Monday, September 18, 2017

Baseball has 3 outs. How many outs does your email/landing page have?

I am constantly being asked to review email creatives and landing pages for my clients. What surprises me is the number of clients who fail to understand what their ultimate goal is. Let's look at this from the end result to the beginning.

First, the goal of any campaign is new students. So, consider your landing page. What should it contain? A list of benefits! A matching message from the email that they got. A form for them to fill out to indicate interest. A phone number in case they want to call. That's it! NOTHING ELSE.

Why nothing else. The reason is simple, if you give them any other options such as links to Facebook, LinkedIn, your website, even a program related portion of your website they are gone. They leave your landing page, never fill out the information, you never hear from them again UNLESS they decide to contact you in some other way other than the landing page. I constantly see reports where people click through to the landing page and then disappear in to the outs that you gave them. Why give them ANY choice but to fill out the form, or call you? It's self defeating and it dooms any campaign to the failure category. This is a sample email I sent in 2014, Notice that even I didn't know the best practices back then. Now, there are key Call to Action (CTA's) through out the email and NO outs other than to the relevant landing page.

Next, let's move backwards to the email. You craft a perfect message, benefit laden for a prospective student to want to attend your school. The CTA button is below the fold. Will they find it? Very possibly not. Above the fold? Yes, they will click on it if they are motivated. BUT, included in your email are OUTS. Why would you give a prospect the option to leave your email and go anywhere other than your landing page? You need their information. You have peaked their interest. Yet, you let them get away to YouTube, Facebook, or anywhere else.

2014 Email with over 14 outs

2017 Email with zero outs

I recently had a client who had a landing page with 18 outs. And they wondered why no one clicked through. Well, they did, they clicked everywhere but to their landing page to fill out the form! Understand the purpose of your campaign and then design ALL elements to focus on that goal.

Outs are never good. They distract from the purpose of the campaign and offer the prospect a way to go places that you don't want them to go. As an example, say you want to show a video. Most people will put a link to the video, the prospect clicks on it and goes to YouTube. Guess what? You just lost them. They go there, see other opportunities to click on or think about that new video that's out from Beyonce and poof, they are no longer thinking education, but are instead being entertained. The solution? All videos should be put in a shadow box. Click on the link, it opens a box over the landing page or email, runs and then stops, closes and they are back to where they started, your email or landing page. No interruption in thought process and they AREN'T watching a music video!

Keep all of these thoughts in mind,

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Are opens and clicks a true indicator of campaign success?

Everyone focuses their attention on opens and clicks. Although they are interesting benchmarks I challenge you to to draw any conclusions regarding the success of a campaign based on these two numbers. Today's society is very different than in the past (big surprise, huh?). A client recently did a study thinking their email campaigns were failing, only to learn that people weren't clicking through but instead were calling the school directly, going to the website and filling out a form there, NOT the Landing Page. Plus, if I see one more landing page with more than one "out" I think I'll scream.

For those of you who don't know, any link in an email that takes you to anyplace other than the Landing Page designed for the campaign is a way for someone to NOT fill out a form or contact the school. Or, they are simply calling the school directly and you have no idea where the prospect came from. So, the $64,000 question, are you checking to see where your prospects and students are coming from?

Here is my suggestion. Make a survey, three questions. And send it to all of the non-traditional students who have enrolled in the past six or twelve months. Something like this:

We are attempting to fine tune our marketing efforts and would like to ask you two simple questions.

How did you first hear about XYZ University?

  1. Family/friends
  2. Billboard
  3. Email from our University
  4. Radio Ad
  5. Television Ad
  6. Postcard 

If you received an email from us did it cause you to contact us directly without using any links?

  1. yes
  2. no

If you did click through did you fill out the form, or contact us directly?

  1. yes
  2. no

What you may discover is that links and forms are no longer the way people complete a transaction. People are seeing the email/postcard, get motivated to contact you and pick up the form, or go to the website to find a program they are interested in and then register.

A recent client noticed a drop in clicks, yet they saw an increase in website visits. This perplexed them, and they decided to check by doing a survey like the one I have listed. It turns out that the majority of their new students got an email, never clicked through and just called to make an appointment and then registered. Are YOU checking to see how your emails perform? In reality they got more response from their email campaign than they anticipated, they just weren't clicks.

Don't jump to conclusions that a given campaign is a failure. You may be missing the boat by not finding out how your real students are contacting you.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Innovation in direct marketing list acquisition

Innovation in Direct Marketing comes slow. MMP List Management Inc. is on the cutting edge of innovation by dealing with multiple issues that affect direct marketers. What is it that companies want?

  • ·         Deliverable postal addresses.
  • ·         Customers who WANT to hear from you.
  • ·         Emails that don’t bounce.
  • ·         Phones that actually connect.

So, what is the solution? MMP List Management Inc. has solved all of these issues. Instead of updating our files every quarter or every month, we update our files when ordered! We survey our database of over 140 million consumers asking if they are interested in hearing from your company….Your products or services. Those who say yes, get added to your prospect database. The results?

  • ·         Prospects who WANT to hear from you.
  • ·         Postal addresses are up to date and deliverable.
  • ·         Emails with less than 5% hard bounce rates.
  • ·         Phone that are current, cleaned through the Do Not Call system and will connect.

PLUS! You can take delivery of postal, email and phones to contact on your own. While under license, your prospect list will be updated monthly, allowing your file to stay fresh, deliverable and up to date.

Join an Innovative Company and let us give you a quote for our prospect mailing lists. We offer a Customer Satisfaction Policy that guarantees email delivery exceeding 95%. Don’t rely on surveys that were done a month ago, six months ago and are generic in nature. Get a prospect list that contains people who WANT to hear from YOU!

Call David Fant, President 616-914-0537, or write

A new approach to target marketing. Be on the cutting edge of targeting. Call us today.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ideas from a Graduate Admissions Marketing Conference

I recently attended the Stamats Graduate Admissions Marketing Conference as one of their Corporate Sponsors. This was an enlightening conference that was filled with tips, techniques and ideas for targeting, reaching and communicating with graduate program prospects. Some of the most important ideas that I heard revolved around Web Analytics and the need for better, consistent tracking of your website, e-mails and social media.

HiPPO's - What are they and how do you deal with them?

One of the first items that struck me was the term HiPPO. NO, not a African animal, but a HiPPO is defined as the Highest Paid Person's Opinion. What this means is that when putting marketing plans together, the HiPPO will wield their power, not from knowledge but from their position of power. Whether it be the President, a Board member, a Dean, all of these people will influence your marketing decisions based on their perceptions, not based on fact. The most effective way to deflect a HiPPO is to develop quality analytics. Facts ALWAYS will take the power away from any detractor or power pusher since your facts trump anyone's opinion.

Hits - No, not the Soprano's or Elton John

This was an interesting topic. We always hear about how many "hits" your website has. Yet, most of us don't realize just what a "hit" is. Basically, if you have a home page with 14 graphics and text in it, when a visitor arrives, each picture will download. Suddenly you have 14 hits, yet, only one visitor. If 5 people visit you will then have 70 "hits". Not exactly what you wanted to know. You think your doing great, but, only had, in reality 5 visitors.

When tracking website performance look at VISITORS, not hits. How many visitors did you have, how long did they stay on your website? What pages did they navigate to or did they abandon the site immediately. These are the telling statistics that you need to understand in order to build a case against your resident HiPPO's.

Lifetime Value of a Student

This was an interesting topic. I have used Lifetime Value of a Customer for many years with my retail and non-profit clients. Whenever I attempted to apply this idea to higher education I arrived at the conclusion that the lifetime value was while they are in school. Once they graduate, there is no value to a student. Boy, was I wrong! In reality while your student is attending your school, they have a great deal of value. But on graduation, that value changes from active student to Alumni. They join as an alumni, contribute to annual campaigns (I do this myself to the University of Minnesota), they create bequests and corporate giving programs. All events that can be quantified, evaluated and used to determine the true lifetime value of a student.

Google Analytics

There is nothing more powerful than being able to see results as they happen on the web. You send out an e-mail campaign, you will see a jump in web results. Send out Direct Mail, see a spike in visitors. You will see where people are coming from, or where they are going. You can determine if people are spending time on your website, only to abandon it when something isn't there or doesn't work. We have a local Community College with many broken links. My wife has been looking into this school, yet, whenever she tries to find more information she tends to find a broken link. Analytics can help you identify these problems but they require you to actively look at what is going on with your site.

Remember, knowledge is power. The more facts you can bring to the table, the more effective you will be in deflecting your HiPPO's and that Dean who feels his course with 5 students should be on the home page. Google Analytics has become easier to use, and much more effective in what it tracks. Take a few minutes to learn how to make it work. I know I will be doing that for MY firm.

I have other thoughts and they will follow shortly. These are some of the key ideas that I observed over the 2 day conference. If you have any questions or need any information about how Market Mapping plus can help you effectively reach YOUR target audience, just let me know.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Working a tradeshow when you are a company of one.

Working a Trade Show by yourself
Exhibiting at a trade show can be a huge investment for your company, or a complete waste of money and time. And, for a company of one, working a trade show is tricky at best. Long hours, the feeling that you can't "leave the booth" even for a second to eat, go to the bathroom or even wander around to see what other exhibitors are doing makes for many conflicts in most exhibitor's minds.

If you have people working the booth with you, you know your booth is always manned and ready. Alone, if you're not in the booth, you will always wonder if you are "missing" the most important contact of the show. So, how do you handle exhibiting at a trade show and working the booth by yourself?

I recently sponsored a conference on Adult Education. There are trade shows for Admissions all the time, but most focus on the Admissions Counselor, NOT the Directors, Vice Presidents and Marketing staff at a school. This show was recommended to me by a client, her one sales point was "these are the decision makers who are attending, people who do what I do". The most important thing to remember is pick a show that focuses on those attendees that actually BUY your products and services.

Make sure that you create a display that focuses on what the audience wants. There is nothing worse than setting up a display, putting items on the display that features ALL of your products or services, only to have people walk by because they think you don't have what they want/need. Make sure that 100% of your display focuses on what THEY want to buy, not what YOU want to sell.

Giving away free items are just that, give a ways. They are an expense item plain and simple. When was the last time you took a stress relief ball from a conference and actually used it? A pen? Of course we take pens, but, do we ever look to see where it came from until it runs out of ink? Giving away items doesn't serve any real purpose other than to give away your hard earned money. You would be better off giving everyone a quarter if they stop by, certainly more memorable!

So, all of that said, how do you go about working a trade show by yourself?

First, look at the schedule and ALWAYS be at the booth during breaks, between meetings and during exhibitor time. NEVER miss these times since that is when the most traffic will be walking through the aisles.

Second, don't sit in a chair, in the back of the booth or anywhere that makes you look inaccessible. Always stand out front, engaging people as they walk by, glancing at name tags and looking for anything that may help you determine if they are a good prospect or not.

Third, have more business cards than you think you will ever use. If for some reason, you forget your cards, (and yes, it has happened to me) have someone, express mail them to you or deliver them to you. This is your lifeblood and only required handout you really need.

Fourth, meet your booth mates. People on either side of your booth or across the aisle. They may pitch in if you have to run out for any reason. Explain to them about your company and a small amount of information about what you do. That way, if they see someone stop by your booth and you're not there, they can suggest that the person return in 10 minutes and they can suggest that the attendee take a business card. Anything that shows the attendee that you planned to be away and took steps to cover your absence in even a small way will help.
Finally, eating can be difficult. I know that eating in a booth is typically forbidden. But to be honest, if I need to eat, and it's a choice between being in my booth where I can talk to prospects who wander by, or head out to get a meal, I will ALWAYS eat in my booth. Place the food discretely behind the display, and only eat when there are no prospects in your area. Make sure if someone comes in while you're eating, you put away the food immediately and attend to their needs.

As for success? My last trade show I attended earned me 10 new clients, paid for itself in total with the first four orders and was wildly successful.

Working a tradeshow is not easy when you're by yourself, but it can be done, and quite successfully!

This article was published in the Spring issue of Focus on Small Business published by the Small Business Association of Michigan.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why use direct mail in an age of electronic communication?

I get this question frequently from clients. Why print, pay postage and a mailing list when I can get an e-mail list or join a social networking site and reach people less expensively? The reality of life is, unless you have a strong brand, or name that is easily recognized, new forms of marketing (e-mail, social networking, twitter) are difficult to use until you reach an effective "economy of scale" with your lists. You still need to find a way to drive people to your website, read your tweets, or go to your social networking site and that method is typically direct mail.

Why you may be asking use direct mail? In reality direct mail is the most effective method of reaching a highly targeted audience with a highly targeted message. Let's look at the facts.

In the past, we used to do saturation mailings at relatively low cost. You sent your message to everyone to get the lowest postage possible, and hoping that at least a few of the people you mailed may be interested in what you were selling.

Today, saturation mailing is typically wasted mail. Postage costs have increased to a point where it's no longer cost effective to mail everyone. That fact coupled with the increase of data that is directly related to lifestyle interests, you will find that you can focus your message to a much smaller market segment and lower your costs, while at the same time, increasing response rates.

Here is how to view direct mail.

The Mail Piece

This is the key element to direct mail. They get something they can hold, review, put on the refrigerator and keep if they like. It can contain a call to action either driving them to your website, to become a fan of your social networking or listen to your tweets. Remember, there is no delete button for direct mail. Even mail that has been thrown away can be retrieved if you havn't taken out the trash yet. Typically once you hit delete it's gone.

The List

This is the most important part of the use of direct mail. The ability to HIGHLY TARGET your message to people who are MOST interested in what you are selling. Say for example, you are a sporting good store and want to focus on spring water related products that you sell. Let's also say you have a market area that serves Kent County Michigan. What is the true effect of targeting?

We can evaluate your products and determine that people who are into watersports are a key market segment, also, families with children, people who are into boating/swiming and water skiing are also key market segments. So let's see what the effect of targeting can be:

All available households 207,963

Add income $30,000+ 131,466

Add Water Sports interest 66,022

Add Grand Children 3,565

As you can see, narrowing your focus helps you weed out those people who are not interested in what you are selling. You could also narrow the focus using age, tighten income a bit and children present in the home. The number of ways to slice and dice your market are endless. And, with each drop in quantity, your printing/postage and list rental costs will go down.

You can measure your response.

Yes, I know, click throughs measure just that, click throughs. Was it a mistake that they clicked? An automated click? They meant to delete but clicked through? You have no idea. With direct mail, if keycoded properly (and EVERYONE should keycode their mail pieces and offers) you can track not only who is redeeming your mailing, but WHO is responding. A keycode should track each demographic segment used to generate the list. That way, you can see if one segment is responding in greater numbers than another. For example, say you selected age, income and children present in the home. A code of BD3 could represent an age range of 25 - 34, income of $30,000 - $39,999 and 3 children present in the home. This is VALUABLE information for you to use in further refining future campaigns. Direct mail can help you evaluate an offer or offers. For example, you mail 3000 postcards, one with one set of copy and offers on the card, the other with a different offer. Track response by market segment and see which responds best! Future campaigns will become more effective with that type of testing. Remember, direct mail is like real estate. In real estate it's location, location, location. Direct mail's mantra is test test test.


Sure you can personalize your e-mail. If I had a dime for every e-mail I get addressed to Sheila, Bob, Mary or some other name I'd be rich today. Direct mail lists are accurate. They are updated (or should be updated) on a regular basis. Personalization can be the head of household, spouse or some other name depending on where the list is coming from. A personalized message (used along with variable printing) can be a VERY effective way of targeting and getting the message across. Everyone likes to be acknowledged and by using a name, you are creating a tie with your company that says "I know who you are!"

Remember, direct mail is not dead. You simply have to become more effective in how you use direct mail. Use direct mail to build your e-mail database, drive people to your website and to send your offer to people who actually WANT to purchase what you have to sell.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Using Multiple Lists to Improve Response

I was looking through some past orders and came across a client in Detroit who I felt best understood exactly what it meant to use multiple lists to develop an effective direct mail campaign. In a nutshell, what this means is rather than using only one, or two lists, a business or non-profit should look at their prospects from different perspectives. Here is how it works.

You are planning on purchasing 50,000 prospect names for a mailing. Rather than purchasing one list with 50,000 names, purchase 5 lists with 10,000 names each, or 10 lists at 5,000 names. When it comes time to pull all of these lists together there should, of course, be the same name in different places. For example, if you're a sporting goods store, and purchase a list of golfers who responded to a survey and golfers who subscribe to Golf Digest magazine, you may find the same name on both lists. Typically, businesses don't think about this, and throw the duplicates away. However, these duplicate names are 1000% more valuable to you than the master list. WHY? A multi-hit file identifies those people who have a stronger interest in a topic or area than most others. If you appear on 4 related golfing publications, you MUST be an avid golfer.

So, the question then becomes what to do with the multi-hit file? Basically these are names you have purchased and have the right to use. If a name appears on 3 lists, you can mail them up to three times if you like with no penalty from the list owner.

Next, key code EVERYTHING!!!!!!!! This way, when people respond, ask for the code on the mailer, or have them bring it into your store and track who is responding. You will find that in many cases one list will draw a higher response and have a higher ROI (Return on Investment) than another list. Track this information, and when purchasing new lists, use those lists with a higher response rate first and at a higher quantity than last time. You will find that your response rates will increase and your ROI will go up as well.

Finally, evaluate what you're offering them. If you are promoting a $10 item on average, did you know you can likely increase your gross sales by 50% by increasing the average item cost to $15? People respond to what you ask them to. Don't be a scrooge when trying to attract and sell new prospects on your businesses products or services.

In a nutshell this is how it works.

  1. Purchase multiple lists
  2. Merge/Purge these lists against each other
  3. Create a "multi-hit file" to capture duplicates between files
  4. Mail the master lists using a key code to track list source
  5. Mail the multi-hits and compare response rates with the original mailing
  6. Future mailing quantities should be adjusted based on which of the multiple lists performed best and which one's under performed.

Market Mapping plus LLC can help set up a program to track performance and teach you how to effectively increase response rates and your Return On Investment for your direct mail program.