Survey Highlights Email Marketing Effectiveness and ROI

May 24, 2012

email-marketing-industry-census-2012A recent research survey, Email Marketing Industry Census 2012, conducted by eConsultancy and sponsored by Adestra sheds some light into how email marketing is being used and trends facing email marketing as an industry. The research was for UK based email marketers only, but the results are enlightening and can be transferred to any country, especially when it comes to best practices and ROI.

Why is email still a major force in the marketer’s arsenal? According to the census, “55% of all company respondents could attribute more than 10% of their total sales to the email marketing channel, with 17% of respondents stating that email marketing attributed for over 30%”. ROI for email marketing is still there, despite many talking about the demise of email as social channels become more prominent.

“70% of company respondents rating email as “excellent” or “good” in terms of ROI”

Problem is, email is not being used to its fullest. Most companies are not taking advantage of advanced email marketing features, or even basic segmentation strategies, as the survey points out.

“Only 40% of responding companies use their email service provider (ESP) for anything more than the basic broadcast of email”

When asked about which practices are part of their email marketing efforts, the answers showed that:

  • Only 67% of respondents do basic segmentation
  • 52% engage in regular list cleaning
  • 48% encourage the sharing of content in their email messages
  • 26% use content personalization
  • 25% use video content in their emails
  • 15% are using behavioral targeting.

The ROI of Email

It seems most companies have a “setup and forget” attitude when it comes to their email marketing. Once the system is configured, the templates are setup, and everything is ready to go they simply let it run without constantly refining their tactics.

“Those simply performing “batch and blast” techniques are less likely to see ROI benefits.”

According to the research, only 31% of companies surveyed regularly test their email marketing campaigns. The companies that do test their email marketing campaigns report their ROI from email is excellent or good, compared to those who don’t test regularly or don’t test at all.

But testing is only part of the ROI equation. Research results point to segmentation being another big factor for ROI reporting that “companies who are practicing basic segmentation are 95% more likely to rate email ROI as excellent or good compared to those who do not use even basic segmentation, nor have plans to do so”.

The Missing ROI Components

According to the census, the following key themes have been identified as having a big role in determining whether a company will see positive ROI from their email marketing efforts:

  • Adaptation to priority inbox features
  • Awareness around data security issues
  • Low hanging fruits of triggers and testing
  • Integrating email with other business areas
  • Greater understanding of social media and email as complementary channels
  • Addressing the challenges of mobile

The report goes into detail for each area above. It also discusses the barriers to effective use of email, citing that:

  • 53% of companies cite quality of email database as the most widespread barrier to effective email marketing
  • 49% of client-side respondents feel lack of strategy is a significant problem
  • 45% of companies say lack of segmentation is holding them back
  • 32% complain about lack of skills and training
  • 36% state poor measurement and analytics keep them from becoming more effective

For an in-depth analysis of each of those barriers and detailed analysis of the census results, download the email Marketing Industry Census 2012.


How to Include Webinars in Your Content Plan

May 21, 2012

If the myriad of webinar platforms out there with new entrants every year is not an indication that webinars are hot marketing tactic, then take a look at the following chart from MarketingSherpa:

MarketingSherpa B2B inbound tactics chart

Webinars, together with virtual events were ranked top three marketing tactics to have their budgets increased in 2011. The same result was voiced by Focus Research, pointing to webinars as one of the most valuable tools for B2B marketers.

Supporting this sentiment, MarketingSherpa puts Webinars again at top three most effective lead generation tactics.

MarketingSherpa Effective Lead Generation Tactics

All Webinars Are Not the Same

Problem is, knowing that webinars are a good tool to have in your marketing arsenal is not enough. To get the most out of it, make sure to include it as part of your content planning efforts and use the best type of webinar to the best type of persona. For example, consider the following types of webinars and how they can be used:

What: Product demo
Focus: Product features and functions
Typical Audience: Prospects that are evaluating solutions, technical buyers, training of new employees or business partners

What: New product release walkthrough
Focus: Key features of the new release, benefits of upgrading
Typical Audience: Current customers on previous release, sales team, business partners

What: Customer training
Focus: Step-by-step product walkthrough, business scenarios, best practices
Typical Audience: New customers, existing customers with new users

What: Case Study
Focus: One or more customers of your product tell their story of how it helped them overcome a problem that others in their industry also face
Typical Audience: Early stage prospects, current customers of another product (cross-sell) or different version (up-sell)

What: Educational (non-product)
Focus: Topic relevant to your prospective buyer
Typical Audience: Suspects, early stage prospects

And these are just a few examples. You can also host partner webinars where you host training sessions for business partners, you could do employee training webinars that talk to new employees about policies and procedures or guide them on how the company works, and you could have sales training webinars where tips are shared or new products are showcased.

Mapping Webinars to Your Content Plan

Webinars are a great channel to include in your content marketing plan. If you plan on creating a eBook or Whitepaper, a webinar is a great way to promote the highlights of what the whitepaper or eBook is about. New product coming out? Get a webinar in addition to the typical press release. Going to a trade show? Host a webinar the week prior to the show and give tips on how to make the most out of the show. Just came from a trade show? Host a webinar to share all the great stuff you learned during the show.

The longer webinars (more than 30 mins) can later be chopped down into easily digestible segments and posted on your Youtube channel. For the product demo webinars, you can also select specific segments of the recording and place them throughout the website to give emphasis to certain features of the product.

Customer testimonial webinars are great to include in your website and you can select key moments of a series of testimonials and stitch them together and publish as a Testimonial Reel.

Not all webinars are created the same, but each type can enhance your content plan and provide one more channel for your customers, prospects, partners, and even employees.

What My Paper Route Taught Me about Content Marketing

May 3, 2012

Note: This is a guest post by Brad Shorr. See his bio at the end.

My career in content marketing started at age 12. Every day I’d load up my red Schwinn Varsity bicycle with The Aurora Beacon News and head out to make deliveries, learning valuable lessons about digital content marketing that just starting to sink in lately. Here are a few of these lessons, which I’m sure you will pick up a lot faster than I did!

Old man using a laptop with his grand son reading a newspaper1.     Content Marketing Is Hard Work

Delivering content may not be as physically demanding as it once was, but today it is a combination of strategic planning, thorough execution, meticulous review and continual improvement. There are no shortcuts, either. Back in the day, if I cut across a neighbor’s yard to get to the next house … I’d get yelled at. Today, if you try to skip steps or gloss over them, you’ll similarly be punished. Shortcuts to avoid include things such as –

  • Trying to pass off lame, rehashed content as something new and relevant
  • Relying on automated feeds to push content rather than building genuine social media connections
  • Putting content marketing processes on autopilot in order to shift attention to shiny new marketing toys

2.     Reader Convenience Is Everything

In the print era, there was nothing more convenient than having the latest news delivered literally to your doorstep. Newspapers thrived in part because of their efficient and ultra-convenient delivery system. The principle still applies in the age of digital content. Making content easy for the reader to obtain and consume makes all the difference:

  • Site loading speed. A big consideration, one that is so important that Google now uses loading speed as a ranking factor. If I showed up at a subscriber’s house an hour late … I’d get yelled at. Today, if readers have to wait five seconds for a page to load, they will click off.
  • On-page usability factors. Facilitating easy content consumption means adhering to best practices for typography, navigation, page layout and design. Tripping up in any one of these areas invites readers to make a hasty exit and leave with a bad taste in their mouths.
  •  Multiple search options.It should be as easy as possible for readers to find relevant content on a business site or blog. Among the techniques to accomplish this:
    • Internal search engines
    • “Most Popular” blog posts listed on the sidebar
    • “Most Commented” blog posts listed on the sidebar
    • “Recent” blog posts listed on the sidebar
    • User-friendly archiving
    • Meaningful blog categories
  • Multiple delivery options.  In the past, there weren’t many ways to deliver news. Today, content marketers must support readers who find content via RSS, email subscriptions, bookmarking sites, social media, and organic search. This necessitates optimizing content for search and social sharing, and engaging with multiple communities on multiple social networks.

3.     Consistent Delivery Matters

My paper route taught me how much we humans are creatures of habit. If I showed up 15 minutes behind schedule … I’d get yelled at. Some people would even freak out if I showed up early. Well, even though content marketing technology has changed enormously, human nature remains the same. This means content marketers must bring a certain degree of consistency to their execution, including –

  • Theming. Is the big-picture, underlying message consistent, or does it change from one day to the next? Inconsistencies dilute brand identity and put obstacles in front of prospects that are trying to figure out what a company does and why they should care.
  • Publishing. Are blog posts and e-newsletters delivered on a consistent, predictable schedule, or haphazardly? Digital marketers can learn a LOT from the newspaper industry on this score: when people know when to expect information, they have a greater appetite for it.
  • Social Sharing. Because people are habitual, they hang out on Facebook, Twitter and other networks at fairly regular times throughout the day. By testing and analyzing re-shares and mentions, content marketers can develop intelligent timetables for both scheduled posting and active engagement.

About the Author

Brad Shorr is Director of Content & Social Media for Straight North, a search engine marketing firm in Chicago. They work with middle market B2Bs in industries as diverse as restaurant merchant processing and bulk gloves. Brad is an experienced content strategist, SEO copywriter and blogger. He still rides a bicycle. 

Ten Tips On How To Promote Your Website Through Content

May 1, 2012

Note: This is a guest post by David Tully. See his bio at the end.

Image by mdurwin2 via Flickr

The emphasis on creating quality content has increased markedly since Google put the hammer down on many old tried and tested SEO tactics. Below I have listed 10 tips on how you can promote your website through content.

1. Offer How to Guides/Whitepapers/Analysis – Good first hand analysis or guides in relation to the niche you are in can really help boost visitor numbers to your website. You are giving valuable, relevant information which they will appreciate.

2. Utilizing personas – Always write content from the perspective of the intended reader. Questions that a reader may have such as “why is this information useful?” and “what benefits are there to me?” should be in your mind when writing content so as to hook the reader in.

3. Understand what works and what doesn’t – Get a form of site analytics set up on your site to assess what type of content works. You may find that a particular type of blog post does a lot better than others.  Optimizing content in this way can help rank better as more of your content is shared and read by web users.

4. Incorporate user feedback – The more interactivity you have with readers the better. If someone asks you a question of Facebook, Twitter or in blog comments, it is a good idea to create some content about it as it is more likely than that others within your niche market have the same question.

5. Regular posting – Many websites fall down on this last point. People will come to your site often for fresh content, if you don’t provide it, your audience will cease visiting. Google will also see the lack of fresh content and rank your far lower.

6. Repurpose content into different forms – If you have had a very popular blog post, there is every possibility that the content will do well if you repurpose it as a video, podcast or infographic. Each form may reach a slightly different audience helping to boost your website.

7. Social media promotion – The most important aspect for promoting your site through content. Google ranks websites depending on indicators from social media. In addition, the more something is shared on Facebook or retweeted on Twitter, the more site visitors you will have. Creating content which is more likely to be shared is therefore crucial.

8. Share your content on PDF sharing websites – PDF sharing websites such as DocStoc and SlideShare always rank highly in Google. If you have a great piece of content and want it spread as widely as possible, create a PDF file and share it on these websites.

9. Content Curation – Curating content is becoming ever more popular in marketing online. Basically, you are sharing quality content and adding your own take on stories or issues within your market. As long as you link back to your original source, this is an excellent way of using content to help improve site numbers.

10. Use of video – Some niches are not very interesting and when marketing your website, getting the message across in an inventive video can really make a difference. It has a greater possibility of going viral and helping your site.


About the Author:

David Tully has written many articles on content marketing and is currently a regular contributor to content marketing strategy website Bright Authority.

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