June's Marketing Blog

My colleague Monika and I both went to conferences related to marketing recently.  She went to a copywriting seminar and I went to a publishing conference.  I thought I would share the collective wisdom we were reminded about during the conferences.  None of this is revolutionary, just things that in the heat of the moment we all forget to do.  As always some of you are incredibly sophisticated in your marketing, so please add things that you have tried to this blog posting.

Test, Test, Test

I have written about testing in other marketing blogs, but we were reminded once again about the value of testing.  Here are some of the things we have tested at Staffing Industry Analysts:

  1. Length of headlines - we have found that longer headlines are opened more often
  2. The use of the word 'free.'  In spite of what we have all heard about spam filters and how one should never use the word 'free,' free works - try it
  3. Offers - we constantly test offers, it always surprises us which ones work and which ones don't.  We have found that offers that affect the buyer personally work well
  4. Color - admittedly, we don't spend a lot of time testing color.  I know people who test every aspect of color.  Color of envelopes, color of paper, type color, font color, background color.  Think about it, color is important, you might get better results with a different color
  5. Timing - we have tested days of the week many times.  The best days for us for email are Tuesday and Wednesday.  Friday doesn't do as bad as you think it might, because so many people are mailing on Monday or earlier in the week.
  6. Messages - you want to make it as easy as possible for the user to consume your message.  You want to focus them to the topic at hand and get them to take action, testing your messages will help you find out what resonates with your audience

There are any hundred of things you can test in marketing.  Pick a couple and test, re-test and try some things that you were told you shouldn't do, it might pay off in the long run.

URL's

I have to say, we have done a really poor job with URL's, but we are focused on getting better.  The advice we received, DON'T use '/' in your URL's.  We have constantly put out URL's that look something like:  cws_summit -- don't do it.  We have stopped and have now purchased URL's that we use regularly, like www.cwssummit.com.  The URL without the '/' is easier to remember and doesn't require as much typing.  So, try to get your IT folks to purchase and implement the URL's you need for marketing.  If you don't have the time or money to create a separate landing page for the new URL, you can always have your IT people redirect to a current page that exists on your web site now.  At least you have focused the user to a simpler URL making it more likely that they will end up where you want them to end up.

Landing Pages

Since I brought up landing pages in the previous paragraph, a word about landing pages - they are important.  Yes, the collective wisdom is to create a separate landing page for every significant offer you make.  The point of the landing page is to have a focused message for the reader that is easy to consume and take action.  Sometimes landing pages get overly complicated and defeat the purpose.  Simple and actionable is what we were reminded to do with landing pages.

Store Pages

I know many of you don't have stores on your site, but for those of you who do -- the same rules apply for Store pages as do for landing pages.  Get the buyer to the store and get them to buy.  Don't complicate the buying process, get the information and process the order, and then make them another offer.  The wisdom is the user is buying right now, they have their credit card in front of them, and they just might buy more if you offer them something tangible and the moment of sale.  You have seen the process, other people who have purchased this book, also purchased this other book - it is called up-selling and many of us could do a better job with our stores and increase revenue at the same time!

Metrics and Tracking

There are so many things to track in marketing now:

  1. Web site hits
  2. Content consumed
  3. Bounce rates
  4. Reader attention
  5. Campaign statistics
  6. Revenue
  7. Returns
  8. List performance
  9. Response rates

I could go on.  Sometimes I think I need a business analyst in marketing just to keep up with all of the reports we produce - maybe that is in fact the answer - we need business analysts.  Again, I know that many of you have business analysts and you keep them busy daily.  For those of you who don't have the luxury of having a business analyst, here is the advice and reminder that we received.  Pick the metrics that are most important to your business, track them consistently over a period of time and understand the movement of the metrics.  Decide if the metrics that you are tracking are actually meaningful, if not, change them.  Make sure that the people in your company understand the metrics, define the language carefully so that it is understood if you are moving forward or not.  Your company's level of sophistication and the tools you have available will also foster your ability to track certain metrics.  There are many tools available and many of them are free or available for small amounts of money.  Please remember, every web tool tracks different variables and you will never get the same results with multiple tools.

One free web tool that is available is www.compete.com.  You can enter your URL and the URL of a competitor and get the sense of hits to your website versus your competitors.  They also sell web analytics. Try it out!  Another free tools is www.google.com/analytics.  (Google didn't adhere to the '/' remark)  Google wants you to buy Adwords, so they throw in the analytics for free.

Blacklists

At the conference I attended, one participant who was a large direct marketer checks their blacklistings daily.  Blacklists, for those of you who don't know are lists that say you are not a reputable email sender - in other words if you are on one of the many blacklists, you are considered a spammer.  It is easy to get on a blacklist and not that easy to get off.

Unless you are a huge direct marketer I don't think you need to check you blacklistings daily, but you should check them every other week.  If you don't check, then you are sending emails that aren't getting through.  Obviously, if you get blacklisted, you need to take the time to get off the blacklist.  This is a process.  You will need to contact the blacklist agencies; you will probably need to provide them with your marketing pieces, your opt out polices etc.  There are lots of blacklist agencies, some of them are:

The companies/organization/software above stop spam, but also create blacklists.

In the end

The job of marketing becomes harder and harder as there is more and more today.  Keep your head above water and test; create simple URLS, landing pages and store pages; measure your success and don't get blacklisted.

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