Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How to deploy an E-mail campaign

Anyone who is thinking about deploying an e-mail campaign needs to understand just how the process works and what to look out for. Basically, there are three ways of deploying a campaign. Using an existing database of prospects or customers you can design and deploy the campaign yourself. Second, you can rent an e-mail list and have the list owner manage and deploy your campaign based on your specific geographic and demographic needs. Third, you can purchase an e-mail list and do the blast yourself, however this is NEVER a recommended process. First, you have NO idea if the list your are buying is clean, up to date. Second, deploying it yourself you will find that you can easily get blacklisted by various companies who track spammers and your website will no longer be accessible to people, OR, you will be classified as a spammer and your mail simply goes into the spam/junk folder either never to be read again. I have sold two e-mail lists outright in my 20+ years in business and have ALWAYS regretted the results. The client isn't happy, I'm not happy, the message is lost with VERY high bounce rates. DO NOT EVER DO THE THIRD CHOICE!!!!!!!!! Enough said.

If you do choose to implement a direct mail campaign you need to follow a specific set of guidelines. These are in some cases suggestions, in other cases what is written is mandatory for you to follow to ensure quality design and layout of the final message.

Once you know how many names are in your blast and the cost of those names, you will need to provide the company doing the deployment the following information:

  • Text of the subject line (Make it powerful, it's what gets people to open the e-mail)
  • HTML copy, formatted and ready to send (see the guidelines listed below)
  • Seed list (A list of 4 - 5 of your own people who will receive both the test and final mailing)
  • From e-mail address (This is to show who sent the mail and is a way for them to reply)
From here you need to consider the following guidelines for the design of your e-mail campaign.

Timing: Once we receive all of the above listed information it will take approximately 72 hours to deploy the campaign. Tests are set up for your approval and once your approval has been given, the campaign will be put on the schedule for deployment

Pricing: The cost of the list and deployment are included together. Included with the list and deployment cost is any post campaign reporting including opens, click through reports.

You can also do a creative split for an additional fee where you send one basic message to two different groups with different copy to each group, but deployed at the same time.

Your campaign can be personalized (if this is available) with first and/or last name.

We can suppress an existing e-mail list from your rented list to eliminate duplicates.


A sample Tracking Report may look as follows:


Date     Name      Sent       Opens / Open %    Click / Click%

8/6/09 Gen Univ 25000      4902 / 19.61%      624 / 2.496%


8/12/09 Gen Univ 25000   7661 / 30.64%       838 / 3.352%


Keep in mind, opens and click throughs are only half the story. You need to develop a method of capturing each click through by designing a custom "landing page" that asks them for name, address, phone and e-mail address. This way you have a method of following up with them and closing the sale. Make an offer that is strong, something to motivate them to want to give you their information. This can include registration fee waived, discount on books, discount on the first semester tuition or something equally as powerful.




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.