With the awesome news out of #LitmusLive a couple weeks ago, some email marketers are reticient to celebrate. Those marketers point to previous efforts to repair the horrible rendering in Outlook, such as the FixOutlook.org Project. Chad White from Litmus goes through a few of those concerns and how the environment (and Microsoft) has changed since 2009.
I had a conversation with a co-worker earlier this week about her Google AdWords test campaign to get more blog subscribers. In a two week trial, she’s quadrupled her blog audience and tripled her email subscribers! Email is incredible for reaching your audience, provided you do it right.
Researching “brand awareness” for work, and came across this wonderful video from Adria Saracino from Distilled. Adria walks you through the steps to figure out your brand awareness goals and how to measure those goals. I’ve already set up an Excel Spreadsheet based on the information from this video and measuring some of those important metrics!
This post is a tongue-in-cheek response to a post by Joy Ugi over at Only Influencers about her first 12 months as an email marketer.
It’s your fifth year as an email marketer.
Then you blink and a whole decade has flown by. It happened to me, and I bet it already happened to you. After five years of email marketing, you haven’t learned everything there is to know, but you damn well feel like you know everything.
But then you still get those rude awakenings when you feel a disturbance in the email marketing Force.
Learn. Do Something With What You Learn.
It’s easy to read what other email marketers are doing. I do it every day. I have a weekly blog roundup listing those same articles and posts I read. We go to conferences and attend webinars where we learn to be a better email marketer.
But all of that is for naught if we don’t do something with that knowledge. This is the biggest thing I’ve learned over the last five years in marketing, specifically as an email marketer.
It’s easy to see the new Engagement Studio from Pardot, get some best practices, some example drip campaigns, and go to your team saying, “Look at this great new addition to Pardot!” But what separates you as a “veteran” of email marketing is your ability to do something with that knowledge, something to make your marketing efforts and campaigns better.
Be Humble. Educate.
It seems as though the egos of those in Marketing are only second in size to the egos of those in Sales. It’s easy for us in email marketing to feel that we “know better” than most, because outside of marketing, most people still think of email marketing as spam. It’s easy for us to look down upon those who “don’t know better.”
Why educate someone who wants to buy a list and blast out the latest sales promotion?
You- the email marketer – educate them because it makes the entire organization better. You are only as strong as your weakest point, and if the stakeholders in your organization continue to believe email marketing stands alone and is meant for blast emails, well, you’re not doing your job. Period.
So you need to be humble and educate those around you. Teach them the same values you hold dear about clean email design, responsive and mobile-first principles, connecting email with marketing automation and your CRM. All of these take you, your colleagues, and your organization to the next level.
Many organizations, mine included, don’t have the luxury of having one staff or employee focusing solely on email marketing, let alone having multiple staff focusing on email marketing. Here where I live and work in Cedar Rapids, I know a few email marketers from GoDaddy. They’ve presented to local marketers a few times about email marketing best practices. Now, they have the luxury many of us don’t: dedicated designers and dedicated writers. Awesome!
Most of us don’t have that.
And so we need to do more. Show value and bring value in other ways. For you, is that marketing automation? Analytics? Digital Campaigns? Social? Take the strengths you’ve developed working in email marketing and transfer them to another interest, find ways to bring value to your organization with your strengths.
It’s A Journey.
When I took my current job almost five years ago, I would be hard pressed to imagine where I am now. I code in my sleep. I know Pardot menus in my dreams. I know what Custom Fields are linked from Salesforce, and what Custom Objects we can only report on in Salesforce.
It’s been an incredible journey. And it’s not over, yet. Just keep swimming.
Happy Fourth of July Weekend! I know I haven’t written a blog post in a while aside from these “roundups,” but I’ve got something in the works! In the meantime, here’s some of the articles I’ve been reading the past week.
And let’s be honest, I’ve been reading a lot this week, so a thousand apologies for the thousand links. On the other hand, it’s some good reading material for you for a long weekend! 🙂
Emmet is an amazing tool for those who need to craft marketing emails on a regular basis. This isn’t Taxi for Email or anything like that. Emmet is meant to help you with the coding of your emails. Personally, I haven’t dug into it yet, but will definitely need to see how this could help my team.
Paul hits on something here that I come across daily with my company, how do you choose what’s important or not important for your reps to see in Salesforce. I think the best point made is regarding the visibility of the information in Salesforce. I may have to write a follow-up post to that end. Thanks, Paul!
A second post from Kath Pay. This one is near and dear to my heart, even if it’s short. Great customer service is great marketing. And the reverse is also true, great marketing should be about great customer service. To that end, Kath Pay stresses that we marketers need to respect the expectations of our customers and “must deliver the promises they make when a consumer signs up for the email program.”
Some scary stuff in here if you or your company isn’t ready to change. If you are ready for change, some really fun stuff! I’ve been reading a bit about machine learning and email marketing, and this post from Chad White at Litmus brings up machine learning as one of the biggest changes coming to email marketing in the next 4 years.
There’s a lot of hyperbole in politics, so it’s hard to sometimes decipher the crackpots from the conspiracists from the actual historians. I don’t know much about the history of the US prior to World War I, nor the history of Adolph Hitler, but to me, the theory presented here seems more plausible than Trump actually being the next Hitler.
“We have 80 years of essentially zero production of neighborhoods with these qualities,” Grant says. “We’ve spent the last 80 years building car-oriented suburbs. Then when the elites decide they want to go back into the city, there’s not enough city to go around.”
I’m a huge Jane Jacobs and Richard Florida fan. Huge. One of my favorite memories of my first job out of college was getting to tape Richard Florida speak at Iowa State University. Awesome. So, whenever I read a great story about cities, how they’re built, how they’re designed (or not designed), and how people move, well, I eat it up like my dog eats peanut butter.
A lot of noise these past few weeks about Brexit. While my personal stock portfolio has already jumped above pre-Brexit, there are several articles going around about the future. This is a fun little piece, not too based in reality, but fun nonetheless.
I love 538. Been reading since pre-Obama. They do great write-ups on sports as well (given they’re owned by ESPN these days, not the NY Times.) The Infield Shift is a weird aspect of baseball. Does it work? Is it baloney? Check it out.
While there are a never-ending amount of articles like these, it’s always fun and interesting to see where subject lines are heading. Emma shares some fun, and entertaining, examples of recent subject lines.
Video is more than a pretty moving picture. It’s proven to help move your customers along the sales journey. Make sure you know how to incorporate Calls to Action in your videos with this guide from the video marketing masters Wistia.
While I don’t live in Minnesota anymore, I use the app mentioned, EverDrive, to track my driving. It’s automatic, so I don’t have to think about it, and it gamifies safe driving, which is definitely fun!
There are plenty of people who have written articles much better than mine could be, so why try to reproduce those? Exactly.
But, in all of the noise, it became clear that the real winner coming out of this debacle was Feedly. They were the first, if not nearly, to come out and say, "Use Feedly, and the transition will be seamless come July 1st." I didn't even bother looking at the alternatives. Feedly has a Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and iOS solution (also Android). So, I definitely had all my bases covered.
Let me tell you, the setup was pretty damn easy.
I went to Feedly.com and clicked "Login".
Automatically, I was connected to my Google account and was asked to give Feedly permission to access my Google Reader account. Once I did, I was presented with my new RSS home in Feedly! The home screen reminds me of the Evernote app in how information is presented — topics on the left sidebar, highlights up front-and-center, with some of my subscriptions on the right sidebar.
After perusing my feeds this evening, I definitely feel more comfortable using Feedly. It's nice to have a mix of the old Google Reader feel mixed with a little bit of the FlipBoard look as well.
Let's keep our fingers crossed that the transition goes as smoothly as Feedly says it will!
Let me know in the comments if you used Google Reader. What do you think about the news? How are you handling the transition?
"It's unfortunate that LinkedIn works the way it does and that this happened, most people that responded to me with messages thought I was making a concerted gesture and trying to reconnect, and/or about to look for a job. I think of business contacts as a pretty serious thing, I don't hand out business cards readily unless I really want to be called up by someone, and yet, LinkedIn just pushed out connections to over a thousand people on my behalf without me knowing what it was really doing."
So, I decided to take a closer look at LinkedIn and here are some of the items I found where there could be some definite improvement.
In September of 2012, LinkedIn introduced Endorsements as a way to "give kudos with just one click." I don't think that anyone can disagree that Endorsements have been front and center, especially with the "one click" ability. In many trainings I've given on LinkedIn since the introduction of Endorsements, I've likened them to a "skill-specific recommendation."
Recommendations require some effort to complete, so most people only write Recommendations when they have something to say. Endorsements, on the other hand, only require a single click (by design). I call this "Eliminating the need to think." In this case, LinkedIn dramatically devalued Endorsements when they eliminated the need to think.
When does the chase for the most connections become the chase for the most endorsements? Or has it already started?
Currently, LinkedIn splashes "Does (Blank) have these skills or expertise?" when you visit a person's profile. Where does it ask me do I want to endorse that person? It doesn't. Asking if someone has skills is completely different than asking if I would personally endorse that individual. Instead, LinkedIn should ask the question "Would you endorse (Blank) on these skills or expertise?"
LinkedIn would still accomplish their goal of "one-click kudos" AND increase the value of Endorsements by simply changing the wording of that splash graphic.
2. "You Scratch My Back…" Privacy Mentality
In almost every training I've given on LinkedIn, someone has asked a variation of the following question:
Yes. Unless you change your privacy settings.
Now, let's give LinkedIn some credit on privacy settings. Want to change them? Go to Settings and Privacy is right there. Much easier to handle than Facebook or any other social network (save for Twitter, which is Public or Private).
But what happens when you change your privacy settings?
Say you don't want people to see that you've looked at their profile? Simple enough. Check the box. Oh wait, by checking that box you don't get to see who looks at your profile anymore. LinkedIn basically says that the only way to see who is looking at your profile is to allow them to see the same thing.
Why does Privacy have to be a two-way street?
Instead, if you want your information to be private, it should be private. However, someone else should not be penalized for you wanting to keep your information private.
3. Narcisistic and Spam-filled LinkedIn Groups
It's a common belief that LinkedIn Groups suck.
Did I say that? Yes, I did. They suck for a couple of different reasons, but also for two different groups of people, the participants and the managers.
First, group participants.
You've joined the latest "HR Professionals of Financial Basket-Weavers" Group thinking you're going to have conversations that lead to a new level of HR nirvana, right? Instead what you get is random job postings, links to self-promotional spammy sites, and no conversation whatsoever.
The group emails suck, too. As a participant, you want to stay up-to-date on the group. I mean, you joined to be a part of the conversation and the emails help you be notified of new conversations? Right? What you end up with is an inbox full of emails that you never read, so then you end up ignoring all the emails you get from LinkedIn.
Solution Number 1 is to join locked or private groups. They tend to have at least some semblance of control over the group, including the ability to kick out members who don't follow group rules.
Solution Number 2 is to find a group that encourages conversation and helping the other members. Once you start down that path, you might actually start to enjoy LinkedIn Groups!
The second group of people that LinkedIn Groups suck for is the owners and moderators of those Groups. It's practically a full-time job to moderate posts, comments, and make sure participants are following group rules. While I have yet to start or moderate a group on my own, I've heard nothing but horror stories of managing a LinkedIn Group. And while there's not really any solution for the time-suck of managing a Group, it's still a valuable place to gather like-minded individuals — which is an important aspect of digital marketing.
4. LinkedIn Premium
That privacy thing I mentioned earlier? Goes out the window if you pay for the Premium features of LinkedIn.
Even signing up for the lowest priced Premium plan, you can see who has viewed your profile, and also the full profiles of everyone in your network. At the highest level, privacy goes completely non-existant and you get the ability to see full names of anyone who you would want to contact.
Again, selling privacy but only in a different way is how LinkedIn sells the other part of their Premium plans.
If you sign up for the premium plans, you get InMail Messages. Also known as "Ability to ignore other people's privacy settings."
Now, I do have to admit, there are some useful features of the LinkedIn Premium plans, and that does include InMail Messages. On the sales side of the equation, they do help warm up a cold contact more than just a cold call or regular email. And the OpenLink feature allows other people to message you for free – something they would have to pay for otherwise.
5. Black Hat Web Design
The article that got this whole thing going was about how easy LinkedIn made it to "Connect" with 1100+ individuals. The day after I read that article, my boss mentioned the exact same behavior and how he almost connected with his whole address book. Just like the Endorsements, LinkedIn makes it very easy (or I could say, encourages) to connect and engage with others on the network — to a point, of course. LinkedIn gets you on the network through much the same manner those "Classmates.com" website work as well.
What human being doesn't like knowing that someone wants to connect with them? LinkedIn thrives on that emotion and designs the website to encourage the addictive behavior. And once they get you, well, they can only offer you so much for free.
Does LinkedIn do anything right?
Actually, yes! From providing a space extremely conducive to business to being the Rolodex of the 21st Century, LinkedIn is successful for doing its main job very well. I've nitpicked on a few things above, but that doesn't not mean that LinkedIn isn't right for you. It's the place for professionals to connect, especially for the B2B community. But that's for another post.
Do you agree with these shortfalls of LinkedIn? What have you wished was better about LinkedIn?
In 2012, you made the jump and created a Facebook Page for your business. Maybe you're automatically posting updates to Twitter as well. But you haven't even thought about Foursquare yet, and don't even ask what Google+ is all about!
Now that it's 2013 and we've all had time to break that first resolution (no chocolate pie lasted, oh, a day.) How about a resolution you can actually keep and easy instructions to get you to 2014? Sounds good to me!
Here's your new resolution: A Better Social Media Strategy
And to sweeten the offer, you'll find you can have better content, more engagement, and a better social media strategy in only 7 easy steps.
Step 1. Establish a Goal
Fill in the blank: My goal for social media is ________. Your goal could be
Better Brand Awareness.
Increased Foot Traffic.
Get More Email / Blog Subscribers
Whatever your goal for social media may be, that goal should be your focus. It's how you can measure your success, and to see what you can do better. Having a goal also helps you keep your attention on what matters and not getting distracted.
Step 2. Make a list of all the channels you are on.
What social networks are you working on? Does your list just have Facebook and Twitter? Or does it include Foursquare, Instagram, Vine, LinkedIn, Google+, and more? Are you managing the content across those channels? Are you seeing the results that you'd like to see?
One of the things I've found in my day job is that our different channels like to see different content. For instance, our Twitter audience likes tweets of industry news, conferences, or self-congratulatory messages. On Facebook, however, it's a more casual audience who likes to talk about karaoke, "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters, and the sometimes industry updates.
It's all about finding what resonates with your audience in each channel. And the best way to do that is to first make a list of what channels you're playing in.
Step 3. Create a content calendar.
Now that you have a list of all the channels in which you play, it's time to find out what you're posting and when. While I won't get into the automation / no automation conflict in this post (although that's a good topic for the future!), creating a content calendar sets the stage for knowing exactly what you're posting, and when.
Whether it's an actual calendar that you fill in the blanks, a spreadsheet, or a simple text document, the main purpose of a content calendar is to help you plan what you're going to say, when you're going to say it, and where you're going to post the message.
A co-worker of mine prints out a blank calendar and writes her posts on the printed out calendar. A member of a local meetup group previously used a spreadsheet listing all the messages that were to be posted. A former co-worker of mine used a whiteboard calendar. All of these means accomplish the same goal:
Knowing what message to post, when to post the message, and where to post.
Step 4. Ask questions!
One of the best tools available to you is one of the easiest: Asking questions.
What better way to fill in a content calendar than to ask what your audience wants to see? Build the engagement with your audience. They want to feel valued and feel like they're a valued part of your business. A great way to build that relationship with your audience is to see what they would find valuable.
I see this all the time in LinkedIn Discussion Groups. Group managers will post what the group would like to discuss. I've used this for our local social media meetup group on Facebook, posing the question of "What are you looking to get out of this group?"
Asking questions is a two-way street that brings together your social media goals with the needs of your audience.
Step 5. Measure your progress with the right tools.
Any of the goals in Step 1 should be measurable, and there are a plethora of tools available to anyone working in social media to help measure those important metrics.
Now, if your goal was more Likes or Followers, that's the easiest way to measure impact of your social media. But it's not necessarily the best way to take the temperature of how your business is doing on social media.
Say your goal is to increase engagement on your Facebook posts. One way to measure that is through the administration panel of your Facebook page. Dig into Facebook Insights and the information provided. This can be how many people commented, liked the update, shared the updated or took other action.
On Twitter, I use tools such as SocialBro, Mention, and Hootsuite to measure my influence among my Twitter peers. It's a great way to get consistent feedback on the actions I take on Twitter.
Step 6. Say Cheese!
Study after study continue to show that using photos in your Facebook posts and Tweets is the best way to get more engagement and even views of your social media posts. So whip out that smartphone and bust out some pictures!
But not just any pictures!
Make sure the pictures provide a value to your audience.
If it's a picture of an industry event, provide some context.
If it's a picture of one of your events, show people interacting, or your brand's icon/logo in the event space.
You own a restaraunt? Post a picture of your specials for the night. Make sure people can read the words, though!
The sky is the limit! And be sure to check out one of the many cool photo apps, too!
Step 7. Rinse and Repeat.
Yes, just like the shampoo bottles say, it's important to remember that there's no rest for the weary on social media. Take what you've learned through each of the steps, look at how your posts are received, and adjust your strategy. It's important to realize that certain posts will work better for your audience than others, and the only way to figure that out is to post consistently and measure your results.
So what are you waiting for?! 2013 called, and they say this is your year for a better social media strategy!
TechCrunch has a good summary of the new features available to advertisers.
[It] starts with a customer list that a business has already created — for example if I’ve given my email address to the bookstore on my block so that I can hear about future sales and events. Businesses will be able to upload those lists of email addresses, phone numbers, and user IDs to Facebook…
[Businesses] will have the option target their ads at that group, or they can further target their content towards a certain demographic (say, females between 25 and 45) within the group. The simplest use case: Most businesses have loyal customers who aren’t Facebook fans, so they can create an ad for those customers asking them to become fans.
Two questions that arose from reading this article:
What does this do for the advertiser?
How does this affect Facebook?
At first glance, I think this is very good for businesses advertising on Facebook. The longtime advantage of advertising on Facebook is the advanced targeting features, allowing you to reach the niche demographics needed for your business. As the sample use case above points out, a main benefit of these new features will allow a business to reach real-world "fans" of a business to encourage them to become Facebook "fans" as well.
Two things this does for the advertiser:
Increases number of fans of business on Facebook
Brings highly engaged fans to Facebook.
The second point is key. Engagement is a large part of EdgeRank and how your Facebook posts are seen in your fans' News Feed. Reaching out to those people who are already fans helps create the highly engaged community that will be a part of your business' social media marketing success.*
On the other hand, I think for the average user of Facebook, this is just one more intrusion into their personal lives with advertising. As Facebook continues to push for more ad revenue, it is finding more ways to alienate it's core product: you. Moving forward, Facebook needs to find a way to balance the need for satisfying shareholders and customers at the same time.
* Social Media Today has a great article about Engagement and the effect different post types have on Engagement. Basic Point: Photos are King.
Isigi promises herself to one day sit down and organize all her online subscriptions and back up all her files. But she’s accepted that there’s a price to pay for using the services. “At some point you just have to surrender control,” she said.
The key is to limit the information you put out there in the first place.