Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Click here to enter text

Thursday, October 12th, 2017 | Business & Marketing

I’m not sure Leeds City Council have quite mastered this marketing thing yet…

How reliable is MailChimp tracking?

Saturday, September 30th, 2017 | Business & Marketing

When you send an email newsletter with a provider such as MailChimp, Aweber, etc, they give you a report on who opens your emails. But how accurate are these numbers?

I had the opportunity to test this recently.

It’s good practice to clear your email list periodically because email providers use open rates to access whether your email is spam or not. So, if you have a lot of old, inactive addresses on your list, or it’s going into people’s spam box and they’re not seeing it, it is a good idea to remove them so that it does not affect email delivery to the people who are reading your emails.

How I tested it

For two lists I had, I created a segment who had not opened the last five emails we sent them.

I then sent these people an email saying “are you receiving this?”, inviting people who still wanted to receive the email me back. Anyone who did this would indicate that the numbers are not accurate.

Here are the results…

West Yorkshire Humanists

We had 120 people on the list. 36 had not interacted with the last five campaigns.

Of those, 11% read and 6% clicked the email. This suggests that people are receiving my regular emails but choosing not to read them.

An additional four people emailed me to say they wanted to continue to receive the email. This suggests that the tracking statistics are out by a significant amount. This is because this is just the people who were bothered to email me back; how many were in the same situation but didn’t bother to?

Anxiety Leeds

We had 256 people on the list. 100 had not interacted with the last five campaigns.

7 people emailed me to say they would like to continue receiving the emails.

Again, this is probably only a selection of the people who are receiving the emails and not being tracked.

Conclusion

The open rate tracking provided by MailChimp, and likely other email providers, is a useful guide to see campaign to campaign. However, it does not seem to be an accurate measure of who exactly is reading your email because many people are reading them but not reporting as having done so in the reports.

The Wizard of Ads

Saturday, August 12th, 2017 | Books

The Wizard of Ads: Turning Words into Magic and Dreamers into Millionaires is a book by Roy H. Williams.

My current series of blog posts is a clearing out and putting to bed of all the books I have half-finished. Typically, when I start a book, I finish it. But Napoleon’s Hill’s Think and Grow Rich has inspired me to give up on a bad book.

The Wizard of Ads is somewhat more interesting. But the trouble is that I have now read most of it and I am still not sure what it is about. I think it is about marketing and advertising. But the author jumps around so much that it is almost impossible to follow his chain of thought.

Indeed, there may be done. There is no real structure to the book. It is a collection of anecdotes that Williams thinks will be useful to marketers.

And they are. There is a lot of gems to be gleaned from this book. Including:

  • People are always thinking: get their attention by giving them someone more interesting.
  • Don’t train your customers to wait for a sale
  • Tell a customer what they already know or suspect. They will believe you.
  • Save people time, not money.
  • Great presentation will cause people to buy emotionally.
  • Make people feel good, don’t point out problems.

But the lack of structure of clear theme to the book making the whole thing rambling and confusing. The religious references also get tedious.

The most controversial aspect of the book is probably that Williams rejects targeting and sales it is all in the copy. This goes against what most marketers teach. Indeed, it even goes against what Gary Halbert teaches in The Boron Letters: “more than anything, give me a list of qualified buyers”.

It does have a fun title, though.

How universities stack the value

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017 | Thoughts

I see a lot of online marketers saying “$20,000 for university is a total waste of money. You don’t learn anything. Buy my course for $2,000 instead.” Ignoring the obvious bias they have, it is worth considering why universities still manage to sell their courses and what we can learn from it.

University is a product

When it comes down to it, universities are selling a course. And they are expensive. £9,000 per year in the UK and way more in the US. But university admissions are not going down. Tuition fees are not putting people off. Nearly half of people in the UK will go to university.

On the flip side, you have something like Ramit Sethi’s Zero To Launch programme. It costs over $2,000. I am going to use ZTL as an example, as Sethi is a classic case of what I am talking about, but many other marketers are saying the same things: university is pointless, you need to go to the school of life / hard knocks / whatever.

A common tactic is to compare their info product against a university degree, claiming that their course is more relevant and far cheaper.

But universities stack the value

Where this falls down, though, is that universities are doing something that professional marketers do all of the time: stack the value. They punch so much value into a degree that you would have to be stupid not to buy it.

Universities essentially offer the best info product ever. Here is how. Again, I will compare it to Sethi’s course, but I am not trying to specifically pick on him, lots of marketers are doing the same thing.

The core offer

Your contact time at university depends on your course. Some have more, some have less. I had around 20 hours a week, but I know some history students had 10. Let’s average it out to 15. The academic year is quite short, so let’s say 30 weeks. That is 450 hours of contact time.

That is a lot. This is real in person lecturing and at a good university you are getting it from the leading researchers around the world.

When you do Zero To Launch you get pre-recorded content from Sethi. It’s not interactive and you cannot ask questions. And you do not get 450 hours of it.

But what, there’s more

You also get assigned a personal tutor and get to meet with them for an hour per week. That is 30 hours of consulting per year.

Mike Dillard brags about charging $2,500 per hour for consulting. I’m not sure how much Ramit Sethi charges for his time, but I imagine it’s a lot. In fact, this alone will probably cover the entire value of your tuition fees, even in the US.

Bonus 1: Facilities

You have signed up for an info product and they have made a custom user area to watch the videos in. Great.

My university had two 24-hour computer labs. And access to the White Rose supercomputer grid. And that was just for the computing students. We had labs, including an underground bombproof one for the chemists, lasers, psychology labs, a driving simulator, 3D printers, a selection of theatres for the drama students, etc, etc. Stuff you just cannot get access to elsewhere without a massive amount of money.

Bonus 2: Libraries

Your info product comes with downloadable PDF notes. Cool.

My university has seven libraries, not counting the departmental-run specialist libraries. They have over 2,000,000 items in their collections. And their computer systems get you unlimited free access to thousands of research journals that you would otherwise be paying $30 per article to access. Saving you thousands of pounds right there.

Bonus 3: Community

Your info product comes with a Facebook group. Genuinely useful.

But it doesn’t compare to being dropped into a group of 100-150 peers, all as passionate about the topic as you are. Just turning up to university gets you surrounded by clever people. There is a reason that Google, Facebook and Microsoft all came out of universities: clever people met there and founded companies together. It’s the perfect melting pot for mastermind groups.

Bonus 4: Support

In case you were not already convinced, universities also come with athletics facilities (free or subsidies), a student’s union (discount beer), physical and mental health services, careers advice, and many other student services.

What does it add up to?

Feature Value
450 hours of lectures, which is like attending a conference, which might provide 15 hours of talks for $2,000, but 30 times over. $60,000
30 hours of coaching at $2,000 per hour $60,000
Access to specialist labs and equipment $10,000
Access to academic libraries and journals $2,000
Mastermind group of peers $5,000
An endless array of pastoral support, benefits and other facilities $5,000
Total value $142,000

Conclusion

The reason that people buy online marketing programmes at $1,500 per time, rather than a $10 eBook, is because these courses stack so much value that they make it worth it.

The reason universities can and do charge ten times more than this is because they stack the value even more: to the point where it simply incomparible to anything else.

Why would you advertise for people people?

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 | Business & Marketing

This is the second of two blog posts about billboards. Life does not get any more exciting than this. Read part one here.

I ran up the canal. And for a long time, there was a First Direct billboard half way up my route that said: “people people wanted”. Every week I told myself I should take a photo of it. Finally, after a month, I resolved that this would be the day. So, I ran up there, pulled out my camera and… it had gone.

However, I recently saw this advert at the train station and it will illustrate my point just as well.

The headline reads…

Good with people? Then you’ll be great with us.

In both of these instances, it could be that they are just looking to drive some recruitment there way. And to an extent, it is. But there must be far more cost-effective ways of finding people than a billboard that targets everybody. Most people have a job, for example, and don’t work in customer services.

However, these advertisements serve a secondary purpose.

They are also value signalling. Not only do they advertise for friendly customer service people but they also say to everyone who reads it “why not come and bank with us – we care about getting friendly staff on board.”

Few people are people people looking to move into a different customer services role. But everybody would like a bank with friendlier customer services.

How Tesco created a brilliant billboard

Thursday, June 1st, 2017 | Business & Marketing

This image was on a billboard. You’ll have to take my word for it: it was on the inner ring road and being the responsible driver I am, I resisted the temptation to take a photo while driving at 40 mph (yes, of course I was only doing 40, officer).

But I had to post a (badly recreated) picture because it is brilliant marketing.

Why? Because the art of marketing is not about making a brilliant product and then finding some people to sell it to. It is about finding a problem that people have and designing a product to fix it.

And if you want to do it well, you have to zone in one particular pain point. Focus right in on the problem people are having and drive home that you have the solution.

What problem does almost every parent with a young child have? Trying to eat dinner. It’s impossible. Venla will not tolerate other people eating. I can’t remember the last time Elina and I ate at the same time because one of us has to bounce a baby.

Your best hope, indeed, your only hope, is to design food you can eat one handed. We don’t design around taste, or flavour, or type of cuisine: we optimise our menu for what we can eat one handed.

And Tesco has zeroed on on a problem that every young family faces and said “come buy food from us and your problem will be fixed.”

GetResponse review

Sunday, May 28th, 2017 | Business & Marketing, Tech

I use MailChimp for a lot of my projects. However, while it is awesome for most things, it does lack in automation. There are workflows, but they are pretty straight forward and linear affairs with no tagging: the only action is to send another email. There is no flow chart style interface, either.

So, I have been exploring other options. The first one I picked up is GetResponse. It is very reasonably priced in comparison to its competition with the basic package starting at $15 per month. Their site says, $10, but it’s actually £10 plus VAT, which is £12, which translates to $15.56 at time of writing.

Interface and workflow

I found the interface a little confusing. I was trying to edit my campaigns, for example. This is not in the menu. You have to click a little cog next to the campaigns drop-down. This shouldn’t be a big thing, but it took me ages to find it, and it was infuriating.

I also found the workflow a little confusing. You have to create a draft message. But then when you try and drag it into a workflow, it pops up a little box saying it has to copy it to the automation folder. Then I have two copies of the message. What is going on here?

And if you want to use Google Analytics integration, you can’t do that through automation. You have to use the newsletter editing screen and copy the message over to automation.

When you click exit on editing a message, you go back to the homepage, rather than the messages page. Again, not a huge thing, but it feels like the workflow for someone using it in the real world could use more attention (MailChimp isn’t brilliant at this, either).

The automation builder itself is really nice. You can drag and drop elements onto the page, such as messages or decisions, and configure the output easily. There are lots of options including tracking opens, clicks and specific link clicks, and re-arrange and add elements to your heart’s content.

Message editor

The editor itself is okay. It lets me edit the HTML directly, which I like. However, you have to generate a plain text version manually. There is a “Copy HTML” button, but this does not bring in the paragraphs, which you then have to fix manually. It doesn’t handle links very well either, in my opinion.

I could never get the inbox preview to work, but the test emails arrived soon enough.

User management and API

The user system and API are where I really struggled with GetResponse, though. You are unable to add tags to a user when you create them. This is frustrating when someone joins by making a purchase because you want to tag them with that purchase straight away.

You might think “oh, well I’ll have to create the user, then query for that user ID, then tag them, making three requests to the API. It’s not ideal, but it will work.” Except it won’t work. Because users are not added to your list in real-time. They are done via a queue. So if you query for a user immediately after creating them, they won’t be there.

They have a PHP library for the API, but it needs some work. It typecasts everything as an object. Even the arrays. So you end up with things like:

stdObject->0

PHP doesn’t allow this, so you have to JSON encode the object, and then JSON decode it to get back to:

stdObject->{"0"}

Even if you could add tags, there is no screen to allow you to manage them.

Support & live chat

They do offer 24/7 live chat. This was a mixed bag. The first time I spoke to them they confirmed there was no tag management screen and that they did not support the API, so would not be able to answer my question about that.

The second time I spoke to them was when their message editor was playing up. I was trying to edit the HTML, and every time it broke. It turns out that unless you select “HTML editor” when you first create the message, you are stuck. I had started with a template, and there is no way to switch. So I had to create a new message and copy it in. It was difficult to get the message across to the support agent, but eventually, we found ourselves on the same page and sorted out the issue.

Other problems

Copying things over is more difficult than it seems. GetResponse uses the session to track what message you are editing. This means that if you open one message, and then a second, it things you are editing the second message on both screens.

Let me explain this with a scenario:

  • I have message A, and I want to copy over the content from message B
  • I open message A
  • I open message B and copy and paste the content to message A
  • I click “save” on message A to save the new content
  • GetResponse thinks I am editing message B and overwrites the content of message B, ignoring message A

I lost a lot of content before I realised this. Luckily, I had backups on my computer.

And in case you’re thinking an easy way to avoid this would be to duplicate message B and then edit it, think again: there is no duplicate functionality.

Getting people into an automation workflow can be tough. You can filter what happens based on custom fields. However, this doesn’t work on the initial subscription: it only works when you go in and edit the custom field of the user. Which is not very automated.

Other features

GetResponse also offers landing pages, webinars and some other stuff. I watched a webinar about their webinars, but I haven’t tried any of these systems because I just want the mailing list functionality. It might be great.

Summary

I love GetResponse’s automation builder. The drag and drop interface makes it easy to create an email sequence that follows what people do and delivers them relevant messages. It is powerful and shows you how many people are at each point.

But that is where my love ends. Coming from MailChimp, where everything is beautiful and works well, GetResponse has a lot of issues. There are so many problems that working with it becomes infuriating, undoing much of the power that the automation functionality should be adding in.

Ultimately, you can launch a simple automation workflow that is more advanced than MailChimp. However, there are so many bugs, dead-ends and limits to what would otherwise be a great tool, that you don’t get much advantage.

How much does all the marketing tools cost you?

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 | Business & Marketing

Marketing is an expensive business. There are so many invaluable tools out there that you need. Of course, they do in fact all have a value. And a price. How much would it cost to get all of them? Find out below.

But to spoil the ending: the answer is a lot. Even if you are writing your own copy, doing your own graphic design, doing all of the content, emailing, admin yourself, the cost of all the tools alone is significant. And this doesn’t include stuff like web hosting, CDNs and other “technical” things.

I have listed the marketing tools that people talk about a lot. There are many others, of course, and some of these are specific: you may not do webinars, for example. But many marketers do, so I’ve included it.

Market research

Service Cost
Semrush $79 per month
Alexa $50 per month
Ahrefs $99 per month
Moz $99 per month
Buzzsumo $99 per month

Content production

Service Cost
Piktochart $29 per month
Wistia $99 per month
WebinarJam $397 per year

Free alternatives: YouTube Live gives you everything you need to do a webinar, including recording it.

Content posting

Service Cost
Meet Edgar $79 per month
Buffer $9 per month
EverWebinar $497 per year

Free alternatives: Buffer has a free plan. Recurpost does the same thing as Meet Edgar.

Facebook marketing

Service Cost
Many Chat $15 per month
AdExpresso $49 per month

Free alternatives: Many Chat has a free plan with branding. You can just manage your ads yourself using the Facebook Power Editor.

Email marketing

Service Cost
Infusionsoft $199 per month
MailChimp $10 per month
Aweber $19 per month
ConvertKit $29 per month
GetResponse $15 per month
Drip $49 per month

Free alternatives: MailChimp has a free plan.

Landing pages

Service Cost
Lead Pages $37 per month
ClickFunnels $97 per month
Unbounce $49 per month

Opt-in tools

Service Cost
Hello Bar $4.95 per month
OptinMonster $19 per month

Free alternatives: Hello Bar as a free plan.

Session recording

Service Cost
Crazy Egg $108 per year

Free alternatives: Inspectlet and FullStory both have free plans.

Summary

Some marketers have a lot of these tools: maybe one from each category. Others seem to have ALL of them. And the prices I have listed here are just the cheapest paid plans. Semrush, for example, starts at $79 per month. But if you want to track all o your websites, you will be looking at around $500 per month.

Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that people are spending thousands of dollars per month on marketing tools. And for the big marketers, they are spending tens of thousands.

If you are bringing home the bacon, it is money well spent. If you are just starting out, try the free alternatives I have listed.

Contagious

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 | Books

In Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Burger lays out his research on why some content goes viral and other content does not.

Triggers

Clever ads may get people talking in the short term. But what goes people talking in the long term? Burger argues you need a trigger.

For example, we’ve all taken the piss out of Rebecca Black’s song “Friday”. And Burger goes, too. But he also notes that it gets an incredible amount of views. Almost all of which happen on one day each week. Can you guess which one?

What is going on here? Once a week, it’s Friday. And it being Friday triggers your memory of how awful the song was. And you go watch it on YouTube.

This triggering is going on all over the place. For example, where you vote (school, church, etc.) affects how you vote.

Good advertising campaigns take advantage of this, too. For example “Have a break, have a KitKat”. Every time you have a break… Or Budweiser’s “what’s up” every time you answer the phone.

It needs to be something you run into commonly. For example, using a holiday as a trigger would be a bad idea because it comes around only once a year. Using the weekend as a trigger: much better.

It also needs to arrive at a relevant time. For example, a public service message about the importance of bathmats that shows someone slipping is of little use. Why? Because you can’t buy a bathmat when you step out of the shower. They need to slip when they are in a Bed, Bath & Beyond store.

Grow your environment

You can make your market larger, with the right message. For example, Boston Chicken. They could run an advert that said:

“Thinking about chicken? Think Boston Chicken.”

Fine. It might well capture a lot of the market for people looking for chicken. But how about:

“Thinking about dinner? Think Boston Chicken.”

Now you have cued people to think about Boston Chicken for dinner every time they drive home. Much better.

Emotion

In general, positive messages work better than negative ones. However, the situation is more complex than that. People share stories that are high arousal. This can be both positive and negative.

For example, awe and delight cause sharing. If something is amazing or really funny, you are far more likely to share it. Whereas contentment and sadness are low arousal emotions: they don’t inspire you to do anything.

On the negative side, there are two emotions that do promote arousal: anxiety and anger.

What is interesting about arousal is that you can artificially create it. If you have people do moderate exercise or jump up and down, and then look at their Facebook feed, they are more likely to share stories.

Social proof

People like to do what other people do. This is most evident in bad public service messages. “Say No To Drugs”, for example, reinforced the message that drug use was common and that all the cool kids were doing it.

Similarly, using the slogan “only 37% of people pay for music” encourages people to steal music because they feel like an idiot for buying it when everyone else is getting it from Napster.

“When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.”

In the case of products, they need to be publicly visible to catch on. Toothpaste doesn’t usually go viral, for example. Whereas Apple’s iconic headphones did because everyone could see other people wearing them.

Practical value

People love to share things that provide practical value. Why? Association. They look smarter by sharing useful knowledge with other people. It gives them social currency.

While a silly meme may get traction in the short-term, a brilliant how-to will get milage for a long time because people will see the value in it and keep sharing.

Harnessing the value for your brand

To get value out of viral content [as a business], you need to make your brand integral to the story. For example, Golden Casino or whatever they are called sponsor a lot of stuff. But you can tell a story about someone buying a jar of air without mentioning their brand.

Contrast that with Will It Blend. We share this because it’s awe-inspiring to see a blender crush up iPhones, lighters and marbles. But, critically, you can’t tell the story without talking out the blender. And Blendtec benefits.

How to Write a Good Advertisement

Monday, May 8th, 2017 | Books, Business & Marketing

In How To Write A Good Advertisement: A Short Course in Copywriting Victor O. Schwab lays out a systematic approach to writing killer ads. That process is:

  1. Grab attention
  2. Show them the advantage
  3. Prove it
  4. Persuade people to grasp this advantage
  5. Ask for action

Each section is broken down into individual chapters. There are a lot of examples. In fact, one of the earlier chapters is just a list of a hundred effective headlines.

There is a lot of useful information in here. More importantly, it is presented in a logical narrative without the distraction of jumping around or confusing diversions.