39 million users can’t be wrong

The BBC recently reported that over 39 million people in the UK now regularly use the Internet. That equates to around 60% of the population.  Of the additional 2 million users added in the last twelve months, half are over 50 years old.

Think about that for a minute. It’s spectacular. Most of these people use the Internet to search. To find information. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was some way of communicating with them, engaging with them, harnessing their opinion and input into design and being in the front of their mind when they need what we provide?

There is. It’s called marketing. For years, marketing has been treated contemptuously as a cost rather than an investment in business. Companies that have splashed the cash and media titles that have ridden the wave have up till now convinced most businesses not to market. Sales Directors have been revered whilst Marketing Directors have been reviled.

But there has been a sea change. Marketing is getting a better name. Sure, there is still an element of spin and seduction involved. But to be seduced, a prospect needs to play along. They need to be interested. They need to have a problem or a headache that needs to be solved. They looking to be engaged with rather than being sold to.

What does this tell us? If you are solving problems, treating headaches and fulfilling needs, 39 million UK users are telling you that the Internet is the place to be.  So, are you here?

Image credit Surfing Computers

Secrets to better email conversion

This blog reflects on the Econsultancy seminar on advanced email marketing at Technology for Marketing & Advertising, 2010. More can be found at www.econsultancy.com.

If you want successful outcomes from your email marketing campaigns, you need to think about conversion and deal with all the possible barriers to getting them to open it, read it, click through and do something when they hit your website. Yes, all the metrics around email marketing are useful, but they won’t keep your business ticking over if they don’t effect action.

As eConsultancy advocate, ‘think beyond the click’.

1. Start simple. Simple techniques might involve posing a question in the title, placing a big action button in the email and generally giving them enough but not too much so they have to click through for more.

2. Avoid averages. Some ‘experts’ always mention averages when discussing metrics on successful email marketing conversion. But with 2% of prospects opening your email, versus 10% of your customers, an average of 5% gives a false impression of what is happening and what is working.

3. Segment. As a bare minimum, your email marketing should talk to customers and prospects differently. Customer emails need to engage and bind and can be personalised taking into account past behaviour and preferences. You can target customers who have abandoned baskets, failed to complete a download etc. Prospect emails need to be propositioned slightly differently, set out to solve a problem, inform and encourage trial.

4. Create value. Think about the value exchange in both cases, understanding that developing new customers is harder and more involved than up selling and cross selling existing or lapsed customers. Ultimately, know what is in it for them. For customers understand and tap into recency, frequency and value data and build a profile of your most profitable customers. The masters Amazon use expensive collaborative filtering engines to establish what you bought and viewed in order to make similar recommendations. For prospects, offer a service like Hotel Chocolat’s reminder service for anniversaries and birthdays that gives you permission to make contact in the future. All are designed to keep you front of mind.

5. Personalisation. Get your salutations right. Have you deserved the right to use a first name? Conditional content – where certain areas of email (like images and personalised content) can be tailored within an established framework – is now becoming the norm. You can effectively mail merge using data in an Excel – even using what if scenarios.

Above all, keep it readable and keep it credible. Imagine your email without the images – the message and who it is coming from should still be clearly understood.

Image from www.theweblog.be