Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sherpa chart: Marketers Tailoring Digital Tactics in Recessionary Economy


From Marketing Sherpa:

SUMMARY: Every marketing tactic gets more scrutiny when budgets face the sting of a struggling economy. Here is a glance at how marketers expect to tailor their investments in digital tactics during a downturn.

As an email marketing consultant, I am pleased to see that almost half of those surveyed are investing in their email database, though it's to be expected given email's low cost and proven ROI.  The increased focus on house lists, with a decrease in spending on rrental lists could mean more opportunity for cross-channel promotions to increase house lists, i.e. using paid search to encourage new visitors to register for an email marketing program.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Temporary hiatus

Thanks to those of you who have asked if I've abandoned this blog, but rest assure that is not the case! I've just taken a temporary leave to get caught up on my workload, but I'll be back in early November with more posts.

I appreciate your interest!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wrong source for lipstick information

I noticed a spike in traffic yesterday to this blog of people searching "you can put lipstick on a pig." After a little bit of Google searching myself, I discovered Obama used the phrase yesterday in a speech. To everyone who landed on this post I wrote in June 2007, but was looking for a story about Obama using that expression, I apologize for the inconvenience.

Talk about learning current events by way of your blog stats....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Study: Email is cheap and we like it

This week's Marketing Sherpa Chart of the Week highlights marketing spend allocated towards email.

Here's the chart, taken from the organization's Benchmark Survey:

A takeaway from the above is that just as many people said email is cheap or free and fine as it is as did those who find it to be a powerful tool that's worth spending enough on to stay on top of it.

Yes, email is an inexpensive marketing tool, but I think the "junk-in, junk-out" rule applies here.  Companies will only get so much out of their email programs if they don't allocate proper resources towards them.  MailChimp blogged about a company that notched a $157,000 ROI from its email campaign.  (OK, this company deals in precious metals, but still.)

It is my hope that the 31% group grows and more companies begin to realize the power that the channel carries.  As the market for mobile messaging grows, I see email as a complementary channel growing alongside it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

E-m-a-i-l: Email, email, email!

No sooner did I write about the importance of combining text with images in email design did I come across this email from the New York Jets:

It's lovely to look at, but it goes against everything I believe in as far as email design is concerned. I'll give the team credit for blasting this message at 4 a.m., mere hours after the deal to acquire QB Brett Favre transpired. But I wonder how many Jets fans, before they've had their morning coffee, opened up their email to find something that appeared as jibberish to them. This could have been how some even learned that their beloved Gang Green was now home to the former Green Bay signal caller!

I know, more questions than answers here. But another example of how something rushed into the pipeline could have resulted in some missed opportunities.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Email design: The good, bad and ugly

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of HTML-only emails. My settings, like those of most people, have images turned off.

In fact, here’s a quote from a Marketing Sherpa study:

MarketingSherpa data indicates that 59% of consumers and 90% of business email users view some or all of their email with images turned off. This includes people who may view email in their preview panels with images turned off (remember, this is the default for many email clients including Gmail and some versions of Outlook). It also includes people who view their email on a mobile device, such as a BlackBerry.

(This matches past posts here and here about the need to consider viewing email on PDAs.)

With many in planning mode for their Q4 holiday email campaigns, I wanted to show the good, the bad and the ugly of email design. It may have been chic at one time to put form ahead of function, but nowadays, good marketers know that improper planning and design can be costly. Style no longer trumps substance, but they still should complement each other.

Here’s the ugly message that I receive from Fifth Group Restaurants on a weekly basis. (Click the links to view the examples.) With images turn off and images turned on. If I didn’t display the images, I’d have NO idea what their message was trying to convey. (You only get so much from a subject line.)

Here’s a bad example. Images off (as it first appeared in my inbox) and after I turned the images on. There’s some information in the alt-tags, but darned if I get anything meaningful from it. Shame on them for putting the text into image format.

The winner (in my inbox) comes from Upromise. Even with the images turned off, I get the gist of their message. Turning them on complements the text. They still have a top navbar either way.

Here’s a quick and dirty list of things to think about and best practices (it’s by no means complete):

  • KISS – Keep it simple, stupid. Don’t pack too many bells and whistles into an HTML email
  • Use alt tags and support text around images. If a reader’s setting have turned off images, they’ll still get the essence of your message
  • If manually coding your message, lay it out with tables
  • If you’re not going the Design DIY route, use an email service provider with existing templates
  • Test, test, test

And here’s a list from Feb. 2007 that lists the default setting for images for most of the major email clients.

Friday, August 08, 2008

(Belated) Meet-up recap

I have been terribly remiss in posting a follow-up to an earlier post that mentioned I'd be speaking at an Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs Meet-up last month. For a full review of the event, here's a recap by Ben Chesnut of MailChimp, who was also a speaker. His take is much wittier than anything I could put together. Again, I want to thank Mike Schinkel for the invitation to speak and for documenting the event. (That's one of his photos at the right, taken from his Flickr set.)

I also wanted to link to the presentation I gave at the event. It's uploaded to Slideshare, which is a great way for sharing slide decks. I titled it "Email 101" since it's pretty much an overview of things to consider when beginning an email marketing program. Another similar site for sharing PowerPoint presentations is 280 Slides, which I learned about from Ben at the Meet-up event. It is not a requirement that your deck have 280 slides, by the way.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What is this blog about?

I'd say this is pretty accurate - email, marketing, Atlanta-based, communication on different platforms.

This was created by wordle.net. I just plugged in this blog's URL and presto.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Further proof that email is essential

The following is from an article in the Charleston (S.C.) Business Journal:

In a May 2008 study of consumer attitudes conducted by the research firm Ipsos for Habeas Inc., 67% preferred e-mail as the primary method of personal and business communication. A majority (88%) said they would like organizations to give them more choice over the content and frequency of e-mails they receive, including ads, offers, articles, newsletters, white papers and other content.

This is exactly what I covered in the Email Marketing 101 presentation I gave last week to the Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs Meet-up.  Knowing what your audiences wants - and how often they want it - is critical to your email program's success.

The article went on to give an example of how email can be effective when combined with other components of the marketing mix, such as a direct mail piece in this instance.

h/t: Douglas Karr

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Look before hitting reply

Seth Godin blogged today about emails that explicitly say, "Do not reply to this email.  Here's his take.

Email is a unique medium in that it can be personalized and allows for instant feedback.  Seeing that note at the bottom is a pet peeve of mine.  I shared my address with them and indicated that I was open to their messages, I think the least they could do would be reciprocate and have an open line of communication!

For transactional emails, I can understand this. And, as Seth points out, larger companies may not be expected to sift through the one-off responses that emails could generate. 

But, for smaller companies, having a dedicated reply-to address for emails is imperative.  It's a step email newbies are likely to forget. But in doing so, they're missing an opportunity to have human-to-human interaction with their customers.  Ones that want to hear from them, no less!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Want to use email to drive site traffic?

I'll be speaking this Thursday, July 17, at the next Meet-up event for the Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs group.

Here are the details:

Event title: Using Email Marketing to Drive Traffic to your Website
Day: Thursday, July 17
Location: Georgia Tech ATDC, 75 5th Street, NW, Hodges Room, 3rd floor Atlanta, GA 30308
Time: 6: 45 p.m.

You can register for the event, by clicking here.  I'll be wearing my I Send Your Email hat and talking about what to keep in mind when thinking of launching an email marketing program.

I hope to see you there!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Palm doesn't want to get lost in the shuffle

I have received two emails in two days from Palm touting their Centro smartphone. With today's launch of the new iPhone, I guess Palm is trying to do its best to keep their product in the collective consciousness of telephone shoppers.

It's a nice idea, but I think it's a reach for Palm to think the Centro could be a replacement for an iPhone.

And today's message (at right) is pretty weak in my opinion. The call-to-action ("learn more") is buried and the font size touting the new color is awfully small. The new color feature is touted in the subject line - Palm(R) Centro(TM) smartphone now in Electric Blue on AT&T - but I think it should be written as prominently as the "Palm(R) Centro(TM) smartphone" headline above it.

OK, end of rant. But I will end by giving Palm credit for adding features to its phone and having a compelling reason to send today's blast. I just hope they set their expectations accordingly.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Well, now you know

I've been a member of Facebook for over a year. This morning I logged-in to Facebook and was confronted with this at the top of my home page: What gives? Why am I just not being asked that question? Makes me wonder how I been identified in others' feeds all this time...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Quantifying the clutter

When I created this blog, I had information such as this in mind:

“As consumers, we see over 3,156 images a day. We’re just not conscious of them,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of the consumer research firm NPD Group. “Our subconscious records maybe 150, and only 30 or so reach our conscious behavior. If I have a celebrity as part of that message, I just accelerated the potential for my product to reach the conscious of the consumer.”

That quote is found in a NY Times article about the power of celebrity and how some brands can enhance their message's relevancy by using celebrities to hawk their products.

It illustrates the competition marketers have for consumers' attention and the importance of using smart methods to cut through the clutter.  But "smart" doesn't always have to mean using a celebrity.  It just happened to have helped in the cases cited in that article.

Technorati Tags:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What's new?

I  have been gone from this blog for too long, but I haven't forgotten about it in the meantime.  I've been sidetracked by a few projects and am planning to turn by attention back to this beloved blog.

When I do, I am predicting that the majority of my posts will be related to email marketing.  I've begun an email marketing consultancy and would like to keep my posts focused on that area of marketing, rather than just marketing stuff in general. Time has helped me learn that I need to focus on one aspect rather than try to be a generalist.  I have gravitated to email marketing in the course of my freelance work - it's what I enjoy most - so that will be the easiest thing for me to blog about.

Lately I've been working on my consultancy's web site.  For now the .biz version is functioning (www.isendyouremail.biz) but I am working on the .com version and am looking forward to sharing that with everyone soon.

I've also been added to the MailChimp roster of experts (found here) and have enjoyed getting to know them and their excellent service.

On Tues., June 24 I'll be speaking to the Atlanta Online Merchants Meetup group on the topic of email marketing.  Thanks in advance to Eric Winter for this opportunity.  The event is at 6 p.m. at the Peachtree Branch of the Atlanta Public library if you'd like to attend.  Click on the meetup link above to register.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs - May 15

I'll be taking part in a Meetup event tomorrow, May 15, for Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs called "Ask the Experts."

The AWE group is intended for anyone interested in starting or running their own web-based businesses, especially those who are currently running successful web-based businesses and want to find, get to know, and learn from their peers.

For this month's meeting, there will be six or seven tables with four 20 minute sessions each where attendees can ask questions of and have peer discussions with “experts” in various fields regarding web entrepreneurship.

I'll be covering email marketing, but there will be people there to cover SEO, social media, branding, e-commerce, legal issues, video and much more. The list is way too long for me to include here, so click this link for the entire rundown.

  • Thursday May 15th, 2008 at 6:45pm to 9:00pm (dinner afterwards @ Gordon Biersch)
  • Ga. Tech ATDC, 3rd Floor Hodges Room (Parking North Side of Building)
  • $10 prepay, $20 at the door
  • RSVP at Meetup.com (RSVP by 12 noon on May 15th is REQUIRED)
Thanks to Mike Schinkel for the invitation to participate.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Look Kids, Big Ben, Parliament

Big Ben
Originally uploaded by sandi_karchmer_solow
In my first real foray into using Flickr to share photos after a vacation, two of my photos were located by a writer for NowPublic.com, a Canadian news sharing organization. I went to London over this past weekend and took some shots of Big Ben, which can be found at right and here. Neither are anything spectacular, but they fit into a story she wrote on the 150th birthday of Big Ben.

I am just amazed that in all of the photos on Flickr, mine were located and I was contacted about them. (Not that this is anything new, as Hyku would tell me.) I guess it just goes to show that the right tagging and description can help separate your work from the rest of the online clutter.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reaching an Audience of 8

Here's a story that caught my eye:

To woo academic recruits, college makes them stars Philadelphia Inquirer 03/27/2008

Gone are the days when a simple acceptance letter was enough. Now Wilkes University in Pennsylvania is courting eight high school seniors into matriculating at the school by making them rock stars through TV ads, commercials and pizza boxes all featuring messages tailored specifically to these eight students. So far they're undecided on where they will go to college and Wilkes is hoping this tactic will be enough to sway these students into enrolling. Maybe the ads on MTV will do the trick.

Not only is Wilkes trying to reach these students, but the tactic is intended to raise the school's profile among other mid-level Pennsylvania schools. Interesting.

I appreciate their creativity, but I really hope this method doesn't become the norm.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How not to follow-up to SoCon08

I went to SoCon08 this weekend and had a wonderful time. It was a fantastic gathering of people from a variety of backgrounds that all have an interest in social media. I was able to meet a lot of interesting folks, and see some old contacts, such as Josh Hallet, Dave Coustan and Grayson Daughters.

One person I did not meet, however, sent me a follow-up email yesterday (Wednesday) morning to pitch his services. I knew something was up when it came to my personal gmail address and not the business address on the cards I handed out at the conference. I checked the other recipients of the note (which were not hidden – shame on the sender!), and sure enough I was one of a dozen or so – listed in alphabetical order – whose names had been lifted from the conference registration sheet (which is where my personal address is listed).

Here’s what the email he sent said:

It was good meeting with you at the SoCon08 Conference. The Sales Group is a sales performance agency – focusing on sales recruiting and sales training for businesses. We are sending you separately our latest newsletter, “Driving Profit,” which we hope you will find beneficial. We would like to speak with you if you feel your company would like to increase its sales productivity.

P.S. Please visit our website at COMPANY URL HERE – no link love from me, sorry

Since I hadn’t met him, I sent him the below:

Hello Jack --

Thank you for your note, but I don't believe we talked to each other at SoCon. However, I can appreciate your business outreach effort and would like to reciprocate with an offer to talk with you about my email marketing consulting business and help you avoid future communications that could be construed as spam.

Sandi Karchmer Solow

Despite his advance warning, he signed me and the other 200+ SoCon08 attendees up for his eNewsletter. I never asked for this message and consider it the dumbest thing he could have done for his brand. I haven’t gotten a response to my email back to him – no surprise.

In the course of writing this post, I found others – Josh and Lance Weatherby (not Lancy) to name two – who have done a great job of taking this man to task. The comments to each of their posts are worth reading.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Don't discount a 140-character message

We've been away far too long from this blog, but out of sight doesn't mean out of mind. It was the holidays, New Year, yada yada

Anyway, I found an interesting gem as one of the links of the day on Micropersuasion. A NY Times story on how some media outlets are using Twitter to microblog from the presidential campaign trail.

It's worth a read.  But ever since reading the story, I've been thinking about the comment below from Josh Tyrangiel, the managing editor of Time.com, whose site is promoting its reporter's Twitter and Flickr feeds from the campaign trail. Is a 140-character limit really the best way for someone to follow the presidential race?

“If you tell people how to consume their content, they will ignore you,” he said, a truism that experience had taught new-media executives. “Let people do what they want to do and try to be in their circle of choice.”