Online Marketing Automation Solutions Accessible to Small Businesses

Earlier this year we spent some time reviewing two of the leading online marketing automation services available today — Eloqua and Marketo. Either of these services does a great job providing customers with a full featured lead management system. Some common highlights include lead nurturing and lead ranking tools. These services are great for larger businesses capable of paying hefty monthly charges (between $2 and $3K per month plus a set up charge in the range of $10K) while still seeing an attractive return on investment. But what about businesses in the $5M to $10M annual revenue range? Are there any alternatives to these high end services?

Fortunately the answer is “yes”. We’ll present some information shortly on a service offered by ClickBack, which can be used by small businesses to implement a lead nurturing system along with a lead ranking system. Configuration and customization will certainly be required for best results. But the overall costs will be far less than the cost of comparable services from either of the market leaders we’ve just mentioned. If you need to know NOW what we’re putting together, contact us, we’ll be happy to elaborate for you.

An online marketing strategy is a “must have” for any U.S. business in 2013. The leading edge of the market is grappling with how to successfully automate their marketing systems to reach small, smart mobile devices. Our system will deliver handsome returns on investment, and with much less effort on the part of internal staff. We’re enthusiastic about the information we’ll shortly share with our audience.

If a successful online marketing program is essential to the success of your business, you should familiarize yourself with the features of an online marketing automation system. Please check out Eloqua, Marketo and even ClickBack to learn more about these techniques.

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