Month: July 2017

Using Predictive Analytics For Unified Commerce

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Editor's Note: Kate Lincoln is a business analyst, and graduate from the University of Suffolk. She also edits content for CustomerSurveyAssist.com, and joins us today to explore how Unified Commerce is changing online marketing, and how predictive analytics is the best way forward.

 

Although it has existed as a concept for decades, unified commerce is on the verge of becoming a reality. For many companies, everything from web-based efforts to mobile applications and traditional stores are connected in real time. With enhanced usability and speed, it is now easily possible to buy a new speaker from Shenzhen while chatting with a friend from Brazil about buying tickets for a concert in Germany.

While unified commerce has traditionally been pitted against omnichannel marketing, the distinction between them is no longer necessary or clear. With the right platform and design, multiple channels can be absorbed into a unified point of sale (POS), and there are good reasons for doing so.

Shifting Paradigms

A shift across the market to unified commerce seems inevitable at this point in history:

  • 77% of the world’s retailers say they plan to offer customers “buy anywhere, ship anywhere” services
  • 57% also report development of a shared cart that encompasses all channels, thereby simplifying the process of online transactions

The market is already highly efficient and competitive: according to an old principle elaborated by Vilfredo Pareto, the top 20% of customers provide 80% of the sales. Therefore, the struggle to gain customer loyalty will only lead to increasingly proficient marketing campaigns and cheaper products of higher quality.

Fortunately, the new, expanded digital universe produces vast amounts of data, and this trend will only increase as commerce becomes more unified. Centralized and processed by analytics software, the market’s mysteries can finally be unlocked for the profit of all, and sellers in particular.

In order to benefit, predictive analytics – or the use of data to determine the likelihood of future outcomes – must become a primary focus for online marketers far and wide.

Uses of Predictive Analytics

E-commerce has taken to the sky as a result of the new economic environment created by unified commerce. Competition has soared, along with customer satisfaction. Customer input is abundant, due to the feedback systems employed by almost every commerce-oriented business. This entails an ever-growing volume of data that can provide valuable insights.

First, predictive analytics can work toward the optimization of marketing campaigns, making it a new staple in the fundamentals of digital marketing. It does so by looking at the behavior of customers and their responses to certain stimuli via ads. Studying past reactions to specific images, words or entire products can turn up a better product, bringing a higher quality to the customer and increased profits to sellers.

Timeline of decision and execution is another point of interest: along every point of the sales funnel, your customers might change their minds about a purchase at any time. From a retailer point of view, if customers have a high probability of dropping purchases during a certain period of time, minimizing that period can only lead to more sales. As a result, the distance between decision and purchase has been increasingly shortened due to these facts uncovered by predictive analytics.

Essentially, companies are using predictive analytics to determine which products are most popular, which promotional events are most impactful and which special offers provoke the desired reactions in customers. Devised correctly and sustained by a long-term effort, a strategy involving predictive analytics can lead to much higher return on investment (ROI).

The Unified Customer Market

A single platform for commerce entails a single, unified customer market. The impact of sharing the same goods on a global scale is not yet fully understood: it causes changes and evolution in the quality of life for millions or even billions of people. The transitory period between fragmented national markets and unified commerce is giving rise to another breed of customer: the global buyer.

Not tied to any single currency, niche market or regional economic affiliation, the global buyer is capable of surfing a tremendous number of offers, and choosing those most relevant to his or her needs. Their voices become stronger and - if made consciously by enough people - their purchases gain more regulatory power.

Right now, the world is at a crossroads. The ingredients of unifying commerce and customer markets are already present, but they have not been fully mixed. The future is a realm of endless commercial possibilities and you, the seller, can doubly profit from what it has in store.

By using predictive analysis, your business can stay one step ahead of other modern producers, and miles ahead of old-fashioned competitors that struggle to set up a website.

Learn more with the following classes:

How to Grow Customer Value Through the Right Digital Experiences

Top of the Funnel Tactics for Inbound Marketing

Leveraging Analytics

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 

 

 


Three Easy Steps to Write Better Emails

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Editor’s note: Sundeep Kapur is an educator and technology consultant who has teamed up with OMI to bring our readers a free Email Marketing Master Class. In preparation, he joins us to share his notes on delivering an effective message to email subscribers.

 

At the core of an email marketing campaign is the email itself, and this is where a brand succeeds or fails. After arriving in a prospect’s inbox, your email has one chance to make an impression. As such, crafting the strongest message possible is vitally important. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What is your brand’s value proposition?
Can you verbally deliver it in less than 30 seconds?
Would the listener or recipient remember your key points an hour later?

At every email marketing workshop, I ask my students to apply the less-than-30-second rule to these three scenarios:

  • You are at a conference; how would you introduce yourself?
  • You are calling to get an appointment; what would you say?
  • You are meeting someone you haven’t spoken to in a while (while your plane is taking off); how would you quickly (and not abruptly) deliver your message?

The answers I get for this exercise include the following terms: recognition, interactive conversations, brevity/succinctness, emphasis on key points, high impact messaging, something the recipient can remember, and value based messaging.

Next, I ask my students to write a note for each of the above scenarios – “what if you couldn’t speak and had to type?” I offer them the following pointers:

  • How would you greet them?
  • How would you grab their attention?
  • Would you use an image/What image would you use?
  • What would you want them to remember?
  • What would you want them to do?
  • How would you measure the success of your message?
  • What would your next step be?

Then, I ask them to take what they have written and look at it on a mobile device. Most times, the message is too long, seems disjointed, and leaves the reader confused as to what to do next. Consider this simple advice to write better emails and craft better messages -

3 Practical Steps to Improve Your Email Messaging:  

1 – Go through the exercise of creating a message for a prospect. If I gave you a list of 100K consumers who were well to do, enjoyed a high level of online engagement, and were frequent buyers – how would you message them? Consider designing a series of messages – two to five emails to get your point across. Use the above bullets to think about the content sections and be brutally brief.

2 – A high impact, easy to understand, and memorable message should be designed like a movie poster. Take a look at the three posters below – they clearly tell you what their movies are about.

Like a movie poster, your message should be self-contained, brief, and highly impactful. Readers should be able to remember the core points of an email after one read, hopefully anticipating whatever you have on offer.

3 – In my master class, we cover a simple approach to messaging that has delivered results for many brands. Rich with case studies, my forray into email marketing highlights lessons from Anthropologie, Dillard’s, and Overstock.com. B2C, B2B, or even C2B:  these practical ideas will help you deliver on the perfect message.

Author Bio: Sundeep Kapur is an educator. After 24 years in corporate America as a business and technology consultant he returned to his passion – teaching brands best practices so they can achieve the same success. His email marketing class has been taught across the globe for more than 2,500 brands and he continues to receive outstanding reviews for his content.

Take Sundeep's Email Marketing Master Class for free, and learn everything you need to know about crafting the perfect message!

Join us Tuesday, Jul 25, 2017 from 12:00 - 1:00  PM PST / 3:00 - 4:00 PM EDT

 

 


Why Email is the Ultimate Marketing Omnichannel

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our new Email Marketing Course, Josh joins us today to discuss email as the first step in an omnichannel strategy that can skyrocket your traditional or online business.

 

Despite the hype surrounding social media, email is still the most popular and effective marketing tool for gaining and retaining customers.

Why?

Longevity. Of all internet marketing tools, email has been around the longest, which means it had a head start in the race for global users. As a result, those users - and all potential users - have had a long time to get comfortable with the service email provides, and think of that service as a part of everyday life, like telephone, TV, and billboards on the side of the road.

Another reason is success. Email is the top channel driving both leads and conversions, especially when it comes to doing business with other businesses, as well as doing business with consumers who want to do business. In other words, there’s a good reason 80% of businesses use email for retention. It works.

In other words, email is the most trusted, time-tested resource for converting leads into customers.

The Biggest Reason

Those reasons alone make email an essential tool for acquiring and retaining customers.

But while success and longevity are good answers to why email is essential for acquiring and retaining customers, they are not the be-all-end-all, nor the most pressing and relevant answers to why email marketing is so essential today.

In fact, arguably the biggest, most relevant and underrated reason that email marketing is essential to the customer lifecycle is that - at a time when brick-and-mortar stores are shrinking - email is the ultimate marketing channel to unify online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Here’s why.

Omnichannel Marketing

Social media is an excellent channel for increasing brand awareness in marketing and sales, but when it comes to conversions, social media platforms do not lend themselves to customers making buyer decisions.

Email does. If a user is willing to give you their email address, you have already sold them on your journey. And they are certainly willing to listen to your offer, if not entirely willing to buy your product, wherever it may be.

When a customer gives you their email address, they are giving you permission to enter their private online universe. They are also expressing a certain degree of brand loyalty and customer trust that is greater than a like on social media, and greater than or equal to an in-store purchase.

But all this is to say: acquiring a customer’s email by their own permission falls along the same spectrum of customer loyalty as online and in-store shopping. Many customers are willing to give their email addresses during purchase, especially if it means access to promotions and discounts—which is what makes email uniquely suited to being the most suitable marketing channel to unify online and brick-and-mortar stores.

So, instead of worrying about online sales cannibalizing brick-and-mortar sales or vice versa, businesses should see email as a unifying marketing channel, or what’s known as an “omnichannel." In this case, omnichannel marketing is the practice of using online messaging to lead customers to brick-and-mortar stores, and brick-and-mortar messaging to lead customers to online stores, all of which works to keep the customer lifecycle of acquisition and retention alive.    

Something to Consider

It’s no secret that brick-and-mortar retail stores are closing at a rate that could see 1 in every 4 U.S. malls shuttered by 2022. In 2016, the biggest retailer in the world, Walmart, closed 269 brick-and-mortar stores and bought Jet.com in an apparent bid to expand its online sales.

Meanwhile, Amazon.com continues to grow its already burgeoning online sales, and just last month expanded to the point of bursting its own digital bubble by purchasing Whole Foods and entering the brick-and-mortar business, wholesale.

Barring discussions of what all that says about the epic power struggle between Walmart and Amazon—which is impossible to say this early in the game—the expansion of each retailer into the other’s “domain” spells out what we’re seeing in the retail industry as a whole: a contraction for brick-and-mortar, an expansion for eCommerce.

What most businesses would rather see is a balance, which is why the first businesses to adopt an acquisition and retention model that can successfully unify online with brick-and-mortar could be the start of something new.

Why not start with email and add the ultimate marketing omnichannel to your business cycle?

Email marketing is a HUGE marketing channel. If you want more in-depth knowledge about integrating email into your marketing strategy, check out our updated class library with brand new email marketing courses.

 

 


11 Reasons You Should Care About Mobile Marketing

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Editor’s Note: Kent Lewis is the president of digital marketing agency Anvil Media Inc. In preparation for his upcoming Mobile Marketing webinar, he joins us today to discuss trends that make mobile marketing imperative for your business.

 

Since 2007, my measurable marketing agency Anvil has been claiming the ‘Year of Mobile’ is upon us every year. Why? Because every year, mobile has reliably become a more important part of the marketing mix. In 2017, most brands are finally beginning to think about how mobile marketing plays into their overall strategy, and some are even developing mobile-first campaigns. Here are a few compelling statistics about the immense impact mobile is having on the marketing world:

  • By the end of the year, 75 percent of internet use will be via mobile devices.
  • 36 percent of Americans now go online using multiple devices.
  • 86 percent of respondents say it’s important to create mobile apps, according to Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s State of Marketing report.

As I originally outlined in a 2012 article, Mobilizing Your Marketing is now table stakes; but as time goes by, a host of new trends has redefined mobile marketing. In this article, I’ve outlined eleven trends in mobile that your brand must consider when implementing or refining a mobile-friendly marketing program.

1. Voice Search

Searches originating from mobile devices continue to grow exponentially. Thanks to rapid adoption of Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Apple Siri and Google Home, voice search will continue to increase in popularity. Amazon recently announced that Alexa now has 15,000 skills. According to recent research, 49 percent of US respondents use their voice assistants on a weekly basis, compared to 31 percent of global respondents. Interestingly, 57 percent said they would use voice search more if it recognized more complex commands. The good news is that each platform provider continues to increase the number of voice commands by thousands at a time. More than 20 percent of current searches on Android devices are voice searches.

This trend directly impacts search engine optimization and paid search, as both need to utilize voice-search-related initiatives to maintain a competitive edge. The first step is to optimize your website for long-tail search terms more common with voice-based searches. Similarly, paid search campaigns should target similar terms with mobile-optimized ads. On the web design side, leveraging Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology has shown to increase click-through-rates by up to 90 percent. Mobile searchers also spend 35 percent more time with AMP content than dedicated mobile web pages.

2. Location-based Marketing (LBM)

When Foursquare launched in 2009, the future looked bright for location-based marketing (LBM). For at least a year or two, mobile users were obsessed with “checking in” at local businesses via Foursquare or Facebook. While Foursquare may have gone the way of Groupon (still alive, but not exactly an Internet darling), LBM is still a thing. Key components of LBM include near field communications (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), wi-fi, geo-fencing, beaconing and local listings. Last year, beacon messages generated $44 billion in US retail sales. Nearly 80 percent of social media interactions now occur on mobile devices, which include location-based platforms.

While many consumers aren’t familiar with NFC technology, it is the missing link between location-based marketing and sales: Apple Pay, Google Wallet and other payment technologies rely on it for transactions. With greater support this year from Apple, expect much wider adoption of mobile wallets. Beyond leveraging RFID and beaconing to target in-store shoppers with unique messages, brands must embrace responsive-design for websites and proactive management of local business directory listings (Google My Business) and social platforms (Yelp!), including associated ratings and reviews, to ensure a holistic view of your customer journey.

3. Advertising Evolved

2017 is a special year for advertising, as it marks the first time in history that the total digital ad spend will surpass that of television. This year also provides a perfect storm of evolving ad options for mobile, with programmatic, video and native advertising. eMarketer recently reported that video ad spending for mobile will cross $6 billion in 2017, which is a 32 percent increase from 2016, according to another report.

Within mobile marketing, programmatic is expected to provide a major opportunity for advertisers. Brands are expected to spend more than $20 billion on mobile-programmatic advertising in 2017. Within mobile, video programmatic marketing will account for 28 percent of total spend by 2019. The third key trend in mobile advertising will be native advertising, which is expected to make up 63 percent of mobile display ad spend by 2020. Mobile advertising has clearly evolved from simple network and in-app display ads to today’s creative options across programmatic, video and native formats. Ensure your mobile advertising involves these developing technologies and trends to maximize ROI for your brand.

4. Augmented Experiences

Oculus Rift recently announced the ability to record real-world content and incorporate it into virtual reality (VR) experiences. Known as mixed reality, the new function will allow developers to bring video recordings from the real world into game/VR environments. This is an evolution from the other side of the spectrum, known as augmented reality (AR), which overlays virtual elements onto real world environments (Google Glass and Spectacles by Snap Inc.).

IKEA's VR showroom tech

According to Forbes, augmented reality technology will be a $5.7 billion industry by 2021. In comparison, global brands ranging from Coca-Cola and Ocean Spray to IKEA and Volvo have bet big on VR, creating immersive experiences to sell kitchen remodels, beverages and SUVs. Mobile devices are ground zero for the AR/VR experiences, as they are ubiquitous, powerful and highly personal. Google, Facebook, Samsung and Apple have all invested in VR technology, making it more affordable, accessible and engaging than ever. In the next 3 years, brands of all shapes and sizes should include AR/VR elements in their advertising.

5. Video Consumption

Over the past decade, mobile devices have dramatically changed how we consume video. According to HubSpot, video is the most popular online content format. Video is also viral: 92 percent of mobile video consumers share videos with others. In 2015, Flurry found that U.S. consumers spent more time on apps than watching television. Research also shows that younger consumers are less interested in watching TV, and prefer free or low-cost online video-streaming services. Remaining cable and satellite subscribers tend to multi-task on a second screen when watching TV, usually a mobile device. YouTube and Facebook dominate mobile video consumption currently, which means brands should actively create and sponsor content on those platforms.

360 video is growing in popularity, particularly on Facebook. Investing in 360 video can be costly and intimidating. For this reason, YouTube recently announced its VR180 initiative. According to recent Google research, 75 percent of 360-degree video users only look at the quadrant in front of them at the start of a video. With current 360 video offerings being largely under-utilized, grainy and unintuitive, 180 degree video offers a viable alternative for brands, as the same 4K resolution is condensed into half the viewing space, resulting in a sharper picture. With increased video consumption comes advertising opportunities. Mobile video ad spend is projected to exceed $6 billion by the end of 2017. This means that brands can buy into the conversation without committing significant initial resources to production.

6. Intelligent Messaging

A trend has been clear for the past few years: mobile device owners are downloading fewer apps, which creates challenges for brands looking to create their own dedicated mobile experience. Conversely, consumers are spending more time on mobile devices, which means more time on fewer apps. Nearly 80 percent of mobile users globally have downloaded messaging apps (including WhatsApp, TextNow, Facebook Messenger, Line and Viber), and that market continues to expand. Brands that embrace artificial intelligence (AI) based chatbots to connect with consumers are taking a leadership role.

mobile marketing image

Pizza Hut's chatbot

The benefit of tapping messaging apps is that they shorten the sales funnel by understanding the context of conversations and feeding relevant information in return. The rise of in-app chatbots from the likes of 1-800-Flowers, Uber and Dominos validates further investment in the sector, particularly for customer service. More importantly, messaging apps are getting closer to commerce. Messaging app Kik, with more than 300 million registered users, recently announced its own digital currency Kin, which can be used globally to buy and sell goods. The opportunity for brands to create contextually-relevant conversations with a layer of commerce on top provides new ways to mitigate otherwise challenging mobile usage trends.

7. Shopping

Who doesn’t like shopping? According to multiple sources, not very many US-based digital consumers. In fact, 51 percent of Americans say they prefer to shop online. According to comScore, mobile ecommerce growth outpaced that of desktop e-commerce in the last quarter of 2016, growing 45 percent year-over-year (to $22.7 billion). 2017 looks to continue the trend, as Internet Retailer reports mobile commerce sales will top 30 percent for the first time. A ReadyCloud report found that 44 percent of retail internet minutes were spent on smartphones. That translates to roughly $2 billion in US mobile commerce, according to Invesp.

Mobile devices enable shopping on a whim, and 20 percent of American have purchased from the bathroom or while in the car. Social media plays an important role in mobile commerce, and 30 percent of online shoppers say they would purchase from a social media network. The most influential social platforms include Facebook, accounting for 38 percent of all e-commerce referrals. Pinterest comes in second at 29 percent and Twitter in third place with 22 percent of referrals. The bottom line: mobile devices make shopping as easy as a single click (patented by Amazon) and consumer brands need to adjust marketing and commerce initiatives accordingly.

8. Big Data Insights

Since Big Data came on the technology scene five years ago, marketers have latched onto the term and its implications for potential. The reason is that we know information is power, and we are surrounded by information. There are currently 2.7 Zetabytes of data in the digital universe today, and that number is growing rapidly. More than 5 billion people are calling, texting, tweeting and browsing on mobile phones worldwide (don’t look for that number to shrink either, as Facebook recently ran a successful test of its solar-powered drone designed to stay airborne for years to provide internet access to remote areas of the world). Speaking of Facebook, users upload 100 terabytes of data daily to its platform. To give you a sense of scope, 1.8 Zetabytes of data were created in 2011 alone, which equates to more than 200 billion HD movies, which would take you 47 million years to view.

Most alarmingly, the volume of business data worldwide across all companies doubles every 1.2 years. These numbers translate into opportunities, and Wikibon estimates that big data will be a $50 billion business this year. With all of the interest in big data, it may come as a surprise that far too many companies are not leveraging the opportunity as of yet. The DMA recently reported that up to 70 percent of companies are not collecting user content data from social media alone. Thankfully, a host of marketing technology (martech) vendors are providing solutions for big data capture and analysis.

9. Internet of Things

One area likely to contribute significantly to the big data vortex is the Internet of Things (IoT). Particularly relevant to mobile marketing, IoT offers brands an opportunity to gain insights into consumer behavior, as well as gain data-driven insights directly from smart products in and outside the home. Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016. It’s expected that there will be more than 30 billion connected devices in 2020 and 75 billion by 2025. In 2016, global spending on IoT across markets was $737 billion. IDC predicts that by 2020, this number will reach $1.29 trillion. With unprecedented potential to collect and analyze massive amounts of data from mobile and Internet-connected devices, marketers must be diligent in researching and adopting martech solutions to gain insights into current and potential markets and customers.

10. Mobile Wallet

Seasoned digital marketers may feel this article provides little more than validation. If you are one of those people, then this trend is for you. Living in the mobile Valhalla that is Portland, I’m sometimes privy to bleeding edge technology and trends. While we’re all familiar with mobile wallets, which provide convenient and secure payment options, you may not be aware of the potential power of mobile wallets for marketing. Mobile wallets can provide “passes” which are non-payment related, but can be transactional content, including loyalty cards, coupons, event tickets and ID cards.

Certain types of brands are natural fits for mobile marketing opportunities, including restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, sports teams and venues. Unlike paper or plastic alternatives, mobile wallet passes can be updated remotely and seamlessly. This is particularly powerful for couponing, since promotions expire regularly. A few examples of mobile wallet passes in action include WeChat’s social gifting, Alipay’s augmented reality coupons and PayPal’s “stores nearby” and “order ahead” functionality, which is designed to drive more traffic to physical retail stores.

11. Apps

I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on mobile applications, and how they’ve evolved over the past five years. As I mentioned earlier, mobile users are downloading fewer apps but using them more frequently than ever. Research shows that only 6 percent of people use an app after thirty days and five out of ten apps are used only ten times, according to the Adobe Digital Insights Mobile Benchmark Report. The same report indicates that app launches grew 24 percent year-over-year in 2016, but app installs only grew six percent.

Despite the challenges, 197 billion mobile app downloads are expected in 2017, and mobile app revenue is predicted to reach $77 billion this year. Perhaps the most intriguing new trend in the world of mobile apps is Android Instant Apps (AIA), which work without installation. Announced at Google I/O in 2016, AIA are now available to developers. AIA offer a way for brands to distribute lightweight versions of Android apps without requiring a visit to Play Store for a download. Users click on a link in the web browser and are able to get the nearly-full app experience, while circumventing some of the most concerning statistics regarding download and usage rates.

Conclusion:

Regardless of your marketing objectives, target audiences, budgets and available resources, these are at least ten emerging trends to consider when developing a mobile marketing strategy. Ensure you’ve factored in each of the above mobile factors into your mix to ensure your marketing efforts are exponentially more effective in the near future. 

Author Bio: Kent Lewis is President & Founder of Anvil Media, Inc., a digital marketing agency specializing in search engine, social media and mobile marketing for clients worldwide. Based in Portland, Anvil was founded in 2000 and services over 50 clients. For more information, visit www.anvilmediainc.com.

Want to learn more about prepping your brand with a mobile marketing strategy? Join our FREE webinar with Kent Lewis on August 22 at 12pm PST / 3pm EST. 

 


Email Marketing: Simple Ways to Get High Open Rates

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our new Email Marketing Course, Josh joins us today to discuss simple ways to get high open rates in your first email marketing campaign.

 

Most businesses know that they should be using email marketing to gain and retain customers.

But not all businesses know how.  

Even for those who do know how, many still don’t know how to net a higher open rate than 25%, or 1 in every 4 customers, where the other 3 simply delete.

So how do you set up your first email marketing campaign for high open rates?

  1. Be Deliverable: your emails should be delivered to recipients without setting off spam filters.
  2. Be Teachable: should be able to listen and learn from your customers.

Easier said than done? Not necessarily!

If you can follow the outline below during your first campaign, chances are high that your messages will be delivered and received without issue. That’s because you’ll have followed certain steps that ensure you’re listening to and learning from your customers—and not just to avoid their spam filters, but to deliver what they want most.

So start being teachable in order to be deliverable, and follow along to learn how you can set up your first email marketing campaign for high open rates.

Set a Target Audience

Do research, and find out who is most likely to be interested in your offer. If you’re providing an update to your service, find out who would appreciate it most and why. If you’re offering a new product, find out who is most likely to buy it and why. Avoid choosing a demographic that is too broad, such as “Millennials.” Instead, refine your search to center around the segment of your target audience that your message is most likely to hit, such as “millennials aged 25-40 who like us on Facebook.” If you can hit that target right on the bullseye, its impact will be felt throughout the market, likely reaching other people who may also become customers.

Prospect for Leads

Look for online spaces and brick-and-mortar places where your target audience is most likely to be found. Drive traffic from those spaces and places to your site via Twitter, Facebook posts, guest posts on blogs, and word-of-mouth advertising. Avoid scraping other sites for email addresses, unless you’re 100% certain they would be interested in what you have to offer, or your service directly relates to theirs (e.g., you know each other from an exposition). It’s very important you do everything you can to follow our next piece of advice.

Gain Permission

Prompt Facebook fans, site visitors, and especially regular customers to sign up for your email list. Promising a benefit such as free content, a discount, or a free trial goes a long way towards procuring this permission. It is always a bad idea to buy email lists. This is not only because it skips the permission phase of listening to your customer, but also because using it puts you in danger of violating laws that safeguard internet privacy and protect against spam.

Set Open Rate Goals

The benchmark open rate is 25%, but you can set your goal higher or lower, depending on the parameters of your campaign. If your target audience is relatively small, niche, or consists of regular customers, then you might set your open rate goal higher than the benchmark. Meeting that goal shows how well you know your customer. But if the target audience is a relatively large or a new market, you may want to set your open rate goal lower than or equal to the benchmark to be safe. Remember: in order to properly manage expectations, you should never over-promise and under-deliver. Instead, try to under-promise and over-deliver on open rate goals.

Write, Style, and Send

Writing, styling, and sending your email is the time to show your customer how well you’ve listened and learned from them. It is the most important step of the outline because it tests how well you’ve done your homework, as well as how deliverable and teachable you are. By this point, your written email copy should address the needs of your target audience and reflect a solution to all leads who have given you their email. If you write, style, and send an email but skip audience targeting, prospecting, or gaining permission, your open rates will reflect it.

Study Results, Rinse, and Repeat

Give your message at least 24 hours to be sorted by your recipients, and then check results through analytics provided by an email service provider. This is where you get to hear the verdict on whether you’re succeeding at being both teachable and deliverable. Deliverability is easy to measure. If you’re deliverable, then your bounce rates and spam flags will be low. Teachability is more difficult to measure.

If you’re teachable—that is, if you’re both listening to and learning from your customer, especially regarding their preferences—then not only will your open rates be higher than the benchmark, but your customers’ engagement levels and click through rates will be off the charts.

If that’s the case, then you’re doing something right, and all you need to do is rinse and repeat the process.

If not, then you need to learn more about how to set up email marketing campaigns for high open rates.

Email marketing is a HUGE marketing channel. If you want more in-depth knowledge about how to set up your first email marketing campaign for high open rates, check out our updated class library with brand new email marketing courses.

 

 


Twenty Measurement Insights from a Career in Marketing: Part 3

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Editor’s Note: Kent Lewis is the president of digital marketing agency Anvil Media Inc. Today he joins us to continue a series of measurement related insights he has learned over a long career in marketing, to help those who are on a journey in analytics/data related fields.

 

I never was much for math in school, so it’s ironic that numbers are central to my career. In the past few weeks, I’ve posted the first two parts of a four-part series:

Twenty Measurement Insights from a Career in Marketing: Part 1 of 4

Twenty Measurement Insights from a Career in Marketing: Part 2 of 4

In the first two installments, I shared 10 lessons in measurement from a career in marketing and analytics. This is the next installment of the series. Please enjoy.

Further Insights From a Career in Marketing

Relational data creates context

Dealing with data all day makes Johnny a Dull Boy. Even today, I struggle to gain insights from spreadsheets. To me, they look like the cascading numbers in The Matrix. Thus, I learned two tricks early in my career:

  1. Visualize the data and
  2. Create context via relationships

While I covered data visualization in part 1, I want to touch on relational data. In the world of marketing, improvements are everything. Optimizing traffic volume, conversion rates or qualified lead value is essential. I’ve found that ratios provide more meaning over time than other KPIs, especially for trending purposes. As seen in the above image, social media link growth increased 100 percent. At the same time, comments-per-like decreased 25 percent, as it doesn’t maintain a similar growth trajectory. Make sure your metrics have some sort of anchor: ratios do this exceedingly well.

Competitive data provides motivation

While sales has been a key responsibility for most of my career, I’ve discovered three ways to get things done, especially deals. One strategy is to use secondary research and social proof as appeals to logic and safety. Another strategy is to use primary research and customer insights for a personalized and often more compelling approach. The most effective technique I’ve used - particularly with senior management - is an appeal to the ego by means of competitive benchmarking.

Everyone wants to be a winner. And when your company or clients are in second place, there is motivation to invest in marketing to gain leadership. Three free tools you can use to benchmark competitors online (at least with relative data vs. absolute) include Alexa Internet, MOZ Open Site Explorer and Google Site Speed tools.

As you can see above, Alexa provides bounce rates, daily pageviews and time-on-site metrics across most websites.

The Google site speed tool above outlines responsive design and mobile/desktop speeds, which all correlate to conversion rates, user experience and thus rankings in search results.

The image above is of the MOZ Open Explorer, which includes data on domain authority. A site is more likely to rank for desirable terms in search engines when they have a higher domain authority, as it correlates with trust. No boss wants to lose the online marketing battle, so tell them how they stack up, then give them a roadmap to reach first place.

Facts tell, stories sell

As a huge fan of Mad Men, I get the tingles every time I watch Don Draper's Kodak Carousel ad pitch. The power of the 3-minute pitch is the reality that it’s light on facts, and heavy on storyline. The Kodak Cassette is a time machine or a carousel, which has nothing to do with resolution or technology, but everything to do with family memories. I learned this the hard way working with technology companies that sold chips, printers and software: messaging was always around humdrum tech specs rather than benefits.

Data should create actionable insights

For over twenty years my team and I have put together monthly activity reports for clients. I’ve also had the opportunity to see many reports from internal corporate teams and competitors over that same period. One of the most common shortcomings I see with analytics reports is a lack of value (insights and actions).

Too many reports are demonstrations of copy-paste efficiency, indiscriminately pulling charts from Google Analytics, AdWords and social media platforms. Even third party dashboards that streamline the process create bad habits for marketers, as they make report generation too easy. Value lies in analyzing the data, identifying issues and opportunities and developing specific, actionable recommendations. At Anvil, we’ve streamlined our reports, focusing on visualization of the data, a high-level summary of activities and performance,specific actions, owners and timelines. If your reports are falling short, it’s time to revisit.

Inspect, do not expect

Although I’ve been a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization for a decade, I’m sometimes slow to learn lessons in business. One business measurement lesson I learned the hard way was how to effectively measure my team’s performance. Early in my career as a manager, conventional wisdom (that many still swear by today) was to hire smart people and get out of the way. I got the first part right (hiring smart people), but I did not follow through to ensure they knew how to do their job and had the support they needed to be successful. Most importantly, I managed by instinct and perception, which became deadly.

Years later, my EO mentor advised me: “Inspect, do not Expect.” I immediately instituted a weekly status update, including goals for the coming week and an update on goals from the previous week. It has helped me to appreciate what my executive team can accomplish, where they need support and how often they get side-tracked by unanticipated emergencies. My only expectation nowadays is that my team will update me on a weekly basis. Inspect the rest. Related article: 3 Game-Changing Leadership Lessons.

Don't let good numbers create complacency

One of the surprising measurement lessons I’ve learned is this: success can breed complacency, and complacency creates major problems. We’ve all heard the old sayings about success going to your head. But I’m talking about a slightly different danger: if your car gets you to work reliably every day, it’s difficult to see why you’d open the hood to look for any issues, especially when you don’t see, hear or feel anything wrong. That was the challenge I faced at Anvil. We experienced five consecutive years of rapid growth. Essentially, the car we’d built kept going faster and it sounded great (at least to me). The problem was that under the hood, there was a good deal of duct tape and a few stray hamsters. By the time I figured it out, it was too late and had to completely rebuild the car while we were still on the road. I believe Johnny Cash wrote a song about this problem. Related article: 20 Lessons in 20 Years as a Marketer & Entrepreneur.

There is always a role for humans in analytics

I was interviewed by DMN about the role of humans in the world of analytics. I prepared for the interview by reading a few articles on the subject. That preparation turned into the following article: Underestimating The Human Element of Big Data Analytics. In brief, artificial intelligence combined with big data provides amazing new opportunities for all types of disciplines, including marketing. The good news is that humans still play an essential role in the machine-driven process, including knowing what questions to ask, how to structure the analysis, interpret and act on insights.

Map data analytics to your dream job

When I graduated college in the 90s, my uncle told me to stay close to the money (more on that in part 1). It took me a few years to realize that my role in measuring buying activity through analytics put me on top of the money. That insight has led others to join a booming industry which includes newer disciplines like sales and marketing automation. It also includes maturing roles like data scientist and data analyst. I recently penned an article on the roadmap to building a dream job in the field of analytics: Six steps to a fulfilling and financially-rewarding career. This article will help you understand if your unique abilities and talents are in the ballpark of analytics, and from there, you can network and identify job opportunities.

Build your own career plan dashboard

For those of you that already have a job or a general direction for your career, it may help to validate your level of happiness. I have an article for that: Take this quiz to find out if you have your Dream Job. This article provides evaluation criteria for what a great job looks and feels like, and it can help to objectively assess your situation. If you score well, congratulations! If you score lower, it’s time to rethink your job or career. Start by painting a picture of your ideal job: how it looks, how it sounds and even smells. Then map that ideal to potential employers, and network your way into that company or start your own. Reverse-engineer your career end-point back to the present by setting goals, associated timelines, actions, and execute them.

Start your journey today

The most difficult step in making a career move - especially when it comes to data measurement - is the first step. I’ve written another article that provides specifics steps for building a career in any field, but especially digital marketing.

12 Career Tips for Growth-Minded Individuals

It all starts by networking, researching, studying, applying and improving. The first step may seem like the most difficult, but it doesn’t have to be: I hope you find these twenty lessons in measurement and analytics helpful to your journey.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Storytelling in the Digital Age

Web Analytics Fundamentals for a Data-Driven World

Testing, Behavioral Analytics & Metrics Best Practices

 

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


6 Email Marketing Trends You Can’t Miss in 2017

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our new Email Marketing Course, Josh joins us today to discuss the biggest email marketing trends in 2017.

 

We’ve come a long way since “You’ve got mail.”

So far, in fact, that the reason people open emails has completely changed over time.

From its inception in 1971 through the 1990s, email was seen exclusively as an extension to the written memo or business letter. That’s why it was called “electronic mail” or “e-mail” for short: it was an electronic alternative to paper based communication.

email marketing trends

In 2017, email is the dominant platform used by working professionals to communicate with businessesIt comes as a surprise to many that even more than social media, email is still the most popular, private channel for Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) messages.

Looking at recent and historical trends, total emails sent and total email senders are projected to grow 3% annually through 2019, as email’s sphere of influence continues to expand. This means the audience marketers can reach via email will continue to broaden. And because that audience prefers email to communicate with brands they trust, email’s potential as a marketing channel will only continue to grow.

But there are hurdles to such growth, and marketers have to be prepared:

1. Shorter Attention Spans

email marketing trends 2

A study recently confirmed what we all suspected: most online readers have shorter attention spans than a goldfish. While experts argue about the exact length of that attention span or whether its growing, consensus says that the average online reader has an attention span that does not surpass 9 seconds.

What does this have to do with email marketing? Well suffice to say, it doesn't bode well for your 2,000-word newsletter with no images. If you can't engage your recipients quickly and hold their attention, you're on a one-way-trip to delete-ville.

2. Sensitive Spam Filters

email marketing trends 3

Automatic spam filters are getting much more aggressive to corporate messaging. This trend represents increased interest in cybersecurity that may only climb as government officials and email oversight personnel pay more and more attention to webmail.

Sadly, there's not much you can do about this. But here's a hint: most spam filters are trained on human perceptions. If your email doesn't look like spam to a person, there's a better chance it won't get deleted.

3. Increasingly Complicated Styles

email marketing trends 4

The ever-increasing complexity of web design doesn't end with webpages. Email has moved away from text-only messages that look like newsletters. As a result, it is more difficult to make emails stand out and easier to let them stagnate.

To combat this stagnation, remain on customers’ radars, and hold their attention: businesses should watch all of these trends and learn how to make their emails appeal to customers’ sense of exclusivity, novelty, and personalization.

4. Exclusivity

One of the best ways to maintain a relationship with your subscribers is giving them access to exclusive content. This approach can work with offers of access to a video, a webinar, a study, a free trial, or any other content produced by your brand.

When sending out email offers, condense the most interesting information you have to offer in the email subject line. Make it read like a news headline, but don’t give too much away.

The goal is to give subscribers something not all of your readers can access. Conceal and reveal is how you should approach both your emails and calls-to-action (CTAs); retention and acquisition should be your guiding principles. If your subscribers freely share the information you’ve freely given them, this approach can increase customer acquisition. Keep tabs on open and click-through rates and other metrics to analyze how well your appeals to exclusivity work.

6. Personalization

The best way to remain on a customer’s radar is personalized email. What is personalized email? Let's break it down:

A personalized email knows:

  • What a customer likes
  • And what else they might like based on those preferences
  • And how to deliver it to them via recommendation engine and webmail...
  • ...at the time a customer is most likely to be at their device

While this might seem like a scary level of detail, machine learning makes this level of personalization possible on a large scale. Email template providers like MailChimp can provide detailed insights about reader preferences to businesses.

But when it comes to adding a personal touch, there is no substitute to corresponding one-on-one with actual customers. That’s why it’s a good idea to personalize emails with your own words as much as possible. Including your business’ address, telephone number, your personal signature, and a way to opt out of email from your business goes a long way towards accomplishing this goal. Doing all of this ensures that you’re complying with the CAN SPAM Act of 2003, and makes you appear reachable and human.

Email marketing is a HUGE marketing channel. If you want to know more about email marketing trends to watch in 2017, check out the new email marketing course in our updated class library for free!

 

 


Build a Social Media Presence From Scratch

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Editor's Note: Jo Robinson is a content writer for Media Shark. Today she joins us to explain the importance of a social media strategy for business, and how your company can build a presence from scratch.

 

As a business owner, your social media presence is non-negotiable.

On a personal level, you might find Facebook futile or Instagram infuriating. But professionally, if you want your business - and especially your online business - to succeed, an active presence on those platforms is crucial.

#That's a bit dramatic @writer', I see you tweet.

But it's not.

Your potential customers are active on social media and it's essential to keep yourself at the forefront of their minds; to increase sales, you meet your prospects where they are at.

Establishing a social media presence will also help you build relationships with your existing clients, strengthen their loyalty, increase your web traffic, and offer a point of difference to your competition.

Assuming, that is, you do it right.

Your attendance on social media is compulsory, but if you've been delaying the inevitable, do not be afraid: it's never too late. Now is the time for your brand to get socially active. Here are seven steps for building your social media presence from scratch, and gaining a meaningful following that will help you build your business.

1. Pick the platform(s) that work best for you and your brand

There are many social platforms to choose from these days: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Tumblr are just some of the mediums in a growing list of viable social networking sites.

The good news is, you don't need to be on all of them! In fact, spreading your resources too thin is counterproductive: there's nothing worse than Googling a business and finding an old, abandoned Twitter account sitting among half-baked hashtags and a default profile picture.

In the beginning, choose one or two platforms, and start there. Do some research, and pick the ones where your target audience is present. The quality of your content reflects on your company, so don't create profiles for the sake of it. Put your energy into growing and maintaining relevant platforms to avoid seeming like someone who isn't committed to their business.

2. Craft your profiles

You showed up, and made an account. Good job, but you're not done yet: your social media profiles should never be an after-thought. They're extremely powerful opportunities to strengthen your brand and communicate who you are, so it's essential that you give your profiles the #TLC they deserve.

Good Branding

Choose a profile and cover image that's consistent with your brand. Depending on the nature of your business, either a logo or a professional image of the business-owner works well. Low-quality images are a no-no, so make sure to use high-resolution images if you have them, or produce them if you don't.

Add your logo to all images throughout your social media and when you add any copy, consistently use the same font in line with your style guide.  

nutella social media

Nutella's brand imagery is front and center

Your biographies should be completed using your short and long business description, and all contact information should be filled out.

Make sure you add a ‘contact now' button to Facebook and Instagram so people can call you as an easy next step to their browsing.

Social media counts towards your SEO search ranking, so this is another golden opportunity to get keywords next to your business name on search engines. 

With informative and engaging profiles, social browsers who visit your page(s) will know that you mean business and you've got something worth their time, so never slack on this bit.

3. Share with your audience

On the Internet, it's easy to buy fake followers. Don't do this. Not only is it inauthentic, it's also completely unnecessary: if you produce engaging content that your market enjoys, your followers will grow organically and you'll also get engagement too.

Content is the currency of social media, so if you haven't begun a content strategy yet, now is the time to start. Here are some suggestions:

  • Attach a blog to your website, and write helpful articles related to your niche - you can hire writers to help you with this job, or invite guest posts from influencers
  • Commission white papers that reflect the state of your industry
  • On heavily visual networks like Pinterest, infographics are a proven strategy

Whatever you do, give to your audience, and they will have a good reason to stick around.

Nutella_Facebook_Posts.png

Nutella shares content featuring their own product to encourage interaction

Before your page grows, you need a small initial following. Start by:

  • Sharing your page with people you know, or people in your company
  • Share it with existing customers by email
  • If you're on Facebook, join relevant Facebook groups, and share page content there
  • On sites with tags (like Twitter and Instagram), adding useful tags will help you get discovered

Once you've made a start, your followers will grow organically and you'll know that people are there because they will be genuinely interested in you and your content.

4. Post consistently

We've all seen it. A nice, attractive page, a few posts bubbling with excitement about a new business, and then...

...nothing. nothing but a screen-based version of an awkward silence. Think tumbleweeds and crickets floating across your screen as people wonder where the rest of your content is. The last post was 40 weeks ago and your customers - protip: the people with money to give you - have no idea if you're even still in business.

Until you've built up a loyal following, you need to post regularly and consistently. This might be once a week, or it might be once or more per day. How often you post depends on the nature of your business and your market, but the key is consistency.

Unless you have a dedicated social media manager, uploading content on the fly will never work. You're a busy person and social media will always get pushed to the bottom of the pile. Spend some time scheduling content to make sure your reach is constant, and your followers know what they can expect from you.

5. Offer incentives for sharing your posts

All humans have a ‘what's in it for me' attitude, so once your immediate friends and family have liked and shared your page, it's helpful to devise incentive-based offers to create a traffic boon.

Offer goods to your audience and potential audience such as discount vouchers, a free product, or entry into a competition for sharing a post which will extend your reach.

Always check with your platform owner as restrictions can apply to competitions, and you need to make sure your posts always sit within their guidelines.

6. Respond to engagement

Your pages should be a welcoming environment where people can hang out, express their opinions, and feel included, so always acknowledge people who respond to your content.

Tag people in comments, and like/reply to reviews and posts on your page; yes, even the negative ones!

This is your opportunity to create strong relationships with your market and put yourself at the forefront of their minds. As your followers witness this engagement, they're more likely to pop over and follow you too, further building your audience.

7. Use analytics

Finally, most platforms now provide free analytics which you should take advantage ofPosting the wrong content at the wrong time for the wrong audience will bring you to a roadblock in terms of growth. Useful metrics to pay attention to include

  • Number of reactions/shares/comments on a post
  • Days of the week, and times of day that your users are most active
  • How many clicks a link received
  • Demographics of your audience: age, sex, location, interests

Using this information, you can build a better social media strategy while simultaneously boosting your marketing efforts. Pay attention to people, and they will pay attention to you.

Conclusion

Building a social media presence can be a slow process, but it has a snowball effect. Stay in it for the long haul! With consistency and effort, an active social media presence is well worth the benefits it will bring your business, so use the outline above to devise a strategy you can commit to.

Bio: Jo Robinson is a content writer at Media Shark, where she can be contacted. With an exciting background that includes police forensics and professional fundraising, Jo's a whiz with words and appeals to a wide range of audiences.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Social Media Brand: Expressing Brand through Social Media

Creating and Curating Content People Love

Leveraging Analytics

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.