Is It Time To Revamp Your Traditional Outdated Email Newsletter?

May 5th, 2010

Revamp and updateWhen you think about Email Marketing one of the first things that comes to mind is a company’s email newsletter. Or in some circles, it’s called an “eNewsletter”. Regardless, a lot of businesses create and distribute them on a regular basis. Back in the early 2000’s, email newsletters became one of the must-have communication tools in a company’s marketing strategy. But with prevalence of real-time marketing and social media tools, I firmly believe that it is time to revamp the traditional  format of a company’s email newsletter.

Traditional

The traditional email newsletter typically leads with a main customer-focused article, followed by secondary articles that marketing or sales deemed important to promote to customers, users, constituents, etc. Each newsletter is focused on getting the majority of your audience interested in what you’re doing and saying – and to get them to take action! Go to this landing page, download this white paper or click to learn more, right?

The second topic for debate is how frequently a company should send out an email newsletter? Should it be weekly, monthly or quarterly? Do we have enough content for a monthly newsletter, or what? Will a quarterly newsletter be relevant or has too much time passed?

Oh yes, let’s not forget about the email newsletter side bar. The multi-purpose area that contains information that never changes, like contact information, as well as links to articles that didn’t make the cut for the main body of the newsletter.

Revamped

With our status updates, check-ins, blog posts, you-name-it feeds along with a constantly-connected mentality, the traditional email newsletter is not as valuable as it used to be. Today, customers opt-in and want their information delivered to them in real-time. Traditional newsletters are published and once the news is more than a week old, the information seems out of date and, more importantly, out of touch with technology and social networking.

In the new email newsletter format, there isn’t a main customer-focused article. It’s a list of the best-of-the-best published marketing content – blogs, articles, posts and tweets that you have written, promoted and or endorsed. This way, the frequency of the newsletter then depends on the amount real-time content the company aggregates during a certain period of time. Plus, instead of just tracking one-off newsletters articles, the overarching benefit is that each piece of content can be tracked from the moment it’s published in real-time, shared through social media networks and of course, re-published again within the newsletter.

This new email newsletter format is a snapshot of all the great content that was published in real-time, through status updates, check-ins and blog posts. For example, the newsletter would read more like a LinkedIn Network Update with comments such as

“Customer X explains why they like Product Y (Review)”

“Product Z has an update (23 features, 72 Fixes)”

“Company A renewed and upgraded their support contract to Gold”

Newsletters like this would be published when new information is available versus publishing so-so content just to stay on a consistent timeline. The savvy customer/consumer today knows the difference between real content and filler. Maybe we can all apply some good-old mom logic to email communications, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all”.

Image courtesy of banlon1964’s flickr photostream

Check Claim

May 5th, 2010

This is for Technorati…

Here is my check claim:

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Effective Lead Generation with Multimedia

April 8th, 2010

Increase Video Features

In the early 2000s, not many small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) leveraged multimedia collateral like Webcasts or Webinars on their company website. And when we refer to multimedia, we’re also talking about Podcasts, Online Product Demonstrations and of course, Videos. Looking ahead, online multimedia is a definite must-have feature in 2010.

In the recent blog post “Video = Fastest Growing Website Feature for Small Businesses”, ReelSEO highlighted “video capability” as the single fastest growing feature over the last year that small businesses have added to their website. In Q4 of 2008 only 5% of small business websites had video. In Q4 of 2009, that number has climbed to 19% – four times as many!

There are many reasons people are willing to embrace video and/or multimedia collateral like Webcasts and Webinars. One impressive fact in the article is the 111% increase in Web search advertising in Q4 09 over Q4 in 2008.

Kristin Managers, the CEO of WebVisible, sums this up very nicely by stating, “These numbers show increased confidence by small businesses in using search to gain leads – and increased ability to turn those leads into sales.”

Utilize Webcasts and Webinars Videos for Lead Generation Activities

Two cost effective multimedia options for lead generation are to organize, deliver and post a Webcast (live or on demand – no audience participation) or interactive Webinar (live and collaborative, including polling and questions and answers) on your website. Popular Web conferencing tools to help you deliver a professional Webcast or Webinar are:

Diamond Strategies LLC recommends WebEx and Office Live Meeting for presentation slide-only Webcasts and Webinars. On the other hand, if the product or service that you are demonstrating requires dynamic animations such as 3D rotations, embedded videos, user interactions, etc., using GoToWebinar is a better alternative.

Four Concepts to Better Webcasts and Webinars

  1. To capture leads, all the tools listed above help with managing and tracking the registration process. Prior to the event, you can capture how effective your Web/email campaign was at enticing potential customers to sign up for the event.
  2. On the day of your event, a general rule of thumb is that about 50% of your registered participants will show up for your live Webcast or Webinar. Therefore, 50% is your benchmark. Anything below that percentage means that your subject matter or Web/email campaign did not connect with your desired audience.
  3. During the event, an effective way to engage your audience and deliver a more intriguing Webcast or Webinar is to have two people speaking – a main presenter for the subject matter and a sidekick for added color and variable voice inflections. To see this in action, turn on your morning TV or radio station to experience great examples of presenter/sidekick interactions.
  4. Once you have a recorded version of your event and you have posted it on your website, continue your lead generation efforts by analyzing your customer demographics and creating a sales follow-up process and or nurturing campaign.

We hope these insights and recommendations help you understand the value in promoting videos and Webinars on your website.

Did we missed anything? Let us know by leaving a reply.

Number-crunching Marketing Nerds

March 24th, 2010

Computer NerdOne of my favorite websites to follow on Twitter and Facebook is Advertising Age. When I read an article from their site, I sometimes wonder how different my life would be if I had focused on marketing and advertising in college versus going to Bradley University for a mechanical engineering degree. At this point in my life, I cannot imagine living without one or the other. I enjoy both disciplines because I’m analytical when it comes to engineering and technology but on the other hand, I’m also very passionate and emotional when it comes to marketing and brand management.

An article on Advertising Age, posted on March 17, Our Biggest Brands Can No Longer Be Managed By Nerds, caught my attention because it speaks directly to both sides of my personality – analytical and emotional. Tom Hinkes writes, “Product managers with a fear of ambiguity have replaced the creative, forward-thinking brand builders. Our biggest consumer brands are now managed by nerds.”. I feel his comments are very true because in my past eight years in product management, the balance between these two skill sets have always led to internal marketing conflict – who’s right, who’s wrong, who has more data to back up that idea before we proceed. Tom notes again, “But brand marketing is not a science. It requires analysis, discipline and detail. Even more, it requires intuition, flair and vision. Great marketers are visionaries, not bean counters.” Love it.

Marketing is not like Differential Equations, sorry Dr. Grisham, but instead is a fine balance of instinctively knowing when you have enough data to back up your passionate emotion.

Image courtesy of Automania’s flickr photostream

About David Szostak, Principal Consultant

March 17th, 2010

Colorado Fan

I am a technology marketer, product evangelist and engineer at heart with over 10 years of experience providing energizing leadership, creative marketing solutions, successful product launches, and cost containment practices for high-tech software companies and equipment manufacturers.

Prior to Diamond Strategies, my roles in the past have ranged from Mechanical Designer and Senior Consultant to Product Strategist and Senior Product Marketing Manager. I have contributed to the profitability and success of several industry leaders, by innovating procedures in brand management, expertly developing sales & partner resources and managing complex worldwide marketing campaigns.

With my engineering experience and technology background interwined, my marketing prowess provides me with the ability to dissect technical jargon into concise & compelling customer value messages. In addition to my exceptional skills creating and implementing targeted solutions, exploding consumer participation is one of my natural abilities because of my enthusiasm, passion and knowledge for high-tech products and industries.

I graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, I have honed my marketing and consulting skills working in numerous cities including Austin, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Boston and Chicago. As an outdoor enthusiast and Colorado fan, you’ll find me throughout the year at 12,000 feet either riding up the mountain on a road bike or blazing down the slopes on a snowboard… with a helmet, of course.

Image courtsey of DavidSzostak’s Flickr Photostream