Archive for the ‘Digital marketing’ Category

Percassity Perspectives

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Latest edition of my company newsletter.

Issue 2, January 2010 Includes articles on the growing primacy of customer intelligence specialists, the emergence of the chief customer officer, more Google news, and the final installment of How to kick off your CRM system project. We also add a new “Vacancies” section.

Alternative approaches to subject line personalisation

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Over coffee with a client’s VP of Marketing last month, we came up with an idea for customising (or customizing!) subject lines in email marketing. It’s well known that subject lines are a key determinant of open rates and every good campaign should involve the testing of different variations to establish which one  performs best. Considerations often revolve around personalisation or length (with regards to whether shorter or longer is better), but we got to thinking that quirky or straight might also have an effect.

Some people, we concluded, might quite enjoy an email subject like “Have lunch on us whilst we talk about our stuff!”, whereas others may prefer a more serious tone along the lines of “Learn the benefits of our products over lunch”. This could be tested over a sequence of campaign executions and the individual open rate for each recipient recorded to see whether they tended to respond better to one type of line or another. This implied preference could then be recorded within the email or marketing database and utilised as a customisation parameter in future activity.

Of course any number of other factors could influence an individual’s open rate so ongoing monitoring and adjustment would be needed to ensure peak effectiveness. Just an idea though, and I set it free here for your consideration. If you give it a go, let me know how you get on!

Percassity Perspectives

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Having started a business earlier in the year, we’ve just commenced publishing a (hopefully!) bi-monthly email newsletter, which we’re calling Percassity Perspectives. Since the subject matter crosses-over with this blog, I plan to post a quick link to the newsletter on our website every time we publish. Enjoy!

Issue 1, October 2009 With a news round up including the latest in data protection developments in Europe, marketing technology product news, the latest from Google, and the first part of our guide How to kick off your CRM system project.

On good form

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I wanted to briefly mention a great new resource for anyone involved in online data collection, brought to us by international data quality and addressing guru, Graham Rhind. “Better data quality from your web form” is a free download ebook in pdf format that is designed to help achieve effective international name and address Internet data collection. In the spirit of full disclosure I should mention that Graham asked me to take a look at the book before he published it and as such I can say it’s an invaluable source of information.

Exhibiting Graham’s customary thorough and comprehensive coverage of the topic, the book includes guidance on name and address capture, use of pick-lists and other form elements, usability and data validation. Longe-standing readers of my blog will know that web forms are something of a hot topic for me and I hope this book will help curb some of the worst examples of bad practice out there!

The book is available for download from Graham’s site, and whilst you’re there you should take a look at the wealth of additional information he makes available.

Salesforce.com, analytics, email marketing and financials – it’s all in the cloud

Monday, April 13th, 2009

The Salesforce.com customer conference in the UK this year took the form of CloudForce, a complimentary day of sessions and vendor showcases, held at London’s ExCel exhibition centre last week. It’s no revelation that Salesforce.com have long since moved on from simply being a salesforce automation developer. Today, they position themselves as “Force.com”, promoting the benefits of cloud computing – multi-tenanted, internet based computer platforms – that obviate the need to install software. Indeed, the “no software” message, and attendant logo of the word “software” with a line through it, was repeated at every opportunity. An amusing moment came when Paul Cheesbrough, CIO of The Telegraph Media Group, made reference to “your software” when joining Salesforce.com CEO, Marc Benioff, on stage during the main session. “Your platform I mean,” Cheesbrough quickly corrected himself, “there is no software.”
“Thank you,” replied Benioff.
“I saw it in your eyes!” quipped Cheesbrough.

The AppExchange platform that forms part of Saleforce.com offers a plethora of opportunities to expand the functionality of the base product. However, the ready integration capabilities of Salesforce.com and the Force.com application platform enable new possibilities, some of which I thought noteworthy. Force.com is particularly interesting, as it opens up the platform beyond Sales and Customer Service management to one that allows developers to create their own applications running on the Salesforce.com cloud infrastructure. To developers, Force.com represents the opportunity to deliver solutions based around the software-as-a-service ethos, without having to build the delivery infrastructure themselves. Adopters of these solutions, for whom not having to install software and maintain their own IT infrastructure is appealing, gain access to applications meeting their requirements that might not otherwise have made it to this delivery mechanism.

One such example is a complete accounting application from financial software developers Coda, called Coda2go. Based around their on premise solution, Coda2go runs entirely on the Force.com platform and integrates closely with Salesforce.com itself. I wrote recently about the considerations of integrating sales order processing within the sales and marketing “data ecosystem”, where I made reference to the point at which an Opportunity is closed and an order booked. With Coda2go, this process, together with resulting invoicing, is practically a one-click undertaking. Once the Opportunity is ready to be booked as a sales order, which would typically involve manually switching to a different system, all of the order details are picked up from Salesforce.com, transferred to Coda2go, invoices created and the rest of the accounting process put in train. I can’t speak to how good a financials solution Coda2go is, but this looks pretty neat!

Closer to marketing home, Cognos (now part of IBM) and QlikTech were offering Salesforce.com enabled versions of their analytics solutions. As well as enabling more sophisticated analysis, visual representation and dashboards than native Salesforce.com, these solutions will work across multiple data sources, holding out the prospect of unified marketing and sales reporting and analysis. Joining marketing data such as campaign execution, response and leads with converted opportunities and closed deals, the nirvana of true, operational marketing effectiveness reporting comes a step closer. Of course a variety of process implications still need to be considered, but at least data visibility is improved.

Finally, and firmly within the marketing realm, a couple of email campaign solutions and a data collection system caught my eye. Genius.com and ExactTarget both offer solutions for creating and despatching marketing emails with all the features you would expect, including HTML templates, personalisation, tracking and reporting. Naturally, this is integrated with Salesforce.com in terms of data management and reporting, making straightforward but relatively sophisticated email marketing very easy. Clicktools allows the creation of surveys, landing page and forms, enabling rapid generation of marketing response mechanisms, as well as questionnaires and so on. Between all of these solutions, it seems possible that best-of-breed marketing campaigns consisting of outbound email and rich landing pages with response tracking can be created relatively easily and inexpensively, without needing full scale and costly marketing automation solutions.

So, there you have my quick round-up of highlights from CloudForce ’09, all without reference to meteorology or having my head in the clouds. Doh! Too late.

Can we learn permission marketing from Generation Y?

Monday, March 30th, 2009

This week saw the annual IDM Lunch taking place once again, an opportunity for members to meet, catch up and discuss current issues over lunch, followed by a keynote address. The calibre of the speakers is always high and this year was no exception, with “worldwide business and technology strategist and best-selling author” (according to the IDM) Don Tapscott occupying the slot this time.

Tapscott’s presentation set out to highlight some of the reasons to embrace rather than disdain “Generation Y”, to whom the Internet is second nature. Rupert Murdoch described them as “digital natives”, against those of a slightly older disposition for whom the Internet arrived at a later stage in life and therefore making them “digital immigrants”. This generation are “bathed in bits” and have a completely different approach to media consumption and social interaction. This of course is characterised by Facebook, Twitter and My Space, but also, critics assert, lack of attention span, insularity and general dumbing down.

Tapscott rejects this description though, and as a Professor of Management at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, among other roles, and having recently completed a $4m research programme in this area, I guess he should know what he’s talking about. The general thrust of Tapscott’s counter-argument was that far from leading to the atrophy of the skills needed in modern business, online technologies foster them. The collaboration, team work and leadership engendered and developed online create individuals far more likely to be effective knowledge workers in the future.

Tapscott also highlighted the attitude of Gen Y to email and a memorable way of characterising it. Email is regarded as a more formal means of communication than instant messaging or social media sites; in other words, something for the oldies to use! Though not a new observation, Tapscott’s research turned up the following gem: when asked when email would be used by today’s teenagers, the response was “when writing a thank you letter to my friend’s parents for having me to dinner.” The art of letter writing may well be on borrowed time…

You can enjoy the rest of Tapscott’s observations in more detail by reading his latest book, Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World, so I won’t dwell further here. The other element of his presentation which interested me though was actually his opening gambit. Demonstrating that great minds think alike, as I had suggested this only moments earlier to my neighbour at the table, he asked for a show of hands as to how many Twitter users were in the audience. Of perhaps the couple of hundred delegates, about a third professed to using Twitter, which was a little higher than I might have expected from a relatively senior audience. (Although given the IDM’s strap-line “Digital, Direct, Data”, perhaps this was just the digital contingent.)

Now, I confess I’m not on Twitter, though it’s on my list of things to do. This result however, somewhat supports my assertion that few of the people I’d like to speak do use the service, making my presence a little futile. However, I’m not closed off to it, and I was only recently enthusiastically assured of it’s great utility by an industry colleague (you know who you are!). In view of the upcoming generation ensconced in this technology though, marketers surely need to take these channels seriously, and start learning how to use them to the mutual benefit of organisations and those they wish to influence. This is a similar situation to the early web, when companies built websites with a limited understanding of what they hoped to achieve. This has the danger of being self-fulfilling, but the web didn’t turn out too badly!

What interests me, to bring this back on topic, is the operational implications of these technologies. How can they be effectively integrated into marketing processes, measured and justified? Or is this counter to the ethos of Web 2.0, where such mercenary and quantitative thinking is counter culture? It would seem a shame if so, as Twitter’s “follow my Tweets” approach strikes me as the ultimate in permission marketing. Where’s Seth Godin when you need him? (Well, try here, here or here!)

Your eyes only – data driven personalised web advertising

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

I don’t tend to cover web related matters here too much, even though website management has formed part of my role at times. However, when specific opportunities come up for integrating or enhancing insight with web techniques, I’m always interested. At this week’s Technology for Marketing exhibition I stopped by online ad serving solution provider Mediaplex, for a run-down on their services. In brief, they hold advertisers’ online adverting inventory and serve it to media sites where advertising has been placed. In this way, the are able to ensure the latest version of an ad, appropriate to the audience in which it is being displayed, without the advertiser having the nightmare of managing myriad different advertising locations and creative executions manually.

Such services get more sophisticated though, in that they are able to recognise repeat visitors to a given site (through the use of cookies) and serve a version of the ad appropriate to such an individual; perhaps building on a creative theme or trying an alternative messaging angle. In addition, whilst at a rudimentary level, this technology is beginning to allow one-to-one advertising, or at least ads that are highly segmented. By linking their ad serving platform to an advertiser’s CRM data, it becomes possible to create customer and prospect segments to which specific messaging and creative can be targeted. By recognising visitors using previously placed cookies, highly relevant advertising can be placed, appropriate to the individual’s purchasing cycle or previously stated requirements, perhaps.

Mediaplex don’t have real-time links from their platform to CRM systems today, relying on relatively unsophisticated batch data transfer to share segmentation and ad targeting rules. The possibilities to build on this readily present themselves though, and apart from the usual privacy and “big brother” considerations, another powerful use of marketing data presents itself for improving relevance and effectiveness of marketing communications.

Executive email cut-through

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Another thought sprang to mind whilst at the marketing research focussed Insight Show this week, as I find often happens when the mind is stimulated by presentations and sales pitches. There were several suppliers offering mobile-based research services, and one who suggested that executive response was improved through the mobile channel as senior managers are more likely to have a high quality mobile experience device like a BlackBerry, on which they might be motivated to spend a few minutes participating in a survey during downtime whilst travelling, perhaps.

At the same time, like me, you’ve probably been receiving an increasing number of emails that contain a “Read this on a mobile device” link (next to “If you can’t read this click here”) at the top of the message. I think this is pretty neat; as good as the BlackBerry is, it’s inability until recently to properly display html formatted emails is both a fairly unforgivable deficiency but also an email deliverability road block, as such emails can’t be read easily, if at all. A link to a mobile screen formatted version of the email viewable in the web browser is ideal for such recipients, allowing them to view a rich, if abbreviated version of the message. I’m always checking email in the coffee queue, which is a good time to get a marketing message to me when I’ve got a minute or two spare, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Another trick to try out when the opportunity arises.

Divide and conquer

Friday, September 12th, 2008

I’m very pleased to say that we’re about to launch a new marcoms initiative in the form of a regular, multi-language email newsletter executed through our Aprimo marketing automation system. Although we’ve experienced a few bumps along the way with our implementation, we’re getting to grips with it and I’m looking forwards to exploiting the functionality of what is a very powerful system.

Rather than having to execute the email newsletter, which consists of six language/geography variations, as a number of different emails, Aprimo makes it possible to perform an overall selection of our target recipients and then sub-select by location and language. These segments can then be assigned the relevant message and despatched in one go, which is a big improvement on how things have had to be done previously.

We’re also making use of Aprimo’s data capture facilities to give recipients the opportunity to amend the details we hold for them and also to feedback their business issues to help us guide content for future emails. This also has the effect of building the profile we hold of course, which benefits the accuracy of the targeting and customisation we’re able to undertake. Aprimo makes it easy to link to a pre-populated web form where recipients can amend their existing details (without keying them in again) and submit their business issues.

This is a medium-term undertaking, but I’m a keen advocate of regular, ongoing but low-key communications with customers and prospects to build awareness and familiarity. This is not lead generation or high response activity, but hopefully over time recipients will recognise and even look-out for the newsletter and response will ensue. This very much depends on the quality of content of course, and the challenge is to avoid sending out a sales brochure every time!

10 tips for collecting email addresses

Friday, April 25th, 2008

A nice little piece on collecting email addresses featured recently in Netherlands-based data provider Computer Profile’s email newsletter. Some of the suggestions are fairly obvious or easier said than done, but I liked the point on making sure that registration/sign-up forms are as simple as possible. The point they make, that you can always learn more about contacts in the future, is entirely true, and it’s something I’m hoping we’re going to start doing soon. In addition, form auto-completion techniques, as we recently implemented (see previous post Address to impress – smart web form data collection), also help speed up the form completion experience, together with data quality improvements.