Email Campaign Management – Three Rules of Engagement
By: Carl Soderstrom, Management Consultant
While many email marketers focus solely on issues of deliverability, sophisticated companies know they need to understand the customer to bring their promotions to the next level. With Internet service providers cracking down on bulk mailers and the need for CAN-SPAM compliance, relevant and engaging messaging are necessary to drive results.
Here are three rules for email marketing engagement to drive consistent profits when targeting a prospect over the lifetime of that relationship.
• Know who they are, not just where they are. Geographical targeting is the first and most common form of campaign audience engagement. Typically, geographical targeting is determined by such data as address and ZIP code to tailor information crucial for promoting local events or services that take place in certain areas.
It’s important to send potential customers promotions they can take advantage of, not ones out of geographic reach. Let’s say you’re promoting workshops in 13 states. Based on research, you know that the average distance someone will travel to a workshop is 20 miles. If you neglected to implement this data into your geo-targeting, a potential customer 100 miles out of range might sign up only to find out the workshop is too far away to attend. This disappointment can result in negative feedback, adversely affecting your company’s reputation and deliverability objectives.
Demographical targeting has been used for many years to personalize the marketing message to customers, but it’s surprising that email marketers rarely combine more than a few demographical attributes when planning a campaign. Most reputable list-owners have dozens of data points on given customers and there is real value in merging as many as possible.
Chaining data attributes can only help create and maintain a relationship with your customers. It can also enable your promotion to stand out from the crowd.
• Know what they want and what they don’t. Behavioral targeting is quite common in display and search advertising, less so in email marketing. But by using an aggregated database of customer buying habits, you can target those who will be interested in your material and exclude those who would either ignore your products or provide negative feedback.
Utilizing buyer history, and conducting database searches to find products that are typically purchased together, is nothing new to direct mail, retail and retention campaigns. With acquisition email campaigns, however, prior purchases often go unexamined when discussing strategies for crafting a campaign.
Though the benefits of applying a relevant purchase history to customer targeting are well-known, many email marketers still don’t exclude those who have already purchased the same or similar products. Ineffective targeting equates to inefficient marketing. It can also drive more negative feedback.
While chaining companion products is frequently discussed in email campaigns, it is rarely acted upon. Follow-up must be timely, as you have a limited window of opportunity to take advantage of an opportunity.
• Know when they want it and when they don’t. Situational targeting, also known as just-in-time targeting, is the most underutilized form of focusing your message; it may also be the most promising. This form of targeting is based on the premise that events such as time, day of week, holidays, weather, etc. can trump normal customer behavior.
Customizing your campaign based on whether it’s a weekday or weekend can be important as well. Some companies do 80% of their business on Saturday. If this sounds like you, why would you promote your wares on a Monday?
The real value proposition of effective email marketing engagement is found when these three rules are incorporated into campaigns as a whole instead of individually.
Art Director Jessica Murray is in the MediaWhiz spotlight
It may come as a surprise to learn Art Director Jessica Murray was initially uncertain of her career path. “I loved doing photography and laying out spreads… but it took me a few years to realize I wanted to do that as a career.” It wasn’t until she enrolled in a college design program that creative became her professional focus, a focus she has since brought to MediaWhiz. Jessica is particularly fond of MediaWhiz’s “work hard, play hard culture”, which she believes can be a real difference maker with clients. “Whether our clients are a nationally recognized brand or a startup with no online presence…we just help them sell more.”
Creative plays a unique albeit important role in driving campaign results, one that requires talent and thick skin. “Creative work is always judged subjectively, which can be challenging”, she explains. “We try to take out the subjectivity and look at the results, which is the best indicator of a successful creative campaign.” Jessica says she loves being creatively challenged, constantly busy and always being first in line for beer on Thursty Thursday. And as the newest Whiz bike commuter, she is not yet ready to challenge Chris MacMurray or Tracy Norton to a race. “I’m not quite a triathlete since I tend to swim sideways.”
Working with brands online – best practices and procedures
By: Peter S. Klein, GM of Monetizeit, the MediaWhiz Affiliate Network
During my years of experience in developing broad agency relationships with mid-to-large brands, it has become clear that as budgets become bigger, so does the need for efficiency, transparency and ROI measurement increases. But on their own, they are not enough.
What is needed to a perhaps even greater extent is for executives and agency personnel to be educated in online marketing best practices. To be clear, it’s not that the marketing folks and performance agencies running these programs aren’t very smart. It’s just that online and affiliate marketing has grown and changed immensely over the past 10 years and it’s unlikely that they are entirely up to speed with such a fast-moving industry.
So what is important for marketers, online customer acquisition managers and agencies to keep top of mind when constructing new campaigns? Here are 5 key points to consider.
Education – Marketers need to go a step further than the standard business development call. Get out there and meet onsite with a session that educates the client on your company and the type of marketing you conduct – especially if you have an affiliate network. You need to communicate that affiliate marketing is constituted of all forms of media, not some unexplored unique channel, albeit through partners rather than internal traffic. You also need to stress that affiliate programs are scalable well beyond the scale of their internal operations, given that networks can access millions of people.
Transparency – It is important to share all of the compliance measurements of your company/network and information on media placements. This data is needed to provide reassurance that the brand’s image will be protected. Data sets could include keyword monitoring/jump pages in Search Engine Marketing (SEM), seeds and test messages in email, or banner placements on websites and social sites like Facebook. It is also useful to show the partner which Affiliate ID (SubID to them) is responsible for what kind of traffic, along with the sample placements and tests.
Budgets – Brand owners and merchants often have very large budgets to work with, but results don’t necessarily come overnight and all sides should be prepared to show patience. Typical IOs start at $50K for the first few months, which is an appropriate amount for testing and understanding each other’s metrics. Once baselines are established, partners need to work together on landing page optimization and payouts, which are critical to optimizing results. It is important to be patient and gain mutual trust. Everyone wants million dollar budgets and million dollar results – the end goal of the scalable CPA model – but to achieve those kinds of goals one must continuously work at improving results while the campaign is in progress.
Overcome Fear of the P&L –Advertisers often have concerns as to which of their internal departments the revenue will be attributed, given that there is such a variety of media used by affiliates. This issue can be dealt with by showing through education that in fact the entire affiliate channel is under their domain – be it email, social media, display, search, etc. Networks absorb the risk via the CPA model, so as long as the client is reassured and all parties are transparent with each other, there should be no concerns other than focusing on performance.
Conversion from Risk-Aversion to Heroism – The final step and overall goal of the relationship is to deliver high quality, measurable, and scalable results that go beyond initial expectations. This means making the marketing decision maker or online acquisition manager a hero. Give them such great results that they look like a genius for taking the chance on you. Give them daily metrics that can be merged with their own, as well as quarterly presentations and regular visits for strategic planning sessions. The aim is to build a bond, show each other in a good light and educate senior executives with regard to the success of the business relationship.
Whether you occupy the role of marketer, agency or the customer acquisition manager for the brand, remember that the online and affiliate space is constantly changing and growing. In a dynamic and fast-changing landscape, these five points can be used as a framework for for success in campaign creation and management.
Performance in the Media Mix
By: Daryl Colwell, VP of Monetizeit, the MediaWhiz Affiliate Network
Being top of mind with existing and potential clients is essential for driving campaign results. Those of us in the online performance game understand that maximizing brand messaging across all channels will greatly enhance the consumer experience. Customers won’t have to look for you. You’ll always be able to find them. Some marketers believe the only way to garner such exposure is through social media. But the digital marketplace is far too complex and progressive to hedge all of your campaign bets on Facebook and Twitter. It is important to utilize social media within a proper media mix.
Ineffective implementation of social media is a growing and problematic trend among digital marketers. Incorporating social media into a marketing campaign for the sake of using social media may get you “Friends” but it will fail to deliver revenue. It should be a complimentary component to your performance media mix, which should consist of email marketing, data acquisition, affiliate, search and display advertising. By adding social to your media mix, your campaign will leverage consumer interest, heighten engagement and strengthen branding.
Let’s think of social as a trendy sports car. It looks good and gets attention. But the car is useless without a skilled driver; someone who understands how it handles, knows when to power it up and appreciates the importance of continually improving it for maximum performance. Social should drive results for campaigns as a vehicle for user engagement. It can aide email marketing and data acquisition initiatives by featuring buttons and links to opt-ins, subscriptions and sign-ups to deliver new conversions. Affiliates can better direct, track and monetize sales by steering the social conversation to their sites. Social media can benefit a comprehensive search campaign in the short-term and long-term. It can help engage consumers and drive relevant traffic for a Paid Search program, increase natural search rankings for SEO and enable performance marketers to establish positive messaging and branding as part of an Online Reputation Management process. Online display advertisers can target active consumers on social sites for their dynamic campaigns.
Making social media a part of your media mix will allow for better optimization of campaigns. Still, social media alone will fail to drive conversions, revenue or results for your online performance marketing programs. It must work for you within a fully optimized media mix. Getting the most out of your complete media mix requires specialized expertise across all channels. Leveraging this knowledge will facilitate branding, engagement and keep you top of mind with consumers and clients.
Driving Display Results with the Right Data
By Jake Gardner, MediaWhiz Director of Display Ad Operations
Today, online display advertisers are looking for more demand for their dollar. A good way for advertisers to reach their target audience is by using online and offline behavioral data. The strategic targeting of potential consumers is at the heart of the data revolution. It involves bringing the appropriate ad to the right user at the right time. If properly purchased and placed, data can drive increases in click-throughs, conversions and revenue. But the trick is navigating the vast data landscape by using it effectively with scale.
Data has always been part of the online advertising discussion. The major question was, “How do we use it?” Today, a variety of data partners and exchanges, including BlueKai, Exelate and dataLogix are giving advertisers a way to better target their ads. Incorporating geographical, behavioral and demographic targeting greatly increases the probability of engaging relevant consumers.
Not sure how data targeting works? Think of your last search. Maybe you are a thirty-something female living in New York. You might see a banner ad promoting women’s apparel sales. Believe it or not, this ad was targeted specifically towards you. If data targeting were not in effect, you might have seen ads for NASCAR or menswear sales. This would not be cost-effective.
Data does have its share of question marks. What is the value of data? How much data are websites willing to release in lieu of privacy concerns? The best way to quantify what data is worth is to leverage the expertise of a robust ad network. A leading ad network will adhere to best practices improving targeting, information management and monetization. As for privacy issues, a top-tier ad network will implement enhanced privacy protections without hindering the user experience.
Display advertising is expected to grow by 60% in 2011, according to advertising consultants Borrell Associates. Therefore, investing in data-driven media buying is a sound strategy – as long as you have the right network to help you hit the right target.
Bridging the Culture Gap: Pitching Online Performance Marketing Abroad
By Bill Fish: COO, MediaWhiz Text Link Ads
Driving revenue through Search rankings requires specialized expertise in Natural Search and strategic link building. Online performance marketers based in the United States often focus their attention on procuring domestic clients. This is understandable and profitable. The number of American advertisers, publishers and SEO agencies looking to outsource SEO is stout. But as Organic Search continues to evolve globally, online marketers would be wise to expand their sales approach to target clients internationally.
As is true of any successful Search initiative, appearing relevant is essential. Online performance agencies should make a concerted effort to expand international hiring practices. For example, if you want to explore business opportunities in Italy, it would make sense from both a sales and marketing standpoint to have a Italian speaking representative make the initial introduction. The next step would be to personalize the site experience. Agencies should create translated versions of their websites, which would not only make it easier for potential clients abroad to acquaint themselves with your services but hopefully facilitate referrals.
This past summer, Text Link Ads invested in the international hiring market with great success. After adding German and French speaking account representatives to the team, we have seen our monthly revenues in Germany and France grow by 24.7% and 57% respectively. Our reputation among existing clients in those countries has also improved significantly.
Regardless of the performance channel you are preparing to pitch abroad, making a relevant approach is important. It will help you drive revenue through rankings but also through cultural respect and familiarity.
Email Messaging on Target
By: Mitch Tuch, MediaWhiz GM of Data Acquisition
Advanced deliverability and functionality are essential to a high performing email marketing campaign. Immediate and intelligent engagement is similarly vital for establishing a fully optimized lead generation and CRM program – as long as it is done right. The goal of driving leads and conversions can be compromised if messages are viewed as SPAM, a major threat to efficiency. Also, some initiatives lack precise and timely reporting to track and explain the delivery fail. The majority of publishers and performance marketers are painfully aware of such email marketing shortcomings. As is true of every performance channel, a program of continuous improvement must be implemented to proactively address deliverability and functionality.
Incorporating an audience-specific proprietary messaging tool into your campaign will alleviate many common email marketing challenges. For instance, MediaWhiz Messaging™ enables advertisers to qualify leads and effectively manage the consumer experience at the highest level. It delivers a cascade of multiple dynamic emails, each with increased urgency, providing the right message to the right consumer at the right time. But a powerful targeting and retargeting strategy must rely on more than a forward thinking messaging tool. It must include a forward thinking client services team.
Leveraging consultative email marketing expertise while optimizing the entire lead generation marketplace will increase conversions and improve cost-efficiency by eliminating unresponsive consumers. Client services and account managers can obtain client information while identifying and recommending unique multiple domains to your client increasing the likelihood of lead generation and lead conversion.
A technologically advanced, proprietary messaging program can drive conversions and increase overall email marketing efficiency. This is more important than ever in the fast-paced, continuously evolving world of online performance marketing where delivering the right message the first time around is what matters most for a high performance campaign.