Think Your Emails Are Compelling?

They very well may be. But what if they’re never delivered? Your customers never get a good, long look at your message.

A new study from Return Path just came out that shows a little more than 20% of business email doesn’t get delivered. And that’s across all email addresses — when you look at emails sent to just business addresses, the number climbs up to 27%+.

Is this news to you? The study just reinforces what we already knew. A couple of my posts in recent months have talked about email — here’s one that has some thoughts on email volume and relevance, and this one also discusses relevance. B2B also had some good observations recently about reasons to reign in your email volume.

Customer email addresses are too valuable. We spend alot of time acquiring customers, maintaining their data, and meeting their expectations. Don’t let .30 worth of emails, sent in too short a time period, fatigue your lists and ruin all that other work. And ultimately damage your brand.

Charge ahead with that revised email plan.

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Craft Your Personal Brand With Care — Or Else

Personal branding is certainly important to career growth for any growing or established executive. It’s arguably more important than your resume, as when your personal brand is strong, it makes the job of your resume that much easier.

That’s why it’s critical for you to take a good, long look at a few short videos, courtesy of the very valuable AdMaven blog, on the legal implications of personal branding. These videos, taped during a recent Chicago Media Marketing and Advertising June Meetup, feature Daliah Saper discussing the nitty-gritty details of the employer-employee relationship as far as who owns what in regards to your personal brand and how you build it. The discussion of course includes a focus on personal branding via social media, including Twitter and blogs.

You may be surprised at some of the answers.

Kudos to AdMaven for making these videos available.

7 Things To Do in the Next 7 Days — Part Two

Hopefully you’ve been able to make some progress on the first three to-do’s posted not too long ago. Or, at the very least, you plan to start on them now, then come back to these four after. Anyway, here you go — four more things you need to do for the latter part of the next seven days, for all the reasons discussed here.

4. Open a Twitter account and watch the conversation.
Ok, I know for a fact alot of people think Twitter is just plain crazy. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I just don’t get it.” However, if you’re anti-Twitter, you’re anti-customer. You’re anti-being-informed. You’re…anti-marketing.

Let me explain. Love it or hate it, customer conversation occurs on Twitter every day. Check that…every minute. And you don’t want to be part of that?

If you’re not on Twitter already, you need to open an account right now, on Day 4. Don’t like the concept? Fine, don’t even participate then, just watch the conversation. You read stuff to stay up-to-speed right? The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, or now the five blogs you’ve already lined up, per my earlier post. Isn’t a huge group of potential customers talking amonst each other valuable too? So start the account and watch the conversation. Follow hashtags relevant to your business, products or customers, and see what’s being said. There is powerful dialogue going on and powerful sharing of thoughts, gripes, praise and ideas that you need to know about. Here’s a good WSJ tune-up article, and a video below.

You need to do this — what you learn from the dialogue impacts your marketing strategy AND your knowledge of customer needs. Guaranteed.

5. Find information about Google Wave and read it start to finish.
Part of our jobs as marketers goes beyond just using what tool are available today, like Twitter. We need to stay aware of what’s coming next, so we understand what can help us be more effective, help make our messaging more impactful, and get us closer to our customers. Enter Google Wave.

Google Wave is positioned to be a ridiculously cool new communication tool. Incredibly powerful, and alot of promise for empowering web-based conversation on a whole new level between people and among groups. Here’s an excellent article to start with, and another article that’s a preview for developers on the Official Google Blog. Mashable also has a nicely detailed article.

After those, find a few more and read those too. As marketers, when this launches, we need to be ready to use it. It’s customer dialogue on steroids. The world of social media moves at a speed unseen before, and we need to move just as fast. What’s next after Wave, what will be the next cool tool that helps us be more effective? Do your homework and you tell me.

6. Look at your current marketing spend — are you over-invested in a particular area? Fix it.
I’m not a big advocate of change for the sake of change. Yet even though the lion’s share of your customers or sales may come from one place (and by place, I mean channel or medium), you need to fix your budget and strategy if you’re spending too many of your dollars in that one place.

Being over-invested right now likely means you’re sending too much direct mail, running too many print ads, or most importantly sending too much email. You need balance — more than ever, customers have different habits, different preferences. Don’t discount channels until you’ve tested. “It’s always worked the way it is” is not a valid enough reason anymore to avoid trying and testing different channels or different messaging. Mail less, test some creative. Hell, try sending LESS email for a few months that has more relevant messaging. You may be pleasantly surprised.

7. Stop planning “monologue” marketing campaigns and create campaigns based on “dialogue” instead.
My friend Alex Krawchick said this a few weeks back, and it stuck with me. His actual quote was:

I’ve had it. If I see one more “industry thought leader” pontificate about how to “…use Twitter to increase awareness of your business…”, I’m seriously going to lose it. You s are completely missing the point. Twitter (and FB… and LinkedIn) was built as a tool for dialogue. The days of the marketing and advertising ‘monologue’ are over. Move on. Or just shut up already. Either way, smarten up.

I don’t think I need to add to that much. Well said. If you have a Twitter account, blog or other social media endeavor, use it for what it’s meant for, not as a megaphone for a one-sided message.

So there you go. Seven things to do in the next week that can make a great impact. Charge ahead.

7 Things To Do in the Next 7 Days — Part One

It’s a crazy time to be a marketer.

So much to do, so much to learn, so much to stay on top of. It’s the most dynamic time in the last 15 years. Technology evolves at a breakneck pace even in the down economy. Social media rewrites the way marketers can engage customers and build relationships. Twitter rises to a frantic level of use — and marketers become frantic overnight trying to embrace it. Expected evolution in traditional tactics like direct mail and email still continues (yes, we’ve arrived at the point where email is now a “traditional” tactic). And you have to keep an eye forward to prepare for next-generation advances in targeting and technology.

How can you do it all, AND do your day job?

Ultimately, the answer lies with you. You have to find a way to balance the skills that keep you employed today…

  • Driving sales
  • Achieving goals
  • Raising ROI
  • Motivating employees
  • Building brands

    …with the skills that will keep you employed tomorrow.

  • Utilizing the latest technology
  • Understanding shifting customer needs/wants
  • Building a strong personal brand
  • Evolving your brand positioning with the changing market
  • Driving sales, raising ROI, building brands, and all the rest — in different times, with different rules, and different strategies

    So, in the interest of helping you find that balance, I offer you a few things to do in the next seven days (if you’re not already doing them). Take a good, long look at this list, and find time to dedicate time to each task — not just this week, but for good. You’ll be better prepared to charge ahead with whatever the economy demands of marketers in the coming months.

    1. Find five blogs to read regularly.
    This is the first thing on the list, because it is a complete MUST. There are so many experts out there who write compelling things every day to help you do your job. And they don’t work for publishers, they’re not all journalists — if you read this blog, you know our future is driven by content, not journalism. They’re marketers with decades of proven experience who blog and offer ideas and insights you need to read, understand and apply.

    Seth Godin and Chris Brogan are two I read always. There’s a buzz-generating new book out called Free by Wired‘s Chris Anderson…do you know about it? You would if you read blogs. There are also people with excellent business acumen, who aren’t necessarily marketers by definition, that can help you. Mark Cuban, for example. Look at the blogroll on my homepage for more. Use Google, search in your vertical market for other experts. Ask colleagues. Whatever you need to do. The point is this — set up a My Yahoo or Google Reader page, and find at least five blogs you must read, minimally, at the start of each day. You will be smarter at the end of the week.

    2. Talk to one customer each day.
    Every day, we’re busy. We have copy to write, projects to manage, bosses to assure, and strategies to present. Yet if part of the day doesn’t involve a conversation with a customer, then all that other stuff may end up being inaccurate. How do you know if the copy you write, projects you manage, and strategies you present — all of which are targeted to your customers — will be effective with your customers if you don’t ask them? How do you know what media to use for your message — not just today, but tomorrow — if you don’t ask them? How can have a breakthrough launch or idea that differentiate you from your competitors, if you don’t ask customers what they need?

    More importantly, you can’t build a strong personal brand without a refined way to understand customer needs.

    So get a customer list and call one each day. Young marketers, especially you. Don’t just be an executer — be someone who can offer insightful input based on conversations you have with people in the market. Ask that customer each day what keeps them up at night, what media they use, what budget challenges they face, and what keeps their customers up at night. And use that feedback to guide all your decisions. You will be smarter at the end of the week.

    3. Rethink your email marketing campaign.
    I almost gagged the other day when I heard about someone in my own company who emails every person on his email list every single week. Everyone gets everything. Here’s a better idea — save the time and money, and just opt-out all your customers right now.

    There are two ways you should rethink your email campaign right now: frequency and relevance. More is not better — more relevant, however, is. So take extra time to understand your customers and your list, and craft well-timed messages that are more relevant to what keeps them up at night (which you’ll found out by talking to a customer each day…#2, see above). Some people on your team may push for more, more, more — I say go for quality over quantity. Email inboxes are full right now, in case you’re the one exception to that reality and didn’t realize it. Stop pushing messages just to be pushing — study your metrics and know what works for a particular list, know what customers need and find relevant, send messages around times/dates that are important in the metrics, and focus the message on key needs and/or pain points. Doing it this way, less will get you more.

    Oh, and if you’ve been doing the same thing, try something different. Find balance between consistency in branding and fresh messaging that generates response. If you have a brand email template, try a text-only message that’s on-brand yet delivers the message in a unique way.

    There you have it. Three things to start on right now. See you in three days for the rest of the list.