• Nearly 80% of you will never read this message

    On: December 2, 2011
    In: Uncategorized
    Views: 818

    With everything from social networking to mobile messaging grabbing the marketing spotlight, less attention is being paid to email as a means of connecting with customers and building business. Even though more than eight in ten of business use email marketing more than 160 commercial emails are launched each year, are any of them doing it well? Even when they are professionally designed and executed, how many of these little packets of gold ever make it to their destination, and how many of those get results?

    Future Brandlab experiments will take a look at ways of making sure your messages reach their targets, but for now lets just look at why they miss.

    A quick breakdown of the numbers shows gives you an overview of where the blocks are.

    1. No addresses/Bad addresses
    A study by ReturnPath showed just over 80% of emails reached in-boxes in North America in the second half of 2009. Of those that failed, 16.3% never reached the intended in-box, due to bad or inactive addresses. 10,000 messages become 8,370.

    2. SPAM
    The same report showed that 3.5% of these legitimate opt-in emails get blocked by SPAM filters. Business addresses quite often have additional protection from SPAM, and can increase filtering rates as much as 5%.

    Note that the study was primary established email marketers using reliable above-board servers. Using (or having) any email server on even one of the major blacklists can boost that number 72% blocked.

    The common belief is that the words or images used in the message sets off spam filters, but increasingly it is the reputation of the serving sender that sets off the filter. This is not an invitation to start using spam terms (free weight loss, guaranteed!) but a warning to protect your (and your mail server’s) reputation. 8,370 messages becomes 8,020.

    3. Ignored email
    A report for the 4th quarter of 2009 for “business products and services” showed emails were ignored by 78.4% of recipients. Consumer products on average faired slightly poorer. 8,020 messages becomes 1,732.

    The best tool in overcoming this is a strong subject line. You’ve only got about 60 characters to grab someone’s attention and convince them to embrace your message. False irritating or overused subject lines can almost a guarantee a trip to the trash can.

    4. Opened but Unmoved
    Recent statistics on the DoubleClick network showed a 4.3% click-through rate for emails. That means more than 95% of the emails sent are unsuccessful at getting your prospect to visit your website. 2,005 becomes 430.

    There are ways around each of the risk areas and methods to maximize your success. Our technicians are dissecting these areas individually and we look forward to sharing our findings with you. If you have observed interesting results in your email experiments or would like us to look into something particular, please let us know. We are relentless in our pursuit of science.

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  • Facebook: Hitting the Fans

    On: December 2, 2011
    In: Uncategorized
    Views: 857

    “We’ve got to be doing social media!” is a cry going up by marketers across the country. As media habits change, companies are getting desperate to engage customers and create loyalty. They follow the eyeballs and jump into the latest trends for fear that their competitors will get there first.

    What are they getting out of it? Most of them aren’t getting much. Take Facebook, the current behemoth of social networks with over 400 million members. Their statistics show members become ‘fans’ of four pages per month, yet a recent study showed 77 percent of these pages had less than a 1,000 fans. The social media monitoring and analytics firm Sysomos did a breakdown of fan site membership and found the vast bulk of pages had between 100 and 1000 fans. In fact, less than 4% have more than 10,000 fans and only .047% have more than one million fans.

    As of March 31, 2010 only two of the top ten fan pages were corporate, and being Facebook itself and the ubiquitous Mafia Wars, probably shouldn’t even count. Only two consumer products (savvy marketers Starbucks and Coca-Cola) cracked the top 20. Now most companies don’t need to compete with “I [heart] Sleep” to be successful in social networking, but there are a few things you can do to separate yourself from the bulk of ‘friendless’ fan pages.

    Give them something special

    People want more than the ability to tell their Facebook friends that “they love widgets.” Respect that connection and return their loyalty. Offer discount codes or printable coupons, or even products and promotions that are only available through the fan site.

    If you have a visible product, give your fans the opportunity to share their experience by letting them post pictures or video of themselves and your products. Or simply share pictures of your events or product features

    Give them better access

    Becoming a fan implies active participation with your company or products, you should offer your fans a heightened brand experience that they can’t get by being a passive observer. Make them feel like they are getting behind the scenes and actually have access to things others don’t. Ask for (and listen to) their opinions, invite them to try or test your products, ask them what they’d like to see in your products. As a warning, do not do this if you have no intention of listening, online forums are quick at spotting frauds and vocal about exposing hypocrites.

    Create an open exchange

    More than just having a dialogue between you and your fans, members prefer pages that house great conversations between members. There is inherent credibility in recommendations from other members, new ways to use or customize your products, and personal connections made with brands in ways that top-down marketing could never do. Again, this free exchange comes with a loss of control and should only be done if you are comfortable with that.

    Make People Feel Part Of Something

    Most join Facebook fan pages because of their relationship with the brand. The idea being that they want to align themselves with this company to support the brand or to feel part of something. If you’re brand isn’t so strong on it’s own, perhaps it’s worth finding a way to attach yourself to something else people already love. Over five million people [heart] sleep, and just over 2,500 are fans of Serta mattresses. I wonder how happy that 5 million would be sleeping on the floor? There is nothing false or disingenuous about aligning yourself with your products benefit. If there were, mainstream advertising would have been in trouble long before now.

    You’ve worked too hard on building your brand to fall short on sharing the brand experience. Just keep in mind these few key concepts to separate yourself from your competitors, and the 23 fan pages about saying ‘gesundheit’ when your dog sneezes.
    At the Whirli-Gig Brand Lab we understand that no experiment is complete without rigorous testing. So please let us know what your observations are in this field. Our technicians are standing by, and will spare no effort in our relentless pursuit of truth in branding.

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  • Please Mr. Postman: Five reasons to still use direct mail

    On: December 2, 2011
    In: Uncategorized
    Views: 768

    Every one is using email marketing today. Its not just for Nigerian princes any more! Marketers from multinationals to local retailers are hopping on the opt-in bandwagon and filling your in-box with offers, invitations and news updates. There is no question that email is fast, affordable and quite often effective in spurring reaction from consumers.

    But what about your actual mail box? Outside of credit card companies (who show no signs of lightening your mail carrier’s load) the supply of direct response mail seems to be dwindling. Are we looking at the end of junk mail as we know it? Or is there still gold to be mined from the mail?

    We took a look at the $45 billion direct mail industry (compared to $14 billion in email spending) and found a few good reasons to keep sending those cards and letters. Here are our lab-tested results on direct mail opportunities that outweigh email:

    1. When it is part of a multi-pronged sales effort

    Advertising is built on repetition, and the more ways you reach out to customers the better. Email is fast, but direct has staying power. Physical mail sticks around from the front porch to the recycle bin, and constantly reinforces your message. According to the Direct Marketing Association (which supports both email and direct mail), over 81% of households read or scan their direct mail. The DMA also reports that promotions that have both direct mail and email components have up to 25% more conversions than any single approach.

    2. When you can’t get a good list

    There is no such thing as a ‘mass mailing’ in email. Without a valid address, your email goes nowhere, and a good list is hard to find. Studies show that 60% of users employ two or more personal email addresses, giving a different address to entities they do not trust while maintaining separate accounts for trustworthy sources. This makes starting an email outreach even harder. Direct mail lists can be purchased for very localized areas, and a well-written direct mail piece can even direct prospects to your website or opt-in to an email list.

    3. When you need to say something lengthy

    Brevity may be the soul of wit, but sometimes it takes a few more words to make a point. Email Lab’s reports that viewers spend only 15-20 seconds on the average email. That’s not enough time for a discussion of global warming (or even to discuss comparative strengths of email). Direct mail gives you the space to make a rational appeal. The ability to send multiple pieces together allows readers to get as much information as they want, choosing to read supplementary support material or jumping directly to the response piece.

    4. When you make emotional appeals

    In the email browser, images are small and copy is usually reduced to a list of bullets. The focus is on click-through. This is not the best environment for an emotional message. Photography can take center stage in a mail piece, and there is room for a copy writer to inspire, frighten or tug the heart strings of the reader. The physical nature of direct mail gives a piece a longer life, giving an emotional message more time to resonate.

    5. When your goal is long-term brand-building

    Email is all about the offer. Nothing can deliver offers faster or more cost-effectively than it can. But a lot of marketing can’t be summed up in a simple ‘click here’ kind of offer. Often brand-building is a combination of emotional and rational appeals, brought together in a consistent creative manner. None of this is email’s strength. Even the speed and timeliness of email is not overly helpful when trying to build relationships with customers. Nearly 80% of the responses to an email campaign will be received within the first 24 hours, and resending the same email is rarely effective.

    That is not to say that brand building can’t be done on-line. Web sites, social media, blogs and forums can create closer ties between companies and their customers than brochures and ads ever could. But the constraints of email make it a difficult place to really forge a brand.

    Unlike direct mail, which offers the room and creative freedom to allow your audience to connect with your brand– and sign up for your email list.


    Luckily there are many tools in a marketers toolbox. Our technicians test these tools individually to identify their strengths and weaknesses; and we look forward to sharing our findings with you. If you have observed interesting results in your emai/snailmail experiments or would like us to look into something particular, please let us know. We are relentless in our pursuit of science.


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