Adventures in Mobile Marketing

iPhone App Marketing- Measures and Metrics

Saturday, 09. October 2010 by Anna Billstrom

I’m a huge fan of metrics, probably from 7 years doing email marketing and countless meetings staring up at an Excel spreadsheet, seeing lift in unexpected places, testing, and getting great results. I’ve seen it work- I drink the Kool-Aid.

In the iPhone world, we’re hamstrung by metrics that are limited and unserviceable. The iTunesConnect app gives us sales information, but as all marketers know, that’s the end game, not the funnel.

I’m going to implement a few test suites and write them up on this blog- this is more an announcement of an effort than any real juice (sorry readers). The test suites:

- MixPanel
- Flurry

Key Metrics in iPhone App Marketing

Wednesday, 06. October 2010 by Anna Billstrom

I’ve been using the email and internet marketing methods towards a new arena: iPhone marketing. These metrics have been useful:

1. Rank in the iTunes Store
This is the number of times it’s been downloaded. I do it according to to the top search terms for my app: “learning French,” for example. Since marketing the app for a few weeks, we’ve risen from the last page to the second, of five pages. A small success, but nice to know it’s measurable.

2. Number of units sold.
Yes, this is more an operational number, but it’s still a good metric to view over time.

3. Hits to the landing page.
The iTunes store lets you post a landing page for more information about your product. This is also an interesting gage of interest.

4. Ratio of paid-to-free downloads
If you have a free version, the ratio of paid-to-free version can be interesting to track, over time.

5. General name stickiness.
I do a Google search- also how many times the keyword was used in retrieving pages on your site. Both are good ways to tell if the app is getting traction.

6. Twitter name follow count.
The number of follows on your twitter account (of same name as app).

Breaking Into Social Marketing

Wednesday, 30. July 2008 by Anna Billstrom

I’ve had a few meetings lately, mostly with friends, on this whole “social marketing” thing. How do they get into it? Why do it? Which application should they pick? I thought I’d write up a quick list of things I’ve been repeating:

1) Find the popular kids.
It’s high school, I know, but there are mavens out there and they can make your job a lot easier. For a friend who works in a software platform company, I told him to find his highly networked colleagues, and where they’re posting. Twitter? OK, then join twitter and plurk for a while, find out if it’s worthwhile.

2) Mix work & play
I setup two Twitter accounts- “advent_in_email”, and “banane”, and tried to separate them between work and play. Well, my personal one had a lot more followers, and I couldn’t keep my twitter accounts straight, so now I follow a policy of mostly work but some play in my twitter comments. I have to admit I enjoy the personal posts of those I follow as well. So it’s a brave new world of mixing work & leisure.

3) You’re not a stalker!
There’s this fear that people are stalkers- and you’re not- though each platform has a different way of following, and for some it’s far more personal than others.

4) Does it really work?
I refer people to Jeremiah Owyang’s Web Strategy blog, the “social networking” category, quite a lot, when they start asking questions about business justifications for social marketing. He has a ton of posts and he actually meets with these companies and asks the hard questions. Zappos is a poster child for social marketing, and there are various case studies I’m posting all the time on companies doing it right.

5) It’s such a time investment!
You can be strategic in the use of your time. It’s getting easier and easier each week as more applications are developed to centralize this stuff, too. Lately, an account on Digg, Flickr, and Twitter, with FriendFeed as a reading location for you, will pretty much accomplish a bare bones but effective social marketing campaign. Set aside an hour, keep it frequent (3-4 times a week) and you’re good. I also suggest not doing everything at once- join one platform, get used to it, join another, get used to it, etc.

6) Blogging is so time-consuming
Yes. I’m a writer so it’s not that stressful for me, but as a writer friend told me the other day, “for some people writing is like doing taxes.” LOL. So if you’re not a writer, I’d create a blog that was just a set of links, every day, basically your “digg’d” articles, and blogs you read. Or just use your blog as a living resume. No need to write your deep thoughts each day. Blogs seem to be getting phased out, so it’s not an end-all solution for many companies.

Me on Twitter
Me on FriendFeed
Me on Digg
Me on Flickr

More Reading:
Social Media ROI
Web Social Architecture
I Want to Believe (that Twitter is useful…)
The Online Participation Factor, by Justin Korn, and more interesting perhaps is his quantification of participation during a 24 hour process: FriendFeed Followers: Lurking or Participating?

Social Marketing: Bike Shop

Thursday, 05. June 2008 by Anna Billstrom

I love my local bike shop. I’m at the foot of the “twisty street” in San Francisco, Lombard, so we get lots of tourists, and there are lots of bike rental places, because it is a great starting point for several rides across the Golden Gate Bridge, around the city, or around the waterfront. The owner of this bike shop started it out of his basement, helping his friends repair bikes. The real biking shop district is two miles south, in a completely different neighborhood. Can a small bike repair & reseller shop survive outside of that district, with high rents of a touristy neighborhood? I love this place so I’d like it to stay- and therefore have been stopping by lately brainstorming marketing ideas.

Who Is Your Ideal Customer?
First, we talked about the ideal customer. For him, I’d focus on the “weekend warriors” and not the die-hard cyclists, which can be tough for him because he’s a die hard cyclist, bike collector, and those are his friends. But that’s not the money, and the biking community in SF is very political, so I’d steer away from polarizing personalities in the groups. Weekend Warriors (WW) are single people who work during the day but need to escape on the weekend. Who love to bike- but haven’t fixed their bike, bought one, have a plan on where to bike, etc. The towering apartment buildings surrounding his cute Victorian are full of these Weekend Warriors. Getting location and services information to them is the number one priority. He came to this conclusion too and started stocking inexpensive touring bikes ideal for tooling around the city. He’s already noticed a bump in sales.

These apartment buildings have security and won’t let you paper them frequently, so instead, do a few events to draw attention to the location. When they’re nearby, offer services that line up with their goals. Get them to remember the name and location, so when the opportunity arises, his shop is nearby and available.

F2F Events
Friday afternoon free beer & appetizers in the shop- an “open house” with notification to either patrons in the building that you’ve cultivated, or by putting a flier in the nearby laundromat, nearby bars, etc. Find the places where these folks hang out. At the shop, either pass out the little plastic tire opener that you use to repair flats with your location & name, or a map of nearby getaways, with time estimates, that are easy to do but beautiful, and tailored to the out of shape WW (ha). Also great: a xeroxed sheet showing “safe roads” in San Francisco for WW’ers. Make sure everyone who comes by walks away with the tool lever or flier in their hand – get it on the fridge! (Magnet is a good idea too)

Setup a clipboard on the counter to get email addresses – and maintain a weekly newsletter of bike riding tips and quick repairs. Refer to it during sales and other chats in the store.

Setup a weekly ride – sometime afterwork would be best. Just a half an hour or so. Make sure to wear a t-shirt or jersey with branding. Cycle through the neighborhood either coming or going to improve visibility in the target area. Have some on hand if other cyclists get cold (they will). This will be amazing visibility.

The Social Network Bit: Hash Ride
This is a more elaborate plan, but I think could get a lot of customers in one fail swoop; setup a neighborhood hash ride (credit to my sister Jenny for this idea). Our neighbhorhood, North Beach, an Italian & a tightknit, packed restaurant district. Pick a few restaurants that are local favorites (using Yelp, or word of mouth) and organize beforehand to have little appetizers setup near the doorway. Setup a route of biking to each restaurant- keep it a secret from the attendees. At each restaurant, have a little table sign pointing to the next restaurant. In this way, folks can be spread out but on the same route, and meet at the same end-up point. The combination of uniqueness of the event, co-branding with restaurants, and wearing the jerseys (it always gets cold in SF), along with free food- will increase visibility for the store and its personality, which is a fun, friendly, local resource for the neighborhood. Make sure to get the email addresses of participants so they can find out about the next fun/weird event- and make sure to maintain the newsletter!

Maintaining an Online Presence
Online networking: the WW will want to plan their weekend while at work, so make sure to use online review systems, and online social tools. Have someone- like me- sign onto these systems and promote the events via message boards on Yelp, Upcoming, etc. It’s the social organizer tools that will bring people out of the condo towers.

Ideally, setup a twitter account and follow some attendees ahead of time- get a few of the cyclists to twitter along the way, employees or friends-of-the-store (me). This can be a great promotional tool for the next Hash ride. Take photos during the ride and post to various social networks/flickr streams for promotional use.

Learning From Success

Saturday, 24. May 2008 by Anna Billstrom

I know I’m rather negativee in this blog, and tend to harp on problems in emails I get. In reality it’s easier for me to learn from mistakes than successes. But I’ve been wanting to write about an email campaign success story, and how we think it became a success.

Unfortunately, for competitive reasons I can’t write about the minute details of the campaign or reproduce it here, but I can talk generally about it- and in reality that is more applicable to companies in how they’d apply it to their own goals.

In summary, we sent out a monthly campaign that had no offer in it, and it netted more revenue than three other offer-centered campaigns. It had the same list size, same creative resources, same level of skill (team-wise) as the offer-focused emails. What as the difference? We tapped into the core of our audience’s engagement with our company, and highlighted user-generated content, and in that way our conversation was more meaningful, resulting in more opens, more clicks, more visits to our site and more purchases. The message was simple, well-executed, above-the-fold, and direct.

My colleague used to work in Customer Service, so it was easy for him to craft a message that spoke to the customer base, as he had hands-on experience talking to them every day! His email went out each month, and on the third month, the one that got us *tons* of clicks and opens, he asked for user submissions. So user-generated content was one of the many factors that we attribute to why this email created such a stir.

This segues, for me at least, into how essential it is to engage the customer, and use email as a highlighter of sorts, to focus and complement the user base. We speak from the pulpit all the time, but once in a while, hand it over to the users.

Another factor is that by highlighting the nature of the company, and how it engages with the customer, we impressed upon the audience how meaningful the relationship was, which spurred activity and purchases on the site. Offer-based emails and direct calls to purchase work with some segments, but other segments respond to deeper connections. I don’t think marketers- at least the emails I see in my inbox- address enough this larger, sleeping giant of a segment.

What’s Behind a Metric

Wednesday, 02. April 2008 by Anna Billstrom

Today I was midpoint in a sluggish afternoon meeting when something was projected on the wall that made me jerk awake and wonder: why are my delivereds so low? Why bounces so high? What did we do right? What did we do wrong?

In one way email marketing is a godsend, it’s hard and cold data, which we can measure and count to our hearts delight. Yet in another way, it’s also too much data. It’s got lots of ins and outs and variances.

Take for instance delivered (or sent?). And bounce (or soft, unless you use hard…) And then opened (well with images off that number is… interesting). Then clicks, pretty clear, if counted distinctly, as in one-persons-click-per-day. Then clicks-to-open (CTO), or maybe you like clicks-from-delivered (CTR). You get my idea. But the funny thing, is that these are the easy metrics.

How about:
- If there are high opens but low clicks, did the subject line oversell?
- If there are low opens but high clicks, did the subject line undersell?
- If the click through is low, really any content- design, offer, expectation- could be the cause
- Are the leads qualified? Are there known or unknown variances between cells and segmentation? The undiscovered segmentations that magically hit on the offer.
- Timing and contact frequency. Did you have suppression rules on the campaign, de-prioritizing it in favor of some other campaign? Did that starve your list?
- More timing- is this the third email in three days? Could you have exhausted your interested readers?
- Have webmail sites deployed some new foil – such as Yahoo recently has hidden the “view images” button from me (need to research) which I expect to see in lowered opens for newer Yahoo subscribers.

What to do?

I end up routinely asking these questions of metrics, when something on the projected wall of a meeting is odd or unusual:
- Don’t just show the percentages, show the real numbers, We know volume skews ratios, so show the volume delivered, and then the CTO or Open Rate.
- Apples to apples. Be aware of your cell and campaign segmentation before comparing the metrics. Campaigns that target more active, engaged targets will have far better metrics than less engaged, larger “blast” campaigns.
- Be aware of contact frequency of campaigns in tight time frames
- Calculate a few difference ratios, or insignificant factors, to give yourself an idea of the inaccuracy. My favorite is the non-open click, which is the percentage of customers that generally click through an email without loading images (which count as opens). This skews the CTO metric- which I like- but it’s just good to know in general how much. I also keep track of the sent vs. delivered, for a few types of campaigns (transactional & promotional). I don’t need to know for every cell or segmentation, just in general.

More reading on metrics, and their variability:
Improving Email Open Rates by the folks at MailChimp
Email marketing statistics: six misinterpretations and Seven Tips for Interpreting Your Email Marketing Reports by Mark Brownlow
Benchmarketing Email Response Metrics by Tamara Gielen
Obsessed with Open Rates? Stop it; Focus on Feedback Loop by Ken Magill
Unified Multichannel Metric by Kevin Hillstrom
Ask The Expert: How does my open rate compare to my peers? by DJ Waldow

The Complexities of Email Marketing in China

Wednesday, 27. February 2008 by Anna Billstrom

After reviewing my notes of Day 2 of the MarketingSherpa Email Summit I noticed that all of the sessions were consistently value-packed and intense, which has left me exhausted, and with a celebratory “last day of school” feeling. The following is a run-down of the session I was most excited to attend,
Danny Levinson, of XZList, “Testing and Segmentation Strategies of a Chinese Weekly.” Danny has written: “The Chinese email environment is much more complicated than being able to send double-byte characters.” Also, while the title was regarding using Flash in a case study- you can read 8-page PDF white paper on his site, this blog post is more about special content he included for the Summit audience.

First, he reviewed the saturation of email and the internet, as compared to what we are familiar with in the US. These rates of communication tools:
-Email is 91% in Korea, and USA, but only 55% in China
-IM, though is 70%, and US/Korea is 39% for the USA, 47% Korea

Good things about email marketing in Asia:
- Anti-spam system is standard, so easy to manage compliance (CorpEase)
- Netease is a large internet company in China with a gaming site and online portal that is very popular (correction from original post comparing it to SpamHaus- thanks Danny)
- 97% penetration of IE (no macs, mostly outlook or outlook online)
- Note from the audience that Japan is big on Eudora, but he says that it’s going out of style

The challenges about email marketing in China:
- Those pesky ISP blocks, ISC, the Internet Society of China, created the CAN-SPAM-for-China, which is called “Green Email Inbox” (I absolutely love that translation). One effect is that marketers must include the word “AD” in the subject line for all business transactions email. Hong Kong requires having the physical address in emails. Depending on regional application from where you operate, unclear as to whether it’s promotion or advertising. If your’e a subscriber, we don’t include the AD, because it’s a “closed list”, but the boundaries are very gray. For example, Danny’s regular Cathay Pacific frequent flier program transactional email, has “AD” in the subject line, and they shouldn’t really have had to.
- It’s difficult for Americans to recognize the reason for blocking, which is usually clearly stated in the bounce email, because it’s in Mandarin characters, and if they don’t have the installed language pack in Microsoft operating systems, it won’t be rendered- just shows up as empty boxes. Also, then, if you don’t understand Mandarin, which you probably don’t since the language pack isn’t installed, then it’s impossible to forward to someone who does speak Mandarin for a translation.
- There’s a general low sophistication in online sales and negotiations, and general online skills, which can be truly felt when negotiating ad buys. He elaborated on this later, in regards to ad buys. On an email development level, it’s a constant challenge to find talented skilled local folks who can then help recruit and train others for short periods of time during boom projects.

He made an interesting point before diving into the case study about how China is not ONE market, it has distinct regional language and written language differences: In email, simplified Chinese- the block style looking basic Chinese that most of modern mainland China has embraced, including Shanghai, whereas you want to use the the traditional Chinese characters- more flowerly and ancient- in communications with Hong Kong.

Basic methods of campaign mechanics in Asia:
Pay to send
Fen (roughly a cent, 100th of a RMB)
- You can buy individual emails: 1-5 fen per user
- You can use a third party opt-in list: 4 fen to 1 RMB
- Or, you can send to isp/portal users 4-6 fen per user;
In general there are issues with co-registration, and combined registrations. For B2B, it’s also more expensive. See questions & answers below for a recommendation on B2B list acquisition. This seems to be XYzine’s main offer- managing list acquisition and list management in China.

Develop Relationships
- As compared to America where the occasional business dinner solidifies things, in China, the good meal does wonders. Danny noted that he had to become a tee-totaler and vegan due to the massive amounts of alcohol and meat and pork that were constantly part of his business lifecycle. This reminded me of a book I read recently about China, where you have a 3 hour meal to ask for a reference, which, as you can imagine seems a bit over the top to American business people.
- There is a high turnover in IT staff. It’s difficult to source staff when you need it, so creating relationships and leveraging resources, connections & interconnections, really helps localize American products.

Use Publication-based Lists
Stay away from dime-a-dozen lists, better than optin lists. The publication lists can also target your demographic.

Flash Case Study
It may make you squirm, the idea of embedding flash in American email campaigns, with our diverse varieties of email clients, operating systems, and browsers. In China, though, with a consistent use of Internet Explorer, Microsoft operating system, and the popularity of web portals, Danny as able to segment out his customer list and target according to their web client, and demographics of corporate clients, tailor the offer and technology (embedded flash) to that audience. They did layout testing- leveraging known issues with preview panes in some of the web clients- to further serve the client and create exciting creatives. Flash case study PDF is downloadable here.

Some of his domains to check up with:, (“now” in Mandarin), and His last note on the talk returned back to his theme, “Keeping up with the needs is the best thing to do, and that is by having a good meal.”

In general I thought it was well-delivered, concise, focused, and included very valuable tips on email marketing in China.

Questions from the audience…

Q: How do we manage optin policy across countries? We have only opt-in system
A: BBS social networking very large, recommendation is to partner with them, the co-reg’s (co-registration sites). There is always the issue of “who owns the data” with co-registrations, though, and how will they market to it, vs. your marketing. You never know how they will muddy it up. Also, the can-spam in china doesn’t require double-optin, just optout. Do site acquisition, the cleanest way to manage the list without co-reg’ing.

Q: What is the email regional size
A: Guangdong is the largest, internet population. Check where you can get the info.

Q: What is the distribution of the main webmails across China? Yahoo, hotmail, etc.
A: It’s hard to audit, so they all say they’re the largest, good statistic to remember: the average Chinese user has more than 5 email accounts.

Q: B2B question: are corporate users using these providors?
A: has a “VIP” area, which is fee-based, the marketer has to pay Cina, problem with emailing work email is that you may get blocked by a Chinese isp.

Q: Can you talk about the rise of pinyin as an input method in SMS, and campaigns integrating SMS and email, since the growth and use of SMS is so high? (My question.)
A: Yes- Everyone is using the Latin pronunciation of Chinese for modern devices as an input method. It’s an entire medium too- there are IM novels, mobile SMS & web-based instant messaging, and campaigns that integrate them, B2C use is great for IM, but B2B is great for corporate, mobile- and used more for point of sale interactions.

Comment from the audience: our company found a successful campaign was to SMS a demographically young engineer base with special the event information.

Q: How effective is text-based email, also her clients want more image and flash, any surveys/research on whether the simple works vs. images

A: Yeah, that’s the old question “why have such frilly subect lines in China?” that we had last year at this conference! There are lots of Chinese studies on how the sites are more text-based. Compare the Chinese sites to toolbars try to keep to 4 characters in navigations, for aesthetic reasons that he doesn’t quite get, but he trusts his designers. In regards to the text vs. HTML question, it’s a great question. He does multi-part, nobody sends text, and multi-part almost never understood nor used. Nobody understands the multi-part because it is so hard to demonstrate to the clients and users. This goes back to my earlier comment on low level of sophistication in skills. The banner ad sales are also not CPM, low sophistication again, because the folks making these deals can’t understand “pay per view.” Thus, ads are sold on a beginning and ending time frame, and manually swapped out of the page when the time ends. Remember, there’s only a 15% adoption rate for the internet in China. Their print newsletters make a lot more money because the contract negotiation is with something really tangible and that works the ad sales. Funny. Despite email marketing having a much higher penetration.

Q: How do I create a engineering B2B list?
A: Setup a microsite based on this, or access a portal- which are more popular there than here- in the US we have engadget and other vertical sites, but not like that in China. Folks really go to portals and spend all day there. Some have a business section there that would cater to your needs, so just go there and sell the ads.

Keynote from Stefan Tornquist

Monday, 25. February 2008 by Anna Billstrom

Tamara Liveblogging
Stefan Tornquist, from MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit, gave the keynote and reviewed some of the top findings from the 2008 Email Marketing Benchmark guide.

First, he showed the chart on “taking the temperature” on email marketing, and it showed, year over year, a stagnation of “rosy” chart, and that basically problems have gotten more intense for email marketers.

Stefan then flipped to a slide showing something we all know- “newsletters still work”- for acquiring leads, essentially.

He displayed an odd report on the percentage of false positives on the spam filter, that predominantly (61%) were flagged by a single ISP, and a huge dropoff when classified by up to 3 ISPs. ISPs examined: Hotmail, AOL & Yahoo. He finished by saying that “the score does not tell you the entire story, you should monitor ISPs.” Interestingly, this is more a concern for B2B than B2C.

I was pleased to see the analysis of opens and clicks across segmented, versus unsegmented lists, and that sometimes the difference is 2:1 more efficacy for highly segmented lists.

On copywriting, and subject lines, Stefan quoted Ann Holland that “subject lines are getting shorter”, and they are getting ‘short & punchy.’ Essentially, “the first twenty characters are going to get looked at,” of the 45 characters suggested.

The most interesting report displayed, of course, the eyetracking chart, and renewed advice to move the template around to get- move the template around periodically (every 3 campaigns) to make users click on non-content, or less interesting or focussed panels, such as sponsor ads.

He lent advice on landing page optimization: remove navigation, and surprisingly enough, repeated page testing raises the efficacy up to 400% more. 400%. Amazing.

Last slide was a review of email marketers and their judging their inside, ASP or ESP vendors and how they are “good to great.” Turns out full service ESPs win out on that category, and with 60% email marketers with ESPs “able to handle complexity.” Basically- they’re worth the expense!

Interesting quick talk, in a very crowded hall, but deemed useful by my neighbors.

Interview: Eric Stockton

Sunday, 24. February 2008 by Anna Billstrom

I’m blogging here from the MarketingSherpa Email Summit and got the opportunity to scour the speakers’ list and choose some folks to interview. Check out other coverage of the summit on the Information & Coverage microsite. This is the third in a series of interviews for the Email Summit.

Third up is Eric Stockton, president of MarketingSherpa. Eric was the head of research at MarketingExperiments, an on-the-ground running experiments lab, and when MEC acquired both companies, he rose to become president. Unlike the other interviews I actually talked to him in person, so it’s less inline responses and more my freeform version.

First, we talked about surfing. Turns out MarketingSherpa in Jacksonville Beach has a door right out to the surf. That is very, very nice. “It brings us down to earth” Eric said. When we finally got off the topic of Pacific surfing vs. Atlantic surfing, I asked him about the reason behind having a certification course. He responded that it “fills the need” for the community, which is having something more tangible than best practices. They started with online testing, paid search, then landing page optimization. “It helps IT and marketing speak the same language,” and he told me about a company that literally had such contentious IT and marketing staffs that the executives brought both groups into certification. Surprisingly having the same way of talking about the systems, efficacy, and process was the solution to getting the groups to work together.

I asked him if he sees any trends over the last year, from the Benchmark Guide, or talking to CEOs and Presidents of companies. I gave him a laundry list of things I thought had come up in the last year- mobile becoming more important suddenly, subject lines, spam decreasing, user content and web 2.0, SEO- and he surprised me by answering quickly, “What I hear is, ‘email is dead.’ We see it in dropping open rates, the metrics/stats, customers getting smarter.” I’d written about it in June, here, commenting on a Fast Company article with same title, but I was still surprised that this was an issue. He backed it up saying that he’d heard it from a bunch of folks- as well as metrics, but generally – and that the reality is that email is actually “… diversifying into multi-platform & media, data phones, RSS. You can’t ‘blast’ any more, it’s communicating now, user generated content is a perfect example.”

He liked my next question- how he sees MarketingSherpa Benchmark Guides in the corporate structure. How do customers use them, what role do they play, and where he sees their place in general. “We find that customers think they’re great for planning for budgets, strategic planning, using in a boardroom meeting- the data points, charts, etc., and other benchmark guides too, not just email marketing, but ecommerce.” My first encounter with MarketingSherpa was when a graphic artist I know bought it for the user testing results, as a guide to email-specific design elements.

I asked him what the sexiest bit of the BenchMark Guide was- the element that he always hears about, that stands out among customers and the membership community. He didn’t even wait a beat: “Eyetracking.” Ha ha, that’s what I’d say too.

Of the many surprising answers he gave me, this perhaps tops the charts: I asked him if there were any anxieties or fears in the companies that he talks to. I feel like Eric has a great line onto the heads of corporations and their marketing executives, who may speak freely to him about concerns. Turns out that one of the top things coming up for MarketingSherpa, and this lines up with my question about anxieties, is that companies are asking how much their customer lists are worth, for mergers and acquisitions. I experienced this at WebVan, as they had acquired HomeGrocer, and in the merger one of the top things they did was integrate the customer marketing databases. Eric said, “The question I get from CEOs, or mainly CFOs, is ‘Did I buy this 5M list and now it’s not worth anything?’ And we can look at our studies and metrics and help them determine that, and we’ve finally gotten to a mature place where we can tell them that.’

He made an offhand comment that MarketingSherpa had some room for improvement, and I prodded him as to what he would do to improve it if given millions and millions (billions?) of dollars. He said that he essentially got that opportunity with the acquisition by MEC, and that their first goal was to “Help support the community of marketers, provide training, be place that has the data points, the structure, charts that help the presentations, good ideas, inspirations,” and he mentioned the new membership program, and the ‘Ask a Sherpa’ program (which is not consulting) but taps into the community of experts for one-off questions.

All in all it was a great conversation, and I had renewed respect for the MarketingSherpa think tank.

Certification: Data vs. Guts

Sunday, 24. February 2008 by Anna Billstrom


MarketingSherpa offers a certification course before the EmailSummit sessions begin on Monday. Last night at dinner, my two colleagues and I were talking about the course, and I wondered if, since we were already doing pretty sophisticated emails, segmentation, etc., whether it was going to be worthwhile. The bits I witnessed, with Dr. Flint McGlaughlin of MarketingExperiments, was chock full of great advice, methodology, and data points. More importantly perhaps is that it spurred a conversation with the same colleagues on the efficacy of one of our key campaigns. McGloughlin went through various emails very clearly into the reading flow of consumers, the issue of expectation from the subject line to the content of the email, as well as the offer.

In the presentation, MarketingExperimenets presents a formula based on effectiveness of email marketing, and the fact that they had a formula really dovetailed nicely with a book I read on the plane (and will review on here at some point): SuperCrunchers, which establishes data and regression testing in contrast to (what I term) gut marketing, or intuitive defenses of the ways and means of effective marketing. Haven’t we all seen that- someone in management or executive level saying “I don’t like that,” with no justification, data, or analysis to back it up? Frustrating.

This certification course has a lot of testing and information in helping corporate email marketing departments defend certain issues and “reasons why” we do things- short email subjects, not selling so hard (Phil hates the word ‘deal’ for very good reasons!), etc. So in this regard the certification course is very valuable. Looking forward to the email marketing internal politics session after the keynote tomorrow!

Back to the subject of data analysis in constant battle with ‘gut marketing’, what interesting to me is the fact that data analysis is not the gold standard, because, basically, learnings age. Negotiating that aging period is the real challenge. When do you have to retest various lessons you learned? When do offers get stale (i.e., “free shipping”), voice gets old, segmentation becomes complex and no longer useful, etc.

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