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Archive for August, 2010

Email is still singingI sit on the IAB Email Council so am always really interested in the studies and research documents they produce.  The IAB are the trade association for digital marketing and they – in conjunction with iCD Research – recently carried out a survey of attitudes towards email marketing, levels of usage and preferred layout.

The results revealed that we should apparently be looking towards Amazon, Tesco and Marks and Spencer for inspiration when planning our email campaigns.  Around a quarter of consumers cited one or more of the three big brands as those they’d ‘most like to hear from’ via email, citing easy navigation and simplicity as the biggest draw in emails from marketers.  And here’s the good news for all of us in this industry we all know and love:  Email still resonates with consumers with a third of people having become interested in a brand or product they weren’t previously aware of as a result of an email.

Here are the key results the IAB and iCD Research recorded:

•    85% still see email as a vital communication tool
•    88% use their personal email accounts on a daily basis
•    66% like to hear from brands because they have good offers
•    60% used email to receive information from their favourite brands

In terms of what emails were the most popular, the survey revealed that simple, straightforward and useful emails with images and teaser texts were the most likely to be read. In short, the study proved that email is still very much a key player in our marketing strategy, but that we need to provide value, relevancy and a simple strong promotion to get the best outcome.  To view the research for yourself simply click here.

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Fresh foodFoolishly I fell victim to the Apple / iPad marketing campaign after the launch in January and recently invested in the world’s most expensive handheld toy. Aside from relieving me of some of my hard earned cash, it has brought one ray of light to my life… Ocado. I have to say I’m a huge fan. I dabbled in home delivery back in the early noughties but somehow it just didn’t seem that convenient. Browsing the isle on my 56K dial-up didn’t quite float my boat and I returned to the chaos of Saturday morning shopping at Sainsburys. Then along came the iPad and its wonderful App store, along with a passionate recommendation from a colleague about how good the service was. Within a couple of taps and a flick and found myself able fly through my weekly shop in record time and to top it all off, get it all delivered 24 hours later within a 30 min window early enough to catch me before we both went to work… Fantastic!

Having been so thoroughly convinced of the merits of Ocado I was delighted to receive an email informing me that they would pay me up to £400 in vouchers for recommending their wonderful service which I had already been gladly recommending for free. Sounds good .. well this is where the excitement starts to wear off. Determined to get my free vouchers I started searching their email for a link, button, anything I could click on to get me through to the point where I start recommending. Let’s be frank anyone like me, who loves Ocado probably doesn’t spend a lot of time reading the details in such an email. Eventually I found a link at the top of the page (Ocado logo) and did eventually read the text in the email .. (I mean as if you’re actually supposed to read that stuff).

1. Log into your Ocado account.

2. Click on the ‘invite-a-friend’ link at the right of your homepage (under your basket).

3. Invite your friend to shop with Ocado.

“Its that simple” they say. Well I’m not so sure that is what we would call simple in today’s world where you can order your shopping from a handheld flat-screen device that you carry round your empty cupboards. In fact, considering I was at work and didn’t know my username and password, it wasn’t simple at all.

Having been so impressed by Ocado and wanting to continue my newly found loving relationship with them, I felt compelled to write them an email.

“Dear Ocado, blah blah blah, love what you’re doing etc etc, changed my life… However you could make your email a lot easier to use, and here’s a few suggestions… all the best , Simon”

Well as a replying customer who is not only saying how much he appreciates a company’s service, but also someone who is taking time out to impart some of his highly respected knowledge and on top of that is gagging to give them a few more customers, I’d say my email to them should have been pretty high up their priority list.

Well I bet you can guess how this little story ends.. No reply, no recommendations and one newly found customer who already feels a tiny bit disappointed. Nonetheless, I’ll keep shopping for now.

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influence projectA Study by agency 360i indicates that the majority of Twitter conversation is between consumers and that Corporate Twitter seems to be directed at the Consumer rather than with the Consumer.

According to the study, only 12% of consumer tweets mention a brand by name. When they do refer to a brand, consumers are sharing news or information about the brand (43%) or reporting use of or interaction with the brand (35%). Hold on..what do you mean ONLY 12% of consumer Tweets mention a brand name? Are you telling me that  brands would be unhappy if in the physical world over 1 in 10 conversations mentioned a product?

But of course the real failing is in the idea that again Brands are not engaging in a dialogue but in a monologue – ‘’Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness’’….Margaret Millar. This does seem to hark back to an era when TV and Print indulged in ‘Interruption Marketing’, talked about in great detail over a decade ago by Seth Godin in his book Permission Marketing. And of course even the early days of email marketing followed a dose of ‘Spray and Pray’ communications.

We all know these days its much more about the conversation and the idea of spreading influence through peers and contacts. I came across a very interesting form of this influence spreading by the Fast Company. They essentially wanted to created a viral campaign to find the person with the most Online Influence in 2010 – The Influence Project. They do this by a very crude method of making you feel more of a mover and shaker by getting people to click on your personal url . And yes that was mine. And they have effectively used this to get a degree of awareness out there about their magazine.

Perhaps more importantly, as I type, they have acquired something in the region of 25,000 email addresses. Hopefully they won’t abuse that privilege, and so have used a very ‘social’ need of many people ( i.e. to perhaps to have their 15 minutes of fame) to potentially start a conversation with them in the future and indeed have already created millions of google searches ,tweets, emails, facebook mentions. 100% of which have mentioned the Brand.

Oh, now that I can think about it, 1 in 12 does seem low.

Ps…I am currently ranked 422..please make me famous

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'Any Comments?'I’m in sales and I hate losing deals! Any sales person worth their salt should be the same (whether they admit it or not). There are thousands of reasons for not winning a pitch; some valid and some totally ridiculous. Either way, it is the most difficult part of the job…you can spend months – even years – on a pitch and no matter how close you are to winning, you get nothing in this game for finishing in second place.

Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate how difficult it must be from a client’s perspective. No-one likes having to say ‘no’, especially when you know that the other party has put in a lot of work and time on your brief. I can forgive a potential client choosing another supplier, no matter how strange their decision may seem sometimes. What I can’t forgive, however, is when a prospect won’t give any feedback as to why they’ve chosen another partner. Feedback is a vital part of the sales process. It’s what helps companies and individuals grow and improve.  I can bear to lose a pitch (I’m never happy about it, obviously!) if it means the feedback from that process helps me/us improve in the future and win more business as a result. Linda Richardson talks about the importance of  ‘Improving Yourself Through Feedback After a Lost Deal’ and I would agree, providing the client gives constructive feedback.

Giving no feedback at all is inexcusable. Giving nonsense or false feedback is just as bad or unhelpful. Here’s the worst piece of feedback ever: ‘We chose X because they were cheaper. Period.’ Despite what anyone might think, I genuinely don’t believe that anyone makes a decision purely based on cost. If I saw a Ferrari on Ebay ‘Buy It Now’ at £100, would I buy it? No, obviously not.

Here’s the sort of feedback that IS helpful:

‘We chose supplier X based on the fact that their costs were competitive, but they weren’t actually the cheapest. We went with them because one of our marketing team had used them before and was familiar with them. We also know they have functionality X, which we don’t believe you have. Also, they have a partnership with Company Y and we work with them too. We saw 10 suppliers and you made it to the last 3 and we ultimately made our choice based on these key criteria’.

I would really respect the client that gives me that feedback.

If you are reviewing suppliers, I would ask you to map out your feedback strategy before you begin the review and outline this as part of the brief/RFP (all the best ones do). I would also ask that you offer a follow-up meeting, call or structured feedback document to unsuccessful providers. That’s my feedback anyway ;-)

Thanks in advance.

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