Email Marketing Lead Generation Productivity Booster SEO and Paid Search in Boston

So I went to the Hyatt Harborside (right next to the airport with a nice view back on the Boston skyline, small place though) for the Salesforce event today. It was time well spent, even if just for getting to hear from a product manager directly. He was able to explain Apex in about 5 sentences better than anything I’ve read anywhere.

Apex is a language that you can query and script Salesforce with. It’s a new language that looks alot like a mashup of SQL and Java. They key is it runs on Salesforce servers. The product manager was a hardcore admin in a prior life and was talking about how they would set up a linux box out in the dmz to query SF and do cool stuff – for example hit the database once a day and round up all the contacts that sent in POs and send them the thank you message and kick the accounting system to send them an invoice. Sort of like Automated Procedures for Goldmine folk, but on steroids.

My hopes for finding a SF/Adwords ninja were dashed when I was one of the few (maybe only?) guy to raise his hand when they asked who was using it out of the probably 200+ people in the room. Either I really do have superpowers, or I was the one-eyed man in a room full of blind people.

Some other interesting stuff – ConVoq has webinars integrated into SF including VOIP, Dreamfactory has some project management and even SCM stuff that I need to check out. SalesGenius can tell you when your contacts are visiting your site (and also did a cool lead gen that got me a $5 Starbucks card). iNeo had some interesting stuff that automated the creation of landing pages. And one of these days I’ll get a chance to become an ExactTarget customer again, their integration is very cool and would take some labor out of the cycle and standardize outgoing messages.

Overall it’s time well spent to see what the next round of features will be. Also a major brainbuster – I gave Salesforce kudos for their ideaExchange – basically a Digg site for features for the product managers. I didn’t realize that this fit into a master plan for them of having startups create apps in apex – using ideaExchange as the perfect customer survey tool. They even have office space in the valley for these people to use, and of course VC will be trolling weekly. Brilliant! I’m buying shares this week.

Lead Generation Productivity Booster The Marketeer

Rock the Webinar 12 Ways

So I run these webinars. I have to admit it’s kind of cool doing a virtual classroom. A lot of pubs are charging 10-40k to do these events, I’ve managed to get a GoToMeeting account and a conference call line and do it for a fraction of the price. Although GoToMeeting is kind of in the doghouse with me right now (we were upgraded to GoToWebinar and it’s missing some of the functionality we used to have). C.C. Chapman ran a crazy event over in Second Life recently, anybody else doing anything interesting on the meeting front, or have questions about it?

After some thought, here are some tips on how to run a webinar (How about “J-Funk’s Webinar Best Practices”):

  1. A good webinar has 4 emails – thank for registering, 24 hour prior notice (exactly 24 hours), 1 hour prior notice, day after thank you with a link to the recording.
  2. If you are playing a recorded presentation get a patch so you can run the sound from the source directly out to the line.
  3. No speakerphones. Polycoms rock, but not here.
  4. 45% Attendance is good.
  5. Cough up the cash for a good conference call line, the freebie services fall short.
  6. If possible automate the entire registration process (put your leads in salesforce and set up your emails for #1 as automated processes.
  7. If your presenter is new, or this is the first time the pitch is being done, record it rather than running live.
  8. Have a second system in your control room so you can always see and hear what attendees see.
  9. This second system should have all the same software and content on it as the first so it also serves as your disaster plan.
  10. Even if you have a complete disaster it’s not that big a deal. Apologize to everyone, and send them the link to the recording (unless they are paid attendees, then you have to do a little more to make good).
  11. Always do a follow up survey (I’ve found surveymonkey useful), you never know when you’ll need data on performance.
  12. In the survey as about the quality of the content, the entire user experience, including the phone and meeting software.
Email Marketing Lead Generation Productivity Booster The Marketeer

HTML vs. Text

Today I finally got around to examining test results of my HTML vs. Text email experiment.

For anyone that missed the earlier post – there are two basic “flavors” of email – HTML, the same language that web pages are made up from (which displays pictures and includes links), and just straight text. If you’re old like me you’ll think of this as what the paper that came out of a typewriter looks like (link for the children). In the dark ages at the dawn of time (1996), all you could do was text. Then email programs added html support and email got a lot more exciting.

Then the PPC crowd showed up (pills, porn, casinos) and emails got a little ugly, and people realized that when your email program shows you a graphic, it’s being pulled from a server and you are leaving a footprint (the sender can tell that you opened it). This is why in the latest version of Outlook and other mail programs may have you go through an extra step to see the graphics for senders that the program doesn’t recognize.

For text email the basic rule was “Put the important links at the top.” For every line you have to scroll, another reader gives up and very few make it to the bottom of the message. HTML changed that. You could have an image call attention to a link and it could outperform others.

Enter 2007, things are changing. Many people are using devices like blackberries that prefer text only email. Many email clients and spam defenders block HTML. Many of the Vertical Publications I advertise with have switched back to text email. And so the challenge was thrown – should our HTML email switch to text?

I hoped that HTML would win because the tracking data is valuable to me – who opened and who converted. Text can only tell you about conversions. My list was split – 75% sent the control (HTML) and the other 25% text. I also had a second list I was testing for additional data that was sent the HTML list.

The Result: HTML Victorious! Both messages performed well on the first links but improved layout in HTML is the critical factor. By using two columns we draw attention to attention to the lead stories in both columns. The lead story in the second column outperformed the same story down at position 4 in the text message by 7X. This begs the question – ok, so you get more bites from HTML, but did more text messages get through? The fact is, without graphics to track, I don’t know. But I do know this – at best my deliverability is 90% (number sent – bounces and unsubs I got). At worst it would only be as good as the open rate for the HTML message – 20% (otherwise there’d be no need to test). Even if text sends perfectly (90%), that’s only a 4x improvement over HTML, not enough to offset the 7x benefit of the layout. Layout beats deliverability, HTML wins.

Your results may vary.

Daily Life Productivity Booster

Defend Against Social Networks – The Rule of 2

As a hip, swinging Web 2.0 kind of guy/gal, I’m sure you have the same problem – every other week, at minimum, you get an invite to join YASN (Yet Another Social Network). After a while your inbox is crammed with notices and spam from a bunch of websites have names with no vowels, and no traffic.

Fear naught, the answer is here! The defense is “JFunk’s Rule of 2”. Anytime I’m asked to join YASN I make a mental note of the name of the network and if I ever get asked again (this is where the 2 part comes in…) I’ll join. I figure that if a social network can’t get on my radar from more than one source, it’s probably not going to make it anyplace.

Not the most earth shattering post, but for some reason I feel much better on passing up an invite for YASN… “Oh, I’m sorry, we just have rules about these things, It’s not that I have anything against giving my personal data to some group nobody has ever heard of before”.

In other news we had the work Yankee Swap. I got a candle (not a guy’s gift), swapped for some lottery tickets (which always move on), swapped for a Mag-lite flashlight. I was happy with that but then that got swapped out for a cheaper no-name flashlight. I would have preferred the Best Buy gift certificate I threw in the ring, alas…

Productivity Booster SEO and Paid Search The Marketeer for the Treo

About a month ago I noticed that with the exception of a “dummies” book there were very few print resources out there on the big SF so I decided to turn to the blogosphere. I stumbled across and found a post that they were looking for usability testers for the next release of Salesforce for the Treo.

Because I was an alternate I never got an NDA, but I’m not going to yap and betray Melissa, who gave me the guided tour. The one thing that I liked the most is already in the existing version – the ability to see the latest Opportunities that have Closed as Wins. It’s a cool system but I really need to upgrade my Treo 600 to take advantage of it. In other SF news I still have not been able to get the Google AdWords/Salesforce integration to work. My server only likes forms that use “Submit” and I need to use a different term if I want the SF snippet to work. More experimenting this week to see if I can get that to work. I’m also doing a bunch of hygiene with Ringlead and that’s working well.

Daily Life Lead Generation Productivity Booster The Marketeer

Just calling to check in

About a year ago I attended a session on how to sell on the phone by Jeff Hoffman of Basho Strategies. He brought up a point that’s become a pet peeve of mine – people calling just to check in. Any time I get a call from somebody trying to sell me something, they’re “just calling to check in”. I immediately noticed I do it all the time. Whenever I’d call someone to bug them about something, or try to sell them something, I was really calling just to check in.

I’ve given up answering my phone, everybody gets to leave voicemail and then I can sort through them every hour or as necessary. As soon as I hear “Hey, it’s X and I’m just calling to check in…” I hit the delete key and move on. I’ve picked up at least an hour a week. I’m wondering if there’s a future in phone sales at all, or has my heart just turned to stone? Is it wrong for me to make change when I throw a $5 in the homeless guy’s cup over at the off-ramp to the Pike on Storrow Drive?

Geek Stuff Productivity Booster

Embedding YouTube in a WordPress Post

Ok, so I thought that last post would be easy… how hard could it be to embed a YouTube video into a post? One hour later…

Thanks to this dude, Viper, and his WordPress video plugin, it rocks.

Brain Buster Geek Stuff Productivity Booster The Marketeer

Multimedia-Content Management System

So I got a demo of Brainshark about a week ago. The idea of a Multimedia-Content Management System was a bit of a brainbuster for me. To boil it down – now that anybody with a decent computer and the right software can create some kind of multimedia presentation, you need a system to manage these presentations, better yet make them simple to create and host. It was funny because I talked to some people over there a couple of years ago before I started working at MarketingSherpa.

I had to go with a hyphen to make it clear that this is not a Content Managment System (CMS) with a Multimedia interface, but rather a tool to manage media that includes audio and video. I was impressed with the system, but the content generators I am working with now are extremely technical so simplifying the process is not a pain point for me (yet). We are using Camtasia to generate video files and I’ve found that a Shure SM-58 mic into a Mobile Pre USB does a great job of capturing audio.

The UI reminded me of Macromedia Breeze, a tool I have not had a chance to try out. Last time I tried to get a copy it was around the Adobe acquisiton and it was hard for me to even figure out who to call to buy it, I just gave up.

Enough rambling, I’m off to bed… did you listen to the podcast yet?

Geek Stuff Productivity Booster The Marketeer

Second Life versus GoToWebinar

I’m going to be talking in Second Life (SL) on Thursday as part of a CaseCamp. CaseCamp is when a bunch of Marketeers get together and talk about stuff they’ve been trying (at least that’s what I’ve been told, this is my first). I’m looking forward to it because I’d written off Second Life, it’s very cool but First Life is kicking my ass right now so I don’t really have the time to figure out how to get my Avatar to stop dancing or where to buy a shirt for a virtual person. When I heard about CaseCamp though, I jumped on it (it’s all about the content, yadda yadda yadda).

I’m interested to see how it compares to other online collaboration tools. Between the new version of GoToMeeting and a good conference call service that’s a combination that may be an overpowering heavyweight to a challenger like Second Life and Skype, but we’ll put it to the test on Thursday.

My prediction? Yes, prediction. Pain. (Sorry, just carried away with an obscure Rocky III reference, I may even see the new one.) G2M can handle 200+, SL’s servers aren’t in that weight class yet, but I’m only about 3 hours ahead of a SL n00b so we’ll see what I might be missing.

Productivity Booster

SalesForce – Holiday Cheer, Handling Pat

Things have been a bit crazy, I got back from Search Engine Strategies Chicago last night, I didn’t know about the Yahoo party in advance so I had no chance to network at all. I was hoping to find someone in a similar size company to trade best practices and war stories with. At least I did get to pick up some CheeseCorn, a Chicago must-have.

I have notes on my laptop with a whole list of topics but I’m not about to boot that up now. So here’s the latest SalesForce tips – we’re doing a holiday gift, some pretty cool mugs if I do say so myself. I’ve added a field in SF for contacts so the reps can check the box if they want them to get one. This way our admin can run a report and generate labels in one shot.

I saw another salesforce installation where a smart admin added a gender field to avoid embarassing situations with “Pat” or “Chris” this also comes up with names outside of your home country. CheeseCorn for Pat!