Marketing for Beginners

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1 Marketing for Beginners marketing, as the name suggests, is the use of in marketing communications. In other words, it s a form of direct marketing which uses electronic mail as a means of communicating commercial messages to an audience.

2 Contents 1. What is marketing Understanding and choosing ESP s service providers v.s. software marketing terminology The pros and cons of marketing A brief history of ing What is Permission Based ? Types of marketing campaigns Defining success - marketing metrics

3 What is Marketing? marketing, as the name suggests, is the use of in marketing communications. In other words, it s a form of direct marketing which uses electronic mail as a means of communicating commercial messages to an audience. In its broadest sense, every sent to a potential or current customer could be considered an example of marketing. The term marketing is usually used to refer to: Sending s with the purpose of acquiring new customers or convincing current customers to purchase something. Sending s with the purpose of enhancing the relationship of a company with its current or previous customers, to encourage customer loyalty and repeat business. marketing can be used to improve the relationship between a business and its customers or to gain new customers. In order to gain the addresses of potential customers, businesses must either use a permission-based subscription service to acquire new addresses or rely on referrals from existing customers. marketing is especially popular because it can be much cheaper than traditional mail marketing, and it can let marketers reach a wide audience in a short period of time. s can be created and sent out to specifically target members of an list, providing them with a personalized s, detailing information that they 3

4 are interested in or have requested. This helps promote trust and loyalty to a company while also increasing sales. With marketing, you can easily and quickly reach target markets without the need for large quantities of print space, television or radio time, or high production costs. An marketing campaign is one of the oldest forms of Internet marketing. While more advanced methods have come along, it can still be very effective provided the right approach and tools are utilized. Understanding and Choosing ESP s service providers (ESPs) allow you to execute professional, organized marketing campaigns. Knowing what to look for when choosing an ESP can make the process of communication a lot easier: An ESP is a service that hosts marketing services on their servers, which are specifically designed for this purpose. While you control your marketing account and send out s using a Web browser interface, the ESP s servers and Internet connections do the heavy lifting. If you tried to send bulk s through your regular Internet Service Provider (ISP), your campaign could be blocked as regular ISPs are not set up for (and sometimes prohibit) bulk mailings. An ESP also provides detailed reporting on the results of your campaign: such as delivery success rates, open-rates, and link click-through rates. You should even be able to see which of your subscribers performed these actions. Good reporting is an invaluable feature as it helps you measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. 4

5 Most ESPs also make it very easy for you to comply with the CAN SPAM Act regulations. For example, an ESP should automatically include an unsubscribe link in every sent through their service (and automatically remove these addresses from your lists), as well as verify that all s are sent to a valid, working address. Most ESPs also require you to send only to lists of subscribers that have opted-in to receive s from you. Now, what should you look for in an ESP to make sure you choose the right one? Here are some criteria to consider: 1) Customer support and training: Your ESP should offer both online and phone customer support and training. 2) Ease of use: Whether or not you know the ins and outs of campaigns, HTML coding or how to use monitoring reports and statistics, the service you choose should provide the tools and explanations necessary to help you easily create an effective campaign. 3) Reliable infrastructure: There would be nothing worse than sending to your valuable prospects and customers and having the ESPs servers go down. The people reading your s won t be able to click through to you website. Make sure your ESP has multiple, high-speed connections to the Internet through more than one source and hardware redundancies. This ensures reliability of sending if one of the Internet connections fails or there is a hardware failure. Ask prospective ESPs about their infrastructure. 4) Good reporting: The ESP should offer a variety of user-friendly reports: deliverability success, open-rates, and click-through rates. 5

6 5) CAN SPAM compliance: Your ESP should require customers to comply with the CAN SPAM Act and make it very easy to do so. 6) Free trial: Most ESPs offer a free trial. Do a test drive to see if the service meets your needs. 7) Pricing Plans: ESPs host your list on their servers. Some charge a monthly fee based on the number of s on your list, while others charge a monthly fee based on the maximum number of s you think you will send per month. Your ESP should offer a pricing structure that fits your needs. Service Providers v.s. Software How do once off purchased marketing software packages compare to a hosted marketing solution? Before making assumptions about once off marketing software, it s useful to understand what it offers, and doesn t, to see if going the hosted route really is better: 1) Newsletter Templates The templates on once off programs often become outdated since it s the user s own responsibility to create and source their own in time and tune with client updates. Because hosted solutions work to keep up with global inbox developments and race to stay ahead of their online competitors, they offer updated template libraries and new templates are added regularly for various seasonal promotions. 6

7 2) Features Once off programs don t usually have advanced features, just the basics of newsletter creation and sending are typically available. Hosted solutions offer extra features such as a microsite (an archive of old newsletters), Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, list management and subscriber segmentation tools, auto-responders, in-depth reports and stats, and so on. Only basic tracking and statistics tools are available with purchased packages, whereas the hosted solution provides an opportunity to really drill down into subscriber behavior, allowing you to send a more fine-tuned campaign. 3) Security and memory use Once off programs have to be downloaded onto your computer, taking up memory on your hard drive and carrying the risk of allowing a virus onto your PC. With hosted solutions, all you need to do is log into the application. They have their own security measures and everything is stored in the cloud, online. 4) Cost With a packaged solution, there are unnecessary extra costs if you the product needs to be bought for more than one PC. In other words, to use it on different systems you will need a multi license version. This can end up being fairly costly, not to mention that you cannot access your account from anywhere else except those specific computers. All that is needed with a hosted application is your username, passwords and access to a PC. Once you ve bought an software package you are bound to use it whether you re satisfied by the product or not. Hosted solutions offer free trials so that users can test the application, make informed decisions, and the can also opt out later on immediately if they ve found a better service. 7

8 5) Support It s normal for a hosted solution to offer live product support, as well as help videos and tutorials which are constantly being updated to assist the user. Though an operation manual and other online resources may be available for onceoff purchased solutions, these are often limited, non-interactive and difficult to interpret for the everyday user. Marketing Terminology marketing, like any other industry, has its own unique language and jargon. To become confident in navigating marketing applications, interpreting reports and understanding the world of , some knowledge of the following widely used terms is required. A/B split Refers to a test situation in which a list is split into two pieces with every other name being sent one specific creative, and vice versa. Autoresponder Automated message-sending capability, such as a welcome message sent to all new subscribers the minute they join a list. An autoresponder may be more than a single message - it can be a series of date or event-triggered s. Blacklist (or blocklist, blackhole list) A list developed by anyone receiving , or processing on its way to the recipient, or interested third-parties, that includes domains or IP addresses of any senders suspected of sending spam. Many companies use blacklists to reject inbound , either at the server level or before it reaches the recipient s in-box. 8

9 Block A refusal by an ISP or mail server to forward your message to the recipient. Many ISPs block from IP addresses or domains that have been reported to send spam or viruses or have content that violates policy or spam filters. Bounce message When delivery fails, the sending transfer application sends a bounce message to the sender by , and the server also records an error message in the mail logs. The messages indicate whether the failure was temporary or fatal, and describe the type of failure. Bounce rate In marketing, the bounce rate relates to the delivery of your campaign. It tells you what percentage of addresses didn t receive your message because it was returned by a recipient mail server. High bounce rates damage your reputation and delivery process. Call to action In an message, the text or image link, button, widget or visually highlighted body in copy that tells the recipient what action to take. Click-through A click-through occurs when a recipient clicks on a hotlink which has been included in an . Hotlinks can take recipients to website landing pages, articles, blog entries etc. Click-through rate Total number of clicks on link(s) divided by the number of s sent. Includes multiple clicks by a unique user. Some broadcast vendors or tracking 9

10 programs define CTR differently. Confirmed opt-in This term may refer to a double-opt-in subscription process or may refer to addresses which do not hard bounce back a welcome message. Conversion When an recipient performs a desired action based on a mail you have sent. A conversion could be a monetary transaction, such as a purchase made after clicking a link. It could also include a voluntary act such as registering at a Web site, downloading a white paper, signing up for a Web seminar or opting in to an newsletter. CRM Customer Relationship Management technology and systems. CTR Click-through Rate. Slightly inexact because some clicks get lost between the click and your server. Also be sure to ask if the CTR is unique, meaning that each individual user is only counted once no matter how many times they click on a link. Delivered Number of s sent minus the number of bounces and filtered messages. A highly inexact number because not all receiving ISPs report accurately on which didn t go through and why not. Double opt-in A process that requires new list joiners to take an action (such as clicking on an ed link to a personal confirmation page) in order to confirm that they do 10

11 want to be on the list. Sometimes interpreted incorrectly by some broadcast vendors to mean a new subscriber who does not opt-out of or bounce a welcome message. blocking blocking typically refers to blocking by ISPs. s that are blocked are not processed through the ISP are essentially prevented from from reaching their addressed destination. Most ISPs actively block coming from suspected spammers or tag the subject line SUSPECTED SPAM. filter A software tool that categorizes, sorts or blocks incoming , based either on the sender, the header or message content. Filters may be applied at the recipient s level, at the client, the ISP or a combination. ESP Service Provider. Event triggered Pre-programmed messages sent automatically based on an event such as a date or anniversary. Hard bounce Message sent to an invalid, closed or nonexistent account. Internet Service Provider (ISP) Typically ISPs provide mail and web hosting, as well as providing access (such as ADSL). 11

12 Mailing list A list of addresses that receive mailings or discussion-group messages. Microsite A Microsite is a mini website used to archive your past newsletters. A unique URL link is given to you so that the microsite can be used as a portfolio of your past newsletters and templates, linked from your own website. Open rate The number of HTML message recipients who opened your , usually as a percentage of the total number of s sent. The open rate is considered a key metric for judging an campaign s success, but it has several problems. The rate indicates only the number of s opened from the total amount sent, not just those that were actually delivered. Opens also can t be calculated on text s. Also, some clients only scan message content without actually opening the message, which is falsely calculated as an open. Opt-in or Subscribe A specific, pro-active, request by an individual recipient to have their own address placed on a specific mailing list. Opt-out or Unsubscribe A specific request to remove an address from a specific list, or from all lists operated by a single owner. Also, the process of adding an address to lists without the name s pre-approval, forcing names who don t want to be on your list to actively unsubscribe. 12

13 Permission-based sent to recipients or subscribers who have opted-in / subscribed or given inferred permission to be sent communications from a particular company, website or individual. Whichever way you look at it, permission is an absolute prerequisite for legitimate marketing. Personalization A targeting method in which an message appears to have been created only for a single recipient. Personalization techniques include adding the recipient s name in the subject line or message body, or the message offer reflects a purchasing, link clicking, or transaction history. Preview pane The window in an client that allows the user to scan message content without actually clicking on the message. Really Simple Syndication (RSS) A format for delivering regularly changing web content. Many news-related sites, blogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS feed, sending it to whoever wants it. Return on Investment (ROI) From an marketing perspective, understanding this number helps you determine where to put your advertising dollars, which campaigns are performing best, what percentage of your investments are turning directly into income, and how much it costs you to find and retain clients. 13

14 Segmentation Dividing or separating your list based on categories, purchasing behavior, demographics and more for the purpose of targeting marketing campaigns to the audience most likely to respond. Single Opt-in Once the most widely accepted and routinely used method of obtaining addresses and permission. A single opt-in list is created by inviting visitors and customers to subscribe to your mail list. When you use a sign-up form on your website, a message immediately goes out to the subscriber acknowledging the subscription (a good example of an auto-responder). This message should reiterate what the subscriber has signed up for and provide an immediate way for the subscriber to edit his/her interests or opt-out. Industry best practice now dictates a double opt-in. Soft bounce sent to an active (live) address but which is turned away before being delivered. Often, the problem is temporary -- the server is down or the recipient s mailbox is over quota. The might be held at the recipient s server and delivered later, or the sender s program may attempt to deliver it again. Softbounce reports are not always accurate because they don t report all soft bounces or the actual reason for the bounce. Spam The popular name for unsolicited commercial . However, some recipients define spam as any they no longer want to receive, even if it comes from a mailing list they joined voluntarily. 14

15 Subscribe The process of joining a mailing list, either through an command, by filling out a Web form, or offline by filling out a form or requesting to be added verbally. (If you accept verbal subscriptions, you should safeguard yourself by recording it and storing recordings along with time and date, in a retrievable format.) Targeting Selecting a target audience or group of individuals likely to be interested in certain products or services. To get the best out of a campaign, analyze your list and target accordingly. Targeted campaigns yield a higher response rate and result in fewer unsubscribes. Triggers Triggers send automated follow-up s based on the recipient s reaction to an you ve sent to them. Triggers can be set up to send a time-delayed when the recipient clicks on the link or opens the . They re great for sending thankyou s or for sending coupons to people who ve clicked on a product. Unsubscribe To remove oneself from an list, either via an ed command to the list server or by filling in a Web form. Whitelist Advance-authorized list of addresses, held by an ISP, subscriber or other service provider, which allows messages to be delivered regardless of spam filters. 15

16 The Pros and Cons of Marketing marketing is popular with companies for several reasons, although it also has its disadvantages: Advantages of is personal - As online interaction expands through social networking, blogging, online shopping and banking, your address starts to form part of your identity online You can track your campaigns - Unlike most other marketing tools, is easily tracked. This means you always know whether or not your campaigns are performing as you d like them to Your campaigns are exclusive - Your newsletters are a chance to reward your most loyal followers Advertisers can reach substantial numbers of subscribers who have opted in (i.e. consented) to receive communications on subjects of interest to them. ing is low cost, environmentally friendly and paper free. It s easier to collect addresses than to capture physical addresses for posting Social sharing is of newsletters possible, giving messages much wider reach via social media audiences. can be personalized to each subscriber automatically. Being an electronic channel, s are delivered almost immediately. Disadvantages of Certain companies have very strict spam policies, and for this reason you could get labeled by their filters as spam. s sometimes get overlooked by subscribers. 16

17 Your target audience is required to be opt in (permission from clients to send them ) Companies considering the use of an marketing program must make sure that their program does not violate spam laws such as the United States Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM), the European Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, or their Internet service provider s acceptable use policy A Brief History of ing Since came into existence nearly two decades ago, at a time when the internet started gaining popularity, companies took full advantage and realized it as an easy way to reach customers. Here below is outlined some important milestones in the evolution of the channel: The first electronic mail message is sent by computer engineer, Ray Thompson An electronic mail message is sent by Queen Elizabeth(the first head of state to do so) The first electronic mail message advertisement is sent out to schools and universities over a server The term is used and the first emoticon(smiley face) is created by Scott Falhman SMTP is introduced (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) The birth of the internet(as we know it). 17

18 overtakes regular mail in terms of send volume HotMail is launched by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith and becomes the first web based service The release of Microsoft Outlook Microsoft buys over Hotmail for about $400 million and renames it MSN Hotmail The word Spam is recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary Spam laws are codified by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) Internet acronyms officially recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary SPF (verify senders identities) is established Multimedia s are introduced Gmail is publicly available. DKIM (anti phishing security protocol) is introduced The word is changed to by the Associated Press Stylebook. What is Permission Based Marketing? This is the idea of permission: only people who have explicitly requested your marketing s should be added to your list. In most countries (the USA is a notable exception), sending bulk marketing without some kind of permission is often illegal. Second, those organizations managing incoming (webmail services, corporate IT departments etc.) aren t limited by legal definitions: they view marketing sent in bulk without the recipient s permission as spam. 18

19 Consumer surveys also reveal that a main reason for marking or reporting as spam is: I never asked for this. Spam reports are a major factor used by webmail services and others to tag bad senders, potentially leading to outright blocking of all that sender s s. If you are accused of sending spam, then you may find your accounts closed down, your website shut off, and your reputation in tatters. In some parts of the world, you may even be breaking the law and have to pay fines. Essentially, you need an address owner s permission ( opt-in ) before you can send them a commercial . If you don t have this permission, then the recipients of your mail may well regard your message as spam; unsolicited commercial . Quite apart from these practical considerations, there is also a strong argument which says that long-term successful marketing relationships with customers and others can only work anyway if they re permission based. Types of Marketing Campaigns The tools available today make it easy to set up and implement multiple campaigns. To a lot of people, the term marketing automatically conjures images of an intent on one thing - selling. In actual fact, there are a number of types of communications you can pitch to your clients, some of which are not directly sales related but can certainly contribute to their bottom line in other ways. There are three primary types of marketing campaigns: 1) Newsletter campaigns If you are producing an newsletter, then its continued delivery should be considered a campaign. These messages are written and delivered on a regular 19

20 basis (monthly frequency is a good starting point). The goal of a newsletter campaign is to keep your subscribers updated on company events, specials, etc., and to keep your business top-of-mind. You can also use newsletters to reduce support costs and to spark conversations in social media. 2) Automated campaigns Automated campaigns are pre-written and pre-scheduled s that are set up for delivery based on pre-defined timeframe. For example, you may set up a new subscriber campaign that includes your welcome message, followed by a series of additional evergreen (meaning they do not include any time-sensitive or event-specific information) messages that introduce the new subscriber to your business. The goal of an automated campaign is to send appropriate messages based on a particular trigger event (like someone buying something, requesting a demonstration, subscribing to your newsletter, clicking on a specific link etc.) (it can also be based on a calendar date, or on a date relative to the join date). 3) Promotional campaigns These s typically revolve around a marketing event, product special or specific promotion, encourage subscribers to take advantage. You might start with an announcement, then follow-up with reminders at appropriate intervals, then one last chance reminder just before the event. The goal of a promotional campaign is to make your subscribers do something (attend an event or a show, buy a new product, etc.). You may want to consider segmenting your list for your promotional campaign, so that you could create a specific campaign just for that interest-group. The following are several options for different send or campaign purposes: 20

21 Newsletters (e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly) Quick Announcements (e.g. sales, specials, emergencies) Catalog s (e.g. new products, stock clearance) Press Releases (e.g. company announcements, breaking news) Service s (e.g. product use tips, technical guides) Surveys (e.g. customer service feedback, general questionnaires) Invitations (e.g. company events, celebrations) Thank You s (e.g. post-purchase thanks, post-survey thanks) Notifications (e.g. changes in customer status, membership confirmations) What an Marketing Campaign Involves This section discusses the marketing process in general; introducing each basic step in particular for those who have never sent a campaign before. There are roughly 5 steps to successful marketing, and they are: Step 1) Deciding on Campaign Goals Before you launch your campaign, you need to decide what it is that you want to accomplish. Why are you sending your s? Do you want to deepen the quality of relationships, take your list through the sales cycle, and educate subscribers? Who you want to reach with your newsletter? Do you want to speak to current clients, prospects or the press? What do you want people to do when they read your newsletter? What are your subscribers interests? What would they be looking for, and why would they be interested in hearing about it from you? 21

22 The key to a successful marketing campaign is getting your aims and objectives straight right from the start. Set clear goals before you send your , and build your messages and campaign around those goals. Step 2) Building an Address List List building is all about gathering names and addresses, and getting them into an easily accessible, centralized location. Building your own list of current customers, past customers, and prospects (versus buying names and addresses) is the best option. And even if you only have 10 addresses, you need to start somewhere. When compiling a mailing list, it is essential to make sure you stay the right side of the law. If you re collecting addresses yourself, you must get consent from the person to whom the address belongs before mailing them. If you re collecting addresses via your website, you need to make sure that people are asked to opt-in to receive your s. Don t ask for too much information at first. All you really need to get started is a first name and an address. Most importantly, promise privacy. You should develop a privacy statement that communicates to customers how your company uses their personal information. What are your subscribers interests? What would they be looking for, and why would they be interested in hearing about it from you? 22

23 Step 3) Creating Newsletter Layout and Content When you create your newsletter, you want to make it a quick-read for subscribers. Don t overwhelm readers with too much information. Decide what types of sections you will include in your newsletter, such as an introduction, a main article or editorial, case studies, featured products and services, short tips, interviews with industry experts, notifications about upcoming events, or promotional offerings. Once you ve decided on your newsletter s format, it s time to source or generate the content, and drop it into your newsletter template. The key here is simplicity - make it easy for your visitors to find what they re looking for, and make sure the information is easy to read. Space out paragraphs and separate articles. Don t go too over the top. Remember that every image you add increases the time it will take for your message to download in your user s inbox. Step 4) Sending your Newsletter service providers make sending newsletters easy. Not only do they let you set up and schedule your broadcast ahead of time, but they will monitor who opens and clicks on links in your s so you can measure your results. Decide when and how frequently you will publish your newsletter. Frequency can make or break your marketing success. If you publish too frequent, your newsletter may be perceived as spam. If you don t publish enough, your readers 23

24 won t remember that they subscribed. You may find it is best to let subscribers choose how regularly they receive content from you. For instance, if you usually offer just a daily , you may also want to offer a weekly or a monthly version. Before you send, run an A/B split test to see which newsletter subject lines will likely have the highest success rate and check your spam score to see if you need to change anything on your mailer to ensure it won t be snagged by spam filters. Step 5) Measuring Campaign Results If you don t have a way of measuring your success, you won t know whether or not your campaign has achieved its objectives. As with any marketing campaign, testing is crucial to your success. Statistics reports about your s as part of an ESP s offering may give you a lot of information. Specifically look at: Delivery rate: The percentage of your list that received your . Open rate: How many people opened your . The open rate will give you an idea of how active your list is. Click-through rate: How many people click the links in your . Look at whether certain offers get more clicks. 24

25 Also look at: List growth: How fast is your list growing. This will give you an idea of the spread of your newsletter and how popular or appealing your s are. Sales rate: Return on investment (ROI) is where your brings in the business. How many sales can you attribute to your newsletter compared to how much it cost you? For some companies this is the ultimate measure of success. An marketing strategy is a work in progress, so make sure to set benchmarks and monitor the performance of your campaign. As you learn more about what your subscribers want, you can incorporate those changes and improve. Defining Success - Marketing Metrics Numbers have a magic of their own. Print them and they assume an importance often unjustified by their origins. Random guesses become formal estimates. Estimates become assumptions. Assumptions become fact. The same is true for marketing. But at some point in your work with , you ll want to compare your results with those of others. Which is why, despite their flaws, you ll need to understand what metrics are there for and look at some benchmarking numbers: industry-wide metrics of marketing performance. (Note: for definitions of the key metrics, please see the Marketing Terminology section.) 25

26 Although performance metrics depend greatly on the purpose, audience and basic value of each campaign, send or series, there are many specific actions senders can take to lift results. A review of the metrics suggests potential for improvement in the following areas: The quality of address lists. Subject line optimization. The call-to-action. metrics give you a basic number to work with, but your marketing may not be directly comparable to any average, because each list and each has its own unique characteristics. At the very least, industry metrics let you see if you re way off with your numbers. If the average open rate in your sector is 40% and you re getting 10%, you know you have a problem. If you re getting 70%, you know you re doing quite well. Benchmark metrics also help with planning. If you have no other way of coming up with future estimates, then at least you can fall back on industry averages. Whatever the rights and wrongs of how published metrics are collected and calculated, they do identify trends (assuming the methods used for collection and calculation remain constant through time). Insights on what works and what doesn t are often buried in metrics reports, too. There s always a degree of interpretation needed, but you ll get plenty of circumstantial evidence on such issues as the value or importance of list size, segmentation practices, personalization and so on - all of which can help fine tune your campaign approach. 26

27 So after all these ifs, buts, whys and wherefores, where can you actually get hold of some metrics? Get it from your ESP Some marketing service providers such as GraphicMail offer you free industry comparison reports in your account. Get an online list of worldwide metrics for performance stats, deliverability stats, consumer surveys and client market share reports. The main independent metrics report is MarketingSherpa s Marketing Benchmark Guide. It normally costs just under $400, but they have many free options, too. Getting away from averages, you can also find numbers in many published marketing case studies. Of course, you can t make like-to-like comparisons here either, but every number helps give you a better understanding of marketing life and how well you are performing. Keep your eye on the marketing news, especially when there s a big online marketing event, companies like to publish the results of surveys and bag a bit of free PR. Whenever you see a metric mentioned, take a note, save for later, and compare your campaigns at an appropriate time. 27

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