Archive for January, 2010

Dedicated Landing Pages: The Other 50 Percent of your Email Marketing Campaign

In my last post I talked about How To Create An Email Marketing Campaign. There’s an old Direct Mail rule that goes like this. List. Offer. Package. Message. Without the right List, your Offer doesn’t matter. With the right Offer, the Package doesn’t matter and so on…

In Email Marketing, there are two dimensions to the Package: the email itself and the recipient’s experience after the click. I realize this isn’t technically in the Package. But recipients can immediately act on an email offer. In Direct Mail, the next step is a little disconnected. In email marketing, you have the opportunity to send recipients to a dedicated landing page to fulfill your offer immediately.

I argue that the email itself is only 50% of the battle in an Email Marketing Campaign. How easy is it for recipients to get their incentive, fill out a form or make a purchase after the click? Is it clear to them what they are supposed to do? Does it tie back into the offer/message they just saw in the email?

You need to use dedicated landing pages for your email campaigns. Putting all that effort into your List, Offer and Package is meaningless if you dump them on your home page or contact page. Recipients aren’t interested in exploring your website or hunting for the service/product you just advertised. Spend a portion of your budget on a dedicated landing page and it will pay off.

Your landing page should tie to the messaging in your email. It should entice them to act on the offer. It should allow the recipient to act on the offer right there on the landing page i.e. put the form on the landing page. The form and the number of steps should be kept to a minimum.

The concept of using landing pages applies to both third-party email blasts and house blasts. If you are sending a third-party email blast, you want to capture the recipient’s information to build your in-house email list. Of course you will capture their full contact information if they make a purchase, but it gets tricky in other scenarios. How much contact information should they provide to get their incentive? Use your best judgment but remember that you can always market to them later for much less than buying an email blast again if you simply ask for their email address, name and maybe a segmentation question or two.

Use landing pages for your house email blasts as well. Just because they are a subscriber doesn’t mean they are intimately familiar with your company, your products and your website. Make it easy on them, too, to respond to your emails by offering them a concise, well-thought out landing page.

Implementing landing pages on static sites are much easier than implementing them on sites driven by Content Management Solutions (CMS). With CMS-driven sites you have templates and dynamically populated pages. You can’t make a static copy of them to create your landing page. The page will never be updated again and will get stale. And your developers probably won’t do it anyway. But you can create an alternate CMS template with an editable body area for your email marketing campaigns. It’s extra work but you don’t really have a choice. Sending them to a page that doesn’t directly tie back into your email and make it very clear what they are supposed to do next is pointless.

Let’s say you are an ecommerce site and you want to advertise a single product or a category of products. You still need a dedicated landing page with messaging that ties back into your email marketing campaign but you can’t edit the live page just for this campaign. Create your landing page with the custom messaging and images and then link to the single product you are promoting with a Buy Now or Learn More call to action. Another option is to link to a search result page or category page with a Browse call to action. Go to your site, search for that single product, drill down to the product category or search for keywords and copy the URL in the address bar. You may have to remove session variables form the URL but this is a great way to link to your email to a landing page and still get them where they need to go in an efficient manner.

And don’t neglect the copy! I cannot stress this enough. Stating the facts and listing your products might be enough if you’re selling something everyone understands and, more to-the-point, understands why they should buy it from YOU. But if you aren’t the category leader (who has to work hard at it, too), spend a little time explaining your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). Why Best Buy instead of Office Depot? Why Oscar Meyer instead of Hebrew?

Slideshare: Dedicated Landing Pages: The Other 50 Percent of your Email Marketing Campaign

Posted: January 30th, 2010
at 11:18am by Rob Van Slyke

Tagged with , , , , ,


Categories: Email Marketing

Comments: 1 comment


Email Marketing Lists – How to Create an Email Marketing Campaign

This post is the beginning of a series about Email Marketing Campaigns. Even if you’re a pro, this will be a nice refresher for you.

An old Direct Mail rule can be applied (for the most part) to Email Marketing Campaigns. It goes like this. List. Offer. Package. Message. Without the right List, your Offer doesn’t matter. With the right Offer, the Package doesn’t matter and so on… You have to start with the right list.

List

Don’t choose one Email Marketing List over another one just because it was cheaper. Scale back the size of your buy so you can afford the higher quality list. In the long run, cheap email lists aren’t cheaper. Your response rates will be terrible and your CPL/CPS will be through the roof.

If that isn’t clear enough, why buy a $2000 blast and generate $500 in sales when you could buy a $1000 blast and generate $2000 in sales? Cheap email lists are “hit” too often or aren’t segmented enough. The recipients are trained to ignore the emails from the sender.

On the flip side, a responsible third-party vendor who values their list and cares for it will charge more to preserve the quality of their list. They will probably have editorial guidelines to ensure your success as well as theirs.

Offer

Without the right offer i.e. incentive, your targeted list probably won’t give your message a second thought. You need to understand your audience. Are they likely to respond to a monetary incentive such as savings or a coupon? Would they act on something such as free download of content? Would they respond to a contest for a chance to win something?

Don’t just pick something and run with it. If it is not meaningful to them, you are wasting your time and money.

Package / Message

In Direct Mail, this is the mail piece in the mailbox. Packaging is design, copy, etc. This is where I spend most of my time. How does my email perform on all levels? Does the design say my company is trustworthy? Does it lend or detract from message and Call To Action (CTA). Is the message concise and compelling? Does the message compete with other messages? Does the layout technically interfere with the audience’s ability to act on the email i.e. can they still read the offer with images disabled? What shows up in the preview pane? How does it look on their phone?

In email, there’s another dimension to the Package: the recipient’s experience after the click. I realize this isn’t technically in the Package. But recipients can immediately act on an email offer. In Direct Mail, the next step is a little disconnected. In email marketing, you have the opportunity to send recipients to a dedicated landing page to fulfill your offer immediately.

Slideshare: Email Marketing Lists – How to Create an Email Marketing Campaign

Next in the Series:

Landing Pages – the other 50% of Email Marketing Campaigns and the Package/Message.

Posted: January 30th, 2010
at 10:17am by Rob Van Slyke

Tagged with , , , , , ,


Categories: Email Deliverability,Email Marketing

Comments: 2 comments


Key Decisions When Setting up a New Email Service Provider Account

If you setup your Email Service Provider account too quickly, you might miss out on some functionality and features you will regret later. Take time to understand what is unique about your Email Service Provider Application and how to best leverage its capabilities.

I have a client that just changed to a new Email Service Provider (ESP). Four years ago… It seems like they just changed because they have never setup the tool they way it was supposed to be setup and they are still only using 10 percent of the tools capabilties. They had a full calendar of sends and couldn’t waste time setting up the account to fully leverage its capabilities. The cost, while not apparent at first, was tens of thousands of dollars in real revenue and more in labor to manage the tool.

Moral of the story. Time time to understand your email tool or hire someone who can advise you of the best way to set it up so you can make business decisions that make you money versus cost you money.

What did they do wrong? Everything. The major Email Service Providers (ESPs), while not perfect by any means, have plugins and modules that require certain things to be setup properly to work. And reporting… Fugetaboutit… If you want to integrate with Salesforce.com one day or dig deep into your reports, you are going to run into trouble. The system is going to expect certain things to be setup and it won’t find them. If you are already using the system when you realize you need to change it, the complications multiply.

Decision #1: Make In-House or ESP the Primary Database?
Everyone has the same first decision to make before setting up their ESP account. Where will the primary database live? In-house or at the ESP?

If you choose the in-house database as the primary database for whatever reason, inevitably you will have subscribers unsubscribe or update their profile at the ESP. How will you synchronize this information and when will you synchronize it? What forms and database will capture new subscribers and how will you get that information to the ESP before your next send? Are you prepared to develop forms for all your needs over time that replace the forms that already exist at the ESP?

Big questions. And they can be answered with manual solutions or automated ones. Both options will cost you time and money. You can export from your primary database each time or you can setup a call to the ESP’s API – an automatic import or export.

If you choose the ESP as the primary database (my preference), how will you synchronize the data with your in-house database? How often will it be necessary and what data will be synchronized?

Decision #2: ESP Database and List Structure

Most ESPs do this slightly differently from each other. Some ESPs have multiple lists within their system. They might be called Lists or Campaigns or Segments but they are truly differently lists. Some ESPs simply have a single List and you choose the subscriber segments that will receive your email at the time of send. There are other structures… But these scenarios are sufficient to demonstrate my point.

You must understand how the ESP is setup in order to get fully leverage their capabilities.

Case in point. My client has multiple newsletters and other lists (press list, partner list, etc). They import a fresh list each time they send out an email. They do not upload their subscribers into the same list name at the ESP every time. They create a new list at the ESP. This is fine for getting the email out the door. The problem arises is when they want to run a trend report to see the lists activity over time. They can’t run reports over time because the reporting tool isn’t setup to analyze data across lists. It assumes that if you want to analyze data over time that you want to compare response data on the same list. Oooops.

So now that we have List 1, List 2 and List 2 sending the same newsletter on January 1, February 1 and March 1 to the same subscriber base, I can’t see a report that shows response rates over time. I have to pull data out from each list and compare in Excel. And I don’t get to use their whiz-bang features or nice charts and graphs. I’m stuck with… Excel.

They should have taken the extra time to separate their unsubscribes from the new subscribers and then imported the subscribes and suppressed the unusbuscribes in the same list. Not only would they have been able to see trend reports over time for the newsletters, but they could have seen trend reports that compare sections of the newsletter over time. E.g. Feature 1 trends look like this over three months and Feature 2 trends look like this. That is important information if you want to measure subscribers interest in different aspects of your newsletter.

Hopefully this gets our wheels turning about your ESP setup. Have a call with your ESP and find out what best practices are to full leverage their capabilties. It will save you time and money.

Slideshare: Proper Setup of ESP Account

Posted: January 30th, 2010
at 9:48am by Rob Van Slyke

Tagged with , , ,


Categories: Email Marketing,Email Service Providers

Comments: No comments


    


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