Borrowing fame

How to write a personal email that will get noticed, from the Boomerang App

I read many articles from mass email service providers about how to write more productive emails. Now I'm getting a fresh perspective from the GMail app called Boomerang. The application reminds its users if an email has not yet received a response, among other features, and is now available for Outlook as well. 

Boomerang decided to analyze the 40 million emails that used their application last year, and recommend...

  1. Keep the writing complexity down to 3rd grade level (use the Flesch Kincaid analyzer to measure)
  2. Include a couple of questions
  3. Write with gentle emotion (see below)
  4. 75 to 100 word-long emails do best
  5. Keep subject lines to 3 to 4 words (surprising, and counter to most ESP recommendations)
  6. Make your position clear because people are more likely to respond to opinions than information

Boomerang Blog: 7 Tips for Getting More Responses, 2016

Another significant factor in determining response rates is how positive (words like great, wonderful, delighted, pleased) or negative (words like bad, hate, furious, terrible) the words in the message are. Emails that were slightly to moderately positive OR slightly to moderately negative elicited 10-15% more responses than emails that were completely neutral.

Flattery works, but excessive flattery doesn’t. Response rates for positive emails peaked about 15% higher than neutral for emails with a slightly warm tone. After that, response rates declined as the amount of positive language exceeded what would look “normal” in an email.

Sentiment analyzers output a “sentiment score” that ranges from -1 (for piss and vinegar) to 1 (for saccharine), with 0 representing a completely neutral email. To give you some context, here’s what some positive emails look like:

  • Hey, I was thinking about you earlier. Do you want to get pizza? 0.0, true neutral. A little positivity would boost the response rate.
  • Hey, I’d definitely like to get together next week. Do you want to get pizza? 0.35 positive sentiment. Perfect! It’s easy to add positive sentiment to an email – this is all it takes.
  • Hey, it would be really great to see you and catch up. Do you want to get pizza?  Positive 0.55 sentiment. This will also work better than a neutral email, even if not quite as well as the version above.
  • Hey! It would be absolutely wonderful to see you! Do you want to get pizza? I’m so excited! Over 0.9 positive sentiment. This email would be about as effective as a neutral email – not bad, really, but not optimal.


"Problems are inevitable and solvable" says optimist Chris Anderson

Just getting ready for today's problems!

Ozy: The Man Behind TED Talks on Persuasive Speaking, 2016-Apr-19 by Neil Parmar

Optimism is the stance that problems are there to be solved, that problems are actually solvable and that if you want an operating manual for life, you carve two tablets: One of them says problems are inevitable, and the other says problems are solvable. It’s kind of a great way to stay calm and keep moving.


Why marketers tell poor stories

Not all marketers tell poor stories, but most of the "storified" content I see is really lame. Martin Weigel hits the nail on the head: until we confront conflict, our stories will lie flat. 

Canalside View: The world beyond 'storytelling', 2016-Apr-24 by Marin Weigel 

Murder, oppression, sexism, vanity, alienation, jealousy, rape, abandonment, war, betrayal, envy, loneliness, megalomania, corruption, exploitation, avarice, addiction, revenge, depression, bereavement, seduction, racism, loss of innocence, lust, heartbreak, madness, incest, imprisonment, loss, greed, death, hunger, rivalry, injustice, isolation, desire… this and more is the stuff of great, enduring, insightful stories. Stories that succeed in shining a light into the crevices of the human soul. Stories that illuminate our place in the state things.

Yet anyone who has had to endure the seemingly endless workshop/meeting/brainstorm in which we seek to “align” on a brand’s ‘personality’ attributes and heard descriptors such as ‘opinionated’ or ‘daring” rejected for being “too negative” knows – or has got to face up to the truth – that no marketing department on the planet has any appetite for any of this stuff. The really interesting stuff. The truly human stuff. The stuff of stories.

Conflict? Pfft. Mild inconvenience at best is the stuff of most of adland’s so-called storytelling.... 

The lack of true conflict reveals advertising’s true intentions. It has little interest in truly exploring the human condition. And here perhaps, is advertising’s greatest departure from the agenda of the storyteller.


Remembering Umberto Eco: stories are better than ideas

Having read Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, and Foucault's Pendulum (seriously), I was trying to decide whether to tackle another one of his books. If you want to understand why he's important, I suggest this lovely long read by Lila Azam Zanganeh in The Paris Review (2008). 

Favorite quote by Umberto Eco:  

An idea you have might not be original—Aristotle will always have thought of it before you. But by creating a novel out of that idea you can make it original. Men love women. It’s not an original idea. But if you somehow write a terrific novel about it, then by a literary sleight of hand it becomes absolutely original. I simply believe that at the end of the day a story is always richer—it is an idea reshaped into an event, informed by a character, and sparked by crafted language. So naturally, when an idea is transformed into a living organism, it turns into something completely different and, likely, far more expressive.


Finding the values we share with our customers

In building our brands we don't have to rely solely on our own brand. Customers were originally attracted to our business by certain values, and if we remember those values, we can tap into bigger issues, or even bigger brands, to remind them why they love us. Here's an example. IStock_000020000438XSmall

Lightspeed: 4 Steps to Join the Shop Local Movement and Get Exposure in Your Community, 2015-Sep-22 by Zoe Sadler of Snap Retail

Use hashtags like #ShopLocal or #SupportLocal with your messages.

Tag your fellow businesses in posts to promote the sense of community. Encourage your neighbors to host an event with you (Sidewalk Sale? Meet and Greet? Girls Night Out?) As you promote on social media, mention their stores to start the party early.

Lastly, incorporate Shop Local messaging in your email campaigns. Just as you would thank customers in store, thank them virtually too!

The “Shop Local Movement” is based on small businesses reaching out to their communities, educating their neighbors and talking to their customers about the benefits of shopping at locally-owned stores rather than supporting big box stores.

Remember, your store creates a distinctive shopping experience that consumers will not find at a big box. Are you maximizing this opportunity? Now that you’re equipped with these 4 tips, go out and spread the Shop Local love today!

Using Customer Data to Find New Profit Streams at Fox Networks and American Apparel

When I started my marketing career as an account executive at Ogilvy, we focused on advertising campaigns, but I was quickly drawn to direct marketing, starting with the mailings which Compaq was sending their customers. I enjoyed analyzing the data we gathered. When I left Ogilvy for Service Corporation International, I was thrilled to discover we could create entire new lines of business based on customer data analytics. Tq150824gdFor customers who had purchased funeral prearrangements, we offered estate planning, prepaid legal services, and senior fitness programs. They began to see SCI as a resource for their immediate future, not just their family's support after their passing. Marketing departments are often seen as 'overhead expense,' but this profit-seeking practice is one of the most tangible ways we can contribute to the success of our enterprises. 

ClickZ: How American Apparel is Moving to Value-Driven Data Analytics, 2015-Aug-12 by Susan Kuchinskas

According to [Chief Digital Officer Thoryn] Stephens, the lifetime value of a customer is an important metric, but it's not necessarily the most revealing. A former executive at Fox Networks, Tillster and Beachbody, he recounted how Fox used Adobe analytics to understand how to drive video ad starts and views of long-form video. It came up with four segments: "Foxaholics," casual watchers, international viewers and passive users.

Here's where the data versus insights story got interesting. While passive users seemed to be the least valuable because they didn't watch video or see ads, further analysis showed that these people used Fox's schedules to find out what to watch. That data helped justify billions of dollars' worth of agreements with Fox's distribution partners.

"This was a major epiphany for the business," Stephens said. Fox then segmented these users and showed them a home page with a more prominent schedule.

Innovations in loyalty from Lyft and Uber

Fast-growing startups can spin out all types of innovations. Some work, some don't. For most of us, it's a matter of following along and copying what works.  IStock_000017373886XSmall

Fortune: Starbucks and Lyft partner to give rewards to drivers and riders, 2015-Jul-22 by Kia Kokalitcheva

Retaining drivers is a critical front in the riding hailing wars. Both Lyft and Uber have used aggressive tactics to poach each other’s drivers through big cash rewards. Simple things like letting passengers tip their drivers through the app with Starbucks “stars,” or points, can help drivers feel more appreciated by Lyft.

With that said, Uber has forged several of its own partnerships including one that lets Capital One credit card holders get $25 in free ice cream delivered to their doorstep this week. Another with Spotify lets passengers in certain cars play disc jokey on the car stereo from their smartphones.

As part of the partnership with Lyft, Starbucks said it will also “explore” ways to provide transportation for Starbucks employees to and from work in one test market, although it didn’t provide additional details. Lyft has already entered the work transportation market, however, with the launch last year of a program for employers to provide credits to their employees for work-related rides.