How fast is your list spinning?

Spinning top with motion blur showing rotation

One metric about email that always gets mentioned is “open rate.” Simply defined, this is the percentage of your total list that opens any particular email. Open rates have a slight accuracy problem due to the ways people can review their email in the various email clients out there, but let’s go with them as they are.

Open rates are relatively useful to see the general popularity of your emails, and of course how any one email “performed.” However there is a simple metric that you can get from just about any email marketing system that will give you a sharper picture about audience behavior. I call that metric “List rotation.” What is it? Simple. List rotation is the percentage of your list that opened at least one email in some defined time period (3-6 months are pretty good periods.)  What this metric tells you is just how bad or well your list is performing overall (I know, the actual metric of performance is how much did you make off your list, but let’s play with this a bit.)

Let’s say that you find 50% of your list opened at least one email over 6 months. Yet you might only be averaging a 10-12% open rate. What is going on here?  Depending on the demographic makeup of your list, what content is interesting or engaging may vary from person to person, which causes the rotation: “That looks cool, I’ll open that one, but that one… ehh.” People get a ton of email, and it has become a chore picking and choosing which emails should be opened on any given day. The good news is they are interested in what you have to say, the bad news is they aren’t interested enough every time. You can never find content that appeals to everyone, and it is even harder when you have a diverse list built from many different sources and list build techniques. When you start noticing a lower open rate, before you panic, take a look at your rotation rate – it may not be as bad as you think!

 

Are you afraid of Werewolves?

werewolfHalloween is over, and we can all put away the garlic to protect us from vampires, and we should – but won’t, put away our belief in silver bullets – the preferred way to stop a werewolf. You probably don’t believe in werewolves, but lots of small business owners seem to believe in silver bullets.

C’mon, we’ve all been there. Our finger hovering over the mouse button debating if we should click to buy this new program that will generate millions of dollars, without a list, without a product, without, I don’t know, perhaps any skills at all!

This is the silver bullet – the one thing that will solve all problems, that will guide us to ultimate business success. And, of course, like werewolves and vampires, it is a fantasy.

There is no one program that will solve your problems, certainly not one that is “NOT $5,000, NOT $3,000, but just for today, for $997…”

No, I am afraid that from the beginning of time, business success comes from a combination of hard work, a little luck, and a relentless drive to jump on every opportunity that presents itself. That said, there is a bright side to some of these “silver bullet” programs. They may provide you with some leads you wouldn’t have gotten before. They may teach you something and let you bypass one or two painful lessons.

You didn’t expect to become an overnight success by finishing one college course or term (which was probably a lot more expensive than most of these programs,) why do you expect one product or program will be any different?

Halloween is over. Put away the garlic and the silver bullets, let’s get to work.

 

Yes, and…

YES!

If you have ever seen or participated in improv, you probably know the “Yes and…” routine. Each person in the chain makes a statement or asks a question to the next person, and they reply, “Yes, and…” then makes another statement or asks another question to the next person. The word “but”, because its implied negativity is a buzz kill, is not allowed. I recently found out just how powerful replacing “but” with “and” is in my own self-talk.

In my last phone conversation with my coach I was listing some of the things I had accomplished in the last few weeks. At the end of the recitation, she stopped me cold by asking me “why did you sometimes say ‘but’ when you were going through some of these accomplishments?”

I thought about that for a second, and replied that it was a qualifier to some of the things I had done, indicating that I hadn’t quite achieved what I had set out to do (even though what I had done was pretty darn cool.)

In response, she repeated some of the things I had said, using “and” instead of “but”. The result was amazing. What was once a denigration of an accomplishment became an affirmation of the deed, and an opportunity to improve on what I felt had made it not quite as special.

If you have followed me for a while or have spent some time with me, you know that I am not into what is best called “woo-woo.” I believe in the power of words (hey I write pretty much every week right?), but generally do not subscribe almost supernatural powers to them. I am much more into action.

However, intellectually I can understand the power of self-talk to either be a motivator or a de-motivator. In this case, replacing, “but” with “and” not only sounds different to your ear, but physically feels different when you say it. It also forces you to change what comes after the “and”: “I did this, but this part of it didn’t work” becomes “I did this, and while this part didn’t work, I still got a great reaction.” Changing what comes after “and” is pretty much required otherwise the sentence sounds incomplete – and we all know that we want things to be complete! (see “I thought you said…”)

We can all find good and bad in almost everything we do. Some of us are even programmed to temper our accomplishments with a “but” so we don’t sound boastful. The simple act of changing “but” to “and” can dramatically change how you feel about yourself and how others perceive your accomplishments when you are telling stories or informing someone what you have been up to. Try it. I think you will find it a fascinating and enjoyable change in your self-talk. I do.

I thought you said…

Why???I received an email from one of the many Internet Marketers I follow the other day. In the email he said he was releasing a post from a private Facebook group that gave all this awesome information. He just thought it was so good it should be shared with everyone, not just his members. Cool!

When I clicked on the link, I was more than a bit surprised to find several sections of the post blurred out and overlaid with a message that this section was reserved for members only, and of course a link to join his group. Wait a minute. I thought he said he was sharing the post, not selected pieces of it!

Once I reviewed the original email I saw what he was doing. Pieces of what was promised in the email were unblurred in the post, just not everything, which was supposed to build desire on your part (human nature to complete a thought – if you are only given three steps of a four step process, your mind desperately wants to complete it by seeing the fourth step.) I am sure that he will get a bunch of sign-ups as well.

That said, I felt that was more than a tad dishonest. I was promised a post with great information. I was given a partial post with some great information. Was the information blurred the real meat of the post, or just some filler? I’ll never know. I do know that I felt a bit cheated.

Do I really believe a Facebook post would contain the key to my success, and that I could merrily go make millions of dollars thumbing my nose at all of the coaches and products that promise to help me reach that goal? Hardly. So why should he? Why not expose the whole post?

I suspect that he felt the basic human need to get that missing information would garner more sales than complaints, and hey, he did let some real good information come out from the post. Still…

What do you think? Was this a great piece of marketing that gave value and still left out enough to make you go crazy with desire to join these other marketers in the group, or a slightly manipulative piece of trickery? I’m not sure I would release something like that, would you? I’d like to get your opinion. Leave a comment here at the blog.

The Whole Package

pieces of the puzzle

I had an interesting discussion with a “digital marketing expert” at an event recently.  He related to me that he had gotten an over twenty percent engagement rate for a Facebook page for one of his clients – a pretty nifty trick given that Facebook themselves will tell you that two percent is more common. However, there was no mention of the action taken from that engagement.

This was followed by a show of utter disdain for my assertions that the purpose of any engagement in social media was to drive traffic to your website, and that email is the glue a business needs to make their marketing framework more effective.  This was at the beginning of the event. As we separated to take our seats he promised we would talk more later. We didn’t, for which I was thankful.

Rather than take offense, I sat down and thought what lessons there were to be learned here. The first is that the desire for that silver bullet: “all I need is tons of likes on Facebook,” is very strong. I think a lot of us, and I will include myself in that group, have, at some point, chased after the newest shiny object, the newest method to “bring in thousands of leads effortlessly,” thinking maybe this is the one. That lesson leads directly into the second: there is no one way to make things happen, rather it is doing a combination of things (but not too many!) well that leads to success.

I’m not known for my love of social media, but I don’t dismiss it as being totally useless, as this “digital marketing expert” seemed to dismiss email or lead capture at the website. Social media or only having a sign up form on your web site isn’t going to be sufficient. People need to know about your page and your website. This awareness can come from speaking, networking, and yes the good old telephone, just to name a few.

It isn’t the one piece that closes the deal, it is the whole package.

 

Bad News About Online Ads

Seth Godin recently had an interesting post about ad blockers and advertising in general. Based on the timing, I think his post might have been in response to Apple’s announcement that with the release of IOS9 that they were going to allow ad blockers in the App store. Seth, as usual, had a rather philosophical view on things, discussing how advertisers had failed to change their ways in the way they communicated with their potential customers (at least through advertising,) making the use of ad blockers all but inevitable.

Seth’s post made me think about what all of this means to the smaller business – the smaller on-line advertiser, and what can be done. Regarding the latter, ads will be seen less and there isn’t much you can do to change that. Regarding the former, the medium to long-term effect will be that the price of a click will increase. Since ads will be seen less, you can pretty much bank on Google, Facebook, and everyone else that charges by the click will charge more, since there will be less clicks; making pay-per-click advertising a less desirable way to attract prospects. So do we as small business people give up on online advertising just as so many turned away from television, radio, and a host of other types of advertising because the return on investment simply isn’t there?

Perhaps. I have never been a fan of using Facebook or Google ads when you are just starting out or when you are still fairly small. While you can still get some pretty good pricing on some clicks, the actual conversion rate is pretty low, and you can rapidly eat up your budget. Wait, I hear the hue and cry of “social media will save us!” Well, not really. If ad revenues start to fall, companies like Facebook will make sure that all of that wonderful free traffic will dry up. Actually it is already starting to. Facebook deliberately keeps engagement rates low on posts to business pages.

So what to do? Returning to Seth’s post, we have to earn people’s trust, and their attention. Advertising will be harder and more expensive so we better make every ad count. We need to provide good content that our audiences actually want.

Recently I’ve heard that content marketing is dying as well. Certainly the age of advertising masquerading as content is starting to end. Or content promised to change your life, that consistently fails to live up to its hype. People want content they can use. That is relevant to their situation.

There is a fine line between giving away the farm and intriguing people sufficiently to get them to invest in your products and services. I’d start working on that line sooner rather than later.

If you’d like to see Seth Godin’s take on this, here is the URL: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/09/ad-blocking.html

It Worked Before

Change Vs. SameWe’ve all done it. We do something that works really well once, so we figure we can pull it off again and again. We start to think the gravy train will never end.

One company I know thought it would be a great idea to send out a post card to their existing clients announcing signing on a new client. They felt it would reinforce their credibility and let their clients know they weren’t the only ones who had made the smart choice to work with them.

The first couple of cards were relatively well received – multiple customers called in to congratulate the company, so they figured they would keep doing it for each new client they got. Unfortunately by about the 5th or 6th card, the company started receiving multiple complaints – especially from the customers who were getting multiple cards (the mailing list had duplicates, and no one cleaned it.) Yet, they sent out several more cards, before finally bowing to pressure from several key customers, and protests from employees fielding the complaints. Instead of customers seeing the company as a smart choice, customers saw them as annoying and unprofessional. Pretty much the opposite of the impression they had hoped to make. Imagine the reaction today if that had been email!  The unsubscribes would have shot up, and probably a few spam complaints just for good measure.

This example may sound extreme, but look at what is ending up in your inbox or mailbox every day. How many of the same-old, same-old messages do you just automatically trash without opening? How many of your messages might be meeting the same fate?

“It worked before” is a cousin to “We’ve always done it that way.” It is lazy marketing. Rather than trying to be creative and change things up regularly, we will sometimes look for the easy out. The thing that worked before that won’t require any thought, and especially won’t require any risk. At least no risk until it blows up in our face, or simply stops working. The truly interesting thing is how so many businesses when confronted with the reality that what they are doing has stopped working, blame it on outside forces – some new player with lower prices, or the economy sucks. It couldn’t possibly be what they are doing, after all, it worked before!

Take a look at your marketing. Are you doing the same thing over and over again, hoping that the old magic will suddenly reappear? Maybe it is time to say, “Well it worked before, but it is time to try something new.” Change can be scary, but it can also be incredibly profitable.

 

A Simple Tweak When Posting Blogs And Ezines To Twitter

“What are your thoughts on Twitter, sir,” it having been a week where not a lot of thought had been given to various subjectshashtag, I decided to throw something out and see if I could get a reaction from The Effective Detective.

“I have relatively few thoughts on the subject Watson,” he initially replied. “However, I have found something that I am sure many of the Twitter fanatics have been acting on for years.”

“Really? I am all ears, sir,” I perked up at this news, wondering if this was going to be some long-winded explanation or perhaps if our conversation might be a little more direct today.

“Let me qualify that a bit. What I found was actually something related to our ezine activity. I am still unsure of the marketing efficacy of Twitter and other such social media platforms, but I do believe that getting your message out in multiple ways can do nothing but help – as long as you don’t spend an inordinate amount of time on the project,” The Detective paused, allowing me to jump in.

“The thing you found about Twitter sir?” I prompted, hoping not to get lost in a discussion on the failings of social media.

“Quite so, Watson. It involves the use of hashtags, Watson,” The Detective began again, and I could not help but interrupt.

“Hashtags are hardly anything new, sir,”

“Yes, Watson you are quite correct and if you will stop interrupting me,” The Detective shot back, then continued before I could apologize or argue further.

“As I was saying it involves the use of hashtags. I really don’t see that an enormous amount of information can be conveyed in a statement of 140 or so characters, and if you include hashtags that number is reduced. However, there is plenty of room for a link to a blog entry or the latest release of one’s ezine, along with multiple hashtags. The trick is what should those hashtags be? What I have often seen are hashtags that people make up, like #EmailMarketingIsWonderful which of course no one is following, and will most likely never will be followed. Are they trying to start something? Who knows.  Yet #EmailMarketing is flourishing, as are several other marketing or product related tags. The point is, I have seen multiple people who would have never heard of me or seen anything I have written, follow, retweet, and favorite my ezine tweets.  Simply by using a truly related hashtag rather than trying to be cute or start something. All it requires is logging on to Twitter and checking for some active, relevant hashtags,” The Detective finished and looked at me expectantly.

“I would imagine that if someone were very familiar with Twitter or already had scads of followers this is old news, but for the more casual Twitter user, you may have a point, sir,” I replied thoughtfully.

“‘May’ have a point, Watson? Hmmm, let us move on to other matters,” The Detective said, with a slight smile.

The Most Important Post… Ever

Crushed It

“Sir, do you think it wise to make such a bold claim?” I nervously asked The Effective Detective upon seeing the subject line he was considering.

“Eh? Watson, to what are you referring to?” he replied.

“This being the most important post ever, sir,” I began.

“What exactly makes you uncomfortable with it Watson?” The Detective interrupted.

“It seems to be a bit of hyperbole, sir,” I finished my thought.

“Precisely Watson! It is meant to be a tad hyperbolic. The better to cut through the clutter,” The Detective exclaimed.

“Sir?”

“Watson, don’t be so dense. The average person is bombarded with thousands of messages each day. You are assaulted via email, television, the phone, radio, magazines, and lets not even get started on the various types of social media. The point is the average person is drowning in noise. We as marketeers need to break through that noise. Using hyperbole is simply one method of doing that,” The Detective paused in his explanation and I chose to jump in and interrupt.

“But sir, everyone knows it is hyperbole, they have seen so much of it they are immune to it!” I exclaimed.

“Nonsense Watson. Hyperbole has been with us pretty much since humans started trying to impress each other. I assure you there was a Greek olive oil dealer back in ancient Greece telling all of the passerby that his olive oil would make the skin glow and hair glisten in ways that rivaled the gods! Why? Because it works. People buy hope. They want to think they can make their lives or businesses better by doing some set of things. We all say we hate hyperbole and aren’t fooled by it, and yet we still tune into the webinars that promise to teach a method that will have leads raining down upon our heads, and some of us buy the package being presented at the end of the webinar.” The Detective explained.

“But isn’t it dishonest to make such claims, using such language?” I asked, still a tad confused.

“Not really, Watson. No, you can’t spell out how much money someone will make using your techniques, and I would be wary of cancer cures, but in general, the people advertising these methods, programs, what have you, have either gotten those results for themselves, or know someone – probably one of their clients, that has. As for our own pronouncement, how do you know that someone won’t consider this the most important post ever? It certainly is important to me. It may give someone the inspiration they need to push their message up a few notches and start landing sales.

“With more specific tag or headlines, like “generate scads of leads in no time.” as long as you are not promising specific results – exactly how many is a “scad” after all?, and honestly explaining how people can achieve similar results – without giving the whole process away for free, then people can make their own buying decisions; of course their mileage will vary. The key is to not lie or be openly deceitful about what you are promoting.

“The alternative of course is to be low-key, boring, and purely informative. You will most likely get a few clients, but you will most certainly starve along the way,” The Detective concluded.

“So boast a little, paint a wonderful picture that will differentiate you and break through the noise, but never make claims you could not back up in good faith,” I offered.

“A bit poetic Watson, but I think that will do for today. You see – this truly was an important post for you!”, The Detective said with a smile.

“Just so, sir.”

 

 

When is Internet Marketing NOT Internet Marketing?

Internet Marketing

“Watson, I would like you to consider a statement, and tell me what it makes you think,” The Effective Detective wasted no time in starting out the conversation.

“Go ahead, sir, I shall endeavor to do my best,” I replied.

“I’m sure you will Watson,” The Detective said before continuing on. “The statement I would like you to consider is that just because you market on the Internet does not make you an Internet Marketer.’

“Just because you market on the Internet, does not make you an Internet Marketer. My first impression is that it is a contradiction, sir,” I said, giving my honest first impression.

“Just so, Watson, but think a little more on what that statement is saying,” The Detective urged me.

I furrowed my brow and turned the phrase over in my head before I felt a sudden flash of inspiration. “Wait! I think I see what you are saying. Just because say, a brick and mortar store that sells confections sends out an email occasionally to its customers and has a website, does not make them an Internet Marketer – they are not truly trying to make a living from selling on the Internet, yet they are using the Internet to market!”

“Precisely Watson.  Why do you think this distinction might be of some consequence in our dealings with small businesses?” asked The Detective.

I thought for a minute, but at last had to admit that I was stumped. “I am not sure sir, the distinction is plain once you give some thought to it, but I am not sure I see what use it is beyond that.”

“Ah, Watson, we need to work on your skills a bit yet. You are thinking merely of the words instead of the what the words imply,” The Detective began.

“Imply sir?” I interrupted.

“Hush Watson, let me continue. You see you are merely looking at a play on words, I am thinking what is involved to actually be one of these two marketers.

“The key here is the tools and methodologies. When I review my daily bombardment of emails from the various lists I am on, I tend to see some common threads. One common one is using a funnel. In Internet marketing the end destination of the funnel is almost always the sale. However, if I am a consultant, I may want my end destination to be a complimentary analysis. The focus on an end sale tends to distort how to make use of the tool.

“I find it interesting that so many jump on a particular Internet Marketing bandwagon, only to jump off when they realize the tool doesn’t fit their situation. The shame of it is that in many cases some minor tweaks to the process might actually yield the results they desire, but they don’t look beyond the seemingly broken promise of purchases that don’t require the hard work of actually speaking with a prospect.

“Alternatively, a brick and mortar store misses out on the opportunity to use email because they know for their market email doesn’t work well as a direct sales tool, but completely forget that the backbone of their business is the true rapport they develop with their customers; a rapport that cannot be replaced by email, but can be supplemented by it,” The Detective paused briefly, and I decided to get in my usual interjection.

“So you feel people need to be more creative in using the tools that are out there, rather than blindly following a guru, who uses the tool a certain way that works well for them,” I ventured.

“Very good Watson! The secret is to not try to be an Internet Marketer if your business is not suited to it – which is really moving into a new business area, but to use the Internet and the various tools and methodologies in a way that suits your marketing style and market. Look to the Internet Marketing  experts for interesting techniques, but beware following them exactly if it doesn’t fit your market. At the same time, don’t discount the methodology if you can tweak it to fit your needs,” The Detective concluded.

“Excellent sir, I take it we should move on then?” I asked, letting The Detective have the last word.

“Quite so Watson, quite so.”