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Posts Tagged ‘Email List’

Comments Off on How Much Is A Customer Worth?

How Much Is A Customer Worth?

We’ve talked a lot about return on marketing investment in this blog.  It’s critical to business profitability.   But there are gaps in the formula for calculating this that many businesses have simply not closed.  For example, when you giveaway an item as an incentive to close a sale, or gain a subscriber to you email list, there is obviously some cost to you.  If it’s only a downloadable file, that cost is minimal, but still there is some number that needs to be factored in to determine its impact on your profit.

We’re going to list five steps here to help you calculate the lifetime value of a subscriber to your email list.

  1. How many subscribers do you have?
    • When you total your list, do not include those that have previously bounced or unsubscribed
  2. Get an estimate on sales generated in the past year
    • Examine clickthrough direct sales (this is usually the default figure used and likely will be very underestimated)
    • Use promotion codes to track sales not directly generated
    • Overall sales increases, including those from forwarded emails, sharing in social networks, and other less obvious ways
  3. Set Your Time Frame
    • Is your business seasonal, or does it make sense for you to calculate this annually?
  4. Calculate the value of the subscriber (V)
    Here’s an example from one of our online retailer sites:

    • Active email subscribers: 4,500 (X)
    • Sales attributed to direct clicks in email over past year: $275,000 (Y)
    • Apply the equation V=Y/X
    • Value of the subscriber = $61 per yearTo estimate the lifetime value of your subscriber, examine the average time between the first and most recent purchases in your database. We’ll assume that 1/3 buy from you just once, another 1/3 buy for two years, and the others for three years.
      • 1,500 subscribers x $61 = $91,500
      • 1,500 subscribers x $122 = $183,000
      • 1,500 subscribers x $183 = $$274,500
      • Total value is $384,300
      • Divide this by the number of subscribers (4500)
      • Estimated value per subscriber is $85.40 per subscriber
  5. Results Analysis
    We have to admit there are a lot of weaknesses to this method. It only calculates direct clicks, not peripheral action sales, it only views three years, etc.  But it does give us a rough idea of the lifetime value of that subscription.  So you can see that a promotion campaign costing $100 per subscriber is too expensive to  make sense, but $10 per subscriber would be much more likely to net a positive result. 

    All online merchants have unique circumstances, with differing characteristics to their databases. This system is meant to serve as a guideline to help you start down the path of ROI analysis and profitability.

Over the life span of your relationship with your customer, you may do many thousands of dollars worth of business.  In a future post we will discuss calculating this lifetime value so that you have a better sense of what you should be willing to spend to attract and keep that customer.

Comments Off on Top 10 Things to Test in Your Marketing Email

Top 10 Things to Test in Your Marketing Email

From the Vertical Response Marketing Blog

One of the best repositories of useful marketing tools and data you can get is located at the Vertical Response web site. We found this list of attributes you can test in your email extremely helpful.  If you can think of any others not listed, please let us know.

  1. From Name: The most effective From Name is what your recipients recognize you by or expect to hear from. Not sure what that is? TEST IT!
  2. Subject Line: Send 10% of your email list one subject line, and another 10% a different subject line. Then, look at which subject line performs better and send the remaining 80% the more successful subject line. Easy as pie!
  3. Pre-Header: Your pre-header should support or complement your subject line. For example, your subject line tells your recipients you’re having a sale (Get 50% Off for a Limited Time Only) and your pre-header explains to the recipient what items are on sale (Save on Designer Jeans & Jackets).
  4. Headline: Your headline should clearly explain what your email is about and what’s in it for the recipient.
  5. How You State Your Offer: Are you promoting a half off sale? 50% off? Buy One Get One FREE? The way you say it can affect the success – so make sure to test it before you go full throttle!
  6. Button vs. Text Link: At VR we have found people like to click on buttons more than text links in our emails and newsletters. Click here to easily create and add buttons to your emails and see if it’s the same for you.
  7. Color of Your Button/CTA: If you get the VRBuzz, you may have noticed a change in the button color. That’s because we tested blue buttons vs. green buttons and green was the lucky winner! Test your button color and see what color your recipient’s eye is more drawn to.
  8. Placement of Call to Action: Test where you put your Call to Action in your email and/or how many you include. Your click-through rate will help you determine what worked and what didn’t.
  9. Images: Test how many images you have, where you put them and what images you use. Remember to always use alt-text too!
  10. Testimonials: Test to see if customer testimonials help your emails perform better. If not, use the space for something that’s more effective!

You can also, check out their guides: Testing, Testing 1,2,3: Email Testing for Everyone on the VR Guides Page to learn more about testing different elements of your emails.

In a nutshell:

  • Make it personal (with your photo)
  • Appeal to reader self-interest
  • Make your list signup prominent
  • Be sure the first email knock their socks off
  • Use split-tests to fine tune your methods

Building a solid email list has become an essential part of doing business online.  But doing it is a lot harder than recommending it. People guard their email addresses because of the tremendous oversupply of junk email out there.

Many website put up a box offering a “Free Newsletter” and think that is all it will take.  Results from that technique are usually disappointing.

I have been testing email sign-up forms for some time on this site and my clients’ sites and have narrowed down the top five ways to get more people to sign up for your email list.

Make it Personal

If you are part of a large company, personalize the communication by putting a photo of the person sending the email near the signup to help make the connection that this will be coming from a person, not just software.  If you happen to be an artist, author, or owner of a small company, this may be a less important detail, but I recommend testing it all the same.

“Why Should I Care?”

You have to give a compelling reason for people to subscribe to your email list.

If you have a report, a whitepaper, or some other digital asset that can be offered as a free download after signing up, that is the best type of offer.  It costs you little or nothing to give away, and yet has value to the recipient. People want something for their information, so make it worthwhile.

Adding a giveaway or some kind of premium usually increases response to the offer between 25-50%.

Don’t Let It Be Missed

If email is an important component to your marketing plan (and it should be), then why would you bury the signup pitch deep in your site?  Put it on the home page (or as many pages as it is appropriate for) and make sure it’s large, clear, and easy to respond to.  Some email marketing services give you the ability to simply create a popup for the user to signup and leave you site open in the window behind it. This has worked very well for us.

Regardless of the method you use for signups, just make sure it’s prominent and hard to miss.

Make a Great First Impression

You know the adage about not getting a second chance at this. It holds true pretty much for email too. Your first message will be the key to whether they stay on your list for more.

Don’t miss the opportunity to create a great “Welcome” letter that reminds them of all the great reasons why they signed up, what they can expect from you and when. Take the time to craft this message carefully and improve it over time as your newsletter or email campaign evolves.

What you don’t want to see are immediate unsubscribes for having received a poor Welcome message, or worse an email that appears unpersonalized out of the blue.

Test Test and Test Again

The only way to be sure what is bringing you the best results in developing email lists, or any marketing activity, is to run split tests. We recommend a random alternation of two or more different versions of your form or web page, and of course keeping good track of which one is bringing you more signups.

One of the best ways to do this is via a free tool that Google provides, the Website Optimizer.   Check out the tutorials to make the most of your time.

This subject is dear to our hearts around here, so we’ll be revisiting it often.  What are your experiences in building email lists?  Please share your thoughts and ideas by commenting here.
Comments Off on QR Codes – What They Are & What They Can Do for Your Business

QR Codes – What They Are & What They Can Do for Your Business

from the VR Marketing Blog

“QR” codes are all the rage for some businesses – especially retailers. These codes have the ability to hold lots of information but in general have been used to direct people who scan them to a web page. For that reason, there are a ton of possibilities for you to incorporate using QR codes into your own business. Let me try to break it down for you.

What is a QR Code?

VrQRThe QR or “Quick Response” code (pictured to the right) is a code that is made up of black blobs (technical term) arranged in a square pattern on a white background. It is used by many retailers to track inventory, used by airlines to check you in at the gate, but the most exciting thing for small businesses is that these codes can help generate business!

For most mobile phones that have cameras, there are downloadable apps that enable the code to be easily read by just pointing the phone at the code. Once the code is read, the mobile phone will do what you want it to do like opening a web page. If you’ve got a QR code reader, go ahead and read the code to the right, you’ll be taken to the VerticalResponse home page! However, when we use QR codes, we’ll direct anyone who scans one to a page that contains much less information since scanning large web pages on a smart phone can be overwhelming.

Practical Applications of a QR Code for Businesses

Screen shot 2011-03-14 at 2.39.29 PMGet More Customers – When someone scans in the code, take them to a web page where they can get a special deal or a discount for your services. This could work especially well if you’ve placed the QR code on your retail location to attract new visitors. If you’re wanting to get people from online to your location, Tweet the QR code to your followers and send them to a page that has a coupon they’ll need to show you in order to redeem.

Grow Your Email List – If you offer something of value like a white paper or a special deal, you can direct anyone who scans the code to a sign up form. In order to receive their deal from you they’ll need to give you an email address so you can send them an email that contains the information they’re signing up for.

Grow Your Mobile List – Just like growing your email list,  if you want to collect mobile numbers then you’ll need them to fill out their phone number so you can send them a text with the information contained in it.

Customer Service Videos – If you’ve got Screen shot 2011-03-20 at 9.39.07 AMan informational video about your company, your products or services, you can direct them to a mobile-friendly page where you host the video. The advertisement to the right shows a great example of what people will get if they scan the code and how to get a reader if they don’t have one.

Where You Can Put QR Codes to Work!

• Printed advertisements
• Signs
• Sandwich boards or billboards
• Your store or restaurant window
• Datasheets and collateral
• Direct mail postcards
• Product labels
• Business cards
• Take out menus
• Magazine publications
• Inbox shipments
• Endless possibilities

Read the full article (and learn how to get your QR code)

Comments Off on Social Media While You Sleep, part 2 of 2

Social Media While You Sleep, part 2 of 2

IconsLast week, I showed how I quickly setup social media accounts and link them all to content from your blog or email message. As promised, this week’s post will advise on how to easily setup the blog-to-email blast function, and offer a few suggestions as to what makes for good content in these messages.

Even if you determine that the social networking part of online marketing is not for you, this part has value independent of that and can be used effectively on its own. Indeed, if you are not using email to communicate with (and sell to) your customers, you are missing a fundamental opportunity in today’s business landscape.

Let’s get into the nuts-and-bolts.

As described in a previous post, you should be gathering an email list and segmenting that list by as many relevant properties as possible. For example, it should be easy to identify which email addresses are those of people who have purchased from you from those that are only prospects. Even if you cannot do that now, you should take a look at how to identify different characteristics of your list so that you can target messages more appropriately to that group.

The next step in the process involves selecting an email marketing service. Companies that lead this field are iContact, Benchmark, and Constant Contact. I advise my clients to carefully choose the right company for you, based on how their features and pricing matches your requirements. A very complete reference for this comparison is here.

A key reason for using one of these services rather than just putting addresses into your BCC field is that many ISPs now tag such large BCC blasts as spam and your messages won’t be delivered. And of course you should NEVER put an email list into the CC field, as this is a disregard of the privacy concerns of all those whose addresses are literally then published to one another. Importantly, these services have business relationships with the major Internet pipeline providers so that mail coming from them is identified as complying with the anti-spam rules in place internationally. This improves your deliverability.

These services all feature premade “templates” which make your emails look snazzy and don’t require design or html skills. They also offer code snippets that your webmaster can implement so that people can signup directly from your web site. Perhaps most importantly for your business, they all offer analytics which allow you to measure how many of your emails were opened, clicked-on, and in some cases even ROI.

There’s that word again. ROI is important and is something I try to tie every project to, in terms of measuring success.

Each of these systems works a little differently, but if you look in the “help” sections, you are likely to find answers to the question, “how can you send a preformatted email automatically from your blog post, or from a plain text email.”

There are some really powerful desktop applications out there for bloggers. For example, Windows Live Writer is a program that you can download, then link to your blog. It’s actually a useful content editor. It lets you do photo uploading (and it integrates with flickr), plus you can create borders and edge/tilt effects. You can plop in videos, and it’ll automatically upload them to YouTube for you. It’ll tweet new posts automatically, add Digg links, handle multiple languages (with spellcheck), and it’s compatible with WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, Windows Live, and more.

One of the email services I use (Mail Chimp) has built-in some of these functions to work like blogs. So you can actually use your usual blog publishing software to build MailChimp campaigns. In the Mail Chimp interface, just look for your special “Blog URL” under Lists >> Lists Tools and use that to setup your blog software.

Or of course if you need a hand sifting through all of this, I’m happy to help. Contact me.

Ready to Blog/email/Network…Now What?

Email newsletters can achieve measurable results – contributing to list-building, lead generation, product development, customer acquisition, retention, and much more.

Gone are the days of aimless newsletters. Today’s successful newsletter must have a specific, measurable purpose that provides the extra oomph your company needs. Though the “results” bar has been raised, email newsletters remain a highly-efficient vehicle for delivering marketing results.

I do believe that the subject of what you send out through your email marketing channel is deep enough for its own series of posts, but here are some suggestions that may help to get you started.

1. Your subject line is the most important piece
If you can’t get your email opened, it’s an opportunity lost. Spend the most time crafting a tempting title that your recipients can’t resist opening. But be careful, don’t promise something that the body of your email does not deliver.

2. Keep your text brief and link to site content
The most successful model is a paragraph from your blog post with links back to your site to read the full aticle. Use images judiciously as they slow down delivery, and in some cases do not get seen at all.

3. Intersperse actual ad content between your news items
Be sure to label ad content as such, but put relevant product or service promotions in between the news items in the email. Watch your ad-to-news ration to make sure you keep it reasonable. what’s rerasonable? Depends on your content, but I’d say 3/2 news to ads is a good rule of thumb.

4. Make your news relevant and general
Of course specific news about your company is great to put out, but you’ll build your credibility by including generally intersting info that you learn about. Pass along industry statistics, events, new ideas that some from anywhere you may find them.

Most bloggers and businesses are happy to have you doing some promotional work for their content. Don’t forget to credit your sources and link back when possible. Who knows? You just might find that others are taking your content and doing the same. Now that’s leveraging Social Media!