Kayla Cobb

Email Marketing: Tips for tech support selection and contract negotiation

July 30th, 2015

In the world of marketing, there’s always a push to stay ahead of the curve and, more importantly, ahead of competitors.

However, it’s hard to dedicate the time, money, manpower and technical know-how to launching truly eye-catching (and revenue-generating) campaigns. This is especially true for smaller companies with marketing teams consisting of only one or two employees.

Enter the potential best friend to most campaigns: the vendor.

At the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 Media Center, Erin Hogg, Reporter, MarketingSherpa, sat down with John A. Caldwell, President and Founder, Red Pill Email, to discuss the finer points of vendor negotiation. Specifically, John explained what to look out for when considering tech support vendors and what you should — and shouldn’t — negotiate when it comes time to draw up a contract.

Watch the below interview to learn tips on how to handle vendor negotiation:


What to look for when it comes to tech support

John emphasized the importance of interviewing the companies you’re considering for tech support. It makes sense. Your company is going to end up spending several hours with the employees of the tech support vendor you choose.

It’s in your and your company’s best interest to make sure you’re not just looking for the best price but also the best support.

“Make [interviewing tech support people] part of the purchasing process, part of your due diligence,” John said.

When interviewing vendors, remember to keep your company’s needs at the forefront of your questioning. Specifically, John recommended asking interviewees about concerns your company has, what kind of questions they typically receive and what the vendor’s turnaround time and process is.

“There’s ticket time and there’s resolution time,” John said. “Some vendors will put a ticket in, and they have X number of hours to act on that ticket. Their ticket time may be 24 hours, but the actual resolution time is, say, an hour. That might not work with your company.”

“You don’t want to wait until you’re at the point of contract or after contract to find that out,” he added.

He also recommended asking your representative to give you the tech support line and to call it. This will give you an idea of how quickly they answer the phone.

“It’s good to interview them too. I find that helps a lot — no surprises,” he said.


Navigating the contract 

John’s advice was framed primarily through his emailing background, but it’s also applicable as general advice when it comes to drawing up the vendor contract. His main piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Specifically for email, John emphasized focusing on the break points.

“Little things like [penalties] can have big consequences a little further down the road. Other things you can negotiate,” John said. “There are hard costs, there are soft costs.”

For example, for an emailing vendor, a hard cost may be a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. The cost of this certificate most likely won’t be something the vendor will negotiate because it will be paid for out of pocket. This is a hard cost.

However, if that vendor is already paying an employee to set up the systems, the vendor may be able to lower the set-up fee. This would be a soft cost.

“Don’t be afraid to go ahead and ask, ‘What can I get away with?’” he advised. “But don’t be firm on something that is a hard cost. Accept those, and hammer them on the soft costs.”

John joked, “And vendors that are watching this, they’re not going to be too happy with me right now.”


You can follow Kayla Cobb, Reporter, MECLABS Institute, on Twitter at @itskaylacobb.


You might also like

Register for MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 — At the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Feb. 22-14

Watch Full Sessions from Email Summit 2015

MECLABS Email Messaging Online Course [Register now]

Vendor Selection: A 5-step process for choosing a marketing automation solution or agency [More from the blogs]

Marketing Automation Vendor Selection: B2B marketer reduces unqualified leads 341% [MarketingSherpa case studies]

Vendor Selection: Test leads to $500,000 in revenue and 20% lead gen connect rate [MarketingSherpa case studies]

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Ken Bowen

The Psychology of the Searcher: How knowing how our prospects search can help us to optimize our campaigns

July 27th, 2015

As marketers, most of us are familiar with the basics of search engine optimization, and how we can leverage certain industry-specific keywords and headlines in order to increase page visibility for our target audience.

Without a robust understanding of how prospects are actually interacting with search engines, how can we be confident that our SEO strategies are grounded in reality, rather than based on hunches or our own individual search biases?

Blue Nile Research recently carried out a study to discover how real customers are actually searching the Internet. How long are their queries? What form do they take? Are there universal patterns in the way that people search?

For this study, a sample of randomly selected test subjects were asked to search for solutions to three routine scenarios:

  • A technical problem (broken coffee pot)
  • A health issue (injured ankle)
  • An ecommerce scenario (buying a new laptop)

When testing was complete and researchers aggregated all of the search queries, the most interesting finding wasn’t that one search pattern outperformed another. Rather, researchers were fascinated to find that few underlying patterns existed at all in the search data.

Instead of there being a learned, established protocol for the way people search, the search terms, length and form that subjects used appear to be the intimate expression of the individual human that created it.

It seems that, just as our genetic makeup is unique to each of us individually, so is the way in which we choose to search the Internet.


Key Findings

When analyzing the data, Blue Nile found that subjects were split evenly in terms of searching in short fragments (“sore ankle”) versus fully-formed terms (“causes of sore ankle”). This suggests that users are equally predisposed toward either speed of search (fragments) or depth of search (more specific terms).

Read more…

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Categories: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tags: , , ,

Courtney Eckerle

Bet on Horses, Not Customer Assumptions: How the Kentucky Derby tested content for relevance with customers

July 23rd, 2015

Assumptions can be a dangerous territory — especially when it comes to being relevant with your customers.

When a brand has a large gap between purchases, keeping customers engaged becomes a consistent concern.

The team at the Kentucky Derby faced that issue when they decided to use the weekly newsletter to identify and validate customer segments.

“When we look to grow a brand like the Kentucky Derby, that breadth of engagement is really core to our growth path,” Jeff Koleba, Vice President of Marketing and Programming, Kentucky Derby, said in this session from MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015.

To solve this issue, Jeff and Kate Ellis, Marketing Analyst, Kentucky Derby, decided to begin segmenting and directing content directly towards the customers who wanted it most. Within its established customer personas, the Derby focused testing on three segments:

  • Social content interests
  • Equine enthusiasts
  • Betting/wagering information

Once they set up segmentation and supported it with relevant content, the team began optimizing for maximum engagement.

Read more…

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Categories: Email Marketing, General Tags: , , , , , , ,

Selena Blue

Website Optimization: How to reduce friction in purchase and registration processes

July 20th, 2015

Sometimes getting consumers to the landing page is the easy part.

The ingrained friction the buying, and even registration, processes create for users can cause them to hesitate in completing the process. After all, you don’t visit a site to register; you come to consume whatever information they have to offer. The registration part gets in the way.

When the registration process seems unusually long, you give up and leave the site. The value beyond the registration no longer outweighs the time and effort needed to get to it.

The same goes for purchases. When we create additional friction through design, copy and overall experience, it can push a customer to abandon their cart instead of pushing through the mental resistance certain elements create in their mind.

The good news is that we can indeed reduce the friction present in the conversion process. We can do that in two ways: length and difficulty.

For length-oriented friction, look at:

  • the length of your process as a whole
  • the layout of fields
  • the number of fields

For difficulty-oriented friction, examine:

  • the format of your pages
  • the number of options provided and how they’re displayed
  • the button design and placement

Sometimes it can be hard to look at a page and immediately pinpoint these things, so we’ve designed a checklist of sorts for you to go through while analyzing your processes.

We’ve also included some “Not this, but this” examples to show you possible alternatives. Remember, what might work with one audience doesn’t always work with another. That means you’ll want to test your changes to make sure you’ve found the best process for your customers.

Read more…

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Categories: General, Landing Page Optimization Tags: , , , ,

Andrea Johnson

Holidays Ahead: Market with caution

July 16th, 2015

Every holiday presents both opportunity and danger: you can either engage audiences or you can alienate them. It just depends on if you choose to jump on the seasonal bandwagon and how effectively you make the leap.

The most recent Marketing Experiments Web clinic examines holiday marketing lessons learned, and what you need to do to ensure you take full advantage of seasonal campaigns while dodging pitfalls.  Watch it here.

Consider this test, which has been anonymized.

Background: A large financial institution.

Goal: To convince customers to take out a mortgage or refinance an existing one.

Research question: Which email treatment will generate the highest clickthrough?

Test: A/B sequential test


The Straightforward Control

The Control was an email that focuses on low mortgage rates and how to take advantage of them.

  Read more…

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Paul Cheney

From 300 to 5,000 Twitter Followers in Three Weeks: An interview with a growth hacker

July 13th, 2015

Karan Thakkar (@geekykaran) is not a marketer. He is a coder.

That gives him a unique perspective on marketing, especially since his first foray into marketing rightly earned him the title of amateur “growth hacker.”

Growth hacking is a way to grow a business/website/social profile as fast as possible with the least effort possible. It usually involves coding.

Karan considers himself a growth hacker because he used simple tactics and a few programming scripts to grow his Twitter following from 300 to 5,000 in three weeks as documented on Medium.com.

When I read the article on Medium, I immediately wanted to interview him to see if I could get any additional behind-the-scenes information on his Twitter growth strategies. Across a series of questions I sent him via email, he gave me a few gems on the specific tactics he used, and how he was able to hack the Twitter growth process.


1. Can you give us a quick idea of your background and why you wanted to grow your Twitter followers?

I am a part of the front end team at Crowdfire [a social media and content platform] … The reason why I wanted to grow my twitter audience/outreach was majorly because of a competition we had within the company called “Crowdfire Twitter Premier League.”

Read more…

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Categories: Lead Generation Tags: , , ,