Apple is Killing Your Email Marketing

Ever since Apple released Version 10 of the operating system for its iPhone, your email marketing program has been under siege.

Version 10 of iOS begs the user to opt-out of the sender's list, if she so wishes, by displaying a mammoth unsubscribe banner above each incoming email.

To quit your list, all the user need do is click the banner. The click sends an email to you (or your email service provider) that instructs you to remove the user from your list.

Opt-outs have soared since the August release of Version 10.

There is one way to thwart Apple: enable opt-outs only through a website. If your email contains only a URL for unsubscribing, the ginormous unsubscribe banner won't be displayed.

HAT TIP: Thanks go to Mike Bannan, CDO of Inspire 360, for bringing this to our attention during Super Niche Media. Before he mentioned Version 10, we were at a loss to understand the surge in opt-outs.

Marketing Tips To Convert More Trade Show Leads

Exhibit marketers have long agreed that up to 80% of leads they gather at trade shows never receive the type of follow-up contact that converts them into customers.

Since evaluating leads captured at a tradeshow can be difficult, it makes sense that follow-up isn't always as thorough as it should be. But that's hardly the reason exhibitors so often drop the ball. The real reason? They don't attract the right leads to their booths, or qualify the ones they do.

We'll discuss attracting leads in another post and focus here on lead-qualification.

To convert more leads from a trade show:

1. Focus on follow-up from the start. Every time a visitor stops at your booth and expresses interest in your presence at the event, you should identify the individual's real level of interest and desire for follow-up. Don't leave the show with a stack of undifferentiated business cards or badge swipes! Ask simple qualifying questions and record the answers with the visitor's contact information. Most exhibitors do no more than collect business cards or scan the visitor's badge, relying on memory to help them prioritize their leads back at the office. That technique never works! You need enough information to engage the visitor after the show.

2. Follow up with every lead within a few hours or days, at most. The adage "Strike while the iron is hot" applies. After the show, go through your list of leads and their answers and determine who's most likely to respond to follow-up contact, and begin with them. When you contact them, include a reminder of your booth. A photograph can jog the memory quite effectively. Remember what promises or claims you made at the event, and concentrate on in a direct and forthright manner. Also, be sure your post-show email or direct mail piece offers value. Invite the individual to sign up for your newsletter, download a free report or e-book, or learn from a video or online demonstration. This accustoms the lead to receiving more information from you in the future.

3. Plan on lead nurturing. Don't expect to convert most trade show leads into customers after a few post-show contacts. It's an immutable law of marketing that most leads require seven to thirteen contacts before they convert. Unfortunately, salespeople give up too early. A trade show lead may take two years to convert. So count on the need to nurture them!

4. Leverage technology. Most show organizers provide handheld devices or apps for capturing and qualifying leads on site. Although helpful, they don't go far enough. Not only should you customize the data you collect to your business and marketing needs, you should capture it in a way that lets you funnel it directly into your customer relationship management (CRM) database. By leveraging your CRM, you can automate the process of sending newsletters, marketing emails, and other types of follow-up, and track lead's responses.

5. Assign a lead champion. Accept that lead-conversion may take a long time, and designate a responsible individual or team to track each lead's progress through the conversion process, so none is lost in the ether. Every person who stopped at your booth and expressed interest in your company had a reason to do so. That interest needs to cultivated. You need to build a relationship and establish trust with the visitor. Never push lead management into the background at a show, or settle for bringing home only an excel file or a stack of business cards. Create a long-term strategy and follow it.

NOTE: Want a turnkey lead-gen solution? Ask us about PLAYBOOK.

Activation versus Experiential: What's the Difference?

Amid the tons of jargon association marketers and trade show people use are two terms meant to describe the process of customer engagement and brand recognition: activation and experiential marketing. These two activities are closely related, but differ when it comes to purposes and methods.

What is an Activation?

An activation is the realization or fulfillment of a sponsorship.

No matter its form, an activation is a sponsorship's "on switch."

Brands must be presented to customers in ways that build trust. Any company can say, "Our product is the answer to your problem," but not every company can persuade customers that statement's true.

An activation puts muscle behind the statement.

An activation often takes the form of a free trial, a free sample, a gift or a prize that demonstrates the quality of the product or service directly. (Getting a free sample of a chocolate bar at fancy food show proves the claim "our chocolate tastes great.") After an activation, customers know they can trust the company's marketing messages, and are more likely to share the information with friends and colleagues.

What is Experiential Marketing?

Also called "engagement," experiential marketing often involves an activation, but the purpose differs. Instead of convincing customers they can trust the brand and its marketing messages, experiential marketing seeks to form a mental association between the brand and some positive experience. The association is often formed through an event, game, or special offer.

To use the prior example, handing out samples of chocolate is an activation. It introduces the candy convinces people who eat it that they can believe the things the company says about its product. Experiential marketing might extend that effort by offering the same people the chance to send personalized samples to their significant others or best friends with a "Thinking of You" note. This creates a positive, emotional experience for the original recipient of the sample and for the person who gets the personalized sample. The mental association between that particular brand of chocolate and "showing you care" boosts brand likability and loyalty measurably.

The Difference in Practice

Regardless of the product or service you offer, marketing it is an ongoing process that must encompass everything, from rollout to trial use, repeat purchases to a lifetime of loyalty. People are bombarded by ads and marketing messages continuously. Being heard over competitors' voices today requires a multichannel approach.

That's why marketers, along with advertising, direct marketing, selling and social media, put samples and gifts in customers' hands, and tap influencers, celebrities, and professional entertainers to cerate memorable customer experiences.

The sponsor or exhibitor who invites attendees to its exhibit with the promise of a free gift is activating its sponsorship. When the same company also offers demonstrations that combine learning with fun (and maybe the chance to meet a celebrity or two), it's practicing experiential marketing.

Combining an effective activation with experiential marketing does so much more than simply making an introduction and saying, "Hey, you should try this." It prompts customers to associate the brand with good feelings and motivates them to share the experience they enjoyed with others.

Want to know more? Read Kerry Smith and Dan Hanover's Experiential Marketing.

4 Tips for Increasing Association Membership

No matter what purpose or industry they represent, associations and non-profit organizations struggle to keep up a sufficient membership as time goes by. When older members retire or age out of these groups, they must attempt to attract a demographic of younger people. Many also struggle with retention. After a new person visits the group once, they may not add their names to the membership list or return on a regular basis. What actions should an association or non-profit take, to increase membership and keep it high for the long term? Here are four:

1 – Analyze the Existing Association Membership List

Before deciding who you wish to market membership to for the purpose of gaining new sign-ups, take a long look at the current members and figure out why they are a part of your association. Start with an analysis of the demographics involved. Are most people of a certain age or from a particular industry? Do they all come from a particular geographical area or earn a specific level of income? These characteristics will help you target people who will be a good fit for the group.

In order to expand the association into new demographics or attract the attention of a different socioeconomic or age group, you need to determine what benefits the group would be most interested in. Weighting benefits against the needs of existing members can be tricky, however. So exercise care. New benefits may allow your to not only to boost numbers, but provide additional value to the entire membership.

Do not shy away from using postal direct mail with millennials, as well as older individuals. Studies have shown that they appreciate meaningful mail as much as anyone else. Unlike older audiences, millennials who read a direct mail piece will jump immediately to the Internet to research or sign up with your group. So make sure you have online contact information clearly displayed on the postcard or letter.

2 – Create an Appropriate Direct Mail Introduction

Direct mail remains one of the best ways to attract attention to an association or organization focused on any industry or topic. Although we normally think of letters when we think of postal mail, a colorful postcard might be the right choice, because it attracts attention and conveys just enough information to incite interest. Before you worry about graphic design and color choice, however, you need a specific reason why you want to send out the mailer.

One option is to simply introduce association membership as an option to a new group of people. This method is not as effective as creating a unique deal, giving away something of value, or extending an invitation to a special event. If you go this route, be sure always to outline the benefits a person would get from joining as clearly as possible. Be aware, too, that most people will not join a group solely for an altruistic reason. Make sure you explain the business and personal value of joining, and reveal benefits that are highly targeted to the group you are sending the direct mail piece to. This creates a more personal invitation that will probably get a better response.

3 – Do Not Forget Visitors or Old Members

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to boost association membership numbers is by contacting people who have expressed interest in the past. If someone visited your group's website or social media page, you should have collected their contact information.

If someone was a member of the group before, but allowed her membership to lapse, you probably have even more information about the person. The prior involvement with your group, no matter how deep or long, can be used as a magnet to draw lapsed members back. Always make sure to remind the person of her previous involvement with the association, and solicit feedback on what she liked, or did not like, about your group and what benefits would hold the most appeal.

And don't quit soliciting lapsed members too early. Some successful associations mail lapsed members up to 17 times before giving up on them. Sometimes, members and lapsed members just need to be reminded that the organization exists. Sending a promotional item such as a refrigerator magnet or a small notepad with your association's branding on it can keep the benefits of belonging in the forefront of members' minds.

4 – Keep the Membership List Fresh through Frequent Contact

An association needs a constant influx of new people, in order to stay viable and active. Current members must be nurtured as well.

A steady stream of direct mail will boost membership rates and keep everybody involved with the association in touch with what's going on. The more contact an individual receives from your group, the greater the chance she will either join your ranks and become a vocal supporter, or become a new members. A steady stream of direct mail also serves to keep you list fresh. People change jobs more frequently today than anyone imagines. Mailing pieces to them routinely helps you keep track of the constant changes in employment.

Association Marketers' Mix is Wrong

A new report from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research could in part explain why association-owned shows have seen a falloff in attendance, exhibits and income.

Association organizers, according to CEIR, have cut their marketing spend during the past four years.

Learn more here.

8 Tips to Improve Your Email Marketing

Hundreds of billions of emails are sent each day. While many are personal communications, many are part of email marketing campaigns. If you represent a group trying to increase membership or raise money through association marketing, you need to understand how to reach your target audience in such a way that recipients won't unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam.

Improve your email marketing efforts and the results you get with these eight tips.

1 – Stop Using the Wrong Lists

In order to get a high click-through rate and prevent spam or junk mail claims, your direct mail list must be highly targeted and responsive. The best bet is always to use your own house list of members and people who have expressed interest in your group due to previous marketing efforts.

One of the worst things you can do is purchase or rent a general email list and send your introductory message out to everyone on it. This puts the focus on quantity over quality. Chances are, the bulk of these untargeted people will simply unsubscribe or delete the email unread.

Find a better alternative: instead of renting general lists, use an email marketing list that filters down to the most responsive demographics possible, ones that align with the purpose and goals of your association. Often, working with an experienced mailing list broker can help you avoid selecting lists that are not going to be fruitful. An experienced list broker like Bethesda List Center, , knows how to target your requirements

2 – Avoid Excessive Rapid-Fire Emails

Although it certainly takes more than one contact to make your association a known name, sending out too many emails causes annoyance. Unfortunately, there are no hard-and-fast rules about email marketing frequency that work across all industries and niches. When and how you should send emails depend on the purpose of each individual contact. For example, an opt-in newsletter should be sent on a regular schedule once per week or month; but messages with free trial offers or special gift deals can be sent more frequently.

3 – Make Personalization Accurate

Email servers allows senders to use merge tags in order to personalize every email they send out. If Sally receives your email with her name inserted ("Hi, Sally"), she is more apt to respond positively. However, merge tags do not always input the correct data. Set up the service carefully, so the correct data are inserted. If you don't have the necessary data, auto-fill a word such as "friend." Delivering an email with a "Hi, friend" greeting is much better than delivering one with an error message ("Hi, [insert]".

4 – Focus on the Recipient

Not only should you provide content of value with every association marketing email, you must pay attention to data such as click-through rates and direct feedback from recipients. Many email newsletter owners receive comments or questions from subscribers that should always be taken into account when future emails are sent. The same thing can happen with marketing emails. The more you listen to the people you want to join your association or do business with you, the more apt they are to respond favorably to the messages you send.

5 – Send Out Attractive and User-Friendly Emails

Although content trumps style, every email you send should be eye-catching and attractive. Using ugly or garish colors or old-fashioned graphics will not endear you to the people you are trying to impress. Also, make sure every email shows up clearly on all browsers and mobile devices. There are automatic testing programs, but the ideal way to make sure every subscriber or association marketing recipient can access your message is to do the tests yourself.

6 – Resist Using Clickbait or Clichéd Subject Lines

Phrases such as "the secret of," "you won't believe," or "shocking new" may have attracted attention when email marketers first began using them 10 years ago, but readers are now savvy to clickbait and the false promises they make. These clichéd come-ons get a much lower click-through rate than honest, straightforward subject lines.

7 – Plan Follow-up Email Marketing or Other Contact Methods

After sending out an email campaign, you can analyze your clicks, reads, and unsubscribes. Understanding what these data mean is essential to planning your next move. In order to nurture readers, you need to develop additional content that provides value to them. Make an ongoing plan to align that content with each stage of marketing you will put your audience through.

8 – Follow the Laws, But Don't Make Unsubscribing a Simple Choice

Every direct mail you send electronically must follow appropriate anti-SPAM laws and have an unsubscribe button clearly designated at the bottom. This also helps recipients know that you respect their decisions about what type of contact they get and whether they are interested in your association or not. Enabling readers to unsubscribe improves trust overall.

That being said, the last thing you want to do is make unsubscribing a simple choice. The best way to avoid this is by always delivering relevant and interesting information about your association goals, values, events, and special offers. People who receive something they want and need will choose to continue.

How to Raise Non-Dues Revenue

While every association ultimately fails or triumphs on the involvement and loyalty of its membership, an association that relies solely on members' dues to operate may find itself floundering.

If your association struggles to find enough money to function and grow, the knee-jerk reaction may be to raise the dues. But this could alienate even your long-term members, and reduce applications to join, two things that will lead directly to failure.

Instead, you need initiatives that will fill the coffers without asking members to pay more to belong.

In other words, you need to develop new non-dues revenue streams.

Situation Analysis: The First Step

First, you must identify the real reason membership dues revenues are declining, if, in fact, they are. If your organization's membership decreases every month, you need to understand why.

In today's money-conscious world, with a wealth of free information and networking opportunities, association membership must bring something extra to the table. Does membership in your association cost more than it's worth? Does it deliver true value? Perhaps "true value" means lowering members' dues.

But whether you raise, lower or keep dues the same from one year to another, you still need to offer members access to benefits they won't readily find elsewhere, in order to attract and retain them.

It's here that you'll find opportunities to earn non-dues revenue.

Sponsorships May be the Low-Hanging Fruit

One of the most popular ways to raise non-due revenue is by attracting marketers from inside and outside your industry or profession who wish to target offers to your membership.

But attracting sponsors in today's climate means abandoning outworn sponsorship opportunities.

Gone are the days when "branding" opportunities merit a sponsor's investment in your association. Today's marketers believe in "results-driven marketing," which means your sponsorship opportunities have to deliver more than brand impressions. They have to drive brand engagement and consideration.

It's not enough to ask for money to offset the cost of food and beverage, say, in exchange for a sign near the coffee pot.

Your sponsorship opportunities need to provide sponsors ways to reach, influence and interact with your members that are different from and better than ways already available to them. Your sponsorship opportunities should therefore bundle:

  • * Use of your email list

  • * Ads on your website and in your newsletter or magazine

  • * Signage and other forms of recognition throughout your convention

  • * Branded, unique space at your convention's trade show

  • * Freedom to "activate" the sponsorship in a bold, imaginative, engaging manner, and

  • * Built-in performance measures

You Have to Sell Smarter

To succeed in sponsorship sales, it's not enough to design attractive packages. You have to learn how to sell them.

You not only need effective collateral material, but a solid routine for identifying, approaching and persuading fresh prospects week after week. And you need the people to handle those tasks. If you can't assemble a sales team with sponsorship sales experience, the next best thing is to hire someone with a background in IT sales. The keys are to find talented salespeople and empower them. You might even want to consider retaining a third-party partner to coach your staff, or to conduct your sponsorship sales.

Delivering Value is Critical

It all comes down to recognizing and creating value. Every association, no matter its purpose or size, must provide enough value to attract and retain members. And while their dues may be the association's lifeblood, the blood supply is getting scarcer all the time. That money alone is insufficient for growth. If you want to do better than "just getting by," you must learn how to leverage every facet of your organization to deliver value and increase non-dues revenue.