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Freshers newsletter campaign

In one of those great ‘two birds, one stone’ scenarios a project I was working on fitted the brief for part of my course. It has also led to much smugness so I’ve decided to up the smug factor by sharing the project with you, the people of the internet.

Essentially, the Students’ Union wanted to launch a newsletter for new students (‘freshers’) to capture incoming students’ email addresses, get them interested in the Students’ Union and its Freshers Week events and start building a relationship between students and their Union.

This is the presentation I gave for my course outlining the project (which features some early drafts of the newsletter itself). It uses Prezi, a super cool online presentation tool which instantly makes your presentation infinitely more interesting than if you use PowerPoint (you might have to wait a mo for it to load), just use the back and forward buttons at the bottom right to move around or click and drag to move around. You can also view it full screen if you’d rather.

Permission MarketingI created a series of autoresponder emails which subscribers will receive over the summer in the run-up to the start of Freshers Week. Each email features one of the Union’s elected officers with tips and information relating to their area of responsibility and Freshers Week.

It builds on some of the principles of Seth Godin’s ‘Permission Marketing‘ which I recommend (though some of the examples now seem a little dated – it was written 10 years ago when Amazon looked like a promising little online bookseller…). The idea is that we get people’s permission to contact them via email by offering them something useful in return (in this case, exclusive news and content about Freshers Week). According to Godin (and common sense) they are then more likely to pay attention when we communicate with them than if we just put ads everywhere or thrust flyers into their hands.

Putting theory into practice

The newsletter is now live and is picking up between 10 and 20 new subscribers per day. We expect the subscriber rate to increase much faster once most students’ places are confirmed on 18th August. I’m using Aweber to manage subscriptions and send out emails and I thoroughly recommend it, it is really easy to use and their customer service is great. It also gives you lots of graphs and numbers to play with which makes me very happy!

So far the messages are getting very good open rates, much higher than our typical term-time emails. I attribute this principally to the niche content of the newsletter (whereas the term-time emails cover a wide range of topics) and new students’ enthusiasm for news about Freshers Week (and the well-crafted newsletter campaign obviously…). We’re hoping to transfer this high level of interaction to our term-time newsletter and other campaigns in future.

Message
Unique opens Unique clicks
per open
1 – Hi [first name], welcome to our Freshers newsletter 68% 0.60
2 – [Sussex Freshers] Our top tips for settling in from Indi, Welfare Officer 58% 0.99
3 – [Sussex Freshers] top 5 Freshers things to get excited about from James, Activities Officer 68% 0.70
4 – [Sussex Freshers] How to find out what’s going on from Ariel, Communications Officer 47% 0.36
5 – [Sussex Freshers] A guide to the Sussex campus by Becca, Operations Officer 65% 0.67
6 – [Sussex Freshers] Tips for getting the most from your studies from Poppy, Education Officer 59% 0.26
7 – [Sussex Freshers] A look at the year ahead at Sussex from David, Students’ Union President 66% 0.44

I’ll keep this updated as the newsletter progresses, if nothing else it’ll encourage some friendly rivalry between the officers over who is the most ‘popular’! The table above was last updated on 22nd August, the first emails were sent on 27th June with follow up emails every four days.

I tagged the links in the emails so I can use Google Analytics to see how people browse our site by following links from the newsletter. A quick glance the other day suggested that these are driving people deeper into our site than normal which suggests the targeted nature of the emails is working.

After Freshers Week I’ll post some examples of the emails we’re using, I can’t do them earlier as they’re ‘exclusive content’ for subscribers only! If you’re super keen you can head over to www.sussexstudent.com/freshers and sign up yourself!

Jo

August 2nd, 2011|Digital|5 Comments|

Some Adwords words

I’m a trustee of the University of Brighton Students’ Union. One of the ways they generate income to spend on services for students is through advertising sales including print, online, sponsorship and on-site events.

One of the tasks on my course was to create some examples of Google Adwords ads so I decided to consider how Brighton Students’ Union could use an Adwords campaign to attract potential clients.

These are two examples which would aim to convert clicks into enquiries. They could run alongside each other and the more successful option be refined further to increase click-through rates and conversions. The ads could be targeted to people searching within East Sussex using relevant keywords about marketing, promoting, students and sales..

Advertise to students
Promote your business to students
in Brighton with targeted marketing
ubsu.net/marketing

Promote to students
Want to promote to students?
Advertise directly to students
ubsu.net/marketing

Jo

March 31st, 2011|Digital|0 Comments|

Email marketing analysis : Oxfam Unwrapped

As an email ninja I get very few email newsletters that I’m not interested in or don’t read so it was interesting to see how many people on my course have written about emails that they don’t open. I decided to write about one of the emails I pretty much always open so I could be all gushing and nice rather than shouting at some poor email marketer who dared send me an email I opted in for.

Oxfam emailI chose an email that had worked on me, the latest one from Oxfam, one of my favourite charities. I always read their emails as they contain a mix of campaigning actions, product information and updates on their progress. I receive emails from Oxfam as I’ve ordered gifts from them in the past and have clicked through from prior emails about their campaigns.

This email (pictured left, click to view the full size version) promotes their Oxfam Unwrapped range of gifts as ideal Mother’s Day presents.

The header comprises three links which relate to the three themes of the message; Mother’s Day, the special offer of free chocolates with every order and the weddings range which forms the second half of the email body. This helps people who read their emails in a preview pane (where only the start of the message is visible) as well as opening the message with key messages to encourage people to keep reading.

Email body textThe main body of the email combines several short paragraphs of text, a photo and a testimonial quote which appears to be from a prior recipient of Oxfam support. The text is full of links (six in total) to various sections of the Oxfam Unwrapped site; a special offer landing page (used three times) and three individual product links that are based around families and women. The section ends with a ‘start shopping’ call to action to emphasise the point.

The text moves from referencing your mum (not in a ‘your mum’ joke sort of way I hasten to add!) to mothers who have benefitted from Oxfam Unwrapped before tying the concepts together with ‘Thank your mum and mums all over the world with an Oxfam Unwrapped gift this Mother’s Day’ using empathy to reinforce the call to action.

The quote and photo aim to give a human touch to the story. The use of an individual quote rather than statistics about the scope of problems such as dirty water reminded me of this recent Guardian article about how people find it easier to relate to individual stories rather than broad statistics.

The email is then divided with eight colourful boxes linking to other gift categories, this is quite a good discreet way of reminding readers of the breadth of gifts available as well as potentially prompting sales unrelated to the Mother’s Day theme.

Categories

The second section of the email introduces a new range from Oxfam with three images linking to the relevant sections of Oxfam’s site. There is no call to action in this section, maybe because weddings are more of a niche market.

The email ends with a three updates from Oxfam on different topics; fundraising opportunities, gift ideas and campaigning. This is a great way of illustrating the range of Oxfam’s activities and definitely something charities and commercial organisations could use. The footer contains links to Oxfam’s website and social media channels as well as unsubscription information, contact details and legal information about the sender.

I like the layout of the message as it is simple but interesting as it features a variety of topics and colours without being overwhelming.

The special offer’s landing page reiterates the free chocolates offer then lists some of their bestsellers. This acts as an endorsement from other customers and encourages confidence in the product and organisation. The page lists as three-step process to complete the purchase which presumably helps convert potential buyers.

The email doesn’t contain any personalisation though it would be interesting to know whether this email was targeted in any way based on the demographic or interaction history Oxfam know about me. It is unclear whether the campaigning, fundraising and sales messages I receive from Oxfam are connected at all. It would be interesting to know whether targeted or personalised emails, ‘you signed our petition about X so you might want to donate Y’, would lead to more sales or donations. As Oxfam work in so many countries, across so many projects and in different ways I wonder if and how they segment their subscribers and supporters at all.

P.S. Mum, if you’re reading this, act surprised on Mother’s Day!

March 24th, 2011|Digital|0 Comments|

Driving business online

At last year’s TFM&A exhibition, Steve Lomax from Experian CheetaMail (who have a range of white papers on email marketing available for download) gave a presentation about email marketing which you can watch online.

In it, he gives an overview of how email marketing is changing using information from a range of their clients, the most interesting of which is that the overall volume of emails sent has increased by 42% and overall revenue has increased by 35% from 2008 to 2009.

Email marketers have implemented a range of campaigns with more relevance, targeting and variety to increase sales (which then increase volume rather than the other way around).

He uses Boden as a case study to illustrate his point. They’ve moved from a catalogue retailer (with a single, standard catalogue) to making 75% of their sales online. This has allowed them to target their marketing activities and provide relevant and personalised information. They combined their online and offline data to create clear pictures of their customers and segmented their customers. Their emails now include dynamic content such as offers and products. Boden’s new email strategy has seen increases in open rates, click-throughs and sales and a decrease in unsubscriptions.

They have also developed their website to incorporate user-generated reviews (and now have over 43,000 reviews!) Shoppers are now able to base their buying decisions on other customers rather than just the marketing messages provided by Boden. To generate reviews, Boden sent thank you emails to purchasers asking them to rate their purchases. Boden used Bazaarvoice to organise and generate reviews who have some other case studies and white papers on their website. Other companies have used user reviews in their email marketing campaigns to generate further sales.

Steve goes on to talk about other email marketing tips such as making the most of transactional emails to build relationships with the customer and provide opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. These emails have very high open rates so it makes sense to use them as a marketing opportunity. In his example from HMV, this has been extended throughout the customer lifecycle, e.g. order updates, service information.

He talks about remarketing, following up on abandoned transactions/processes, to increase sales and conversion rates. Experian’s research suggests that around 40% of customers would complete their transaction after a service-based email reminder as it is a very effective, targeted technique.

Social media provides opportunities to increase email subscriber lists and by allowing users to share content directly to social media networks, make sure your message is spread more widely. As mentioned in a session at this year’s TFM&A, SMS can be used to increase list size.

March 9th, 2011|Digital|0 Comments|

Reviews reviewed

I’ll say one thing about looking at reviews for the Kindle – I now really really want one. There are lots of different sorts of reviews online for the Kindle, I’ve put together a few as a starting point.

The sheer number of largely positive reviews (3795/4900 reviewers have given 5 stars on Amazon) of makes me lust after a product which I’m already predisposed to loving (I’m a geek!). I often use Amazon reviews to assess which product I should buy, particularly for tech things. The qualitative comments mean you can see what people like and don’t like about a product and whether that would apply to you. In the past I’ve bought things which have a negative review if the reviewers’ reason doesn’t apply to me (e.g. ‘it didn’t come with software’ doesn’t apply if I already have the software).

Amazon are masters of using recommendations to tailor their advertising to you and have obviously realised with the Kindle that the reviews are particularly effective as they’ve used quotes from journalists at the top of the product page. These certainly make the Kindle look good and lend some credibility in my eyes as they are from publications I’m largely aware of and trust. For me the user reviews are just as effective as they are from ‘real people’ who have used the product over a period of time rather than just techy people given one to play with for an afternoon (I want that job!). Definitely an interesting example to consider when thinking about credibility of reviews and reviewers.

I think Amazon are missing a trick by filling the page with screens and screens of product information and features which push the user reviews right down to the bottom of the page. I think they should use more of the user reviews higher up the page or at least highlight the excellent user ratings. This would make the product more widely appealing as there is credibility in the volume of reviews.


On a slightly smaller scale, users of The Student Room forum have been discussing their experiences with the Kindle. Where Amazon has volume, this has more focus as users have more in common with each other (presumably they’re all students or about to start University) and may have similar plans for their potential purchase, e.g. academic study, use while travelling, and maybe similar questions or concerns. These ties potentially make the reviews more relevant and useful.

The format of the discussion forum allows people to interact with the comments of others, asking for clarification or adding new questions. These reviews will therefore be more tailored to the audience and specific posters.

As these posts are not written deliberately as reviews however they are often quite cursory or only focus on one or two aspects, e.g. how cheap e-books are. This means the forum is not the best place to go for a comprehensive review but could be used to refine your opinion or act as a starting point.


P.S. This is one of my favourite set of reviews online, see if you can guess the product… – Worked fine with my right hand, but when I came to use my left hand my writing came out looking like the work of a complete imbecile. I can only assume Bic have created a right-handed only pen, and would caution left-handers to “try before you buy”

March 3rd, 2011|Digital|0 Comments|

Towards a map of marketing information systems

Is Daniel et al’s model actually a broadly applicable map or out-dated ?

We’ve been discussing Daniel et al’s article on a map of marketing information systems. The article proposes a ‘map’ of the marketing process and overlays information systems onto it. The basic map shows four stages in the marketing domain. One of its strengths appears to be its broad applicability to the marketing activities of a range of organisations (largely due to the simple, generic format).

The article however doesn’t discuss the likely speed of the overall process though it suggests a slow, contemplative and reflective process. As many of the organisations involved in developing this model were manufacturers or providers of goods, their R & D, decision-making processes and product development cycles may have been quite long and spend a while in each area of the map before moving to the next stage. The overlay of IS support highlights the potentially complex nature of information flows within an organisation. It may be that the emergence of internet marketing allows the process to move very rapidly and for information to flow in new ways.

Smaller, web-based organisations in particular may find that this model doesn’t reflect the way they work if they are constantly making changes to their product/service.  Alternatively it may be that a rapid iterative process that allows customers to work with and feedback on prototypes is actually just a series of very fast cycles around the marketing map proposed by Daniel et al.

Daniel et al (2003) ‘Towards a map of marketing information systems: an inductive study’, European Journal of Marketing, Vol 37, No 5/6, pp821-847

February 17th, 2011|Digital|1 Comment|