WriterAccess Webinar Archive

Driving Email Marketing Results

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 – 1:00 PM ET

Things may change in the web-marketing world, but one thing seems to be consistent; when done right, email marketing works. However, there's a fine line between bulk email marketing and spam.

In this month's content marketing webinar, Byron White of ideaLaunch and Manas Kumar of Genesis Interactive (joining us all the way from New Zealand!) will offer insights on the technology and methodology of email marketing.

In this webinar:

  • You'll walk away with concrete examples of marketing strategies that are proven to engage readers and result in quantifiable action.
  • You'll learn how to make sure your mass email campaigns are not blocked by ISPs and junk email filters.
  • You'll hear the latest information about new email distribution methodology.

Slidedeck Download

The slidedeck from this webinar is available for download.

Video Transcription

Byron: Welcome, everyone, to the 14th Go-to-Meeting presentation and our monthly content writing webinar. My name is Byron White. I'm the host of this webinar, and I'm going to spin through my presentation and see if we can start away. In the meantime, Manas is in the background. He's the founder and CEO of MaxMailHQ and a number of other companies. We will look to get Manas's presentation up on the screen here in just a few minutes, one way or the other.

So, without further ado, I assume everyone can see my screen and hear me talk. If you can't hear me talk, that's another problem we can take up later.

I'm going to go through a couple of announcements regarding idealaunch and what's going on. Then, I'm going to go through some general basics of the content marketing revolution that I like to refer to. Last, I'm going to go through 10 tips for e-marketing success from my perspective, and then Manas is going to get a bit deeper involved in the presentation with email marketing.

First, I have a couple of announcements to make.

If you need content for your next email marketing campaign, idealaunch has a fabulous new service called WriterAccess that some of you may or may not be aware of. It's a great place to enter an assignment, have a writer pick up that assignment, and literally complete the work to your specification. If you're not happy with what they created, you don't pay. We have literally thousands of writers over there waiting for assignments to be picked up. We've got about 200 clients since we launched it about two months ago. It's a great program. We actually us it ourselves for ContentSix.com, another service of ideaLaunch. So, great opportunity over there for you to get some fantastic content created.

Number two, there's a new case study that I launched on the homepage of ContentSix.com, another service of ideaLaunch, that I think you'd find very interesting. I spent a lot of time creating it, so feel free to download that. It talks about more specifically how we track the ROI for content marketing, so I think you'll find that quite interesting.

Number three, we have a whole bunch of new resources that we loaded up into idealaunch, including some guides, some ebooks, some case studies, and all the speaking decks are going to be loaded up – I think by Monday. I've spoken 26 times now.

So, let's see, now let's move into my part of the fabulous presentation here.

The content marketing revolution.

I'm going to spin through these fairly quickly and see if we can help everyone really understand what's happening out there. I'll begin this discussion by making a statement, and that is the following: Forward-thinking companies are starting to think like publishers, gathering ideas, developing stories, and publishing content that engages their readers and keeps them coming back for more. I call this content marketing.

In general, content marketing begins with the art of listening to your customers' wants and needs, and that is probably the trickiest part of this process. There are some very important tools and techniques that you need to learn to listen to what your customers are saying. Certainly questionnaires or focus groups are some of the old-school methods that we used to gather information on our customers' wants and needs. We can now look at our search boxes. We can now look at what's happening in the social media sphere and what people are saying about our brand. We can look at analytics to see what pages on our websites are more popular. We can look at outside keyword popularity to look at the most popular phrases and topics to be writing about.

But it's tricky stuff, and this is either where you're successful or fail regarding content marketing. It's also the science of delivering content to your customers in a compelling way. When we did a survey earlier in 2010 on the types of content assets people were planning on rolling out in 2010, it was quite remarkable how wide that net is really being cast now. People are printing physical books – we can actually print books for people at Content Six. We're an on-demand book publisher. Of course, there's blog posts and ebooks and email – the reason we're here today. There are just incredible things happening out there with regard to publishing and you need to get in tune with that and really look for opportunities to make that work.

We're constantly testing campaigns with AB testing and variant testing, and that includes email marketing. You need to test different segments and different offers and look at the conversion rates. Look at the click through rates. Look at the activity and action people are taking. I like saying to people, "If you're not testing your webpages, you're living in the dinosaur age."

Next, we need to make sure you're measuring reader engagement and their desire for more. In looking at all this great data, I've done a number of different webinars in the last year or so regarding ROI measurement. Now, you can get super granular and show your CFO actual return on investment for email marketing. We're going to talk about that more later today, but also your overall online marketing efforts. There's lots of ways to track ROI—it's getting very, very exciting, which is why I think 2011 will be the year of content marketing for everyone. It's all starting to come together.

It's also catching more readers orbiting at high speeds, and that needs to be done with apps and podcasts and other things beyond your traditional reach. You need to engage them with lots of entertaining concepts and ideas to make it all work.

Next, it's developing a pipeline that will educate your readers and earn trust and drive sales. Certainly, offering content, accumulating leads, and scoring those leads with technology like SalesForce and using trial scores and scoring content at the activity level—it's truly remarkable how content can completely transform your business and turn it into a real pipeline to drive sales.

I want to talk about scoring content for just one second. When you download an asset or sign up for a webinar, it is now possible with ideaLaunch where we bring in leads directly with SalesForce. We score those leads based upon engagement, we have a database of about 28,000 prospect customers and we're able to see who's interacting with our content. Who's engaging with what we have to offer? That is really what you need to be doing, including your email marketing. It's all about the engagement factor.

Let me now run through 10 tips that I've put together for you for email marketing. I've assembled some pretty interesting data.

One, make it short for the long haul of the relationship. This is a great email that I got from PayPal. You cannot get anymore short, concise, and to the point. Reach 90 million PayPal users? Okay, if I want to advertise, I'll click on that. Facebook 101? If I'm interested in some education, there you go. If I'm interested in more education. How about the wildcard Go? I love that. I'm not even sure where that takes you, but the bottom line is that short and concise is really what you need to be thinking about, at least as you begin experimenting with a variety of different email campaigns.

Emails are, of course, telling stories. I'm going to talk a little bit more about that at the end of my tenth slide, but here's an interesting email that was sent to me. Targeted—spelled my name correctly. That's always a first barometer for me on whether they picked my name up with actual intelligence or whether they just scraped it somewhere. But, the net of it is that there are words like interesting that pop out. "The ROI from social commerce is very interesting." This is at least giving me some data that's starting to catch my attention. Do I want to learn more about their case studies and their clients? Possibly, but at least it's beginning to tell a story.

Next, we want to look at customer service as the new black. So, I rented a car. I was in Denver for the Thanksgiving weekend. I was pleasantly surprised to get an email back from Hotwire saying, "Hey, we kind of care about you. Did you pick up the car that you reserved? Were you happy with the service?" I'm not saying this is a perfect email, but what I'm saying is that people are using emails as touch points.

I remember long ago putting together some sales training material when I was the director of worldwide sales for a company. I went out to 16 markets in five different countries and did a bunch of sales training. One of the core elements of the training was something called touch points, and back in those days—I'm going to date myself, but about 20 years ago when I was rolling this out, touch points were faxes, personal meetings, phone calls. We didn't have much more than that as touch points with prospective customers. Now, we're seeing social media engaging with conversations, using social media as touch points. Email is, of course, a touch point. The more touch points you have, the more trust you build, which is probably the core root of why email marketing is successful and why it works. It's creating an opportunity to get in front of somebody, earn trust, and build a relationship—to turn somebody from a browser into a believer and a believer into a buyer. So, use those touch points in every part of the funnel, including the tail end of the funnel when you've already won business with the customer.

It's funny, I was showing this particular email to someone in my office as we were working on putting this together, and I said, "What are your thoughts on this? Do you like it, do you not like it?" Someone in my office actually didn't like this pure visual approach. I actually quite liked it. I still think a picture says a thousand words. This, of course, is the name of the company DGIinvisuals, so why not get visual with your newsletter? I thought you'd find this interesting. Could someone create an infomatic newsletter that was very informational and graphic in its approach to information? I think that is frankly the future of email marketing and even marketing in general. Visualizing a process and procedure—a series of events—and showing how that shows ROI.

Happy peeps, as in your employees or people, plus happy customers is a happy business. This was an actual image on an email that was sent out from a company that was showcasing a summit that they went to and more than likely some happy clients that they hooked up with. The net of it is, smiling happy people that are either customers or employees or both is a positive stamp of approval and can help your business grow. Think about that as you're casting out images on the email marketing that you send out.

This is an interesting email that went out and I wanted to describe what I think is going on here. So, everybody probably knows StubHub. If not, they are a ticket reseller for events, particularly sporting events. I think that what's probably happening with this particular email is that they're beginning to build up evidence of what events people want to go to, which is, of course, helping them drive ticket sales. What are the most popular concerts and sporting events and theatrical events? The more popular they are, the more they can justify higher price points. Whether anyone else that got this email picked up on that reality, I think it's a nice interesting way to gather data.

Another really interesting idea of gathering data—you might be familiar with a company called Faircast that was eventually purchased by Microsoft and is now integrated into Bing. That business model began by gathering tons and tons of historical data on airline ticket prices. Imagine they were able to develop an algorithm that would predict airline ticket prices and whether it was a good time to buy or bad time to buy based on historical data. As the viral marketing part of the business grew and more and more people started looking for airline ticket prices, they were beginning to build up their own data intelligence on whether it was a good time to buy or bad time to buy. The more people that were searching on that data, the more they could incorporate that live data into the overall plan. Gathering data might be a very interesting strategy for email marketing and in terms of driving your business.

I love these illustrations put together by Borders. They're happy, they're positive, they're not the traditional bright red that we're seeing. They're a little bit more toned down, they're tied to the brand. Yet, they're fresh. They look original. They look happy. I think illustration needs to find its way into email and it helps immediately distinguish it from emails that are more traditional in putting together stock images and stock photos that are blocky and square and just look like they were slapped in and not put together with thought or design. I want you to really think about the design of your newsletters. In my opinion, any custom design—any bends and movements of visuals can really help you to earn trust by showing that you care about your product; you care about your design. Hire great designers to design at minimum template structures for you, but even hire them to bring in custom imagery or illustration to help light it up.

Everybody loves a personal invitation, so when we talk about email marketing as if we constantly have to be pushing out our products, our features, our benefits, our services to sell and to convert. Wait a second here—what about a simple invitation? I happen to play hockey on Sunday nights and wanted to show something super personal. I'm not sure that everyone should get an invitation...But why can't you invite your clients to an event? Even if you're having a Christmas party, why not invite every client you have all over the country to your Christmas party? Sure, most of them won't show up, but this is an email marketing invitation that's using something different, something other than your standard push marketing. I would have you think hard about an invitation.

Next, let's try to destress your customers. This happens to be a local yoga facility newsletter that I subscribe to, but the net of it is that I love the image down there, and I love the concept of bringing some stress relief to your clients. Why can't you have some clever input into every newsletter that you send out? Most of the customers you're sending to are probably stressed out at their job and under a lot of pressure. Why can't you have a component to your newsletter that is helping them destress. I think you could do some really funny and interesting things and also some things that help touch their soul, if you will.

Speaking of touching your soul, next I wanted to give you some insights into content creation, which is the core part of any email marketing campaign. That is, how do you distinguish between information and a story? Information fills you up and story moves you on. I won't go through all of these. There are a few I think are really important. Those are: what is information? You can cite information. You can cite facts about your products, benefits about your products, features. That's what we constantly want to do is to talk about the benefits and features of our products, but if you can learn to tell a story about your products, that becomes more exciting. It's something you would want to pass on. Something that would touch or inspire you or motivate you to take action. This is going to be the year—2011—where we begin to realize that we have a responsibility as we market our service and the responsibility is beyond just selling our wares. No one likes to be sold to. We all want to be entertained and excited and motivated, and we all want to believe that we're making the right decision when we purchase, and that decision is not always based upon how good your product is. We need to stop talking about static things and data and information that fills us up and, instead, we need to make the transition over to becoming storytellers, and it's very hard to do that.