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Synergy5280 https://synergy5280.com Inspiring Connections in Denver and Beyond Mon, 08 Sep 2014 19:24:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 https://synergy5280.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/cropped-icon-square-32x32.jpg Synergy5280 https://synergy5280.com 32 32 Resources for Investors and Entrepreneurs https://synergy5280.com/resources-for-investors-and-entrepreneurs/ Mon, 08 Sep 2014 19:24:44 +0000 http://synergy5280.com/?p=164 Read more]]> My journey has allowed me the privilege of having many conversations with Investors and Entrepreneurs about the Denver/Boulder Investor and startup market. With Entrepreneurs, the question comes up a lot: “Where and how do I start looking for Investors, and what should I show them?” The answer is dynamic, however, I’ve listed some of the groups and resources I’ve discovered to date below. If you have any to add or have comments about anything I’ve listed below, please leave a comment and let me know!

First, I want to share a few ground rules I live by.

  1. Don’t exclude a resource such as Naturally Boulder because you’re not in Boulder, or not in the Natural Food space. More often than not, these events and programs have people attending that are interested in collaborating and networking regardless of the industry. They also often have educational events such as pitch events that are relevant and valuable even if you’re not in their space.
  2. Join Twitter, even if it’s just to follow and not to post. Brad Feld and other active Investors and Entrepreneurs in the startup world will post articles, events, and points of inspiration on their twitter feeds. I spend at least 15-30 minutes a day reviewing my twitter feed and using it as my industry news source and inspiration. I will write a separate post on how to use Twitter to your advantage. But don’t fall into the “I don’t tweet” trap.
  3. Use LinkedIn and make sure your profile is up to date. I think using LinkedIn is worthy of an article in itself, but most professionals will go to your LinkedIn account to research you and determine if they want to talk to you. Reed Hoffman wrote this great summary on using LinkedIn as a powerful networking tool. This slide share will take you 10 minutes to review. Do it, it’s worth it.

Now to the meat of this article — Resources (listed in no particular order)… Keep in mind that some of these resources are focused on immersing yourself in the Denver/Boulder startup community, but see above points on why this is just as important.

  • First and foremost, Elizabeth Kraus (LinkedIn / Twitter) does a great job of articulating and providing instruction around what Angel investors are looking for from Entrepreneurs. Elizabeth’s website is one of the best resources out there. In her article: Pitching to Angel Investors | A Slide by Slide Guide, Elizabeth outlines exactly what content investors want to see and what to put on each slide. Don’t miss the other resources and Events listed on The Impact Angel Group website. Elizabeth and Sue have also just launched a Women’s Accelerator program called MergeLane that will be one to watch.
  • Naturally Boulder has great networking resources and pitch events. Make sure to sign up for their newsletter. Website | Twitter
  • Built in Colorado has done an awesome job of crowdsourcing and creating original content and resources focused on the Colorado startup market. Website | Twitter
  • Brad Feld and The Foundry Group lead the Boulder startup and Investor market and have done a great job sharing their knowledge. If you’re new to the funding world, Brad and Jason’s Venture Deals book is a must read. Their companion site Ask the VC, is packed with resources such as how to build a term sheet and many, many other great resources for the Entrepreneur.
  • Rockies Venture Club events are a must attend for the Denver Investor and Entrepreneur. They have a variety of classes for Entrepreneurs such as How to Build a Pitch Deck that are great if you are literally just putting yours together. They also offer classes for Investors on topics such as How to Perform Due Diligence. Many Denver and Boulder Angel Investors and Entrepreneurs attend their annual Angel Capital Summit. This event is definitely worth attending to see what and how others are pitching, what Investors are interested in, and meet others in the space.
  • Open Angel Forum: This is an invite-only forum where a handful of companies are selected to pitch. It is held twice a year, once in the Spring and once in the Fall. The next OAF is October 28th. Companies can apply to present here.

These are just a sampling of resources. Keep an eye out on my Resources Page and section for updates.

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Tips to Refine Your Investor Presentations https://synergy5280.com/tips-to-refine-your-investor-presentations-3/ Fri, 25 Jul 2014 17:56:24 +0000 http://synergy5280.com/?p=29 Read more]]> Tips to Refine Your Investor Presentations

Colorado’s startup economy is booming. How can you get your share? As an operations consultant for The Impact Angel Group, I’ve had the privilege of attending several pitch events and have seen about 40 startup pitches in the last 60 days, almost all from Colorado companies. I’ve also talked day and night with entrepreneurs, investors, and the business community about new ventures. My tip series for successful startups is built of those discussions.

Below is Part 1: Nail Your Pitch to Investors in 10 Minutes or Less.

Colorado is buzzing with new energy and new money. Incubators, accelerators and funds are emerging. Best of all, angels are investing.

Blackstone Capital, Boomtown, Galvanize and the Colorado Impact Fund are leading the way to bring new companies to Colorado. The environment reminds me of my days in Silicon Valley in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Now it’s happening in my hometown. I couldn’t be giddier. But even with all of this activity, not every startup walks away with funding. How can you increase your chances? It begins with a good opening to your pitch session.

Most investors will tell you that they’ve decided whether they want a second meeting with you after the first 10 minutes. The pitches I’ve seen range from 8 to 20 minutes. The bottom line: No matter how long your pitch is, you need to nail it in the first 10 minutes, or you won’t get to first base.

Let’s face it: If you have a good idea, it’s YOUR idea. You are so passionate (crazy?) that you quit your job and mortgaged your house to start your company. If you are that passionate about your product (and you should be!), knock that off when you start your presentation, and move on quickly.

I’ve seen entrepreneurs spend too many of those valuable 10 minutes trying to suck us into the passion of their pitches instead of showing us your business acumen and persuading us that you can run the company.

Yes, establishing an initial connection with the audience and letting them know what lit the fire in your heart is extremely important! Just do it in 2 minutes, and move on.

Never forget: Practice, practice, practice! A lot of would-be entrepreneurs stumble here. If you can’t speak comfortably to an audience WITHOUT reading from your slides, you look as if you can’t run a company. Suck at presenting? Have someone on your leadership team do it, but set up opportunities to chime in. Investors like to see how teams work together. Your pitch is a good opportunity to do that.

Out of the 40 pitches I’ve seen, many them have secured some sort of funding. It’s true that I’m seeing companies that are in their later stages of fundraising, but Built in Colorado stats agree: “the amount of funding raised in the first half of 2014 totals $281 million, a 56 percent increase over the first half of 2013”. I hope you’re next!

Next Tip: Resources to Help Entrepreneurs Create a Solid Pitch and Make Connections

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Your Email Strategy Needs A Spring Cleaning: Top 10 Insights From This Winter’s Email Conferences (Part 2) https://synergy5280.com/your-email-strategy-needs-a-spring-cleaning-top-10-insights-from-this-winters-email-conferences-part-2/ Fri, 07 Mar 2014 21:18:25 +0000 http://synergy5280.com/?p=108 Read more]]> In my last post, I discussed five key insights I gleaned from attending both the Email Insider Summit (#mpeis) and the Email Evolution Conference  (#eec14) this winter.

Now, as promised, I’d like to focus specifically on what I heard regarding subject lines and how you can optimize them for maximum deliverability.

Here’s what the latest research shows:

  1. Personalization increases opens. For years now, I’ve seen study after study conclude that consumers want a more customized brand experience –and results announced at the conferences this winter were no different. That’s why solutions like Teradata’s Digital Messaging Center have become so essential for major brands around the world. Digital Messaging Center increases the rate of conversion for each messaging campaign because it allows you to send personalized dynamic content to maximize every digital consumer interaction. (Plus, it enables real-time content modifications by leveraging your enterprise data warehouse.)
  2. “Quirky” can work. A few brands are experimenting with off-beat subject lines –fewer than 10 characters, Unicode symbols, etc. –and in some cases, they’re having good success. However, from what I’ve seen, outcomes can vary considerably, so as always . . .
  3. You need to test, test, test. We all know that our customers are bombarded with marketing messages (and other digital distractions) 24/7, every day. If you want to cut through all that noise, don’t leave anything to chance. Test your subject lines. Track results. Learn what works –and what doesn’t –with the specific audiences you need to reach. Teradata Digital Messaging Center has an embedded feature called “Smart Stats” to help you do this.
  4. Avoid words that freak people out. No surprise here. Fewer and fewer consumers are responding to words like “alert” and “urgent.” (You’ll find other words to avoid in my earlier post, Dos And Don’ts For Email Subject Lines.)
  5. Consistency rules. I know I discussed consistency in my last post, but because it’s so important, I need to mention it again. Now that email is emerging as the “prime mover” (i.e., the place where many customers begin their path to purchase), you need to establish credibility and build trust with messages that are not only relevant, but also cohesive. Check and double-check to make sure your subject line relates to the body of email, that your email correlates to the information available at your website, and so on. Your goal should always be to create a great customer experience . . . and to do that, all touchpoints –whether online or offline –must be compelling, integrated and consistent.

This is the perfect time to take a careful look at your email strategy and identify areas in need of a spring cleaning.

What are the biggest email challenges you face? Please leave a comment below.

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Your Email Strategy Needs A Spring Cleaning: Top 10 Insights From This Winter’s Email Conferences (Part 1) https://synergy5280.com/your-email-strategy-needs-a-spring-cleaning-top-10-insights-from-this-winters-email-conferences-part-1/ Wed, 19 Feb 2014 21:19:50 +0000 http://synergy5280.com/?p=110 Read more]]> Wow! The past few months have been such a whirlwind . . . In December, I closed the books on Q4, celebrated the holidays and attended the Email Insider Summit (#mpeis) in Utah. After that, I was off to the Email Evolution Conference  (#eec14) in sunny Miami –which, after the winter we’ve been having, proved to be a welcome change of scenery.

It’s always great to attend conferences like these and re-connect with friends, colleagues and leaders in the industry, especially @ddayman, @mparkerbyrd, @LorenMcdonald and @meladorri (to name just a few). But, as a member of the Email Experience Advisory Committee and “industry insider” myself, you know what I like best of all? The fact that at these events, competitors in both the vendor and brand space come together in a non-competitive way, eager to share their stories and collaborate on best practices and solutions.

These conferences were fun. They were informative. They were inspiring. And I have to say, over the past several weeks, the message I’ve heard loud and clear, again and again, is this:

Email is not dead.

In fact, it’s not even limping.

What I’m seeing now is that email is emerging as the “prime mover.” In other words, it’s the place where many customers begin their path to purchase.

So, as we move ahead to Q2 2014, do yourself a favor and take a careful look at your email strategy. Odds are, it’s time to reevaluate, reinvigorate, dust away some cobwebs and do some spring cleaning.

To help you along, here are my top ten insights from this winter’s email conferences:

  1. Consumers are now digital first, analog second. The customer experience has changed dramatically and you need to realize that now, it’s likely your customers are finding you first on a mobile device. As we heard from Jay Schwedelson (@worldata), 39% of emails that are NOT optimized for mobile are abandoned.
  2. Digital content must be optimized across all devices. Are you using responsive design?Responsive design is a smart coding technology that automatically adjusts layout based on the device used for viewing. Essentially, it ensures your content is delivered to customers where and how they want to consume it, and there were lots of conversations about ensuring that if you are optimizing your email campaigns for responsive design, that you should be using responsive design on your landing pages, as well. (And let me also stress this: Your email messages must be easy for customers to navigate –even from small screens.)
  3. Consistency rules. Landing pages that have the same primary image as the originating email, have an 18% overall conversion rate. (Again, h/t @worldata.)
  4. Every email must have a goal. Relevant. Useful. Customized. Timely. That’s why Teradata’s Digital Messaging Center is now a go-to resource for major brands around the world.
  5. Reactivating email users is an uphill climb. It’s a familiar complaint. This winter I’ve been hearing from marketers that the average reactivation rate is now a dismal 1-2%. IF they’re not active on email, then maybe you should consider reaching them through another channel?

Okay –those are tips 1-5. “But, what about subject lines? Is there any new research about subject lines?” I know, I know . . . Everyone’s clamoring for information about how to optimize subject lines –and that’s precisely why I’ll be devoting my next blog post entirely to that issue. Stay tuned . . .

And remember, you can hear additional detail about these tips and much, much more at the upcoming Teradata Marketing Summit. The Teradata team will be there to share our proven framework for deliverability to ensure maximum deliverability and campaign success.

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Five Ways to Grow Your Email List Right Now—And Keep It In Great Shape https://synergy5280.com/five-ways-to-grow-your-email-list-right-now-and-keep-it-in-great-shape/ Mon, 15 Jul 2013 21:12:32 +0000 http://synergy5280.com/?p=102 Read more]]> Depending on where you get your information, email marketing is either dead (maybe), on the way out (maybe) or very much alive. But regardless of where you land on that continuum, you’re probably willing to admit that many email marketers just don’t seem to get it right.

And of course, that’s why the ones who DO stand out from the crowd.

If you want to take advantage of all the benefits email marketing has to offer as an engagement resource, there are several ways to grow your list—and keep it healthy

Create a compelling opt-in. “Sign up for our newsletter” is straightforward, certainly. But, it begs several questions: “Why?” “What will I get?” “How often am I going to hear from you?” “Is there an immediate value for me?”

Your opt-in should:

  • start with an engaging headline or title.
  • indicate exactly what your subscriber will get (handy tips, monthly newsletter, special deals—or whatever you can consistently offer).
  • offer some sort of immediate value (a percentage off of their first purchase, a free sample with their next buy, a free consultation, etc.).

Put that opt-in everywhere. What should the top fold of your website, the footer at the bottom of your website, all of your product pages and all of your landing pages have in common? An opt-in form! No one should have to look far for an opportunity to sign up.

And don’t forget your social media platforms. Include a link to a page where potential subscribers can opt in from your Twitter page (or link to it in a Tweet). Facebook also makes it easy for you to create a contact form to encourage your followers to sign up.

Encourage sharing. Be sure to include a “send to a friend” link with each of your email messages, as well as social links to share the content of your email. Keep this content hosted on a page of your site (with an opt-in nearby, of course).

Offer targeted content to targeted audiences. Consider offering a series of subject-specific emails that your subscribers can sign up for, according to their interests. When they use your opt-in form, give them the choice of what types of content they wish to receive—in addition to your primary newsletter or email updates.

Let subscribers control their email experience. Do they want a variety of different emails? Fewer emails? Only emails that offer special deals or sale information? With each message you send out, give them the chance to click through and adjust what they receive. And remember to . . .

Give subscribers a simple way to opt out in each message. It may seem counterintuitive to show your subscribers the exit on their way in, but people feel better about receiving emails—and sharing them with others—if they know they’re the ones in control.

Whatever naysayers or fans might say about the life or death of email marketing, if you’re willing to work at providing value, email can still be a solid strategy for not only engaging new customers, but also staying on the radar of your existing ones.

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Can Marketers Do More With Social Media? https://synergy5280.com/can-marketers-do-more-with-social-media/ Mon, 01 Jul 2013 21:10:18 +0000 http://synergy5280.com/?p=100 Read more]]>

I think we all can agree that social media marketing is now a fact of life. But how a company chooses to use social media is still open to debate —and it seems everyone has an opinion to share.

Starting the conversation versus listening and responding

Marketers are used to choosing channels to push out messages. Traditionally, we use the channels our target audience responds to and push out the messages that work well within those channels. When a new channel emerges, there’s always a period of adjustment before best practices float to the top.

Social media is still in this debate stage, though savvy marketers have settled on a few key imperatives:

  • Listen to customers before you say anything.
  • Influence the conversation—don’t attempt to control it.
  • If you’re going to use a channel, monitor it regularly.
  • Have protocols in place to make responding easier.

All of these things can be tied to the reality that customers —not companies –“own” social media. Even if you delete comments or complaints on your own pages or accounts, you can’t stop folks from talking about you everywhere else. This is why many companies fear “starting the conversation” via social media. “What if no one wants to respond to us?”

And worse… what if the response is negative?

Sharing marketing messages via social: How far should companies go?

So, should companies simply respond to customers, or can they push out messages and perspectives via social channels, too? Many companies worry about looking like they’re “broadcasting,” megaphone-style, if they share advertising or marketing pitches… or even just fun content (albeit with a marketing twist).

The “no social marketing!” advocates often suggest that social channels work better for customer service, crisis management, market research, listening for concerns and overall customer sentiment. All of these are good things—but do they need to be the only things?

While the warnings against pushing out too much marketing undoubtedly saved a few companies from coming off like bullhorns, I feel the pendulum may have swung a bit far in some cases. Many studies have shown consumers don’t mind being marketed to if the pitch fits their particular needs/aesthetic and offers them real value.

And why miss out on the chance to communicate about your business when someone is listening?

Well, it depends.

When it comes to deciding how to use social media channels for your business, all the following factors need to be a part of the discussion:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • How are they using social channels?
  • What social channels are they using?
  • Which of your competitors are using social channels?
  • What are they doing that garners a great response?
  • What mistakes are they making?
  • What are people already saying about you on social channels?
  • How much time and effort do you have to give to these platforms?
  • How well can you integrate social media into your other marketing initiatives?

That’s a long list of questions! But giving each question some thought is the best way to ensure you use social media effectively.

Great examples of social media for customer care

Some of the first social media “success stories” came from companies that used social channels to reach out to unhappy or concerned customers.

One of the most famous of these stories started when Frank Eliason of Comcast launched a Twitter handle devoted to reaching out to customers. @ComcastCares was an organic decision based on a clear need, and it made Eliason something of a digital celebrity—after he had helped thousands of customers.

@JetBlue remains one of the most responsive companies on Twitter or Facebook, and some might say they need to be, given the amount of chaos and concern their customers face on a daily basis. The reality is that air travel is unavoidably subject to delays, malfunctions and errors. So why would a company step into the fray, knowing it going to face a bit of a firestorm.

Because companies like JetBlue earn a tremendous amount of customer goodwill for being willing to step up and face the music —and in the process, they help customers become more open and responsive to their marketing efforts, too.

Great examples of social media for marketing—and influence

Plenty of marketers also do a fantastic job of pushing out marketing initiatives their customers love. The “secret sauce” to getting a good response via social media, again, is knowing your market and providing real value—which, of course, is precisely what makes any kind of marketing garner a better response.

Video game company EA shows a deep understanding of what its audience loves by using a YouTube video channel. This platform shows off customers’ creativity alongside the release of EA’s Spore game. The Spore Creature Creator not only celebrates the best aspects of the game, it puts fans in charge of creating content (something any marketer could grow to love).

The “Whole Story” blog from Whole Foods is another example of great social content—but with the capacity to influence, not simply entertain.

Whole Foods’ mandate to be one of the most responsible corporate chains in the world lines up nicely with the stories shared on the blog: posts from product producers and dedicated employees, others that cover issues customers care about . . .and much more.

Not only does this content contribute to Whole Foods’ positive reputation, it positions the company as a thought leader on multiple issues—a powerful way to influence the conversation on social media.

When it comes to deciding how your company can best use social media platforms, consider first how you can use them to benefit your customers. Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll be on your way to effective social media marketing.

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SMS Marketing: Yes or No? https://synergy5280.com/sms-marketing-yes-or-no/ Sat, 01 Jun 2013 21:14:18 +0000 http://synergy5280.com/?p=104 Read more]]> Last month, Sprint announced it has joined forces with Telefónica to create one of the largest mobile advertising alliances in the world, a collaboration that will enable global brands to potentially reach more than 370 million mobile customers across the United States, Europe and Latin America using targeted advertising.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Yes, the sheer scale of this new network is extremely impressive. But for me, it’s the alliance’s commitment to personalized, targeted advertising that is really the headline here. More and more, SMS marketing is gaining recognition as one of the most immediate and powerful ways to reach today’s digitally-connected consumer. However, SMS campaigns will only be effective if: 1) your customers have made the choice to opt-in, and 2) the messages they receive are meaningful and useful.

According to this press release, Sprint customers will continue to see advertisements online and in ad-supported applications and content, regardless of whether they have opted in to receive usage-based targeted ads. However, if a user chooses to opt in, the interest-based targeted ads will be more relevant to the user’s personal interests.

Is it time to integrate targeted SMS marketing into your next campaign?  Here are a few pros and cons to consider as you begin charting your course:

Pros

  • Cell phones are ubiquitous, and virtually everyone reads messages sent by text. The open rate for texts is 98 percent –compared to 22 percent for emails –and most recipients open their messages immediately, (One study showed that 95 percent (!) of texts are opened within 15 minutes.) Also worth noting: The average number of emails a customer receives a month is 1,216. The average number of texts? 178. There’s certainly a competitive advantage associated with being able to create signal above all the digital noise.
  • SMS messages are versatile. Coupons, promotions, notifications, daily tips/reminders, real-time event information/updates . . .  The list of possible SMS message types is endless. How can you best engage with your customers?
  • Linking geo-location data makes SMS even more relevant. Marketers know it’s imperative to send the right message to the right person at the right time. SMS empowers you to connect with your customer directly, when they’re near your location.

Cons

  • SMS messages must be short –vry shrt. With SMS, you have 160 characters to engage your customers and spur them to action. Not 160 words – 160 characters! Obviously, you have to make each one of those characters count.
  • You could be perceived as a spammer. If you send irrelevant text messages (or simply too many text messages), you risk tarnishing your brand. Mobile devices have become intimate digital ecosystems, and customers expect you to respect their personal space.
  • Appeal is greatest among certain demographics. Not everyone is keen to communicate by text. For instance, new research found opinions about when mobile use is appropriate can vary dramatically by age. In this study 50 percent of millennials said they think it is appropriate to text during a meal –only 15 percent of those 30 and older agreed.

Researchers predict that by 2014, mobile use will exceed desktop use. How will your brand reach this growing –and increasingly active –consumer segment? Sprint and Telefónica are directing their focus on personalized direct messaging, display ads, location-based offers and in-app advertising. I believe savvy marketers should start doing the same.

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Dos and Don’ts For Email Subject Lines https://synergy5280.com/dos-and-donts-for-email-subject-lines/ Mon, 17 Dec 2012 21:16:13 +0000 http://synergy5280.com/?p=106 Read more]]> Is it art? Is it science? Or is it luck? When it comes to writing email subject lines, success may require a combination of all three.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

For proof, take a look at how the Obama campaign used email outreach to rack up significant fundraising wins. With unconventional subject lines like, “I will be outspent,” “Do this for Michelle,” or simply, “Hey,” the Obama campaign used email to raise millions of dollars.

So, if the Obama campaign can use with unusual subject lines, should you try to do the same? Is it time for your marketing team to start breaking the rules?

Not necessarily.

Keep in mind that when it comes to email subject lines, there will always be certain things you should NOT do.

For example, don’t include anything that’s likely to get your message caught by your readers’ SPAM filters. These SPAM filter treats include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Words relating to sex or pornography.
  • The words “free” or “fast cash.”
  • References to brand-name prescription drugs like Viagra, Levitra, Cialis or Vicodin.
  • Extra (and unnecessary) p.u.n.c.t.u.a.t.i.o.n.
  • The oh-so-obvious words “Not SPAM!”  . . . because if you have to say it’s not, it probably is.

Even after you have steered clear of SPAM filters, your email message won’t be read if it’s not opened. Here are a few more tips to help you create compelling subject lines a’la the Obama campaign. Make sure you pay attention to:

  • Length. With a limit of 50-60 characters, you have about 6-10 words to get your message across. Brevity is key. Studies show a link between shorter subject lines and higher open rates.
  • Your name. Keeping your company or brand name as part of your message can help significantly increase your open rates. But, how can you use your company name and stay within the character limit? Your “From Email Address” should include your company name.
  • Call-to-action. Use the subject line to emphasize a call-to-action. Try piquing curiosity with news snippets and other important announcements. Or, set deadlines or countdowns, to create a sense of urgency.  You can even ask questions in the subject heading if it suits the topic; these typically involve the reader much more than pure statements alone. Example: “Have you seen these discounts? Only 24 hours before the sale ends.” But, make sure you pay off on this promise quickly (not buried) in the content of the email, or readers will get frustrated.
  • Added value to the recipient. Accentuate benefits, but get straight to the point. Put yourself in your recipient’s place. What does he/she need to know? Example: “Order now and receive two shirts for the price of one.”
  • Truth-telling. Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Focus on appropriate subject headings and only raise expectations you are able to fulfill! Nothing causes more harm to your business than a dissatisfied, disappointed customer. Be reliable and truthful, and you’ll build long-term trust with your customers, while establishing a loyal readership. Example: “We can save you up to 25% off your heating bill.”
  • Personalization. Customizing the subject line with the recipient’s name is definitely an eye-catcher. But, don’t personalize each email you send, or you risk turning something extraordinary into something mundane. Also, don’t forget the recipients who may not have provided you with their name when registering; you’ll need to design a subject line that works even without this kind of personalization. Also, make sure your first name data collection and validation process is solid. As an alternative, try customizing with the sender name, as well. People are more likely to buy from other people. Example: “A special offer for Lucy Hudson.”

 Two final points:

1. Remember to be creative. A recent campaign from MarketingProfs, a Massachusetts-based marketing think tank, used a tactic that earned some interesting publicity. To promote its “B2B Forum” in November, MarketingProfs sent an email from Don Draper, the main character from the wildly popular “Mad Men” series” with the subject line: “Why I’m Not Attending B2B Forum 2012.” Perhaps for many who were unfamiliar with the show, the email was immediately deleted. But for countless “Mad Men” fans, their curiosity was immediately piqued. The message was successful and discussion of its creativity (and possible, but not probable, copyright infringement?) lit up channels like Twitter and LinkedIn.

2. And, remember to test, test, test! Let’s not forget the Obama campaign had a team of data crunchers analyzing inputs and collecting insights across all of its digital channels. Take a lesson from that playbook and test your subject lines. Track results. Learn what works, and what doesn’t, with your target audience. At Aprimo, we’ve seen how even small changes can have a significant effect on results. Of course, that’s good news . . . very good news. It means the more you count on the science of analytics and the art associated with marketing experience, the less you have to count on luck –and the more accountability you’ll have when it’s time to report on your email marketing ROI.

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What You Need to Know About Responsive Design and Why It’s Now Critical for Email https://synergy5280.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-responsive-design-and-why-its-now-critical-for-email/ Fri, 05 Oct 2012 16:11:22 +0000 http://synergy5280.com/?p=65 Read more]]> Originally published in collaboration with Teradata on the Teradata blog.

Any marketer who has tried to reach out to customers with an email newsletter knows just how easily even the most painstakingly-crafted design elements can go awry when opened on different devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.), each with its own unique preferences for settings, browsers, etc.

The challenge of designing custom content that’s readable on all screens has been an email marketer’s constant headache for years.

But now –at last –it’s time to put away the Tylenol.

Relief, in the form of responsive design, has arrived. Responsive design is a smart coding technology that automatically adjusts layout based on the device used for viewing.

Let me tell you more by inviting Sean Shoffstall, Creative Director for Aprimo Creative Services, to join in on the conversation.

Me: Sean, Can you describe this technology in more detail? What is responsive design, exactly?

Sean:
Responsive design is a hybrid of UX and Code that organizes and delivers content so the end user can see it in the most beneficial layout. This optimal layout is based on where/how the end user is consuming the content. Essentially, responsive design ensures your content is delivered to the consumer where and how they want to consume it.

Me: So, how does responsive design work?

Sean: Like the name suggests, responsive design organizes and codes content dynamically. Your single set of code changes size and layout based on the screen size of the end user’s device. For websites, responsive design code is a mix of CSS and HTML. For emails, it utilizes inline CSS and master style sheets.

Me: That sounds incredibly exciting for marketers! But, in practical terms, what does responsive design mean to the end user?

Sean: For the end user experiencing it, responsive design brings an end to cryptic, difficult-to-navigate emails from merchants. Finally (!), end users will be able to read and consume offers and promotions –no matter what device they’re using.

Me: And what about the organizations leveraging it? What does responsive design mean to them?

Sean: For the organizations leveraging it, responsive design means fewer headaches. But, it also means more investment in UX and template planning . . .  and smarter copywriting and design. Of course, over time, these improved planning and enhanced design capabilities will lead to efficiencies that allow even greater agility with templates.

Me: I know I’ve heard you describe responsive design as a “game-changer.” Why do you think it will have such a big impact on email marketing?

Sean: Responsive design is a game changer on several different levels. First of all, any organization leveraging responsive design will no longer need to develop both a mobile and a desktop email and site.  In addition, all content will be delivered to customers in a digestible format, no matter where they are or what device they are using.

In other words, using responsive design technology marketers can create/script the HTML code so that it automatically adjusts the sizing and look-and-feel of the email or page depending on the end user’s device. As a result, even though you’ve only designed one HTML email or page, you can be confident it will render in an optimized way for a mobile device (smartphone, iPad, etc.), as well as for a web page on a PC.

We ran a test for a B2B client and saw a remarkable 300 percent increase in clicks for a responsive design email –and a full one-third of the conversions came from mobile devices.

Me: Thanks Sean, this is great information! I know that we get a lot of questions as to whether the Aprimo products support Responsive Design. We design Aprimo products to enable email marketing regardless of HTML coding, so they can certainly handle this technology. As you know from reading my blog posts, I think that metrics are king. We highly recommend you use the response metrics (clicks and opens) within the Aprimo Reports to justify the fact that if you spend more time on HTML coding, you can experience a higher ROI.

As fewer and fewer people stay tied to their desktop, it’s becoming increasingly essential to reach the end user at the right time with the right message delivered in the right format. Responsive design is a key part of meeting that goal and creating an experience tailored to customers’ preferences (and devices!).

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Is Website Clutter Hurting Your Sales? https://synergy5280.com/is-website-clutter-hurting-your-sales/ Fri, 07 Sep 2012 16:13:34 +0000 http://synergy5280.com/?p=67 Read more]]> Albert Einstein famously asked, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Don’t worry.  I’m not writing today to pass judgment on your desk –provided, of course, you don’t pass judgment on mine! But, I amwriting to let you know about new research suggesting it may be time to address clutter around another aspect of your business: your company website.

According to recently released study results from SAY Media, a website that’s too “messy” may be costing you sales. Among the key findings of this intriguing research:

  • A “clean” site enhances ad and site perception. SAY Media found that sites with an uncluttered ad layout were perceived as more useful, more trusted and better than similar sites. Likewise, ads on these sites were seen as more engaging and positively adding to the overall site experience.
  • Ads on clean sites are always seen. Based on eye-tracking data, the study concluded that 100 percent of respondents viewed the ads on clean pages. Only 76 percent viewed ads on cluttered, multi-advertiser pages and 89 percent on sites with multiple ads for the same advertiser with complete share of voice. Content remained consistent across all test pages.
  • Viewers spend more time with ads on clean sites. If you send an email or have a TV ad campaign that directs prospects to your website, but they can’t find the link or relevant information, they will likely bail in the first 3.2 seconds. Those who believe a site is uncluttered will spend more than 13 seconds looking at the ad, four times more than time spent in a cluttered environment.
  • Clean environments result in higher ad recall. Both aided and unaided ad recall was highest in a clean environment compared to a cluttered multi-ad page and a page with 100 percent share of voice.
  • Clean sites improve brand metrics. With only one ad exposure, there was an increase in key message association for two advertisers on a clean page vs. a cluttered environment.  More importantly, one advertiser saw a significant lift in purchase intent.

Consumers today are bombarded with marketing messages both on- and off-line, and it’s no surprise shoppers’ attention spans are shorter than ever before. But, don’t make the mistake of thinking your only recourse is to cram more into every interaction. This same logic also applies to your email campaigns.

When creating an email campaign:

  1. Ensure the subject line is clear and to the point
  2. Ensure the content in your message pays off on the subject line and is easy to find, not buried among other content
  3. Use custom landing pages or even personalized landing pages (PURLS) on your website to drive consumers to the content you are trying to promote
  4. Follow the tips above to highlight and reinforce what you are sending them in email. Sometimes consumers will not click on your email but go directly to your website to find information.

“More” typically leaves consumers feeling confused, overwhelmed . . . and perhaps even worse, frustrated and annoyed –because they can’t find the information they need on their (smaller-screened) smartphones or tablets.

“Clutter is killing digital media,” said Troy Young, president, SAY Media.

Is it time to revamp your approach? Digital marketers now need to think simple and clean. Your goal should be to streamline messages and deliver only the most relevant information. In addition, pay attention to ad placement. The right ads in the right places are a key to helping improve ROI on website design.

Once again, I think Albert Einstein summed it up quite nicely:

“Out of clutter, find simplicity,” he advised.

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