "cheque's in the post" class of excuses, and curiously enough that's what two of these clients went on to claim.

In short, it is now so unbelievable that everyone automatically assumes it is a lie. I mean, nothing, especially from a trusted source, goes into the spam folder now, does it?

We have to presume spam filters work, at least to a degree, don't we?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Surround Sound Marketing

I have just heard the greatest phrase since sliced bread - Surround Sound Marketing - which basically means screaming at your audience via email, mobile and social media.

Sounds great (no pun intended) in isolation, but give the very low barriers to entry, if any, presumable, if it catches on as a defined concept, then most recipients are going to start turning the volume down where many of their surround sound marketers are concerned -in other words, unsubscribe, lest they be deafened.

It's yet another example of how shallow marketing is nowadays - it should not be about the loudest noise, it should be about the most actute message delivered by the most appropriate medium.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The non specific offer

There seems to be a rather disturbing trend developing in NZ email marketing - I feel safe being specific about the location because I have not seen it anywhere else.

I call it the non specific offer (NSO) - and I have had 4 or 5 of them this week. NSO emails all seem to look the same - a lot of preview pane real estate taken up with branding, and then an offer without details - usually along the lines of click here to learn more.

It is often as non specific as telling you no more than the identity of the retailer and some general details - 15% off special deals this month, for example.

Putting aside the obvious accusation of laziness as a reson for it, I wonder if it is good practice - I mean, presumably some though has gone into it as a strategy?

Conventional wisdom says that emails and related calls to action should be focussed - well, it's certainly that. But I think it lacks engagement. And it's too assumptive - there's no bait on the hook, not really.

It seems to me the sort of marketing that might work better on Facebook or the like. It's reactive. Emaio is a very personal level of dialogue, and the NSO seems to leave that behind - sending a flyer isn't personal.

So I don't think it will work. But it will be interesting to see if it catches on.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

An email newsletter from a digital media agency landed in my inbox today. It urged my business to get a Facebook page, extolled the many virtues and benefits of so doing, and then helpfully advised me that if needed, they could help me set it up. I presume a fee would be involved. My first reaction was to say that the sort of companies who need help setting up a Facebook page have no place in the digital media arena. Then I reread their list of great reasons to have one. At the end of this highly tenuous and often desperate list, I wondered whether any company should bother. A year ago the airwaves were full of digital marketers banging on about ROI and how Facebook would be a contributing factor, nay, a leading one in your digital campaign. Now they are talking about ROR - return of relationship, an as yet undefined and again highly tenuous concept which presumably means their is no ROI, but if we invent something called ROR then that will go someway to making up for the disappointment of not getting any ROI. Then of course there are the many reasons why a company Facebook page can actually severely damage your customer relationships. Facebook takes what could / should be a private conversation between company and customers and brings it into the public domain. When those comments turn negative, enormous damage can result. Sure, you can moderate it, but who monitors their facebook page 24/7 - only those who can afford to have someone 24/7 keeping tabs on what the people say. Then there';s the old dwindling content factor - running out of interesting posts, because lets face it, there really not that much great and interesting news to keep your hordes of likers interested. And now that every company they do business with has a Facebook page, and they are being heavily incentivised to like them all, it's practically a full time job just following the posts of the companies you do business with. Then when are you going to read their tweets? The biggest reason that Facebook is still around is that it is worth billions, and it is worth billions because some heavyweight institutions have lent it a lot of money, and their only chance right now of getting it out is to say it's value just keeps increasing and hope someone takes it off them. Remember the early days of the web - Elephants graveyard of poorly conceived websites. FB is / will be the same.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Stats we like!

Statistics / metrics are a major part of online marketing - their exactness humbles traditional media.

Below are a few just released that we find particularly noteworthy:

In 2010, 30% of total email time was devoted to commercial emails, compared to 17% in 2005. (Merkle)

90-100% of Millennials (Ages 18-33) engage in email as an online activity. (Pew Research Center)

90% of adults internet users in every age group subscribed to emails from brands, while significantly fewer "liked" companies on Facebook or followed them on Twitter. (ExactTarget)

What conclusions can we draw from these - pretty much what we want, as with all stats, but I think the following are inescapable:

1. Facebook and Twitter will never replace email - just complement it

2. Email is a channel that demands, and achieves attention

3. Tomorrows customers are highly emailcentric - always remember this, because they are your future.

It's good to see stats suppoirting our belief that email is alive and well, and growing, not shrinking in significance.