Email Marketing Productivity Booster

Effective Segmentation

A couple of weeks ago I had an epiphany an managing segmentation. I had been giving a lot of thought to one-to-one marketing vs. things like personas and how to go from the impressive strategy, to actually making it work as far as day to day logistics.

I’ve been doing a lot of work with Manticore as far as email tracks and delivering relevant content, but the revelation I had was that its not as much the content as effective list management. Once you can create and send custom content it’s much more important to be able to map out the sales and customer lifecycles in terms of what list individuals should be on at what time. More importantly – the huge benefit is when you can automate the management of addition and removal from specific lists. I think there’s a bigger picture here that I am starting to see about a second level of marketing automation.

Email Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Email

Marketing Over Coffee has released a number of eBooks, and the latest covers email. It’s meant to work as a primer, introducing you to key concepts that you need to get started (White Belt tactics), ramping up to things like testing (Black Belt), and then going all the way out to Taguchi Testing and more advanced concepts.

Chris has done the heavy lifting on the previous books, so I’m happy to finally have my contribution complete. It ended up being a lot more writing than I thought it would be, but I’m really excited that it’s getting out and hope that it will be a great resource for you.

Click here to download the Ultimate Guide to Email

Email Marketing

One to One Email Marketing vs. The Easter Bunny

David Meerman Scott wrote about his experience with an Email from American Airlines. Do check out that post first, but if you are too lazy to, the short version is he’s asking why he was sent an offer to buy 2,000 more miles to maybe use for a family trip when he has a quarter million in the bank and can already take them First Class anywhere in the world. He asked “What can we do about this?” and one of the comments mentioned one-to-one marketing.

I’m reminded of the  4 way street joke in Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy (offensive and totally not safe for work) when I hear this kind of talk. To spare you the obscenity of the street joke, if you think you can pull one-to-one off, you probably are also waiting for it to get delivered to you by Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny on their day off.

The big buzz word is segmentation. The theory is that if you segment the audience, you’ll eventually deliver a uniquely tailored message to everyone. The simple counter to this is that the more you segment, the smaller the group getting the offer. As a business are you more concerned about a small group that may be offended for whatever reason, or the group that will take you up on the offer? (Hint: One group generates revenue, the other includes some legitimate complainers, people with lots of cats, senior citizens with nothing to do, and people wearing the John Wall Signature tin foil hat to protect them from the Government’s mind control rays).

But that’s just a question of how much risk you want to take. There’s also a mathematical reason why you can’t do it:

  1. Your audience can be segmented infinite ways
  2. Every time you cut a segment you increase the complexity of your system exponentially
  3. As most Marketing departments struggle to get out single messages it becomes impossible to generate enough content to support all the possibilities in 10 segments (even if they are yes/no, 10 segments gives you 100 possible message combinations).
  4. If you really want to get granular – i.e. Not just “Is David in the 100k+ group – Yes/No, but instead “Less than 20k in the past year gets A, 20k-100k gets B, 100k+ gets C” the math starts to get ugly real fast – like one of those tables showing how fast bacteria grows.
  5. If you are a hardcore database marketer you may still be saying – no problem, I’ve got the server space to track 20 variables on all 6 billion earthings, and you’d be right – but here’s the big FU: That only works for one campaign. Let that marinate for a minute. Fast forward six months – campaign 2 kicks off, even in our nursery school scenario of 10 yes/no segments who is going to make sure that nobody gets the same message the second time around? (Now that you have 1,000 possible message combinations). Although only linear, that number will still hit the millions in no time. And the numbers are irrelevant because:
  6. Even with tiny numbers a year’s worth of campaigns are too complex for the human mind to work through, and even if you had a team of “Rainman” people that could, eventually someone will quit and be replaced with someone who doesn’t know the whole history.

So what can be done? Two things – you can use your CRM system to track your customer’s entire history but the important thing is not to chase a marketing fantasy but to use it so that sales can create a one-to-one experience. You can also have a list of customer traits short enough for the human mind to comprehend (are they in the 100k club, have they been pissed off in the past year, are they influential in winning us more customers) and segment on that.

Repeat, similar, and irrelevant offers are impossible to stamp out just because of volume and the infinite variation in our situations and the criteria (which may be rational) that we use to determine what is relevant for us. For everyone with 250k miles in the bank there’s one corner case of the guy about to fly all his buddies to SXSW for free, he’s only 1,200 miles short, and is so psyched he got that email (improbable yes, definitely not impossible).

Don’t waste your time fighting it, reap the reward from the happy customers who take you up on your great offer and apologize with a tip of the tin foil hat to anyone you happen to offend.

Update: Photo from hyperion327, thanks for using the CC license

Daily Life Email Marketing


Things have been a bit slow here at the blog, that’s because all the work lately has been behind the scenes. Finally the time has come, a lot of stuff is shipping this week. In fact all 3 of the major projects from the past 3 months have all come down to Tuesday.

At work we had a major product launch, that’s been eating up a ton of time, and just for fun let’s throw in the company kickoff and a bunch of powerpoint decks.

Marketing Over Coffee also had two big projects – for the past month I’ve been sitting on the secret of the next big interview – on Monday I finally dropped a half hour conversation with Seth Godin on his new book Linchpin.

A big chunk of Q4 last year was finishing an eBook an email marketing strategies. Right now the sponsor has exclusive rights to it but if you go over to Seth’s Squidoo page and vote up the Marketing Over Coffee interview and then tell me, I will see what I can do about getting you a copy.

Daily Life Email Marketing

It’s about the email

I have been writing for the past two weeks, it’s just that none of it has made it here. I’ve got about 20 pages of email best practices that’s coming together for an eBook.

That and getting a roof fixed, and continuing my pledge to work on actual projects including a top secret photo project and music too!

Here’s to being busy, I hope all is well with you.

Email Marketing Lead Generation Productivity Booster

Manticore and GoToWebinar

I had a Marketing Over Coffee listener ask me about using Manticore (Email, web analytic, demand generation) with GoToWebinar (Online meetings). I thought that this was too much “Inside Baseball” even for MOC, but it fits here.

Do you typically send out your webinar invitations as part of a Manticore Demand Booster Process? It gets sort of tricky because once someone uses the invitation to register for the webinar, then GTW sends them back a personalized URL for accessing the webinar.  As you know, GTW does a great job of managing registrations.  Post-webinar, it can also provide a list of attendees and a separate list of registered no-shows.

It seems that the easiest thing would be to wait until the webinar takes place, then start the demand booster process at that point using the lists of attendees and no-shows.

This is an interesting problem. I thing the big issue is that GoToWebinar doesn’t have an API (at least at my last check with their tech support). You could build all the same stuff (registration, follow up email) on your own site through Manticore and manage it all there.   That still wouldn’t solve the problem though, just change the direction of data you have to load – instead of pulling the reg list out of G2W, you’d be uploading the projected attendees into G2W, and since there’s no easy way to do that unless you want to start scripting something that goes through HTTP, and that makes my brain hurt.

I do send the invites out via Manticore, you can grab the HTML and load it right up. And a tip – if you include the “Register Now” button the tracking of opens will work over in the GoToWebinar reporting.

I don’t do webinars as part of any demand booster tracks, I don’t like anything to be in a track that is locked to a specific date, that really increases the labor required to reuse the track.

Hopefully by putting this out there, somebody will have a better idea…

Email Marketing

Making Your Email Newsletter Suck Less

An email newsletter is a challenging project, probably the most underrated from my experience. Everyone is under the impression that they are easy to do, and the reality is that it’s easy to a crummy one. An excellent and productive newsletter is a ton of work.

If you don’t have an email newsletter and you’d like to get a look at what your to-do list will be after you’ve done it for a year and realized how difficult it can be, check out this report from MarketingSherpa on the Dirty Dozen Email Mistakes. It will make you look smarter, and more importantly help you budget time and resources for what will grow into a project far beyond your initial expectations.

Email Marketing

Ghetto Style De-Duping

Ok, I’ve been getting flack for not having enough marketing stuff… so here’s some Excel Judo for you to work on.

You have a list of 8,000 contacts in excel, you need to de-dupe them (remove the duplicates). Here’s a quick way to clean up the majority of them:

  1. Sort by email address
  2. In the first open column create an “IF” statement (click the f(x) button and select “IF”). If the email address on this row equals the email address one cell above it then this cell is “1” if not “0”
  3. Copy that formula to all the rows
  4. Select that column and copy it
  5. From the command bar choose “Paste Special” and select “Values” – this strips out the formula and leaves the 1’s and 0’s
  6. Sort the table by this column with 1’s and 0’s and then delete all the rows of 1’s in one shot

Viola! You’re done. Now you could do this with a SQL command, but that’s a lesson for another day.

Email Marketing

Email is Going Nowhere

I’ve been reviewing stats from MarketingSherpa’s latest Email Marketing Benchmark Guide. It’s easy to get distracted by all the people in social media saying that email is dead and a thing of the past, but this survey of all the movers and shakers in the industry says otherwise. And I agree, although no longer the darling, both email and 30 second spots do get in front of a lot of eyeballs.

I’ve also found it useful to compare my open rates and other stats against the rest of the world to see how things are doing overall.

Email Marketing

More on Deliverability

Jason sent in a comment on a prior post discussing deliverability asking about web auto responders. This is a distinction that is important if you are not aware of your IT infrastructure – the mail that gets generated when someone fills out a form on your site may be coming from a different place than your bulk email.

This means that you may get differing deliverability rates, and may have some other strange issues. Although I have not seen any email providers offering this service, I have seen it bundled in CRM systems such as

I know… Deliverability is not the sexiest stuff…