Sunday, May 31, 2009

Effective email, way more than the email itself.

So, a client shoots me a customer-facing email and asks any suggestions on how to make this more effective?
Looking at the email creative, I’m thinking “not so bad, decent layout, several call-to-actions in the right places, only a few minor tweaks and the creative looks pretty solid.”

Then, all the questions start…
Who’s the email going to? Is the offer compelling for this target? What’s the subject line? When is it being deployed? Have you sent emails to these people before? Any results on past emails?

There’s so much more to an “effective email” than the actual email, and as marketers we need to encourage our clients to look at all the pieces.

Things to consider with EVERY email.
1. The list. Are you sending the right information to the right person? Your email/message needs to be relevant to the person receiving it or else it will never get opened.
2. The offer. Is your offer compelling and targeted to your list? The combination of benefit-driven language and a relevant offer is key.
3. The creative - prior to opening your email, the subject line is your creative – make it work hard.
4. Test, test and test some more. Try to learn from every email you send out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Social media rule #1: don't masturbate

Fellow marketers often ask for my thoughts on the "dos and don'ts" of social media. Here's the short answer: do participate, but don't masturbate. Yes, you read that correctly. Now let me explain.

Take status updates. Too often people use 140 characters to talk about themselves in ways that simply are not interesting, informative or entertaining to anyone but themselves. And talking about oneself in a way that benefits nobody else is the social media equivalent of masturbation.

Let's look at some examples. The following are a mix of personal and professional status updates from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn that are masturbatory in nature:
  • 'Can't sleep'
  • 'We want to be your Social Media Monitoring Partner'
  • 'Still in office at 10-ish on a Fri PM after a successful week of biz''
These updates are masturbatory because none of them talks to anyone but the author. None of them informs or entertains other people, at least not in any CONSTRUCTIVE WAY. If you are struggling with how to make social media benefit you or your business, start by talking about something more than you or your business. Put forth ideas. Share meaningful observations. Offer helpful hints for people in your network.

Here are two helpful tweets from folks I follow:
  • 'Cool Tip: You can bid for travel package & Conf Pass for JavaOne on Ebay, cool way to bundle up your trip!' (this update also included a URL)
  • '[Name] has a pair of tickets for sale to the Chicago Cubs/Dodgers game on Thursday night (May 28) if anyone is interested'
A colleague of mine once told me that social media is like a business meeting or a cocktail party: If all you do is talk about yourself, you'll probably speak to everyone in the room, but nobody is likely to listen.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Title Goes Here

One of the hottest requests I get from clients these days is to “optimize their site’s copy to improve their organic search ranking.”

Which makes total sense—with companies feeling the pinch of a tightening economy, and marketing budgets always being the first on the casualty list, nobody wants to pay-per-click if you can get folks to click for free.

But, as I tell my clients, the best-written, keyword-laden pages will take you just so far. If you want to score higher a higher rank, you have to optimize everything. Not just copy. (Though it’s a good start.)

So, let’s start with tags. Now most folks are already familiar with the Meta tag family—description, keyword & robot. But one they may not be on a first-name basis with is the Title tag.

Title tags are by far one of the most important—and overlooked—tool when trying to raise your search engine rankings. Here’s why:
• Search engines use the text contained in your Title tag to determine what the page is about.
• The text that makes up your Title tag is the clickable link that appears when your site is listed in organic rankings.

Add to that, as the name suggests, Title tags are the title of each page of your site. And they’re often what people first see while waiting for your site to load. And if they bookmarked a page on your site, yep, you guessed it, your Title tag becomes the name of their bookmark.

So, you need to make the most of them.

Here are a few Title Tag tips:
• Limit the text to 65 characters—including spaces—as most search engines & browsers cut off after that
• Include your company name in each tag
• Include up to two keywords in each tag that you want the page to rank for
• Create a unique title tag for each page—this is NOT the time to cut and paste
• Make each tag a concise statement about the main focus of your content

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Don’t forget the subject line.

Why is it that the last thing people think about when creating an email is the subject line? It’s the first thing the recipient sees – right? It should be the first thing we write. Like a direct mail envelope, we have about 3 seconds to catch someone’s attention amidst all the other clutter they have to deal with in their inboxes. Make sure your subject lines works for you not against you.

Subject lines should:
1. Communicate information relevant to the audience
2. Contain a compelling offer
3. Demonstrate timely information
4. Be short and direct
5. Give honest insight into what the email contains.
6. Be tested and tested again

Friday, May 8, 2009

You say I say tomato

I returned to B2B 3 years ago following a 5-year stint in B2C. And I still sometimes catch myself using phrases from my B2C past with my current B2B colleagues and clients that just fall...flat. Like "direct marketing."

In my B2C days, I marketed credit cards and related financial services industry products. We thought in terms of "list, offer, creative" in that order of importance. We used a variety of media: email, online advertising, paid search, events and promotions, mail, etc. We developed programs across the customer life cycle - from acquisition to activation, usage, retention, cross-sell/up-sell and even collections. And we called it direct marketing.

In B2B, we market products and services, which sometimes are called solutions. (Another topic for other time: shouldn't all products be positioned as solutions? What good is a product if it doesn't solve a problem?). We still think in terms of "list, offer, creative" in that order of importance. We develop programs across the customer life cycle - from lead generation and scoring, qualification, nurturing, acquisition, retention, cross-sell/up-sell, and hopefully not collections. But in my experience (and I'd really appreciate hearing what others have to say), when we call it direct marketing, folks just look a little...uneasy. Demand generation? Good. Go to market? Great. But direct marketing....that's junk mail, right?

My point? We all must think and speak in terms our audience is comfortable with and can relate to. Especially marketers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Key words or key messages?

Creative strategies, input briefs, strategy statements....they're known by different names, used by everyone in the business and frequently a bit too formulaic for my taste. Like all agencies, we have a Creative Strategy template that reflects our way of thinking and working. But it isn't written in stone. We get smarter with experience, and so does our Creative Strategy template.

Inspired by Aaron Kahlow's talk at the Online Marketing Summit earlier this year, we've removed retooled the key message section to focus on key words.

Why? Positioning your content according to how people search for information (and making sure they find you when they do) is much more valuable than a marketing message based on our idea of what people want to hear. Thinking in key words keeps us thinking like customers. And customers don't care about our products or services. All they care about is what's in it for them.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Welcome to 'Check in. Or carry on.'

In a world with nifty software like blogger available free of charge, a reliable Internet connection is all that separates the media from the masses. That makes me really proud to hold the never-used journalism degree I earned at considerable expense. While I was busy dreaming of winning a Pulitzer prize for an imagined article I'd never written, I should have been brainstorming a technology like Twitter - and using it to scoop the traditional press. Who knew?

In the not too distant future, businesses and consumers will connect in ways that seem unimaginable today. And I plan to be in-the-know -- a futurist whose words are of unparalleled wisdom. Rather than dreaming about having the most fans on Facebook (surely the soon-to-be equivalent of a Pulitzer), my colleagues, clients and I will already have moved on to the next big thing.

All of us at KLM (and hopefully you, too) plan to use this blog to post thoughts and observations about the world around us as it relates to marketing and life in general. So please, check in when you can, share what you wish, and carry on with your day.

PS: If you're looking for KLM Airlines, the number is 800-225-2525. Ask for Candace - she's the best.