Wednesday, 1 May 2013 by Unknown

Is Affiliate marketing a dirty word?

Have you noticed of late how many in the affiliate marketing industry appear to be moving (or should I say running!) away from using the term affiliate, which at the end of the day is just another word for publisher. Affiliates4U market themselves as A4U Performance Marketing Insight and their Performance Marketing Awards consign the word affiliate to the dustbin. Whilst that massive late entry into the affiliate space, Google plumped for the name Google Affiliate Network (GAN) only to rapidly close down this April and the term affiliate with it.

As marketing moves with the fashion, this season Performance Marketing is that eye catching black number that everyone seems to want - with affiliate stuff being cast off into the stockroom only to be re-badged and put back out in the shop window.

However, terminology is a huge, huge, deal in direct marketing - image is everything. The problem with the term affiliate I think, it that its cites a form of marketing that directly puts the publisher in the spotlight rather than the advertiser, channel or purpose - it indicates no whys or hows to the outsider. Whereas performance marketing is clean and focuses on the mechanism that publishers, advertisers and networks all work to. So, as the term affiliate falls from grace and I predict it will soon be consigned to history, we are left with an industry full of affiliate executives, managers and directors.

With the industrys rapid evolvement, maybe its time we all adopted Performance Marketing sooner rather than later to avoid confusing marketers who have enough conflicting terminology to deal with as it is.

Lastly, as the new cool Performance Marketing tends to get banded around everywhere these days, I believe its worth making a distinction. I think the true essence of Performance Marketing is where all those involved (advertiser, publisher, agency, network) are working on a risk performance basis. For me, cost per sale/acquisition (CPS/CPA) marketing is not performance marketing at all, as all risk is taken by the publisher (affiliate!). Lead generation marketing is where all parties are performing to ensure it works for all which is why the term Performance Lead Marketing sums it up perfectly.

Monday, 29 April 2013 by Unknown

The future of Social Media Lead Generation

Social Media is coming of age and is at the equivalent stage of consumer adoption as telephones were in the 1980s when a useful telephone directory contained every UK citizens contact details. A marketing goldmine no less and the crazy thing is - no-one even minded as it made talking to friends much easier! This triggering a blindingly obvious gold-rush of sales cold calls before the party was abruptly ended when millions of people went ex-directory (i.e. asking for their details to be removed). Can you imagine your phone number being printed in a public directory today?

So turning our attention back to modern social media and inparticular Facebook, what do we find but millions of private information printed in an online public directory. Imagine how crazy were all gonna look in 10 years time when we recall how our identities were shared across social media sites. From a direct-marketing point of view, maybe, the party is already beginning to end (as happened with telephone number directories)? Record numbers are closing their facebook accounts. Over 600,000 of you raced for the exit sign last Christmas with another 2 million no longer wanting to share anymore in March. So thats over 2.5m people effectively going ex-directory.

However, what we are left with is still the largest direct marketing opportunity on earth with some 31 million direct marketing targets in the UK alone. More excitingly still, CPA (cost per action) advertising is now coming to Facebook which brings social performance marketing right to the fore. Other social marketing innovations are also emerging from companies with access to the Twitter firehose developing lead marketing platforms allowing conversations to be turned into leads at the crucial moment of intent.

Direct selling on social media platforms is notoriously difficult with a user base who are more engaged about doing stuff rather than buying stuff. Lead generation is therefore the most purposeful tool in which to turn all that attention into buyers via a lead nurturing programme. The type of nurturing is dependent on upon the product/service being promoted, social media platform and audience. For example, a competition to win a trip to Australia is great for gathering Facebook fans for an airline, whereas a whitepaper for email marketing is ideal to opt-in a Linked-in audience.

By the end of 2013, lead generation opportunities on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Linked-in are likely to be more firmly established beyond the standard CPC (cost per click) models meaning pure performance marketing on social media is only just around the next corner. As for the sleeping giant that is Google+, I havent the foggiest idea whats going on with that. If you are into circles and hangouts, please shed some light by commenting below.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013 by Unknown

5 reasons why you should care about 'One lead'

One Lead
  1. One lead is a human being - it could be YOU!
  2. One lead can be your best customer for life
  3. One lead can be your PR disaster (if abused)
  4. One lead is positive brand reconigition
  5. One lead could be someone you know - family, friend or acquaintance
Its easy to forget when conducting analysis of hundreds of thousands of leads on reports and spreadsheets that each and every one is a person who could make or break a marketing year. That is, of course, assuming you are collecting unique valid leads with real-life names and addresses!

This kind of focus on single lead generation used to be the preserve of b2b lead generation marketing. However, recent advances in marketing automation means you can personalise the marketing sales funnel to such an extent its akin to the personal attention attention normally associated with b2b client enterprise wins. These days, at the most basic level, theres no excuse not to refer to prospects/customers by first name (no more Dear member!). On a more advanced marketing level, other intelligent automated possibilities include:
  • knowing what they like and dont like
  • what they think of your brand
  • how they like to be handled
  • what they might want to buy next
We seem to be moving away from reactive marketing (abandoned check-out, lapsed behaviour) toward predictive marketing. The challenge is to target people before they fail to complete a purchase or stop opening emails. Anyone who has ever received a win-back email from a brand saying Did we do something wrong? is normally seen as nothing other than a doomed public admission of marketing failure. 

So next year in 2014, well most likely see less re-targeting advertising, especially in the face of default do not track settings baked in on new versions of Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer. Rather, the next gold-rush will be towards pre-targeting. In the past, advertisers have classicly failed to effectively use pre-targeting in most online advertising which has resulted in this perfect storm. Dire click throughs on banner advertising combined with massive increases in re-targeted advertising. Re-targeting is effective in as much that it is limited to converting previous site visitors (i.e. the warm prospect) rather than bringing in brand new customers from the cold.

So once the fog of this perfect storm clears, you will see I am not a number, my name is Peter and I am one lead.

Monday, 25 February 2013 by Unknown

Welcome emails - the most powerful email in the World

Welcome emails are effectively your first-date, so you HAVE to make a good first impression, otherwise youll never get engaged. This blog is a kind of prequel (credit to George Lucas for that word) to the original article I wrote about Engagement in Dont Marry your Leads, get Engaged First.

The welcome email is the single most powerful event in which to grab your new prospect or customer by the collars and scream how great your brand is and how buying from you is going to make their life better.

Its one of those rare occasions when you are potentially speaking to 100% of your audience. Even just using standard messaging, expect opens of 40%+ and click thrus of 25%+ on email. Compare this with regular internal mailings where 20% open is the norm - and you already have 200% uplift. This is clearly a marketing moment not to be squandered, by following some simple rules. Guaranteeing high opens and clicks on welcome emails boils down to three things:
  1. Timing
  2. Message
  3. Audience
1. Timing
Email deliverability plays a key part here as you want to be sure as soon as someone opts-in to your newsletter, a follow-up email arrives in their inbox (every second counts!). Other potential real-time event based messaging include where timing is crucial to performance include site revisits, shopping cart abandonment, Birthdays, etc

2. Message
It is best to keep the initial email clear and welcoming. However make sure you dont waste the opportunity to truly engage the reader. For example, if you only use a welcome email to say hello, thanks, well be in touch again kind of thing, then you should march yourself to the marketing court for crimes against email marketing. Instead, make an unforgettable impact by rewarding the email recipient with some news, free advice, or better still, an exclusive offer (with an expiry date).

Another point worth considering is to guard against email creepiness. Just because you can, doesnt mean you should. Do not stalk your customers! For example, if upon learning that a site visitor has not bought that dress, dont email with a message saying we saw looking at that dress, but you didnt buy. Whats wrong? Instead, to achieve a more positive ROI use we noticed you browsing on our site today, but maybe you couldnt find what you were looking for. Can we help? Chat now or email us

3. Audience
Targeting the right people is essential, getting timing and targeting right with the wrong audience will eventually spell disaster. However, the problem may not be immediately obvious to the naked marketing eye. The problem is that stats do lie, because open rates and even click throughs can remain high when employing the right message at the right time. Ultimately however, targeting the wrong people means those window shoppers are unlikely to turn into a high enough buyers needed for campaign success.

If you are still keen to learn more about the power of welcome emails, check out great examples of customer welcome emails courtesy of those nice people at Smart Insights.

Thursday, 14 February 2013 by Unknown

Love your leads

A timely reminder to always remember leads are real people requesting contact for information about your product or service. So, to that end, they deserve to be treated with respect in all marketing communications. The most appropriate way to communicate with tomorrows customer is largely due to a number of factors:

  • How expensive your product/service is
  • How complex your product/service is
  • How your brand is perceived
  • How your market sector is perceived
For example, when selling complex pension products is is of paramount importance to give as much information as possible at the beginning of the marketing purchase funnel backed by independent research and customer testimonies. Once trust is established, you can move the the next stage of giving specific advice and recommendations about how great your products are. The sale is a long-drawn out process which could take a matter of months.

Contrast this with a free trial for a magazine subscription and you can normally skip the first stage and move straight into the recommendation phase by focusing on the value of the offer. You can expect this level of sale to complete in a matter of hours.

To summarise - the marketing funnel for consumer purchases looks something like this:
  1. Give valid product information (build trust)
  2. Recommend product USPs (why youre the best)
  3. Close the deal
But above all, if you only need to remember one thing - Love your Leads - you wont go far wrong!