Guest Blog Post: The Collective Power of One

Collective Power of One

Originally posted on the ExactTarget Blog.

The Collective Power of One

We all learned at a young age that the easiest way to avoid answering the “which is your favorite” question is by saying enthusiastically, “I liked them all!” Well, during a conference featuring “The Power of One” as the connecting theme throughout – “I liked them all” sounds rather like a cop-out. But that’s my answer to the question “Who was your favorite speaker at Connections 2011?” I loved them all. Collectively.

It wasn’t the power of just one of the speakers that moved and impacted me – it was the Collective Power of One (ahem, maybe the secret theme of Connections 2011) that made their stories the most powerful. After all, how can you compare the quality of the content of a speech from a man like Aron Ralston, who survived 127 hours alone, pinned by a boulder in the desert and amputated his own arm because he felt a tremendous drive to return to his loved ones – to – a panel of industry leaders having real-time conversations about real-time emarketing topics that mean the world to our work and our businesses?

Jimmy Wales, the CEO and Founder of Wikipedia, was thoughtful, intelligent, and even quite humorous – but I also spent my Wednesday morning enthralled in excellent conversations and panels on social media marketing and content marketing for B2B businesses. Both were tremendously valuable, thought provoking, and informative. I wouldn’t have wanted miss one for the other under any circumstances. I also can’t forget all of the product contributions and visionary conversations of the ExactTarget executive team of Scott Dorsey, Tim Kopp and Scott McCorkle; without their updates and edge-of-your-seat announcements Connections would not be complete or worth attending! And I of course cannot dismiss the powerful messages of education and giving that we heard on Day Three: between Soledad O’Brien’s poignant message about the Power of One education and impacting One life with One donation, and the panel of education equality advocates that joined the conversation at Connections 2011 – the message was overwhelming.

So, it is with some hesitation and some resolve that I stick to my guns and say that Connections 2011 wasn’t about the power of One speaker but rather the collective power of all of the “One” speakers and attendees – brought together by One conference that enables email and digital marketers around the globe to harness the power of One communication tool to reach millions and millions of “Ones” out there. Cheesy, I know, but I’m sticking to what I learned in 3rd grade when it comes to weighing in on a really tough decision: “Well, I guess I just really loved them all!”

How to Content-Market for Free without a Single Drop of Technological Skill

Not everyone who uses a computer at work all day knows how to code HTML, and it isn’t like our public schools are planning to include a “PHP, Java, and Advanced Devlopment” course in place of Phys-Ed class anytime soon. So, for a business who wants to participate in Content Creation and Inbound Marketing to their website, what’s a non-techie to do?

Well, there are plenty of great content-creation tools that stir up some SEO-juice along the way without a single lick of code, and here are the best

3 Codeless Content Creation Tools Out There

… AND if you can take the extra step of linking these 3 resources together via RSS feeds (no code required) then you’re doing even better. Finally, if you can invest a few dollars into hiring someone to link these resources to your website (or getting someone internal to do it) then you’ve basically given your entire brand an often-updating facelift and a new lease on life.

1. Twitter.com – obviously you’ve heard of it, but do you know how easy it is to set up? If you’ve ever been frustrated that your static website just couldn’t express a single revelation or announcement that your company had EVER, think again. A Twitter account can be opened and up and running (with pretty logos/graphics) in less than five minutes. From here you can share content, update followers about events or seminars, and provide information must faster than you could ever get someone to update your site.

2. Facebook Groups – all you need to do is login, upload a photo, and request friends to join your group and it’s done. Announcements are as easy as hitting the “return” key, and users who might otherwise not go to your website daily now hear from your brand multiple times a week.

3. A Blog* – A blog requires some baby steps to get the maximum benefit out of it, but if you just want to set one up and start sharing your thoughts, then a simple platform like WordPress.com is super easy and the best way to go. All you need to do is define a URL for your blog, and you can be posting to it a few seconds later, e.g. YourBusinessHere.Wordpress.com.

That being said, the distinct benefit of a system like WordPress is twofold: it can be built easily, and it can morph into something much bigger and better down the road. Some small-to-medium sized businesses even use it as a template for their website: which means it can be easily managed and updates without any code – and it’s easy to include pieces from social giants like Facebook and Twitter as you go. The other great thing about WordPress is that you can eventually purchase your own domain for your blog, or fold it into your websites domain as well.

Once you have these 3 pieces set up, you’ve just laid a great foundation for future content marketing success. Sure, you can hire someone to update your website to include these new features, or you can convert your site into a WordPress blog, or spend money on making any of them look nicer… but at the onset as you “experiment” and try new ways to create content and share thoughts with your users – the only cost is the time you put in and the only skills you need are fingers and the internet, so why not give it a shot? It might just change the way you (content) market.

image: www.internetbillboards.com 

Originally posted on the ListEngage Blog – written by Kim Lindquist

Getting Targeted As The Dog Days Dwindle

Originally written for and posted on ListEngage’s Blog: 

It’s the end of August, one of the traditionally slowest months for productivity and growth for many industries — and maybe you found a little dip in your email marketing ROI this summer? All of those “Out of Offices” and clicking latencies are precisely the reason it’s time to restructure your email goals — and plan to hit your targets dead-on once “school’s back in session”.

So this summer, as the dog days dwindle – why not swing back into action with

3 Fool-proof Ways to Deliver Targeted Email Marketing:

Send Emails Based on Attributes: Your “Master List” is a living database of all of your many, and uniquely different subscribers. If you’re a sporting goods store who knows their customers favorite sports you can pre-determine that while Joey the runner from Chicago, IL may want nothing to do with your “Fall Footbal Blowout Sale”, Coach Bill in Plano, TX might be looking for all new padding for his defensive line. By sorting on the “Sports” profile attribute and sending the email to Coach while avoiding Joey, you’ve made one football fanatic ecstatic and saved another customer the grief of deleting another email from his inbox!

Drip Campaigns: Someone shows up on your circuit board website and asks for a quote, but certainly isn’t ready to buy. They leave their name and email, and you send them a series of emails based on what you know about your buying cycle. Day 3 after quote, a handy “What to Consider When Buying Circuit Boards Email”; Day 8 after quote, a reminder email; Day 11 after quote a discount coupon worth 10%; and if they happen to buy somewhere in between the mailings stop.

Dynamic Content: Don’t want to make 50 emails with varying content for the 50 states you send to from your Daily Deal website? With dynamic content, a feature that ListEngage is fully versed in, you can create one email and define what content you want to go into a template based off of what data you have on the subscriber. With dynamic content you can send one email and simultaneously feature the daily “Lobster Roll Deal” in Boston and the daily “Wine Tasting Deal” in San Francisco! It’s easy enough to pull together and a tremendous time-saver that delivers targeted results.

What other email marketing efforts has your team taken on and had success? Leave a thought below.

Mobile Browsing Soars – Social Tops the Charts

Just walk down a crowded side walk at rush hour – and try not to bump into someone posting Facebook updates on their iPhone, checking in at the train station, or tweeting about work that day. It doesn’t take a super-sleuth to see that Americans are using their mobile devices more than ever to browse the web, check email, and update on social networks. But, the actual percentage of increase in mobile browsing from last year to this year – 45.7% to nearly 64 million users in total – is pretty mind blowing.

Within that growth, social media is posting up the most impressive statistics; it had the highest growth recorded in any user category. According to a recent study by comScore Mobile Lens, the number of users who accessed social media sites via mobile device “almost daily” increased more than 70% Year over Year as of March 2011.

So what does this phenomenon mean for mobile web users, and what sort of ripple effect will it have on industries that rely on these users? In the short term, it means more advertisers will start venturing into mobile where they can find new audiences, our data providers will likely have to invest double-time (and hopefully not charge double) in these new networks and, of course, you might have to pay a little more attention to all of those crazy new mobile browsers and updaters who have been let loose on the crowded sidewalks!

This post was originally written for and featured on the ListEngage Blog – written by Kim Lindquist.

Language International: Traveling the World from my Living Room

Language International ImageSeveral months ago I was given an opportunity to travel the world – from the comfort of my own living room! Cambridgebased Language International allows students interested in studying abroad to work with a knowledgeable team of language learning advisors to make their international experience a success.

From comparing programs, cities, and seasons to booking their next language learning adventure, Language International provides guidance all along the way. In order to increase site traffic and improve their SEO, I wrote many keyword-rich articles about the hundreds of cities where Language International places students.

Here are some examples:

Choosing a Country to Learn In

Italian Courses in Italy Description

French Courses in France

Japanese Courses in Tokyo

Not only was this project so much fun to work on, but now I feel I might need to travel to all of the hundreds of cities that I learned about while writing for Language International during this project!

A/B Testing Takes the Guesswork out of Email

Originally written for and posted on the ListEngage blog.

Who hasn’t heard the phrase “Test, test and test again” when it comes to email marketing? Smart marketers have always understood the power of A/B testing their campaigns but the process has been cumbersome, and time consuming. Checking to see which emails perform best when, or with different subject lines and offers has always been a challenge that emarketers have had to take on manually.

Send one email at 10:03 am and one at 2:07pm with separate subject lines and then spend the next 3 days poring through the data, analyzing the results trying to incorporate the findings into your next campaign.

A/B testing has been inefficient to say the least—and most importantly, marketers have really only been able to view their insights in the rearview mirror in the past… but not anymore. Now, leading ESPs like ExactTarget have made A/B testing easy for marketers providing real-time emails, real-time testing and real-time results. Now email marketers can send 2 versions of a campaign simultaneously, measure open rates in real-time, pause sends and decide which campaign to launch to their “master list”.

What does real-time A/B Testing mean for email marketers then? Less guesswork and more results.

A/B split testing allows you to put your best campaign forward in Real-Time by monitoring various versions of the same email, and determining which is performing best. Users are then capable of evaluating test results and sending the “winning message” to subscribers.

The way that is works is simple:

  1. A user can go into the system and choose a campaign to set up in A/B Testing.
  2. The user can then set up their test variables, like:
    • From Name
    • Subject Line
    • Send Date/Time
  3. Users then decide their “test audience” say, 20% of their master list
  4. Once the test has been sent, users can then evaluate the test results and…
  5. Voila! Send the most successful campaign to the remainder of their subscribers on that particular list/campaign.

A creative subject line, a lunch time pick-me-up email, or sending from a well known person in your company may be the difference between email success and a big “flop” of an email, so make sure you’re always continuing to test, edit, and try new things in an effort to achieve overall email accolades. You, your boss, and your subscribers will all be psyched at the more targeted messages and awesome results!

How to Make Subscribers Share Your Emails Socially

So now that you know Why No One Wants to Share Your Emails Socially from our post earlier this week, we’ve got some foolproof ideas to get your subscribers to actually start sharing your email marketing campaigns! Here are our Top 5 Suggestions for Making Your Emails more “Share Friendly”:

1) Share in Pieces: make sure there’s delineation between your pieces of content and let each separate piece be shareable. Odds are people will share a few paragraphs or an interesting article over an entire email on their social networks.

2) Show ‘Em WHAT and HOW They’re Sharing: most social subscribers understand the Facebook “Like” button, Facebook “Share” button and Twitter “Tweet” button. Even though there’s no Javascript allowed in emails – you can trick your emails into being able to host these functions. Get Code Here.

3) Make Your Email LOOK Social: Gone are the days of billboard marketing to your subscribers. Show them they’re a valuable part of the conversations by featuring their quotes in noticeable quote bubbles, highlighting “top users” (with their avatars of course!), and showing off the networks and conversations your brand has in the social-sphere. Think of the UI of popular social sites and try to take the best features, look/feel into your emails.

4) Prompt a Response:
 ask questions that will generate a response, make it look social and link it to a discussion on your blog, Twitter, or link to a YouTube video and ask for comments below the video – then include responses in your next mailing.

5) Embrace the Forwarding: Ok, so maybe there’s no way to check how many people just click forward in their email client, but take solace knowing that email was the first social medium and sometimes people do actually use it to share, connect, and comment in their own small networks. You might not be able to measure it, but it’s still happening!

Now go forth and get sharing!!!

Why No One Wants to Share Your Emails Socially (and How to Make Them)

Sharing Email

This post was part of a 2 part series originally posted on the ListEngage blog.

Marketers have been talking about “Making Emails Social” for awhile now— but how many people are actually having success with this mantra? Even though today there are many ways to integrate sharing functions into email like – ShareThis, AddThis and Forward to a Friend, social–sharing still hasn’t hit its stride.

So, what’s the holdup that’s keeping people from clicking, sharing, forwarding and (ultimately) getting your brand in front of more people?

Here are the Top 5 Things that Keep a Subscriber from Sharing Emails Socially:

1) What the heck am I sharing? (Uncertainty) – If you’ve placed a “ShareThis” button in your email campaigns and aren’t seeing a lot of clicks and sharing, you might ask yourself – “do these people know what they are sharing?” – do you make it obvious with visual cues and an explanation?

2) Where does that link even go? (Skepticism/Confusion) – Your users might be leery if they’re unsure of what happens after they click a “Share” function. Will they have time to review it before it posts? What will it look like?

3) Who would I want to share this with? (Common Interests) – You are uniquely you and sometimes your interests are very specific. Odds are, many of your contacts might not be interested in the personalized and specific emails you get in your inbox every day… which brings us to our next question.

4) Why would I want to share this? (Motivation/Value) – Great, you’ve just digested an email with some goodies in it from one of your favorite brands… but unless it has really compelling content, value or an offer you’re not going to bring it to anyone’s attention on your social networks.

And most obviously there’s the question of:

5) Why don’t I just Forward this to them directly? (Ease of Use) – Most users want to expend the least amount of energy possible sharing their info… and sometimes a quick forward from your own address is best.

Stay tuned and find out how to get them to share your emails in our next blog post (coming later this week).

Courting Your Social Media Prospects

Courting Your Social Media ProspectsJust like dating, attracting prospects to your business’ social media campaigns can be a challenge. Though we’re sure you’re quite the real-life Cassanova, here are some suggestions when it comes to courting yourself some fine-looking social media prospects:

1. Don’t be a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (aka – be genuine): Just like you can spot a sleazebag from halfway across a crowded bar, social media users can totally see through a company just trying to play it cool to get fans and followers. Don’t lure them in with witty banter if you plan to BLAST them with marketing messages a week later. Instead, ask questions you generally want to know the answers to, run contests users will actually be interested in, and plan to engage, not broadcast.

2. Be prepared for the good… and the bad: When you put yourself out there, sometimes you get the Prince and sometimes you get the Frog. Some of your users will be smart, funny, and engaging while others might just want to criticize your company or product. Make sure you’ve got a plan to react to both types, and no… deleting unflattering comments doesn’t count as a solid plan (unless they’re flinging 4 letter words at you). Always think through your strategy before you put yourself/your brand out there.

3. Go to the right places: If your favorite Friday night activity is building model airplanes while listening to Beethoven’s 5th symphony, you might not want to go out clubbing to meet your next soul mate. Seems simple, right? Well, the same thing is true about social media: as tough as it is to swallow, some businesses might not fit well on Facebook, for example, because they are just not that social. The takeaway is: know your audience and go where they are. If they don’t have a central meeting place, maybe creating a blog or forum will give them one!

4. Tell them how pretty they are: Ok, maybe that’s a little too creepy – but thank your fans, followers, and brand advocates! Make them feel like they get as much out of this relationship as you do, and make them feel special – with “members only” messaging, discounts, and “in the know” opportunities.

And if these suggestions don’t get you the hook-up, maybe lose the suspenders.

Image: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot

*Originally written for and posted on the ListEngage blog*