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The Top 5 Event Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

Beyond • September 12, 2014

If the fans don’t wanna come to the ballpark you can’t make ‘em. This time honored dictum should be engraved on the computer screens of all event marketers as although they might conceptualize, develop, and produce one of the greatest, finest, and most exceptionally wonderful events of all time, if no one shows up for it then it’s going to be a failure of epic proportions. Events live and die by their attendance and if you’re making any of these equally epic mistakes you might as well start preparing the burial site for your event. 1. Spam the planet – We’ve all had the impulse to let as many people know about our event so that we might have thought that violating online best practices might be worth it “just this once.” Well, no matter how much you may be tempted you should never violate the rules of CAN-SPAM and of email and other online communications best practices. Sure, it might be really tempting to want to buy that list of attendees from that other event promoter since you think that it would be a natural for them to attend your event, but buying a list is one of the fastest ways to put a stake through the heart of your event. 2. Have a zillion discounts – Discounting the price of the ticket is an effective and powerful way to maximize the turnout to your event, but you have to implement the K.I.S.S. rule. If you have a 10% discount to members of this organization, a 15% discount for members of that one, a 20% discount for people with green eyes, and a two for one for any conjoined twins, all you’re doing is confusing the living daylights out of your entire audience. Even if you try to keep the offers separate and direct to only specific categories of prospective attendees, they’re going to find out what the other group is being offered and they’ll be offended that they’re getting a lower discount than their counterparts. Create one discount structure and implement it universally if you know what’s good for your event. 3. Book your favorite presenters – Yes, you might think that Mr. So-And-So is an enlightened guru that will galvanize an audience but does anyone else really share your opinion? If you’re producing an event that is only intended for you to attend alone then by all means go spend a wad on getting your fave to present at your event, but if you’re actually expecting other people to want to show up you’d better provide them with the speakers that they are interested in. More than just about any other aspect of event production and marketing you have to be very careful and listen to what the crowd is telling you. Book the speakers that they want, not the ones that you want. 4. Disregard the calendar – No matter whether you’re planning a venue or online event, the calendar is key to your success or failure. It is obvious that you shouldn’t prepare an event for a day which is counterproductive to it, as no sane event marketer would schedule a business seminar on Independence Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. However, there are a myriad of other calendar dates which would conflict with various events. How about a Halal food festival in the middle of Ramadan? Or a temperance convention in New Orleans during Mardi Gras? Why not try out a film premiere on Academy Awards night! 5. Launch at the last minute – Yup, it would be a great idea to have your event next weekend, but only if you had started planning it six months ago! The rule of thumb is that if you’re producing any type of conference event you need to start at least half a year in advance, and more is even better. Some of the top annual conference producers start planning for the next one the day after this year’s is completed. You’re simply not going to be able to secure sufficient attendance with a snap event! You want your event to be well-attended and successful so don’t make any of these mistakes!


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The Top 7 Tricks Of The Responsive Email Trade

The Top 7 Tricks Of The Responsive Email Trade

Beyond • September 11, 2014

Responsive emails which smoothly resize according to the display specifications of the device are absolutely obligatory to all email marketers, so show the world that you’re a top expert by applying all seven of these tricks of the trade. 1. Go fonty with your icons - Icons sometimes lose sharpness depending on what display and scale they’re being viewed on. The Retina displays are one of the most common problem-causers as what looks just tidy and neat on a conventional computer display screen can end up looking pixilated and ragged on a Retina. The solution when it comes to icons is simple and easy to implement. Retina displays will scale fonts with maximum sharpness so instead of using a graphic for an icon go find a symbol font that has the icon you want to use and apply that. High resolution displays will render fonts with much higher accuracy than any other graphic, so no matter how large or small the icon will be on various displays it will always look great. 2. Only for 13 and up - Retina or no Retina, you can run into a really messy problem with iOS devices if you use text smaller than 13 points. The iPhone limits the point size to that level for its fonts so if you’re going much smaller you’re going to have to face the prospect that breaking that limit runs the chance of breaking your layout as well. 3. Get a special keyboard - Not only does iOS limit the smallest size of your fonts, but it also is a complete pain when it comes to special characters which often seem impossible to find. All you have to do is to use input type=”email” on your email addy form and that extremely restrictive standard Apple on screen keyboard will magically morph into a keyboard that has the special characters you really want, including that critical @. 4. Don’t download non-displaying images - Many online marketers are not aware that when you use display:none to hide the graphics which aren’t squeezing onto the screen what you’re actually doing is ordering the mobile device to download the image and then not show it. That’s a complete waste of bandwidth and is going to make your email display even more slowly than it should. You’re far better off to dig up one of the Java or CSS image load techniques which display images keyed to where the user is viewing the layout. 5. Shun the dreaded horizontal scroll bar - There are so many differing widths in mobile screens that you might be tempted to opt for the tablet crowd and make your layouts much wider than they should be for optimal viewing on the majority of mobiles… which means smartphones. No matter how tempted you may be, there is never a justification to exceed about 500 pixels in width as otherwise you’re just begging for an inordinate number of your customers to have to face the dreaded horizontal scroll bar. 6. Jobsis does the job - The Jobsis effect is known by the surname of its discoverer, and it’s one that you need to be aware of in all of your responsive email design graphics creation. It sounds very weird but it really does work so bear with me: Take any image you want to place into a responsive email; resize it in Photoshop to 200%; compress it to just 25% of the original’s quality; now resize it back to 100%. What will that accomplish? It will result in an image that is fully optimized for high resolution displays as for some strange reason it retains its 200% pixel density, but the file size is much smaller. Yes, there is a scientific basis for all this, but it takes a few thousand pages to explain it all so we’ll pass. 7. Test, test, test – You have to test your responsive email layout on as many devices and emulators as you can find. Quirktools is one of the best around, but find them and use them all! It’s not trickery, it’s wondrous to create great responsive emails!


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Adieu Authorship: Google Makes A U-Turn

Adieu Authorship: Google Makes A U-Turn

Beyond • September 10, 2014

When not too long ago Google eliminated Authorship photos, not too many wags would have foreseen the dropping of the entire Authorship program but sure enough, it’s now gone the way of the dodo bird. In a post by Google Webmaster Tools head honcho John Mueller, Google is no longer going to be presenting authorship results on their search pages and will no longer be tracking that all-important rel=author tag data. Why would Google flush a key factor that they have spent years nurturing in their search engine infrastructure and which has resulted in millions or even billions of manhours of author accommodation and setup? Simple. According to Google, users didn’t care for it. Authorship didn’t do much except confuse authors & users According to the squadrons of Ph.Ds which inhabit the darkest recesses of the Googleplex, authorship was not useful to Google searchers and even ended up distracting them. In his post Mueller stated that doing away with Authorship did not seem to reduce the overall traffic to any given sites, and had no effect on the clicks on the ads on those pages. Setting up Google’s Authorship was never a cake walk and unless you fully implemented the full range of tools which Google made available to you in order to make the most out of the program, it would have left you scratching your head in befuddlement. Due to the fact that Authorship wasn’t ever really an intuitive and easy set-up, many of the authors which were using the program weren’t doing it correctly and therefore losing out on much of the efficacy of the overall project. No discernable effect on click throughs or other metrics It wasn’t just the authors who found Authorship to be generally unpleasant, but it never really got the results that Google had been hoping for when it introduced it. When they started crunching the real world numbers for how users were interacting with the Authorship project they found that it had a totally negligible effect on click through or just about any other metric. So in a nutshell, Google Authorship really never delivered on its promises and landed on the online world with a bit of a thud. 70% of all authors weren’t implementing Authorship correctly At the time of the recent Google announcement of the passing away of Authorship, Stone Temple Consulting was just wrapping up an intensive study on the rel=author usage as pertains to the author’s actual markup. What they found pretty well dovetails with the story from Google and that is that adoption was marginal, and the authors who did implement it generally weren’t using the tag properly and therefore losing most or all of the benefits that it offered. Sampling 500 authors across 150 high authority web sites, the study found that 48 percent of all Google+ profiles had not applied any profile at all, 22 percent had created the profile but had failed to link to the publishing site, and only 30% had the profile and at least one link to the publishing site. With seven out of every ten authors failing to adhere to the basic standards of the Authorship program it seems that it was dead in the water from the start. Authorship ended up being a bit of a mess Another interesting statistic from the study is that fully 33% of all the web sites failed to have a single author page which is a critical factor for the entire Authorship program. The study also found a predominance of missing links to the Google+ profile, malformed and conflicting tags, and even multiple authors being listed for a single article when in actuality they had not collaborated at all! Google is sanguine when it comes to its various products and it rarely displays any form of mercy to the ones that fail to perform to its haughty expectations. Authorship never really worked, and with the onset of the mobile age the grand poobahs of the Googleplex may simply have determined that it just isn’t worth using up valuable mobile display real estate with a program that never lived up to expectations. Adieu, Authorship!


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The Top 10 Surprising Online Lead Generation Statistics

The Top 10 Surprising Online Lead Generation Statistics

Beyond • September 9, 2014

It seems as if for more than two decades in the online marketing era, brand marketers engaged in generating and nurturing new leads have been getting it all wrong. They have been making mistakes which are costing their companies the opportunities to forge lucrative new relationships. According to recent studies by Lead Response Management, Inside Sales, The Marketing Donut, and Aberdeen Research, some widely held beliefs about the lead generation process are literally nothing more than misconceptions. Review these top ten most surprising lead generation statistics and get ready to change great big chunks of your current strategies. 1. Lead contact - The chances of making contact with a lead increases one hundred times (not percent, but times) if they are contacted within five minutes. If you’re waiting until the next day to contact a lead so that they’ll think you’re busy with other customers, you’re losing one hundred times your advantage. The same applies to triggered transactional emails. If there is a contact made on your sites, get that email to them pronto! 2. Lead qualification – Your odds of qualifying that lead are 21 times better if you contact them within five minutes as well. When you combine the factors of contact and qualification the statistics are very clear: You have to act quickly or not at all. So stop dawdling and get with the program! 3. Swift sales – Fifty percent of all the sales go to the vendor who is the first to respond to an enquiry. If you needed any more justification to be quick off the mark, this statistic should prove to be more than sufficient to get you off your butt and moving fast. 4. Delayed reactions – Fully 63 percent of all individuals who request information on your brand offerings are not going to buy anything from you for at least three months, while one out of five will take over a year to finally proceed to checkout. Patience is key as if you kiss off a prospect too early you might miss out on the close. 5. Multiple contacts – Only two percent of all closings are ever made on the very first contact and that rises by only one percent to three percent on the second, five percent on the third and surprisingly only to ten percent on the fourth contact. It might be wise to move your best prospects into your house with you to make sure that you close them! 6. Long-term commitment – The balance of the number of sales, fully 80 percent of them, are made anywhere between the fifth and twelfth contact with a prospect. Although this may seem inordinately long, the research does back up these rather surprising statistics. 7. Personalization – While we’re on the subject of very surprising statistics try this one on for size. While 74 percent of all online marketers state that personalization is critical for customer engagement, only 19 percent of all brands actually personalize their outreaches! 8. Social media reliance – A considerable 48 percent of all online users state that they rely on the brands’ social media presences when making a purchase decision and thus becoming a “formal lead.” 9. Social media ignoring – Unfortunately, online brands only respond to 30 percent of the feedback from their social media followers. This bizarre factor has created a complete disconnect between social media users’ expectations of communication with the brands, and the brands’ actual commitment to that communication. Almost half of all of online users rely on your brand’s social media activities but you’re ignoring 70 percent of them? No matter how you slice it that makes absolutely no sense. 10. Social media tough slog – In an age where social media marketing has become totally de rigeur, it is somewhat disheartening to learn that almost exactly half, or 49 percent of all online marketers state that marketing their brand to generate leads on social media is the single most difficult tactic that they can implement. More than almost any other marketing strategy, social media is challenging… to say the least! These figures will certainly open many eyes across marketing departments, but the numbers don’t lie!


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The Top 5 Email Segmentations You May Not Be Using

Beyond • September 8, 2014

If you’ve been an email marketer for more than about ten minutes, you are certainly no stranger to the necessity to segment your email subscription lists in order to obtain the best possible results from your campaign. However, you may be finding yourself a bit stultified and flummoxed by the prospect of having to come up with some new and different criteria to apply to your segmentation efforts. In that case never fear as all you need to do is check out some of these top five segmentation strategies in order to implement them into your list management duties and presto, you’ll be a segmentation star! 1. Evangelists – An extremely lucrative segment of your entire email marketing list is the customers who love your brand so much that they have become advocates and evangelists for you. These people spend a part of their valuable time in talking up your brand to their social media circles, and thus they deserve far more than your conventional email content. This is the segment that you should definitely splurge on, with incentivized offers for loyalty programs, discounts and special offers which they receive when they refer any of their friends, and even special sneak peeks into upcoming products and services. 2. Changers – You may have long time customers which suddenly demonstrate a drastic shift in buying patterns. Perhaps they were spending a thousand dollars on your site in the run up to each holiday season and the last one was fifty bucks, or maybe they went the opposite way and started buying up your offerings as if you were running a fire sale. Either way, these subscribers deserve your attention with special email content. The customers which seem to be fading away could possibly be brought back to their previous buying volumes with valuable offers targeted directly to their previous purchasing behavior, while the ones who have shown significant increase in ordering might be encouraged to buy more if they receive considerable incentives and even volume discounts. 3. Timers – An inordinate amount of valuable information on the level of interest that your subscriber has in your brand may be gleaned simply through the determination of how long they have actually paid attention to your content. If they have clicked onto your webinar or podcast and then fled within 60 seconds, then you can be fairly confident that you are not capturing their hearts and minds. However, if they have stayed engaged until the end of the entire 45 minute duration, you can bet that these are customers which you can count on to have a marked level of brand loyalty and interest. By determining just how interested your subscribers are in your brand’s content you’ll be able to deliver them the email content that will best engage them. 4. Seasonals – There are some customers who are strictly seasonal purchasers and when you are able to identify those patterns you can certainly put them to good use. The ultimate seasonality is the one surrounding placing presents under the Christmas trees, but there are as many seasonal patterns to customer purchasing as there are calendar events tied into specific product and service offerings. Is your tech customer only buying between Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Is your beach lover only ordering in June? No matter what the seasonal behavior you can motivate your customer to consider out-of-season ordering by providing them with email content which demonstrates the value you can provide at times other than their favorite buying season. 5. Crazies – Yes, you read correctly… the crazies. These are the subscribers who you can’t seem to figure out as they don’t seem to show any sort of pattern at all. They buy when they feel like it, jump around among your offering categories, and generally act like they have a randomizer in their craniums. Instead of pitching everything including the kitchen sink at them, provide email content which directs them to your more lucrative categories and you might see a dollar value jump in their ordering. There are countless criteria for segmentation, but try these out and you may be pleasantly surprised.


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Email Automation Is Preferred By Marketers & Customers

Beyond • September 5, 2014

As an experienced email marketer you are well aware of the fact that “the power is in the list.” This internet marketing dictum effectively means that the primary power of an online business is contained in its list of subscribers with which your brand communicates through email marketing strategies which you concoct. The power of email continues to outperform even the most innovative online technologies, and as the mobile device adoption rate continues to flourish, email is blooming along with it. A recent eMarketer report entitled “B2B Email Marketing: Benchmarks and Best Practices for 2014” demonstrates that email is more valued by savvy online brand marketers than ever before and to an ever burgeoning level automation processes are taking email metrics to new heights. Email marketing is the #1 most important automation feature According to the respondents of the survey, email marketing is the single most important feature that any marketing automation system can have, with 89% agreeing to this statement. In the number one position, email marketing features in automation outshine lead nurturing at 84%, campaign management at 82%, CRM and social integration at 80%, and everything else! The rise in uptake of marketing automation features by online brand marketers is nothing short of amazing. Automation adoption is now nearly universal among email marketers In 2012, just 18% of marketers stated that they had implemented complete adoption including the integration of marketing automation into sales and marketing initiatives, but by 2013 that percentage had reached 26%. 2014 saw a huge increase in the total of complete adopters reaching a pure majority at 52%! In the meantime, the number of marketers who stated that they had taken on a strong adoption in 2014 was 29%, and only 2% of all marketers stated that they had only taken on “some adoption” of these necessary features. Email marketers want highly sophisticated, advanced automation systems Automation features for email marketing are often quite varied and are engineered to be applied across several channels at once as well as various formats. Professional email marketers have found that the primary email technologies that they want to harness are not simple the basic mechanisms which are able to provide a conventional measure of automation and management to email, but they want to go further and benefit from highly sophisticated and advanced systems which are able to manage a breadth of cross channel marketing campaigns in order to provide the precisely targeted and fully personalized experiences that today’s email subscriber has learned to expect from the brands they trust. The majority of consumers will purchase more items if they receive personalized emails This aspect of consumer appeal information is best shown by a recent Harris Interactive survey which stated that fully 82% of all polled consumers were willing to some degree to receive a higher frequency of email marketing missives, as long as their previous behavior, shopping habits, and other aspects of personalization were taken into consideration in the message. The survey found that 8% of consumers were extremely likely to purchase more items after receiving automated personalized emails about products, 17% were very likely and 56% were somewhat likely. Personalization helps to drop the barriers to providing personal information The barriers to providing personal information seem to melt away for a majority of consumers when it comes to whether they are willing to share their personal preferences with etailers in order to receive email marketing missives which are more relevant to their needs, preferences, and requirements. 16% strongly agreed that they would be happy to share more information, and 53% somewhat agreed. That totals up to 69% of all your email subscribers who are effectively telling you that they don’t mind revealing more about themselves, as long as you reward them with more targeted automated marketing messages. This seems to run counter to the prevailing concept that customers are recalcitrant to provide personal data… just treat them well! Those statistics clearly prove that if you are one of the last holdouts of utilizing the powerful ability of marketing automation to laser-target your emails to the particular characteristics of the consumer, you’re really waaaaaaaaaaaay behind!


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Chief Marketing Officer Council Agrees: Online’s Looking Up!

Chief Marketing Officer Council Agrees: Online’s Looking Up!

Beyond • September 4, 2014

In the recently released “State of Marketing” report, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council agrees that the global economy is definitely robust and on an accelerated upwards pace when it comes to marketing. There is a high level of confidence among CMOs that revenue growth and market share goals for 2015 should be not just achievable but may be surpassed. After the doldrums which were beset on the global economy after the 2008 financial shocks, this optimism is certainly welcomed by online marketers everywhere. Looking to grow staff & budgets in 2015 Of the 525 global marketers who were surveyed in the report, 81 percent stated that they believe that the current management mandates for growth are both realistic as well as attainable. Basing on this optimism, 55 percent of CMOs plan to expand their personnel base, and 54 percent of them expect to be able to harness even larger budgets next year as opposed to 2014. When examined by overall statistics, 2012 and 2013 were essentially flatlining in terms of both market share and company growth, but in 2014 the first true measure of improvement was seen and this is a trend which is widely expected to continue with even more vigor into 2105. CMOs are trusted & valued This renewed and refreshed optimism is at least partially due to the recognition within the C-suite of the importance of the CMO role. As CMOs continue to champion the efforts for brands to invest in both social media and mobile content in order to devise improved targeting capabilities and deliver a more personalized experience which maximizes customer engagement, the other members of the executive corps are sitting up and taking notice. Due to this increase in visibility and impact, the percentage of CMOs which has stated that they are indeed trusted and valued members of the entire C-suite has increased in 2014 to 69 percent which is a number which is considerably higher than it was just a couple of years ago. 1.2 mobile subscriptions per human in 2016 There is no doubt within the C-suite or outside of it that marketing is moving towards a business model which is focused on the needs of the client and the ways to cater to those requirements by the application of the latest technological tools. Most of this advancement is built around the mushrooming mobile market. By the end of 2014 there are expected to be as many mobile subscriptions as there are humans on the planet, a staggering total of 7.1 billion. This number is expected by Portio Research to exceed 8.5 billion by the end of 2016, which would mean that every man, woman, and child on Earth would have an average of 1.2 mobile subscriptions! The massive shift from sitting to mobile technologies According to IDC, desktop PCs represent just 8.6% of the global smart connected device market by category, followed by portable PCs at 11.6%. Tablets are responsible for 14.6% of the market (nearly double that of the old standard desktop PCs) while smartphones take the lion’s share at 65.1%. This massive shift from “sitting technologies” to “mobile technologies” has not gone unnoticed by CMOs who are targeting these burgeoning millions of mobile customers with ever more sophisticated tools to accentuate their engagement with the brand and thus receiving results on the bottom line which are not escaping notice by the other executives in the C-suite. There was a time not too long ago when a CMO was a position that many businesses didn’t even have, as marketing was a category of enterprise to be relegated exclusively to middle management. As marketing of all forms, whether online or off, has continued to prove its worth to Corporate America, the position of CMO is growing in impact and influence. It is not a coincidence that the growing visibility of CMOs is growing hand in hand with the explosion in the uptake of mobile web enabled devices, as this generation of CMOs understand the power to engage customers which is held within smartphones and tablets, and is able to leverage it for the overall success of their company.


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Understanding Lifecycle & Timing Factors To Minimize Cart Abandonment

Understanding Lifecycle & Timing Factors To Minimize Cart Abandonment

Beyond • September 4, 2014

Adobe has recently released their “Campaign Guide To Email Marketing: The Next Frontier” and it provides ample and valuable information to online marketers on how to transform an email campaign strategy into one that maximizes both metrics and return on investment. The Adobe guide starts out by stating that modern consumers respond in a very different way from their counterparts just a few years ago, as they prefer to read their marketing emails on their smartphones and then switch over to a tablet or laptop to actually consummate the purchase. Of course they demand that the readability and overall display of the emails be equally good on any device they choose. By taking into consideration the subscriber’s device, location, and behavior you can craft a campaign which truly resonates. Follow the subscriber through the entire lifecycle The guide delves into a very important factor which has long been known to online marketers everywhere and that is that it is critical to follow your subscriber through the entire consumer lifecycle. Has your prospect previously converted and has thus become a customer? If so, have they shown through their behavior to be repeat customers at a frequency which would classify them as being active? Have they taken the further step to not only be customers which are loyal to your brand but have actually been satisfied with your offerings that they have become online advocates and evangelists? Triggered emails can resuscitate moribund relationships On the flip side, some customers will have essentially ceased interacting with your brand and gone dormant or worse. Each of these customer lifestyle stages demands a varying approach with content which is specifically suited to your customer’s lifecycle. The guide goes on to explain that strategies such as triggered emails and various forms of remarketing can launch, empower, or even resuscitate moribund customer relationships as long as the most relevant offer is sent out at the most opportune time! Are you right on time with triggered emails or are you lazy? Exactly when a triggered email message is received will differentiate it between being a highly powerful and relevant missive or one that is purely irrelevant. If you are sending out your welcome emails once your customer has joined your loyalty program within minutes, then you are satisfying the customer’s requirements for this type of message. However, if it’s received two weeks later, your customer will automatically take on the position that your brand is lazy and disorganized. Similarly, if your customer can’t remember what was in the cart that they abandoned by the time they receive your cart abandonment email, you are effectively dynamiting your entire triggered email marketing program. Your checkout process should be designed by your grandma When your customers place an SKU into their online cart, there are literally endless reasons why they will not continue on to complete the checkout process. In many cases it is because your process has confused or stymied them and they are unable or unwilling to continue any further. It is absolutely imperative that your checkout process not be determined or designed by your IT department but by your grandma! Even in the age of nearly universal mobile devices, there are still many millions of people who are extremely challenged by all forms of technology and are therefore unable to perform actions that are present on your checkout process which most other more technologically capable individuals would be able to complete with barely a thought. The Adobe guide stated that customers abandon over $4 trillion of merchandise each year in online etailing shopping carts, and if online brand marketers were to take the right steps to facilitate these checkouts in ways that resonate with the consumer directly while facilitating them in their task, then 63% or a totally staggering $2.65 trillion of that abandoned merchandise could actually be sold. That is more than the GDP of many countries. The great thing about making your checkout simple is that your tech savvy customers will appreciate the elegance of it, while your tech illiterate ones will still be able to complete a purchase. This way everyone wins!


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The Value Of Your Preference Center To Customer Engagement

The Value Of Your Preference Center To Customer Engagement

Beyond • September 3, 2014

If you truly want to accomplish the ultimate goal of every email marketer and that is to place your subscribers in charge of their overall experience in order to engage and retain them, you have to allow them to make their own choices and then you as brand marketer have to respect and cater to those choices. You can’t just pay lip service to providing customer choice, you have to rededicate your entire brand marketing effort to serving your customer! The preferred method to achieve that goal is through a superlative and comprehensive preference center. Create the perfect preference center Experienced marketers don’t have to be told that one of the most effective methods to provide the engagement that your email subscribing customers demand is to create and maintain the “perfect” preference center. Once your customer is able to easily and readily inform your brand of exactly what their preferences are, you are able to leverage that important data to craft a far more immersive and totally personalized experience which will result in a more profound rate of engagement, along with greater retention and drastically improved metrics. Your subscriber’s interests change over time A preference center is not just a page where your customers go to unsubscribe with a couple of clicks. The goal of the preference center is to provide your subscribers with a mechanism whereby they can customize the look, feel, content, and frequency of your brand’s email missives. They may opt to have a lower frequency or a higher one, or they may prefer to change their topic of interest. Perhaps they’ve outgrown skateboarding and are now more interested in mountain biking, or they’ve changed jobs and are now more interested in information technology devices than hydraulic jackhammers and power tools. Whatever the choices and preferences of your email subscribers are, and how they change over time, you have a responsibility as a brand to honor those requirements. Accept a frequency decrease as graciously as an increase It is obvious that today’s consumers want to be empowered with selecting exactly the type and frequency of information that they receive from you through their inboxes. If you are recalcitrant to provide them with an easy and fast way to express their preferences to you, then they might take the drastic step of dumping your emails into the spam folders which to most email marketers is a fate worse than death. If you are able to devise a preference center which portrays to the email subscriber the image of your brand as not only one that cares about their needs but is also ready to accept a decrease in frequency just as graciously and enthusiastically as an increase, then your customers will react to your overall campaign with a more positive outlook. Don’t frustrate by having them chase obscure links Trust and confidence is what every email marketer wants to build into their relationship with their entire customer base at large, and a preference center is an excellent tool in that arsenal. It is critical that the preference center be easy to locate from just about any touchpoint in your email subscribing customer’s experience with your brand. When you provide prominent links to your preference center across your email presences and missives, you ensure that they don’t have to get frustrated by chasing down obtuse and obscure links. When your customer arrives at the preference center, you have to focus on the task at hand which is serving the needs of the subscriber, not to squeeze them for a massive amount of personal information. When you ask far too many questions in your preference center, you are maximizing the chances that your subscriber is going to bail out long before they even complete the form. You should never ever ever have a preference center form which exceeds one relatively short page. If you are absolutely adamant about collecting a much greater amount of personal data, then launch contests, sweepstakes, or other online incentives which will have as a prerequisite for entry the provision of that specific data you seek. Don’t pile it into the preference center!


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Obtaining Top Event Talent: It’s All About Who You Know

Obtaining Top Event Talent: It’s All About Who You Know

Beyond • September 2, 2014

As an event organizer you may be faced with the prospect of securing some top talent for your event and if you simply look up their agent and ask for availability and a cost quote, you are almost certain to end up paying “rack rate” or several times more than you would have if you had been able to take advantage of that elusive “contact.” When it comes to booking talent you can save yourself an inordinate amount of money (as well as time and aggravation) by nurturing contacts in the entertainment industry who can open doors you never even knew existed. Barricades to keep the unwashed masses out If you have any questions about how open the entertainment industry is to new inputs from outside their backyard, just look at the statistic that if all of the unsolicited movie scripts which are returned unopened by studios and producers every year were stacked up, they would be taller than Mount Everest. There is no industry anywhere in the world that is more closed up and surrounded by tall castle walls than the entertainment sector. The reason behind that is simple: There are literally millions of people with little or no experience who want to be the next big thing, the next celebrity, the next superstar. As these numbers continue to grow, the barrage which the producers are faced with grows as well, and so do the barricades set up to keep the unwashed masses out. Create a contact network in all the right places The entertainment industry runs on two factors: Money & Contacts. If you have a lot of money to spend, then you can open doors and make things happen. But unless your event’s investors include people with surnames like Slim, Gates, and Buffett, you don’t have unlimited finances, so your event stands a much better chance of succeeding in securing the talent you seek by leveraging contacts. This creation of a contact network in all the right places can be critical to your event’s success so you should seriously consider focusing an inordinate amount of your effort there. The largest group of honchos is on LinkedIn In the olden days there really wasn’t any way to break through the entertainment industry’s walls to start your contact network building efforts. Fortunately with the advent of social media just about every major producer, agent, celebrity, and the rest of the Hollywood top ranked infrastructure is available to be contacted somewhere online. There are countless specialty social media which cater to producers of this or producers of that, but certainly the most comprehensive and largest group of entertainment industry honchos can be found on LinkedIn. Be an active participant but not too active When you try to approach one of these moguls through LinkedIn, the traditional caveats apply in spades. The last thing you want to do is to message them outright with your request. First try to create some form of relationship with the individual based on shared interests. Read what they post, familiarize yourself with their viewpoints, and become an active (but not too active) participant in their LinkedIn presence including the groups they’re in. Be very aware that these people have a very finely tuned sensor for people who are trying to muscle into their circles so you really have no choice but to try and establish a form of online friendship with them first. One hand washes the other When the time is right for you to make your request, you have to do so in a way which maximizes “what’s in it for them.” Nobody is going to make an introduction to Beyonce or J.Lo. just based on the fact that you requested one. There is always a one hand washes the other form of reciprocity in entertainment industry relationships, and you are best served by integrating into your offer a measure of value to the person doing the introduction. This process may seem roundabout and inefficient, but it is a time-honored way to get things done in Hollywood, and the amount of money your event may save could be palpable!


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