Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Marketing, De-evolution Style!

Friday, 22. October 2010 by Gavin Handley

Last week I received this fan email, from new wave band Devo. I went on-line and checked out what they were up to. Turns out they’re launching a new album.  Here’s a great example of an awesome 80’s band leveraging 21st century technology.

The Spud boys have always understood how to leverage themselves and their message through great marketing. With the launch of their first album in 20 years, they recently created focus groups . Of the many things they surveyed, one question asked respondents to choose which songs should go on the album. Another question asked, “What color [of power domes] makes this musical group feel more effective?” They embraced current feedback and have now relaunched themselves. You’ll see their stuff on all the mainstream social networks you can think of.  Clearly this was their intention, as you’ll see in their tagline, “Devo is Everywhere.” Fitting that as the band who espouses futuristic predictions, they would be the ones to embrace new technology. Check out this tongue-and-cheek  video chronicling their relaunch campaign. It’s as unique as Devo.


Even my 3 year old daugher is a fan of Devo since they are featured on one of her favorite shows, Nickolodeon’s Yo Gabba Gabba!

I’m so excited about their comeback, I know what I’m going to be for Halloween already!

User-Generated Content

Tuesday, 12. October 2010 by Gavin Handley

People love to contribute content to their favorite brands and what better way for your company to connect with consumers? With the social media explosion in marketing it is advantageous for companies to use user-generated content in their marketing and loyalty programs.

Back in 2008 I came up with the idea of using customer submitted photos for an email programKodak Moment of the Month” after the success of the staff photo slideshow in our newsletter. It was time to take the concept a step further and the program was born. This program of course did not come without its challenges and I will go into that later in the post. But the results made it all worth it – the  response was overwhelmingly positive. I learned quickly that people love to show off their photography skills! Check out John Harrisons’ post on user-generated content and the “Kodak Moment of the Month.”

Kodak Recently launched a site celebrating your Kodak Moments, user images and video, “ The real Kodak Moment happens when you share.” Disney Parks  launched last month a new site dedicated to fan content very similar to Kodak Moments, in which  you can share your photos, videos and stories from your trips to Disney Parks. One nice feature is that you can also categorize the content by theme, location and the emotion. Check out this post on Mashable, on Disney’s “Let the Memories Begin” campaign.

A few things to consider if you are building out a user-generated marketing program, depending on the size of your company it will take a lot of work to manage all that content, so make sure you have the resources and have a clear goal on how you want to engage your customers and use the content now and in the future. Try to be as specific as you can when you request content,  trust me it will help you out tremendously to receive more relevant content. Copyright is always a concern in the digital age so consider all avenues when creating your Terms and Conditions. This content is also a great opportunity to index your site with this rich content and optimize for SEO.

Animated gifs

Friday, 10. September 2010 by Gavin Handley

As a self-confessed Home & Garden TV addict, I think this email from Bed Bath & Beyond is a great example for how to use animated gifs. And what a great way to feature a partner product, like Sherwin-Williams in this example, that truly compliments your own. Although the email is a little busy I think the objective is achieved – inspiration! This variation in color palette definitely motivates me to give my bedroom a make-over.

Using animated gifs is also a great opportunity to have an A – B test, from my experience we saw a 10 – 15% lift in revenue over the standard HTML version. Of course you don’t want the novelty to wear off so don’t over use this option and make sure to keep it relevant to the product you are selling. Animated gifs is still well supported by most email clients.


We want your vote!

Monday, 30. August 2010 by Gavin Handley

Want to showcase more products/product designs in your emails?  

It is always a challenge for a marketer and designer to create an email that the business requires to showcase a number of new products/designs. One great solution is to leverage the poll/vote functionality that most ESP’s provide; the benefit in this is you don’t only get to showcase what you want but you also get the customers feedback and future targeting opportunities.

 Another thought is to use this type of campaign as a teaser to the bigger event and give valuable feedback to product marketers and designers on what products to feature in the new product launch.

I am really surprised I do not see marketers leveraging this existing technology more.

I have not used one myself but there are a number of different poll apps available for FaceBook that would give you a similar result and may even increase your fan base!

Here is a campaign I ran at Kodak Gallery using this functionality:

Engaging Newsletters –

Wednesday, 25. August 2010 by Gavin Handley

To me a lot of newsletters are just a big promotional email which defeats the purpose of a newsletter. Reviewing a lot of different (one size fits all) e-newsletters, I think a lot of companies miss an opportunity to talk to a broader member base and drive more engagement.  A lot of sites have great content that is buried and near impossible to navigate to, and this is the tool to leverage that content.

When I created the Gallery Exposure newsletter for some 4 years ago the objective was to have an engaging, inspirational and retention-minded communication. Content was based on user/customer service feedback and monthly polls that featured in Gallery Exposure. We intentionally kept promotional offers to a minimum or not at all in the email with extremely positive feedback, offers do not motivate everyone and the numbers proved it. The message I heard loud and clear “inspire me”.

This award winning newsletter from Olympus is a great example:

Is Email the Manual Transmission of the Internet?

Friday, 09. April 2010 by Anna Billstrom

I was thinking of this metaphor today- almost everyone in my family drives stick shift. They buy a new car, and it’s manual transmission. I have never really questioned this until I borrowed my Mom’s Element up in Tahoe. I wanted a few friends to drive it on the way back so I could nap, and none of them knew how to drive stick. In asking around- why do you buy a new car with stick, if automatic is an innovation, I hear the following:

“It’s less maintenance down the road if it’s manual transmission.”
“It’s less expensive.”
“You have more control.”

Funny, those things could be said of email marketing, in relationship to social media marketing, or other new technical innovations in the marketing field. The bells and whistles of new adoption- iPhone apps, Facebook Apps, Twitter – all include methods, somewhere of getting on an email list, or at least email notification. Even FarmVille leverages an opportunity to get your email address. So email, if it is the low-tech solution to many, is still sticking around as a kind of underlying layer of customer contact. And, it’s preferred by many marketers who want to build relationships that were started in other channels.

For all those new channels acquiring email addresses- I wonder if they’re going to use them in a way that maximizes the worth of the email’s value. But hey, you get a car, and if you don’t change the oil once in a while it doesn’t matter if it’s stick or automatic!

Why Stick?
One thing about driving stick, it’s great for rapid acceleration while merging onto freeways, and downshifting for grades and conditions.

Email is excellent for release statements, ways of controlling the time and ways that customers come back to your site or recognize your brand/store. The timing aspect, maneuverability and flexibility is there when you’re choosing when and how to contact your customers.

Knowing How
No benefits of driving stick are really there if you don’t know the basics. And that’s of course, very true with email. The big four aspects of email contact must be there:

- courteous and ethical subscription processes
- similar processes for unsubscription
- targeted and meaningful messaging
- acceptable frequency

I don’t like list rentals.

Thursday, 27. August 2009 by Anna Billstrom


This has come up in a few conversations on EmailRoundtable, and in a conversation between me and @LorenMcDonald, and I thought I’d put my thoughts here. I don’t like list rentals. But to elaborate, let’s talk about the various ways of (in)organically acquiring email addresses:

- For a fee, you use another company’s email systems to send your email. It’s on their system, but they send your content. All links in email go back to your site.
- Some companies sell their lists. So they actually hand over part of their customer base. You insert into your system and drop the email.
- Some companies share part of a newsletter with you, so you can insert a form, and acquire sign-ups.
- Some companies do back-end overlays of data models, to determine who in your company list, fits the model and is thus a good fit for some kind of segment.
- Some companies specialize in giving you extra data on your email list. So I have the email, they will tell me the email’s favorite flavor of ice cream.

I’ve avoided using the marketing terms for the above processes as that’s a completely different discussion.

Issues to think about if you consider any of these options
What’s the email’s provenance? How did the consumer give their permission? The minute you use that email, you are potentially a spammer, if you are unaware of how it was given. And check back a few generations.

Whatever route you take, will the customer understand the relationship? The email I used to opt-in to Zappos emails, and suddenly I’m getting Gap emails. Does that make sense? Don’t underestimate the consumer. They know how they interacted with your company. It doesn’t take a lot to be considered spam.

Are you giving over more value than what you’re being provided? If I give 100K emails to a datafarm, I need to understand that I’m providing them with value. They only exist by the customers they have, and the lists they get.

As Loren McDonald says very well in his post, If Someone Says Buy A List One More Time…”

After all, marketers who ask about buying lists could just be asking, “How can I build my list quickly, and where can I acquire email addresses?” Unfortunately, there is no easy way to build a good list quickly. If there were, presumably we’d all be doing it.

Here’s the truth: In the email world, you can’t buy legitimate email addresses. You know those $399 CDs with 50 million email addresses? Most of the addresses are probably harvested or gathered in some less-than-stellar manner. Many are probably either out of date, converted to “honeypots” by ISPs looking to trap some spammers, or otherwise undeliverable. The owners of those addresses certainly haven’t given you permission to email them.

There are many methods of increasing your email list, “organically,” a term I use just to say, it’s part of the normal process of business. It varies by company and organization, and it’s largely to do with getting out the word that you have interesting mailing campaigns, that you make it a priority to take email addresses at F2F events, strategic parts of your site, at the cash register, etc. Viral campaigns are great, and parternship marketing.

For clients who have explored the acquisition routes above, I have never seen one of them that has exhausted the organic methods. Lifecycle, “triggered” emails are probably the most unsung hero in acquisition channels. It enhances the relationship, it is targeted, and personalized, and 24×7. But it’s a little tricky to execute. I think marketers go the “easy” route by back-end data models, because it’s something they understand, whereas lifecycle emails are not one-hit-wonders but slow growth. Still, when you compare cost and response rates, lifecycles win every time. Web 2.0 companies understand this- their emails are short, text-only (or with maybe 1 image) and triggered according to user activity on their site. They notify you of social relationships- and they create a stickiness. Unfortunately retail and consumer goods haven’t launched onto this as much, they’re still in the image-heavy, HTML one-drop-a-week world, barely inching up from the “cart abandonment” email campaigns. They can go there, and some are trying, but it’s a hard row to hoe.

Reading on the topic
How to Grow A List ClickZ
Email list rental may fall out of favor DM News. Great quote from Julie Katz at Forrester:

“We saw it coming because renting names from a list can be very risky for a marketer,” says Julie Katz, analyst at Forrester Research. “Those people don’t necessarily have any affinity with your brand. Also, if the names are bad, you could get caught in a spam trap and it can ruin your reputation.”

Bulk email lists: good or bad? by Mark Brownlow on Email Experience Reports

The Re-Send & Other Cost-Cutting Techniques

Wednesday, 15. July 2009 by Anna Billstrom

The reality is that it’s a very cheap campaign. Basically, take your email, and send it again a few days later. Heck, send it a third time.

You can see that list fatigue sets in pretty quickly. For this, you have some options:
- change subject line
- suppress openers and clickers, or those that act on the email contents
- change header text on top of creative (the text right before the main message, called different things now, by various folks.)

Some demographics will support this more than others. I’ve heard from B2Bs that rarely have any negative feedback, but they re-pitch only with conference registrations, and other once-a-year or twice-a-year notifications.

For consumer and retail, it’s been spotty. Basically consumers really need the slightest excuse to unsubscribe, and once that happens you don’t get them back. Some of my clients use this rule- only do the re-engage campaign occasionally. Then, a significant portion of your base won’t consider this as a regular technique. You don’t want them to say “stop hammering me,” essentially. But the occasional re-issue is tolerated.

It’s a great way to increase response and repurpose creative. There are also other more effective ways without the negatives:

- lifecycle campaigns. Make one creative and email according to the consumer’s lifecycle, not your marketing calendar.
- re-activation campaigns. Re-use the most popular creative to bring back lapsed viewer/engagers. Send this out after no contact in 3/6/9 months, for example.

More Reading:
The Reminder Email, Does It Work?
Killing Off Inactive Subscribers
Terminology: Transactional, Lifecycle, Event-Based, Trigger

Tea party, or note card? Social Marketing & Email Newsletters

Tuesday, 17. March 2009 by Anna Billstrom

A colleague of mine recently was very excited because they were going to get a lot more hits on their blog. They were promoting it in an email newsletter. They had actually gotten the marketing department to agree to the first paragraph of the email and the subject line, for an advertisement of the blog. This was their third announcement of the blog, to lukewarm results. Initially a hundred or so hits on the blog (from 100K or so email list). And very few stuck around.

The problem, I see, is that beyond the initial announcement, and frequent mention saying “check out our blog,” there is no reason to have a goal of moving an email list to a blog reader list, or seeming to communicate that to your readers.

For example, your sister likes you to call her when you have news, your aunt likes a nice note card, while your grandmother would be perfectly happy if you saved it up for the monthly tea party. It’s the same news- that you’re imparting- but they all want to know in different ways. If you want the best results, you’ll cater to their preferences. The blog is just one way of communicating. It’s more like the tea party (than the notecard, or the phone call) to carry this metaphor out.

So, why are people not really sticking around on the blog, from the email list? Assume the blog is fine- the main problem I see, is that those people really like emails, not blogs. They’re getting invited to tea parties, when they’d rather just get a notecard in the mail.

What you want to do is get NEW people to the tea party that are ALREADY into tea parties. Viral, social marketing – what I call “community work” – attracts those who are already into that method of communication. What you need to do is read other blogs, bring content to the attention of other readers (already into blogs), and promote on communities, thread discussions, social networks, etc., the cool content of this company. It’s a lot harder work than simply sending a note to your email list, over and over again, that there’s a blog. But the potential payoff is huge- a segment of new, interested prospects.

I see this on a larger scale- new technologies coming out, like Twitter- and marketing groups thinking they have to change or educate their existing mailing list. Mostly, because they had to train themselves. So, assume there is already a large segment of potential users who already understand this medium. Don’t take my word on it, check: and search for your brand.

Blogs can be simply another marketing channel, and the effort shouldn’t be to convert people to social media, but to find new customer segments, using social media.

Getting Beyond Your Basic Data Set, 1 of 2

Thursday, 26. February 2009 by Anna Billstrom


The use of web analytics to target email campaigns improves revenue by nine times more than does the use of broadcast mailings. Despite additional campaign costs, relevant campaigns increase net profits by an average of 18 times more than do broadcast mailings. (Source: JupiterResearch, Email Marketing: An Hour a Day, by Jeannie Mullen and David Daniels)

Most of us know that relevant, personal emails vastly increase the success of an email campaign. In my experience I’ve seen anywhere from 10% to 70% higher metrics, when the campaign has been segmented and targeted against additional data.

For those using a hosted solution, you can also get your ESP to add data points onto the system. Most of the ones I’ve talked to- MailChimp, Yesmail, Responsys, for example- have been helpful and interested in building out client datasets.

What do these additional data points look like? Oh, and by the way they’re all within your current data systems (I don’t advocate appending 3rd party data.)

Live purchase information. A simple set of daily key metrics will give you a huge boost, and you can test and rebuild the feed to add more detail
- first purchase
- last (most recent) purchase
- lifetime purchase value
- products purchased- detailed, or a simple category

Live browsing information. Who clicked on what, when, and keep this data fresh. If this data is too large to bring in, specify product areas, specific types of customers (prospects, existing) and work with these segments incrementally.

Unique industry information. Any kind of information on your site that is specific and unique to your company.

Email marketing feedback and response data. Opens, clicks, bounces and unsubscribes, by campaign (and segmented target).

Multichannel data.
- Print and catalog
- Ad banner clicks
- Affiliate activity (hosted on other sites)
- Face to face event data

Social site data
– Blog responses
– Twitter accounts
– Facebook accounts

The work involved in adding the data can quickly pay for itself. It does involve some database developer time to find, implement, and automate adding this data. But it pays for itself by open-ended revenue streams. The next post will cover the tactical technical details to implementing additional data.

Continue reading: “Accessing Your Data, 2 of 2″

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