EU referendum voting card

Having dutifully registered my EU referendum vote on Thursday I set my alarm a little earlier than usual for Friday morning to hear the result of our Nation’s fate.

Whilst all of the votes hadn’t yet been fully counted at 5am it was unmistakably clear that the majority of my fellow citizens had decided that after 43 years it was time for us to leave the European Union.

Despite my distinct lack of knowledge and dare I say interest in politics it felt abundantly clear to me as a public speaking coach that BREXIT were far more likely to win.

Here is how I knew

At Mindful Presenter we invest a great deal of our time, energy and focus helping professionals to deliver their message in a way that is confident, credible and compelling on an emotional as well as intellectual level.

That by itself isn’t particularly easy for many professionals who have been conditioned to simply recite bullet points.

Whilst that presents a challenge we are very successful in helping people to overcome, there is another far more crucial element.

The Message

If your message isn’t clear, concise and conclusive it doesn’t matter how loudly or passionately you express it you are unlikely to convince your audience to follow you.

‘Remain’

I can only tell you what I took from the ‘remain’ speakers although I acknowledge and respect the fact that others may have heard something different.

It seemed to me that the ‘remain’ campaign focused largely on the economic benefits of the UK staying in the EU and the potential damage and loss we would experience with a leave vote. They focused on the lowering of living standards and prices increasing for some household goods. In addition they reassured us of our safety by remaining in the EU.

In short, their message revolved around making Britain stronger, richer and safer.

As a message stands it sounds ‘nice’, protective and reasonable enough but at a time when much of the UK is already struggling financially and don’t feel particularly safe anyway just how compelling was it compared to the opposition’s message.

‘Leave’

If you are voting for change on the strength and clarity of the message alone what I heard the ‘leave’ campaign saying was:

The UK cannot control the number of people coming into the country while remaining in the EU.

Leaving the EU would free up £350m a week extra to spend on the NHS.

We all want more money in our pockets, financial security and to feel safe. However, simply reminding us of the risk of losing more of those key elements isn’t necessarily the strongest of messages, especially when so many already feel vulnerable. It may make sense intellectually but doesn’t do much for most people emotionally in the absence of anything tangible and specifically promising being offered to stay.

On the other hand, if you really want to connect with fellow human beings then a powerful way to do so is to talk to them about two of their greatest concerns; immigration and our beloved NHS.

In doing so if you can make a promise that you will resolve both problems to me it’s no real surprise why the ‘leave’ campaign were successful.

Politics aside, as we teach in our presentation training workshops the clarity and power of your message when trying to influence any form of change is paramount.

Many of course will argue the simplicity of this article in terms of summarising the key messages and their impact on Thursday’s vote, but for me that’s what I believe I and many millions of people heard which for many may have made all the difference.

For all the scaremongering, confusion and uncertainty it seems to me that the British Public voted on Thursday to control immigration and protect its cherished NHS.

Powerful messages which connect with your audience emotionally as well as intellectually will always trump platitudes which do little to drive action.

Message aside, if you are in any doubt as to why the ‘leave’ campaign won this historical vote and are interested in the level of passion, belief and focus used to deliver their key messages, watch these two videos and reflect on that doubt.

David Cameron asking us to stay

Boris Johnson asking us to leave

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Image: Courtesy of www.flickr.com

So you’re wondering how to avoid spam traps and increase email open rates?

First of all. Let us tell you this:

You aren’t alone.

And to prove that, here are some images of complaints, requests, and questions that people like you have asked us…

nudgespot spam and increase email open rates

Worry not. When you’re with this post, you’ll be a boss at handling Email Deliverability who is all like:

increase email open rates jay z

The Best Case Scenario

So the ideal scenario for emails is when every email you send arrives in the inbox of your recipient the way you planned it. The not-so-ideal scenario is when an Internet Service Provider (ISP) blocks your message or sends it to your recipient’s trash/promotions/spam folder. To increase email open rates, click rates and engagement is not an easy task. Making sure your emails go directly into inboxes a majority of the time requires some time and consistent effort.

TL;DR: You want your emails to reach the recipient’s ‘Inbox’ folder – nowhere else. Unless there is a ‘Priority’ folder of course.

Why it sucks to be blocked by an ISP aka “The Consequences”

      • Users don’t get your messages
      • Your User Engagement drops
      • Your IP trust/score drops
      • You feel like the kitty below

kitteh improve email open rates

Your Sender Reputation and Recipient Engagement

Opens, clicks, unsubscribes, and spam reports are important ways to measure how your emails are being received. Engagement doesn’t stop here. User actions as simple as read vs. delete without reading or moving to a folder can also be tracked and marked ‘good’ or ‘bad’. All these play a part in your sender reputation. We like to call this your street cred – or web cred. Building a strong sender reputation is a long-term effort, akin to building a brand. ISPs have been known to track the number of times:

      • recipients delete messages without reading them.
      • your recipients forward messages from you.
      • recipients add a contact to their address book.
      • a recipient moves a sender around between folders.

TL;DR: Don’t ruin your web cred by sending uninspiring content to unengaged users.

  • Clicks, open, reads = Good.
  • Spam Reports, Unsubscribes, Deletes = Bad.

Spam Complaints

When a recipient marks an email from you as spam, this does not look good for you. This is the worst possible signal an ISP can get about your domain. If your spam complaint rate is higher than 0.2% it is counted as high.

Worry not, there is hope yet! You can still reduce this number by making some changes to your content and sending patterns.

TL;DR (what, really?): Keep tabs on open rates and make sure your spam complaint rates don’t cross 0.08%

Email Content

Sadly not everyone you send emails to feels like Ryan Gosling in this meme.

increase email open rates ryan gosling

What you can do about this is to make sure your content isn’t going to be flagged as spammy. Here are some measures you can take:

      • Personalize your emails with a detail about the recipient like their name or something they are interested in using liquid variables.
      • Words that are known to be spammy (try it now! Buy! etc) are spam flags, so avoid them. Also, avoid messages IN ALL CAPS.
      • Send a welcome email when a user signs up for your product or service. Keep it warm and friendly, and make sure to include options to unsubscribe or set preferences about how and when your recipients want to be contacted.
      • Mix up your text, HTML, and images. Emails that contain only an image or are image heavy are likely to get blocked. Use a tester like ‘Litmus’ to see how your emails render across devices.
      • Lower the number of external links you use in your emails. Excessive linking in your emails will hit spam flags. To increase email open rates, your emails should have a high text to link and text to image ratio.
      • A/B test your emails to improve engagement. Different subject lines can make a big difference here.
      • Let people unsubscribe easily. Would you want to hang out with someone that didn’t want to hang out with you? Don’t make your customers do it either. Using an unsubscribe link as part of your header is recommended.
      • You can test the “spamminess” of your email content using a website like Mail Tester.

TL;DR: The contents of your emails are as important (if not more) a factor to increase email open rates.

Link Shorteners: Dangerous Territory, Tread with Care:

All links added in an email lead the recipient to a domain. Every domain carries a sender reputation. If you use a link shortener, the generated domain will have a reputation too. Spammers have been known to use link shorteners to mask the sites they are redirecting recipients to because they are usually domains with lower reputations. This hits red flags. The best practice here is to point any links that you add in an email to your domain. This way you get more hits on your website too!

TL;DR: Avoid link shorteners.

Spam Traps

You can’t increase email open rates with wrong or fake addresses. These email addresses are sometimes called spam traps, and you should not be sending emails to them. Usually, these are

      • Old/legacy addresses and have not been used for long periods of time.
      • Addresses that have not signed up for emails from you.

These are called recycled and pristine spam traps respectively and this means you need to put more effort into keeping your email list clean.

How to keep your email list clean:

      1. Avoid buying email lists or scraping email lists.
      2. Remove recipients who haven’t engaged with you.
      3. Buy a verifying tool like Kickbox.
      4. If you are sending emails internationally, make sure you comply with regional email legislation (CAN-SPAM, CASL etc)

Email Address Validity

morpheus what if i told youSending emails to non-existent or invalid email addresses triggers red flags for email inbox providers. To make sure this doesn’t happen and increase email open rates, you can:

      1. Remove addresses that have ‘bounced’ from your mailing list.
      2. Remove email addresses that have not engaged for a long time your list. They may have become inactive.
      3. Send a confirmation message by email immediately after a user signs up.
      4. Remove ‘role accounts’ like info@ postmaster@ abuse@ from your list.

TL;DR: You don’t want to be sending emails to addresses that don’t exist. Fix it!

Blacklists

gandalf email spam filter

An email inbox provider keeps tabs on ‘blacklists’ to decide whose emails to block or filter. Your IP may be blacklisted if an email provider detects

      • A large number of spam trap hits
      • Recipients clicking ‘report as spam’
      • A combination of the two

TL;DR: Avoid spam traps, send good content to people who engage, and hope you don’t get blacklisted.

Segment your audience

Your recipients don’t want to get emails from you about things they aren’t interested in.

email segments gollum

This is where segmentation can help. You can segment your users based on

      • Interests they’ve shared with you
      • Location
      • Who has ‘opened’ or ‘clicked’ your messages
      • Last viewed your product
      • Age
      • Gender
      • Operating System
      • Device

You get the picture.

Remember: every recipient is different and has different interests. Segmentation helps you personalize your email to meet their different expectations and increase email open rates.

Emails collected from Facebook

If you have collected emails from facebook, you need to make sure to clean up any addresses on your list that end with @facebook.com as facebook has now stopped its email services. Any messages you send to these addresses will bounce or be blocked.

Watch how often you send your emails!

Are you sending multiple emails to recipients without first checking how often they would like to receive emails? Well, then you clearly haven’t heard of email fatigue, so…

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 1.58.25 PM

Companies often get caught up between sending newsletters, special offers, blog promotions and transactional messages and end up sending customers too much email. Tweaking your sending and delivery frequency will help you increase email open rates.

TL;DR: Don’t send too much mail too often.

Make sure you are always sending or trying to send:

The right message: What customers like to receive. Not something that bombards or annoys them.

The right person: Research your audience and get this right.

The right time: Don’t be that guy that sends email as someone is falling asleep.

The right frequency: Let your subscribers decide how often they want updates.

Get a dedicated IP Address

A dedicated IP can help high-volume senders a lot. You can use the IP to send marketing messages and other high volume messages. It may also be a good idea to keep your transactional (password reset, payment confirmations, etc.) and marketing IPs separated. Best practices include setting up separate IP addresses for separate marketing streams and campaigns.

TL;DR: Dedicated IP addresses can help you if you send a high volume of emails.

Experiment with an IP Warmup Schedule

Warming up your IP is a way to help you see what is working and what isn’t in an email plan before permanently tarnishing your IP’s web cred. A healthy IP receives good engagement and this is the aim with an IP warm-up. To steadily increase email open rates, you can begin by sending small volumes of email and then progressing to larger volumes. Keep in mind the need to track engagement as well. This helps you make changes and fixes before you send to a bulk of your users.

So now you know the basics. You have everything you need to avoid spam traps and increase email open rates consistently. You are officially covered!

Experts believe re-engaging with existing customers is better than finding new customers. Research suggests the former is more profitable than the latter in terms of sales.

Getting success in re-engagement depends on a couple of factors – the brand experience, customer feedback, retention rate are some of them besides removing lead gen bottlenecks, nurturing qualified leads and keeping them warm.

In this article, I’ll give you tips on customer re-engagement.

List buildup

Re-engagement begins with building a list of customers.

It’s the very first step and it’s important.

Some of your existing customers may now want to stick to your brand any longer. Some want to turn to other brands for a change, while some are not happy with your pricing. Identify such customers and exclude them from the list of re-engagement targets.

How to identify them?

Check the recent transaction history and spot those who haven’t been purchasing from you for a long time. There’s no point to inflating client lists by adding inactive customers to it.

Among the active customers, target the ones whose cart or order sizes are of comparatively larger orders. Such customers bring a better ROI. Getting a customer who will spend $400 is better than getting a customer who will spend only $40.

Check how active a customer is and how much he’s buying from you. These two are the criteria for sorting out the existing customers you should be re-engaging with.

Returning visitors display ads

Visitors who keep coming back to your site are retarget baits. Problem is you can’t contact them via email because they are anonymous. You only have their IPs in your website’s server log, but that won’t help you identify them.

But identifying returning visitors is a must because they are likely to buy. Retargeted display ads can make them purchase from you. Studies indicate display ads can make returning visitors 70% more likely to buy. Display ads can be shown to them in the following way:

You can place a cookie, which will stay in their browsers. Big ad networks like Google Adsense, Adroll and Bing all support this. You’ll get the cookie code from the respective ad network.

This process is thoroughly explained by the infographic below:

Source

Each individual social network has its own way of showing returning visitors display ads. Facebook, for example, allows you to set up Facebook pixel on your website. It has a conversion pixel-tracking dashboard, which allows you to create custom audiences.

Automated email marketing

Email marketing is no longer manual. It is now automated and called drip marketing. Automated email marketing gives you an edge in re-engaging. State of the art email marketing tools come with a custom dashboard, which lets you perform the following tasks:

  • Compose emails following suggestions offered by the tool.
  • Schedule emails so that they are being automatically sent to the customers.
  • Track the open and response rates of emails sent to clients.
  • Set priority so that the tool sorts emails accordingly.

Many brands are skeptical about the effectiveness of email drip campaigns. Here’s some information that can make them rethink this:

Email drip campaigns can nurture leads and keep them warm. Customers don’t want their favorite brands to be non-responsive. If you don’t keep contact with them, they’d lose interest and look for other brands. The gap between two consecutive emails sent to clients should be one-quarter of a year.

The content and subject line of an email are important. A personalized subject line can increase the engagement rate by 22%. Tools like MailChimp can make the subject line and the body content personalized. The key benefits of automated email marketing are the following:

  • It segments email contacts according to location, industry, interests, etc. This way, the emails are sent to targeted respondents and drive the CTR up.
  • It nurtures the leads obtained from landing-page sign up. Such leads often don’t convert into sales. Nurtured leads cause a sharp 20% increase in sales compared to non-nurtured leads.

A re-engagement strategy that doesn’t include email drip marketing is incomplete.

Customer advisory board

Even though it’s a new idea, it is quickly getting traction. Offering your clients a place on the customer advisory board (CAB) brings double benefits. First, it ensures customer engagement and secondly, you get honest opinions from customers on the product or service quality.

Which customers should be offered a position in the CAB?

Customers who have shown interest in your brand time and time again should be offered a place in the CAB. Such customers interact with you, respond to the emails sent by you and of course, purchase from you. Brands are often advised to diversify their CABs. Different customers representing different fields of business can enhance cross-niche and cross-genre potential of the CAB.

The benefits of CAB are summarized below:

#Quality feedback: From the members of the CAB, you’ll receive wise and pragmatic feedback. Such feedback will help you make your business flourish.

#Virality score: Having active customers on the board increases your virality score. New customers and many existing customers get attracted to your brand because a segment of customers do the marketing for you.

Simply put, a customer advisory board yields excellent opportunity for brands to connect with their existing customers in a meaningful way.

Loyalty programs

Through loyalty programs, you can re-engage with existing customers and make them purchase from you. Loyalty programs are all about giving customers reasons to buy from you. Here’s an example of how to make it executable:

Leads often hesitate to sign up. If there’s a reward or incentive for them, then they will find interest in the signup process and will actively buy from you. Loyalty program case studies show that a tier system drives customer retention rate up.

Such a tier system will have rewards at its initial entry point. If a customer is rewarded after an initial purchase, then they’ll be interested to buy more from the same brand.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club followed this strategy. They introduced a tiered reward program for members. Club Red members receive discounts on rental cars, holiday flights, airport parking, etc. Club Silver members receive quick check-in and priority standby seating. Club Gold members receive clubhouse access where they could enjoy a drink and get a massage.

This tiered benefit structure helped them re-engage with their customers and grow their business.

The case study above is just an example. There are plenty of other ways to successfully run a loyalty program.

Conclusion

Re-engagement is becoming more prevalent in companies’ marketing mix. The benefits, discussed here, explain how and why. Follow the tips shared here to re-engage with your customers and watch your business thrive.

Image Courtesy: pixabay.com

Let’s set the scene. Your company caters to an audience of digital natives ranging from knowledgeable customers to intrigued fans. One group is extremely familiar with your brand and fluent in your products and services. They are the ones who leave comments, give feedback, know your Twitter handle, and begin using your hashtags as soon as they go live. The other group has heard good things about your business and is interested to see how your brand can meet their needs. They are a little more hands-off and hesitant to interact with your brand online. The only thing that separates these two groups is the stream of information between them. What’s the quickest (and most time-tested) way to bridge this gap? Word-of-mouth.

Given the modern marketing landscape, your brand has to think innovatively and be able to quantify the value of every solution that you include in your marketing stack. Sure, you could bank on the strength of your brand and the enthusiasm of your existing customers. Or your company could seek the type of insightful and powerful interactions that occur between social channels and personal networks. That’s where automated refer-a-friend programs come in.

At the core, each refer-a-friend marketing program is composed of the same elements: a business interested in driving new revenue, eager incoming leads, and an engaged existing audience. Automation and strategy is what sets every program apart. If each step of your company’s refer-a-friend campaign isn’t followed by an equally easy-to-understand function and housed within a seamless experience, then your company could be missing the mark. A completely seamless refer-a-friend campaign is greater than the sum of its parts. In fact, it could be the heartbeat that keeps the body of your business up and running.

Let’s dissect the anatomy of a successful refer-a-friend campaign:

The Backbone

Leopard_Lavender_Post.png

The Leopard & Lavender blog recommends Litter-Robot’s automatic, self-cleaning litter box to readers.

A recent survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Ambassador revealed that 82% of Americans say they seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase. The traditional network of influential recommendations is reinforced by digital interactions via social media. For example, the above Facebook post from the Leopard & Lavender blog links to an article that offers readers a unique code for their next Litter-Robot purchase. Partnerships like this incorporate the company’s customer base and the blogger’s audience.

Through shareable, unique links that serve as recommendations for your brand, your company can track and monitor these relationships. Instead of allowing discussions within your audience to go unacknowledged, automated refer-a-friend campaigns bring customer conversations to the center of your attention and the core of your marketing strategy.

A Firsthand Account

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Bench customers are prompted to enter a dual incentive, refer-a-friend program.

Each member of your audience will be an integral part of your refer-a-friend campaign, but the most successful campaigns ensure that customers can monitor their personal progress. With an automated refer-a-friend program, your company can provide a highly interactive portal and support individual customer accounts, similar to the Bench example above. This portal should not only track the sharing activity within your refer-a-friend program, but also display the respective followings that individual customers have across social media platforms. The information gathered from these accounts empowers your customers to be proactive, while giving your company a strategic advantage. Your customers’ referral behavior can lend insight on how to segment customers and decide which ones to assign to specific campaigns or social media outreach in the future.

A Leg Up

RIA_RAF.png

Ria rewards referrers with cash.

One of the most satisfying experiences of any refer-a-friend campaign is the reward process. The most successful refer-a-friend programs incentivize rewards that match the level of engagement or amount of new revenue that your referrals have provided. Ria, a financial services company, has adopted a cash payout system that aligns with their industry and customer preferences. Although rewards may vary from company to company or campaign to campaign, the payout should be as seamless as every other aspect of your referral process. According to a recent survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Ambassador, 88% of Americans say they would like some sort of incentive (money, product or service, loyalty points, early access, swag) for sharing a product via social media or email.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

The best way to protect your refer-a-friend marketing ROI is to mimic an actual friendship. Companies should strive to create a reciprocal exchange punctuated by helpful information and valuable experiences. Although word-of-mouth can bring your customers and leads together, a refer-a-friend campaign empowers your business to monitor, track, and reward these interactions. Now that you understand the working parts of developing a successful refer-a-friend campaign, it’s time to put your best foot forward.

Executive

Is your company a lean company? Should it be?

The concept of lean management came up a few times in the last week or two; that kind of coincidence always inspire me to write about the topic at hand.

So I set out to learn a bit more about it. I knew, conceptually, what it was, but digging deeper makes me think that every customer-centric organization ought to be lean. Nay, every organization should be lean so they can be customer-centric.

Whichever way you look at it, it seems to be a solid concept for any organization.

So, what is lean management, also simply referred to as lean?

According to Lean Enterprise Institute, lean management is: a series of practices that develops people to understand and own their problems, and aligns resources to achieve the purpose of the organization. Lean management engages everyone in designing processes to continuously solve problems, improve performance, and achieve purpose while consuming the fewest possible resources.

In short, I’d say it’s a concept rooted in continuous improvement. Or, as I like to call it, a journey. It’s not a one and done. It’s not about the destination because the destination changes. Customers evolve. Needs evolve. Businesses evolve. Products evolve. The journey to be the best, to design a great experience, and to deliver value to your customers is a long, ongoing one.

Back to defining lean.

TechTarget defines it as seeking: to eliminate any waste of time, effort or money by identifying each step in a business process and then revising or cutting out steps that do not create value. The philosophy has its roots in manufacturing.

Guiding principles for lean management include:

  • Defining value from the standpoint of the end customer.
  • Identifying each step in a business process and eliminating those steps that do not create value.
  • Making the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence.
  • Repeating the first three steps on a continuous basis until all waste has been eliminated.

Defining and delivering value for customers is a key area of focus for customer experience professionals. You might have thought that price was a huge driving factor for why customers buy. Price is secondary to value; if you’ve delivered value, price is less of an issue. Customers will pay if companies deliver on their promises, fill a need, and do it with minimal effort on the customer’s part.

But don’t take my word for it. Value is defined by your customers, by each individual customer. It doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. This is why you listen to customers. This is why you need to understand your customers. This is why you map their journeys, identify key moments of truth, measure where you don’t deliver value or where you fall down, and employ continuous improvement processes to reduce pain and effort, iterating until you’ve got it right. Of course, once you’ve got it right, the target moves and you continue to iterate. Regardless, it’s all about when the customer says the company has delivered value, not when the company thinks it has.

Of course, integral to this are your employees and an organizational transformation, a shift in the culture and in the way of thinking and doing.

There’s a lot of good stuff under the hood of lean management, so I’ll be taking a look at many of its components over the next several months.

It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. -W. Edwards Deming

Image courtesy of SydesJokes