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Archive for August, 2016

A Mistake in My Email Marketing Send . . . Now What?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Email marketing presents a unique challenge from other digital marketing platforms in that it has a single definitive send. Once it’s sent, there’s not a reliable way of retracting the communication. So unlike your website, digital ads, or social media posts, mistakes can’t be overwirtten live at the source. So when mistakes are not caught before a send, how should you handle it?

A word of warning, every email list has a few sticklers on it that will often reply to minor mistakes they find in your emails. It’s worthwhile to respond to those individuals thanking them for alerting you to the error but don’t overblow it to assuming your entire list is aghast at your oversight. Many if not most of your audience might look right past the error. Analyze the mistake in your email send and make a reasonable judgment call on how to address it.

There are four options for addressing mistakes in a sent email marketing communication.

1. A Total Re-Send

This should be reserved for only critical mistakes. Examples of this would be false information on an offer/event, an incorrect email/template being sent, or content being sent to the wrong group.

If you feel that you need to do a re-send, it’s important not to panic which often results in more mistakes. Take a few minutes to ensure you are selecting the right groups to re-send to and that you have successfully corrected the error. There is nothing worse than doing a re-send only to find that you’ve made a second mistake trying to correct the first.

2. A Targeted Re-Send

This is typically most appropriate for inaccurate links within an email. In this case, you can effectively identify who experienced the mistake and target a re-send to those people only.

To do this, simply pull a list of those that clicked on the inaccurate link and send to that subset. A targeted re-send does require additional monitoring of the click report so that anyone that clicks after the initial correction can be provided with the edited communication. This limits the inconvenience to your larger audience and ensures a correction to those that experienced the problem.

3. Let It Ride

Sometimes the best action is inaction. If the mistake is minor it’s often best to leave it alone rather than inconvenience your audience with a re-send. Examples of this would be minor typos, graphical anomalies, or concealed problems (like html or image tags).

In these cases, correct the error on your next communication but don’t bother your list with a re-send highlighting such a small issue.

4. Strategic Follow Up

This is really limited to promotional emails but can be a way of correcting a mistake and reinforcing the offer. Example problems would be non-critical mistakes on an email but correct information on a registration page (like a missing digit in a buildings zip code where an event will be held).

Rather than doing a re-send right away, make a follow up email on the offer that corrects the mistake. Then resend it a few days later as a reminder email. This prevents the frustration to your audience of getting a second email on the heels of the first, gives a second touch on promoting your offer/event, and updates the non-critical mistake on the newest send.

Moving Forward

Despite best efforts and effective editing processes, mistakes will pop up in sent email communications sooner or later. It’s important to weight the gravity of the error in deciding how to handle it. The judgment really comes down to whether it’s worth alerting some or all of your audience to the mistake and inconveniencing them with a second send.

Once you handle a mistake in a send, it’s important to be diligent in your upcoming communications. An error once in a while is going to happen and will be forgiven. Consistent errors show a lack of respect to your audience and will erode credibility.

Digital Marketing Bias: “My gut feel is the same as metrics.” or “Don’t make judgment calls, just follow the metrics.”

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

pexels-photoThe use of data in digital marketing can be a divisive one because the two biases are more common than a balanced view. This is a problem because a skewed perspective on how to use metrics can steer a digital marketing campaign toward trouble or miss opportunities. Effective use of metrics is a careful balance of gathering key data and making shrewd analysis on what those numbers mean.

My gut feel is the same as metrics.

Marketing data is really a required step in the digital marketing cycle and it’s rare to come across someone that simply doesn’t have metrics. What is much more common is a trainer, consultant, or professional coach that has the data but only uses it in a superficial level. This can happen in 3 ways:

  • Not available – This is uncommon but once in a while a small business will not have any metrics available and are winging their digital marketing decisions. Typically it’s not an intentional decision but a lack of time, knowledge, or budget to get marketing metrics established. Reviewing and analyzing data is really the only consistent way to improve and is worth the effort.
  • Not really used – This is often illustrated by a general grasp of high level numbers. An example would be a simple count of hits on the website. The simple tally really provides no insight into who the hits are, where they came from, or what channels are improving or deteriorating. So the “metrics” to justify decisions are really just twisted to fit the marketer’s preferences.
  • Opinion Justification – The old adage that stats can prove anything has an element of truth. Often times, data will be plucked selectively to provide evidence for a gut feel rather than reviewed to see what is really working.

Don’t make judgment calls, just follow the metrics.

The opposite view is that the data holds the secrets for every judgment call. The truth is that the data can provide clues and a basis for theories but it will never map out specifically what and how you should market to your target audience. There is always a judgment call in how to best use the insights that the data provides. This can manifest in a few ways:

  • Data over analysis – As a general rule you should not review your digital marketing data more than once a month. Those that are over-reliant on the data tend to scour it daily looking for signs on what should change. Give metrics time to compile a useful amount of actionable data rather than trying to jump ahead on a limited subset of immediate information.
  • Devotion to particular data sets – Too much reliance on data often results in “rules” that prove a particular action is necessary. This is a survival mechanism to ensure that the marketer doesn’t have to scour every piece of data to have their finger on the pulse. However, it leads to false assumptions and over-reactions to their self-defined rules. For instance, if a landing page falls below a certain visit to conversion ratio then a marketer who is over-relying on data might state that the page needs to be redesigned. The truth could be that the offer was not compelling, that a small on-page element is causing conversion friction, or one of the channels promoting the offer went to the wrong audience.

Digital marketing data is critical but won’t make an effective marketing campaign for you. Review your metrics regularly for insights and make a point to disprove some of your theories to ensure you aren’t using the data in a skewed way to justify your gut feel. Once you’ve completed your analysis step away and take action on your conclusions rather than continuing to comb the data as if you’re reading tea leaves on what will make the campaign better.

Digital Marketing Bias: “Digital marketing tools should always be free.” or “Free tools are ineffective.”

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

The amount of tools available for digital marketing is growing exponentially. The quality and prevalence of these tools varies greatly. This often makes it difficult to identify and effectively implement the tool that’s best suited to your marketing campaign’s needs. One common factor that drives a decision to adopt a tool is whether it’s free or fee based. This factor seems to have two opposing viewpoints that either requires a free version or fosters mistrust in the tool if it’s not a paid service.

Digital marketing tools should always be free.

There is often an expectation that digital marketing tools are free. There are useful free tools but each should be carefully analyzed. The old saying, “you get what you pay for” can often be applied to no cost options.

  • Free . . . Sort Of – Many marketing tools offer a base level service at no cost. Sometimes that base level is sufficient, but many times it is not. Survey Monkey is a tool I’m regularly told by trainers, consultants, and professional coaches that they want to use because it’s free. I’ve yet to complete a digital marketing campaign with the free version. The purchased version always becomes necessary due to the setup and data limitations of the free service. The free services will restrict how you deliver your message and often times will hold your data hostage without an upgrade to the paid service. Nothing will eat up time and money like false starts with tools that end up not meeting your needs or requiring unexpected fees.
  • Support – Tools are worthless without someone that is proficient in using them. Proficiency is often gained from self-teaching through user guides and FAQs, which most free tools offer. However, sometimes the tool doesn’t work as expected or some additional guidance is needed to use it effectively. Most free tools offer no support, either user error or system error. So if there is a problem, users are on their own to figure it out or work around it.
  • Extra Services – Steadfastly sticking to no cost options can blind digital marketers to additional services that might benefit them. For instance, almost every social media platform offers a paid ad service but it’s often ignored due to the cost. These services obviously need to be leveraged intelligently so that unnecessary expenses aren’t created, but it should be an option on the table if it’s likely to benefit a campaign.

Free tools are ineffective

Some trainers, consultants, and professional coaches have a general mistrust of free tools. The thought is generally that no cost equals no quality. Neglecting valuable free tools hurts effectiveness and the marketing budget.

  • Bait and Switch – This is the opposite view of those that jump at “free” services without getting the details. The thought is that every free service is a useless dumbed down version that will force users into getting the paid version. While some healthy skepticism is valuable, too much will have you miss out on valuable services. A good example of this is Google Analytics. Google Analytics can be set up for free and provides valuable tracking data consistently and accurately without a need to upgrade.
  • Neglect Options – Many tools are offered only on a no cost basis. Disregarding them outright eliminates an option that could very well meet your needs. A common example of this is plugins for website content management platforms. Many developers create a solution for the platform and provide it to the platforms store for those that might have similar need. Many of these are free and do an admirable job at a certain function. If you steadfastly need to pay for any tool you use, you might be able to make a donation to the developer but don’t disregard it outright because the developer made it publically available at no cost.
  • Too Much Work – There is often a complaint that free tools require too much work to be implemented. This can be true in some cases but is true just as often for many paid tools. All tools require time and effort to get setup and utilized in your digital marketing campaign. When seeking a tool for a particular function know that it will take work to implement and base your analysis on functionality and feasibility rather than if it’s free or not.