Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Killing Off Inactive Subscribers

Sunday, 21. June 2009 by Anna Billstrom

Great conversation in Email Roundtable this week about “how old is old,” regarding lapsed subscribers. An old colleague used to call these “slowboats” which would always start a round of singing, “the slow boat to China.”

My personal favorite method: don’t email them, and then every 3 months or so, send an inactive re-engagement campaign. Also, use that re-engagement to recycle copy (so the costs are low) and subject line test. Be creative and risky with the subject line- and use a lot of subject lines. One client had a 11% response rate on one of his segments, the subject line was the catchiest, wittiest, and most clever. It’s a sandbox, essentially, and the more risks the more surprises.

Other posts on inactivity:
Using Inactivity, and Activity, as a Campaign Idea

Letters From Readers: Believing the Numbers

Friday, 16. May 2008 by Anna Billstrom

I hear from a lot of people that they know technically the best way to approach email marketing, but getting the organization around the idea is the hard part. This series will address various issues in the workplace, surrounding email marketing best practices.

Dear Anna,

My boss doesn’t understand, or believe the numbers. I show him how segmentation works, how we get 30% more profit by targeting our base and providing relevant content. I’ve done A/B splits, and we recognize profit, but he still thinks that’s “too much work” and the gains we get without segmentation are enough. How do I get him to see the light?

Unhappy in Non Profit

Dear UINP,

Traditional marketers will always have a distaste for email marketing, because statistics and response numbers rule the roost, and gut marketing is out the window. Sadly direct marketing and direct mail has been doing segmentation for a long time- especially in non profit and subscription businesses.

Here are a few techniques in dealing with management resistant to the magic of quick response reports from email:

- Show, over time, the behavior of various segmentations. Seeing the numbers correspond to his understanding of how various campaigns did or did not perform will help him see the validity of the numbers. I’ve seen this with other clients- if they can map poor response of one segment to a known factor that they understood, it’s more likely they’ll trust the validity of metrics on phenomenon they don’t understand.

- Start small: pick a small campaign and segment, and work on the results, show it around to people in the organization including him, and then branch out into bigger and bigger campaigns. The groundswell of support for the initiatives will outweigh his odd beliefs. Especially if he’s talking cost and hours in comparison to profit, small “proof of concept” (just proving it to him, of course!) may help swallow the pill of larger scale segmentation strategies.

- Money talks. Keep beating the drum that this brings in more money. Talk to people other than him about how this is the way to go, for a sheer revenue standpoint. In budget meetings, when people want to implement bells & whistles, mention that “if we had done segmentation, we’d have this money on the table.”

- I believe many marketers have a hard time listening to their customer base. They get used to understanding the customer as one thing, and when the customers change, the marketers have a hard time changing with them. It’s also about ego. Many managers have a lot riding on the line of a former understanding of the customer. Surveys can help “speak for the customer,” customer testimonials, or how the competition is addressing this shift in the perception of the customer. Agree on a specific metric, and map it back a few years. Show how the agreed-on metric is changing, and how that impacts response to fundraising and subscriptions (as I assume you’re doing as you’re a non-profit).

- Do a simple data audit of the workflow to confirm that all systems are OK. Assuage his fears, basically, and discount them methodically.

Chicken or the Egg? Large Contact Strategies

Thursday, 17. April 2008 by Anna Billstrom

I’m heading into a meeting today to review a proposal on this, so I really shouldn’t post this morning about it (as will probably have more insight later today!) but read this in my RSS aggregator and wanted to talk about it: Ryan Deutsch of Strongmail’s post on EMM vs. ESP solutions for large event-based transactional messaging systems. What a mouthful.

He brings up some great points, namely the access to response data from each campaign and feeding it back to the system that is segmenting and issuing the lists. While there’s a lot of gut marketing out there, numbers prove the points, so having response data on each lifecycle series/ event email, and the goals of each, is vital to maintaining and expanding working programs.

One thing for me is that these systems don’t just “pop up” miraculously out of nowhere. They are a steady evolution from insight and lessons. It’s an organic, historical beast that came out of years of work from other marketers. Sure, there’s always the urge to want to wipe out the old and put in the new, but what we’re missing out on is all of that detailed testing that went into it.

On a contact strategy diagram I recently did, I took into account the inactive, former programs (with response metrics). I’m not surprised now that one of them is getting embraced again- as we all know in email marketing, things change. What was a problem 3 years ago could not be an issue now. What was a roadblock or obstacle internally due to various issues, could have dissolved.

Final note- while large, complex event messaging is great for so many reasons- better relationships created with relevant, timely messaging, they are very complicated, and the more information that goes into them, and the more you respect the existing framework, the better and strong they will be (and more understood, and better communicated internally.)

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