RIGHTNOW GUIDE: MARKETING BEST PRACTICES

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1 RIGHTNOW GUIDE: MARKETING BEST PRACTICES Version RightNow Technologies. All rights reserved. RightNow and RightNow logo are trademarks of RightNow Technologies Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS ESTIMATED TIME TO COMPLETE... 1 TARGET AUDIENCE... 1 UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM... 1 ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM THROUGH BEST PRACTICES ) Design processes for your marketing efforts ) Build your mailing lists the right way ) Comply to international SPAM regulations ) Make sure you reach the inbox ) Design each mailing so that it is an excellent customer experience CONCLUSIONS/SUMMARY ABOUT THE AUTHORS ABOUT RIGHTNOW TECHNOLOGIES DISCLAIMER COPYRIGHT

3 ESTIMATED TIME TO COMPLETE Assuming you are familiar with the basics of RightNow Marketing or have already worked on campaigns in another marketing tool, this Tune-Up package should take about an hour of focused time to complete. Depending on how you score in this Tune-Up, you may need to initiate additional projects to implement desired changes. TARGET AUDIENCE This document is intended to provide a high level overview of the best practices for creating effective marketing initiatives, and is should be used with the Marketing Tune- Up Checklist to grade your performance against these best practices and identify areas for improvement. This document is written for a marketing professional, analyst, or anyone who regularly constructs and sends marketing messages to customers. Lastly, we recommend that after you read this paper and work through the checklist, you review the findings with your RightNow Client Success Manager. UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM is a powerful communications channel that can enable you to efficiently communicate with a large number of customers at a low cost. Despite the development of other new communication channels such as social and mobile, remains a pillar of business communication and when done properly, will result in highly targeted and personalized communications that reinforce your brand and build lasting relationships with customers. An ongoing challenge with marketing is to ensure that your messages reach the intended audience. SPAM (junk mail) detecting technology is not perfect and is likely to lean towards classifying your commercial efforts as SPAM, thus preventing your message from getting delivered, unless you meet the key criteria outlined in this document. Once your message has reached the inbox, it still has to engage the reader and call them to action. Other best practices in this document are included for customizing and personalizing your communications so that each message will achieve the maximum impact and help you build lasting relationships with your customers. 1

4 ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM THROUGH BEST PRACTICES 1) Design processes for your marketing efforts Approaching your marketing efforts systematically will allow you to stay organized and produce consistently high quality communications. The extra time you take to think through your efforts and design a repeatable approach will not only result in less overall time spent on future efforts, but will also improve the overall experience for your customers. Best Practice 1.1: Agree on a review process for new mailings. New Mailing Content/Brand Strategy Review Approved? Yes Legal Review Approved? Yes Final Proofread Ready to Send No Figure 1: This simple review process could be used to ensure high quality communications. Benefit: A review process will ensure high quality communications by making sure that the proper stakeholders are involved along the way. No Best Practice 1.2: Ensure other departments are aware of your communication efforts. Department Support Frontline employees Sales Brand expert Reason they should be aware May need to increase staffing to handle increased service enquiries. Need to have informed communications with the customer in general. Will want to know about opportunities to increase sales transactions, or identify cross-sell or up-sell potential. Make sure that overall communication is in line with the strategic brand proposition. Should be closely involved in all Marketing Program Manager communications regarding their marketing efforts or products. This person might be you! Figure 2: Make sure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. Benefit: This will empower customer facing employees with knowledge and information to assist relevant customer inquiries about your campaigns. 2

5 Best Practice 1.3: Organize and maintain your content. Figure 3: Snippets can be used as templates to ensure that all mailings have a similar design. Figure 4: Organizing Mailings or Campaign folders by year and month and possibly mailing/campaign type is a great way to make it easy to find your work. Benefit: Properly organized content will ensure that you have consistent communications and are able to efficiently produce new messages. 3

6 Best Practice 1.4: Ensure that relevant reporting is in place to track the success of your mailings. Figure 5: This sample report from RightNow CX shows some response metrics that could be used to track mailing success. Benefit: Reporting will allow you to baseline customer behavior and then determine the magnitude of impact (also known as lift ) of your marketing effort. Best Practice 1.5: Pick a mailing scheduling and stick with it. Benefit: Regardless of the interval you choose for mailings (daily, weekly, monthly, etc), start with a consistent mailing schedule and then tweak it to minimize unsubscribes and maximize responses. High performing campaigns will result as recipients learn when to expect your mailings. 2) Build your mailing lists the right way While it may be tempting to send your messages to all recipients, we have found it is a better to send your messages to a targeted list of recipients. Purchasing bulk mailing lists is not considered a best practice, and should be avoided. Bulk mailing lists generally contain recipients who are not only a poor match for you, but have also not explicitly asked for your communications and so they will consider your messages SPAM. We recommend carefully attending to your subscriber base and encourage you to explore appropriate opportunities for asking people to sign up 4

7 Best Practice 2.1: Organically grow your subscriber base by asking customers to opt-in. Figure 6: Always honor global opt-in and the external suppression list. Also consider limiting the frequency and recency of your communication to help reduce the unsubscribe rate due to over-mailing. Figure 7: It is a good idea to ask subscribers to confirm their address is valid after they ask to be added to your list (this is known as a double-opt-in). Benefit: The benefit of first asking permission to communicate with a customer includes increased trust, brand loyalty, and higher response rates. 5

8 Best Practice 2.2: Offer extra value to your subscribers. Figure 8: Brooks Sports offers value to their subscribers by periodically giving away free pairs of running shoes. Benefit: Provide special offers, priority care, or other discounts to increase your opt-in rate. These value-added programs will decrease the likelihood that customers unsubscribe (optout) over time. Best Practice 2.3: Do not send unsolicited mail or buy lists. Figure 9: Don t be tempted to purchase lists. Even seemingly trustworthy lists are not as effective as cultivating your own subscribers. Benefit: Sending unsolicited will result in low response rates, poor customer experiences, a decrease in Sender Score and brand reputation and will increase the likelihood that service providers block your other messages. 6

9 Best Practice 2.4: Periodically cleanse your subscriber base. Figure 10: This report shows addresses that are not valid in this case, it looks like the users have mistyped their addresses (hotamil vs hotmail) Figure 11: The Lost Contacts report shows a breakdown of contacts and the % of total contacts that fall into one of four groups. Benefit: Subscriber-base hygiene ensures that only customers who want to receive your messages DO receive your messages. This not only decreases the likelihood that your messages get marked as SPAM, but is also required by United States law. Best Practice 2.5: Set expectations by sending an opt-in confirmation . Benefit: After a contact opts-in to receive your communications, this follow-up message confirms that the recipient wants receive your messages, and that the messages will be delivered to the specified account. 7

10 3) Comply to international SPAM regulations The CAN-SPAM Act in the United States lays out specific guidelines that must be followed for all commercial messages that are sent through servers in the United States. If there are any addresses for servers that reside in the US (such as yahoo.com, aol.com, hotmail.com, gmail.com, etc) in your audience, then you must comply with the CAN-SPAM act even if you or your organization are not located in the US. You should also be aware that there are many different laws and regulations for sending commercial s through servers in different countries. While the regulations vary, we recommend following CAN-SPAM as a minimum requirement and then further investigating the laws for any localities where you have a customer base. Best Practice 3.1: Understand the regulations for your audience. The United States CAN-SPAM act* 1. Don t use false or misleading header information. 2. Don t use deceptive subject lines. 3. Identify the message as an advertisement. 4. Tell recipients where you are located. 5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future from you. 6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. 7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. * Business Figure 12: Each violation of these guidelines can result in penalties of up to $16,000. Figure 13: The RightNow CAN-SPAM compliance checker can be used to detect if an unsent message will be compliant. This message is not compliant. Benefit: Compliance to the CAN-SPAM act is required if you wish to send commercial through servers that reside in the United States. SPAM laws vary in other countries, so make sure to check first before sending. 8

11 4) Make sure you reach the inbox Even if your message is legally compliant, there are other factors that impact deliverability. It is important to consider these factors as well so that your messages can reach their intended recipients. Best Practice 4.1: Use a RightNow dedicated IP address if you send more than 65,000 mailings per month. Benefit: For low volume senders, a shared IP address will allow you to share in the reputation of other RightNow senders (this increases the likelihood of deliverability compared to having no reputation on your own). For high volume senders, a dedicated IP address is best as it will allow you to maximize your own reputation and achieve the highest deliverability. Best Practice 4.2: Use Sender Score to determine your sender reputation. Figure 14: This sample output from senderscore.org shows a low scoring sender that would benefit from better marketing practices to improve their reputation (and thus deliverability). Benefit: Determining your Sender Score will help detect if you need to take special actions to increase your score and ensure good deliverability. 9

12 Best Practice 4.3: Use a branded domain name in the From field Figure 15: The Reply-To headers can be customized so that messages appear to have come from your own.com site. Benefit: A customized From field that contains your official domain name will allow you to leverage your brand equity (the trust associated with your brand name) to engage with customers as well as ensure that reply messages are routed properly. Best Practice 4.4: Avoid common SPAM trigger words. Figure 16: Using words like these may trigger SPAM filters on the internet and prevent your message from being delivered. Benefit: Avoid using these words and you ll have a better chance of having your messages pass through any anti-spam algorithms that may be in place which might otherwise prevent delivery. 10

13 Best Practice 4.5: Use rate limiting to mitigate traffic spikes to your contact center. Benefit: Rate limiting can help flatten a sudden spike of traffic to your website or contact center that might result from a high volume mailing. Best Practice 4.6: Use Cloud Links to foster participation on social sites. Figure 17: On any image or text, a cloud link can be added to send the recipient to the desired social webpage. Benefit: Cloud Links encourage recipients to like, follow, or subscribe to your social pages and spread your message through their social media interactions. Using Cloud Links will also provide visibility into how your social media advocates engage with their friend networks. 5) Design each mailing so that it is an excellent customer experience Reaching the inbox is not enough an effective message must also be engaging. When sorting through their inbox, users quickly make decisions about which messages to delete, and which messages to read. The more time you take to craft and test communications so that they achieve a high level of engagement the more effective your efforts will be. 11

14 Best Practice 5.1: Test out calls to action and value propositions by using the Market Testing feature. Figure 18: In order to see which message has the highest click through rate, this survey was sent to 1/6 th of the audience using different invitation messages. Benefit: Market Testing allows you to determine which types of communication are most effective with your recipients. This is known as split-testing or A/B testing, and is a powerful way to increase the effectiveness of your marketing messages. Best Practices 5.2: Personalize your communications. Figure 19: Even simple personalization such as speaking to the customer in the first person (I, we) and using their name can make your messages more engaging. Benefit: A personalized communication is more engaging and results in a better customer experience. 12

15 Best Practices 5.3: Provide different communications based on the customer s context. Figure 20: This uses a Report Merge to show the customer s purchased products as well as a cross-sell opportunity that is specific to the product they own. Benefit: Taking into account the customer s history with you will allow you to deliver communications that are personalized to them. This builds trust with the customer and results in increased customer loyalty. 13

16 Best Practices 5.4: Always include both a Text and HTML version of your messages. Figure 21: Make sure to include both an HTML and a plain-text version of each you send to ensure that all recipients are able to view your message. Benefit: Many customers prefer to receive plain-text messages in their inbox and have their client configured to only accept this type of message. Plain-text communications are also often preferred by disabled users who may be using special software to read your communication out loud. 14

17 Best Practice 5.6: Make sure to customize your Forward to a Friend page, Unsubscribe and default survey Thank You pages. Figure 22: Using the File Manager custom branding can be added to these web pages. Figure 23: RightNow has customized this Forward to a Friend page to use our corporate branding. Benefit: By making each of these pages look and feel like your main website, this will reassure the customer that they have reached the right page. 15

18 CONCLUSIONS/SUMMARY Now that you are familiar with the RightNow Marketing Best Practices, we recommend you use the Tune-Up Checklist to score your current performance and identify areas for improvement. Please note that these practices are intended to be used as rules of thumb. If you have customer research or firsthand usability testing which suggests a different approach, your data should supersede the recommendations you find here. Thank you for taking the time to review the Guide to RightNow Marketing Best Practices! ABOUT THE AUTHORS Susie Boyer, Engage Center of Excellence, Product Manager for Sales, Marketing, and Feedback, has been with RightNow since 2004 where she started off in Professional Services consulting with many customers who implemented early versions of RightNow Sales, Marketing, and Feedback. In 2007, she switched into a Product Manager role in order to have direct influence over product direction. She received her Bachelors of Science at Georgia Institute of Technology and her MBA at Georgia State University, both in Atlanta, Georgia. Ben Werner, Product Manager for Best Practices has conducted extensive user research regarding self-service, usability, and customer centric design methods. He also holds a Master s degree in Human-Computer Interaction from the University of Minnesota and is a board certified Associate User Experience Professional. ABOUT RIGHTNOW TECHNOLOGIES RightNow (NASDAQ: RNOW) is helping rid the world of bad experiences one consumer interaction at a time, seven million times a day. RightNow CX, the customer experience suite, helps organizations deliver exceptional customer experiences across the web, social networks, and contact centers, all delivered via the cloud. With more than eight billion customer interactions delivered, RightNow is the customer experience fabric for nearly 2000 organizations around the globe. For more information, please visit RightNow is a registered trademark of RightNow Technologies, Inc. NASDAQ is a registered trademark of the NASDAQ Stock Market. DISCLAIMER The content contained herein may represent customizations made to our standard commercially available software and should not be construed to represent or guarantee our standard product capabilities. By sharing our product capabilities with you, we are not undertaking an obligation to develop the commercially available software with the customizations or features that may be demonstrated or reflected herein. Standard 16

19 commercially available software capabilities are subject to change. RIGHTNOW TECHNOLOGIES MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR STATUTORY, AS TO THE PRODUCT CAPABILITIES REFLECTED IN THIS DOCUMENT. COPYRIGHT This is a preliminary document and may be changed substantially prior to final commercial release of the software described herein. The material contained in this document represents the current view of RightNow Technologies on the topics discussed as of the date of publication. Changing market conditions may impact the positioning and challenges faced by the consumers of the material in this document, the content should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of RightNow Technologies, and RightNow Technologies cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication. This publication is for informational purposes only. RIGHTNOW TECHNOLOGIES MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR STATUTORY, AS TO THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT. Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for any purpose, without the express written permission of RightNow Technologies. RightNow Technologies may have patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights covering subject matter in this document. Except as expressly provided in any written license agreement from RightNow Technologies, the furnishing of this document does not give a license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property RightNow Technologies. All rights reserved. 17

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