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Manhattan Marketing Maven



A Practical Hands-On Marketing and Advertising blog



Published: 2014-05-27T15:42:37-04:00

 



Are Websites Obsolete?

2014-05-27T15:42:37-04:00

If information and engagement are business goals, websites, the ultimate icons of the Internet age, are quickly becoming obsolete. Consumers now engage and interact with mobile apps, social networks, text messages, email and dynamically loaded loyalty cards much more than they do brand websites. In fact, for the vast majority of brands, consumers visit the site once; get the information they want, opt-in and never return. That’s why savvy marketers are looking carefully and skeptically at added investments in complex websites. Many are de-emphasizing the role of a website in a brand’s digital ecosystem preferring instead to use more agile and cheaper channels to maintain on-going relationships and generate sales. The rapid adoption of mobile and social media has changed the marketing calculus about the content and the role of branded websites. Once the cornerstone of a brand’s online identity, today the function of a website is just a small part of an overall brand experience. In the beginning there were web pages, a way for brands to stake a claim on the newly invented World Wide Web. Consumers expected every brand to have an 800 number and a web page. Next site builders embraced interactive technologies to engage customers. Flash, video, SFX, bells and whistles and keeping up with the Joneses was the norm. Having a cool website and getting on a Top 10 list mattered. After a technology shakeout, websites were focused achieving business results. ROI was king, or at least talked about as if it were king. Encyclopedic websites were built. Governance was split between marketing and IT. Brands consolidated assets. Metrics trumped show biz. After a period of corporate consolidation, individual brands felt oppressed broke out by creating mini-sites and syndicating to drive traffic and attract broader audiences. Video, photo carousels, animation and games were ubiquitous. Social sharing was introduced. And brands began to orchestrate messaging, traffic and content between brand sites and Facebook and place branded content on allied sites or in places frequented by most likely prospects or customers. (This is now called native advertising.) But many marketers never gave customers reasons to return to the site after the first visit or registration. Websites now are accessed primarily using smartphones and tablets. Websites compete with and/or compliment native apps for content and tools to spawn repeat customer engagement. Some sites are also interconnected with branded social network assets. Some are not. But websites are no longer a sole or even principle destination. Rather they are an element in an evolving brand ecosystem structured to engage customers over time and achieve measurable business goals. Marketers have to discern what customers want and how they want it and then decide what kind of experience they want to offer. The design and array of digital assets requires an understanding of customer needs and a data-driven customer engagement strategy. The current thinking is that a branded site should drive consumers to take a specific desired action(s). Design and content should be organized strictly to achieve that objective. Upgrading or building a website today can’t be done in a vacuum. It has to be part of a customer engagement plan that anticipates customer needs for information, validation, incentives and/or repeat purchases over time. Creating a website today requires a relationship context that integrates the attitudes and likely day-to-day behaviors of your brand’s best customers.



Facebook Courts Direct Marketers

2014-05-20T15:09:26-04:00

Facebook Exchange, FBX the ads in the News Feed -- the primo real estate on Facebook -- is a year old and vying to become an indispensible partner to direct and CRM marketers. The pitch directly addresses the needs and anxieties of brands that want consumers to take action on social networks. Facebook, in a new deck circulating to advertisers, argues that they can find, mirror and more accurately target audiences, simultaneously access desktop and mobile users on a broad range of devices, leverage search and display ads across the Internet and do better ROI metrics. There is nothing subtle in Facebook’s move to curate, qualify and market audience segments. Absent is the long-standing claim that Facebook is strictly about relationships, sharing, engagement and saving the world. Most of the magic is a three-stage data mining process. By taking data from brands and combining it with demographic, psychographic and behavioral data from third party sources like Epsilon, Acxiom and Datalogic, marketers can get a tighter bead on likely buyers. Then by matching combined brand and outside data with Facebook profiles, the platform can deliver a specific message to large numbers of individuals meeting very narrow criteria eliminating waste and optimizing the likelihood that consumers will opt-in, share, sign-up, download or buy something. Like traditional publishers or broadcasters, Facebook claims to offer seamless and measurable targeting, reach and delivery. Facebook claims a 50% accuracy advantage over the average online campaign. This is the Holy Grail for direct marketers; maximum response with minimal waste across channels at efficient costs. For brands without a direct marketing or CRM infrastructure, Facebook potentially is a plug-and-play solution since brands can potentially find and reach their best customers, find more prospects that look like best customers or create new target segments virtually on the fly. But while Facebook will deliver a branded message to targeted users and tell you what percent of your database are on Facebook, they won’t share the details or trade data with brands. With massive reach and strong frequency, based on the fact that people check their newsfeed as much as fourteen times each day, Facebook is looking to take serious market share away from display advertising, search and email marketing. The social network’s leading mobile posture is a second strong direct response argument. With zillions accessing Facebook everyday on smartphones and tablets, a brand can reach their customers and prospects and finesse all the costly, complicated and confusing device, rendering and carrier issues with one partner. Tight targeting and mobile access when combined with links to branded websites, pixel tracking for retargeting and internal databases, gives a brand continuous exposure to people who have shown any sign of interest. This is, depending on your perspective, is either super-targeting or super-stalking. Either way, research shows that it delivers more, faster response. It also explains how that pair of shoes you looked at on Zappos follow you around the Internet and appear on your Facebook page. Newsfeed or Timeline units, a 154x154 pixel image and several lines of copy, were created precisely to enable precision targeting and pixel tracking to enable retargeting on Facebook and across the web. Consumers can like, share and comment on FBX ads, so virility is baked in. My clients using these units are reporting strong cost effective results. And even though many have been extorted into buying ads since Facebook choked off access to the fans they accumulated by manipulating the Edgerank algorithm, the guys paying the bills now can find out how many fans, followers or likers are actually buying products. Facebook is aggressively addressing direct marketing fundamentals and focusing on critical ROI concerns. Many of their social network peers are following suit. It will be fascinating to see how and how quickly traditional direct response partners respond. Stay tuned.[...]



The Importance of Customer Preference

2014-05-13T12:35:16-04:00

In a world filled with endless consumer choices, too many marketers still push out one-size-fits-all messages. Very few CRM cadences are self-directed by consumers, which might account for generally flat or low response and engagement rates. At a time when everybody is a gamer used to picking characters or avatars, setting game play levels and making choices of all kinds, marketers rarely give their customers and prospects the option to set preferences for content, channels or cadence. Too many acquisition, lead generation, usage stimulation, loyalty or adherence programs are serial fulfillment exercises rather than genuine expressions of customer relationships. They are one-way streets masquerading as two-way relationships. And while it’s much easier for marketers to decide what to say and when to carpet bomb their lists, it is counterproductive. The “R” in CRM needs to be more prominent in the thinking, programming and infrastructure of marketers. There is a reluctance to ask consumers for more information based on a generalized anxiety about privacy. But this is a fake-out. Greater data yields more personalized, relevant and useful content, which, in turn gives customers greater value and a stronger connection to the brand. Study after study has shown that when consumers perceive genuine value they are ready, willing and able to share personal information. This value exchange is the core of all CRM programs. Similarly, when consumers set preferences and brands execute on them, research suggests that engagement, purchases and customer satisfaction soar. The trick is incorporating preference as a highly desired element with a CRM architecture or environment. A brand without a preference center is partially faking CRM. Ideally customers should be steered to a preference center early in the relationship; when their interest and intentions are high. They should be asked for basic contact data and the requisite opt-ins and then be given some choices about what kind of information or incentives they want, how frequently they want them and which communication channel is best to reach them without annoying them. Setting up a preference center requires a modest amount of database preparation and an infrastructure to securely capture and transmit the data provided. In some cases, this data can be stored in ESP tools and used to inform triggers and business rules for email. You can’t really create a preference center unless you have a database architecture in place. The challenge is the investment. Too many clients see even modest infrastructure costs as “non productive” since there is no immediate ROI. That view is myopic. Giving customers choices and in so doing binding them to their favorite brands pays off again and again over time. When it comes to preference, brands need to step up to honor and accommodate customer preferences.



Retailers Double Down on Mobile

2014-05-02T10:14:54-04:00

At this time of the year, retailers make technical and functionality investment decisions focused on Holiday 2014. The biggest issue is what to invest in mobile marketing. Fortunately retailers can rely on the 13th Annual Merchant Survey produced by my friend and colleague, Lauren Freedman at the e-tailing group, for insight and direction. Mobile users browse stores, open promotional emails, compare features, functions and prices, showroom, photograph goods and share products with friends. Mobile accounts for 20 percent of traffic for the majority of retailers surveyed. For one in five retailers, mobile traffic is 30 percent. (In contrast, the majority of responders peg social traffic at less than 2 percent.) According to the survey, 50% of those surveyed report that mobile consumers contribute at least 5 percent to their revenues and another 32 percent say mobile contributes at least 10 percent. Seventy-five percent of survey responders say mobile is “critical to the growth of our business.” But 39 percent admit “its hard to know where to invest relative to mobile initiatives.” And while its critical that retail sites need to render properly on smartphones and tablets, nobody really knows which added functionality would drive more profitable conversions and repeat purchases? Retail competition is fierce and conversion rates have remained stagnant at 2-3% over the last few years. Almost half of retailers are focused on improving their pages and brand experiences. Another third are amping up onsite merchandising, upgrading sites and instituting responsive design. One in three are spending more than $100,000 on mobile enhancements. My hunch is that the best investment is in messaging not necessarily functionality. For the foreseeable future mobile will primarily be a research tool not a buying mechanism. Most email is now read on mobile devices. Video is moving in the same direction. Mobile search is an increasingly important factor. This leads me to four new mobile retail messaging tactics. Frequency. Crafting a single impactful message and communicating it often yields greater awareness sooner. The same message, more times on more devices equals higher reach and more persuasion. Synchronize a persuasive offer and communicate it within a defined time window (think SuperBowl) to penetrate and persuade a target group faster than ever before. Sequencing. Parse a retail pitch. This applies the classic 1940s Burma Shave OOH approach to mobile. The additive value of sequential messages over a limited time period can hammer home a promotion or sale. Fractal Messaging. A variation on sequencing would be to acknowledge different facets of a brand’s appeal and expose different facets or offers at different times to different people using different devices. Product details and rich images go on tablets while sale pricing, sale dates and bonus offers go on smartphones, in SMS messages or are placed in online media, This assumes that consumer moods, mindsets and tasks are different by device. So while prospects may resent ads on their smartphone, they might be willing to watch pre-rolls or other video formats on a tablet or phablet. By understanding how consumers use devices both in terms of the mechanics (who, what and where) and their sensibilities (openness to being interrupted or interacted with) brands can optimize sales by aligning with consumers’ workflow and life style patterns. Orchestration. Assign specific marketing tasks to specific devices in the same way that Bach, Beethoven and Brahms assigned specific roles to specific instruments. One plays the base theme. Another adds the variations. TV, print or catalogs lay down the basic message, while tablet content amplifies or expands the message and smartphones become the channel for consumer reaction, interaction and response. mCommerce is still in its infancy. Beyond technical investments, it’s time to start creatively experimenting with mobile messaging.



Tumblr's Timid Ad Play

2014-04-23T14:22:55-04:00

Now that they’ve drawn a crowd and sold themselves to Yahoo, Tumblr is trying to figure out how to make a buck. They’ve marshaled traffic, usage and psycho-demographic stats and are trying to simultaneously associate themselves with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, to gain consideration and access to social ad budgets, while differentiating themselves from the competition to attract specific brands and buys. To do this, Tumblr raises a couple of new ideas about the use and value of social networks for brands. Play the Platform. Tumblr argues that they are a two-fer – an independent web platform featuring an easy to use CMS, which can fit seamlessly into a brands’ overall digital ecosystem, and a large and growing global social network. Creating a branded Tumblr, marketers can expand reach, add link juice and add to a robust content strategy by creating a digital brand asset. A blank canvas, a Tumblr blog can be anything, though the more successful ones are highly visual, featuring striking images, videos and gifs. There are no comment options, beyond reblogging, so sentiment tends to be more positive than on other social platforms. A branded Tumblr page is part of the Tumblr network and its emerging topical community subsets. This potentially yields some endorsement by association and the prospect of added viral distribution not to mention a future ad targeting option. Free Virility. In contrast to Facebook, who has choked off access to followers, Tumblr argues that reblogging is an engine of goodness for brands. Each individual blogger creates a Tumblr post, which is often curated and reblogged by others who reach large audiences where reblogging takes place again. They have created a waterfall chart to help marketers wrap their heads around this fundamental social media concept. The only missing part is hard data to prove it. One uniquely interesting aspect of Tumblr reblogging is a latency period. More than half of reblogs take place more than 15 days after an original post. This suggests either that usage is less frequent or intense or that users take their time and give more consideration to the memes they share. But in spite of these interesting sales pitches, buying Tumblr is a challenge. Blog content is highly visual and idiosyncratic. Users only see content from those they follow. To develop significant followings to get substantial reach and or frequency against desirable segments, brands will have to accumulate followers. Brands need to know why people use Tumblr and how either the people and their intentions, moods and behaviors differ from the other social networks. You can follow anyone without his or her blessing so the WOM value and personal endorsement aspect is likely to be weaker than on Facebook. Each user follows a different set of bloggers and nobody has crunched the numbers to determine what the patterns and affinities might be so aggregating audiences at scale is not really possible. Content categories aren’t marketing channels. So far, targeting options are limited to gender and geography; hardly sophisticated tools. For Tumblr attracts 12.8 million moms (referred to as Mumblrs) but there is no clear or easy path to reach them! Tumblr has a sizeable audience but they haven’t yet packaged it to sell to advertisers. Maybe this reflects tension between the original intention of founder David Carp and the aggressive plans of acquirer Marissa Mayer. But unless they get much more serious about slicing and dicing the audience and giving marketers a reason to buy, they will not be competitive.



Tumblr's Timid Ad Play

2014-04-23T14:22:44-04:00

Now that they’ve drawn a crowd and sold themselves to Yahoo, Tumblr is trying to figure out how to make a buck. They’ve marshaled traffic, usage and psycho-demographic stats and are trying to simultaneously associate themselves with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, to gain consideration and access to social ad budgets, while differentiating themselves from the competition to attract specific brands and buys. To do this, Tumblr raises a couple of new ideas about the use and value of social networks for brands. Play the Platform. Tumblr argues that they are a two-fer – an independent web platform featuring an easy to use CMS, which can fit seamlessly into a brands’ overall digital ecosystem, and a large and growing global social network. Creating a branded Tumblr, marketers can expand reach, add link juice and add to a robust content strategy by creating a digital brand asset. A blank canvas, a Tumblr blog can be anything, though the more successful ones are highly visual, featuring striking images, videos and gifs. There are no comment options, beyond reblogging, so sentiment tends to be more positive than on other social platforms. A branded Tumblr page is part of the Tumblr network and its emerging topical community subsets. This potentially yields some endorsement by association and the prospect of added viral distribution not to mention a future ad targeting option. Free Virility. In contrast to Facebook, who has choked off access to followers, Tumblr argues that reblogging is an engine of goodness for brands. Each individual blogger creates a Tumblr post, which is often curated and reblogged by others who reach large audiences where reblogging takes place again. They have created a waterfall chart to help marketers wrap their heads around this fundamental social media concept. The only missing part is hard data to prove it. One uniquely interesting aspect of Tumblr reblogging is a latency period. More than half of reblogs take place more than 15 days after an original post. This suggests either that usage is less frequent or intense or that users take their time and give more consideration to the memes they share. But in spite of these interesting sales pitches, buying Tumblr is a challenge. Blog content is highly visual and idiosyncratic. Users only see content from those they follow. To develop significant followings to get substantial reach and or frequency against desirable segments, brands will have to accumulate followers. Brands need to know why people use Tumblr and how either the people and their intentions, moods and behaviors differ from the other social networks. You can follow anyone without his or her blessing so the WOM value and personal endorsement aspect is likely to be weaker than on Facebook. Each user follows a different set of bloggers and nobody has crunched the numbers to determine what the patterns and affinities might be so aggregating audiences at scale is not really possible. Content categories aren’t marketing channels. So far, targeting options are limited to gender and geography; hardly sophisticated tools. For Tumblr attracts 12.8 million moms (referred to as Mumblrs) but there is no clear or easy path to reach them! Tumblr has a sizeable audience but they haven’t yet packaged it to sell to advertisers. Maybe this reflects tension between the original intention of founder David Carp and the aggressive plans of acquirer Marissa Mayer. But unless they get much more serious about slicing and dicing the audience and giving marketers a reason to buy, they will not be competitive.



Frankly Facing Facebook

2014-04-18T15:03:01-04:00

Face it! Facebook has led marketers down the primrose path. They taught us about and addicted us to free earned media. They encouraged us to spend money to attract and engage millions of followers. They ran us through the “like” gates. And now they have tightly restricted access to the audiences we created and extorted us by creating a pay-for-play platform. By steadily manipulating the Edgerank algorithm, Facebook has systematically reduced access to the fan bases we built. The latest estimates are that less than 2% of a brand’s fans actually see brand posts. And many marketers assume that brand reach will soon be zero. Today we have to pay to reach the audiences we attracted to the Facebook platform. Ironically, Facebook has evolved into an old media model where editorial (posts) is clearly different and separated from reach (advertising). Savvy marketers are now asking tougher questions about metrics and ROI. If we have to pay for what we used to get for free, what is the business impact of Facebook advertising and how does it move product or build brand loyalty? Engagement, which has been the ill-defined, but widely accepted payoff for several years, is falling out of favor as a useful metric. But there are few hard numbers to justify sustaining investments. The answers are elusive and Facebook’s doubtful and self-serving “research” does little to convince skeptical CFOs. Surprisingly, brand marketers’ response has been muted. Few are willing to buck the 800-pound gorilla in our midst. Many are reluctant to tell their bosses that this once high-flying platform, filled with the promise of free viral reach and added engagement value, has radically changed. New and bigger budgets are required to make it useful. One school of thought is betting on creativity. They argue that if a brand can come up with really cool content -- the stuff that everyone wants to see or know about --that even with 2% reach, fans will spread the word among themselves. These marketers are doubling down on video, gifs and games. They are working overtime to devise memes with wings. A second school is playing ball with Facebook. These brands are investing ad dollars for both desktop and mobile units. They are using the 200+ targeting channels, comparing brand databases with Facebook’s, running contests and promotions and experimenting with different units and page placements, in an attempt to regain access to fans and expand their reach or frequency among Facebook’s billion users. There are many cases of successful lead generation and awareness campaigns, though the ROI varies widely. A third segment is abandoning Facebook in favor of other emerging social networks. Competing against Facebook’s muscular marketplace positioning, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and others have increased sales efforts, created new packages, expressed a willingness to customize units and experiment cooperatively with brands to redirect dollars that might otherwise have gone to Zuckerberg & Company. Now that the stakes have changed and the ante is higher, brands are asking tougher measurement questions, demanding a greater connection between social media activity and business results and further degrading “engagement” as an indicator of communication value.



Women Dominate Smartphone Use

2014-04-07T14:45:09-04:00

The Chinese say women hold up half the sky. According to new research on smartphone use from Nielsen, ExactTarget, Pew and Simmons Connect, compiled into infographics by financesonline.com, women have a dominant hold on smartphone usage. Everyone knows that men and women think act and feel differently, but women have embraced smartphones as an all-encompassing Swiss Army Knife for life. Men use their phones selectively, like a tool, to accomplish specific tasks. Women are more likely than men to use their smartphones for messaging, talk, web surfing, social networking, games, app downloads and picture taking or sharing. Men and women use email about the same. Men dominate in watching videos, listening to music, reading newspapers and using the GPS app or device. Looking at mobile social media use, men focus on business and dating while women go for relationship building, sharing, entertainment and self-help. Not surprising gender differences affect consumer behavior. Men are 1.5 times more likely to scan coupons or QR codes. Men are less likely to ignore social media ads and prefer commercial messages with cars, sports, action and sexual themes. In contrast women ignore more social and mobile ads, even though they follow 4 times more brands than men. Women prefer ads with sentimental, family, real-life and pet themes. The clear implications for marketers are … Gender Matters. Consider whom you are addressing, both what they doing as they move through their day and how they generally think about mobility and social media. The old clichés and assumptions are no longer valid. Abandon them. Design offers and calls-to-action accordingly. One Size Doesn’t Fit All. If they think, act and use language differently, it only makes sense to create different content aimed at men and women. Target Behavior. Now that you know what they use phones for and the themes that resonate with men and women, time and target messages to intersect natural mobile or social behavior. Efficiently give me the information they’re after and make female-oriented content entertaining and shareable. Honor Half the Sky. Women have been early adopters and are aggressive users of mobile and social technologies. Don’t under-estimate them. Don’t forget their role as household CFO and principal buyer of almost every category of goods and services. Women frequently influence men. And interactions between the genders are often relevant in building brand awareness, consideration and preference.



Instagram Insurgent

2014-03-31T14:03:13-04:00

Instagram, the photo and video-sharing app owned by Facebook, is the fastest growing social network with 35 million monthly smartphone users spending 257 minutes per month. Forty percent of their traffic is in the United States where 58 percent use the app every day. Seven in ten are women (18-44) with household incomes of $75,000 or more who are actively looking to be surprised, diverted and delighted. Instagram, according to research by L2 Think Tank, registers 15 times the engagement and double the engaged user base of its parent, Facebook. “Instagram resembles a modern day bazaar – one that I visit on my phone when I have a free moment.” Jenna Wortham wrote in The New York Times. “A huge part of the appeal is that the goods I’m perusing are sandwiched in my Instagram feed between my friends; selfies and pictures of snow covered spots where they’ve stopped during the day. Stumbling across an unexpected and gorgeous find … on a special app like Instagram brings with it the excitement of discovery not unlike the titillating thrill you get when coming across a rare find at a flea market.” Casual shoppers and a broad variety of brands have embraced this 100% mobile marketplace. A survey by Teen Vogue found that Instagram is the number one platform that inspires product purchases. Instagram, according to a recent Shopify study, generates the second highest order values among social networks and ranks fourth in sales conversion in spite of the fact that the platform has just created its first ad units and direct links to branded websites or eCommerce platforms are prohibited. So what do Calvin Klein, Ben & Jerry’s L’Oreal, Honda, Uhaul, Macy’s, Gap, Chanel, Michael Kors, Nordstrom, Target, Gucci, Victoria’s Secret, Harrods and Laboutin plus 93 percent of prestige brands know that you don’t? These 4 key tactics … Intercept Behavior. Women have led the smartphone revolution. They clutch their phones as virtual controllers for busy lives. Instagram meets them in the course of their normal daily behavior and offers diversion, surprise and entertainment in context. The app has become a guilty pleasure intertwined with friends, family and workflow. Since 30 percent of women access social networks by smartphone each day, Instagram is perceived as an authentic collection of ideas and images in real time curated by trusted sources. There might not be a better synthesis of targeting, content and channels. Sell by Showing. Photos and fifteen second videos are the coin of the realm. Instagram might be the absolute proof that a picture is worth a thousand words. Also given its global reach, pictures often communicate fundamentals without a need for translation. Both individuals and brands post. The average prestige brand posts 6 images a week and 72 percent post 15-second videos, usually one every two weeks. The photos get 1.5X the engagement. Producing high quality short video is a gating factor which should disappear over time. Facilitate Sharing. Comments, re-posts and sharing to other social networks, especially Facebook (9 out of 10 shares) and Twitter are common. Instagram, like Twitter, is becoming a real-time companion to off-line events. During New York Fashion Week 100,000 fashion-related images were posted to Instagram by 33,000 unique users while the top fashion brands averaged about 7 posts per day. #InstagramDirect connects individuals to each other to share posts. Consumers can opt-in to follow brands or celebrities and set push alerts about new content from favorite brands and friends. There seems to be a broad understanding that friends share interests, tastes, perspectives and Instagram imagery. Use Your Ecosystem. The smart guys import Instagram images and user-generated content into branded websites and Facebook pages. Instagram integration adds an element of real-time spont[...]



6 Killer Email Tactics

2014-03-25T15:32:16-04:00

E-mail is the strike force medium for online and offline retailers because 95% of online users get it and receive an average of 416 commercial messages per month. 91% check their e-mail at least once a day and 70% say they always open e-mails from their favorite companies and 84% say its their preferred channel for engaging with retailers. Don’t let the social/mobile crowd fool you. Social media gets the buzz, but email delivers the traffic. Nearly one in every three e-mails gets opened. More than half open on mobile devices and as much as a third of openers act on the offers. In general, for every dollar spent on e-mail marketing, retailers get $44.25 in return. The big tactical decisions are about frequency or cadence and offers. Some form of free shipping and a minimum of a 10 percent discount are table stakes. And at least weekly for most of the year, except for holidays seems to be the norm. Six e-mail marketing best practices separate the winners from the losers: Write Telegraphic Subject Lines. For one-third of recipients, the subject line is the only criteria for opening. Put the offer and the CTA in the SUBJ line but understand that less is better. Subject lines with fewer than 10 characters have a 58 percent open rate and better than a 2.5% CTR. Shorter is always better. If you can work in the customer’s name and/or location, you can spike open rates. Everybody immediately responds to his or her own name. Short & Sweet Content. Focus on the offer. Aim for 4 paragraphs maximum. Limit the possible CTAs. Click rate degrades with the number of links, so focus your customers on seeing a single powerful offer and direct them to click on a big colorful link or button or two. Avoid the urge to load up on logos and taglines. Present the product or service clearly. Find a stand-alone illustration or image to make your point and ask for the order. Like a letter, adding a personal signature, evidence of human interaction, can increase opens by 5 times and clicks by 3.5 times. Since everyone already knows the potent proven retail words your offer has to pay it off in a differentiating and motivating way to deliver a decent CTA or CTOA. Time Your Send. Most e-mail is opened during business hours (10a-4p) and the majority of response happens in the first hour after delivery. More than half of mobile e-mail is opened from 5p till 8a. Consider these cycles and what peole normally do during these time periods as you craft content and offers. Open rates peak mid week, on Tuesdays and Wednesday, though the highest click through rates are on Sunday. The most e-mail is sent on Wednesday so the burden to stand out midweek is greatest. Saturdays draw the lowest volume, maybe an opportunity to flank the competition. There is a lot of click through action early in the AM. That’s why so many retailers transmit overnight to catch consumers when they check their e-mail first thing in the morning. Open rates generally peak at 10am and then gently slope downward throughout the business day. Be Transparent on the FROM line. Twenty-four percent of recipients only open e-mail from names they recognize. Transparency works best. Use your brand name. The higher your brand awareness; the better your open rate. Optimize for Mobile. More than half of all e-mail is opened on mobile devices. Too many render badly and drive customers away. Design for smartphones with clear calls-to-action and big buttons for fat fingers. Aim for more elegant rendering on tablets, but expect buying actions to take place from home in the evenings. Keep Sending. Consumers want options and choices. They are not bothered by hundreds of e-mails in their inboxes because, for the most part, they’ve asked for them. The more e-mail they get, the more control they have. High e-mail volume generalkly doesn’t annoy opted-in custome[...]