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At least weekly, one of the Wizemail team will post a tip, trick or general email marketing advice here.
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At least weekly, one of the Wizemail team will post a tip, trick or general email marketing advice here.
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Everyone in email marketing should be finalising their procedures to ensure conformity with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). The fact that there is much that is common to the regulations it replaces is something to be wary of. The wording is similar, as one would expect given that it comes from the same source, but there are fundamental and significant differences.
Take a personal data breach. Our email marketing lists are sacrosanct and we all feel we have secured them against unauthorised access, at least as much as we can. However, when we are told there are security flaws in processors of virtually all computers, there can never be certainty.
The GDPR tells us what to do when there is a personal data breach but that’s not an awful lot of use if we don’t know what one is. It is described as a breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, personal data. In other words, it is a security incident involving personal data which affects its confidentiality, integrity or availability, such as:
1/ An unauthorised third party gains access
This would include the much publicised hacking scenario with remote devices. Ransomware, if, for instance, your email marketing lists data is included in the data made unavailable, comes within this heading. The less dramatic but probably more frequent situation where an unauthorised member of staff having access is also included.
2/ Deliberate or accidental action (or inaction) by a controller or processor
We are all dependent on the abilities of our staff. The risks can be lowered to a great extent by education – ensuring they are up to date on the GDPR requirements – and oversight. If their procedures are not checked regularly, how are you to decide whether they need more instruction?
3/ Sending personal data to an incorrect recipient
It could be a simple mistake, a deliberate act or lack of knowledge. Regardless of which it is, it is a data breach and requires a response.
4/ Computing devices containing personal data being lost or stolen
We secure our data behind firewalls and virus checkers but do you ensure your premises are equally secure? If you transport personal data on USB or other drive, do you ensure it is always encrypted? Whilst it won’t stop a data breach if stolen or misplace, it will probably reduce your culpability significantly.
5/ Alteration of personal data without permission
This is normally the fault of your established procedures. Ensure each data controller and processor knows precisely what they can and cannot do. This includes seeking authority when required. There must be checks in place.
6/ Loss of availability of personal data
If there is a hardware failure or personal data is inadvertently wiped from your records then this may be a data breach. It may also be a disaster for your company so ensure you have back-ups of all personal data which is kept up to date.
We will cover how you should respond to data breaches in a future article.
There’s a TV advert for an insurance company where clever use of the language doesn’t so much cover a negative as turn it into a positive. It would appear that the company refuses to pay out on 3% of claims. To someone wanting to insure their property, this might be worrying. On the other hand the company tells us that due to its clever organisation it is allowed to pay out on 97% of claims.
Allowed; now there’s a word that’s intended to describe the battles the company endures on behalf of its customers. Who could fail to be impressed by 97%.
It is spin of course and as such it carries a risk but if it wasn’t productive, the company would have pulled the ad by now. Changing emphasis has got to be good, hasn’t it? The question is whether it is an option for email marketing.
I took a holiday in Italy at a time of year where the odds for sunny weather were very high. After three days of rain I began to be irritated when told that this was unusual. “For the last three weeks we’ve had nothing but sunshine,” just about every one of the hotel staff told me.
That didn’t make me feel better. However, all was not lost. Within a few miles of the hotel there were any number of attractions that were covered, many with wine as an added attraction. I was told of a state-owned Roman ruin within walking distance of the hotel that was not advertised. It was a delight.
The marketing emails for the holiday emphasised the weather of the region. All the pictures were of brilliantly lit landscapes, with beautiful sunsets over the lake. I was obviously in the segmented email marketing list of those who loved the sun. But nowhere could I find mention of the attractions of the area that were protected from the weather.
Don’t just concentrate on the positives. Put a graph on the marketing email showing the likelihood of a dry holiday. If it is not 100% then mention the fact that even if the 3% chance of rain comes there are alternatives to the beach.
I haven’t always been in email marketing. I started out in the ad-setting department of a local weekly newspaper. The easier part of my job was to take rough notes from a client and convert it into copy. The harder part was to get the proofs accepted by my boss.
Once, when unwisely voicing my frustrations at having to alter a part of the copy I was particularly pleased with, he said, “Explain to me in ten words or less why anyone who wants to buy central heating for their house cares about your clever word play.”
I liked the bloke. He set high standards for us but personally exceeded them. However, I could never come to terms with that fact that as I went up the pay scale for the role, I was writing fewer and fewer words.
Everyone tells you that as far as email marketing campaigns are concerned, every word counts. If one is not essential then it is in the way. Get rid of it. Customers haven’t got time to waste. Let them read it quickly and then move on.
This goes for all aspects of customer interface. Your website is there to sell, just the same as your marketing emails. So why are there so many mission statements on websites?
An overall description on your targets and beliefs is great, but it is for internal consumption only. You are selling products, not yourself. In any case, no one is interested.
There are other problems with mission statements, the biggest being how pretentious the phrase sounds. Mission? You’re in email marketing and your purpose is to sell. Calling it a mission hardly adds to the desirability of the item.
Another bit of self-indulgence is the pages on what the company thinks about what it does, what it produces, or their ‘ethos’. Aspirations are nothing more than self-recommendation. You will be judged on what you do.
Read such pages on the site of a competitor of yours and when you’ve finished, grade it on pretention from 0-10. Or 8-10 is probably likely. Then realise that that’s how others see you.
Two things that your website should be doing are getting your product better known and, more importantly, getting is desired. While people are reading that your company worked out of the disused dance hall of a public house, they are not imagining themselves using your product.
Those from your email marketing list, as well as potential customers just browsing, come onto your website for solutions to their problems. They want something from you so you should, right from the start, eliminate all distractions. If they’ve used a keyword in a search that points to a particular product, then ensure that that landing page is what confronts them when Google does its bit.
As with any advert, don’t tell; show. To get yourself ignored, tell people you are a genuine people person. To get people interested, be genuine.
Most customers don’t care who you are or what hurdles you have had to overcome to be where you are. That is, not unless you make them care.
You will have read the report published this year by the Google Project Zero team on vulnerabilities that, it appears, all modern computers are subject to. Email marketing, and any other business that is dependent on personal data, is under threat.
The names given to these vulnerabilities, Meltdown and Spectre, are hardly reassuring. Given that they provide routes for hackers to access personal data one has to accept that they are not scary enough.
The problem is fundamental and applies to most computers. There are three connected vulnerabilities in processors designed by Intel, AMD and ARM. If you want to know the full details then go to Meltdown and Spectre.
WizEmail's Security Bot will always keep your data safePut simply, hackers could gain access to the host server’s kernel memory, which for those of you who are not technically minded is about as bad as it sounds. It means that any personal data being processed is potentially compromised. Further, credentials and encryption keys could be harvested and so personal data stored elsewhere is also at risk.
At the moment, and perhaps something to emphasise, is that there are no reports of any attacks using these vulnerabilities. Now the secret is out, one assumes that hackers will be looking for ways to exploit the information.
Whether you are a nerd or favour paper and pencil, what you want to know is what you can do. At risk is any personal data you hold, your data processor and your company.
In deciding whether a penalty for any breach of personal data is worthy of penalty, and if so how much, the ICO will place a great deal of emphasis on how a company has reacted to the report of Meltdown and Spectre. Research should be your first response. There’s much on this subject on the ICO website.
As you would expect, the ICO recommends that you should determine which, if any, of your systems are vulnerable. It also suggests that you apply the patches as a matter of urgency. It goes on to say that under the GDPR, starting 25 May this year, failure to apply patches can make a company liable for any breach of security.
The ICO emphasises that Privacy by Design should be in every part of information processing from, to quote their list, the hardware and software to the procedures, guidelines, standards, and polices that your organisation has or should have. It suggests that your systems can’t be exploited if hackers can’t navigate through the front door. Whether this is true or not, it indicates what they will be checking should the worst happen.
You should also ensure that any outside services you use, such as cloud storage, are not vulnerable. You cannot pass the buck to another when it comes to security of personal data.
Are you confident of your antivirus? Microsoft patches might not be compatible with your security software. See here for information on the Microsoft security update.
The one essential in your response to Meltdown and Spectre is to record the steps you take with regards to checking your security and reducing your vulnerability.
Email marketing isn’t all about selling. The vast majority is, of course, but not all. The most popular way of using such emails to reduce churn, the most common being the ‘just checking in’ kind.
I think I should make one thing clear though; I’m no fan of such emails, mainly because they don’t work. Fair enough, there’s little investment required, but even so, if you get nothing out of it you should put nothing in. Why should a subscriber respond? You are doing nothing for them.
You should offer them something personal, specific to them. Just asking why they haven’t responded to previous emails doesn’t count. You should know enough about them to understand their needs and their wants.
Is there something in the business news that they might have missed, or better still, have you received relevant information that isn’t in the public domain yet? You might want to keep the latter to yourself for as long as possible but if you mention it in an email even just before it bursts into common knowledge then you’ve ticked a box for them. If you supplied a link to a landing for further information, especially one that is private, then they will feel you’ve picked them specially.
The fact that the email is actionable will show whether they did respond to the email.
Then there is informing them of what their closest competitor, or better still competitors, is up to. If these companies have opted for a change that might affect your subscriber, then inform them. Better still, why not come up with a method of countering the threat? You could tell them what others are doing.
In essence, a hook can be very useful if there’s no other way in. For instance, what was their last purchase? If it was long enough ago to make you think they might be wanting a replacement or upgrade in a while, offer them something free for the one they have. Whatever the cost to you, it won’t be for long and, on top of that, when it comes the time for the replacement the memory of your largess might be enough to convince them to stay with your company.
You might be lucky enough to find a post from them on your forums. That’s always worth a follow-up. Or is there something happening in their area soon that might be useful to them? It does not have to be one you are organising or have any interest in.
If you are struggling for a hook, send them something; maybe a fairly detailed ‘have you ever thought about’ that is relevant to their produce or processes. Don’t make it too deep but point out that there is more information on your site.
There’s little point in a ‘how have you been’ type of email. It fools few, if any. On the other hand, if they have been quiet for a while then something that they will be grateful for or will stick in their mind might be useful.
One of the most remarkable trends over recent years, and which intensified in 2017, is the way that consumers have taken to new technology. No post Christmas lunch snooze for me. There was chatting to some of my family in Kyoto for a while, then moving westwards to Lucerne for a magnificent live view of mountains. Those I saw face to face were keen to show me the latest apps which would allow me new experiences.
One factor that was apparent was that the preferred form of messaging is personalised. Various chat bots were demonstrated to me ad nauseum, with the weather being popular. We now choose the nature of the information we receive. Such details as when, where and how are no longer subjects chosen for us.
A quote I read with regards future trends is that they are here now, just not evenly distributed. To a great extent this is spot on. Everyone, and that includes me, agrees that for email marketing personalisation, the big trend in 2017, will be a bigger trend in 2018. Or, to put it simply, we haven’t seen the best of it yet.
The last 12 months has seen a massive development of control by the individual, which is a facet of the most significant trend, that of interaction. For exploiting our email marketing lists, this is excellent news as the more information our customers allow us the more we are able to target effectively.
This means big data, again a prediction for 2017, will continue into 2018, making automation vital. Artificial intelligence will make decisions instantly that even a couple of years ago would have required a meeting of minds. Not only that, the conclusion would have been a best guess.
No one can predict the future with enough precision for detailed planning. It is probable, almost certain, that chat bots, automation, personalisation, video and social media will play a bigger part in email marketing. After all, that’s what was predicted last year, and it was proved correct. They could well be the next big thing. The one plan that is required for 2018 is the flexibility to respond quickly.
Rumours can hurt your email marketing campaign. Whilst whether Freddie Starr did indeed eat a hamster might not concern everyone, when we are told that our kettles are spying on us as they are connected to the internet, can we dismiss it as easily? After all, there are microphones and video cameras in children’s toys.
With Christmas just around the corner, not to mention the New Year sales, probably starting a bit sooner, this is a time to push your electronic products on multiple email marketing campaigns, highlighting the exciting digital technology that will enhance the fun.
What about those toys you bought for your children or those for others; you know, the ones with not only cameras and microphones but also location devices and data storage? Is it all harmless? The personal data of children is protected by legislation but many parents and guardians are not security savvy and might well be concerned.
There are two approaches to placate such concerns: reassurance that there’s nothing to worry about as long as reasonable steps are taken and an explanation of the risks together with ways to ensure data security.
The former is tempting as, in fact, it is the truth in most cases. Perhaps it is best not to patronise and suggest they shouldn’t worry about such things, but there can be no criticisms of refuting their fears. Such risks are small.
Confronting the risks is a risk in itself. Warnings that a whole series of procedures is required to ensure the child’s safety is likely to frighten rather than reassure.
You might feel that a middle of the road approach would be best. Pointing out that there are some risks, one of which is buying goods sourced from undependable suppliers, might encourage customers to buy from you. If they are on your email marketing list there must be a degree of trust.
If your next email marketing campaign is for internet connected toys you can both warn and reassure. How about including a link to the ICO’s website where they have 12 ways that Christmas shoppers can keep children and data safe when buying smart toys and devices.
The worst thing for someone trying to create copy for the next email marketing campaign is a blank Word document. It seems to say, ‘Come on, see if you can beat me.’ It is the bane of many creative writers. Having a deadline only puts pressure on the author and so makes the situation worse.
If that is you then, unless you want to hire a professional writer (my preferred option, but for selfish reasons), there are tried and tested methods for overcoming what is called writer’s block.
Here are mine. Give them a try.
1/ Don’t make excuses. Inspiration is a result of effort.
2/ Know what you are going to write about. It is not only the subject but all the points that you need to cover. Preparation in this, and everything else to do with email marketing, brings results.
3/ Research the subject. Ensure you have all the necessary details clear in your mind. If you’re writing about steel, read about it. Keep a list of technical words and specs.
4/ Stick with it. Many suggest playing a game like Sudoku but my experience is that I end up concentrating on that rather than what I need to write about.
5/ Tea or coffee. These are useful for more than just their stimulant properties, although every little bit helps. It’s the habitual actions. Your mind can be elsewhere while you make it and an idea can just appear.
6/ Ask someone. This hasn’t been the unending source of new ideas that I’d hoped it would be, but the discussion it generates, around the coffee machine normally, can make you more open to other thoughts.
7/ Write something. This is rather obvious of course, but it helps. Just fill the page with thoughts, without striving for perfection. It will get your mind into the writing mode. For this article I ignored whether it should be writer’s or writers’ block until I’d completed it.*
8/ Wander. Don’t limit what you write on the subject. It is not a case of writing about something else, but if an idea starts to develop then the habit of writing takes over.
9/ Write it down. Remember pen and ink? Writing bullet points/subheadings concentrates the mind and you don’t need a wide screen to display it.
10/ Ear plugs. Many have no problem working with a noisy background. I much prefer silence. Try earplugs just once, for me.
11/ Vocalise. I think of someone on the email marketing list and ask myself, for instance: ‘So what would Mr and Mrs Jones from Merthyr Tydfil want to know.’ If you work in an office I should warn you that this can generate some concerned stares.
12/ Confidence. We’ve all written copy before so it is not as if we can’t do it. The block is all in the mind. I think of the last time I struggled to write and what came from it.
Writer’s block is nothing more than a lack of preparedness, the solution to which is obvious.
*It can be either but writer’s is preferred.
Everyone is different. They do things in odd ways, some which others will find weird. This diversity could make it difficult to sell but we, thankfully, have our email marketing lists.
I use both hands for mobile phone use. A quick perusal of Neros shows that I’m in a minority, but only just. This gives us some problems. For instance, which thumb do the one-handers use to click on a call to action (CTA)?
You should have lots of space around a CTA and any hotlink so that those of us with fat fingers can pick what we want. One-handers though use thumbs so consider a CTA that goes across the screen, or maybe one each side.
Your emails will be reactive, in other words will change according to the device it is displayed on. The designer of your email marketing templates will ensure that the email is equally at home on mobiles and desktops, and everything in between. But you have decisions to make.
Images sell, there’s no doubt about that, but one that takes time to load will only frustrate. You need to decide whether to reduce the size of the image and sacrifice the quality or, perhaps, do away with them altogether? The answer specific to you will depend on your testing.
Another thing to consider when working out whether to eliminate linked images. A number of email service providers struggle with such things and leave just a blank. This means that Alt-images, a courtesy at the very least for the visually impaired, will not function.
The variation in screen size and resolution makes things difficult. I have a phone that I take with me if I’m going to engage in physical activity. I don’t want to damage my expensive one. Very few marketing emails don’t display well. Some companies have opted for rich text entirely. There is only one way to know if this works for you: test.
One last point, at least for now as we will return to this subject, is trusting native settings. Opting for large fonts can disrupt displays and render them unreadable.
Design for email marketing is in a state of flux. Keep up.
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Email marketing is just like having children; as one problem is solved another is revealed. We all know than mobiles are the main medium for opening emails so we can be confident that we should design our websites and emails for mobile devices.
Unfortunately such a significant change means that all the truths that have become so comfortable over the last few years are now in doubt. The returns from your email marketing software from historical campaigns is not wrong so much as out of date. Much of it would have been gained from the times when emails would be opened on desktop and maybe laptop. Does the change in medium mean a change in content?
The simple answer is that it probably does. It goes beyond just making an email easier to read in lower quality displays, although this is obviously a vital consideration. The most significant change that comes with mobiles is one often overlooked despite the evidence all around you.
Do you ride on buses or trains? Do you walk through shopping centres? Consider the number of people who are using their mobile phones when travelling. I’m told the average commute takes up 27 days a year. It is unfortunate that the research did not investigate for what percentage of that time commuters were on their mobiles. My suspicion, based on observation, is a lot.
You will appreciate that a marketing email will need to compete with quite a few distractions, including noise, buffeting and having to stand in cramped conditions. Further research has suggested that around 70% of people read their emails while watching TV or films. One disquieting statistic was the percentage of Americans who check it in the ‘bathroom’. Let’s not go there.
It is essential to keep marketing emails simple, short and easily understood. Subject lines, for instance, need to grab the imagination in three or four words. Subtle is something to avoid and images should be clear and readable in an instant.
We will be covering how to make marketing emails mobile friendly in future articles, but in the meantime you’ve got some testing to do.
We recently covered how you can reduce the percentage of abandoned shopping carts, the bane of email marketing. Rates as high as 70% have been reported. This shows that there’s more than enough room for improvement.
Even if, because of all your improvements, the rate has dropped considerably, there will still be those who, infuriatingly, disappear before completion. All is not lost. You can chase these customers, and indeed should.
One option is email targeting. In researching this article I went onto the websites of a few companies where I subscribe to their email marketing list and filled a shopping cart with various items. I found it remarkable that in only <40% of cases I received an email within two days and none within two hours.
I would suggest that an email should be sent almost as soon as the information of the abandoned cart is available, and within two hours at the latest. You will want to jog the person whilst they are still at their computer. Wait too long and they will be doing something else and the memory of your product will fade.
The wording of the email can be critical. You will know your customers from your email marketing lists so will be able to choose the tone will be most appropriate. Remember that they might be a bit irritated by the immediate follow up, so being pleasant, helpful and concerned is a good baseline.
Tell them that their cart will be left on the system for however long and should they click on the page again, everything will be as they left it. Ask them why they abandoned the cart and if there is anything you can do to mitigate their difficulties or concerns.
If they do not respond then consider whether another follow up email would be appropriate. Do you think it advisable if the total value of the cart is rather low? You don’t want to irritate a subscriber for a few pennies so establish a cut off point.
This email should be sent when the their cart will remain available for just another few hours. Remind them of this. If your offer has a time limit, point this out to your customer, reinforcing the cut off date. After all, you don’t want them to miss a never to be repeated bargain.
The third email might well contain an offer. Care needs to be exercised here. If you offer a price which is lower than the email marketing campaign one, presumably lowered just enough to allow you some profit, then the customer might well, if they have any sense, use the same abandonment procedure for your next campaign.
They could well respond to an additional item, for instance a ream of 80gm paper to go with the bargain printer. Another option is to offer a slightly higher grade product at either the same price or one slightly higher. The reverse, a cheaper one, might fit the bill.
Don’t ignore an abandoned cart. The customer has already shown they are partial to your product so go chase them down.
Given that personal data dominates the email marketing world one would assume that most businesses affected by the GDPR have plans for the go-live date of 25 May 2018 or, at the very least, expect to finalise before that date. You need to have processes in place and tested by that date. But what of companies with just a few employees? Isn’t there a get-out clause for them?
To put it simply; No. Article 30 of the GDPR states that organisations with fewer than 250 employees will not be bound by some provisions of the GDPR with regards recording of information. This clear and unequivocal statement must come as a relief. However, there are a number of conditions attached.
The one will probably affect us because of our email marketing lists is that the GDPR will apply to businesses with fewer than 250 employees if the processing of personal data is not occasional. It is a sensible exclusion. Why have the requirement for all that information if data processing is infrequent? However, if it is a significant part of a company’s daily function, as in email marketing, then the number of employees is irrelevant. Mind you, my experience is that when processing is infrequent it is treated more casually.
So there seems little doubt that email marketing companies will have to comply fully with the GDPR despite rumours to the contrary. It is not so much a factor with regards the size of your lists as to how frequent the processing is. And if you don’t process it regularly, you’re not doing it right.
There are two other categories which will mean that the GDPR will apply to a small business. The reasons for the first are rather obvious; if the processing includes special categories of data as defined in GDPR Article 9, which includes racial, ethnic, political, religious, philosophical and trades union membership details.
The remaining condition is if there is a risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects. This is more esoteric but don’t run away with the idea that it is limited to those companies which deal with one of the more volatile countries.
Regardless of what happens in the Brexit negotiations, it will still apply if you deal with EU citizens and further, the digital minister, Matt Hancock, has said that UK legislation will replace the 1988 Data Protection Act (DPA) with something more or less identical.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has a great deal of information on the GDPR, much of it helpful to small businesses. Their clear ‘12 steps now’ .pdf has been downloaded 73,000 times. Starting this month, the ICO has made available a phone line dedicated to help small businesses cope with all current regulations and legislation, including electronic marketing and Freedom of Information. In particular they offer help with the GDPR that is specific to small businesses.
Call the ICO helpline on 0303 123 1113, select option 4 and you will be put through to an advisor.
The GDPR is the most important piece of legislation for email marketing companies since 1988. It is fairly straightforward but all help is valuable.
Your email marketing campaign is a triumph. Your click-through rate is the best you’ve ever had. Yet it was all wasted because of the high number of abandoned shopping carts. Don’t despair; most problems are easily fixed and with some careful changes your rate could drop considerably.
A report suggests the average rate of abandonment was around 70%. If yours is somewhere near that, then you have work to do. However, don’t think that because yours is around 50% there’s no point in doing anything. There’s always a Improve.
If a customer has shown interest in a product, enough to click the ‘Buy’ button, then an abandoned cart should be viewed as a failure. You had the customer, and then you lost them. You need to up your game.
The most given reason for abandonment of shopping carts is hidden costs. Hidden here means that they were not apparent until it came time to buy. It is surprising how often shipping being extra is not stated until the last moment. If you want to mess up a sale, this is the best way to do it.
So the first step in attacking abandonments is to ensure that the total cost of a transaction is apparent from early on. Remember that we are dealing with subscribers to an email marketing list and if they feel they have been short-changed in any way, there is always the unsubscribe button.
Free is a lovely word. Make this the cost of postage and packing and advertise the fact.
Ensure that the buying process is slick and simple. We already have the subscriber’s details so don’t ask questions you know the answer to.
Remember that customers might want to compare prices. You might resent them doing it at the last moment, but if your pricing is strong there’s every chance they will return. Make sure the cart retains the items for a period. It is surprising how many companies delete carts when the window is close.
If someone on your email marketing list does abandon their cart, then find out why. Asking them directly is one way but also consider offering them alternatives, both higher and lower priced, or a product with different strengths. If they are one of your good customers, make them an offer. It is not an option you should opt for without careful consideration, but once in a while it might have other benefits.
Check your returns. If one particular segmented email marketing list has a high abandonment rate then try and work out why. Change details, although only one at a time. Try varying the type of image. Make them brighter, more colourful, include technical details or do away with them altogether. I find videos interesting and will normally watch them. It should be on a page earlier so that the buying process is kept free from unnecessary distractions, and especially information. Remember, they’ve already made the decision to buy.
There’s no nice way to put this; an abandoned cart is a failure on your behalf. It is also an opportunity, honest feedback if you will, telling you to improve your processes.
When used in support of email marketing a well-planned social media initiative can give a good return on investment. You will have seen the limitation though; it must be well planned. Let’s look at the process a little critically.
1/ Can we afford it?
Whilst it might look all but free on the surface, there are a number of on-costs that can build up over time. You need to ensure that funds will be available for some time to come.
2/ Is there anything with a greater ROI to invest in?
Just because you can afford the time and resources to run various social media accounts is no reason to do so. There might be many other initiatives that would make a better investment. Updating and monitoring social media takes a member of staff away for a certain period of time.
3/ Have we the resources to cope with the unpredictable demand?
Response is key in social media. Twitter users expect their questions to be answered promptly and Facebook algorithms mark up accounts that are responded to quickly. Want to be classed as a top responder? Then you need to answer 90% of queries within five minutes.
4/ Which one or ones?
Some advise sticking to just one social media platform. This is sensible advice but it doesn’t go for every company. Just as there is a range of preferences for those on your email marketing list, some might favour Snapchat over LinkedIn. Most people tend to stick to just one or two favourites but your subscribers will probably have a range.
5/ How often does an account need updating?
It’s the old answer of course, but it depends. One aspect that must be considered is that every successful account generates questions from customers and those considering buying. If they find there is no immediate response they might go elsewhere. Some of these might be on your email marketing list. If they feel they are being ignored they may choose the unsubscribe button.
6/ What do I want from social media?
As always you must have a target. Numbers alone, e.g. 3,000 follows in a specific time, do not indicate whether you have a good ROI.
7/ Can I meet my target any other way?
You will, naturally, be using social media for a specific purpose. If there is another route to the target you have set yourself then compare the two methods to see which costs less and perhaps is easier and more predictable in outcome. If it requires less investment then you might find it a more attractive initiative.
8/ Might it all change?
This is not a case of saving the best to last. Out of all the possible problems this is the one that could cost you. Facebook, for instance, is experimenting with a change to the way news feeds are presented. This might have a significant effect on costs and negate all your careful planning.
In short, make sure you have covered all eventualities if considering putting a toe into social media. There are as many pitfalls as benefits.
You might think that email marketing is difficult enough without wandering into the realms of another form of marketing. However, if you have a website, you are there already. Content marketing is nothing more than managing what’s in your website and what you publish elsewhere, such as social media.
The norm is that content is published haphazardly, with no overall plan. You read that a blog is an excellent way of obtaining subscribers to your email marketing list as it will generate familiarity and trust. You then start a Facebook page because, obviously, that will help as well. When you heard of a forum that those you target frequent, you started to put material out there to get noticed.
All this is good of course, but three lots of content, all piecemeal, means you are wasting your efforts. What you need is a plan to integrate your content with email marketing.
Before starting on yet another plan you might want to know why you should. A few moment’s study of your content will show that much it duplicated, not targeted, is contradictory and wasted. The purpose of a plan is to change all that.
How to plan?
1/ You need to decide who your targets are. For those with established email marketing lists, you are away, but everyone else needs to decide on an audience.
2/ Once you know your target you need to work out what they want. Why should they come to your blog? What’s in it for them is the question that will go through their minds so must go through yours.
3/ Come up with a reason why they should come to your content rather than that of your competitors. You don’t have to be unique. Similar material that is more entertaining, contains easily identifiable facts, and is grammatically superior will win out.
4/ What media outlets you exploit is critical. There’s a temptation to go for all right away but this route has problems. There’s a considerable time/cost element involved. Further, merely republishing the same content on other formats will put off readers.
5/ You need to control the content. You can, of course, pay someone else to do it for you. However, the best content managers are expensive. They know their worth and will have the data to prove it. Cheaper ones are cheaper for a reason. If you decide to do it yourself then put aside enough time to do it properly.
6/ It is difficult to assess the success of your content management plan over a short period, so it requires a certain degree of faith. Ensure your plan is as good as you can make it from the start.
If you’ve been in email marketing for any time you will know just how competitive it is. You must use every marketing ploy available to you, and use them effectively, because that’s what your successful competitors are doing. Waste is an anathema to a successful business and haphazardly producing content which is not exploited fully is prodigiously wasteful.
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