Using Customer Segmentation To Send Out Targeted Communications

Posted on Jun 13, 2012 by Michael Herman | Posted in Social Media

Targeted communication should be the goal of any marketing strategy. Companies waste countless millions of dollars each year advertising to demographics that have absolutely no interest in the product. It is the equivalent of a politician spending the majority of his campaign trying to convert staunch Republicans into Democrat voters. Customer segmentation is an essential element of marketing because it is the basis for understanding the needs, desires and orientation of consumers.

The purpose of customer segmentation is to divide the market into groups (or segments) of people with similar characteristics and needs who are likely to have similar purchasing behavior. It is a form of marketing that acknowledges the individuality of the consumer and understands that the different groups of buyers require varied marketing approaches and messages.

This is a vastly superior method of improving sales than the typical mass marketing efforts which treat customers as sheep and show little respect. Such companies are usually ‘rewarded’ with dismally low conversion rates and overall sales. With customer segmentation, a company can adapt its product and marketing message to suit the different types of consumer. It is important to create market segments where the differences between the buyers are relatively small but a realistic target.

It is necessary to consider certain variables when beginning the process of customer segmentation:

Ÿ  Demography: Age, ethnicity, sex, religion, nationality, income of each consumer

Ÿ  Geography: Where each consumer lives

Ÿ  Behavior: How often a customer uses a product and their loyalty to the brand

Ÿ  Psychographic: The type of lifestyle customers lead and their social status

Although you need to differentiate between consumer types, it is equally important not to create too many segments as this can be confusing and counter-productive. One of the main advantages of customer segmentation is that you gain a greater understanding of your consumer base. It is normal for people to change their minds about the things they like and most individuals will undergo some form of behavioral change in this regard over time. Assuming that a consumer likes the same things he did five years ago is foolish and lazy.

A perfect example of adapting a product to suit the different needs of customers is the selling of a car. Most car manufacturers will have a car for first time drivers, families, a sporty car for young people with large amounts of disposable income etc. If a car company created the same kind of cars all the time, they would be out of business before long.

In summation, you can’t treat your customers like robots. One size does not fit all and the sooner you realize this, the more likely you are to be successful.

Email, Social Media & Mobile: The Marketing Triumvirate

Posted on May 22, 2012 by Michael Herman | Posted in Social Media

You only need to look at the fall of the Roman Republic to know that triumvirates don’t always work. Just ask Julius Caesar, Crassus and Pompey or even Lepidus, Octavian and Mark Antony. However, some threesomes do work and the combination of email, social media and mobile marketing is a prime example of how to combine the strengths of three great marketing forms and create an unstoppable juggernaut. Here’s some quick statistics to show you just how all-encompassing your marketing strategy can be when you bring this trio together:

  • Ÿ  97% of American households use email
  • Ÿ  75% of Americans with internet access have at least one social networking account
  • Ÿ  Almost 70% of marketers are integrating email and social media marketing
  • Ÿ  There are 285 million mobile devices in the United States
  • Ÿ  Almost one quarter of mobile devices are smartphones

When you combine the three, you are hitting virtually every single person in the country. Look around the world and you will find similar statistics in most countries. Having email, social media and mobile marketing completely changes the way people interact with your organization. As things stand, approximately 97% of marketing experts believe that social media compliments other marketing strategies such as email and mobile.

If you are one of the few who doesn’t believe this to be the case, your company is likely to fall behind every other business that has embraced the 21st century. Simply put, utilizing all three as a combined effort will ensure that your marketing campaign will provide results even greater than the sum of its parts. And when you consider the relative effectiveness of each marketing method individually, you begin to realize the magnitude of what you have at your fingertips.

Of course, you can’t go blindly into the process of combining the three and expect positive results. It is important that you have a set of clear objectives and measurable goals. As a result, you need to consider the following:

Ÿ  Brand Identity - If you can create a brand that becomes synonymous with your industry and quality service, the marketing triumvirate could explode your business into life.

Ÿ  Acquiring Customers - What is a realistic customer target in 12 months? 24 months?

Ÿ  Keeping Customers - We all know how expensive it is to gain new customers in comparison to retaining old ones.

Ÿ  Launching Products - Every single product/service you release must become public knowledge as soon as possible. Create a buzz, generate publicity and enjoy the rewards.

After deciding on your goals, it will be far easier to conduct a strategy that will successfully combine email, social media and mobile marketing.

Mobile Marketing Vs. Email Marketing

Posted on May 17, 2012 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Marketing


Mobile Marketing Vs. Email Marketing

A number of companies make a huge mistake and assume that if they already have email marketing, there is no need for mobile marketing and vice versa. We have previously spoken of the advantages provided by email marketing but are you aware of the power of the humble text message? With both forms of marketing, you are asking your customers to give you their contact information which will allow you to begin your direct marketing campaign.

An advantage of both email and mobile marketing is that you are ‘preaching to the choir’ so to speak. You are marketing to people who are already interested in your services (otherwise they wouldn’t have given you their details). As a result, you have a readymade target audience. There are subtle differences between the two which are covered below.

Catching The Eye

It has to be said that mobile text message marketing has a far higher view rate than its email counterpart. If you write emails with compelling subject lines, you may find that 20% of them are opened. In contrast, around 95% of text messages are read. If this seems artificially high, ask yourself: When was the last I last failed to open a text message?

Same Day Sales

Email marketing is more of a slow burner. The idea is to craft an email campaign that helps customers to gain your trust. This takes time and effort. With mobile marketing, you could increase your level of sales on the day you send the text messages. According to various surveys, it takes someone 14 minutes to open a text message on average. The average time it takes to open an email is 6 hours and 24 minutes. Although the number of phones with internet capability is increasing dramatically, there are still millions of people with ‘older’ phones. If you are offering special discounts, the customer can avail of the promotion by showing their phone with mobile marketing. With email marketing, they need to print out the page.

Cost

Email marketing certainly wins this battle as it is one of the lowest cost methods of marketing on the planet. Small businesses can find email marketing providers, such as Digital Street that send unlimited emails on their behalf for as little as $15 a month. This means an outstanding return on investment, well over 400%. In contrast, mobile marketing can be expensive but it does generally offer a higher rate of respondents.

In summation, companies need to utilize both forms of marketing. Emails allow them to build a rapport with customers in the long term whereas mobile marketing can lead to instant sales.

 

Why You Need An Email Marketing Agency

Posted on May 7, 2012 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Marketing

Why You Need An Email Marketing Agency

For most businesses, email marketing is second only to SEO in terms of return on investment (ROI). Yet it is a specialized task which cannot be performed by a company who are already stretched to the limit when it comes to time and staff. If you don’t already have an employee who engages in email marketing, can you afford the time and expense of training someone? With an email marketing agency, you can really take your advertising to the next level. With the right agency, you will become more efficient while drastically improving your profit margin. With the help of experts, your email list can grow at a rate that suits your company’s overall growth

What Does An Agency Do?

Many agencies specialize in a handful of email marketing areas with some companies possessing the capacity to cover all aspects. Here is what an email marketing agency can potentially do for you:

  • Ÿ  Create a plan of action based on your goals
  • Ÿ  Manage the entire marketing campaign
  • Ÿ  Write, format and send your emails.
  • Ÿ  Use certain strategies to grow your email subscribers list
  • Ÿ  Find the best vendor to send your emails
  • Ÿ  Ensure that each email is delivered
  • Ÿ  Analyze your metrics to see if the campaign is working and make changes if necessary
  • Ÿ  Make sure that your marketing is consistent online and offline
  • As you can see, a top quality email marketing agency gets through a lot of work so you don’t have to.

Making A Decision

It’s up to you to figure out what your company needs. When it comes to marketing your business, sit down with your team and discuss what your goals are for the next two years or so. Ask yourself where email marketing comes in the grand scheme of things. When choosing an email marketing agency, you will need to explain what your ROI goal is as well as outlining the challenges you expect to face.

When deciding on an agency, ask prospective candidates if they offer any other marketing services besides email marketing. Be sure to find out what their specialty areas are (if any) and ask them if they see any obstacles and if so, how do they avoid them?

Cost

Naturally, the cost of an email marketing agency is of paramount importance to businesses on a budget. In general, agencies like to charge several thousand dollars a month. They justify this expenditure with results which is fair enough but when you can get a first rate all-encompassing email marketing service like Digital Street for just $495 a month, you don’t need to break the bank unnecessarily. Digital Street has an experienced marketing team that will take care of all your email marketing needs. Explain your goals and expected ROI and Digital Street will do the rest.

The Importance Of Email Marketing Content

Posted on May 2, 2012 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

The Importance Of Email Marketing Content

Email marketing is fantastic because emails are an incredibly inexpensive mode of communication. We can send hundreds, if not thousands of emails per dollar so it’s ok to have a dismal conversion rate right? After all, if you throw enough mud to the wall, some of it will stick! Not so. A large percentage of companies who use email marketing still have hideous conversion rates. So awful are their conversion rates that they actually lose money on the enterprise and quit email marketing altogether. Big mistake!

Bad Content, Bad Sales!

You have probably heard the ‘content is king’ maxim 1,000 times and if your email marketing campaign is faltering, perhaps you need to hear it 1,000 more! The modern consumer has internet access virtually all day long but your target audience probably has better things to do than read a bland, dull email that doesn’t make them feel as if it is a worthwhile expenditure of their time.

Rules?

What is good content? There are no hard and fast rules barring the usual ‘avoid spelling mistakes and make sure the email looks like it was written by someone whose first language is English’. The reason why there are few set rules is because emails are supposed to be an individual experience. Those who read the email need to feel as if it is they who are being specifically spoken to. When you are thinking about content, ask yourself what is important to your subscribers. Think about their age group, interests, hobbies and the products they have recently purchased.

Ask Questions

But I don’t know what my subscribers like! Ask and you will receive! Create a survey and send it to your subscribers. Ask them what they would like to see in an email. By doing this, you will make your subscribers feel as if they are an important part of the process. Alternatively, you can try different content on a regular basis. For example, you may write a newsletter style email one week and a ‘how to’ piece on the following email. Use analytics to find out if one email type was more popular than the other.

Above all, you need to be honest and ask yourself: Is this email worth reading? How do your subscribers benefit from reading this email? The most successful emails will also be worth sharing. You can write all the flowery prose you like but if there is no substance to your email, readers will soon unsubscribe or stop opening your emails. The bottom line is: Content ultimately makes or breaks your email campaign so pay more attention to it and spend less time on trivial matters.

 

Triple Email Marketing Results With Split Testing!

Posted on Apr 23, 2012 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

Triple Email Marketing Results With Split Testing!

A recent study showed that split testing improved click through, email opening and purchase rates by over 190%! Email marketing providers such as Digital Street Inc. offer split testing which means you can upload multiple versions of one broadcast and send them to different areas of your database. After a few days, you analyze the results and compare them.

You should also set up conversion or sales tracking too as these are the results that matter most when it comes to your profit margin. Failure to do this means you will only be analyzing open and click through rates. Although these are important statistics, they do not tell you how much money your email marketing campaign is making. Once the test has been completed, you can use the better performing version in future emails. This version can then be used against another in future tests as you constantly seek improvement.

 

What can I test?

You can test just about any type of content though there will be occasions when you only wish to test one aspect of your email marketing plan. Choose from the following when testing:

  • Headlines
  • Subject lines
  • Product images
  • Landing pages
  • Calls to action

Timing is Everything

Content variations are not the only thing you can test. For example, you could decide to send the same content at different times of the day or days of the week. You could also send content to different segments of your customer base. Most companies choose to use half of their customer base to conduct experiments on but if you feel that this is too risky and you don’t want to alienate your subscribers, you could test your new emails on 25% or even 10% of your audience provided you have a large enough base. Testing on too small a group will make the procedure almost irrelevant.

Is Split Testing Worth The Effort?

When you consider the fact that it can treble your sales rate, it is undoubtedly a productive use of your time. In fact, if you are currently with an email marketing service provider that doesn’t offer split testing; you should leave them and find one that does such as Digital Street Inc. It is possible to conduct the process manually by downloading your subscriber list, conducting some spreadsheet magic and uploading multiple lists that can be used once. However, the same vendors that don’t offer split testing also tend to prevent new lists being imported. You simply must utilize split testing and if you contact Digital Street Inc., you can watch your sales rate treble in the space of a few months thanks to this innovative method of finding out what works best in your emails.

Integrating & Managing Social Media & Email Marketing

Posted on Apr 16, 2012 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Marketing, Social Media

Integrating & Managing Social Media & Email Marketing

The rapid ascent of social media has ensured that marketers have a brand new tool in their arsenal when it comes to finding new leads. With the growth of social media marketing, it was assumed that email marketing was past its sell by date. In actual fact, social media has improved the performance of email rather than making it obsolete.

There is an array of myths surrounding email marketing with the most prevalent example being the aforementioned ‘death of email’. A recent survey conducted by Digital Street showed that some 95% of companies use email marketing while more than 80% use social media to market their organization. Integrating email marketing with social media makes sense when you consider the fact that 95% of 15-24 year olds on Facebook subscribe to a brand they ‘like’ on the network via email. If nothing else, it is apparent that social media subscribers need a valid email address to register so they are familiar with email if nothing else.

Start Integrating

Don’t assume that email and social media are mutually exclusive. The vast majority of companies that provide email tools also offer companies Facebook apps designed to help a user capture various email addresses. You should do this as soon as you create a Facebook page. Another way to integrate is to invite all your email subscribers to ‘Like’ you on Facebook, ‘follow’ you on Twitter etc.

All email marketing experts know the importance of using data such as opens and sign-ups when looking to find their target audience. You can use social media in a similar manner by analyzing the methods with which your email subscribers found you in the first place. This helps you get an idea of what they may wish to receive from you in future. You could reward those who subscribed to your email through Facebook with emails containing special offers which can only be activated on the social networking site.

It is also vital to ensure that your emails are mobile phone friendly. Figures from 2010 showed that almost 500 million people used mobile email and this figure is set to rise to over 1.5 billion by 2015. Social networks are being accessed via mobile phone at a rapid rate. In fact, this method of getting onto Facebook etc. is increasing by 30% a year on average.

If you are in doubt as to the effectiveness of integrating email and social media marketing, Digital Street has another statistic for you: Companies that used email marketing only saw their organizations grow by 8% whereas businesses that integrated email with social media saw a growth of 15%. There’s food for thought!

Austin: Technological and Entrepreneurial Capital Of America

Posted on Apr 10, 2012 by Michael Herman | Posted in Austin, TX

Austin: Technological and Entrepreneurial Capital Of America

Why would anyone want to open a business in Austin, Texas? Maybe because the metropolitan area is one of the largest in the United States with 1.7 million people. Perhaps you will be wowed by the authentic Mexican cuisine, party atmosphere or amazing quality of life. Or you could just see the financial opportunity presented by the city which is a huge part of the Austin Round Rock MSA business hub. In 2010, this region enjoyed a GDP of $86 billion, making it one of the top 40 economic centers in the entire United States.

High Tech Mania

If you are a high tech company, Austin will feel like home. You will join dozens of companies with a worldwide reach including Apple, Google, AMD, Cisco Systems, Intel Corporation, Samsung Group and Xerox, all of whom have extensive operations in the city of Austin. Recently, Facebook announced the building of a huge office in downtown Austin with 200 new jobs created. While such news is of major importance in other US cities, it is just run of the mill for this bustling and thriving city.

At one time, Austin struggled like other high tech cities when the dot com bubble burst in the late 20th century. Unlike other locations affected by the collapse, Austin bounced back spectacularly. High tech companies have a huge choice of incredibly talented and qualified graduates from the University of Texas in Austin. The number of high tech companies opening offices in the city has led to Austin being nicknamed Silicon Hills as homage to Silicon Valley. The major difference being that property in Austin is substantially cheaper than its San Francisco Bay Area counterpart.

Growth

But don’t be fooled into thinking that Austin is for high tech companies only. Hundreds of other major companies in other industries have their home in Austin. Major pharmaceutical companies such as Hospira operate out of Austin and Fortune 500 giant Whole Foods Market has their headquarters in the city.

The experts at American Statesman have pinpointed Austin as one of the cities to watch when it comes to increased employment over the next 5 years. In fact, Austin should experience an employment growth rate of around 12% in that time with 105,000 new jobs likely to be created. Best of all, this increase is expected to be evenly spread over virtually every sector though the high tech sector may grow faster than every other industry. Austin is a city on the rise and if you want to grow a business, there are few better locations in the entire United States.

The Importance Of Auto-responder Emails

Posted on Apr 9, 2012 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Marketing

The Importance of Auto-Responder Emails

Are you interested in taking your email marketing campaign to the next level? If so, then you may want to consider crafting a series of Auto-responder emails. The majority of web hosts enable you to use email addresses that call up a pre-written email which is uploaded to the server. Once an email is sent to that address by a prospect, the email you have already written is instantly sent to that prospect. You can write emails and send them to your email subscribers at intervals of your choosing. Most marketing experts believe that you must send out at least seven emails on average in order to make a sale.

Offer Something For Nothing

Every great email marketing Auto-responder campaign begins by offering something for free. Those looking to sell an eBook (usually about how to get rich) will normally give subscribers a free chapter or a newsletter which outlines what the book is about. Regardless of what you send for free, hold your email fire for a few days or more. You need to give the recipient the opportunity to digest what you’ve just sent them. There is no point in sending someone a free chapter and bombard them with marketing before they’ve even have a chance to use what you’ve sent.

Show Benefits

When creating Auto-responders, you can’t make the mistake of sending fluff because the subscriber will soon block your emails. If you decide to send seven emails, make sure that each one explains a different benefit to the product/service you’re selling. If you can’t come up with 6-7 reasons why someone should use your business, you don’t deserve anyone’s custom! For example, email two could mention discounts, email three could inform the recipient that they are losing money by not using the offer etc.

Formatting

A common email marketing mistake is to send emails which are not formatted properly. Emails with uneven lines (line one is long, line two is short etc.) are unpleasant to read. This occurs when the recipient’s email is in a different format to your own. As a result, you need to ensure that your email is readable by all programs. Generally, line lengths should be set to 60 characters. There are a number of free programs online that enable you to do this automatically.

Statistics show that around 90% of customers purchase a product/service by the seventh email. However, less than 30% make purchases after one or two emails. Therefore, you need to be prepared to create several informative emails and start sending them via the Auto-responder mechanism if you wish to increase your bottom line.

Why Email Marketing May Earn You More Money Than Your Website

Posted on Mar 22, 2012 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Marketing

 

Why Email Marketing May Earn You More Money Than Your Website

When email marketing is performed correctly, it can annihilate any other form of advertising when it comes to increasing conversion rates. In fact, email marketing is arguably more important than your website. While a site that correctly uses SEO will generate a lot of traffic, there is a big difference between someone visiting your site and actually spending money on your product/service. Naturally, you need to get your site in order if you want to get people seeing what you have to offer but well crafted emails are a crucial way to twist their arm and get them to make a purchase.

Expenditure

One of the biggest mistakes made by companies who do their business online is to pump the vast majority of their money into their website while ignoring other sales avenues. It’s understandable that so much money is spent on a site because this is where a business displays its goods. Hours of work and thousands of dollars go into the site to make it look as professional as possible. Email marketing on the other hand, is not glamorous and often forgotten. It’s seen as inconsequential when in fact, it could be what a flagging company needs.

Email marketing is a hidden goldmine because of its ability to directly contact prospects as opposed to generic website content that is uninteresting to the person concerned. Ask yourself: How many sites have boring content that talks mainly about how great the company is while neglecting to mention the benefits of using their product/service? With email marketing, you can explain why your company is the best choice.

Conversion

Besides, websites alone rarely turn more than a few percent of visitors into customers. Email marketing increases your visibility because you can send a message to an incredibly large number of people. It also builds relationships which is a key element when it comes to generating repeat custom. Instead of viewing a customer as a one-time spender, you need to look long-term and calculate the amount of money they can place into your bank account over their lifetime. Remember, the real profits come from repeat custom because this lowers your overall marketing expenditure.

When you use email marketing as an advertising tool, you must always have high quality content and offer an easy way to unsubscribe which should always be located at the bottom of each email. Get email addresses of customers, hit them with a clever marketing campaign and enjoy the rewards.

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