Tagging Mass eMail Campaigns to Track Visits by Recipients to Target Web Sites and Pages

Online marketing is a big business, powering the efforts of large and small businesses, alike. The objective is to cash in on the potential benefit of a very low cost direct marketing campaign, light on the printing and mailing cost, but high on the return on investment. But for one reason or another these efforts often fail.

The missing piece is the otherwise anonymous nature of communications across the internet. The network powering web pages, Ethernet over TCP/IP, simply doesn’t support the handshaking, error checking, etc., which would be required of a data communications protocol capable of supporting the type of clear, point-to-point communications online marketers definitely need. Ideally, such a system would help consumers learn more about just who is responding to a mass email, etc.

Enter VisualVisitor and Salesforce.com. These two cloud solutions can be used, together, to provide any size business with a very effective method of sending targeted mass emails and tracking web site visits by specific campaign recipients.

Certainly some mass email management services can make similar claims. In other words, a service like iContact® offers subscribers the option of tagging campaigs to show:

  • eMail opens by recipient
  • and clicks on web page links by recipient

But what iContact, and comparable solutions, cannot do, is indicate visits by email recipients over time. Nor can these services provide web site visit information of email recipients clicking on embedded links who then proceed to look at other pages on a website. For any business marketing intangibles and complex solutions, this latter information is very important and highly useful.

I can personally attest to the usefulness of VisualVisitor and Salesforce.com for the purpose of closing the loop on 1) Who received my email campaign?, 2) Which campaign recipients came to my web site? and 3) What’s the historical record of visits to my web site by these recipients?

If you would like to learn more about how these two SaaS offers can be used together, please contact me.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


More Often Than Not, Most eMail Marketing Content Fails To Motivate Recipients

We don’t think the vast majority of email content we receive is worth very much at all. As a preface to this post, our reader should note IMB Enterprises, Inc. markets online editorial content services. So we are in the business of producing this type of content for clients. But we do not, presently, do a lot of this work.

On the other hand, we do constantly study the activities of our competitors for these services, and have an email system with, literally, hundreds of folders, which we use to retain most of the marketing email collateral we receive. We retain this information to keep ourselves current with the latest editorial styles and approaches.

The missing piece in 90% of the email marketing campaigns we’ve reviewed is any effort, whatsoever, to determine the type of information, if any at all, of interest to specific email contacts.

Rather, the approach is as follows: the prospect registers on a website to receive some information. Once the registration has been received, the prospect email contact information is placed onto an opt-in email list to which an endless stream of follow on marketing content will be sent, presumably, unless or until the contact opts out of the list.

If our experience is indicative of the norm, then it’s apparent to us why truly effective online marketing methodology is, still, in its very early stages of development. The investment in long term email push marketing (meaning direct marketing email campaigns) will rarely, if ever, pay off. To fix this problem we recommend businesses use one of the following methods:

  1. Carefully design online registration forms to include a list of questions to qualify the appropriateness, near term, and, perhaps, over the long term, of assuming a contact may become a sales prospect.
  2. Follow up website registrations with either a telephone call or an email request for more information about the contact registering on your website
  3. Do not use spurious methods of obtaining contact registrations. Include requests for registration in offers you know will produce real sales prospects at some appropriate point in time

Let’s face it, most contacts will never become prospects, so why inundate them with email content of no interest to them?

If your business can use some help rethinking your email marketing strategy, and you have a large contact list, give us a call, or send us a message. We welcome opportunities to discuss this type of requirement.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Use Direct Marketing to Build Brand Awareness by Sending Press Releases to Website Visitors

Anonymous visitors to websites identified by VisualVisitor, or one of their competitors, can be successfully targeted to receive the type of promotional collateral proven to build brand awareness.

Press releases are an excellent choice for this type of activity. Here’s how to identify recipients:

  1. Select businesses to receive your press release information from the leads list provided by VisualVisitor for your website
  2. Check your internal CRM system for any identified contact from the businesses selected in 1)
  3. Use social media resources, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google + to add contacts who you can reach
  4. Add these contacts to your internal CRM system
  5. Where possible, send a link to your press release, along with a one paragraph précis of the release, directly to targeted recipients by email
  6. Where an email address is not available, make careful use of messaging features of social media to send the same message to targeted recipients
  7. After sending the press release, note the activity in your internal CRM and schedule another message three (3) months out

This system will help you build marketplace awareness for your brand. We write and publish press releases with PRweb We’ve seen a marked improvement in clicks to our client’s website since implementing VisualVisitor on a blog that we produce for the client.

You will note we recommend scheduling a second email, or social media message to targeted recipients ninety (90) days from your first direct marketing effort. We chose a date several months out to spare the contact from the type of excessive contact activity we’ve noted as the norm for drip email marketing campaigns. Keep in mind, your effort is meant to introduce your brand to the recipient, not to sell your product. Should the recipient have a need for a product in your market in the future, chances are he or she will look further into your offer once your brand has been introduced through this method.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. has considerable recent experience working with direct marketing programs for early stage businesses with technology products. If your business can use a more effective direct marketing program, please contact us to discuss what you need.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Lead Generation Systems for Smaller Business: A Sensible Approach to Outbound eMail Marketing

Direct marketing should be an ongoing activity for businesses of any size. But frequently smaller businesses either overemphasize this lead generation strategy, or complete ignore it. The familiar picture of a small consulting firm with two or three representatives placing lots and lots of unsolicited telephone calls usually lacks one or more smiling faces. This approach is very difficult and expensive when you factor in the amount of time required to identify targets, place calls and, hopefully, finally engage with a contact. As a client once explained to us, “when you do finally find someone who’ll listen to your story, you can bet they’ve got a real hard problem to solve”. So there ought to be a better way to implement a direct marketing strategy for a smaller business on a tight budget.

Let’s start by categorizing direct marketing efforts into “sensible” and “not so sensible” buckets. The picture of a consulting firm’s “boiler room” falls into our “not so sensible” bucket. Lots of work, lots of irate recipients of unsolicited telephone calls, burned out sales representatives and a miniscule contribution to the bottom line. But a plan to use direct marketing efforts to produce leads rather than sales makes more sense and is a worthy addition to the “sensible” bucket. Better yet: this type of program may not be very costly to implement.

VisualVisitor is an example of a Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud system designed to provide website owners with leads, in this case information about visits to their websites from businesses. At a monthly cost of $39.00 we think VisualVisitor is worth some investigation. By focusing direct marketing efforts on the smaller businesses identified by the VisualVisitor system, smaller consulting firms have a better chance of identifying specific individuals who may want to hear about what the firm has to offer. Keep in mind, the reason why the smaller firm is on your radar is a visit placed to your website by someone employed at the firm. So a genuine rationale for a call is available, which is important when placing unsolicited calls to businesses.

In the next post to this blog we’ll look further at this system.

If your business is struggling to identify a sensible lead generation system, please contact us. We’ve put together a package of service specifically for smaller businesses.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Product Presentations Do Not Make Good Content for Drip eMail Campaigns

We receive a lot of emails with content designed for drip marketing. Most present product information. An invitation to a webinar on a product topic is a popular call to action for these unsolicited messages. Sometimes they offer white papers, case studies, etc. We don’t think these campaigns work. Here’s why:

One reason for implementing a drip email marketing campaign is to revive dormant leads. Recipients with minimal interest in products aren’t likely to warm up to presentations about them, or success stories, white papers, etc. In order to revive someone’s interest, first give them an opportunity to see themselves in a mirror. Acknowledging someone’s pain points, the likely day to day realities of their job, etc. will go much further to gain their interest.

As we noted earlier in this series, Marketo and Eloqua both take precisely this approach. They use editorial copy to focus on pain points and the challenges most mid level marketing managers at mid to large size businesses in 2013 face. Recipients who choose to read a message will be more likely to maintain an interest as emails later in these campaigns present other reasons to engage of a more substantive nature.

But the companies buying the services that Marketo and Eloqua offer somehow miss the need to communicate to recipients that their position is understood as a first step towards engagement. When we receive an email from VMware to attend an event on a highly sophisticated topic specific to enterprise class IT organizations considering virtualization as a solution to on premises hardware lifecycle challenges, our interest is not piqued. VMware hasn’t paid attention to who we are, or why we registered for their mailing list, so their whole campaign amounts to wasted effort.

There is certainly a better way to implement drip marketing campaigns. The actual first step, meaning before the first email is drafted, is to construct a registration form that collects the right information to ensure that the campaign is built on a truly useful theme for a recipient. More about the form in the next post to this blog.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Drip eMail Campaign Recipients Must be Managed with Courtesy

Regardless of whether recipients opt out of drip email campaigns, or not, businesses responsible for the campaigns must adjust the timing of messages to adhere to the guidelines of courteous behavior. Building an acceptable schedule of mailings can be a problem.

If a target list of recipients has been put together from the dormant leads mentioned throughout this series, sending a first unsolicited email message can be interpreted, perhaps rightfully, as a discourteous act. We always include an apology for intruding on a recipient’s time at the very top of email messages for these campaigns. Any requests to opt out should be received as quickly as possible. Recipients are more likely to let you know they want to be removed from a campaign recipient list when an apology has been included in the first email message.

You need to carefully mail unsolicited content. If you use a service like iContact, MailChimp, or ConstantContact, to distribute your drip messages, you will lose your right to use the service if the frequency of spam reports crosses a threshold. Learning quickly that someone wants to be removed from your list benefits your campaign. Just be sure to comply with the request and completely remove the individual from your recipient list. We advise deleting the recipient’s information entirely from your list to avoid any inadvertent future mailings.

Another useful option, especially where the recipient list is made up of dormant leads, is to stagger mailings over a longer interval. Sending out unsolicited messages once a month, or perhaps no more than twice a month may be acceptable to recipients. We include apologetic language in our content for these mailings, as well, along with an explanation of why we think recipients may want to take the time to read the message.

If recipients do not respond to mailings over a set time frame — we think six months makes sense for most campaigns — best practices dictate transitioning recipients to a different schedule with longer intervals between emails.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Cost to Benefit Realities for Drip eMail Marketing may be Attractive for Smaller Businesses

It may make sense for truly small businesses to implement drip email marketing campaigns to try to resuscitate dead leads.

Email campaigns for small businesses usually amount to a sales pitch directed to specific recipients. But the process of sifting through contacts to find leads with genuine interest in products and services, which is what drip email marketing is all about, should be as productive for very small businesses as it is for their larger counterparts.

What is the cost of developing a set of 24 email messages, usually with less than 100 words per message? Even at $1.00 per word, a one-time fixed expense of $2400.00 can buy a very small business a six month campaign of timed emails on a specific product or service. This type of campaign can certainly be applied to an unlimited number of contacts.

If we expand on this idea, for a small business with 5 core products, then the cost of developing a drip email marketing campaign for each product amounts to $9200.00. If the average price of a product is $100.00, then the total cost of all of the campaigns is entirely recouped with 92 sales.

There is no limit to the number of contacts who can be scheduled to receive the emails. As long as products are not changed, the same investment can pay for itself over and over again. Human intervention is only required to review the results of campaigns and to make adjustments to improve performance. Autoresponders can be used with complete success to send out emails to contact lists on specific dates.

A cost per click online advertising campaign does not represent a fixed expense for a very small business and cannot be reused without additional expense. A significant amount of management time is required to optimize CPC campaigns, especially when advertisers need to use display networks.

The success of neither a drip email marketing campaign, nor for a CPC search engine advertising effort can be guaranteed by anyone. But the cost of drip email marketing campaigns may be within the reach of established very small businesses.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Drip eMail Campaigns Should be Built Around a Consistent Prospect Profile

The is the second of two blog posts on what makes sense for direct marketing in 2013.

Eloqua’s drip marketing campaign service is a direct competitor to Marketo. The picture of an ideal prospect that we put together from the Eloqua campaign looks like a mid level manager at a $100 million small business and up. Neither Eloqua nor Marketo has a solution for truly small business.

The editorial content positions Eloqua as an authority on the topic of “marketing automation.” The emails focus on industry best practices. We also found some of the old “fear, felt and found” structure that big companies made use of back in the mid 1980s. The reader is advised to follow the leaders who are all adopting the type of campaign analysis that Eloqua markets.

A closer look at the reader reveals a junior professional who needs the tips an authority like Eloqua can offer. This picture is consistent across each of the email messages that we received.

What can smaller ISVs learn from the examples set by Eloqua and Marketo? As we noted in yesterday’s post, the object of both campaigns is to inform recipients about features of products. There is no effort to sell recipients anything. But each email includes a call to action, usually for a download or to sign up for an online webinar.

Therefore, smaller ISVs should implement similar methods when they design drip email marketing campaigns as their principal direct marketing effort. The objective should be to identify sales leads from dormant contacts.

For editorial content requirements, we think that ISVs should use the type of writer capable of producing blog post content to craft an original set of emails. Twenty four email messages should be satisfactory for a 6 month campaign to revive dormant leads. No more than 75 words per drip email should be required to get an effective offer in front of recipients.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


More of an Effort to Lead with eMail Marketing Makes Sense for Tech in 2013

As we finish this current series on our opinion of the usefulness of cold calls for sales lead development in 2013, we need to present an approach that we think has more promise, namely a planned campaign that utilizes targeted email delivery of promotional collateral. As a preface, we need to note that we’ve substantially changed our opinion on the usefulness of email marketing over the last year.

Our approach to a coordinated direct marketing campaign, which, at a right moment, will also leverage telemarketing engagement with interested prospects, implements email as the method of delivering the marketing collateral that paves the way to engagement for the prospect. Our method is designed for tech businesses with highly targeted markets, and rather far removed from the type of email campaigns (often referred to as Drip Marketing campaigns) that are currently ubiquitous.

Perhaps, in this context, our present opinion of the usefulness of email delivery for marketing communications pieces of promotional information is more consistent with our earlier view. To put it simply, lots and lots of enterprise tech buying activity is presently happening online, in the form of product research, customer ratings reviews, and even actual purchasing. Therefore, we think it makes sense for tech businesses to support the market’s interest in exploiting online resources, by communicating with potential prospects via email, at an early stage in lead development.

What we favor is an exchange of information. In other words, we design our email communication piece to solicit engagement with a prospect. We request information about something and offer some information of our own, in exchange. Of course, our intention is to establish a basis of communication with a prospect in a mutually safe space: We are not pushing, nor are we asking our recipient to buy anything. With little to lose but time, our bet is that recipients of our email communication will be more likely to share a glimpse of their specific experiences on a relevant topic, which will afford us an opportunity to send them a position paper, case study, success story, or press release.

Once the information exchange has been completed, our next piece of marketing communications collateral is sent to gauge any thoughts that our recipient may have on the information that we’ve sent to them. Of course, our inquiry also includes some candid thoughts of ours on the information that our recipient has offered to us.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved