5 Email Marketing Year End Tasks

As the year draws to a close, it’s not a bad idea to do some cleanup of your marketing assets. The asset most neglected, yet most valuable for the average marketer, is your email list, so let’s look at 5 things you should do with your email marketing list to freshen things up.

De-Crapify

The first and arguably most important thing you should do with your list is to clean it up. Unsubscribe any email address that’s been bouncing, assuming that your email service provider hasn’t done so for you already. Take a look at the addresses and fix the ones that are obviously wrong, such as domain name mixups. ([email protected] instead of [email protected])

Shine a Light

Take some time to identify who your very best members of your list are. Look inside your email analytics to see who always opens, who always clicks, who always shares your email newsletters. If you’re feeling generous, reach out to those folks and thank them for their continued support! If your email service provider doesn’t give you this data, consider switching – it’s that important. I still use WhatCounts Publicaster for this very reason.

Find Your Stars

Look in either your web analytics (assuming that email subscription is a goal conversion) or your email marketing software to identify the top performing conversion points for new subscribers. How are people finding you? What’s working best, and what’s not working so well? Set up some tests as you head into the new year, a testing plan that will help you improve your list subscriptions. For example, I’ve started testing out different kinds of Twitter cards to see if I can get better performance:

Cards_-_Twitter_Ads

Check Under the Hood

Stuff changes. Systems change. If you’re using any SaaS vendors – like Google Analytics, for example – stuff can change a LOT, and in the hustle and the bustle of daily marketing life, things fall through the cracks. This is the best time to do a systems audit. Make sure you’re using the latest tracking codes from Google Analytics, from your email vendor, from Twitter and Facebook, etc. so that you’re measuring everything important.

view-source_www_christopherspenn_com

Take some time to look at your email templates, too. Freshen up your designs. If your main email templates aren’t responsive to mobile and tablet devices, now is the best time to fix that.

Revive the List

The last thing to do is to look at your list and identify those members who have working email address, still receiving email but are dormant, meaning that they haven’t opened or clicked anything in a while.

WhatCounts_Publicaster_Edition__Segmentation_Manager

Get their attention! Consider an outreach program using retargeting and remarketing methods to get them to come back, to get them to either re-subscribe or just pay attention to you again.

These 5 year-end to-dos (and they work any time of year, really) help put you on the path to improved email marketing performance. Give them a try!


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What to change in 2015 using Google Analytics Benchmarking

Benchmarking is one of the most underestimated tools in the Google Analytics toolkit. If you haven’t already tried it out on your site, go read this post and try it now, then come back here. If you have, excellent.

Benchmarking by itself is a useful first look at what’s working vs. what’s not in your analytics versus peer competitors. But suppose you wanted a bigger picture view than just the moment, just right now? Suppose you wanted to see historically so that you could understand what’s changing over time? Luckily, there’s a way to get that kind of insight. Start by turning on your benchmarking and then go to the calendar selector. Select a reasonable period of time in 2014, be it the last month, quarter, or year to date (assuming data is available). Then choose a comparison period of year over year:

Channels_-_Google_Analytics 2

Having done this, let’s see what I can interpret from my findings. You’ll notice that you can see this quarter and the same quarter for 2013 stacked up row on row by channel. You’ll also note that I can see how I did versus peer sites in each row.

Channels_-_Google_Analytics

So what’s of importance? Four things stand out to me in the table above about my website.

1: Social was good this quarter compared to Q4 2013. I was roughly comparable with my peers last year, but significantly ahead of them this year. What I find interesting is not only did my site improve, but my peers fell behind, going from 1418 sessions from social to 1087. What did I change this quarter? Whatever it was, I should improve on it.

2. Organic search still has me above my peers, but I lost 50% of my advantage. I lost 9000 sessions compared to last year. This calls for a fresh look at my organic search strategy and tactics. Where was I getting links from last year? Where did I not get links from this year? Why?

3. At first glance it looks like I narrowed the gap with my peers in referral traffic, going from -43% to -33%, but that’s not really true. When you look at the hard numbers, I’m basically where I was last year and my peers lost ground. That’s not great, so if this were a full time business, I’d be hiring a PR agency right about now and giving them a mandate to go get me placed content on third party sites.

4. When you look at the number of new users that a site gets (third column) rather than just all sessions, you get a sense for how fast your audience is growing. Direct traffic (which very often is mobile traffic in disguise) stands out because last year it was a growing contributor to my site. This year it’s a declining one. Hmm. I’d better put my site through its paces and maybe refresh the design to be more mobile friendly.

By reading through this, you get a sense of what caught my eye. #1 was a trend acceleration, where both the percentages and hard numbers picked up the pace. #2 was a decline masquerading as growth. #3 was stagnation masked as a decline. #4 was a trend reversal. Look for similar patterns in your own analytics and then figure out what happened, why, and what you’re going to do about it.


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The Unbundling of Your Brand

Once upon a time, you’d buy an album. Maybe that album had a hit single in stores, but for the most part, you bought the album.

Once upon a time, you watched a network. Sure, you skipped around at commercials, but largely your TV stayed tuned to one channel that night.

Once upon a time, there was a single Facebook app. Everything you did on Facebook, you did in one app.

Today, assuming you buy any music at all and don’t just stream stuff, you buy by the song. You fire up iTunes or Google Play or your music vendor of choice and you purchase a track.

Today, you have a favorite TV show, but chances are you watch shows wherever they are. Maybe they’re on the actual television. Maybe they’re in Hulu or Amazon Prime or Netflix. But your loyalty is to the show, not to the channel it’s on.

Today, you have a Facebook app for everything. Pictures? Instagram. Messages? Messenger. Your page? Page Manager. Video? Hyperlapse. News? Facebook news? Paper. It’s not just Facebook, either. If you used to use Foursquare, now you have a couple of different Foursquares to deal with. If you used to use LinkedIn, now you have Pulse, Connected, CardMunch, and the regular app.

We’ve dismantled the monolith and unbundled it into tiny, bite-sized pieces that serve specific purposes. As consumers, we’ve come to expect that we can pick and choose just the pieces we want and leave the rest behind. This is equally true of content marketing, when you think about it. How often do you actually subscribe to blogs, websites, or newsletters, versus just seeing things passively come into your social network’s feeds?

So here’s the big idea to consider. Have your consumers, your customers already unbundled your brand?

For some customers, your brand may be your blog and nothing else. That’s all they want, and it may be all they ever want. They may never buy something directly from you. For some customers, it’ll be one product and one product alone. Apple has convinced a lot of people to buy iPhones, but an iPhone owner isn’t necessarily an iPad or Mac owner. For some customers, it might be certain select, individual tweets you make regularly. To them, that is the entirety of your brand to them and that’s all they ever want it to be. If you have multiple bloggers on your blog, one author might be your entire brand to them. I know I do that to some blogs – there are some authors I flag right away to read, and others fall in the “I’ll get around to reading them” and never do. I’ve unbundled that blog to pay attention only to certain pieces of it.

How do you know if your customers have unbundled your brand for you? Ask them. Survey them, call them, have some focus groups, buy them coffee – whatever it takes to ask them how they’re experiencing you.

Should you pursue an unbundling strategy, of intentionally making lots of little pieces? If you have the bandwidth and capability to do so, it’s not a bad idea to at least consider. If a valuable audience segment absolutely, positively loves your email newsletter and nothing else, then polish that newsletter up until it shines, because the likelihood you’ll get increased word of mouth is fairly high:

The one thing you shouldn’t do is force bundling on your customers and consumers. You’re swimming against the current, against the way people have grown accustomed to buying, to consuming, to enjoying their favorite brands. Can you refuse to let pieces of your marketing content be unbundled? Sure. You can stop Tweeting or blogging or sending emails, or have one and only one monolithic take-it-or-leave-it content plan. But in doing so you risk losing the interest of the hordes of people looking for their favorite aspect of you, and that’s a dangerous risk to take.

Unbundling is the reality. How you react to it will determine how well your audience can enjoy their favorite parts of you.


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