How Many Marketing Emails is Too Many?

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In our estimation, the twenty year history of email marketing can be charted into three distinct time periods. Each time period is marked by a unique theory about best email marketing practices.

Stage One

In the very early days, the wild west of email marketing, companies could send as many emails as they wanted to. Email was so new and consumers were just getting used to the medium as a way to keep themselves aware of what deals and promotions were available. It was so new and effective that consumers were very responsive.

Stage Two

This early stage gave way to the crowded inbox period. This period is marked by an increasing consumer desire to eliminate clutter. Companies, for the first time, were seen as sending unwanted emails that we, as consumers, didn’t ask for. Email because a primary source of all kinds of communication – friends, coworkers, etc. And marketing and promotional emails were just noise in an already crowded channel.

In this middle period, companies were put on notice. Too many emails would get you on the blacklist. Consumers were eager to unsubscribe and hit the spam button. Marketers had to be more cautious, which ended up leading to higher quality – both in terms of email content and strategy.

It also led Google, and other email providers to develop better processes and filters to design email that was more convenient for the end user. That meant separating promotional emails from other types of emails.

Stage Three

Now we are entering, or have entered, a third stage of email marketing. This third stage is designed around these new filters and folders, where consumers have more choice and more control. The companies that are winning with email marketing now have responded to consumer demand and behavior, earning and working to maintain constant authority from their customer base, who actively subscribe to emails that they receive value from.

The bad thing is that companies that never figured out how to win with email are now lost. The good news, though, is that for the companies that managed to successfully transition or develop smart email programs for this stage are performing even better than before.

Recent reports attribute up to 40x returns on email marketing investment. It remains the marketing channel with the single highest ROI.

How Many is Too Many

The question of how many emails is too many is one that each company has to answer for themselves. And that’s why it’s a question we all have. Because there is no best practice solution, no answer that I, or any other expert can offer.

So long as you are delivering value, and seeing the response rate required to exceed your investment in the medium, you can keep sending those emails. So long as you are personalizing the experience for your users, segmenting and scheduling your sends so that emails have a purpose, meeting or exceeding consumer expectations, you will continue to succeed.

No amount of marketing emails is too much if you are keeping your subscribers happy.

When it’s Time to Change Your Prices

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First, a fact. Too many people at too many companies see price as a constant. They believe in the “set it and forget it” mindset when it comes to pricing. Once you have settled on a price for your product or service, you lock it in and never re-evaluate it.

I hope we can all agree that this is lunacy.

Price is one of the key levers that marketers have at their disposal. And to ignore it is to settle for sub-optimal performance.

But that still begs the question, how do you know when it’s time to change your prices?

Here are a few clues to look for:

1. Yours peers have changed their prices

Any significant change in competition deserves your attention. And if competitive pricing changes – up or down – it could be a signal that the market is about to shift. While I do not believe in matching your competitor’s prices, I do believe in paying attention to when it changes.

When your competition raises prices, it could be due to an increase in demand that they are seeing. Are you seeing it to? Why not?

If they lower their prices, it could be that they are trying to steal market share, either from you or from your other competitors. How are you going to respond?

2. You are releasing an upgrade

Changes in your offering might lead to changes in your pricing. If you are increasing the value for your customers, you might consider asking them to pay more for that value. Some companies may offer multiple versions of a product – such as a premium option, which costs more – while others will simply replace their old product with a newer, better one. Regardless of your strategy, take the time to review your pricing strategy every time you come out with a product change.

3. You are rebranding

When your company is going through a brand transition, it is most probably because you are aiming to reposition yourself within the industry. A new position might require a new price.

For example, a value brand might decide that they need to reposition themselves as a luxury brand. But chances are that the market won’t buy the shift if you are still offering your products at a lower price than the competition.

You need to know who your target market is and what they can afford.

4. You are seeing a shift in buyer behavior

Demand in many categories ebbs and flows over time. Famously, New York City umbrella vendors raise their prices when it’s raising. That’s because they are smart enough to know that’s when demand spikes. To meet the rising demand, and maximize their profits, they raise their prices.

Like the umbrella vendors, your company needs to be aware of when demand rises and falls. You should be able to sustain a higher price when you see the most demand, and shift lower when demand falls.

Conclusion

Price is a variable input which will affect sales and revenue. Use it to maximize growth at your company by recognizing when it’s time to change.

Does SMS Marketing Actually Work?

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SMS, or text messaging, has been a channel used by marketers to communicate with prospective customers for years. But most companies don’t dare try it, or have never considered it. Why is that?

If you ask them, they will most likely tell you it’s because SMS marketing doesn’t work. Or they may hedge by saying that it “probably” won’t work for them.

But how do they know if they’ve never tried it? As marketers, it’s our job to test. Test new offers, new copy, new channels.

The truth is, SMS marketing exists because companies have made it work for them. And it’s your job to find out whether or not it can work for you too.

What Can You Use SMS Marketing For?

  1. Lead Nurturing – If your company uses a lead generation and follow up strategy as part of the selling process, then SMS can fit nicely into your nurturing program. Following up with those customers who have expressed interest via text can be a convenient way to spur them to take the next step.
     
  2. Promotional Offers – If you have the phone numbers for your existing customer base, SMS can be a perfect tool to generate follow on purchases. Send text messages anytime you have a special offer or discount to share.
     
  3. Confirmations and Welcomes – We’re used to email as a channel for simple communication with new customers. But SMS can accomplish the same thing and may help your company stand out from the crowd.
     
  4. Service Requests – Convenient customer service can go a long way to establishing customer loyalty with your brand. SMS is a channel that some customers may find more convenient than traditional outlets like phone or live chat.
     
  5. Events – Whether you host or participate in events, brick and mortar or digital, you can use SMS to invite your fans and customers. Webinars, product launches, trade shows, and talks are all tools in an event marketer’s belt. And SMS can be a great way to get the word out.

SMS marketing works for many companies. And the only way to know whether or not it will work for yours is to try it.

We should never ignore or assume a marketing strategy won’t work for us. If we do, as marketers, we risk missing out on true opportunities to grow our businesses.

Who Are You Writing For?

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There is a tendency among those charged with writing the marketing copy for any website, email, or advertisement to ignore their audience. This is not intentional, but rather, results from a natural human tendency to see things from our own perspective rather than others’.

But marketers should know, ignoring your audience is not the way to win customers. So the question becomes:

Who Are You Writing For?

Often, the answer to this question is simple. If you are writing copy for your website, you are writing for the many visitors who come to your site each day in search of a solution to their problem. If you are writing copy for an advertisement about your new product, you are writing for the prospective customer who is unaware of said product and all of its benefits.

Rather than trying to imagine this vague notion of your audience, though, you should seek to get as specific as you can. This is why companies create buyer personas, representative descriptions of a target customer group.

Rather than writing for “all website visitors”, you are writing for Susan, a 50-year old married woman with adult children who lives in a wealthy suburb and makes weekly trips to the grocery store. Rather than writing for “prospective customers unaware of your product”, you are writing for Tom, a 30-year old technology enthusiast who lives in a big city and takes public transportation to and from the office every day.

When you know who you are writing for, it changes the way you write.

Now you can speak directly to your audience, identifying how it is that your products or services can improve their life, instead of speak in vagaries, using the type of language that your employees might use to describe the product but means very little to someone who has never heard of your company before.

Sell the benefits, not the features. And talk in words or phrases that your customers would use, because that is how you are going to grab, and hold, their attention.

Tips for Measuring Marketing Effectiveness

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The following is a guest post by Raul Harman. Raul is editor in chief at Technivorz blog. I have a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. You can reach me out on Twitter.

Marketing isn’t a static aspect of a business. That’s why marketers follow it constantly and make endless adjustments to optimize for better performance.

Without measuring the effects marketing has on overall business, there is no way of knowing its results. If left unchecked, this can cause pointless spending that leaves people questioning its value to the company.

However, marketing is very much capable of delivering results, and this can be proven. All you need to do is measure it.

Take a look at these tips and metrics for measuring marketing effectiveness. Use them to evaluate your own marketing efforts, and they will help you understand how important it actually is for your business.

Determine KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

KPIs are metrics used to measure how effective a business is at achieving its key goals. It also helps determine whether your ROI is positive or negative.

When talking about marketing, this translates into metrics the track and measure performance across multiple channels. By setting up KPIs to measure the relevant features of marketing, you have an accurate, data-based overview of what tactics work for your business.

While KPIs include multiple types of metrics, from conversion to engagement, deciding what to follow can be a difficult task. That’s why you need to focus most of your attention on actionable metrics, such as retention, which calculates the revenue from repeated business.

This also makes you stop measuring vanity metrics that don’t drive the business forward, and concentrate on actually measuring marketing for performance.

Track Conversion Rates

Conversion rates are used to determine how effective your marketing efforts are at driving leads along the sales funnel. Tracking them across multiple channels allows you to check how much the leads are converting into customers during the buyer’s journey.

You can also use the conversion rates to measure the effectiveness of your content. This will help you make adjustments to increase content performance, especially when using A/B tests to double the conversion. So, while you may think that another CTA button on your landing page is too insignificant, it might boost the clickthrough rate and turn a couple of leads into buyers.

Generate Relevant Data

While marketing relies heavily on analytical tools to generate data, sales and customer support don’t. They interact with real people on a daily basis, which allows them to gather more accurate information and know why, for example, the company saw a spike in sales during the last month.

Staying oblivious to this kind of data prevents marketing from knowing how to act and react in certain situations.

One way of getting around this problem is through performing paid surveys online. It allows marketers to receive relevant feedback from customers and align campaigns according to first-hand information, as well as analytics.

To generate the most authentic results, remember to target a large test group, and stay focused on one piece of information at a time.

Calculate Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

The cost of acquiring new customers is a key marketing metric for determining how much a business needs to spend in order to earn. It also has the potential of being used to establish the marketing budget, and prove the spending is warranted.

It’s also fairly simple to calculate. Add up all the spending on marketing for one month (including payroll) – that’s your monthly marketing budget. Now, divide it with the total number of customers acquired for that same period. So, for example, if you spend $5,000 per month on marketing and receive 50 new customers, your CAC is $100.

Regularly calculating this number gives you an overview of how productive your marketing efforts are, and how much you will need to spend to move it forward.

Work Out Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)

After knowing how much it costs to acquire a customer, you will need to calculate how much that customer is worth to your company. This is their LTV. To calculate a customer’s LTV, multiply the standard amount the customer spends with the number of repeated purchases and the average retention time.

Say your customer has an LTV of $75, and your CAC remains $100 - that’s not good for business. However, if your customer annually spends $75 over four years, your business makes $600, so the cost of $100 for their acquisition is reasonable.

Since no customer is the same, comparing CAC with LTV lets you figure out the effectiveness of your marketing when it comes to delivering the right kind of customer to your business.

Conclusion

Use these performance metrics to see how much business is being driven solely by marketing. This will not only measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts across all channels, but also their quality.

Remember to use multiple metrics over a longer period of time. In doing so, you will have a blueprint of how, where, and when to invest money into marketing in order to achieve quick results and long-term goals.