What is marketing? Selling a product to people who had not thought of buying it until the received the offer. Sometimes the purpose of marketing is to create the need for that product.
Good marketing can be very influential. Back in 1987, an Italian TV programme launched an imaginary product Cacao Meravigliao, repetition, a catchy tune, a colourful display and the fact that it was on the national television, convinced thousands of people of their need to buy the product.
Any product, regardless of how good it is, or how well established the brand may seem, needs marketing. Look around you and you’ll see advertisements all over the place. That’s marketing. Your letterbox at home gets plenty of flyers and other unsolicited mail, that’s marketing. Those emails in your inbox trying to sell you odd things, that’s marketing too.
Of course, some of them are just spam. A friend of mine, who is a keen gardener, told me that a weed is a flower in the wrong place. The same can be said about spam: an offer sent to wrong audience.
I have been lucky enough to work on Subscriptions Marketing for over 7 years in a very good B2B company and over that time I have worked with very good people and have also developed campaigns, templates and procedural schedules from scratch, and I am pleased to say that my opening and unsubscribe rates of my marketing campaigns is very low, which means, my prospects don’t see may mails as spam/junk.
I can also boast of having learned everything I know by doing. I have no degree or diploma in Marketing. I do hold a degree in Journalism though which, with all due respect to marketing experts, it is just as relevant: we all want to engage with our audience.
I could add gravitas to my words by name dropping the companies I have worked for, but that would look a bit pompous, still if you are really curious, check my LinkedIn profile.
Working with capable people is a very good way to learn, but if you are a one-man(woman) band, you can still take advantage of the experience of people like me. There are many of us in Cyberspace, happy to share our experiences with you all. I will list some of my favourite places later on. Google (or any other search engine) is our best friend.
I know I am stating the obvious here, but I want to be methodical and not to assume anything, and when it comes to marketing the two more important things to start with are: a product/service and a list of prospects.
Let’s start with the product/service. How well do you know it? It is important, very important, that you know it inside out. If you don’t, find out who does and learn everything about it. Especially who is the intended end user and use that information to build a comprehensive Profile of the Perfect Customer.
What is a Customer Profile?
Each product and service has its own ideal customer. If your product is a book on gardening, your perfect customer profile will have basic characteristics such as has a garden, shows interest in gardening magazines and buys gardening products regularly.
Make a list of the characteristics of your Customer’s Profile and that will put you in the right direction to find your prospects.
Getting Prospects for your Campaign
Because I am not writing this for the well-established company, I am going to discard the buying/renting lists option, for one simple reason: the amount of research in to each name in the list could delay the campaign and the results could be very disappointing until you get that list really up to scratch.
My favourite approach is to collect my own prospects directly. New technologies are facilitating this approach more and more, not just with the Internet, but also with online social and professional networks. Offer free articles in your website to those who register, search professional bodies, join interest groups, etc.
And my very first preferred way of capturing prospects is the old fashion face-to-face way: attending conferences and visiting professional exhibitions and events. These are great places to talk to people, exchange business cards and use the event as the perfect excuse to send them an email and/or letter with more information about what I do.
If you get that initial personal communication, your campaign can take a more personalised touch, which always pays off.
Now that you have your list of prospects, divide that list into three categories based on how well they fit the profile of the ideal customer. Taylor three different campaigns for each group.
- Group 1 – The ideal customer. They need as much specific information as possible because the product/service is perfect for them, and the more information or samples is sent to them the quicker they will respond to the campaign. This group also needs fewer incentives – price, additional services, etc – because the product itself is all they need.
- Group 2 – Too much information may put them off of the service at this stage. It could make them feel it is too much for them. Focus only in the areas that meet their needs based on the parameters used when profiling them. Some incentive may help to bring the response sooner.
- Group 3 – Their need for the service/product is too low. A few of them may convert into customers but this will depend on their curiosity, budgets, and interest in the incentive. In some cases it will not be cost effective to target this group because the ROI (Return of Investment) is too low.
A campaign schedule is simply a timeline to set up the milestones of the communications and results of the campaign; from conception, launch to final analysis. It should be done, even if only in a drafted format, at the very beginning of the project, when one has decided to set up a marketing campaign.
It helps to have a list of things to check when setting up a schedule. Here is a list of some one the things I always check. You will notice this list is for a B2B campaign and it is delivered by email:
- List of all major public holidays in the year: Christmas, Easter, Summer Holidays. A global business should also include Ramadan and the Chinese New Year.
- What days of the week the busiest: Monday, and the one when people are a bit more relaxed, and less likely to make a decision: Friday.
- What time of the year are the annual budgets set: spring and autumn.
Because I am a very visual person I colour these days in my campaign calendar and I use them for two purposes:
• I will prepare offers that make a special mention to them: for example, a Christmas special offer, or a Busy Monday offer, or send a more ‘entertaining offer.’
• I avoid sending big campaigns on the run up to those days or straight after: For example, I never send the winter campaign in December – I know people are busy with office parties, planning the family gathering, or closing the year – or the first week after – we are all flooded with emails and work. I don’t want my main campaign to be lost amid the others.
Look at your inbox, depending on the day of the week you find yourself reading this, you’ll find it more or less full. On Monday, how long do you dedicate to each email? How many do you flag to go back to at a later date and then forget to do so? Those emails end up being deleted when they become too old.
Tuesdays have proved to be the best day to send campaigns. Everyone seems to be more responsive.
Do also consider the time of the day when the email is sent. You want it to appear in your prospect’s inbox first thing in the morning. Any good email delivery system will allow you to schedule the time when the email is sent. If possible make sure that all your emails are sent before 8 o’clock. Think of it, we all pay more attention to our first emails. Then we change from one task to another.
And finally, if you send the campaign earlier in the month, you have more time to repeat it if something fails to work as planned. For example, if the initial results failed to reach target, you could send a reminder.
So, a quick summing up of what I do:
1. I send my campaigns the first Tuesday of the month, except December and January. I follow the same rule for Easter, Ramadan and the Chinese New Year.
2. I schedule the campaign to land before 8 o’clock – my prospects’ local time.
3. If I am not happy with the initial response, I resend a reminder on the 3rd Tuesday of the month.
You have your list of prospects, and have set the time and day to send the campaign, now you need a crucial bit: what are you going to send them; an email or a letter?
There are still some companies out there making use of direct mail (DM), and why not, I, for one, think there is still much to be gained from an old fashion DM campaign if properly executed. Even if more and more marketers will go for the online and email options, and no doubt the world is relying heavily on the web as a source of information. We are reaching a stage that it is possible to say that if it is not online it doesn’t exist!
What I have seen on more than one occasion is marketing campaigns prepared in a traditional way and delivered by email. One can easily imagine the results: the layout so carefully planned was totally unsuitable for the paperless support and all because someone forgot to work out the flow of the copy for email and online pages viewing characteristics.
One doesn’t have to go back to college to learn how to adapt the view of the copy to new supports. We all use them, so think how do you read your emails. Do you use full screen, the reading panel, or do you minimise it? Do you read the full email or browse through it? Do you print it? Do you forward emails to friends and colleagues?
Now think of your web browsing patterns: are you one of the ‘click as you read’ or read and then look for the button to click? How often do you go back to the initial page and continue where you left it?
These are fairly basic questions but if you have their answers when designing your campaign you’ll see how different their copy and layout turns out.
I thought of uploading some samples, but then I thought that it would be much better to have a ‘campaign surgery’ here. So, why don’t you send me some of your samples for review? Just make sure to remove all personal, confidential information!
The analysis of a campaign is the most revealing moment. If you are anything like me, you will look forward to looking to data results.
Each campaign has its own KPIs but to me the ones that are the starting point are:
1. Successfully delivered (total sent-returned unopened)
2. Open (emaketing only) = total delivered – opened
3. Responses = total open – total action requests (including unsubscribe requests)
4. Order category 1 = total responses – straight forward orders
5. Order category 2 = total responses – orders after sales follow up
6. Total orders = 4+5
And once this information is in place we start getting to the fine grain, and here is where one can get easily lost.to avoid that make sure to set clearly the goals for that campaign at the very beginning.
Here are two of my basic campaigns: new business and upgrades.
For new business my targets are:
– 100% delivery, will accept 95% as a good result bur less than that will be considered failure and my source of prospects will have to be seriously cleanse if not discarded completely and sent back to the research step.
– 75% open rate, again 65% acceptable Lowe than that my list is exhausted or my subject line not good enough.
– direct orders 3-5%
– queries to follow up by sales 40%, conversion 50% of that 40%.
In figures this will mean that if my campaign has 5-10,000 contacts.
– 9,500 got the email
– 7,125 have opened the email
– 2850 stated their interest in the offer
– 356 have ordered directly
– 1425 placed and order through the sales follow up
Average value of the order $100. Total revenue from that campaign: $178,100.
If the campaign does reach this basic figures, revise the audience, the message, the offer, the timing, the copy… revise everything!