Why Coupons?

March 16, 2009 on 4:07 pm | In Advertising, Customer Retention, Customer Service, Email Marketing, Marketing, Online | No Comments

We talked recently about using online coupons to spur consumer action. Now, let’s take a look at a company which is using coupons strategically and successfully.

I talked with Jim Deitzel (@rubbermaid) and Lauren Spahr (@rubbermaidtwo) about how Rubbermaid’s organizational products line is using coupons.

It turns out, Rubbermaid is no Johnny-Come-Lately to the online coupon. The company has used them for about four years, initially placing them on the company website. Recently, with some tweaking to the program, redemptions have increased. Part of that, say Deitzel and Spahr, is due to greater reach offered by News America’s online coupon service, Smart Source.

The strategy behind using coupons is fourfold:

– Augment offline coupons

– Attract website traffic

– Acquire email addresses

– Add value to email club membership

The online program is a real value, according to Deitzel. He says FSI (free standing inserts or paper coupon) programs can cost into the six digits, whereas a very strong online program can be implemented for around $20,000. Now, this doesn’t mean small companies can’t take advantage of online couponing if they don’t have $20,000 to spend. They can develop their own coupons and send them out via a house email list.

Are you using online coupons? I’d like to hear about it.

Social Nets vs. Email

March 10, 2009 on 11:17 am | In Advertising, Consumer Behavior, Customer Retention, Email Marketing, FaceBook, Marketing, Social Media, social media marketing best practices project, Tools | No Comments

A new Nielsen study shows that social networks have overtaken email as the most popular online activity. Says a story in Adweek,

Active reach in what Nielsen defines as “member communities” now exceeds e-mail participation by 67 percent to 65 percent. What’s more, the reach of social networking and blogging venues is growing at twice the rate of other large drivers of Internet use such as portals, e-mail and search.

No real surprise there. Email is maturing. It has settled into its niche as an excellent longer-form instantaneous communication tool.

How mature? Friend Mark Harrison and I were discussing this recently. Email has become so mature that spam has decreased in our inboxes. Now, we’re starting to see spam infiltrate social media. When spam arrives, so has your medium. You can learn a lot from spammers. But that is a topic for another day.

Eventually, every medium finds its place. Radio didn’t kill newspaper and magazines. TV didn’t kill radio. The web didn’t kill everything else. I’m still a believer in the power of email, as I’ve said on numerous occasions.

Email is a superb customer retention tool. I think its effectiveness in acquiring new customers is suspect. Smart businesses use email to keep customers informed, reinforce their brand and to drive traffic to stores or their online presence. In 2008, the average return on investment for email was $45 for every $1 spent for an ROI of 4,400%. Sounds like email is working to me.

The best marketers have figured out how to integrate all the communication vehicles. Remember, there is a time and season for all things. Do it right and you win.

Pithy Pitches

March 6, 2009 on 1:20 pm | In Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Journalism, Media, Media Relations, News, PR, Public Relations | 3 Comments

Your painstakingly crafted email pitch is completely customized and ready to send to the in box of that carefully targeted reporter. There it goes! Did you hear that? That was your email pitch being deleted.

Here’s why: You didn’t spend more time on the subject line than you did on the email body. Ragan has a feature entitled Email subject lines in eight words or less that provides some good examples of subject lines that worked. One of my favorites was,

“Colorado: Help bring a cow into the world”: This kind of subject line is hard to resist—and Greg Morton, group director of PR for Praco PR in Denver, was counting on just that reaction when he penned this subject line for his client, the Colorado Tourism Office.

In a previous post, THINKing provided Six Tips For Perfect Email Media Pitches. One of the primary tips,

Brevity is the soul of wit. Shakespeare could have been giving media relations tips when he penned this gem several hundred years ago. If you can’t get to the point in your subject line in 10 words or less, you need to work on your message. Keep the subject line short and to the point, and include the time frame if it is important to the pitch.

Burrelle’sLuce has a tip sheet on the topic that you may want to register to receive.

What are you waiting for? Start pitching.

Old Fashioned Marketing

February 3, 2009 on 8:05 am | In Advertising, Blogs, Branding, Email Marketing, Marketing | 7 Comments

Every year we start seeing all the articles about what the new year will hold. Everything from politics to marketing is dissected and forecast. I like to take advantage of trends as much as anyone but you can’t let the new blind you to the tried-and-true.

You may be considering adding podcasts, blogs, local search and social media to your marketing matrix and that is fine, if you strategically think through how they fit with your business and your audiences.

Blogging and podcasting are great tactics, but if your website has no traffic they are a waste of time, effort and resources.

Let’s get back to fundamentals. I’ve had clients who were so ADD they couldn’t sit still long enough to even think about who their best customer is. However, they got so excited about new marketing ideas that they just had to try them. Never mind that those tactics didn’t make sense for their business.

If you don’t know who your customer is, don’t bother spending money on marketing. That would be a colossal waste.

Ask and answer the fundamental questions before you go spending marketing money willy-nilly. How many audience segments do you have? Who is your best customer in each? What is your best customer’s age, employment, sex, and marital status? Do they have kids? What are their media habits? What attitudes or values affect their buying habits?

If your customer buys for business, what is her title? Is she the final decision-maker or is the decision made jointly? Who influences the sale? What industry associations do your customers join? Do they go to trade shows? Which ones?

The more you know about the customer, the easier it is for your creatives to develop relevant, original and impactful messages, and to determine the best ways and vehicles through which to disseminate your messages.

While doing this hard work may not be as much fun as podcasting or Twittering, it is infinitely more important to your bottom line. And as my friend ad agency consultant Joe Grant says, the number one rule of business is to stay in business.

What are you adding to the marketing mix this year? Does it make sense?

2009: The Year Of Direct Marketing?

January 21, 2009 on 9:17 am | In Advertising, Customer Retention, Email Marketing, Marketing | 2 Comments

There has been a lot of talk about the death of direct marketing. I don’t buy it. Here’s why: Every time the economy softens, marketers are pressured by higher ups to utilize tactics that can be quantified. Direct marketing is on the list in all tough years. Is it on your list this year?

Now, response rates for direct mail and for email marketing have fallen in recent times. But that is not because direct marketing has outlived its usefulness. It’s because of lazy marketers; marketers who won’t develop a plan but instead just bombard consumers with ill conceived and misdirected messages. Let’s review how to improve your direct marketing efforts.

First, you need to develop a plan. It does not have to be as long as War And Peace, but it must include a few key elements so that you can develop a focused, targeted, measurable program that gets results. For our purposes, I’m going to focus on the use of email, but the elements are similar for direct mail:

* Objectives

* Audience Definition

* Key Messages

* Format

* Tactics

* Timeline

* Budget

* Measurement

Determine what is it that you want the email program to achieve from marketing and communications perspectives. Is this a newsletter designed for relationship management purposes, or is it a sales-oriented vehicle? Are you trying to build awareness, generate leads, increase web traffic, encourage loyalty, or close sales?

Next, you need to define audiences. Who are you trying to reach? What do you know about them from demographic and psychographic perspectives? Are you addressing multiple audiences? If so, do you need to segment your audiences and develop emails with different messages? How will each audience profit from our communications.

Now, what is it you want to say to each audience? What’s the nature of the content? Will this include just editorial information or will it also contain some sales-oriented material?

Closely tied to messages is your format. Are you producing a newsletter with a lot of editorial material, or does it contain just brief snippets of information? Is it an announcement list, a discussion list, or just commercial messages? Think about your audiences as you develop the most appropriate format.

Your tactics section lays out tasks and who is responsible for them. What technology do you need? Do you have in-house email capabilities or should you use an application such as Publicaster? How will you build and manage your list? How will you acquire new subscribers? Who will create content, design and distribute the email?

After you answer those questions, it’s time to turn to your timeline. Develop a schedule for having your technology in place, building your list, creating content, designing and distributing the email. Determine if this will be a one-time mailing, or if it will recur on a weekly or monthly basis.

Your budget may help you answer many of the questions above. Small budgets may mean you complete a lot of the work in-house.

Finally, it’s time to establish criteria for measuring the program. An awareness program may call for some baseline research so you’ll know how you are doing. A relationship management program may measure customer retention. Increased click-through from your email to your website is also a measurable element. Sales-oriented programs might measure total sales from email, or incremental sales increases with individual customers.

Are you planning your direct marketing efforts? Wade into the conversation.

All About Email

December 18, 2008 on 11:09 am | In Charity, Customer Retention, Email Marketing | 1 Comment

I’m a big believer in email for customer retention, so I’ve been reading a lot about it recently. Thought I’d share some links for you. If you are interested, My Creative Team produces a monthly enewsletter. Here’s our latest.

Your 2009 To-Do List

Start Planning For 2009 Now

Email Is The Most Popular Online Activity

Email Fundraising Success Story

How To Sync Email With Customer Lifecycles

A Question Of Trust

December 10, 2008 on 9:18 am | In Big Boy Marketing, Blogs, Consumer Behavior, Email Marketing, Marketing, Online, PR, Promotion, Public Relations | No Comments

Forrester Research has a new study indicating consumers don’t trust corporate blogs. In fact, only 16 percent of respondents say they trust corporate blogs. According to a story in Online Media Daily,

That makes them the lowest-rated source of reliable information among 18 categories Forrester asked about including Web portals, print newspapers, radio and personal blogs. “Email from people that you know” rated highest in trustworthiness, at 77%. So should companies simply give up on blogging? No, says Forrester. The lack of credibility stems from corporate blogs’ focus on self-promotion, pushing products and services at the expense of two-way communication with customers.

Typical old school corporate behavior: broadcasting not engaging in dialogue. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think corporations can use their blogs to tell their stories. Got a critic blasting you? Then, the corporation can use the blog to tell its side of the story. Want to tout what your employees are doing outside of the work environment? Excellent use of a blog. Need to air some corporate news. That’s OK, too. How about developing an online community for customers? Even better. Just stay away from blatant product promotion.

Corporate blogger, how are you using your blog?

What are others saying about this topic?

How Trusted Is Your Corporate Blog?

Are They Worth Doing?

People Don’t Trust Corporate Blogs 

Socialize With Us

November 24, 2008 on 9:48 am | In #smcharlotte, Blogs, Customer Service, Email Marketing, FaceBook, feedburnerfeed101, Marketing, My Creative Team, Networking, RSS, Social Media, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Web 2.0 | No Comments

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let me say I appreciate the time you spend with us and your thoughtful comments on this blog. We are here to listen as well as speak to our peers and customers. You can subscribe to our blog via Feedburner.

Beyond this blog, My Creative Team is sociable in other ways. So, feel free to join our conversation through our other social media vehicles. Here’s how:

You can follow MyCreativeTeam on Twitter, or become an MCT fan at Facebook. We have a Friendfeed, or you can stumble along with us via StumbleUpon.

My Creative Team’s award-winning monthly enewsletter, Think, is another way to follow us.  Sign up here.

We love social media and believe every company should be using these tools to connect with their key audiences. What do you think? How can we do a better job connecting with you?

Dusty Archives – September 2008 Edition

September 26, 2008 on 12:27 pm | In Advertising, Brainstorming, Brand, Branding, Creative, Creativity, Email Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing, Media, Media Relations, New Business, PR, Public Relations | No Comments

Dusty Archives - August 2008 Edition

Once again, it is time to sift through the dusty archives here at THINKing to pull out some gems you may not have seen the first time around. Let me know if there are some posts you particularly enjoyed and I’ll feature them in a future edition.

Shallow Brands

Creativity & You

It’s In The Cards

Activate Your Customers With Email

Good PR, Manipulative PR

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