/ Email

Don’t Just Market to Your Audience – Put Them on a Journey

Kevin McKernan

journeyThe buyer journey continues to evolve and consumers are coming to expect a more personalized experience. Buyers no longer want to be marketed to in bulk and with today’s technology, there’s no reason they should be. For years digital marketers have been challenging themselves to get more personalized in their messaging. This often involved collecting and sorting through thousands of data points, creating special segments, manual actions and special queries.

But even this will only get a digital marketer so far.

With Journey Builder, a tool available as part of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, marketers can put each member of their audience on a path that’s based upon each individual user’s interaction on whichever channels you meet them on.

Getting Started with Journey Builder

To get started with Journey Builder, you first need to establish a goal. What do you want this journey to result in? For example, your goal could be to get 60% of those downloading your retail app to make a purchase within the first 45 days.

Once you have a goal established, you can begin building out the various pathways that can be taken based on how the customer interacts with your communications or products. For instance, let’s say that once a user downloads the app, you send them a triggered email thanking them for downloading and inviting them to make their first purchase by providing them a code for 20% of their in-app purchase.

Going Beyond the First Triggered Email

Five days later you are ready to send your second communication. Did the customer make a purchase? If so, you do not want to send them another email reminding them to make a purchase, so perhaps you choose to send them a “Refer-A-Friend” email or a survey on their experience.

Or maybe the customer didn’t even open the initial email you sent. In this case, the next step could be to have them receive a new message with a more urgent subject line, something like “Don’t miss out! 20% off your first in-app purchase.”

For those who did open the email, but didn’t click, perhaps you send an email with more enticing copy or different product images.

Marketing Automation Across Channels

Journey Builder also allows for seamless integration with other Marketing Cloud products so users who opened, clicked, but didn’t purchase could receive a MobilePush notification with an incentive code. The possibilities are endless!

The purpose of Journey Builder is to provide the most relevant offer based on each individual stage in the buyer’s journey. Through the tools user friendly, easy to use interface, you can actually visualize how many people are at each stage of the journey in real time and optimize campaigns as you go.

/ Digital Marketing

The Apple iPhone SE: A Reminder You Should Always Listen to Your Customers

Kevin McKernan

iphone sitting on a rockJohn Lydgate, a 14th century poet, once wrote “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

This famous saying has been adopted numerous times and was even once adopted in a speech by Abraham Lincoln. Yes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. But if the recent launch of the iPhone SE can teach us anything, it’s that you should be listening to all of the people all of the time.

Like in September 2014 when Apple introduced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and users were

delighted to see that they would soon have the big screens their Android counterparts had long enjoyed. And with that announcement, it seemed like Apple had listened to what their customers were telling them, and that the days of small smartphone screens were over.

Right? Wrong. Because Apple kept listening.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

You probably remember a friend, or friend of a friend, or family member who wasn’t happy to see that the iPhone design they’d enjoyed over the years would no longer be an option. That eventually they would have to upgrade to a larger phone and a larger screen, and the classic look of the iPhone we had all come to know would be gone forever.

If you knew one of these people, you probably thought they were nuts. Sure, iPhones would be larger, but who wouldn’t want a larger screen and a thinner phone? Turns out, about 13% of all iPhones sold last year had a 4-inch screen. And while 30 million phones is a drop in the bucket compared to total 231 million iPhones sold overall, it still was enough for Apple to take notice.

Something Old, Something New, Something in the Middle

The latest Apple announcement is yet another reminder that today’s consumers want choices. This is not only true from a product standpoint, but a marketing one as well. They want to choose whether or not they see ads. They want to choose to have brands communicate with them via SMS or Email. They want to choose to keep up with a brand by following them on the social media channels they’re already on.

They also want to see content that is specific to them. According to a 2015 study from Magnet and Retail TouchPoints, nearly 1 in 10 internet users said they spent significantly more with a retailer after seeing a relevant digital ad or email, while 3 in 10 said they spent at least slightly more.

By listening to your customers, and learning more about them, you’re better equipped to segment your audience and provide them with more relevant, targeted content. Whatever that means to them.

Let’s take the example of a Consumer Packaged Goods brand that sends out a monthly newsletter with recipes you can make using their products. They may find, after listening in on their audience, that some subscribers would rather see a monthly newsletter specific to their dietary restrictions, such as low fat or sugar free focused recipes. They may find others are just looking for recipes that take the shortest amount of prep time possible. And they may even find that there are a number of subscribers that are content with the status quo. They like the variety and don’t fit into a certain segment.

And if the iPhone SE has taught us anything, it’s that this can be okay.

The Final Takeaway

So, what can business owners, CEOs, and CMOs takeaway from this? Listen to your customers. Look at what they like and don’t like. Think about their pain points and don’t assume that something new and shiny will fix it. Don’t always just chase after the latest and greatest or the new trend in your industry. Remember that for some people, if it’s not broke, you don’t need to fix it.

After all, we live in a culture that is always waiting for the latest and greatest. It seems like every six months, Apple is hosting a major event to show off it’s newest innovations—most of which are designed because Apple is so good at looking to their customers and listening to what they want. Even if this means, in the case of the iPhone SE, what seems like taking a step backwards.

Of course, it’s worth recognizing that Apple’s decision to bring back the smaller design wasn’t just about listening to their customers. The costs associated with manufacturing this style of phone have decreased significantly, taking it from one of the most costly phones to make, to one of the more affordable. Therefore, even if it isn’t their top selling version, they can still be profitable. In other words, listen to your customers, but only when it makes sense for the greater good.

/ Creative/Design

Is My Website Outdated? Ten Questions to Help You Recognize the Signs.

Kevin McKernan

You see them everyday—outdated websites that you can only assume haven’t been touched by human hands in the past decade or so. We see these websites all the time and it makes us question their credibility. But for some reason, we don’t always recognize when our own organization’s website is ready for an upgrade. Maybe it’s denial. Or maybe, like many marketers, you haven’t taken the time to look at your website with an objective eye.

Could your website use a redesign? Here are ten questions to help you answer just that:

1.  Does it look good on a mobile device?

In other words, is your website responsive or mobile friendly? If your answer is no, this is a problem.

According to Google, more searches are now performed on mobile than on desktop. And this trend is more than likely to continue. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to have a website that is easy to view on any device.

Having a responsive or mobile friendly website that is easy for users to navigate will not only contribute to a more positive user experience, but is now a growing ranking factor with Google.

2.  Does it use generic/default colors?

Designers used to be somewhat limited by color usage because monitors were often limited in the colors they could properly render. Today, screens of all sizes are well-equipped to handle web-friendly fonts. If your website is still using default colors, it’s showing its age.

The use of too many colors (or colors that seem to appear without any rhyme or reason) can also be a sign of an outdated website design. Try to stick to a more neutral color palate—one that is clean and, of course, specific to your brand. Also, make sure you limit the amount of colors you use to two or three main colors, only utilizing select accent colors when absolutely necessary.

3.  Is it utilizing white space?

Older websites tend to have very crowded, busy homepages. In other words, they lack white space, those blank parts of a website that don’t contain content. Particularly in this mobile world, it’s important that the content on every page has room to breathe. This not only makes it easier on the eyes, but also allows you to deliver a clear, direct message.

And keep in mind, white space doesn’t have to be white in color. It’s just those areas on your website that remain unfilled, allowing the most important content to stand out.

4.  Is the font difficult to read?

Fonts should be easy to read (no less than 11pt regardless of the typeface) and needs to be easy to view on both mobile and desktop. Keep it clean, avoiding fonts that are extravagant or unnecessarily loopy.

You also want to limit the amount of fonts you use. While it’s not uncommon to use different fonts for headers, sub-headers and body text, you really shouldn’t be using more than three different fonts at a time.

5.  Does your website use flash?

Flash is the shag carpeting of websites and is one of the most common signs your website needs some serious renovating. The majority of mobile devices and tablets don’t support flash and it’s also terrible for search engines to scan.

Still want something animated? Today, web developers look to HTML5 to create these features as it’s supported on both desktop and mobile.

6.  Do the images remind you of 90s clip art?

Low quality, generic images not only make your website look dated, but impacts its overall credibility with visitors. While many web designers still incorporate stock photos, you want to make sure those photos are of the highest quality, and avoid cliché or overly posed images (such as one that depict someone sitting at a computer and pointing, or a business person standing with their arms crossed).

E-Commerce websites, or any website that is promoting specific products should always use real product photos that have been taken by a professional photographer.

7.  Is the branding on your website consistent with other channels?

Every year we are introduced to new channels where we can promote our brand. Ideally, you want all the assets used on each channel to be thoroughly consistent. The look and feel of everything from your social media channels, to landing pages, to printed collateral for your sales team should be a reflection of your website.

However, if your website looks and feels outdated, there’s a likelihood that you’ve begun to shift the branding on other channels. If your Facebook page feels more reflective of what you want your branding to be than your homepage, it’s time for a redesign.

8.  Was your website trendy when it was built?

Do you remember when your website was first launched? Was it all the rage then? Unless your website was built in the last year or so, there’s a good chance it already looks outdated. A website is an investment, so unless you have the budget to constantly make visual changes, you want to avoid choosing a design just because it follows the newest trend.

9.  Is your navigation intuitive?

User experience has grown in importance, particularly over the last few years. Can visitors find what they need when they come to your website? Or are they overwhelmed by the number of navigation options?

Modern websites work to keep navigations simple and clean. This means having your main navigation items at the top, removing any sidebars, and relying on clear calls to action and internal linking to help users navigate deeper into your website

10.  Can you easily update your content?

This may or may not be immediately visible to those visiting your website, but lacking the ability to easily go in and update content, or add new pages, without the help of a web developer, is another clear sign that you’re due for a redesign.

Most websites today are built using Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress. These systems make it easy for non-coders to go in and make simple updates and even post new pages, depending on how the system is built out.

There was a time when just having a website was enough to add credibility to your brand. But today, you need to have a website that is not only contextually accurate, but visually updated. So if you answered “yes” to the majority of the questions above, it’s time to have a serious discussion about redesigning your website.

Website redesigns take a lot of time and can be costly. But remember, investing in your website means investing in the credibility of your brand.

/ Email

TL;DR: Creating Effective Emails in a Low Attention Span World

Kevin McKernan

person checking email on phone

Much like LOL or BAE, TL;DR is the new abbreviated phrase taking the world by storm. Standing for “Too long; didn’t read”, this phrase not only appropriately uses a semicolon, but also provides a chillingly accurate description of how consumers feel about the various email marketing messages coming into their inboxes each day.

While technology has given marketers more opportunities than ever to reach their audience, it has also contributed to decreasing attention spans and marketing overload for consumers. Because of this, it’s important to make sure your emails are created in a way that is easy for your subscribers to digest in the shortest amount of time possible.

How do you increase email marketing engagement in this low attention span world?

Have One Driving Goal (For Every Send)

Every email you send should have one driving goal that shapes everything in the message. Maybe that goal is to inform customers of a special deal or sale and drive clicks back to your website. Or maybe that goal is to introduce a new product to your audience and drive them to a landing page for more information. 

Whatever your goal, keep it simple. A complex goal often leads to a complex message. A simple goal paves the way for a short, to the point email your readers won’t need much time to absorb.

Have One, Direct CTA (And Make it Visible)

The goal for each email you send should have a relevant, correlating call-to-action (CTA). Like your goal, you want that CTA to be clear, direct and simple. If you want a subscriber to read more about a new product you’re introducing in your email, tell them to “Read More”. If you want consumers to click over to your site to view a special sale, tell them to “Join the Sale”.

Essentially, if you want someone to do something, tell them in the CTA.And remember, clear, direct and simple doesn’t necessarily mean boring and standard. Sometimes those out-of-the-box CTAs have the biggest impact. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Just always make sure that CTA matches your brand’s overall tone and style in both that email and as a whole.

Finally, make sure your CTA is easy to find. This may seem obvious, but many brands still believe their audience is fully reading every email they open and bury their CTA in an easily-missed link in the middle of a sentence. A clear CTA in a large, clickable button is your best bet.

Tell a Unique Story (With Words and Images)

There’s a lot of noise in the inbox. In order to get through it, you need to tell a unique story with every element of your message. It starts at the subject line and the pre-header, which together give a summary of what subscribers will find inside. These elements also begin whatever story your message wants to share.

The body of your message will continue the story, carefully using words and images to support each other and drive subscribers to your CTA.

It may be tempting to use a fully image-based message to reach your audience. However, many email clients automatically block images, so image based emails can be difficult for some subscribers to view. For both deliverability reasons and user view-ability, it’s recommended that you use a healthy balance of plain-text and images.

Use Content that Can Be Easily Scanned (Over Easily Read)

Your email content should be short and concise. In other words, your audience should be able to scan it in order to pull out the main idea—they shouldn’t have to actually read it.

In order to get your point across in the shortest amount of time possible, avoid long, lengthy descriptions and utilize short headlines and headers. Again, the goal of your email content is to get subscribers to follow your CTA, not to sell a product or service. Keep this in mind as you’re writing.

Make it Mobile-Friendly (But Don’t Forget Desktop)

Mobile is one of the largest contributors to the formation of this TL;DR mindset. As more consumers move to mobile devices as their main form of viewing email, the more brands will find themselves optimizing for mobile.

The trends don’t lie. A recent report from Movable Ink shows that 68% of emails received in 2015 were opened on a mobile device. 52% of those opens were made on smartphones.

It’s important to note, however, that desktop, while no longer the leading source for opening emails, continues to drive 53% of all conversions. For email marketers, this means insuring that the mobile to desktop user experience is seamless.

Segment Your Audience (And Speak to Their Unique Preferences)

Personalization and segmentation aren’t just buzzword—they’re a strategy for better reaching your audience by providing them with content that’s more relevant to their preferences and past behavior. 

Good, clean data is an email marketer’s best weapon against TL;DR. The more you know about your audience and their interests, the more you can shape each of your campaigns to reach them.

When information is relevant and targeted, the more attention someone is willing to give it.

Is the above setting off your TL;DR trigger? Let me break it down for you—

  • The era of TL;DR isn’t likely to end anytime soon, particularly when it comes to email.
  • You always want to tell a unique story with your brand, and email is a great way to do that. But keep it simple.
  • If you see important email marketing metrics such as open rates and click through rates dropping, take a look at your last few campaigns and consider the following:
  • How much text you’re using
  • Whether or not the CTA is clear and easy to spot upon opening the message
  • How your email rendered both on mobile and desktop
  • Who you are sending to and how relevant that message is to them

And one final takeaway—

Both the layout of your email marketing messages and the content you provide in them will vary based on your audience and your industry. It’s important to take the time to A/B test things like CTA placement and content to learn more about what your audience responds to, and most importantly, what they don’t. Consider this strategy as you are preparing your next email campaign for a TL;DR world.