SEO, blogging, PPC, landing pages, social media, video — All are important tools. But, don’t forget to find and help the potential leads who are already on the web looking for help!
Recently, I found a post on a forum that was about some of the key software tools I use — Hubspot and Infusionsoft. So, I looked up the woman who wrote the post and called to see how it was all working for her. Really, I was just curious about her business and what she was doing.
But, it turned out that she had some challenges I could help with, and my casual, curiosity phone call turned into a sales call!
Sales is all about connecting with people that you can help. So, don’t forget that “listening” to the web is part of inbound marketing, too. It’s not all about writing content. Make sure you spend some of your marketing time:
A question came up this morning on one of the Infusionsoft support pages about email ‘open’ rates. This is an important and confusing subject, so I thought I would write more here.
Unfortunately, ‘opens’ are one of the worst named and most confusing email marketing metrics. To a marketer, it seems on the surface to be a valuable metric. After all, who wouldn’t love to know how many and which customers were opening your messages?
The problems are due to the technical limitations of how this works. Here’s how it’s supposed to work:
Before your email is sent, your email company puts a small invisible image in each HTML email.
When the recipient displays the message, the image is retrieved from the email server.
Each image has a unique name, so the email server knows which recipient got and ‘opened” the message.
But, this doesn’t work very well in actual use:
Many mail readers have images turned off. The default for Outlook is to turn images off, same with Thunderbird, Google’s gmail service has images off by default, etc.
The recipient might open and read the message carefully, but never show up as an ‘open’ because their email reader has images disabled.
Many email readers have a Preview Pane that will automatically retrieve images. So, the recipient could click the message to delete it, and still show up as an ‘open’ even though they ignored your message.
There is no tracking for plain text messages as you can’t put an image in a plain text message.
Common open rates are in the 10 – 15% range. Even though a higher open rate can indicate more reader interest, all the noise from the above issues obscures what is really happening. You can easily end up going off in the wrong direction or wasting a lot of time trying to improve the wrong things.
So, ‘opens’ only provides a very rough measure of how your audience received your message. The main practical use for the ‘open’ metric is to look for a sudden variation in messages sent to the same list. If there is a sudden change, it can indicate a deliverability problem.
How to Really Measure Engagement
Fortunately, there is a way for marketers to find out which customers engaged with their message!
What you really care about isn’t whether your customer ‘opened’ or even read your message. What you really want is for them to take an action and engage with you. That’s how you know your message connected with them.
So, use links and link tracking. If a customer clicked a link, they actually responded to you. This is what matters. This is what you care about and should track.
The trick is to create links that customers want to click. This is part of the art of email marketing!
It may seem basic to you, but having a set of clear, written business goals is essential! I talk with a lot of businesses who may think they have goals, but are often vague or change from one day to the next.
Without written goals, your thinking will tend to be more muddled. Worse, you’ll probably believe your thinking is clear and not realize how much your unclear thinking is hurting your business.
Your goals act as a filter to help prioritize your time and effort. If it doesn’t forward a goal, why do it?
Clear business goals will help you create clear objectives for your website. Do you want a website that generates leads for you, a site that sells products, or something else?
When you know what you’re looking for, you’re more likely to find it! There are various explanations for why life works this way. All I know is that it works.
So, how do you create good business goals?
Your goals should:
Have a time frame
Be stated in the past tense.
This last one needs a little explanation. Imagine you are in the future, and your goal was already fully realized. Writing your goals this way will make them seem more achievable!
Here’s an example goal:
XYZ company had $546,000 of total revenues in 2010.
This goal is specific, it’s measurable, it states a time frame, and it’s written in the past tense.
So, please, whether you’ve been in business for a long time or are just starting your company, create a set of clear business goals. If you get stuck, leave a comment, and I’ll help you get going! And, when this works for you, please leave a comment to tell everyone how you succeeded.