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The Chipmunks are Singing

Posted on November 24, 2004 by Sarah Eaton.

Is it too early for you to be hearing sleigh bells?  Me, too.  If I haven't carved my tofurkey yet, I don't even want to think about December. But I heard Alvin and the Chipmunks singing about what they want for Christmas in the grocery store last night, so I guess that means the holiday season is upon us. 

I ran across an article on holiday e-marketing by marketing writer Debbie Weil from around this time last year.  As usual, her advice is sound, and still applicable: tell your readers you love them, make your design holiday-pretty, keep it short, and don't bother people too much during the last few weeks of December.

Also, it's time for that end-of-year wrap-up.  A time to reflect while staring off into the middle distance.

Maybe, as Debbie suggests, it's time for you to put together a "best of" collection from your e-newsletters.  She says you could use the collection as a holiday gift for your loyal readers. 

I think it might be an even better idea to use the "best of" pieces as a major section of your (otherwise short and covered in snowflakes) December issue.  You could do it like the recording artists do--put a bunch of your greatest hits in the newsletter, and then add a couple of new songs. 

Except you would be adding new articles.  You get what I mean.  Let your readers reflect back on how much value you've provided them over the past year.  This way you're not only showing your readers you love them, but reminding them how much they love you.


November 24, 2004 in award winning magazine, Blog Outsourcing, Blogging Tools, build credibility, Building Customer Community, Business publications, company blog, Corporate publications | Permalink | Comments (1)

And Make It Snappy

Posted on November 23, 2004 by Sarah Eaton.

You know what to write about, you know who you want to send it to--the next step is making it actually effective.

Here's a ClickZ article on pumping up your e-marketing copy to make it say what you really want it to say and make it do what you really want it to do:

Great copy is part art, part science. You don't start writing by writing; you start by reading, brainstorming, researching, and getting into your topic area. Even once there's a first draft, it can often be improved by sleeping on it and returning to it the next morning. This isn't just my experience; many great copywriters I've worked with say the same.

Even though this article applies more directly to the art (and science) of writing copy for ads (taglines, product descriptions, etc.), her ideas also do translate to writing full-length articles for e-newsletters, in the sense that the writer needs to keep the reader in mind and focus on achieving an end result through content and style.


November 23, 2004 in award winning magazine, award winning newsletter, Blogs, Brand enhancement, business credibility, Business newsletter, CMO, company blog, Company newsletters, Corporate newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0)

Click-through Research: the Answer to All Your Needs?

Posted on November 22, 2004 by Sarah Eaton.

Content matters.  Sure, there are curious folks out there willing to skim all kinds of articles just to boost their frame of reference and wow fellow cocktail-party attendees with witty repartee.  But...chances are, if you're in a niche industry, only certain people care, and they only care about certain things. 

How do you find out what they care about?  Use those click-throughs, people. 

Tracking click-throughs does more than generate sales leads.  E-newsletters are as much about building relationships (a slower process) as they are about the immediate gratification of a sale (which has a lot better chance of occurring if you've built your relationship). 

If you use your click-through reporting to find out what it is your clients and prospects want to read, the content ideas will reveal themselves, like woodland creatures shyly stepping out from behind the tree line and nudging at your hands for a lump of sugar. 

I'm not saying you won't still need to brainstorm and comb the web to come up with relevant content.  But once you know what your readers want, you'll know what direction to take.

And the beauty of it is that the click-throughs will let you know when your readers' interest in one topic is waining and waxing in another.  You'll always know what and how to provide. 

November 22, 2004 in award winning magazine, Blog Outsourcing, Brand enhancement, bulk email marketing, business credibility, Corporate newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0)

Smart Man Profiled

Posted on November 18, 2004 by Sarah Eaton.

My colleague in BeBlogging, Peter Davidson, is the interview subject of today's Lip-Sticking post.

November 18, 2004 in Brand enhancement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Roadblocks for Delivery

Posted on November 17, 2004 by Sarah Eaton.

Email marketing dead?  No way.  Not when, as Brad Wendkos says, "...email marketing still returns the highest ROI of any direct marketing medium and business is good for providers and clients alike."

Expanding on yesterday's post theme, Wendkos tells it like it is when it comes to potential delivery problems in this Reveries article.

A word to the wise before you dig in--his solution is his software.  That might not be your solution, but you should be aware of the deliverability barriers he lists.

November 17, 2004 in audio publication, award winning blog, Business editorial, Business relationships, Company publication, Corporate publications | Permalink | Comments (2)

Authenticate Yourself

Posted on November 16, 2004 by Sarah Eaton.

I know, I know.  You're reaping profits right and left.  But that isn't any reason to turn your nose up at this white paper that I found on the Boing Boing blog on non-profits being unfairly identified as spam. 

It can happen to any one of us legitimate types, non-profit and for-profit alike.  You have to know what might cause you to be identified as spam--it affects your delivery, your open rates, and your click-through rates.  Some things are more difficult and time-consuming to monitor than others (contacting your readers' ISPs for whitelisting vs. watching your vocabulary.) 

Eliminating spam is a good idea.  Everyone agrees with that.  We just want it to happen in such a way that a) the genuine messages get through, and b) our freedom of speech isn't constricted.

Here's an example for you: we were checking one of our newsletters for potential spamwords the other day, and the word "enlarge" triggered the alarm.  As in "click to enlarge this picture [of a camera] for a closer look."  Really. 

When innocuous words are imbued with illicit meaning by the anti-spammers, we're forced to construct language pretzels.

The authors of the article recommend some best practices to avoid being trapped in filters, and they're great (really, you should perform every single one of their suggestions with a religious fervor), and they also make some excellent recommendations to anti-spammers, so the authentic messages can get through. 

November 16, 2004 in award winning blog, Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Business relationships, CMO, Corporate publications | Permalink | Comments (0)

Everybody Skims

Posted on November 12, 2004 by Sarah Eaton.

Because I'm barraged by words all day long as I sit in front of my computer, I've stopped reading, unless I'm truly interested. 

And sometimes even interest isn't enough to make me read all of the words--I just don't have the time.  I've got blogging to do.

Check out this article on search-engine (and reader) friendly copy by the people at Pandia.  I'd suggest you skim it.   

November 12, 2004 in award winning newsletter, build credibility, business credibility, business magazine, Business newsletter, CMO, Company newsletters | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Do Your Stats Compare?

Posted on November 11, 2004 by Sarah Eaton.

So, MarketingSherpa just published their annual survey of email marketers, and I was beyond surprised to read that only 71% of email marketers are tracking their click-through rates.  What?  Who are these people who aren't?  If you don't track your click-throughs, you don't know who you're reaching.  Isn't being able to track click-throughs the thing that makes email marketing cooler than, say, sending out postcards to your prospects? 

The only bone I have to pick with the MarketingSherpa folks is that their most popular reported click-through rates are higher than I've seen in other studies.  I'm willing to bet most of those reporting lean closer to the 6% side of 6-10%--we should all aspire to have a list of such hungry readers that we reach a 10% click-through rate with our newsletters.  We should all aspire to have a list of such hungry readers that we reach a 9% click-through rate, for that matter.

November 11, 2004 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Business editorial, Business Marketing, Business relationships, CMO, Corporate newsletter | Permalink | Comments (2)

Cults and Coding and Personality

Posted on November 10, 2004 by Sarah Eaton.

If you missed The Persuaders last night, you can check it out at the PBS website after they post it.

Meanwhile, we can meditate on this: if high-level marketing gurus are out there are studying cults (to get into the heads of fanatic loyalists) and unearthing the subliminal coding of words like "luxury" (to make an airline bin that soothes us because it somehow reminds us of our mommies), how can we apply this to our own modest campaigns?

Until we can all go out and hire that Clotaire Rapaille fellow, the key seems to be injecting your ezine with personality.  The culture and personality of your business, of the person behind the company, of you as a whole.  You can do this with formatting and design as well as content.  People will identify with it, feel like they're a part of your circle, start to feel at home, and--wham!--loyalty.  It's not that simple, of course, but it's a great start.   

November 10, 2004 in audio publication, award winning blog, bulk email marketing, Business publications, company blog, company magazine, company newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immune to Marketing

Posted on November 09, 2004 by Sarah Eaton.

There's this documentary, The Persuaders, airing tonight on PBS (sans commercials, of course) that suggests that we, as Americans, are becoming like roaches who have been sprayed to the point of immunity when it comes to ads. 

I'm going to withhold judgment until after I've watched it, but if we suppose for a moment that this is true, that we're all closing our eyes unless something really pries our eyelids back, what does that mean to someone who does email marketing campaigns?  How do we combat being perceived as simply another annoyance? 

One of the solutions is segmentation (reaching out to the people on your list directly via 1:1 marketing, rather than as a faceless mass email); another is the ultimate goal of newsletter marketing: providing true value.

November 9, 2004 in award winning blog, Building Customer Intuition, bulk email marketing, Business relationships, company newsletter, Corporate Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0)