Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Don't call us, we'll call you!

I saw a promotion for the above titled webinar. I looked back at the direct marketing field and started thinking about what response looked like in the past. Thirty years ago people got a mailing for a product or service, (postal only by the way) and either went to the store to make their purchase OR, made a phone call if it was for a catalog. Then, email became a household method of communication. Although visiting a store and calling a call center continued to be key, people got used to seeing an email, clicking on the link and ordering their product or service.

Life got easier, more streamlined, but as with all new methods of marketing it too had its problems. People would load their cart, then abandon them. They would respond to an email, click through and discover that what they thought they wanted, wasn't really what they expected. Forms asked for too much information so people just left, or they found that there are many more interesting things to click on than fill out a form or order.

Fast forward to the current environment and phones are as complex as a home computer. Everything that used to require a printed catalog and call center are now in our hand, accessible 24/7. I believe we have become overwhelmed with information. Everyone wanting a part of our time, a piece of our life. To the point where people no longer want to give their information to companies without a compelling reason to do so. Why? They know that the followup inundation of mail, phone calls or email will be more than they wanted. Which, brings me to the title of this blog.

People have developed the attitude of "If I want what you're offering, I will call you". I admit, I do this a lot. I get more advertisements (mostly email) from list managers pushing their latest and greatest list. Are these valuable to me? Not really. It's just more junk to delete and not particularly relevant. There are two sources that list every direct marketing list on the market. SRDS and NextMark and primary search engines for direct mail/email/telemarketing lists. Why keep or respond to an email for a new, updated list, when I can type in a few keywords and get a complete list of all lists on the market? It turns out, I have been using the Don't call us, we'll call you approach for years! I just didn't realize it.

What else does this new attitude toward our marketing message mean? Tracking sales is more critical than ever. Where did an order come from? If you do an email campaign, get an order but not from on line, where did that customer get the information they needed to order or attend your school? I guarantee you that if you have been doing billboards, broadcast ads, direct mail and email campaigns you likely have NO idea where your leads are actually coming from.

I had a client who spent hundreds of dollars on inserts in coupon packets. I did an analysis (at their request) of performance, added a user code, tracked it for 3 months and discovered that what they thought was a fabulous lead generation tool, generated zero response. NO ONE used their coupons to call and attend their school. Instead, their direct mail program generated over 50,000 leads over a period of years. Enough for them to call and follow up to attract new students.

The key to all of these changes in customer response is to build a system to track where your customers are actually coming from. Ask them. If you're a school in Higher Education, go to your Adult Students and ask "What brought you to our school?" It's simple, Ask and you will find out so much about your prospects and how to reach them. BUT, remember they are likely calling YOU, not responding in a way that you expect or anticipate.

For a discussion regarding how you do your tracking, or to get a quote for an Adult Prospect campaign write me at or call 616-956-7129.

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.

For more information or to discuss how YOU can reach the Adult Student Prospects in your area write me at or call 616-956-7129.

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. Market Mapping plus Inc. has a special program to review or audit your email design and landing page design. This program costs $750 and we will look at emails that you send us and landing page links with the goal of maximizing your response. Contact me at or call 616-956-7129 to get more information and let someone from outside your institution give you an honest appraisal of your email's and landing pages.

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.

For more information, or to get a quote for your next campaign write or call 616-956-7129.

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.

Write me at, or call 616-956-7129.

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.

For more information regarding effective campaign development for postal or email campaigns, write, or call 616-956-7129.