Category Archives: Newsletters

Goodbye “channels” – Welcome the marketing “channel of one”

The practice of creating a seamless customer experience across digital channels has been a common marketing challenge for a long while now, and integration of some offline and online channels through campaign segmentation is the norm. However, for most of us it is difficult to get a grip on every part of the customer experience.

To put this into perspective, there are typically more channels or touch points throughout a customer experience that are entirely generic and not personalised at all, versus those that are. They are not personalised by name, proposition or offer, call to action, location. None of that. This is diluting the effectiveness of a CRM strategy because we don’t have a clear understanding of what every individual experiences through every single channel. But this is changing.

Take a look at this:

Technology is beginning to bridge some of the knowledge gaps to identify non-converting prospects who visit their retail stores. Some brands have tried to patch over this marketing need with solutions such as in-store wifi, but this newer technology is incredibly powerful to marketers. The customer experience in the video above could have resulted in a simple browse and no sale. The marketing opportunities created from understanding that experience through the data collected, will help us to follow-up appropriately with the right content, at the right frequency at the right time – all with an enriched profile of that customer.

The marketing challenge is beginning to shift towards a desire to converse “sequentially” with prospects and customers through any channel at any time. Sequential messaging across multiple devices, locations and mediums. All of these could be personalised, tailored and in a defined, tested and optimised sequence:

  • In-store offers and personalised greetings
  • In-product messaging (some cars are already enabled in this way)
  • In-app messaging
  • Email
  • SMS
  • Website
  • Outdoor advertising
  • Direct mail
  • Delivery messaging

What would this list look like for your brand?

Algorithms could be developed, to enable CRM platforms to intelligently learn and adapt to the best performing sequence of proposition, content and timing. Automatically.

What does all of this mean for Marketers?

Marketers will soon be spending much less time thinking about which message to send through which channel, but more time deciding on the right sequence of messages with the channel serving as a distribution channel. I like to think of this as ‘the channel of one’.


Font colour change causes 74% click difference

A split test with identical results doesn’t mean there is nothing to learn. A case in point is the split test covered here. It shows how valuable lessons can still be found by looking deeper even though the split test gave identical overall unique clicks results.

By drilling into individual calls to action we found a 74% difference between the control and treatment.

This split test is the third test run as a follow up to two previous tests. The first test delivered a 61% increase in unique clicks. Tests two and three were designed to tell us more about what drove that difference so the principles can be carried forwards and re-applied.

All tests were made on the DMA Infobox monthly email marketing advice newsletter – if you don’t get the newsletter signup here, its free.

This test was to understand the value of the Editorial section. In a previous test the Editorial section was in the control and not the treatment. Could adding the Editorial to the treatment increase response or would it just change reader behaviour?

Here are the emails tested, control on the left and treatment on the right.Infobox split test 3

The summary result was identical click through performance. What was there to learn from this?

I analysed which links were clicked. Each main article is promoted both in the Editorial section and in the main body following the Editorial.

A big difference between the control (left) and treatment (right) became apparent. The table below shows the uplift on the treatment over the control for links in Editorial area vs main body. Uplifts have above 95% statistical significance (check your test results with this ab split test calculator).

  Editorial links Body links
Uplift 74% -70%

In short whilst the overall number of clicks was the same, where people clicked was changed by the design. The treatment received the majority of the clicks in the Editorial area and had weak performance in body. In fact body clicks reduced by 70% over the control.

Why does the Editorial perform badly in the control?

There are two obvious reasons why the difference occurred:

  1. People find scan reading of white font on a blue background harder than the higher contrast of black on white. So they tend to skip over the editorial and scan the body and large sub-heads to pick out content of interest.
  2. Readers are using the ‘In this issue’ bookmark links in the control right column to skip to the body content.

Bookmark links, which just jump the reader to another place in the email rather than to a landing page, are not trackable. So we don’t have data to confirm or eliminate the second possibility.

The test results imply that the treatment can be reduced to just the black on white Editorial and the remaining simple email will give good performance.

Three lessons from this test

  • Look at individual link clicks for more insight and not just top line metrics when doing split tests on designs.
  • Focus design on simplicity. Get to the point and don’t make your email over complex simply because it looks more designed.
  • Avoid use of white font and coloured backgrounds. Black on white is just fine.

Remember the real world isn’t perfect.

Device tracking was included in the test with the intention of drilling into behaviour differences between desktop and mobile users.

When I looked at the device results they were quite remarkable. In fact so surprising I had to question the data. After digging deeper it became clear that a technical gremlin had meant the device tracking information was incomplete and the data could not be used.

The lesson here is be prepared to question everything. Especially if something looks too good or too bad to be true. Working with fundamentally wrong data is at best a waste of time and at worse takes you in the wrong direction, leading to worse results.

What next?

We’ve another test planned in this series that will drill into a different element of the control and treatment. I’ll be sure to share the results so come back next month and find out.

Email marketing….because I’m worth it!

Like many of you, I recently received an email from the DMA entitled “Find out what you’re worth”. I opened the email immediately hoping for some long awaited confirmation that I am in fact worth my weight in gold or perhaps to discover that I am being hopelessly underpaid for my job but instead I was confronted with some unexpected results from a recent DMA study relating to the value of direct marketing. The study revealed that the direct marketing industry in the UK is now responsible for 23% of all UK Sales.

Forget what I’m worth – ‘23% of all UK sales’ is a phenomenal amount! For the Travel and Retail industries the figures are higher still, where 30%+ of sales are driven by direct marketing. This reminded me of a recent comment made by the Head of Email Marketing at a major UK travel company who explained to me the enormous battle he had fought within his organisation just to get an email sign-up form included on their website homepage. With rates of success from Direct Marketing so high, it seems strange that a vital tool, such as a homepage email sign-up form would be such a struggle to implement.

You’ll be relieved to hear that the sign up form is now in pride of place on this particular company’s homepage. However, with the kind of results that the recent DMA study has highlighted, it is disappointing to hear how these types of discussions and internal hindrance still take place. As a business, your email database is one of your most valuable assets. It astonishes me that many businesses still don’t understand the value of their database and in fact the individual value of every person on that database. This brings us back to the DMA’s compelling ‘Find out what you’re worth’ subject line that caught my eye.

Earlier this year I tried the ‘What am I worth’ app, which helps consumers to calculate how much they are worth to businesses based on their online behaviour and consumer preferences. It’s a fun idea, but actually the basic idea that a single ‘consumer’ can be given this type of potential value is critical, and every business should focus on being able to attribute a specific value for their business in adding a customer to their database. (According to the app I am “worth” £525 if you are interested!)

It is really only when you know the value of your database that you can set meaningful targets for database growth and measure return on your efforts/spend to grow it. And of course it’s also helpful if you are trying to persuade your bosses to help you grow it, and to communicate that an email sign-up on the homepage of your website is a key asset not a wasted space.

As well as your website, here are some other suggestions on other ways that you can grow your email database:

  • Everyday email – don’t waste easy opportunities!
  • Your company employees each send out around 15,000 normal outlook emails a year to customers and potential customers in the course of their normal work. Adding a newsletter sign-up button to your email signatures will encourage the clients interacting with you to subscribe to your database. Don’t underestimate how much this can contribute- we’ve seen conversion rates of up to 40% with some of our clients.

  • • Use your social media communities
  • Have you integrated your newsletter sign-up with your Facebook page? Are you promoting your sign-ups on Twitter? Also are you using the tools within your email marketing tool to distribute your newsletters via twitter and Facebook directly to your followers and fans. We recommend taking an integrated approach across all your channels.

  • • Search
  • It was also interesting to see, at the end of last year, that Google started testing a new form of Google Adwords with Honda. I believe this is still in testing but the new format included a direct email subscription option, which allows companies to capture an email address opt-in via search, without the new subscriber having to visit the corporate website (and, by the way, the sign-up is pre-populated for logged in gmail users). This type of ‘search and sign-up’ technique will ultimately allow companies to grow ‘targeted’ quality databases through their paid for adverts.

    In conclusion, it is great news that so much value has been attributed to the role of direct marketing in driving sales across all industries, but for Email Marketers the challenge is often convincing the rest of the business of their true worth. It’s clear that we still have some way to go in joining the dots between the value of the sales and the value of the database that drove those sales. Because we Email Marketers know we’re worth it!

    Join us at the International Email Marketing Summit on May 16, 2012

    Register now for this virtual summit and learn all about the latest trends and best practices in email marketing without leaving your desk!

    And it won’t cost you a penny/eurocent/dollarcent/… 

    The DMA is proud to be a sponsor of this, the very first edition of the International Email Marketing Summit.

    Not only will you be inspired by the latest tactics that work but you’ll also take away a list of action items you can implement immediately.

    Featured speakers

    • Dela Quist, Alchemy Worx
    • Dave Chaffey, Smart Insights
    • Tamara Gielen, Plan to Engage
    • Denise Cox, Newsweaver
    • Riaz Kanani, Alchemy Worx
    • Kath Pay, Plan to Engage
    • Arianna Galante, ContactLab
    • Tom Bailey, eCircle
    • James Bunting, Communicator
    #IEMS speakers

    What’s on the agenda?

    • Beyond just selling: engaging with your subscribers
    • 7 reasons why your subscribers don’t respond
    • Tips & tricks for designing emails for a mobile audience
    • Inactive Subscribers: Prospects or Problem?
    • Creating a successful content strategy for email marketing: 8 Easy Steps
    • and lots more…

    Infobox: Integrate social + email | Email deliverability | Free international email summit

    In this issue of Infobox, there’s a lot more to integrating social media and email than just dropping in a few “share to social” icons. Dave Chaffey of SmartInsights, comes up with some inspiring examples of channel integration from the likes of uSwitch and Mothercare.

    Dave Chaffey is among the speakers at a free, virtual International email marketing summit, which takes place on 16 May and is sponsored by the DMA.

    Elsewhere in this issue, Simon Hill from Extravision analyses email deliverability across the globe and I reveal why I look forward to receiving e-newsletters from The Innocent Group in Campaigns we like.

    Kath Pay, editor, Infobox
    Co-Founder, Plan to Engage

    PS – want articles like these delivered to your inbox twice a month? Then sign up to Infobox here!

    Making Marketing Automation Magic

    Over the years I have implemented automated programs and experienced the extraordinary results they can deliver – from cost saving and improved engagement to higher customer satisfaction levels. However marketing automation magic cannot be conjured up through software alone, and I would argue that the magic is not in its ostensibly “fast and easy-to-implement” software. I think the magic comes from within the tests and learnings within your existing email programs.

    When driven by a solidly built customer-focused relationship marketing strategy, marketing automation can be a profitable lead generation and management device combining insight, processes and technology that helps to scale your lead management program. Sure, it can be super speedy to get up and running (ask any software vendor); it can include seemingly cool social behavioural insights and of course it can show results quickly. However getting there is anything BUT speedy, cool and quick (ask any revenue-focused marketer). One of my favourite no-nonsense blog posts last year is from Marketing Profs.: “Planning, detailed execution, and a thorough analysis are key to success. It’s not magic. You can’t just snap your fingers and “poof”― all your marketing campaigns and drip sequences have been put into place.” I couldn’t agree more.

    So how do you create Marketing Automation Magic?

    Try looking inside your long-running email marketing program. For some time now digital marketing mavens have been foretelling the demise of email marketing in favour of social sharing routes and yet, email is the very foundation and channel by which marketing automation is powered. Need convincing? Take a look at these statistics: Twitter sees about 140 million tweets per day. Email? 188 billion messages. And according to data from Forrester’s Q1 2011 North American B2B Technology Marketing Tactics and Benchmarks Online Survey, email marketing still ranks fifth in a range of 21 tactics that marketing professionals deploy to attract, engage, and persuade customers along the buying lifecycle. Therefore, understanding the behaviours generated by your past email newsletters and by analysing test and learn program results, marketing automation implementations can deliver real results quicker.

    You’ve probably been sending monthly email newsletters regularly and have a wealth of information and learnings dating back years. Don’t treat your marketing automation implementation and your email marketing activities as mutually exclusive. Use the vast knowledge and insight sitting in your existing email marketing tool. For example, knowledge of the right format that drives the best results is just one of the insights that should be drawn into your marketing automation plan. If you have been advancing your email marketing program over the last couple of years, you already have insights to drive best-in-class automation:

    • Mobile usage across your customer base
    • Social interactions and behaviours
    • Website behavioural metrics
    • Timing and content insights by customer segment
    • Revenue generators by content segment

    An excellent case study is Citrix’s Anti-newsletter Strategy that employed learnings from their email marketing program and applied them to their automation program. What they learned from their quarterly email newsletter helped drive success in their automation efforts.