Why Email Needs to be a Part of Your Marketing Mix

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By Sue Brady

email with skitch

Email is like that old loyal friend that keeps on doing right by you. It might not be as sexy as other online marketing tools, but it’s just as important. Why? Because your qualified prospects and customers read them, they are inexpensive to send, and they generate business.

Email gets a bad rap and is frequently miss-categorized as spam. After all, 78% of emails are spam. But the truth is, email is a highly targetable medium and it brings in results. According to Experian, “Email continues to reign as one of the most profitable channels for marketers, and one of the leading paths to purchase.”

The chart below from HubSpot shows that email leads are the 3rd highest in the mix that convert to sales.

Hubspot Lead to Sales Conv Rates

Email doesn’t have to be a stand-alone medium. I’ve seen examples where combining email with direct mail has lifted response rates by as much as 20%! And cost per lead from email vs other channels tends to be lower because of the lower cost, compared to other media types.

Email open rates do vary by industry. And you should test elements of your emails like ‘subject line’ and the ‘from’ address to improve those rates. Figure out what will drive your highest open rates and response and that will vary depending on your campaign goals.

email open rates by industry (2)

As you develop your email programs to nurture your leads, you’ll see response improve. Hubspot conducted a study that showed that emails that were a part of a lead nurturing program generated 4-10 times the response rates when compared to stand-alone email. And, they generated an 8% click-thru rate, compared to 3% from stand-alone emails.

Mobile considerations are important. Over 50% of email opens happen solely on a mobile device (source: Litmus.com). Tweet that stat! What’s really interesting about that is that well over half of marketers surveyed do not design mobile specific emails. According to Kissmetrics, 89% of consumers say they will delete an email if they open it on their phone and it doesn’t look right. (A similar study by Constant Contact put the number at 75% of consumers who will delete an email that doesn’t render properly – still high!) Use a single column format, ‘light-weight’ pictures and larger type with buttons big enough to avoid fat fingering. Keep it simple.

Related to ‘light-weight,’ load times matter too. These are website statistics but give you a general idea of what you’re facing: 40% of desktop users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, and 19% of mobile users will wait less than 5 seconds (source: Kissmetrics).

These email benchmarks by yesmail can help you understand the level of metrics you should be achieving with your emails and can help guide you as you optimize your campaign.

email-benchmarks-source-yesmail Interactive Email Compass 3Q13In summary, don’t forget about email when you develop your marketing programs. Know your goals, design your program with those in mind, track results and test,test,test.

Improve your Call Center Performance (and Sales!) with These 3 Ideas

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By Sue Brady

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou manage your marketing budget well to drive as many calls as you can to your call centers. You rely on your centers to answer those calls and close the sales. If you manage an inbound call center, you know about the inherent challenges. It’s not easy work, but there are some things you can do to make your call centers more productive: Training, call routing and competition will help you achieve sustained improvement to your call center performance.

1. Training.
You probably trained all of your call center agents when your latest program started up. But when is the last time you re-trained them? Call center attrition is high in most call centers, and while it’s likely you have trained the trainers, it’s important for you, as ‘the client,’ to get in there and retrain from time to time. Don’t rely on the call center to do it all for you. New agents on your program will benefit from your first-hand knowledge. And existing agents will also benefit. I’ve yet to see an example of a client physically re-training agents that didn’t result in a bump in performance. It’s motivational to have you there, but it also ensures the training is still relevant and that you are aware of new questions that agents might be asking. The longer a program runs in a center, the more information you learn from them to help you improve.

2. Call Routing.
There are a number of technologies that provide intelligent call routing, and a number of ways you can set it up. One way is to rate your agents based on your key performance indicators and route calls to those agents whenever possible. Some companies monitor this daily, and when they see an agent is having a particularly good day, that agent will receive more calls. Another way to route calls is to identify your better performing area codes or zip codes and when those calls come in, make sure they are answered first (and preferably by your best agents). Or, you can identify your better performing media and give those calls preference.

3. Competition.Runner
Competition is healthy and keeps the players focused to do their best. Competition between agents is important, but so is competition between centers. For agents, having a ‘leader board’ is motivational as is the old-fashioned bell ringing when someone makes a sale. Awards, monetary bonuses and public recognition can all motivate your agents.

If you have the volume to support it, there are multiple benefits to having more than one center answering your calls. First of all, if there is an issue at one call center, such as weather, God forbid a bomb scare, or even a technology failure, you have another center to allow at least some of your calls to be handled. Secondly, there is great and healthy competition created when you run call centers against each other. Each call center has to be able to see performance numbers for the others, and without a doubt, call center A will want to outperform call center B and visa versa.

What are some of your ideas?

What is the ‘Not Provided’ Organic Keywords Problem (and what can You do about it)?

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By Sue Brady

Keys

It’s been six months since Google made the change that shook up the SEO market. If you are still perplexed about what to do about it, read on.

Keyword analysis is extremely important for optimizing both paid for and organic keyword traffic. Many pay per click buyers use Google Analytics (GA) to analyze their results. GA is fairly robust and can satisfy the needs of most buyers. But what about your organic keywords? It’s equally important to know which ones are driving the most traffic to your site.

Not Provided. This term refers to keywords where Google is no longer sharing information on their origin. This is not new news. Back in 2011, Google made a change that keywords from anyone searching from a secure site (denoted by an ‘s’ after the http in your URL bar) would show up in reporting as Not Provided. Then in October of 2013, they made the change universal for all Google organic search, hiding the keyword information that used to be so useful. Information on organic keywords is still available in Bing/Yahoo search. But, because Google search has 67% of the search market, you are now missing a large amount of information.

When Google first started down this path, Matt Cutts, the Head of the Spam Team at Google, guessed that Non Provided visits would remain in the single-digit percents. He was wrong. According to a BrightEdge survey from Q1, 2013, 56% of search traffic in the tech industry was already coming from Google secure search, and therefore showing up as Non Provided in GA. And now it’s a 100%, since all Google searches are secure.

There have been a number of very useful articles written about getting around this pesky problem:

1. Kissmetrics describes 8 methods for gaining insight into your customer search data in these two articles: Unlock keywords and keyword not provided.

2. Search Engine Watch also has some useful advice, especially for the small business and in general.

3. Webbiquity compiled advice from 6 experts on dealing with the Non Provided issue.

Please share other ways you get around this issue. I’ll compile and publish them here at a later date.

UPDATE: I came across this article just as I was getting ready to publish this post. Perhaps Google is reconsidering?