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9 Successful Email Marketing Techniques You Can Use to Boost Sales

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After search, email is the next most effective marketing channel for e-commerce. However, it’s not always easy to create email campaigns that will generate results. To help you boost sales by using email marketing, the following infographic by Targeting Mantra, shares nine tried and tested campaigns that you can easily replicate:

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How to Use Loyalty Programs to Reduce Customer Churn and Boost Revenues

Blog post about loyalty cards

Virtually every online retailer offers a loyalty program these days, and people are perfectly happy to sign up for them (at least the free ones) in droves.

Unfortunately for many e-tailers, though, consumers don’t use every program equally.  According to The 2013 Maritz Loyalty Report, which surveyed over 6,000 consumers the average shopper has joined 7.4 loyalty programs. However, members actively use only 63% (i.e., 4.7) of the programs they join. And 53% had stopped using at least one program’s benefits within the previous year, although only 7% had formally cancelled a membership.

Loyalty Card Membership

On the plus side, 57% of program members say they’ve changed when and where they shopped to maximize their rewards.  Communicating well is vital for a program to experience this kind of success.

In the same study, 94% want of shoppers expressed that they like to receive communications from programs, and 57% “always read” them. 93% of members who strongly agreed that they received “relevant” communications were satisfied with the program. Only 20% of members who strongly disagreed with that statement said they were satisfied. Only 12% said they received too many communications.

These are critical insights for your loyalty efforts.  After all, the more satisfied your committed customers are, the more likely they are to keep shopping with you.  The question, then, is:  How can you optimize your loyalty program to maximize member engagement and participation?

The most important key to success is data collection and analysis.

You can’t measure, replicate, or improve on your results if you don’t know what’s driving them.  Therefore, your first step is to establish rigorous, reliable, 24/7/365 monitors on every element of your loyalty campaign and every action your members and other customers take (or don’t take, as the case may be).

The next essential step is continual testing of every last campaign facet to identify the best ways to engage your customers and thereby achieve your primary loyalty goal(s).  While those goals differ from retailer to retailer, many loyalty campaigns rely on “multi-motivators” — an array of enticing deals designed to influence shoppers’ behaviors — to drive audience participation and activity.

Loyalty Card

Particularly (but not exclusively) in paid loyalty programs, the multi-motivators are valuable, ongoing offers that encourage people to keep using the benefits (and therefore stay in the program) once they join.

For example, Amazon Prime members enjoy fast and free delivery on an unlimited number of Amazon purchases, as well as ongoing entertainment benefits. Another example is FreeShipping.com, whose subscribers enjoy 10% cash back, free shipping, and stackable coupon savings on multiple purchases at over 1,000 online retailers, along with additional savings opportunities.

Multi-motivators can and should take many forms, of course, depending on your specific needs, goals, and audience.  During and after the selection process, though, there are several things you can do to leverage your multi-motivators to enhance your loyalty program.

The first requirement is to choose your multi-motivators wisely and well.

Unless you’re a large, multi-category retailer with realistic hopes of dominating the online retail space, you’re not necessarily trying to attract (much less please) every shopper in the country.  Instead, you should define your program goals clearly, make sure they’re measurable, then select the action drivers that are best suited to achieve them.

Be sure to test all of your motivators again and again, and across every targeted demographic group, to confirm that they’re performing to your expectations.

A large part of that success will depend on where and how they reach your desired audience, so you also need to identify the right mix of channels, messages, and vehicles.  Test anything and everything, and be sure your program members, customers, and prospects can see and access your offers via their mobile devices; smartphones and tablets now play a major role in consumers’ shopping processes.

Throughout it all, keep your eye on the ball:  The ultimate purpose is to find the most effective ways to contact your best customers and prospects and, more importantly, to influence their behaviors to meet your needs.

Then Personalize Your Offers

Customers practically expect retailers to know their personal preferences these days.  Use your data collection and analysis to target each program member with specific offers that match her or his known interests.  Over time, you’ll also learn how individual members respond to different vehicles and channels, allowing you to send them customer-specific offers in their preferred format(s).

Tailoring the motivators to each shopper’s proven behaviors ensures that they receive relevant offers, which increases the chances that they’ll respond positively — and boosts your program’s value in their eyes.  Additionally, anticipating their wants and needs will enhance their experiences with your brand, a vital step in the loyalty-building process.

Be Sure to Refresh Your Program 

Every relationship changes, including your relationship with your customers.  As they grow up, get married, buy homes, have kids, change jobs, retire, or simply find new hobbies or pastimes, some of their interests will grow, wane, or move in entirely new directions.  At the same time, changes in the marketplace and/or society in general will create new trends and needs that can also affect their lives and therefore their purchase decisions.

Again, an ongoing analysis of their purchases and other website activities will be crucial if you want to recognize and properly respond to their evolving patterns of behavior.

Be sure to update your program’s multi-motivators (especially the targeted offers) to match each member’s individual lifestyle and latest desires.  By regularly testing and modifying your multi-motivators, you’ll also keep your program fresh, helping to ensure that it continues to serve the changing interests of the public at large.

Expand Your Reach 

The online shopping audience is vast and getting bigger, and the competition for its loyalty is growing along with it, if not faster.  Your ability to survive and thrive in the coming years will therefore depend in large part on your ability to increase your customer base.  To do so, you’ll need to continually test an assortment of multi-motivators that will attract a wider and wider range of customers.

By segmenting program members according to their different interests and behaviors, you can pinpoint the sorts of offers that appeal to specific demographic groups.  The further down you drill into each segmented group, the more detail you can uncover about their motivations and desires.  With that information, you can adjust your marketing plans and build an actionable strategy that will deliver not only more customers but also more loyal customers.

Stay Socially Engaged 

Your customers have more platforms than ever before to share their feelings.  This is great if they’re happy with your products and/or motivators; they’ll enthusiastically share their opinions far and wide.  However, if a particularly expressive customer happens to find fault with your company, you can be sure that he or she will also broadcast those negative thoughts on every virtual corner available.

Therefore, you need to have a strategy and action plans ready to go at a moment’s notice.  Set alerts on every platform imaginable so you’ll learn of potential risks to your brand as soon as possible, and make sure you react to adverse events quickly but rationally.  Responding to a complaint with a rash comment will obviously backfire, but so too could trying to resolve the issue with an overly generous motivator; other members may chime in with similar complaints and/or chafe if they don’t receive similar offers.  (Don’t expect any resolution, positive or negative, to remain secret.)

Customer Engagement

To paraphrase an ad from the last millennium, if it came in a bottle, every retailer would have a great loyalty program.  Attracting and retaining a robust, growing base of satisfied shoppers requires a tremendous amount of work, though.  The competition for the best customers is increasingly fierce because the stakes are so high; the long-term success of your company may very well depend on it.  Determining the most effective multi-motivators, using them properly, and refreshing them to continually enhance your loyalty program can help tip the scales in your favor.

Tom Caporaso is the CEO of Clarus Marketing Group, which builds and customizes subscription programs, including FreeShipping.comReturn Saver, and others. Tom has over two decades of direct marketing experience, specializing in e-commerce, subscription, and custom loyalty programs.

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27 Pivotal Questions to Ask Before Writing Your Next Marketing Plan

Marketing Plan

If you’re a Chief Marketing Officer, or a V.P. of Marketing, or even an entrepreneur running your own business, there’s going to come a time when you have to hit the re-set button and write a new marketing plan.

That’s something we do quite frequently for our clients, as outlined in an in-depth post we uploaded called Even We Were Surprised When Our Marketing Campaign Grew Our Client’s Revenues by 278%. If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide on how to re-brand and re-launch a product or service, check out that post.

But before you do, take a spin through the questions below. These are fundamental questions you should ask yourself before you put pen to paper and write your next marketing plan.

Questions to Help You Lay Your Marketing Foundation

Here are the fundamental questions you should ask about your product or service that will help you lay the groundwork for the marketing campaign you’ll launch in the future.

  • What is our product or service? (Okay, that’s a pretty basic question, but you have to start somewhere.)
  • What makes our product or service different? (Don’t get too hung-up on this question — sometimes you have a Me Too product that’s not really different. That’s where the magic of marketing comes into play. In other words, you’ll use marketing to highlight a product feature or benefit that your competitors have ignored or overlooked.)
  • What is our awareness level? Do we have a positive, negative, or neutral brand impression?
  • Who is our primary competition? How are they positioning themselves? What strategies are they using? What have they overlooked?
  • What is the core message we’d like our customers to know about our brand? Is it safer? Sexier? Cheaper?
  • What unspoken need does our product or service fulfill? (Don’t overlook this very important question — sometimes this can be a game changer. After all, Starbucks doesn’t just sell coffee. Instead, they fulfill unspoken needs such as culture, coolness, and companionship.)
  • What kind of research or insights do we have about our customers?

Questions to Help You Think Through Your Marketing Campaign

Okay, now that we’ve laid the groundwork for your marketing strategy, let’s dive into some questions that will help you take the appropriate steps to launch your marketing campaign. Here goes:

  • What has been our most effective campaign to date? What made it effective?
  • What has been our least effective campaign to date? What made it fail?
  • What is the purpose of our upcoming marketing campaign? To build brand awareness? To deliver leads to our website? To drive foot traffic to our retail locations?

Questions to Help You Identify the Needs of Your Target Market

Remember, your prospects and customers are typically buying something that’s deeper than your product’s features or benefits.

Before we get into the questions on this section, here’s an excerpt from a post we wrote previously called How to Think Strategically About Social Media. It highlights some of the issues we’re talking about when it comes to what people are really buying.

If you’re Maid Brigade, a national home cleaning service, you’d say that your customers are buying a clean house. After all, when someone calls Maid Brigade, that customer doesn’t ask them to mow their lawn – they ask them to clean their house.

But is that really what they’re asking for?

Oh, sure, a clean house is an essential element of what Maid Brigade is selling, but there are plenty of businesses that clean houses. So the question really becomes, “In addition to a clean house, what is it that a Maid Brigade customer is really buying?”

For starters, they’re buying a brand they trust. For some companies (such as Coca-Cola and Apple), the value of the brand is one of their most important assets. For perspective on the value of a brand, consider this ­— in your neighborhood there are probably several local restaurants that sell pizza. And many of those restaurants sell better pizza than Domino’s. But Domino’s almost certainly sells more pizzas per store than any of the restaurants in your neighborhood.

Why? Because Domino’s has a national brand that people have grown to love and trust. And, when it comes right down to it, love and trust translates into big bucks. And more pizzas sold.

Now that we’ve talked about the value of a brand, let’s jump back to the Maid Brigade case study. People don’t hire Maid Brigade simply because they’re a trustworthy national brand or because they do a good job cleaning houses. It goes much deeper than that. When you drill down into what prompts someone to buy their services, you start to uncover some of the unspoken reasons why people gravitate to their brand.

For example, Maid Brigade was the first national chain to go green with their cleaning materials. So a certain percentage of people hire Maid Brigade because they like the green aspect of their services. For most people, “green cleaning” isn’t the very first thing they’re looking for when they do research on home cleaning services, but it’s certainly a key differentiator for their brand.

But we’re still just scratching the surface — you can go much deeper.

For example, what is it that people really get when they get a clean house? People get more than just a clean house – they also get time. In other words, they free up several hours a week that they would otherwise spend cleaning.

What do they get in those several hours? Initially, you might say they get time to play more tennis, time with their grandchildren or time to work with a charity. All of those answers are correct, but when you examine it further you realize that they’re actually getting the opportunity to have more fulfilling lives, to have deeper relationships and to get to know themselves better.

See how that works? What people are actually buying in a product or service goes much deeper than you might imagine.

If you were to write down a list of the features and benefits of using Maid Brigade, many marketers would just scratch the surface. But by getting inside the mind of the customer and thinking about what truly motivates them, you come up with emotional hot buttons that resonate with their prospects and customers.

Again, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t lead with “green clean” or “spotless counters” or “freshly-vacuumed rug.” Those aspects of the Maid Brigade brand are all important, but when you overlay those benefits with the deeper, more meaningful emotional hot buttons, you connect with your prospects and customers on a more lasting basis.

The excerpt above will help you understand the importance of digging deep into what it is that your prospects and customers are really looking for.

With that in mind, here are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself as you dig deep into your target market’s needs, wants and desires.

  • Who are they (from a demographic point-of-view)?
  • What do they feel?
  • What do they need on the surface?
  • What are their hidden motivators for buying our products or services? (For example, many people buy B2B products or services because they like the salesperson, but if you asked the purchaser why they bought the product or service, they would never say, “because I like the salesperson.” Liking a salesperson is a hidden motivator.)
  • What’s the value of this product or service to the customer?
  • What does the customer need to know before he or she will buy from our company?
  • How does the customer make a decision to buy products or services like this? What is the process we have to go through to make a sale? (If you’re in the B2C world, this is relatively straightforward. But if you’re in the B2B world, you have to deal with multiple layers, which are outlined in the graphic below.)

B2B Marketing Process

Action Steps for You

The questions outlined above are just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re really interested in doing a top-notch job on your next marketing campaign, there’s a whole series of questions you should ask after this batch. We’ll be uploading a post about that in the future.

Until then, here are some action steps you should take before launching your next campaign:

  1. Clean the Slate: For a campaign to be break-through, you’ll need to start with as clean a slate as possible. I understand that there are legacy campaigns that you have to consider, but try to open your mind to new, fresh thinking. Otherwise, you’ll just be repeating the same mistakes you made in the past.
  2. Row in the Same Direction: As you clean the slate, you’ll also want to get your team rowing in the same direction. That means establishing goals and objectives for whatever you’re doing — and, most important, getting buy-in on those goals and objectives before you do the exercise outlined above.
  3. Pay Attention to Details: Many organizations do brainstorming meetings or launch campaigns, but then lose track of the initial objectives and/or end game. Keep your eye on the prize and make sure you track your progress. Otherwise, the whole experience will be for naught.

Good luck. Keep me posted on your progress. And let me know if there are any questions you think I missed in the comments section below.

Oh, and one other thing — if you liked this post, would you mind sharing it with your friends via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or Pinterest? Thanks!

Jamie Turner is the CEO of the 60 Second Marketer and 60 Second Communications, an Atlanta-based advertising agency and digital marketing firm that works with national and international brands. He is the co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile” and is a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.

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How to Boost Your Conversion Rate by 49%

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Did you know that only one in seven A/B split tests boost conversions? Now, don’t let this fact dampen your enthusiasm for split testing your way to conversion success.

When done right, testing can actually increase your conversion rate by 49%. To find out how to create tests that will produce significant results, check out the following infographic from QuickSprout:

The-Perfect-Execution-to-Conversion-Rate-Optimization

Top Super Bowl Spots: Are They Worth $4.5 Million?

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On Super Bowl Sunday, I was interviewed by CNN International to talk about this year’s crop of Super Bowl commercials.

Before being picked up by the car from CNN, I had an email dialogue with Dr. Reshma Shah who is a marketing professor at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. (She’s also my co-author on How to Make Money with Social Media.)

I figured if anybody could share some light on the value of a Super Bowl commercial, it would be Dr. Shah.

Here’s what she shared with me via email on two topics — brand authenticity and ad campaigns, as well as social media and the impact of branding:

1) Brand Authenticity and Ad Campaigns

I teach the Dove case study and spots from their Campaign for Real Beauty – which has several parts to it – aired on the Super Bowl a number of times. 

Despite their good intentions to get people to start thinking differently about beauty and what is beautiful (because only 2% of the world’s women think they are beautiful) Dove’s efforts were criticized. Why? Because Unilever, the parent company, also markets the AXE brand.  Axe’s brand positioning is based on the objectification of women to sell product.

In the end, the Super Bowl campaign didn’t help Dove sell more soap. Worse yet, social media exposed a huge contradiction in their approach questioning their real motives. 

Today, an estimated 80 percent of American women feel dissatisfied with their bodies and 81 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of becoming “fat.” Can a series of ad campaigns really change institutionalized body hatred or people’s deep rooted beliefs and behaviors around domestic abuse?

These companies and brands have to walk the walk 100% of the time or run the risk that people find them to be nothing more than emperors with no clothes on.

2) Social Media and the Impact on Branding

Not long ago, a Nielsen study showed that trust in advertising was in decline. Between 2009 and 2012, global trust in TV advertising declined from 71% to just 47% worldwide.

Fueled by social media, trust in peer opinions is rising at the same time that trust in advertising is falling. Nielsen reports that the most trusted source of recommendations (close to 90%) is a recommendation from somebody a customer knows personally.

While this number has always been high, it’s never been higher on an absolute or relative basis. A recent McKinsey study also noted that, unlike advertising, word-of-mouth is the only source of influence that remains critical at all stages of the sales cycle for most goods and services.

In the word-of-mouth era, customers do not always repeat what you say to them, but they do talk about the experiences that they are having with your brand. Brands that are at the heart of experiences that matter to their customers can earn their loyalty, their trust, and their recommendations.

In fact, this “customer experience effect” is so powerful that recent research by Forrester showed that customer’s perceived “quality of the customer experience” was the single best predictor of future purchase intent (0.71 correlation) and of likelihood to recommend (0.65 correlation).

As you can see from what Dr. Shah wrote above, there’s a lot of good data about the impact advertising and word-of-mouth has on the brands we love.

With all that in mind, here’s the segment on the Super Bowl ads from my appearance on CNN International where I reference some of Dr. Shah’s perspectives.

 

Jamie Turner is the CEO of the 60 Second Marketer and 60 Second Communications, an Atlanta-based advertising agency and digital marketing firm that works with national and international brands. He is the co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile” and is a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.

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