Previous month:
September 2008
Next month:
November 2008

5 posts from October 2008

How to Make Email a Better Servant

081103b By and large, people don't take email for their entertainment. In fact, most of them view email as a burden. Every message has to earn its way, and many of them are freeloaders and failures. When a customer asks for an order confirmation, it's an opportunity to finish the job with a smile, not a cross-sell.

Alertbox: Transactional Email and Confirmation Messages, 2008-Oct-20, by Jakob Neilsen.

A striking conclusion from the studies is that processing email is stressful. Users frequently told us that they were too busy to deal with certain email messages, and that they considered any fluff in messages a waste of time. ... Transactional email has three goals:

  1. Avoid being mistaken for spam.
  2. Be a customer service ambassador.
  3. Prevent customers from calling in. (In a good way!)

Jakob Neilsen's web site:
Oct 20, 2008 Alertbox:

How to Avoid Needless Segments

081104b The segmenting of customers by demographics and psychographics has become an important way to minimize marketing waste. But as Professor David Corkindale points out, you can't segment customers who have no meaningful differences. When I was at Ogilvy & Mather, we assumed customers had a set of 'preferred brands' or a 'repertoire', and that actual purchase behavior could be influenced by availability, temporary pricing, even who one is shopping with that day. So the next time you're looking at creating separate messages for different audiences, run a test to make sure it really drives a profitable difference in response.

Wall Street Journal: Mistakes Marketers Make, 2008-Oct-20, by David Corkindale

That is, the profiles of those who buy different brands usually aren't very different, especially in what are called repertoire markets, where consumers typically buy several brands regularly -- a repertoire -- rather than just a single brand. Most frequently purchased consumer goods are in repertoire markets, though many consumers don't realize it.

How to Make Marketing More Humane

081104c Speaking as someone who's spent hours in the emergency room waiting for them to sew my fingertip back on, I'd like to salute the simple, marvelous attention to detail that makes our lives better.

You probably can't tell by a casual glance, but one of my goals in life is to make marketing more humane. When an object or a service improves the quality of life, then it's worth communicating, and the quality of that communication had better live up to the quality of the thing being marketed. Clarity, convenience, nutritional information, and entertainment are all message ingredients that serve the human being at the other end of the conversation.

So what brought on these philosophical musings about life and marketing? One of my favorite journalists, iMomus (Nick Currie), recently wrote a tribute to a deceased friend who shared his devotion to "making humane things with technology. Teaching code to help us live." Technology and marketing are both often accused of destroying the quality of life. We have to work hard to make sure that isn't so. 

iMomus/Nick Currie's Click Opera journal:
Tribute to Jip de Kort:
Jip de Kort's photographs:

How to Stay Fresh

081111a Over time, all contact lists, even those composed of the most pristine opted-in volunteers, will accumulate inactive records. Properly handling these inactive subscribers is one of the most important ways to keep your communications program strong.

Stefan Pollard describes the correct maintenance steps to take and avoid below, but I'd also like to emphasize a painful issue that is really the most common: boredom. The only way to keep an audience is to keep them entertained, and surprise is an important requirement. No matter how relevant the information is, there are only so many times we can hear it repeated. The pressure is on you to keep your audience awake. David Ogilvy said you can't bore anyone into buying your product.

ClickZ: The Right Way to Trim Inactives, 2008-Sep-24, by Stefan Pollard of Strongmail

The first and most important step in any reactivation campaign is identifying your audience. I recommend segmenting your audiences using the metric or factor you use to define inactivity, but don't change anything right away.

Send the same creative to your inactive segment that your active subscribers receive. Make sure your inactives truly don't respond. This provides the opportunity to refine your segmentation should you not properly identify the inactives on your first attempt.

Before you trim the deadwood, try to awaken inactives from their slumber with a well-planned reactivation campaign. Reactivation doesn't mean you can approach long-ignored addresses or unsubscribes. This approach can backfire and drive spam-complaint volumes up to the point where ISPs will block the e-mails you send to the truly active subscribers on your list.

A clear message telling readers what benefits they can get as subscribers should be the centerpiece of your reactivation campaign. Sending out a pouty or poignant e-mail saying you miss them doesn't do this. ... Instead, remember your normal message strategy isn't working, and you'll need to try several different and new approaches to reach your inactive subscribers ... (Read the whole article for his specific suggestions.)

How to Leverage Social Media for Non-Users

081104d You and your audience may be perfectly happy in your twentieth-century communication web of phones, brochures, and even email, but don't be surprised if you soon lose a prospect who found a great online recommendation to your competitor's product. You just can't depend on your audience to stay in the bowl, no matter how isolated they seem from the Web 2.0 world of blogging, sharing photos, and short text messages.

Keep an eye out for changing behavior in the marketplace, and use the ReadWriteWeb article below, written by professionals immersed in Web 2.0, to learn a variety of methods to monitor what's going on, and to be ready to help your customers and prospects navigate their way through new social media to your company. Before your competitor does. 

ReadWriteWeb: Five Ways to Use Social Media to Reach People Who Don't Use Social Media, 2008-Sep-11, by Marshall Kirkpatrick (via Bloghound)

Sometimes it feels like social media is just not relevant to the people you're trying to reach. That's a common dilemma, but we believe it doesn't have to be that way. In this post we discuss five strategies for using social media to reach people who don't use social media, and we've listed specific tools you can use to do it.

  1. Develop relationships with people who bridge the gap inside other organizations.
  2. Use Web 2.0 tools to learn about real life public events.
  3. Make your blog an email newsletter and promote it elsewhere.
  4. Look harder, your audience probably is using social media that you aren't aware of.
  5. Use the internet to make yourself smarter in real life.

ReadWriteWeb article by Marshall Kirkpatrick:
Lois Kelly's bloghound articles on Social Media: