Social Networks and Blogging More Popular than Email

For all of you still trying to convince your bosses that social networking is something you should be involved in, feel free to reference the latest research from Neilsen Online which shows that people are now spending more time checking social networking sites and blogs than reading email.

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New job: Director of Online Marketing at Environmental Working Group

Apologies for abandoning this blog for so long. I’ve started a new job at Environmental Working Group as their Director of Online Marketing. I get to manage their smart staff of web designers, programmers, and an online parent organizer. I’m bringing order & structure to their online efforts, and a comprehensive strategy. I’ve been buried in data for the past few weeks trying to determine a baseline to work off of. Never fear, I will be back to blogging with new tips this week. I’m attending the DMA’s Nonprofit Conference this week, and they are going to be talking about text messaging to build supporter and donor relationships, so I’ll update you all if I learn anything interesting.

New Resolutions for Mass Email

I don’t normally cut & paste, but this lists I received through one of my enewsletters is worth sharing in its entirety. It’s from the Email Insider list.

1. Each month replace one of your previously planned broadcast emails with a targeted email to a segment of your list. This holiday season retailers sent out record email volumes — and also clearly suffered some deliverability issues during the first week of December, according to my Retail Email Index. It should be a wake-up call to all email marketers that everyone needs to move toward more segmented messages and fewer broadcast emails.

The irony is that a well-crafted, targeted email can generate as much sales as a broadcast email, while simultaneously increasing engagement and reducing list fatigue.

If you haven’t done so already, consider launching a preference center to give you extra data with which to segment your list for targeted mailings.

2. Schedule a review of all your email forms and triggered emails. Sign-up forms, preference centers, welcome emails, triggered emails — if you haven’t done an inventory of these pages and emails and reviewed them to make sure that they’re accurate and up to date, do it now.

3. Speak to the subscriber and not from the point of view of your business. Make sure that your emails and forms address consumers with them in mind. What’s in it for them? What’s appealing to them? And how does your email program help them?

4. Redesign your email templates with image blocking in mind. Retailers made great strides in 2008 in adapting their templates to imaging blocking. More retailers started using HTML text in their designs, including converting their navigation bars to HTML text links, ensuring that they have alt text for their images, and adding preheader messages. But there are still too many marketers that haven’t made the adjustment.

5. Segment out your inactive subscribers. Send them different messaging than your active subscribers and at a lower frequency. Also consider sending them emails with a different template, one that has an unsubscribe link at the top, or offering the choice to opt-down to a lower frequency. After a long period of inactivity, you may also want to send a reactivation campaign, asking them to opt in again in order to continue receiving emails.

No one wants to unnecessarily cut subscribers who are viewing emails with images off and not clicking because they’re going directly to a site, shopping offline, etc. But at a certain point, inactives become a source of deliverability problems and a distraction from your engaged subscribers.

Great items to keep in mind during your annual winter/spring cleaning of your email list and campaign strategy.

Trying to Reach High School or College Students? Don’t Email them

There are various studies out there that highlight the fact that high schoolers and college age students do not respond to marketing mail, and get most of their updates via social networking sites or texting.

Here’s one of those studies I though I’d share:

Today’s high-school and college students started using email at an average age of 13. Most have had an email address for 8 years and have about 2.4 email addresses each, yet 61% say they ‘never’ or ‘hardly ever’ read marketing emails, says a survey from eROI, MarketingCharts reports.

The research, which was designed to uncover how students communicate digitally and relate to email marketing messages, found that the majority of students do not feel companies are effectively speaking to them personally through email, and only 16% of students say they ‘frequently’ read the marketing emails they receive.

In addition to the majority of students not reading marketing emails, 66% of students similarly report rarely or never taking action after reading them.

One of the basic tenents of marketing is to outreach to your audience in the way in which they will most easily receive the message. If you sell prescription discount products, perhaps direct mail is still viable for you. But if you’re a youth nonprofit like 4-H, Youth Service America, or YMCA, you should make sure your marketing mix involves more social media outreach and text friendly marketing campaigns than a heavy mass email campaign.

Unsubscribing doesn’t Need to be Goodbye

I’m always shocked by the non-profits that I work with who think that a supporter unsubscribing from their email list means that they want to leave. Often times it means that the supporter just doesn’t like the content that you are sending them. I was reminded of this when reading the article Retailers Magnify Opt-In, Opt-Out E-mail Sub Processes this morning.

Bonnie Malone, director of strategic services at Return Path, said consumers who “unsubscribe” don’t necessarily want to end the relationship with the company. “Marketers shouldn’t view the process as negative, but rather an opportunity to learn what subscribers want and how they perceive services,” she said.

How do you know why supporters are leaving? Ask them on the way out – on the unsuscribe page let them:

  1. Change their email address
  2. Change the content they are subscribed to
  3. Sign up for RSS feeds, podcast streams, etc.
  4. Ask them why they are leaving.

If you’re investing dollars into bringing supporters onto your email list, you should also invest the energy into retaining their interest. This means sending them personalized content that they are interested in, and asking them how you can improve the relationship before they head out the door. Can you imagine not stopping a good friend to ask them what is wrong as their are storming out of your party? Same applies to an email relationship – communicating with your supporters and asking them “what’s wrong” before they leave can save the relationship, and save your organization money in recruiting costs.

Using Social Psychology Findings for Email Subject Lines

One of the great things about online marketing is that there are a wealth of free webinars and training sessions available online that actually teach you something.

One that I had to share is Marketing Experiment’s Webinar on how to optimize headlines. You MUST spend a moment watching this webinar. It will teach you how to pick words and word order in subject lines and headlines for landing pages that will drive positive results. It also walks folks through how to test both elements.

Enjoy!

Click here for Flash format (slides with audio)

Email Zombies – Reviving Your Dead Email Subscribers

In a Halloween related theme, I wanted to share this article about how to determine which email addresses are truly dead.