Monday, 8 April 2019

Trigger Email - The Most Powerful Email in the World

Credit: Ville Hyvonen
"Did he fire six eshots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a trigger email, the most powerful email in the world, and would blow your target clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?

There it is - I've just glamorised the humble trigger email to such an extent you're now thinking of Clint Eastwood in one of his finest moments in cinematic history, that is Dirty Harry.

The point is.. you don't actually have the benefit of five or six shots at getting your email performance to smash the target, because your first email is the one that counts.

But before we get into that, look at these common tactics that guarantee to totally screw up your first shot at email:
  • Delay sending your first email in real-time [late]
  • Only to ask people to reconfirm their opt-in [wasteful]
  • Include a tonne of product/company information which doesn't excite, add value to stimulate the receiver to take action [boring]
Instead use this quick checklist below as a bare minimum to exploit this one-off marcomm's opportunity to the max:
  1. Real-time send - nothing else matters!
  2. Include a fab offer  - kick things off with a super discount first time only deal. The first purchase is always the hardest to drive
  3. Personalised and content driven - this email is the first of many so tone, style and content must 100% engage with the reader if the relationship is going to continue
The aim is to thrill and delight in equal measure. 80% of trigger emails I receive are about  as thrilling as a ride on a bus (when we need to be put on a rollercoaster)!

Performance-wise, (done well) trigger emails deliver:
  • Open rates of 50%+ (my all time record is 98% for a luxury fashion brand)
  • Click rates of 10-30% - the range is geared towards how effectively steps 1-3 above have been deployed
  • Conversions of 3-6% - Of course varies wildly depending on CTA, but 4% is doable for mid-range e-commerce
Post trigger, email performance settles down to 20%+ open / 8%+ click range for email newsletters as regular emails battle it out for attention in the busy inbox.

So to recap, the 'humble' trigger email carries two (often overlooked) stupendous abilities:
  • Record-breaking email stats (you'll never see a regular email perform this well, ever...)
  • Enable a high performing eCRM programme for life
If trigger emails still don't excite you - check out Clint Eastwood in this classic scene from Dirty Harry to get your blood pumping.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Change everything you know about Database Marketing

Everything has changed... nothing has changed...

When you were first schooled in digital marketing, GDPR was not even a twinkle in the eye of the ICO regulator. Therefore much of your mindset is possibly entrenched in an outdated mode of marketing thinking. Which is why, to some extent, we've seen a proliferation of GDPR 'Guru's' come to save us from the big bad ICO.

But in a way, the fundamentals of marketing consent and consumer privacy have not shifted that much at all, especially for those ethical marketers. It's just that now we have strict rules which means marketers that sail too close to the wind in terms of what they think they can get away now risk their company being liquidated under the weight of a 4% turnover fine by the ICO. If you were ever in doubt about how to market to consumers fairly, you can't go too far wrong by applying the 'Granny Test'.

Over the past few months, we've experienced a seismic shift of 'Trumpian' proportions in the marketing space with one-off events such as:

  • Repermission emails landing in inboxes of bewildered consumers everywhere
  • Massive consumer database deletions
  • 3rd party marketing databases all but shrivelled up

However, now the digital dust has settled on a cleaner marketing landscape, it's time to look long-term on how to integrate, or even better embrace the underlying principles of GDPR.

Here is a handy checklist to structure your new GDPR friendly marketing thinking - it's out with the old and in with the new:

Maybe you can come up with some more changes to add to the list. Or perhaps you disagree?

Let me know in the comments below...

Friday, 27 April 2018

We need to talk about 'Repermissioning Emails' before it's too late!

Repermissioning is where:

"brands seek to gain new marketing consent from their database because they believe their existing consent may fall foul of the new definition of lawful consent under GDPR."

Repermissionsing wasn't even a thing a few months ago and now consumers are being bombarded with emails (can you see the irony here?) asking them to re-opt-in to brand marketing communications they think they're already opted in to.

Confused? Yes, you should be because marketers are in a terrible pickle about what to do and what not to do under GDPR consent guidelines.

This lack of absolute clarity has resulted in a plethora of marketing jargon being spewed at unsuspecting customers through the power of email. 15 of the best and baddest examples of repermission emails are brilliantly put together by Ben Davis @herrhuld 

I am sure this is an unintended consequence of GDPR and the ICO's interpretations in creating a catch 22 where brands ask for permission to send emails in an email they have permission to send. The intricacies about why this could be necessary is lost on consumers who haven't the foggiest idea what it's all about.

Here are five examples of why marketers feel a repermissioning email must be sent:

  • 3rd party consent - gained through a 3rd party where you are unsure that consent was unambiguous and freely given.
  • Non-explicit consent - the style, wording, channel and reason for opt-in is not explicit enough for a consumer to make an informed decision
  • Bundled consent - gained through an opt-in which was used for non-marketing purposes where the consumer could be unaware of resulting marketing communications
  • Old consent - by it's very nature, people may have forgotten if they consented and it may be difficult for either the brand or the customer to prove either way.
  • Legitimate interest consent - whereas before this would be a common sense judgement now under GDPR, legitimate interest is a test that must be passed before you can market to customers fairly using legitimate interest as your opt-in statement. 

The worry is that as this problem is primarily a marketers one, consumers will fail to respond in the numbers necessary (think 5-10% response) which means repermissioning (unless absolutely necessary, see 5 examples above) is a GIGANTIC risk to any organisation that wants to continue marketing to their database.

At least 90% of 1st party data is at risk of being obsolete 

through email repermissioning

On the 25th May, many in direct marketing will be waking up the fact that they can only see 10% of their database to market to! Imagine trying to catch a ball using a single finger instead of both hands?

Therefore post repremissioning, brands need to think about ways to repopulate and grow their database quickly through...

  • Site overlay with data capture
  • Push notifications through site and app
  • Opt-in ads - via sign-up sites 

 ... to withstand the looming danger of 2018 becoming the 'annus horribilis' of data marketing.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

It's time for Direct Marketing to adopt a Data Privacy Seal

GDPR: Data Privacy Seal
With the imminent arrival of GDPR and consumer concern about their data at an all time high isn't it time for the marketing industry to produce a Data Privacy Seal? 

The current situation is unsustainable, chiefly because of:

  • Bewildering array of opt-in/out-out design on webforms
  • Bewildering array of super long privacy policies which are often indeciphereable
  • Bewildering array of interpretations of what constitutes safe data handling

No wonder consumers are bewildered when marketing experts are still struggling to get their head around this. Understanding GDPR is one thing, implementing it is another.

This time is now for the industry to come together to produce a uniform standard consumer facing brand to safe collection, processing and storing of consumer data.

An industry created Data Privacy Badge means it could be added to all webforms (anywhere where data is collected). This will give:

  • Confidence to consumers their data won't be sold and will be used properly in line with GDPR. 
  • Confidence to marketers that they are collecting and using data properly
  • Confidence to the ICO that companies are seeking to comply and prefer to use a widely agreed version rather than try to interpret meanings from GDPR

The online advertising industry adopted the widely recognised AdChoices (for Personalisation) programme years ago, the direct marketing industry (which can't exist without data) version is long overdue.

The direct marketing world can only function with the permission of its audience, Today that permission can be rescinded at any point more easily than ever. The answer is to gain long term trust from consumers all over again.

A Data Privacy badge backed by an agreed set of rules means a UK wide Privacy Policy can be adopted by all companies collecting data which the public can actually understand and trust. Stop and imagine that for a second - a standard Privacy Policy that all companies can link to and which everyone understands AND more importantly everyone TRUSTS!)

GDPR should only be seen as a kick start to the process of making consumers feel safe when using their data to infinity and beyond...

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Why GDPR is Direct Marketing's BREXIT

"Can we at least shake on GDPR?" (credit:The Independent)
Last week, it struck me how these two phrases, forever etched on marketing people's brains, have a surprising amount in common with each other...
  • Neither outcome is fully known until deadlines come and go
  • We are preparing for both best we can on limited guidance available
  • We are inundated with so called experts, doom-mongers and evangelists
  • They are bound to be some losers, but also big opportunities
But the single humongous problem affecting our business lives today is that we lack certainty. The stuff that we crave in order to design and execute change plans is rarer than the prospect of Barnier and Davis swapping presents this Christmas.
Informed guesswork is the name of the game here with those who feel they're sailing close to the wind now (you know who you are) will likely court the wrath of the ICO GDPRstyle in 2018, unless business models are torn up and new strategies adopted.
The best policy (outside of an official one) is to use common sense. Many blogs ago, I suggested such common sense rules called the 'The Granny Test' for those of you unsure how to apply best practice to consumer privacy and consent. The basic premise is before hitting go on that latest direct marketing campaign, think how your granny would feel about receiving it. If the impact worries you, hit pause and think again. I think this interpretation still holds well today in the absence of any explicit rules to follow.
May the marketing force be with you (you'll need it!)

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

How to Solve Marketing's Consent / Privacy Dilemna

Make no bones about it Privacy and Consent are now the biggest buzzwords in Direct Marketing. Cut to frantic scenes in compliance and marketing departments across the UK trying to figure out what the best approach is to take...
Is it a question of damned if you do and damned if you don't?
But before we all start ripping up marketing techniques that have been tried and tested over the last twenty years (since Data Protection Act of 1998 and 2003's PECR), let's start with performing a simple test on how you treat marketing communications with prospects and customers by applying 'The Granny Test':
Put yourselves in the shoes of your granny and think how she would feel if she received the latest DM pack, email or phone-call as part of a direct-marketing campaign. You'll get one of two answers:
  1. She's worried/concerned/surprised to hear from the brand
  2. She understands the reason for contact and accept/ignores or declines the offer
Of course, eliciting answer No.2 means you've probably got the correct consent/opt-in whilst respecting her privacy. Anything else, means you have to go back down the mine and work out why your granny doesn't understand the reason for contact.
Best practice is no longer an aspiration but the absolute minimum for direct marketing post GDPR. GDPR sounds onerous (it is in terms of administration!) but does attempt to crystalise how everyone would prefer to be contacted via marketing channels. Compliance can no longer be seen as a barrier, but another way to enable better marketing results through fairer legal means.
From personal experience, recent conversations with client brands have resurfaced some age old questions around consent, opt-in and privacy. Actually it is now easier to answer those questions with a stricter ICO interpretation of data laws using GDPR.
One such dilemma is 'Should we use company name or brand name opt-in statement? On the face of it, the benefits of a company wide opt-in are obvious, offering multiple brand opt-ins and total communication flexibility. However caution must be urged - do your prospects/customers most commonly associate with the brand or the company? Apply the 'Granny Test' and you'll quickly get the answer you need! Under GDPR using a company opt-in to send marketing comms from a brand a prospect is unfamiliar with, is likely to suffer the wrath of the ICO as you will need to prove that the original opt-in consent scope is tight enough to allow this type of brand contact.
It seems only yesterday that pressure on companies to get serious about consent was at breaking point but looking back to 2015 the red flags were flying and highlighted (in no subtle terms) in a previous blog How to fix Direct Marketing Biggest Problem
2018 will be the year of reckoning for all those in the Direct Marketing game, so spend 2017 huddling together to solve your Consent / Privacy dilemmas, before the ICO (painfully) solves it for you.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Automatic for the People?

Michael Knight escapes KITT(image thanks to Silver Blue)
"End Tech Disruption, Start Tech Enhancement"
Constant social media updates flood our news feeds daily about how yet another industry is disrupted by new technology.... and how wonderful this is because now a computer automates a task faster and cheaper than ever before. 
But wait... there's a catch or more a hidden story. That is, the lives of the people this technology disrupts. Disruption is rarely all good, indeed the definition is: disturbance or problems that interrupt an event, activity, or process - doesn't sound too rosy now, does it? Yet we are sold on the idea that disruption by tech is all good, inevitable, unavoidable and that if we can't see the advantage now, we will all benefit in the future.
Take Uber as a classic example of disruptive technology. The platform disrupts by removing the inconvenience of getting a taxi at short notice which was an inherent flaw with the offline taxi rank/office/black cab industry. So far, so good. However looking at the numbers, this company just can't make money with its current driver model. It just lost another $800m last quarter and on track to lose $3 billion by year end! It won't take a genius to guess that it will only ever likely turn a profit when a driverless model is the prevailing service.
So like the offline taxi model, Uber appears to carry a flaw (this time weighing c. 62kg) in its underlying model. As an Uber user, I like the convenience but I also love that fact that Uber provides someone with a new way to earn an income. Without a 62kg human driver, I could quite easily fall out of love with Uber.
Next time you are sold the next great tech disruption consider the downsides and how maybe technology should be evaluated on the enhancement it makes to us humans rather than purely as a cool disruptive influence. With this kind of thinking, better, more profitable and an altogether more humanistic approach can create tech business models that mutually benefit customers, employees and society at large (and don't even get me started on big corp taxes!).