At the end of the day, we took about an hour to answer questions that were sent in before the conference as well as some “live” audience questions. Frankly, I thought most people would bail before this session – it had already been a long day — filled with rapid-fire information and teensy spreadsheets — and the weather outside was, well, not delightful. (Datamann did a fantastic job of hosting the Show but they did absolutely nothing about fixing the below-zero weather outside. They’re topnotch at merge-purge so I guess they spend more time talking to the Data Gods than Mother Nature. We all have to pick our battles, eh?) Interestingly enough, the majority of attendees stayed and we just couldn’t get to all the questions.*
Here are some of the web-related ones people came up to me afterwards and asked. Even if you didn’t attend the Show, I hope you’ll find them useful.
“Do you really think search is going to change all that much? I don’t see it happening in the next 10 years. You think it’s already happening.”
Hello Frog, how do you like your cozy little frying pan? Getting hotter, is it?
Search is changing rapidly. Do I think you should dump your wife, er, current plan of attack, and hook up solely with Siri, Cortana or Alexa? Not. So. Much. But you should pay attention to what’s happening in the search world, especially with the 3 V’s (visual, video and voice search.) Analytics are a wondrous thing – and looking at (and acting on) what words/phrases people are using in AND outside of your site can dramatically change your business. This applies to looking at mobile search strings too – which, depending on your demographics, can be drastically shorter.
And yes, I know, there are a lot of articles that say that Google has trained us all to be such great searchers (now there’s a laugh) in the traditional (desktop) world that we speak to Siri the same way we’d type a search string into the computer. If you buy that (you shouldn’t, but if you do…), try using one of the voice searches for a week (without using anything else) and afterward, send me a note about how accurate you think that sounds-good-in-theory-but-it’s-not-like-that-at-all-in-practice concept is. In related news, I believe there are far too many people using bath salts other than prescribed these days.
“You said that you don’t think my email provider is good. Who is better?”
Yeah so, I didn’t say that any one email provider was better/worse than the other, I said that I think you should be careful about what you listen to when it comes to ANY email provider.
A lot – and I mean almost all – email providers are constantly begging/blackmailing/bribing you to whittle down your list. They want you to mail only the freshest and most active names. Why? Because it benefits them. (In fairness, it benefits you too – it can be better/easier/more immediately lucrative to target the people who have the best chance of buying but long-term, constantly pruning your list to the bare minimum to fit someone else’s cookie-cutter rules is a waste of dough. No pun intended.)
Here’s an example from one of our clients….
They sell B2B supplies, mostly consumable products. In one of their segments (based on SIC), they sell x pallets of their product every 14 months.
They have a lot of names and are using one of the big name email providers.
This provider insisted that they should not mail anyone who had not clicked on their emails in the past 6 months because “those names don’t perform.” When my client really begged, the provider relented to 12 months.
SERIOUSLY? HULKSMASH ON THAT YOU (*&^%$#@#$%!
You don’t need to be a math genius to figure out that the ESP is basically DESTROYING the entire segment with their recommendation.
Before you say that you’re not a B2B company or you have a more frequent buying cycle or whatever, consider this… Using frequency and segmentation would be a MUCH better choice for you than just killing xx% of your names every month because they haven’t clicked or opened.
I totally get that you shouldn’t mail to names that have been toe-tagged for ten years, but…
Think about how many emails you get in your own personal inbox. Do you open every single one? Do you open all the stuff Gmail buries in your promotions folder or trash? Do you click through all the stuff that’s in your Outlook SPAM folder? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
If you’re a small office and only need a box of copy paper every other month, you may not want/need to open CopyPapersRUs emails every single day they blast you with them but that doesn’t mean that you will never want/need copy paper again. I mean really.
Bottom line: Develop and work your preferences page. Build a solid circulation plan complete with triggers and a traffic cop. Segment your list as if your life depends on it (it does.) Mail responsibly (which includes not taking two weeks to opt out.) Most important, don’t let anyone else’s grubby little paws on your file.
“Do you really hate social as much as you alluded? We’ve never been successful at it but we do throw quite a bit of money at it, mostly because my boss is a Facebook addict and thinks everyone else is the same.”
Yes. Probably more so. (And chances are your boss is a narcissist but that’s another story.)
With that said, there are a few (read: a handful) of companies whose social media campaigns or practices impress me. For example, regardless of what you think of the books (inspired by vampire fan fiction, God help me now), The Vermont Teddy Bear Company did a killer job with their Fifty Shades of Gray campaign. If everyone executed on that level, I’d have more good things to say about it. (Hey, I like results and let them speak for themselves — if your result is “2300 Twitter followers, 50% of whom are bots and 0 of whom purchase, I’ll vote you off the island and into the shark-infested waters right where you belong.)
“Kevin said that you’ll typically get 20% of Amazon customers to transfer over to your brand. You said 30%. Who is right?”
Both of us. If you don’t work at getting the customers, you’ll typically get 1 out of 5 (sometimes less.) If you do work at it, then you should get around 30%. If your stuff arrives in plain-Jane packaging material with no branding whatsoever and there’s a bunch of crap inside (read: your regular package insert program with no thought to it whatsoever) instead of a solid campaign, chances are you’re not going to WOW! a lot of people into checking you out. Something to take into consideration when you’re planning ALL your third-party campaigns, I might add. (Important note: Please check your Terms of Service on anything – and everything — you do with Amazon.)
“I got the message that all cooperative databases are evil. Is that true for the web stuff? What about B2B?”
First, Kevin penned a great article on the Co-ops a few days ago, definitely worth taking the time to read. My experience is that B2B Co-ops and Consumer Co-Ops are not at all the same thing – the B2B ones are set up differently and they share way more information amongst their mailers.
Is the new web cooperative stuff evil? A lot of it. But that’s mostly because a lot of the bigger players get their names in ways your mom/kid/dog would definitely not approve of. (And the fact that I’m saying this – as a person who often steps over the line in web marketing just to find out where the line is – should tell you something.) However, there are some things that are coming soon that could have enormous potential. I didn’t talk about them during my session because there are eleventy bazillion privacy complications associated with the ones I’m most intrigued by and I just didn’t have the time. If you want to know more about them, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Well, technically I suppose we could have but by 4:30 Bill was rambling on about 18 US Code 2340A and other torture codes. I think he felt that people – including he and Kevin — had been subjected to me for long enough.