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Businesses Waste Email Marketing Opportunities 29 April 2008

Most entrepreneurs and even businesses are wasting the powerful opportunities that the email channel presents, despite the growing popularity of email marketing, according to enterprise marketing platform provider Alterian.

To date its free online interactive assessment (www.alterian.com/quiz) has received more than 700 responses from marketers, agencies and marketing-service. The tool takes an in-depth look at how marketers personalise, automate, segment, track and report on email campaigns.

The results so far demonstrate that many marketers have an opportunity to greatly improve the returns of their email marketing investment.

Especially as Alterian’s fifth annual marketing survey – a comprehensive analysis of spending and investment priorities for the industry based on responses from almost 900 marketers, agencies, marketing services providers and systems integrators – reveals that 81 per cent of participants plan to increase marketing spend on email efforts over the next 12 months. 

Forrester Research also reports similar trends: “In the coming year, we expect email marketers to make a priority of improving email sophistication by investing in analytics, customising message frequency, and using email data to inform other marketing efforts,” commented Forrester Research Analyst Julie Katz, in the report titled How To Move Email Marketing Forward In 2008, February 2008.

So what are your plans for email marketing? How can you improve its effectiveness? Have you tested any new approaches recently? I’d LOVE to hear from you!

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Businesses Ignore Customers’ Emails at Their Peril 27 March 2008

More than half of leading organisations are still ignoring customers’ emails, according to new research.

This seems counter-intuitive and, from a business point of view, rather foolish…

As a busy sole trader, I take the time to provide as detailed a response as possible to customer queries. With prospective customers, I aim to respond to their emails within 24-48 hours. With existing customers, I like to get back to them as soon as I can, often within the same day their emails are received.

Naturally, when deadlines are looming or I’m away on business, this can be put off target. But usually it works out just fine.

Due to the nature of being a sole trader, anything above and beyond this is nigh on impossible. There are so many ‘hats’ one can wear.

That said, I would expect a larger company to have an adequate and speedy customer-response system in place. There is nothing worse than a company who goads you into becoming their customer with fast, efficient email responses, only to drop off once they have you in their database… 

For all e-commerce businesses, customer fulfilment should be one of the most important aspects of running that business. Most business owners would be alarmed to think that customers leave a company not necessarily because they’re disillusioned with the product, but rather the service (or lack of it).

With today’s ‘need it now’ online culture, it is absolutely crucial that every promise made to your customer is fulfilled on target, on time…

How do you measure up? 

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Avoiding the ‘Delete’ Key 23 January 2008

Aside from the barrage of spam emails singing the virtues of the likes of cunning cialis, very viagra, plenty penis, wonky watches, email marketing still works. 

The key is targeting. (Of course, I’m assuming that you already have an opt-in list. Shame on you if you do not!) 

Gloss over correctly identifying your target market, and your email campaign will sink faster than The Titanic. 

Once you know who will buy your products or services, then you need to know what kind of offer they will lap up. That decided, you still need to do some leg work…

What kind of language is your target audience familiar with? What ‘trigger’ words will catch their attention? How can you appeal to their emotions while offering something useful? Can you engage them into a ‘conversation’ with your copy? Is what you are offering –– both in terms of content and the actual offer –– relevant

The point is that you don’t want to waste your prospects’ time (or test their patience) with self-serving general nonsense.  


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Email is Top Marketing Tool 15 October 2007

Email continues to be the marketing tool of choice in B2B marketing. In a recent survey, more than 80% of UK B2B marketers surveyed consider email to be an essential part of their marketing mix.

The majority of B2B marketers said they prefer to use email to communicate with existing customers, be it to build relationships with their customers or to up sell/cross sell additional products or services.

The future looks promising, too – with most businesses citing that they expect their email marketing budgets to continue to grow.

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The survey, conducted by B2B Marketing magazine, also showed that B2B marketers are planning to use email more selectively in the future, which supports the increased confidence B2B marketers have in email as an effective marketing tool.

“The results of this survey highlight the importance of email in the B2B marketing mix,” says Joel Harrison, editor B2B Marketing magazine. “B2B marketers are embracing email and we will see it grow to become a key part of any B2B marketing strategy.”

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Reader Q&A: Blogs vs Ezines 10 October 2007

QUESTION
CfS reader Ariana Gee of Real Connection asks, “If you have a blog and an ezine, how does the content tend to differ. I notice you are putting questions and answers in yours, which is obviously one way, but do you have other ideas. Or might you have the same content in both?”

ANSWER

A blog, like other communication vehicles (such as an email newsletter and direct mail), is just one of the many ways we can reach out to our target audience to keep them informed with up-to-date news, views and content.

Just as ezines keep potential clients aware that we exist, blogs may also serve the exact same function.

The original idea behind blogs was that people would gather news items or cool web sites and pages that people would otherwise miss or be too busy to find and read, and make them available to their friends and anyone else interested in knowing about them.

Thanks to the increasing problems with spam and overzealous filters, a lot of businesses are now reaching their customers and prospects through blogs, either alongside ezines or instead of them.

If you do a search on the net for blogs, you’ll see that some are about specific things, hobbies, business news, views and opinions on the world at large, etc, while others are not about anything in particular.

An ezine or email newsletter, on the other hand, is more akin to magazines or newspapers. A typical issue might include:

• a publisher’s note or editorial
• a feature or lead article
• supporting articles, or a guest article
• news
• a tip
• a featured customer case study
• advertisements
• resources
• a featured product or service
• event information
• a Q&A column
• interviews
• recommended tools
• and so on

Providing all this demands a fairly complex content mix, and a skilled, experienced editor. It doesn’t suit the blog format at all, which is where the content differs.

Blogs will be more random in their presentation of content. While it’s true that they are particularly well suited for selling content just as with a newsletter, the trick is balancing what is free and what is paid for.

Blogs can also be used to:

• link to other blog posts, or comment on them
• sell books, manuals and subscriptions
• showcase your best or latest work
• increase your online visibility
• provide a powerful internal corporate communications tool
• offer a fresh perspective on a given news item
• build your profile
• become an expert, or industry ‘thought leader’
• share random thoughts, ideas and strategies
• enter into an exchange with blog readers
• and any other manner of content

In short, I believe that a blog allows for a quicker, freer, more open and personal exchange with customers, potential clients and other blog readers. And a blog, don’t forget, is by its very nature more biased than a newsletter.

But don’t get carried away: People have to physically visit your blog (even if they sign up to a RSS feed) first before they read your content. Whereas, with an ezine, they have already expressed an interest in receiving your news, so when you deliver to them, they are, in my opinion, much more likely to read the requested content.

To get the best out of your blog, you really need to be posting every other day, at least. And, if you want to target customers and prospects, as I am, then you need to write about something that will be relevant to that audience.

Hope this helps!

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