Email Marketing

I was searching all over the internet trying to find the different tutorials on how to integrate a simple link into email so that subscribers can share it and I found a bunch of different services. Now, most ESP’s have their own social integration but there are still some that don’t and so for those of you that use these “other” systems here is a quick step-by-step.

Facebook Share:

You have to add certain meta information in the header of the HTML. Here is the code:

title goes here” />

Here is where the description text goes” />

image URL that you want displayed here” />

Then you will either need to host the email online or you can use your ESP’s “View Online” code to dynamically populate the share link. The reason I like doing this is that you will be able to track clicks of the email back to the original subscriber. Here is what the actual share link looks like:

Add URL for dynamic view online code or host email” style=”color:#FFFFFF;”>Share this deal on Facebook

Twitter is much simpler:

Put+Your+Text+Here&url=Add URL for dynamic view online code or host email” style=”color:#FFFFFF;”>Share this deal on Twitter

The highlighted text has to be changed every time. Notice for spaces you have to use the plus sign “+”.

And there you have it, how to share your email message on Facebook and Twitter.

Image Courtesy of Social Biz Solutions

I read this artice on bnet this morning talking about the 5 things a good manager needs to be adept at and thought I would pass them on. The adept is a very important word here. Being adept at something is to be expert and proficient at it. I have found that if you don’t know these 5 key things, you will not be a successful manager and that’s that!

Become adept at 5 things: finance, selling, presenting, negotiating, and business communications.

Finance. I don’t care if you manage engineering, HR, IT, sales, whatever, you need to learn about finance. Why? Because that’s how companies are run and how business works. Period.

Selling. To sell your own programs internally you have to learn how to open doors, help constituents and peers to make informed decisions, and close deals.

Presenting. It’s hard to imagine your career going anywhere unless you can deliver an effective presentation. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t born with the presentation gene.

Negotiating. Negotiation skills are critical to resolving conflicts, driving consensus among peers and other key constituents, and developing your own career.

Communicating. Great managers are also great communicators; it’s a critical success skill. Unfortunately, they don’t teach you about business communications in school.

I have found one of the key things I have had to work on is becoming better at finance. It helps that my boss is our CFO and understands how to run our company. I would all to finance that in order to become adept at finance you need to understand Excel. It makes everything easier and I think that it makes the world go round!

What have you found that you need to be adept at in order to be a successful manager?

Here is a link to the original article – http://www.bnet.com/blog/ceo/aspiring-managers-learn-to-behave-like-adults/2833

insurancecampusorg-logoI recently commented in the “Social Media Study Group” of the InsuranceCampus.org social site when someone asked what were some best practices that people had found for using social media in the insurance industry. There were some great comments on his question and I felt like I could add some value and so I posted my comment below.

socialmediastudygroup1I wanted to add to the discussion a little. Social Media is a medium where, if you get involved, your company becomes very transparent. Let me explain.

If you use it merely as an extension to your marketing then those you connect with will see that you are only interest in pushing marketing messages to them and not socializing with them. That is what marketing is, a message pushed out to an audience in hopes of influencing their behavior. People are instantly turned off by this and it can be very harmful to your business.

If you use social media to just connect and chat with people, it might help you to build those relationships with your clients and prospects but it will be a huge time suck. You will get caught up in conversations that will last for days and there will not be any business value added whatsoever.

What I have found to be the best use of social media so far is to do a hybrid of the two approaches. Provide relevant content to those you connect with and show them the social, or human side or your company. Relevant content includes new rates to help them save money, industry news that might affect their policies or added products and services that will enhance their security. Showing your connections the human side of your agency involves talking to them by asking questions or listening to what they have to say and providing insights and answers to their questions and conversations.

I am by no means an expert, just some of the things I have seen that work and don’t work.

What have you have you found that works in social media?

I am currently in an undertaking to reform our email marketing program after 2 years of trial and mostly error.email
It is a long but rewarding road. I have been scouring the web for articles, resources and experts. I have found a ton. Some that I like and some that have just been a time sucker. I will share them in other upcoming posts.

What sticks out to me right now is this -

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!

I’m not sure how else to say it….

Here are a couple of tools to help you know your audience and tailor your email marketing plan to them.

esp-logoCheck these guys out. They are doing great work trying to test out the different clients and see what flys with each. In particular see their page on the acid test. The test was done in ’07 but go to their Facebook Fan Page and join the discussion about getting the ’09 test underway.

fingerprint-logoSpeaking of email clients, do you wonder what email clients your subscribers are using? This service, fingerprint, gives you a piece of code to put in your emails and it will tell you which email clients your subscribers are using. I just signed up and can’t wait to see which ones are being used.

limitus-logo-white1
pvlogoEmail testing isn’t a new concept but some people still aren’t doing it. You can sign up for every email client out there and send to each account or you can use services like litmus or Pivotal Veracity. These guys have their act together and give you fast reliable results.

These are just a couple of things I found in the last couple of days. This is the intro to a more in depth look at email testing and optimization. I want to give you the tools to create an effective and in most cases a low cost email marketing program.

Stay tuned!

Thanks to derrickkwa for the email pic and the my friends over at email standards project, fingerprint, litmus & Pivotal Veracity.

This is a great interview Anil Batra does with the CEO of Webtrends Alex Yoder. He speaks about the 2 things he focused on in his keynote at Engage ’09, Openess and Elegance.

Here is a link to Anil’s original post as well. Thanks Anil.

analytics-graphI had a great conversation on Twitter with @rotkapchen about analytics. She said something that not a lot of people get, but really should.

A behavior in isolation of an intent is a fact without context. If someone does something + U don’t know why U’ve got bupkis.

To elaborate a little. People often ask to look at numbers, having no end goal in mind. They hope these numbers will somehow spur a flash of insight that will give them that magic KPI, you know, the one that tells you you are making tons of money from one single thing. KPI’s are what we make them, they aren’t magic numbers we find. We define the goals of the site and we craft KPI’s. They will tell us if our site is performing the way we intended it to. If it isn’t then we optimize.

The other important piece of this pie is the fact that we need to understand our users’ intent. This is where it gets tricky but insanely fun if you do it right. We have metrics to help us see users click paths, eye tracking reports, heat maps and so on. These all aid in helping us understand the intent of our customers but it is up to us to make those inferences. We need to really know who we are talking to and if we know our audience then, from the numbers, we can tell what their intentions are.

This is called turning metrics into analytics.

Photo courtesy of dannysullivan

Something I’ve learned and relearned, and lately it has been drilled into my head, is that, as business partner to IT, when I am giving my vision for a project, I need to only be concerned with what I want to happen, not how it will get done. This is hard for me because I like the IT part of our company as well and I love to know how things work. But truly we need to leave the work of figuring out how things get done to those who have degrees and advanced understanding of how the technology should be implemented.

But this isn’t all. Once you have the the vision and you give a brain dump, and everyone can see what you are thinking, you have to write it down. If it’s not written down it didn’t happen. You have your vision, you collaborate with your team and then you write down, from your perspective, what you want to happen.

This document is not meant to be the end all but it should be in a place where everyone can reference it at any time and where everyone will be able to contribute and make the document better. This is when true collaboration happens. Give it a try, I know I am going to be better at it.

transparencyTransparencyI recently joined a team to do a deep dive into creating buzz about our company and specifically looking into social media. I love what I’ve found. I’ve been able to connect with so many people that have actually helped me to learn and think. That’s when I started this blog. I wanted to get my thoughts down about those things that I am working on and thinking about. I have recommended blogs and other social sites to many of my colleague and friends. Now I know what everyone is doing all of the time. I know what one of my old college buddies is working on through LinkedIn. An ex-girlfriend found me on Facebook that I haven’t talked to in ages and I reconnected with some friends that I had in Junior High.

In trying to push social media to my coworkers and even incorporate it into some of our projects, I have had people say, “We don’t want them to know that about us!” Social media is something that is pretty new to a lot of people and companies. It creates a type of corporate transparency. If you have  a corporate blog then you are able to tell people what you are working on and they have the ability to talk back to you. They also have an avenue to tell you what they truly think about your company, good or bad.

Some people quiver at this. Why? If you don’t have somewhere that your customer base can go to and give you feedback, they will give it to you anyways and probably in places you may or may not know about. They’ll jump on Twitter and tweet to all of their followers just what they think of you. Most of the time it won’t be pretty and you will have just fueled the fire. You are telling your customers that you don’t care enough to let them tell you what they think.

It’s easy to create a blog, just check our WordPress or Blogger. It’s a piece of cake to put up a form that your customers can submit their questions and comments to you. You really have no reason not to do it, unless that is, you are worried what people will say. If that’s the case, maybe you outta rethink things. If you aren’t transparent then you are opaque. You have to be one or the other. If you don’t have the transparent mediums in place for your customers then, by default, you’re opaque.

Give it a try, put up a blog or a Facebook fan page and see what people say. Come on back and let me know what your experience was.

Photo by urbanshoregirl

Give it to me straight!

I’m a marketer that has struggled with the fact that my job is marketing.

When you turn on the TV or open up your favorite magazine you see my work. I make things look so good that you just have to buy them. I tell you what is so cool about product X and I tell you what will happen if you wait to buy it- you won’t be cool anymore and you will most likely have a horrible, unlived life and certainly die!

But I struggle with this because that is not how I want to be marketed to at all. I want the facts and nothing but the facts. I want to see all of the options of product X and then I want you to leave me alone while I go ask my friends and family what they think about it, how they react when I tell them I might own one, and then I jump online to see if the price is what everyone else is paying and what they think about it. That’s how I want to be marketed to.

I was brainstorming with my team on a particular project and we were trying to come up with some copy for a newspaper ad, flyer and postcard. Some said, “No, we don’t want to say that. It sounds too much like what we are trying to do with the seminar.” My jaw dropped, shouldn’t that be what we say then? I am as guilty as the rest of my team. I was on that same path with them, but as soon as I realized that we were saying everything but what the seminar was actually about, I quickly turned the session in another direction. We all agreed that we need to tell it like it is and let people know what it is up front and if they want to come, they will.

You see, if we would have gone down the path of telling them all the cool stuff it isn’t, then the when they got to the seminar they would be very disappointed and they would never have an affinity to our company no matter how useful we know our seminar is.

People are not as dumb as we think they are. And if they are, they will jump online and get all the info they need from their tribe, to use Seth’s term. It’s the golden rule of marketing, “Market unto others as you would want to be marketed to.” There is no way you will be able to lie to anyone and you certainly would not want to be lied to. You just want the facts, so you better give them the facts.

Photo courtesy of jemefi171

That’s why I like social media, you get to know what people are saying about everything. Last night was a perfect example of my obsession with needing to know what people are saying.

Twitter FollowsOn my 2 hour commute home I was on Twitter helping out a friend with Google Analytics. Then I got home, jumped back on Twitterand I got invited to a Skype chat room where I met some great, like-minded people. We talked about Facebook and FriendFeed and why we use both. My wife ripped me off of the computer to watch a movie and then I went to bed. I woke up with my son in the middle of the night to feed him and decided to jumped back on Twitter since I was awake. I spent a good hour and a half talking with my friends in the UK and Australia. I finally knocked out and when I woke up it had snowed, which is unheard of here in the Seattle area. Then I remembered, I forgot to watch the news, but hey, I knew what my friends in the UK were up to!

I find it quite refreshing to connect with people all over the world and get their point of view on anything from the latest movies to the most effective marketing techniques. But I have learned, like many others – Robert Scoble for one, that it isn’t the size of your following but who you follow. Whether it is on Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, LinkedIn or any of the other social sites and blogs, you choose who you follow and that determines the kind of knowledge you will acquire and share with others. Right now, I can tell you how all my Twitter buddies are doing but I have no idea what the weather is going to be like tomorrow.

You are only as informed as those you associate with.

If you like to know what people are saying, make sure you are following the right people. They should add value to your conversations and make you think. I’m going to take a closer look at the people I follow on Twitter, because who knows, I might have some random Twitter Stalker!

Who do you follow that has really helped you take your thinking to the next level?