How To Make Sure Your Email List Gets Results!

A good email marketing campaign starts with your ability to get clean, active email addresses into your database. Email addresses with syntax or spelling errors can cause hard bounces, which in turn can harm your sending IP’s reputation. These factnrs all results in the poor delivery of your campaigns and ultimately a loss in revenue.

To ensure that you are only putting properly formatted email addresses in your database, create a few rules behind the email entry field on your website. First, have double entry fields for email addresses and do not allow the second entry field to be pasted into. Upon submitting, your web service should check that both addresses are identical. This should help reduce the number of misspellings in your database.

Next, have the web service also check for common syntax errors in the email address itself. Examples of this are:

• Are there any spaces in the email address?
• Is there an @ [at] sign?
• Is there at least one . [period]?
• Are there at least six characters present? [x@x.xx]

Any of these errors will cause an email to fail upon sending, so have the web service prompt users to correct their entry before proceeding. Effective email marketing requires that users enter correct information. Creating rules for data entry is essential for success.

Once you have a process in place to handle syntax errors, you also need to consider misspellings and typos. Since there are millions of possible errors, it would be incredibly difficult to build a service to handle these. Thankfully, companies like FreshAddress have developed a real time solution for exactly that. Their REACT (Real-time Email Address Correction Technology) software checks the email address that was entered in real time against a list of common misspellings and suggests alternative. Although on the expensive side, this service, and others like it, can greatly reduce the number of bad incoming addresses and save your deliverability.

If you’ve been emailing for a while, you’ve probably accumulated a large number of invalid email addresses. These are most likely caused from soft or hard bounces, and are probably just taking up space on your servers. Chances are that a large percentage of these addresses can be recovered simply by making a small change to the address. Do some research and find a list hygiene service or company to help with this type of project. Again, this could be a costly undertaking, but the number of recovered email addresses could be well worth it. Most companies will do a low cost or free test on a small segment of data so you can try it before committing.

For the hygiene process, you’ll collect all of your invalid email addresses and send them to the vendor of choice. They will then compare it to several other lists of blacklisted and retired domains, known complainers and – most importantly – check for misspelled domains. Once they’re finished, you’ll get a list of corrected addresses or a list with a code of what the address was flagged for. Then you should make any changes to the addresses that are needed and reload into your database.

It’s important to flag all corrected addresses so you can keep an eye on unsubscribes and complaints. Remember, it’s likely these customers haven’t been receiving your emails at all, so you should probably send them some form of welcome message to ease them into your email stream. If your budget allows, perform list hygiene at least once a quarter to keep your email list fresh and active.

Another way to keep your email list active is to use an engagement list. Start by filtering out inactive email addresses – those who haven’t opened, clicked or converted in a timeframe that’s relevant to your business. Send to the remaining customers in your email list for most of your mailings. If you are uncomfortable only mailing a portion of your list, include the inactives from time to time and start a reactivation campaign to re-engage them.

Any or all of these solutions will help keep your email list clean and active. A low number of hard bounces will ensure your IP’s sending reputation and your marketing efforts will benefit from the solid delivery. Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to engage your prospects and customers. Keep your email list clean and see your results improve.

Rank Company, Rank Boss... Power To The People!

About a year ago I was looking at a number of different advertising opportunities for one of the companies I consult for from time to time.  They received a letter labeled, Inc. 500, and learned of an opportunity to be included in a list of Inc. 5000's fastest growing companies.  As someone who's always interested in free publicity, I agreed to fill out the paperwork.

I quickly realized that this wasn't for free publicity.  Quite honestly, it was anything but.  The whole concept of rating and ranking companies by Inc. is pretty much a scam.  In addition to providing information about your company, you need to send a check.  That's right, nothing comes without a price.  In order to have your company considered for inclusion in the list, you have to pay a fee.  Inc. may call this a "processing fee" or some other bogus name but you have to pay to be considered.

Fighting Back
It's right then and there that I decided to take action.  It took me almost a year, but I recently launched 2 new websites: Rank Company | Rank Your Company and Rank Boss | Rank Your Boss.  The goal of both of these sites is to have the people who know a company the best (employees, vendors, stakeholders, etc.) rate the company - not some magazine that charges a business or individual to be listed.  I'm trying to bring some objectivity to the rankings game.
I've been in marketing and advertising a long time and have learned that sometimes, if you want objectivity, you need to stand up and take charge.  That's the goal of both of these sites.  Not only should you be sharing an experience about the company you work for or your boss, but you should also help to fight back against companies that are focused on only supporting organizations that can pay a fee.

Take the Next Step
I'd like to ask all of my blog readers and followers to support these sites.  I'm most excited about Rank Your Boss as it will change the landscape of companies forever.  I learned early on that people don't leave jobs, they leave bosses - and nothing could be more true.
Please go out to Rank your boss and Rank your company and start sharing your insights and opinions about the companies you work for today or have worked for in the past!

Michael H. Fleischner

Prize Marketing; Another Way To Capture Audiences

In today’s highly fragmented marketing channels, finding new ways to attract customers and engaging existing audiences has become an increasingly difficult task. There are a variety of marketing methods that are proven effective and one in particular has produced some very effective results within the promotional marketing[1] sector - prize marketing. In short, everyone likes wining prizes. There is always a thrill associated with winning a vacation, television or whatever else is being offered.

Imagine a customer at their local store, wanting to buy a chocolate bar, but they do not have a particular one in mind. Do they choose the one with the brand name, wrapping and nothing else, or do they choose the one that tells them that a dream holiday may lie just on the other side of the foil wrapper?

Prize marketing involves the use of promotional items such as holidays, products, electronics or any industry-specific items of value that give the customer an extra incentive to buy a particular product.Today’s prize marketing is bigger than ever with prizes that range from small rewards such as a free pen through to a dream job or lifetime product supply. Take for example of Queensland Tourism. There “‘best job in the world”[2] campaign, where people were invited to apply for a dream job as a caretaker in one of the world’s most beautiful spots, was well publicized worldwide. The campaign was reported in many news outlets at the time and received a lot of PR coverage.

Brands that have competitions or engage in prize related marketing gain a number of benefits in the marketplace. For one, it is simply more eye catching to see packaging or PR that outlines a great prize to win, and also helps foster positive associations in the mind of the consumer. It also gives a great PR opportunity down the line when someone does win the prize (if it is especially large and valuable).

Take the example of the McDonald’s Monopoly campaign, which gave visitors who entered the restaurant the ability to win prizes, ranging from televisions and consoles to entire houses and large cash prizes. Not only did it attract visitors to the store to buy something for a chance to win, but also set the stage for some great PR opportunities, such as the case of a 17 year old who won 814,000 dollars after collecting a few stickers from the food packaging.[3]

There are risks with a prize campaign if not properly planned and implemented, which is where a prize management [4] company is used to fulfill promises. A poorly run campaign can end up having negative results for a company, undermining any previous positive brand associations and numbers of loyal customers, particularly in the modern day where negative PR and word of mouth can spread like wildfire through social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.

A famous example of this is what took place in 1992 with Hoover offering free flights to those who purchased one of their cleaners or washing machines.[5] Flights were initially offered to Europe, and then the United States. It soon became apparent that they could not sustain this, and customers began to complain that they were not receiving what was promised in the promotion. This mistake ended up costing them tens of millions in court fees and settlements, as well as many customers and positive brand equity that had existed before the disaster.

Prize marketing can also help in what is one of marketing’s most valuable assets; details. Most consumer prize marketing campaigns give a code within the product and then invite the consumer to enter it at the company website, together with their contact details. Not only does this drive traffic to the website, but it also gives the company their contact details which can be used in future email campaigns.


10,000 Twitter Followers. Who Gives A &^%$#@

Have you gotten caught up in the all the social media hype? I know that I'm on a bit of a rant today but it seems like the only thing people talk about these days is social media.  Don't get me wrong, I use social media as much as the next guy - but I'll be the first to tell you that it can be largely overrated.

I was recently talking to a friend about Facebook.  He told me that he had over 500 friends.  I quickly responded by telling him that I had more than 700 connections on LinkedIn.  He fired back telling me that he had over 5,000 Twitter followers.  I laughed out loud and told him that I'm flirting with 10,000 followers on Twitter (@mfleischner).  

Then he asked the most powerful questions of all, "What's the point?"

And he was right - for the most part.  The reality is that many of your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, Google+ circles, and so on will never really account for more than a number.  It's true that you can leverage your base through some type of linear dialog but don't expect to be going to ball games with people on your list.  The typical back and forth can be somewhat meaningless.  You know, the I post something, you post something banter!  But at the end of the day, many of these people are not your friends and will likely not buy what you have to offer.

How to Use Social Media For Profit

The question I seem to get a lot is how to build social media for profit.  Even though my general accounts are a mix of friends, followers, and lookers, other accounts that I've developed are small but focused.  For example, those following this blog are all interested in marketing, Internet marketing, or SEO.  This is a homogenous group that I depend on for feedback and interaction. In fact, I use your comments to shape what I talk about on this blog.  

When you h`ve a voice in a specific group, focused on a specific topic, the audience is much more likely to pay attention to what you're reading, what websites you use, and even the products your buying.  That's typically how you can earn affiliate commissions or promote your own products.

Getting Started
The best place to start with any social media marketing campaign is at the beginning.  Think through what your goals are, what you will cover, and specifically, who your target is.  Regardless of objective, belonging to your social media circle is going to have to produce value.  What makes you unique?  What information can you provide that no one else does?  What's your draw?

After you've started to generate content for your audience and share information or resources that create value, then, and only then, can you start to monetize your social media accounts.  Posting information on products or services, ad revenue, and other streams of income are possible if you have an engaged audience.  Keep in mind however, that you'll have to nurture relationships if you want to make the most of your social media accounts.  Said another way, social media isn't a used car show room - its a place where you build relationships.

Think 2 step marketing.  Using social media is really all about relationships.  Once you've developed a relationship the next step is to spend more time together and share what you have.  For example, when I launched my book, SEO Made Simple, I gave away a full SEO chapter of the book on the Marketing blog out of respect and appreciation for my readers.

From my perspective, this is the best way to build relationships over the long term using social media.  In addition to getting the word out, social media has a lot of benefits even if a large portion of your audience isn't all that engaged.  Social media isn't about numbers, it's about relationships!