Thursday, October 30, 2014

Predict Your Marketing Plan Fate (Sans Crystal Ball)

It's that scary time of year when many marketers finalize plans for 2015 success, and Halloween celebrates a very different kid of future insight via black magic, spirit guides, tarot cards and the like. Now Marketo brings together those two disparate seasonal themes with "What's in the Cards," an infographic of the three factors most predictive of a marketing plan's fate, based on interviews with 400 marketers. Planning Secret No. 1: "Write Your Marketing Destiny," meaning generate a documented plan of action, clearly stating strategy and tactics, with stakeholder buy-in and individual accountability. You'll be joining 66% of marketers interviewed, who use a shared planning document to dodge the most deadly marketing failures, including constantly changing directions and priorities, lack of coordination within the marketing team, and lack of coordination between marketing and other teams. No. 2: "Add a Mix of Techniques and Channels," ranging from e-mail, social and pay-per-click to offline events. Get the right mix by analyzing audience preferences and behavior and then, of course, testing and measuring. No. 3: "The Right Calendar Makes You a Mind-Reader." Two-thirds of marketers interviewed stressed the importance of a marketing calendar, ranging from high-tech online tracking to simple whiteboard. Top calendar requirements cited were easy movement of activities, tracking of tentative vs. confirmed activities, filtering by attributes (channel, product, audience, segment) and a view of the metrics per program. Share Marketo's infographic Halloween treat with marketing team members by going to

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

B2B Content Marketers Doubt Their Effectiveness

The Content Marketing Institute's latest survey of business-to-business marketers found 86% using content marketing, but only 38% believing they are actually effective at it. One reason respondents may doubt their success is poor tracking of content marketing ROI; just 5% consider their ROI tracking "very successful," while the majority (33%) rate ROI measurement efforts as merely "neutral." Another 10% rate tracking as "not at all successful," and 15% do no tracking. For those engaged in content-marketing results measurement, website traffic was the most common metric, followed by sales lead quality and conversion rates. As far as the type of B2B content marketing done, the most popular content (92%) was for social media (other than blogs), followed by e-newsletters (83%) and website articles (81%). What were the most important goals of content marketing? Brand awareness, lead generation and engagement led the list in the survey. The study also pegged 28% as the average amount of total marketing budget spent on B2B content marketing. Unsurprisingly, there was a correlation between perceived effectiveness and spending; those rating themselves as most effective allocated 37% of the marketing budget to B2B content, while the least effective cut their spend to 16% or less of the total budget. For more data from the survey, check out the report at

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Attention-Getting Design Trends Bolster Mail Impact

Attention-grabbing design is one way direct mail marketers can break through the promotional noise that bombards its busy audience. In a recent Target Marketing Magazine article, Paul Bobnak, director of research at Who's Mailing What!, cites three new creative trends that help the direct mail catalogued by his firm to stand out in mailboxes and earn recipient response. First, he notes an upswing in impactful, four-color envelopes, including full bleeds and color on both sides. Second, there is increased use of icons mimicking those from digital screens (desktop, tablet or mobile). It's an especially popular tactic in mail aimed at younger, highly digital audiences, but many mailers now commonly use icons on reply forms and call-to-action devices as prompts to online action or reminders of available response options. The third trend spotted by Bobnak is increasing use of advanced personalization. In a quest for the proven response lift delivered by personalization, mailers are rolling out personalized targeting that goes beyond including the prospect's name to leveraging mailing list data such as geography, buying/donation history, age, gender, etc. in targeted text and imagery. For Bobnak's comments, see

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fundraising Envelope Changes Spur Response

"Testing isn't difficult or costly, but it is the lifeblood of your program," Bryan Terpstra, senior vice president of RobbinsKersten Direct, advised direct mail fundraisers in a recent report by The NonProfit TimesBut where to start testing? How about with the first thing a recipient sees: the envelope. If the target audience doesn't even open the envelope, the great appeal inside is wasted. That's why moving from a standard #10 envelope to a larger package can really spur response, not only helping a solicitation stand out in the mail but enabling fundraisers to increase the size of text and graphics, inside and out, Terpstra notes. He provides the following example of how much difference an envelope change can make: When the Special Olympics increased its format from a 6-inch by 4-inch package to a 7.25-inch by 5.25-inch package, its response rate jumped nearly 10%. Of course, once that envelope is opened, there are letter and copy treatments, including changing the "gift array" or "ask ladder," to test as response boosters. For more direct mail testing suggestions, see the article at

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How to Avoid Common and Costly E-mail Flubs

Some e-mail mistakes sneak up on even experienced marketers. Check out the recent MarketingProfs article by Amanda Kiviaho to see five of the most common e-mail pitfalls and tips for avoiding costly marketing tumbles. At the top of her list is tacking on the subject line as a marketing afterthought. The subject line is key to open rate and thus click-through, so make sure it is part of e-mail strategy from the get-go, is based on past performance metrics, and is constantly tested to optimize, Kiviaho advises. Next, though relevant content is supposedly a marketing mantra, e-mails still blast out without regard to recipient interest or value, resulting in a disengaged. even disappearing, audience. The lesson: Content needs to be tied to smart e-mail list segmentation--using past response metrics such as opens, clicks, purchases or sign-ups. Expecting creative changes to result in immediate lift also can lead e-mail marketers astray toward ineffective updates or premature abandonment of changes, Kiviaho warns. Use A/B testing before roll-out and then be patient in judging results; response to new creative can initially dip before outperforming a control over time. Another common error is focus on revenue generation to the point of counterproductive over-mailing; one antidote is a disciplined e-mail calendar that monitors frequency and response by segment. Finally, e-mail does not earn optimum performance as a stand-alone, Kiviaho cautions; e-mail plans should draw input across the organization and marketing channels. Read more at

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ringing in the 2014 Holiday Fundraising Season

Year-end fundraising is a key marketing initiative for nonprofits, so what are some ways to make the 2014 holiday season cheery in terms of donations? Thanks to Elizabeth Chung of Classy online fundraising for recently posting her list of holiday-fundraising trends. First, if you are a nonprofit marketer, you've hopefully already started your push for donors because year-end giving has been starting earlier year after year. A Google study found that 2013 donation-related searches jumped 30% as early as August and September, as Chung notes. Since the same Google study also found that 75% of donors go online to learn about nonprofits, an effective online site with online fundraising capability is more critical than ever. The stage is set for a surge in online holiday donations; the first half of 2014 already recorded an 8% increase in online giving over last year. Include Giving Tuesday in online planning, suggests Chung. Since debuting in 2012, Giving Tuesday has won increasing support. Last year, donors gave 90% more than they did in 2013, and 10,000 charitable organizations participated. Here's a Trend for All Seasons: Make holiday fundraising effective with targeted list segmentation. Chung focuses on e-mail lists, but the principle applies to direct mail and telemarketing lists, too. Some suggested segmentation parameters: average donation size, last campaign or program donated to, the last time donated, and annual vs. recurring donors. Finally, use technology to enhance, not distract, from the personal giving emotion of the holidays. Personalization of mail and e-mail messages should be standard policy, along with holiday programs for donors to dedicate a gift on behalf of a loved one. Chung suggests taking the holiday card tradition digital with personalized e-cards, including e-cards for gift dedication. See the article at

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Time to Create a Video Marketing Strategy?

Marketing statistics are showing the potential power of online video in terms of audience, engagement and response, but successful video marketing requires a careful strategy. A recent MarketingProfs article by Michael Litt, CEO of video marketing platform Vidyard, comes to the aid of video neophytes, suggesting five basic steps for achieving video marketing goals. Step No. 1 is to decide what your video content seeks to accomplish for the brand, including defining the audience, its needs and desired added value at the outset. Step No. 2 moves on to selecting video story topics (questions from the target audience are one starting point) and then the type of video (webinar, how-to, leader interview, product demo, customer testimonials, case studies, etc.) that fits with the story-telling. Step. No. 3 is to assess resources and budget and clearly assign responsibility for video creative and content. Whether the video is put together by an in-house team or outsourced to an agency, don't neglect key stakeholder feedback during the process. Next, decide where the video will reside on your website and direct customers and prospects there. Note that YouTube is a great distribution channel but it serves competitors and distractions, too, so make sure you have links to your site within SEO-optimized YouTube descriptions and a destination on your site where prospects can learn more. Finally, measure results by setting up metrics-gathering from video platform and distribution, including attention span and drop-off rates, click-through rates and video consumption patterns. For more detail, go to