Buyer Personas: Much More than Imaginary Friends

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Buyer personas are like imaginary friends. They’re not real, but they serve a real purpose. Just as imaginary friends can offer companionship and stimulate creative thinking, buyer personas can help you significantly improve the results of your marketing efforts.

Buyer personas are profiles of the different types of customers you have. This may sound basic, but you will need time and resources to develop thorough buyer personas. Don’t worry, the payback is worth the effort. With buyer personas as your guide you can:

Create targeted content for different customer types. The more closely content is targeted to the needs of your buyer, the more effective it will be. Potential buyers will pay attention because the information is relevant to them and they are more likely to believe you understand them. That, of course, translates into being more likely to make a purchase.

Creating different content for different personas doesn’t mean you’ll have a logistical nightmare on your hands. You can often use foundational content and make small tweaks in messaging and points of emphasis to customize the information for each buyer persona. File naming conventions, color-coding, and inventory management can help you efficiently organize and distinguish your expanded library of content.

Make smarter advertising decisions. Whether you are purchasing display ads, e-newsletter ads, directory listings or other advertising, by aligning your buyer personas with the profile of an advertising channel’s audience you can make more targeted and effective media buys. You won’t waste budget or resources on the wrong audience. Be sure to work with media partners who have in-depth profiles of their audiences and the ability to target them precisely.

Segment your internal email lists. A primary source of data for building buyer personas comes from customer information in your own database. Once the personas are complete, you can use them to segment your own email lists for more targeted and relevant marketing campaigns.

Fill in marketing gaps. Many companies discover that when they create buyer personas they might come up with three or four different profiles only to discover they’ve been producing marketing campaigns and content that are only relevant to one or two of those personas. You can easily identify the gap and devote resources to better reach an under-served potential customer.

What Does a Buyer Persona Include?

Buyer personas need to strike a balance between painting a clear picture of a customer type and providing more information than is useful. A B2B buyer persona likely includes a subset of the following information, depending on what’s important to you and what information you can acquire:

  • Professional title and area of responsibility
  • Industry and type of company
  • Day-to-day responsibilities
  • Pain points and challenges
  • Goals and motivations
  • What the customer needs to do their job better
  • How your company can help (messaging)
  • Potential objections to your solutions

B2B buyer personas typically don’t include extensive demographics and lifestyle information. This type of data is more useful to the B2C markets. For example, age, gender, and personal interests are not as important to B2B marketers. You might not want to invest in that type of third-party data.

How to Create a Buyer Persona

  • Start in your own database. Run reports to discover your best customers in each market segment you serve, then analyze the attributes of those customers to glean information you can use in building a buyer persona.
  • Speak to sales people. Your sales team can offer a lot of anecdotal information about pain points, challenges, needs, objections and successful messaging. They’re the ones closest to customers. Rely on their expertise.
  • Interview customers. Pick out a few customers in each market or product segment you sell into and request a short interview. Tell them exactly what you are working on with the goal of serving them better. There’s nothing like first-hand information from a customer to help you build accurate profiles.
  • Give each buyer persona a name. This might seem silly, but it’s actually quite helpful. Attaching a name to a buyer persona helps everyone understand who these buyers are and makes them more memorable. Who won’t remember Accounting Anna, Engineer Ed or Technical Support Specialist Sam?

Final tips: create a one-page buyer persona template that makes the information easy to scan, comprehend and use. You could even make posters of your buyer personas and hang them on the walls of sales and marketing departments to remind everyone who you are targeting. Don’t forget to revisit your buyer personas once a year to make sure they are still up to date and accurate.

 

 

 

Market Research Marketing, General

How to Maximize the Performance of Your E-Newsletter Campaigns

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As most industrial marketers know, newsletters are one of the most valuable advertising mediums. As a newsletter advertiser, you benefit from access to a highly engaged audience of decision makers who rely on these publications as a source of valuable news and content.

When establishing a newsletter program as part of your overall marketing mix, you want to ask yourself the following tried-and-true questions:

• WHO am I looking to reach?
• WHAT do I want to communicate to this audience?
• WHERE can I reach them; what publications are they reading?
• WHEN should I schedule my advertisements?
• WHY am I running this campaign; what results do I expect?

Once you’ve built the framework for your campaign, then you need to ask yourself, How do I most effectively deliver my message to my audience?

You should be aware that newsletter advertisements do not perform like traditional forms of display advertising. Engineers and technical professionals look to these newsletters mainly for new, timely and relevant content. And research shows that advertisers who consistently use fresh ad copy see better results. On average, advertisers see a 20 percent decline in performance when reusing advertising content just one time. And this performance decline increases steadily after each reuse.

To make the most of your newsletter investment, submit original content for each ad placement. Even if you are focusing your campaigns around a single or limited number of products, technologies, or offerings, you will see better results with a frequent rotation of new ad copy.

Not sure how to get started? Consider these best practices when creating your next newsletter advertisement:

1. Create a clear, concise and compelling headline. Your subject line is your first
impression. Pull the reader in with your message.
2. Feature an image that complements your ad. A picture needs to work hand-in-hand
with your headline and copy. Our research shows that photos perform better than logos. An image with a white background is optimal.
3. Emphasize the benefits – and not necessarily the features – of your product or offer.
What will the audience gain by engaging with your ad? Think about content that either
shares knowledge (such as datasheets, product specs, design kits, technical documentation, and videos), or shows how your solutions rise above the competition
(shortening design cycles, speeding product to market, or delaying technological
obsolescence, for example).
4. Use links effectively. Depending on the goals of your campaign, direct readers to an action that creates opportunities for further engagement, or to additional content for
building thought leadership and awareness.

E-Mail Marketing Marketing, General

What’s Working Now in Email Marketing

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Email is one of the industrial marketer’s top marketing tactics. Most companies have a reliable house list and many publish a regular e-newsletter. But there’s also email fatigue setting in among your audience. Everyone’s inbox is overflowing. Inboxes are overflowing with emails that are irrelevant to their recipients, and unrelated to their interests and needs. Often, recipients delete emails without opening them.

Despite these challenges, email marketing can be cost effective and produce positive results in terms of reach, opens, clicks and conversions. In fact, according to  “2019 Smart Marketing for Engineers”, a report published by IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing, 89 percent of engineers said the email/e-newsletters they subscribe to are valuable sources of information on the latest engineering technologies, industry trends, products or services. Forty-three percent of engineers subscribe to 2-3 e-newsletters, while another 43 percent subscribe to four or more.

However, engineers are a busy and discerning audience. They won’t tolerate poor email practices on your part. When faced with their email inbox, 50 percent of engineers scan for subject lines that intrigue them and delete the rest. Without a subject line that gets their interest, your email might never get opened. Thirty-seven percent open most or all emails to scan for content or to read every one.

Every marketer that publishes their own emails understands it takes effort and resources to manage their subscriber list, including adhering to strict General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) for any subscribers who reside in the European Union. You also need production resources, which may involve content developers, graphic designers, and others. Faced with these challenges, its easy to see why not all emails are successful.

An Effective Alternative to the House List

One way many industrial marketers are easing the burdens of email marketing while still reaping its benefits is by advertising in third-party e-newsletters published by media partners. Depending on which media partner you work with and their expertise and ability to target your audience, the advantages of e-newsletter advertising are many:

  • The publisher handles all list management. This includes cleansing addresses, managing unsubscribes, adding new subscribers to the list, and adhering with all antispam laws and GDPR regulations.
  • The audience consists of only opt-in subscribers who have requested to receive the e-newsletter and are likely to expect, recognize and open the e-newsletter when it arrives in their inbox.
  • As a marketer, you can connect with hard-to-reach members of your target audience who are not on your own house list, yet would still be interested in your content, products and services.
  • Your required production resources are much less. Often, you need only provide an image and a few lines of copy and the publisher will design your ad for you.
  • The publisher provides comprehensive and timely reports demonstrating the performance of your e-newsletter ad, such as number delivered, opens, clicks and forwards.
  • The right media partner will be able to help you integrate your e-newsletter ads with other marketing programs, resulting in an approach that makes best use of your marketing resources.

With the right partner on your side, e-newsletter advertising works. Is it time to add this program to your marketing mix? IEEE GlobalSpec offers 70+ newsletter titles that focus on specific industry segments and products. These e-newsletters target the very professionals you want to reach via their inboxes, giving you access to a highly engaged audience of decision makers who use e-newsletters as a key resource during all stages of their buying process.

Find out more about e-newsletter advertising here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

E-Mail Marketing Marketing, General

The Power of a Strong Brand

 

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Industrial marketers sometimes overlook branding efforts in favor of programs that deliver easily measurable results such as clicks, conversions and engagement opportunities. But the fact is that branding is a powerful and necessary marketing strategy. Without a strong brand to influence your audience, those other more measurable programs may not work.

Research has shown that engineers and other B2B buyers are not simply rationally-minded decision makers. Emotions also play a role in B2B purchasing decisions. Customers feel better buying from a company that they recognize and respect; in other words, from a brand that makes them comfortable and confident in their decision.

A strong brand reduces risk for buyers

You’ve heard the expression, “No one has ever gotten fired for buying IBM.” That might be the most effective brand statement in history. What it means is that buying from IBM is the right choice because its brand is reputable and safe. Many companies who might have offered better products and feature sets lost business to IBM simply because of IBM’s brand strength. A strong brand mitigates the perception of risk and alleviates some of the fear that buyers inevitably experience when facing a purchase decision.

A strong brand provides clarity

Effective branding puts a stake in the ground that says to potential customers: “This is who we are, this is what we do, and this is why we do it.” Your customers will buy more confidently because they know what your brand stands for.

A strong brand creates trust

Business is all about relationships, even when the products offered for sale might be perceived as commodity components. And relationships are based on trust. Without trust, there is no transaction. If a potential customer trusts your brand, he or she is more likely to buy from you.

A strong brand fosters customer loyalty

Many industrial companies have customers they have supplied for years. These are your loyal customers. Very few industrial buyers will change their supplier if an unknown company comes calling with an offer of similar products for 10 percent less. If you show that your brand is worth trusting, customers won’t be tempted to make a change to a competitor.

A strong brand gets you in the game

For the majority of engineers, nearly 60 percent of the buying process happens online before they speak to a vendor, according the survey “2019 Smart Marketing for Engineers,” published by IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing. If you don’t have a strong brand presence, you might never be found by potential customers in the early stages of their buying process, and you won’t be in the game when it’s time for engineers to make a purchase decision.

A strong brand can shorten the sales cycle

If your brand is known and recognized in your market, your sales people can save a lot of time by not having to explain what your company is about and why a prospect should buy from you. With an unknown brand, sales people are starting at the bottom rung with every sales opportunity. They have to work to convince prospects that your company and products are worthy.

Effective ways to strengthen your brand

Branding should be an integral part of your marketing strategy, if it isn’t already. Fortunately, branding tactics don’t have to work in isolation; they can also help to generate engagement opportunities with your target audience.

Here are ways to build and strengthen your brand:

Have a stellar company website. Not just a website—an exemplary one. Easy to navigate, fresh content designed for your target audience, and landing pages and conversion forms to capture leads. For most engineers (89 percent), a company’s website has an impact on their perceptions of them as a credible, technically competent vendor (Smart Marketing for Engineers).

Produce content. Ninety percent of engineers are more likely to do business with companies that produce new and current content. Your ability to continually educate and meet the informational needs of your audience during their buying process is one of the most effective ways to bolster your brand’s reputation.

Use display advertising. Display ads on industrial websites offer broad brand exposure to your target audience, helping to increase visibility and awareness. Ads can serve two purposes—branding and engagement—by driving users to landing pages containing offers and conversion forms.

Show up in an engineer’s inbox. Placing advertisements in targeted, industrial e-newsletters can get your brand into the inbox of motivated engineers and industrial professionals.

Keep up a social media presence. Don’t ignore social media just because it’s not a big lead generator. Social media is an effective way to keep your brand visible to your customers and the market. Use social media to distribute content, participate in conversations, and reinforce your position as a market player.

Exhibit at tradeshows. While tradeshow attendance has been declining in recent years, exhibiting at select events is still a good way to increase visibility to a targeted audience and to show your audience the people behind your brand. Choose your tradeshows carefully, as they require investment and planning.

 

Marketing, General

Has Your Marketing Reached its Expiration Date?

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Like fresh produce, meat or seafood, marketing programs have an expiration date after which they become stale or spoiled. For instance, ad fatigue can set in among an audience that has seen the same creative over and over.

No marketing campaign is designed to run indefinitely. While the marketing channels you use will likely remain relevant, the creative itself—content, imagery, messaging, calls-to-action—has a much shorter shelf life.

Here are some signs that it’s time to freshen up your marketing:

  • Declining metrics. Results are the most important signal that you need to make a change. If metrics such as click-throughs, page views, conversions, shares, engagement opportunities or other key performance indicators are showing sagging performance, your creative has likely run its course.
  • New offerings. When your company comes out with a new product or service, it’s definitely time to update your creative to promote the latest offerings.
  • New strategy. Companies shift gears all the time. What was important last quarter might be on the back burner this one, with new priorities coming to the forefront. You need to adjust campaigns and creative to reflect these changes.
  • New customer needs. If your product marketing teams identify new customer needs that can be met by your products or services, you’ll want to update your advertising to take advantage of the situation.
  • Timing-sensitive offers. If you’re advertising an event or tradeshow, make sure to swap out creative as soon as the event ends. Similarly, offers with deadlines should be removed as soon as the deadline passes. Poorly timed advertising is not making the best use of your media buys.

How to Freshen Up Your Marketing

Any one of the above signs could indicate the need for you to perform a complete overhaul of your creative and messaging. However, making smaller tweaks to creative or campaigns can often extend the life of your marketing programs and keep them performing well.

  • Update the headline in an advertisement to focus on a different benefit. This is a relatively minor but often highly successful tweak that can add freshness when products offer more than one significant customer benefit. You’ve already reached everyone you can touting the first benefit. Now extend your reach by extolling another benefit.
  • Replace imagery. You don’t want to start messing with your logo or company brand, but if you’re using stock photography or illustration, swap in something new. If you’re using product photos, show the product from a different angle, in a different setting, or in a different image style. Changing typeface and colors is also an easy way to give creative a fresh look and feel.
  • Change the offer. Maybe you’ve had a white paper offer whose performance has trailed off in terms of conversions. That means it’s time for a new content offer, but you may not have to start from scratch. If the white paper is still relevant in its content and messaging, try re-purposing it into a webinar and change your creative to promote it.
  • Advertise in a different e-newsletter. Media partners such as IEEE GlobalSpec offer dozens of targeted e-newsletters. If you’ve been focusing your media buy on only one e-newsletter, experiment with another, closely-related publication that also reaches your target audience. In this case, you might not be changing your creative, but slightly adjusting your media buy.
  • Exhibit at a different event. If you’ve been attending the same tradeshows year after year, look for a new event where your message can resonate and you can connect with your target audience. There might be boutique events that are targeted but very worthwhile. If your tradeshows are your tradeshows no matter what, come up with a new theme to promote when you exhibit.

To get the most out of your media buys, you not only have to choose the right channels to reach your audience, you also have to adjust your creative strategies to keep your message fresh and relevant and to capture your audience’s interest.

Marketing ROI Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

Your Favorite Articles of 2018

2018-year-in-review

This year, Maven readers got down to brass tacks. You were focused on learning new skills like SEO, as well as improving your strategies, like measuring and proving the ROI of your marketing programs. As always, you’re focused on your plans and programs, even tweaking them throughout the year. If you read the Maven regularly, you’ll know that we’re committed to leaving no stone unturned in the marketing world — from SEO to content creation to programmatic advertising and more.

If you missed any of our most popular articles, now’s the time to take them in. Even our most loyal readers will find them valuable on a second read. In the coming year, we look forward to offering you more marketing insights and expertise. All of us at the Marketing Maven wish you the best both personally and professionally in 2019.

SEO Basics All Marketers Should Know

There are some basic SEO tactics that almost every industrial company should deploy to help improve their rankings. Let’s look at each one of these in turn and how they can help improve your SEO rankings.

5 Tips for Measuring Marketing ROI

To improve your ability to measure ROI—and to gain the insight you need to make meaningful adjustments to your marketing programs—follow these tips.

Give Your 2018 Marketing Plan a Final Tune-Up

Whatever point you’re at in your 2018 marketing planning, the “2018 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit” can help. This guide offers advice, tools and tips to efficiently target your audience of engineers and technical professionals and get the most out of your marketing efforts.

Marketing, General

Five Best Practices for Successful Webinars

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Historically, webinars have provided strong demand opportunities and the ability to build brand awareness, engage your target audience and establish thought leadership in the industry. What’s more, engineers and technical professionals find great value in viewing webinars—67 percent attended at least one webinar or online event in the past year; 31 percent attended four or more (2017 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector).

However, your target audience has high expectations. They want a robust, interactive and compelling learning experience. Your job is to give it to them. Here are five best practices to help ensure that your webinars are effective and memorable.

1. Put Audience and Purpose First

Are you trying to connect with financially-focused executives, tactical technical managers or hardcore engineers? Where in your audience’s buy cycle are you trying to connect with them? An early-stage webinar might focus on awareness and thought leadership, mid-stage buy cycle is ripe for presenting problems and solutions, and later-stage is the time to drive home benefits and purchase opportunities.

By answering purpose and audience questions up front, you will find it much easier to create focused, compelling content for your target audience. One thing you don’t want to attempt is to create a webinar that is everything to everybody. It will end up so general and watered down that no one’s needs will be met.

2. Create a Highly Visual and Interactive Experience

Webinars are not meant to be read by your audience and blocks of text on slides are boring, so keep your text to a minimum. Instead, make your slides visually interesting. Use screenshots, product photos, and data charts and graphs—all of which can be quickly absorbed and retained by your audience.

You can also use short video and audio clips in the webinar to deliver a multimedia experience. Go one step further and engage your audience by adding interactivity. Real-time polls give your audience an opportunity to participate and also provide you with valuable data. Q&A sessions allow you to hear directly from the audience, discover what’s on their minds and perhaps even generate ideas for your next webinar.

Another way to boost interest is by having more than one speaker. Pass the speaking duties back and forth based on each speaker’s area of expertise or segments of the webinar. Or include a brief interview with an expert as part of the webinar. If you can utilize both male and female speakers, their different voice qualities can add a measure of variety to the presentation.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

Your audience will know if you’re not prepared and are just casually winging your presentation. They will also know if you are reading straight from a script. Both of these are audience turnoffs.

It’s important to create a comprehensive content outline to guide the flow of the webinar and it’s essential that you practice at least one complete dry run of the webinar, including testing your technology and settings.

Probably everyone has attended a webinar where something has gone wrong: the slides don’t display properly, the video won’t play, there’s background noise or the speaker isn’t clear or wanders off topic. There are many variables to account for when creating a webinar, but you can minimize anything going awry if you practice and prepare.

4. Market Your Webinar—Pre- and Post-event

To drive attendance to your webinar, make use of every marketing vehicle you have to reach your target audience. Promote the webinar prominently on your website, send invites through email and announce the event on all your social media platforms. Salespeople can even add a temporary email signature that promotes the event, and you can use online display advertising to build awareness and drive event registrations.

Make sure you record the webinar and post it for on-demand viewing following the live event. Many people may not be able to attend the webinar live, yet are still interested in your content and message. Just as you promoted the live event, promote the on-demand version as well. Attendance of on-demand webinars is on the rise, and can often result in a large chunk of additional viewers.

Also, if you plan ahead, you can build your webinar in discrete modules and split them into chunks for later on-demand viewing. This allows your audience to pick and choose what content interests them the most and gives you more fuel for your content marketing efforts.

5. Make Sure You Have a Trusted Platform or Partner

You’ll need a reliable webinar platform in order to market and host a compelling, interactive event that’s free of technology glitches. There are many providers to choose from, including GoToWebinar, Webex, On24, Adobe Connect and more. Make sure the platform you choose has all the features, capabilities and support you need.

Another way to add webinars to your marketing mix is to work with a media partner such as IEEE GlobalSpec. Whatever your marketing objectives, we have a webinar package to meet your needs — from providing industry speakers and additional target audience to handling all aspects of event production and marketing, freeing you to focus on other marketing responsibilities. Learn more about IEEE GlobalSpec webinar solutions here.

Marketing, General Webinars

GDPR is an Opportunity to Market More Effectively

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As most marketers know by now, Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a recent law that provides citizens of the European Union with greater control over their personal data. GDPR is intended to assure individuals that their information is secure, whether the data processing takes place in the European Union or not.

Industrial marketers with contacts in their database from the European Union should have taken steps by now to follow the law, which has been in effect now for six months. While the law contains many provisions, the biggest takeaways for marketers are that you cannot send marketing emails to someone without their expressed consent and you must offer subscription management tools, clear links to data and privacy policies, and easy opt-out.

And yet, 30 percent of marketers worldwide have not conducted the most important and primary of tactics: a reconsent campaign to their marketing list to ensure their subscribers are opt-in (eMarketer, subscription required).

An Opportunity, Not a Burden

It’s almost understandable why some marketers are lagging in compliance:

  • A reconsent campaign takes resources such as database management, the creation of web forms, and updated policies.
  • Marketers with a low percentage of email addresses from the European Union might be willing to risk noncompliance with the law.
  • The size of your opt-in subscriber list after a reconsent campaign will certainly be smaller, and therefore some of your metrics may temporarily skew to the negative.

But where some companies consider GDPR compliance a burden, others see new opportunity. For example:

  • GDPR has offered an opportunity for companies to clean up their messy marketing databases and improve their data quality. Governance of the marketing database shifts from tactical patchwork to a strategic initiative that will lead to better marketing results.
  • Marketers now have a mandate to execute true permission-based marketing and to communicate and engage with customers and prospects who are legitimately interested in their content and messages.
  • A culture of respecting personal privacy can become the norm within your organization—and across the industry—improving conditions for everyone involved. We all want our right to privacy to be respected.

Changes to Marketing Practices

Whether or not you have subscribers from the European Union in your database (you may not know for sure without analysis), you should implement a number of best practices including conducting reconsent campaigns, updating web forms and marketing emails, avoiding purchased lists and carefully choosing media partners.

Reconsent Campaign

You should have already conducted a reconsent campaign for your E.U. subscribers, but if not, it’s never too late. A reconsent campaign is a clear demonstration to your audience that you are serious about complying with marketing laws and respecting subscribers’ privacy.

Ask recipients to confirm that they want to continue receiving emails from you. Make clear exactly how you will store and use their data. Use subscription management tools to give users choices, such as narrowing the types of emails they receive from you or limiting frequency. This way, you might be able to hang on to some subscribers who are on the fence about opting in or out.

Web Forms

Web forms should have clear links on how to opt-in to lists and access your data usage and privacy policies. Boxes to opt-in cannot be “pre-checked” forcing the user to uncheck the box. That’s not opt-in. Also, just because a visitor signs up for a webinar or to download a white paper does not mean they are subscribing to every marketing email you send. They have to be given the choice to opt-in and manage their subscription.

Purchased Lists

Purchasing a list with email addresses has never been a good idea, and now it’s an even worse path to follow. If you acquire a list from a third-party, they need to have consent from the people on the list to share the information with you. You also are required to get specific consent to use the email addresses on the list unless the individuals have given their consent to be approached by associated partners.

Purchased lists have historically not performed well and the data quality can be poor, leading to bounces and spam complaints. Now, on top of those problems, you can be breaking the GDPR law.

Media Partners

Your media and marketing partners have to be as rigorous about compliance with GDPR as you do. For example, before you sponsor or place an ad in a partner’s e-newsletter to their subscriber base, be sure to ask if they have conducted reconsent campaigns. Ask if their subscriber database is compliant with GDPR. Also, ask what they do to ensure the accuracy and security of their data.

If you are experiencing challenges complying with GDPR, consider working with a reputable partner that has an accurate, opt-in database comprised of engineering, technical and industrial professionals and the marketing expertise to help you connect with this audience.

 

Lead Management Marketing Trends Marketing, General

How to Keep Your Email Marketing Lists Sparkling Clean

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Over time, the quality of your marketing list diminishes. Some experts report that email lists degrade at a rate of more than twenty percent each year, which isn’t that surprising. People change jobs or email addresses; businesses move, merge or shut down. Additionally, errors in the data entry and verification process can lead to duplicates and bad addresses in your databases.

Dirty data can derail your marketing efforts, negatively skew your email marketing metrics and harm your reputation as an email marketer. Your undeliverable and bounce rates will increase, as do spam complaints, while your open rates and click-through rates decrease.

Maintaining a clean list isn’t a luxury for industrial marketers—it’s a requirement for success. So how do you do it?

Clean your list

Data cleansing is the process of identifying outdated, incorrect or incomplete contact records and correcting any typographical errors and eliminating duplicate entries.

Sometimes you can clean your list manually, depending on your list size. You could review your list to catch common data entry errors such as misspellings of domain names, for example, imb.com instead of ibm.com, or gmial.com instead of gmail.com, and to look for duplicate entries.

Other options for cleansing a list include working with a vendor that offers list hygiene services. If you contract with an email marketing service provider, they often have tools to help clean your lists.

Append data to your list

For lengthier lists, you might use a service that both cleanses and appends data. The process matches your list against already verified lists from a vendor to replace outdated or incorrect data in your list with new, up-to-date information. Examples would be swapping a contact’s business email and title from their old job with their new title and email at their new company.

However, a service that appends email addresses to other user data you already have (such as name, title, and company) is a controversial practice in the email marketing world. Sending an email to people who have never explicitly opted-in is against best practices and sometimes against the law. Be sure to ask any vendor you might work with how they handle this situation. Find out if email addresses they append are from subscribers who have agreed to receive emails from companies such as yours.

Control points of data entry

Another way to ensure a cleaner list is to control the points of data entry. These typically consist of conversion forms on your website or data entered manually, such as transcribing an email address and other data from a printed form.

In these situations, you can take steps to reduce the potential for errors. For web forms, it’s a good practice to request that a user input their email address twice in order to ensure accuracy and reduce typos. You can also implement a process in which you send an email to the user and they must click on a link to confirm their opt-in. For company names or postal addresses that are typed in, you can use an address-matching service to check for accuracy. You can also do this for data entered manually.

Maintaining an opt-in list

Another important list hygiene practice is purging email addresses of those who no longer want to engage with your company.

To weed out unengaged subscribers or to spot potentially bad email addresses, create a sub-list of subscriber email addresses that bounce and of subscribers who have not opened your emails over an extended period of time.

Users that don’t download images or that use a preview pane to view emails still might be reading your emails, but it won’t hurt to have them on a sub-list that you email to promote engagement with your company. You just have to word your email appropriately. For example, you might tell subscribers you hope they find value in your emails and ask them to confirm their email address to ensure they continue to receive your emails.

Subscribers who don’t respond to several attempts at re-engagement should be removed from your list.

A final word

List hygiene isn’t a one-time task. It’s an ongoing process that should be embedded in your marketing workflow. Put checks in place during data entry, cleanse your lists of errors and duplicates, and conduct engagement campaigns to weed out bad addresses and unengaged subscribers. If adding another task to your revolving to-do list sounds daunting, find a trustworthy media partner that can help. The result will be an improvement in email marketing metrics and better results on your campaigns.

 

 

 

E-Mail Marketing Marketing, General

Email Needs to Align With Your Larger Marketing Goals

Amber Cooleen, IEEE GlobalSpec’s Senior Director of Audience Development, and Linda Uslaner,  Senior Director, Product Management recently contributed to eMarketers latest report “Email Marketing StatPack 2018: Benchmarks and Trends.”

You can view the entire report here.

Emarketer Benchmarks Report

eMarketer’s Emali Marketing Statpack 2018: Benchmarks and Trends report features the latest data and trends for the email marketing landscape, as well as interviews from industry experts and brands.

The report tackles, among other topics, tips for managing email and aligning it with the holistic customer experience. Among their findings:

  • Email marketers top challenges include staffing and resource constraints, poor coordination between other departments and channels, and bad strategy or leadership.
  • Email has become part of the larger marketing team’s efforts
  • In-house markters worldwide dedicate the most time to email design and content, vs. transmission, reporting,  or strategy and planning

You can view the entire report here.

E-Mail Marketing Marketing, General