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Email Lists: How sweepstakes work for CNET [Live from #SherpaEmail]

February 26th, 2015 No comments

Before jetting out to MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute, and I took a little trip down memory lane and reviewed some top takeaways from Email Summit 2006.

Of course, it’s exciting to see how some things have changed and laugh at how far we’ve come. In 2006, consumer marketers were warned about Yahoo and MSN Hotmail adding preview panes to email services.

We were using words like “ezines” and “hotlinks.” We assumed email would be dead because of junk mail. We were just getting the hang of using Web analytics and email systems together to track customer value.

While we have come a long way since then, there were some things that have stood the test of time.

Keeping opt-ins actively engaged with email content is key to improving ROI. Don’t have Marketing operate in a silo — work in coordination with not just Sales but also IT to gain the right solutions and tools you need to succeed.

One takeaway caught our eye, as it is something I discussed onstage with Diana Primeau, Director of Member Services, CNET, earlier this week at #SherpaEmail.

In 2006, we heard from David Kreitzer, then Marketing Director, Bella Pictures, and his advice for using sweepstakes to build email lists.

According to David, although sweeps and free bonus offers can dramatically raise email opt-ins, list quality suffers. You may get tons of new names on a list, but they could just be there for the contest.

I’m sure many marketers even now have been advised not to use sweepstakes or contests to build a list.

Fast forward to yesterday, Diana shared how one way CNET builds its list is through sweepstakes and had the numbers to prove that subscribers can stay actively engaged post-contest.

 

What do we know now that’s different from what we believed in 2006?

It’s simple really: create a relevant experience with users with personalized content to retain them for the long term.

We knew this back then, but our capabilities over the years have grown to allow marketers to leverage the tools and platforms they need to segment, test and optimize an email experience for each subscriber, serving up content that creates a one-to-one relationship.

 

 

Diana spoke at length about her work with CNET’s welcome and nurture campaigns. These emails are sent to new CNET users and offer the array of services including ways to connect with CNET on social, the various mobile apps available and the vast library of CNET-exclusive video content.

But it’s not enough to simply push out messaging and hope it sticks — Diana tested to ensure that new users were not being bombarded with too many emails or too much content in a send.

 

During the time a new user would be receiving the welcome and nurturing series, they would not receive any other email content from CNET. The goal here was to onboard new users and get them familiar to the brand.

Even the order of the nurturing series mattered. For the three-email series, Diana saw that the mobile email, which was originally second in the series and offered up CNET’s array of ways to connect on the go, was seeing high engagement, so she changed the order to move mobile first.

However, this seemingly minor change meant a significant dip in open rates for two-thirds of the campaign.

 

“Testing takes time, but it also is a bit like low-hanging fruit. You already have the program; just take the time to optimize it. As marketers, testing should be part of our DNA,” Diana said.

 
Retain users with segmented content sends

This is really where Diana is able to retain those users, even the ones who come into CNET for a sweepstakes.

CNET was already sending out a vast array of high-quality content to subscribers, but how could Diana and her team take it up a notch?

By segmenting users based on …

  • The newsletters they are subscribed to
  • Click and remarketing data
  • User profile data
  • Site engagement

… Diana set up various tests to see if users receiving segmented content would engage with the content more than unsegmented users.

In one test, Diana took CNET’s “News” subscribers and tested sending them a control email with no personalized content.

In the treatment, those subscribers for “News” who also demonstrated behaviors linking them to “Smart home and appliances” content received a newsletter with both types of content.

 

This test showed that segmented users clicked through the email much more than unsegmented content sends — an increase of 307%.

 

What you need to know

Building your email list with sweepstakes entrants can work in your favor if you put the work into creating a first-class user experience with email.

You’re not going to keep everyone, but those who do stay engaged with your brand are worth it to provide an engaging and personalized experience. And of course, always test your messaging and ensure you’re sending the most relevant and effective message to your users.

 
If you liked to learn all of the top takeaways from Email Summit 2015, stay tuned to the MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Newsletter. An event recap with everything you need to know will be published in the coming weeks.

 

You can follow Erin Hogg, Reporter, MECLABS Institute, on Twitter at @HoggErin.

 

You might also like

Three Takeaways on Customer-centric Marketing from Email Summit 2015 Media Center [More from the blog]

Social Media Marketing: 7 steps for using contests and sweepstakes to promote your brand [More from the blog]

Viral Marketing: Month-long sweepstakes generates 1,170% ROI and 488% lift in email subscribers [MarketingSherpa case study]

List Growth: 11% increase from sweepstakes for current subscribers [MarketingSherpa case study]

 

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Live from Email Summit: Two tactics to reduce perceived cost in your email capture forms

February 23rd, 2015 No comments

I’m reporting live today from the MarketingSherpa Email Summit in Las Vegas, one of the most exciting weeks of the year for email marketing practitioners (woo hoo!). While I never imagined being this pumped up about email marketing growing up (I had a passion for dinosaurs and Transformers as a kid), it’s incredible to see this many email marketers in one place sharing what works for the benefit of the whole industry.

Today marks the start of the Summit with a workshop on “Effective Email Messaging” taught by Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute, and the MECLABS team.

One of the concepts that seems to be resonating especially well with the marketers in attendance today is the concept of email marketing as a continuum, where the relationship you establish in the email capture form (lead generation form) affects each interaction that occurs thereafter.

Therefore, starting your “email relationship” off on the right foot with a well-thought-out email capture strategy is of critical importance. Let’s avoid any and all applicable first date metaphors and dive right into the key principles that Flint has covered in this session, backed by tests to support them.

 

A framework for reducing perceived cost of the email capture

When testing your email capture fields, where do you begin? It’s important to remember that any action you wish the visitor to take on your website is a balance between two forces — cost and value. In order to increase the likelihood of the visitor taking the desired action, you should always be seeking to minimize cost and increase value.

In today’s post, we’ll be exploring the cost side of the equation.

 

Typically, one of the easiest places to start is by looking at your email capture forms for any unnecessary elements that might contribute to the perceived cost.

Cost takes on two forms when dealing with email:

1. Amount of information required — Think the amount of form fields involved. How many form fields are actually getting put to use by either the marketing or sales team once captured. If you’re not using  a particular form field currently (or not planning on using it in the near future), then get rid of it. Also, make sure your audience is clear on which form fields are required to participate in the email list.

2. Nature of the information required — This is the type of information that is required in the form fields. If you require a telephone number for a digital download, this might convince the visitor that you have an ulterior motive for their contact information. Also, think about more personal information types, such as driver’s license number or social security number. This information may be more difficult to obtain or could cause concern to the visitor.

Read more…

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Landing Page Optimization: How a navigation test increased leads 34%

February 19th, 2015 1 comment

Site navigation can make or break the user experience on your site.

So what can you do about it?

In today’s MarketingExperiments Blog post, I wanted to share with you an interesting experiment from our latest Web clinic that shows how a tourism group increased leads 34% by testing their site navigation.

Before we get any further, let’s take a look at the experiment:

Background: A tourism commission seeking to enhance visitor interaction with their website content in order to boost appeal for choosing their city over other destinations.

Goal: Test the site navigation to increase visitor engagement with key site content.

Primary Research Question: Which navigation type will increase site engagement?

Secondary Research Question: Which navigation type will lead to the highest lead generation rate?

Test Design: A/B/C split test

In the control above, the MECLABS research team hypothesized that the navigation was increasing user friction by including an almost-overwhelming amount of options.

Read more…

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SEO Marketing: Adding value without risking search rank

February 16th, 2015 No comments

It’s common knowledge that search engine optimization (SEO) often plays a major role in how companies group their key terms, whether they be in the headline or in the bottom of a page.

This practice can also lead some companies to avoid testing certain areas of their site in order to maintain page rank.

However, there is one area where company value can easily utilized without risking online ranking. Here’s a recent experiment where we tested one minor change in an SEO headline and achieved a significant lift in conversion.

The MECLABS’ Research Partner wanted to concentrate on headline testing for one of their high-ranking SEO pages but had a few stipulations on how the headline copy could be laid out.

To avoid any ranking pitfalls, we went over various value points for the Research Partner to find the best way to incorporate value without damaging any SEO rankings if any treatment were to outperform the control (the existing high-ranking page.)

After careful review of the partner’s various value points, we found that the partner had a price guarantee that presented good value to potential customers.

For the experiment, the copy for the treatments had to be worded carefully as to not interfere with key search terms. To keep in line with the partner’s SEO parameters, we developed logos depicting the price guarantee alongside headlines that featured the word “guaranteed” and mixed them with the key search terms used in the headline.

The main rule that had to be followed when putting the treatments together was that the first two words of the existing headline had to remain where they were to keep search ranking in place. The following logos were placed next to the headline to express company value:

  Read more…

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Email Marketing: How responsive design might improve your emails

January 29th, 2015 1 comment

If you were watching last year, we revealed some research on a Web clinic concerned with responsive design, specifically the effect of a mobile and tablet-based form page design for mobile and tablet specific users.

If you’re unfamiliar with responsive design, the general concept is that a page is coded to adapt its viewing experience to fit the size of the device you’re using.

 

While the results were interesting, we still had many questions:

  • Can those findings be applicable to all page types?
  • What about articles and landing pages?
  • What about emails?

As part of our quest to continue to get a better picture on the effect of mobile design on a rapidly growing world of mobile users, my team had a desire to perform a responsive design test on a type of email where responsive design would prove extremely valuable to readers — the email newsletter.

The team’s hypothesis made sense: A significant number of visitors are not acting on the [desktop style] email because it is too difficult to read and process. The fix? Use a responsive design template to make things readable.

Read more…

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Online Testing: Why are you really testing?

January 21st, 2015 No comments

The start of a new year gives savvy marketers another chance to push exploring your customer’s theory even further. In today’s MarketingExperiments Blog post, I want to welcome 2015 by sharing with you a simple product page test from our last Web clinic you can use to aid your marketing efforts.

Before we dive in further, let’s look at the background on the experiment:

 

Background: A mid-sized furniture company selling mattresses online

Goal: To increase mattress purchases

Research Question: Which design will generate the most online purchases?

Test Design: A/B variable cluster test

 

Side-by-side 

 

Here’s a side-by-side split of the two designs and the variables being tested to help give a little context to their placement on the page.

 

As you can tell from the comparison here, Design A was centered on an approach that used less text, with copy that placed emphasis on a low risk trial, free shipping and returns as well as a 25-year warranty.

Read more…

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