Ron’s Predictions...

My Inbox is also my To-Do list. If there’s a message that is part of an important project it stays in the box until it gets done. This can be a great productivity booster – many times if I am unsure about the importance of a project I leave it in the inbox. If I don’t remember what it was about by the time it hits the bottom of the box (or if the original requestor hasn’t asked about it in the 4 months it took to get to the bottom of the inbox) that’s an alert that perhaps that TPS report (re: Office Space) wasn’t that urgent, or it’s time for me to get to something I have been putting off. I had started kicking a project around in the Summer that is moving again. As part of the first attempt to start this project I had asked some social media luminaries to give their opinions on some marketing techniques and whether they are gaining ground or dying. As most social media consultants are full of crap and/or have an aversion to real work, I only received a response from Ron. His response has made it to the bottom of the inbox, and as he had the courtesy to respond I cannot let decent content go unused (and Ron – if this is still your opinion you could cross-post to this and skip writing on Thanksgiving day!). I asked: Is eMail dying? 1)email is not dying — yet. Email is something that is very popular for people over a certain age. The younger folks don’t use email. They text message, instant message, send bulletins, etc. I don’t know what these folks are going to do when they need to get a job and...

Poisioned by Your Own Dogfood...

I don’t know if any other industries use this phrase, but it’s very common in software to talk about “Eating Your Own Dogfood” – in other words: Using the products that you make. You’d think this is basic “support the home team” kind of thing, but it doesn’t always happen, and when the word gets out it is usually a big PR problem. Now you can get the punchline when I tell you that we use the software development tool that we sell at work, and the server name is Alpo. This does lead to an interesting situation I’ve only seen twice, and the second time was last week. I get forwarded emails on a regular basis from companies that sell leads and other information, and occasionally from firm that append data. A data appending service will take your existing lists, and then try and fill in the blanks. This can be very helpful if you have a list of emails and are looking for mailing addresses, or vice versa. There are different methods to do this, ranging from fully automated (we know that HugeCorp uses first initial last name @ hugecorp.com for email, so just do that – and come on people! You can do that with excel yourself, for the love of god!), to completely manual – a team of callers updates and refreshes info. Be careful of these services to confirm that they don’t use your data to clean up everyone else’s… So my co-worker David (name changed to protect everyone involved), forwarded me a message from a data appending service. The email starts “Dear...

Sick Again

Unfortunately I have been fighting a cold this week so writing has been pushed to the back burner. The good news is that I now have a backlog of topics again! I did get Marketing Over Coffee out this week, which talks about email and Taguchi testing, among other things. I also got to catch a game at Fenway with Jose, and got some decent...

VirtualResponse Channels Dre...

This is the best marketing I have ever seen for an email company. The only downside to this is that if you don’t know Salesforce.com you won’t get all the jokes, otherwise,...

Direct Marketing, you know, Mailing People Stuff...

I started doing direct mail in 1997, and as hard as it is to believe, this was before email was huge. This was during my time at DCI (remember that whole tax fraud thing – see Breaking Rocks). Direct Marketing (DM) was king of all that it surveyed, and those in the know learned from DM News. DM News is the New York Times of direct marketing, the I-Ching, the bible, insert large important document reference here. I was elated to see an article today that lead off with a quote of mine. The funny part is that probably 99.9% of my friends and family (and probably you too, dear readers) don’t even know it exists, but to me it’s a great honor. But you didn’t come here to listen to my blather, and fear not – you should go back and click to the article and read it, it’s excellent stuff. It touches upon the difficulty of selecting a control group, using Half Life (which was new to me, and I love it), segmentation, long term results, and getting statistically valid results. It crystallized another point for me too – testing is not like experimenting because the test itself affects and taints future results. There are a bunch of other topics this naturally leads to, such as B2B vs. B2C, and how to find the optimum emailing frequency, but those are thoughts for another...

3 Important Things

America is drowning in processed sugar and flour, Jason speaks the truth, notice the power of marketing in step 4. The world’s greatest marketing podcast is going to take over your brain, resistance is futile. Lots of good stuff on email marketing All that too much to take? Look at my soothing Flickr...

Email Deliverability

This is one of the sexiest topics a marketeer can work on. Just kidding. But it is important. If you are doing any kind of mass email deliverability will become an issue sooner or later. In simple terms there are 4 points where an email can be blocked. The mail server itself can be blacklisted, at the ISP level all traffic can be denied for a specific IP address (these are named by numeric codes that look like this 123.23.54.12). Mail can be filtered and rejected through a spam filtering service before it hits an organizations mail server. The company I work for uses Postini which captures a lot of spam, but sometimes cages some of the ham too. There’s a pinch point at the corporate mail server. Your IS department may set up your mail system to reject everything from a specific IP address. The end user may set up filters to move your incoming mail to the trash, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Worse yet, they might mark you as spam causing you to be locked out further up the chain next time. So, what do you do? The first thing to do is make sure you are managing expectations. Keep in mind that a good campaign will have around a 25% open rate and a 10% click through, so you are talking about 3 per 100 sent on a good day. It’s very easy to test deliverability if your email system uses HTML messages to track opens. Keep in mind that if one person at a corporate location gets a message you can reasonably assume that you are it least getting past the first 3. Resist the urge to mail yourself. This will work well in the beginning...

Mother’s Day Marketing...

Lots of stuff going on this week, but I did want to take a second to reflect on the importance of always trying to improve marketing tactics, always getting as close to 1-to-1 communication as possible. I’ve purchased from 1-800-Flowers before, because (don’t tell my wife) I look at flowers as a commodity. Granted, I do know enough about Winston Flowers in Boston (the Tiffany’s of flowers, if you will), but most of the time I need to have flowers sent for some kind of social obligation. I think I get some AmEx points or some other kicker for 800-Flowers, so that’s who I’ve used. They are heavy on the email, I’ve noticed that I get numerous messages around all the major holidays. There are two schools of thought here – one is that every subscriber has a lifecycle, that you hit them hard for as long as possible until they break, and that’s fine. The other is that you go conservative and see how long you can hold them. I hit the breaking point this week on flower-grams though. My Mom passed away back in 1999, and after receiving what felt like the 15th email about Mother’s Day Specials, the tipping point was reached. The important point to note here though is that these emails are not the reason I buy from them, and even though I’ve unsubscribed that won’t stop me from being a customer. The brand momentum is already there, so unless someone else comes up with a substantially better way of doing all this, my business is not going...

List Management

For the past couple of weeks it’s been all about the lists. List management is ultimately the blood supply of all your marketing efforts. Anyone doing direct marketing knows that the company usually kneels to the ultimate power of “the house list”. The best part of an organization that grows quickly is being able to farm the list management out to a database specialist. I don’t know too many people that get all juiced up on dumping spreadsheets into database tables, and the arcane arts of ETL (Extracting data, Transforming it to the right format, and Loading it in). I’ve picked up a bunch of ghetto tricks to simplify a lot of this, and thankfully SalesForce.com does a better job of it than anything that’s come before. If you are going further ghettostyle and don’t have the Salesforce API, there’s a great tool called RingLead that can make your life much easier and your data much cleaner. Recently I’ve been hunting for names that are very focused and I’ve been able to get lists from individual publications, but another tactic is to use a list broker, someone who rents lists and has a broad range of knowledge about publications. I had favorite vendor here, but some of these folks have been having some trouble making the transition from the world of Magazines to the Web. For example, I couldn’t find a web page for my vendor of choice. Something for me to dig into further this week. I’ll spare you the rest of the details of these mystic arts… unless you want to hear...

Almost Back

What a drag it has been this last week. I’m still feeling run down but I’ve been getting better every day. I caught 4 innings of the Sox game over at Fenway last night with the lovely Carin thanks to a ticket hookup from E-413. On the book front: Email Marketing by the Numbers arrived today, I’ve got 4 blog post-sized entries about email marketing. To celebrate – off to bed before 9...