Archive for the ‘type’ tag
In the world of email marketing, several questions are repeatedly asked by those who strive to improve their email campaigns. Collectively they can be lumped together as pertaining to the elusive pursuit of best practices. And if you are prone to jumping to conclusions, you probably think the two words to which I refer in the title are “best practices,” but you’d be wrong. Before I reveal the two most important words in email marketing, let’s look at some of the commonly asked questions concerning best practices:
- What day of the week is the best for launching campaigns?
- What time of day is best for launching campaigns?
- What kind of tests should are the most important to conduct?
- When should a subscriber be labeled “inactive”?
- Is it ok to continue to mail to inactive subscribers?
- How should email campaigns be optimized for mobile devices?
- How important are welcome campaigns?
- What type of content should be dynamically generated?
True believers in best practices are likely to believe that there is a single, definitive answer to each of the questions posed above, and the many more questions not appearing here. According to BusinessDictionary.com, a best practice is, “A method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark.”
However there is a big of problem with this right out of the gate. If there really were definitive answers to every question involving email, and everyone practiced them, then no one would gain strategic advantage over his or her competition. To gain that advantage one would need to develop better than best practices. These, in turn, would become the new best practices. The result? All commercial email would hit consumer’s mailboxes on the same day and time. Every marketer would test the same thing at the same time. All subscribers would be labeled inactive at the same point in time. You get the idea.
Does this mean there are no immutable truths about email marketing? Of course not:
- New subscribers to your email are more likely to be engaged with you than older subscribers (use that to your advantage)
- Opens and clicks do not represent an accurate measurement of consumer engagement with an email (you’ve probably heard me say this before)
- Upselling and cross-selling via transactional emails it a great way to increase your ROI (lucky strike extra, it is also likely to irk your IT team)
I could go on, but that’s not the point of this article. So it’s time I got to the point. In my opinion, the two most important words in email marketing are “it depends.” It depends?! I know, that’s kind of a let down from the buildup to this point. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t the most important words.
Remember what I said about best practices earlier? If everybody followed best practices, no one would gain a competitive advantage. It all boils down to the fact that there if there is no definitive answer as to which is the best day to launch a campaign, then the best way to start answering that question is to respond “it depends,” because — at that moment — you are now beginning to solve a particular marketer’s unique marketing challenges. For that rather simple sounding question there are many data points to consider:
- It depends upon your product or service category
- It depends on what you are offering at that point in time
- It depends on who you are targeting
- It depends upon the complexity of the desired transaction
- It depends upon the duration of the offer
There are other possible “it depends;” this is just a partial list. And while it might seem very attractive to let the people like me who write about this stuff answer the question for you in a column, it will be much better in the long run for you to do the hard work of thinking through the “it depends,” and then testing some assumptions.
Let’s look at another question, “when should a subscriber be labeled inactive?” There are people like me who would tell you “only if that email address is no longer valid,” but we’re viewed as representing the extreme. For the rest of you, however, once again there are many data points to consider:
- It depends how long they’ve been in the database
- It depends on your ability to attribute offline activity to email campaigns
- It depends on the frequency of purchase of your product or service
- It depends upon your current reputation with the ISPs
I’ve noted in the past that clients of mine saw revenue around campaigns drop when they excluded those they deemed inactive from a mailing. So you want to do more than just follow best practices when addressing this question — you want to get it right!
It’s important to recognize that answering “it depends” to an important email marketing question is an absolute cop-out if you don’t then proceed to determine what the answer does depend upon. It’s one thing for a panelist at a conference to respond “it depends” and leave it at that. It’s an entirely different story if the strategists on your team or at your marketing partner leave it at that. It’s their job to provide you with the guidance and testing plan to arrive at the optimum solution for your particular needs.
The problem has always been that because email marketing is so inexpensive, it is really easy to get away with programs that don’t meet their full potential. With CPMs as low as they are, “good” results are seen as “good enough.” If CPMs were higher, there’d be greater pressure to maximize results. Of course it takes a lot of hard work to optimize your program across the board — and then to successfully integrate that program into your social and mobile channels. To paraphrase from something I read years ago, “Email marketing isn’t rocket science. It’s a lot harder!” But the hard work will always pay you dividends.
Chris Marriot is a data-driven digital marketing consultant.
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“A happy couple” image via Shutterstock.
You know that frustrating feeling when you order clothes online and they fit really poorly, like the target demographic is some weird mix of Kim Kardashian and Yao Ming?
Tang came up with the idea for Vastrm, which is a Sanskrit word for cloth, when a customer told him he had purchased a perfect shirt in Italy and has never been able to find the same fit again. He was considering flying back to Italy to track the shirt maker down, but Jonathan managed to adjust Vastrm shirts to the same fit.
“If you could simply order online (like music and books) and ensure you are getting the right fit, e-commerce sites would probably sell a lot more product and get a lot less returns,” Tang says.
While a number of companies, like BleuFlamme, J. Hilburn and Blank Label, offer very similar services for dress shirts, Vastrm focuses exclusively (for now) on polo shirts, targeting golfers and corporate clients.
You can go on Vastrm’s site and take a short quiz, entering height, weight, body type and waist size, to “optimize size selection.” Vastrm has an algorithm that recommends 2-3 of their fit types (slim, sport and relaxed) to suit your body type. The company then ships you a few sample polos for free to try on.
Once you know your fit, you can go online and make any other size adjustments you want. Tang says they mostly receive adjustments to add or subtract an inch or so from the shirt and sleeve length, but are capable of doing far more alterations. Vastrm saves your fit so you don’t have to do the measuring process every time you want a shirt.
You can then select the fabric and different styles for the collar, cuff, pocket, vent, buttons and even an optional golf tee pocket. After you finalize your order, you’ll get your customized polo in about three weeks.
The company also gives you a few suggested shirts in case you’re overwhelmed by all the options. Sadly, there’s no Shooter McGavin look, though (I checked). Tang tells me they are just doing polos for now, but expects to expand to long-sleeve polos, henleys, t-shirts and more in the next six-twelve months.
Tang showed me the process in our San Francisco office and I’ve got to say, I’m impressed. The prices aren’t cheap, but they aren’t ridiculous especially given what other companies in the space charge, and the customization is very cool. Waiting three weeks for the shirt is the biggest negative to me, but luckily it’s always golfing weather in Palo Alto.
The big change is that Google’s Knowledge Graph is now available worldwide for all English language versions of Google. So now if you are in the UK, you will and should get the knowledge graph results.
The second big change is that Google added a carousel to the knowledge graph results. The carousel expands up at the top of the page, and then flips through various results. Here is a picture:
In addition, the knowledge graph results show up in the search box as you type now:
Here is a video showing these features off:
I personally do not see these results yet, so I haven’t personally played with it.
Google just announced two updates coming tomorrow to the Knowledge Graph feature that it launched in May.
The Knowledge Graph is the summary that now appears to the right of the results for US searchers. This allows users to see factual summaries related to their search queries (biographies of notable figures, tour dates for musicians, the cast of movies, etc.) and disambiguate their searches (focus their search on Rio the movie, Rio the casino, or Rio de Janeiro the city). Senior Vice President of Engineering Amit Singhal says that since launching the Knowledge Graph, Google has been “able to get users to get users to the right query much faster,” adding that “whenever people are able to get to their results faster … they search more.”
So naturally, Google wants to expand the feature. Starting tomorrow, Googler Shashi Thakur says the Knowledge Graph will become available to users across the world, as long as they’re searching in English. Under the hood, Thakur says Knowledge Graph results are now being localized for different regions. For example, if you search for “chiefs” in the United States, the Knowledge Graph will give you information about the football team the Kansas City Chiefs. If you search in Australia, you’ll get information about the Chiefs rugby union team.
In addition, Thakur says the Knowledge Graph results are now being added to the auto-complete box that appears when you type Google searches. In other words, if you start to type a search for “rio”, then, going back to the earlier example, you can select Rio the film, Rio the casino, or Rio de Janiero the city, directly from the auto-complete box. If the Knowledge Graph is supposed to “get users to the right query much faster”, adding the feature to auto-complete is an important step in that direction. It allows you to focus your results, even before the first page of search results actually appears.
Google also demonstrated a carousel interface for the Knowledge Graph that will appear tomorrow. That should make it easier to scroll, slideshow-style, through a bunch of items related to a Knowledge Graph entry. For example, if you decide to focus your search on a specific amusement park, the Knowledge Graph can give you a carousel of pictures of all the different rides.
The Knowledge Graph improvements were announced at a press event in San Francisco, where Google also announced that it will be conducting a field test where it adds information from your Gmail inbox into your search results and also updating its Search app for the iPad with voice features. You can read a few more details at The Official Google Blog.
Finally, the ability to type quickly with two thumbs is paying off, or rather it could pay off for one of the 11 finalists at the 6th annual LG U.S. National Texting Competition. Today at noon, the players will face off in New York City’s Times Square for a shot at $50,000.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
This is a guest post by Chris Birk.
Social media and the sheer increase in number of content creation platforms has given managers, who specifically monitor a business’ reputation, many new challenges. One of the best descriptions of online reputation came from Matt Polsky on Jason Fall’s Social Media Explorer:
Reputation isn’t a single stationary object, but an equation that includes many pieces, such as being known for quality products or services, being likeable, actively engaging customers, or the ability to offer valuable and relevant content.
This may have quite a few of you thinking about where you stand. Are you taking all forms of the equation into account and being proactive or are you just focusing on being reactive and hoping for the best?
For those who are ready to start managing their reputation like a rock star, start with the following steps:
If you have never practiced any form of reputation management, you are going to want to start with damage control. This means going straight to Google and searching for your name, your business’ name, board member’s names and the CEO.
Think about what your users would type. If you have a specific product or service type in the name of that product or service, then go deeper and type in the name plus complaints or name plus reviews. You want to log what is being said on the internet about your company’s most vital components.
When searching for these terms on social, you are best using Google’s site search function so you don’t miss a beat. For instance, if my business was named Example, and I wanted to see what has been said about Example on Twitter, I would do the following:
The Man with the Plan
Be the man (or woman) with the plan, and start setting goals with the end in mind. This is where you take those negative results into mind and figure out a plan to either bury them or rectify the situation.
- Why am I doing this?
- Who do I want to see my reviews?
- Why do I want people to find my reviews?
- Is simply viewing a positive/negative review a strong enough call to action?
Be sure when you do set goals, that you do set goals that are realistic. Nothing is more demoralizing than setting a goal that will never be reached.
For example, a solid reputation management goal could be, “I want to respond to all negative reviews or comments within 24 hours of them being posted.” Another solid goal could be, “I want my potential customers to view properties I own on the first page of search results, when searching for my business’ reviews.”
Manage Your Social Status
Once you have a solid grasp on your plan, start executing. I would recommend starting with social. Social media gives you the ability to communicate in real-time with those who are closest to you – you customer base.
Customer interaction allows you to build relationships, and gives you the ability to develop brand advocates through offering incentives, promotional codes, and sneak peeks at the latest products or services you have going out.
As with search, you can also set alerts for your social profiles through free tools. The best one I have found so far is called Social Mention, and it works very similar to Google Alerts.
Setting up alerts is a must. If you want to set a positive tone, responding to negative comments within 12 hours is critical. After that 12 hour window, you lose the viewers as well as the likelihood of the person who placed the comment to respond.
In addition to creating alerts and a quick response time, you should focus on providing your social following with value. As I mentioned above, great ways of doing this is through incentives.
Some companies do this better than others do; however, one example that I can’t get enough of is from Domino’s Pizza UK. A couple years ago, Domino’s UK produced a campaign called “Superfans”, which provided their most loyal customers with promo codes and free offers. To make things even better, Domino’s showed the users where they ranked among other users of the page and gave better prizes and rankings to those who interacted and shared the most content from Domino’s UK.
How great is it to have your customers competing to provide your business with free word of mouth marketing?
Own the First Page
Managing your social presence isn’t the only tactic. If you want to have a rounded approach reputation management, you are going to want to own the first page of search results for key reputation keywords, such as your name, your name plus reviews and your name plus complaints.
Remember how I said to log negative results in the first step? This is where you put that to use. Over and over I hear the question “how can I get rid of this result?” Well, the truth is, unless you own the site, you can’t; however, there is a loop hole provided by Matt Cutts at Google. Cutts said:
Instead [of removing results], you can try to reduce its visibility in the search results by proactively publishing useful, positive information about yourself or your business. If you can get stuff that you want people to see to outperform the stuff you don’t want them to see, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of harm that that negative or embarrassing content can do to your reputation.
At first, it may seem wrong to hide results, but if you are dealing with a real crisis, you will change your mind fairly quick. You want to bump up your results and leave the negative ones in the dust. Like Cutts said, make news, publish new information that has a chance to rank over the rest. Once you get this content published, use basic SEO tactics and get links pointed to these properties to get them ranking above the rest.
In addition to that you can even take advantage of exact match domain names and buy your business’ name plus reviews. For example, Veterans United Home Loans hosts reviews on their user-friendly site Veterans United Reviews.com. This not only helps them in the SERPs, but helps their reputation as well.
Even if you have great social media skills, amazing SEO, a trustworthy product and compelling content, you still are going to have a disgruntled customer at some point. Whenever you receive a negative comment, post, tweet or Facebook post, handle it with speed and concern. You don’t want to let these fester. Remember that 12-hour window? The quicker you respond, the higher your chances are for resolving the situation and possibly getting a brand advocate out of the ordeal.
Even if you can’t make a person happy, do your best to show good faith so other potential customers see you are willing to connect with individuals and rectify problems.
Your online reputation will never be spotless, that’s just a fact of business; however, you can still be proactive to keep the negative comments down and help lessen or prevent PR disasters.
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BBM Heroes was a film series we did for RIM that featured brand advocates in unexpected places, including a club in Malaysia, a design studio in Australia and a raceway in India.
In Indonesia, the “HellBobs” spoke about how BBM helps them interact with the tattoo artist community in Jakarta, demonstrating how the brand appeals to consumers of every type.
Do you work in digital and do you occasionally have a great idea that could be more than just a piece of communication? Something that could be its own product, and (gasp) even a business? Welcome to Huge Labs, an incubator type section of successful digital agency Huge. Check out the freshly released trailer for their first venture: Togather.
What’s your endgame?
You won’t be surprised to know that so few brands actually have an answer to that one, specific, question. Without an answer to that question, you wind up getting the type of branded content that we’re all being inundated with, day in and day out. It seems like a never-ending slew of silly questions, random polls and worse. Brands are, sadly, playing it safe when it comes to content and, while it is authentic, it lacks any form of life. So, with that, it comes off as a subtle version of advertorial content. Nothing more.
Don’t offend anyone.
That’s the main issue that brands will face when it comes to publishing content. They embrace apathy. Long ago (back in my music journalism days), I remember Gene Simmons from KISS saying something like: "people either love KISS or hate us with all of their guts, and that’s the way we like it." His point was that apathy is plain. It’s vanilla. There is no spark. Apathy is death. When was the last time you read a piece of content and it moved you? Moved you to share it? Talk about it? Blog about it? Send it to someone? It probably happens on a daily basis. I see people sharing and commenting on all sorts of compelling content in places like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and on their own blogs, etc… I also know that there are many people who read my blog postings just to laugh at it, be snarky or think that’s it dumb. None of that bothers me, because I too (like Gene Simmons) don’t embrace apathy. The majority of my content is opinion. My opinion. I have the humility to recognize that my opinion will not be shared by one and all. Brands don’t want to offend. Brands want their content to resonate with everyone.
The goal of appeasing everyone is a testament to how quickly it will fail.
Quick: name a song or movie that everyone loves. For every classic you can rattle off, there is an audience (potentially of equal size) that simply thinks that its overrated. The classic line that if you want to please everyone, you wind up pleasing no one is somewhat true in this day and age of content marketing as well. Brands need to embrace the edges. They need to go out and work with people who can create genuine content for them that will resonate with an audience. Not the entire global population, but their, specific, audience. Wanting to speak to teens or moms or divorced dads is not enough. Those segments are now too massive to breakthrough. You need to find those edges (again). We live in a day and age when the content that is created is now all indexable, shareable and findable forever. It’s all stored in digital bits and bytes forever for the world to see. Content doesn’t just find an audience anymore… now – more than ever – consumers are seeking out content that is relevant to them.
Work from the end.
Go and review all of the content that you’re creating and sharing as a brand. Spread it out on the virtual table and take a cold, hard look at it. What do you see? Do you see a legacy or do you simply see a random splattering or varied pieces of content that are being used as a pawn in a game to collect likes, followers and friends? Is this too harsh? It may be, but in a day and age when any brand can publish in short and long form in text, images, audio and video, why is it so challenging to come up with a myriad of examples where brands are creating content that is as compelling as the stuff that Wired, Fast Company and The New York Times puts out (let’s not forget about the thousands of excellent independent blogs and podcasts).
The best publishers think about their legacy. They respect their brand name and masthead. They want to ensure that whatever they publish will stand up to the test of time. They hope to honor those that were publishing before them and hope to increase readership and engagement with each and every piece of content that they publish going forward. Do we really think that brands are putting that type of thought and dedication into the content they’re publishing? I’m not so sure. The beautiful thing is that it’s still early days. A brand can still look at that virtual table filled with their content to date and stop the insanity. They can make some harsh and decisive plans to get serious about what they’re publishing. They can stop and realize that there really is no reason why they can’t provide something unique, a different opinion and another perspective. If all they’re trying to do is sanitize the media or turn a press release into a story, they’re missing one of the biggest opportunities that they may ever have: to actually create something that people will seek out and share which, in turn, should make them that much more loyal to their brand.
Content is not about marketing. Content is about the brand legacy that you will leave.
Last night, Google announced another cool data feature on Google Webmaster Tools – the Structured Data Dashboard!
This new tool, which is under the “Optimization” section of Google Webmaster Tools breaks out the structured data Google finds on your web site at three levels:
(1) Site Level
(2) Item Type Level
(3) Page level
Here is a picture of the video markup page level on this site:
Here is how Google describes each level of data:
- Site-level view: At the top level, the Structured Data Dashboard, which is under Optimization, aggregates this data (by root item type and vocabulary schema). Root item type means an item that is not an attribute of another on the same page. For example, the site below has about 2 million Schema.Org annotations for Books (âhttp://schema.org/Bookâ)
- Itemtype-level view: Google parses and stores a fixed number of pages for each site and item type. They are stored in decreasing order by the time in which they were crawled. We also keep all their structured data markup. For certain item types we also provide specialized preview columns as seen in this example below (e.g. âNameâ is specific to schema.org Product).
- Page-level view: Google has a details page showing all attributes of every item type on the given page (as well as a link to the Rich Snippet testing tool for the page in question).