Tag Archives: Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Charity email marketing – making a choice about email tools and approach.

This blog follows on from our previous Email Marketing Matters blog: Do you think about your email marketing?

Email Marketing Matters – Part 2

In our last blog we thought about some of the strategic issues around email, here we’ll address some of the technical questions to consider.

What matters in email tools today?

 There was a good reason we all favoured Mailchimp as a ‘free’ tool – it was easy to use and all the monkey brand stuff was fun. It still is both and is still highly regarded.

But these days, our selection criteria should perhaps be a little more sophisticated than trying to generate monkey rewards.

These are the kinds of questions we should be asking about our email tools.

  • Integrations with third party tools – does your email and CRM connect? Website? Mobile? Social?
  • Data capture – what happens to data you capture via your email tool? Does it sit in a list on your email tool or get transferred automatically to a CRM, or manually moved around?
  • Automation – what can you set to happen automatically? How sophisticated can you get the automation to be?
  • Personalisation – how much content can you personalise easily – not just names, subject lines or copy but can you look at whole content blocks.
  • Quick and intuitive split testing – split testing (A/B splits) can cover a range of things. Typically, subject lines but we should also be looking at areas like content and delivery times.
  • Journey building – can you build multi-stage journeys via email or more than one channel using your email tool? How does this work with automation?

That’s just a few basic things to consider. It’s a different list than “which tool is easy to use” – the good news is that pretty much all the tools that are consistently recommended have good UI – user interface – and provide excellent UX – user experience.

Volume is a vital statistic in email delivery

Email delivery isn’t something we always think about. You just press send and off it goes, right?  Well, not quite.

Most ‘freemium’ email marketing tools rely on a shared server approach – you are not in control of when your emails are sent and where from (in terms of the server as well as location). It’s part of how these services can be offered.

But the volume of messages you send (see Part 1), is a key consideration in whether you should be using these tools or looking to move to your own IP address for sending. Volume means that sometimes your chances of being caught up in spam filters are stronger (it’s a model for spammers obviously – bulk send to get lucky) or of your messages being held up behind other people’s messages and priorities.

Or even the shared IP you are using being spam blocked – with the consequence that even though you are a legitimate sender, the address is blocked and you can’t get your messages through (look at your email report for bounces – how many are server blocks or bounces?).

Delivery is one key reason volume is vital. The only true way to control your message sends, where your data is being sent from and when is by having your own IP address – this is particularly important for high volume senders – and this usually means shifting to an email platform solution.

When do you need to consider shifting to a platform?

I’m not going to lie, a platform solution comes with some costs attached (set up of the platform being one), but it’s a strategic decision. The set-up costs are a one-off fee, thereafter you’ll usually be paying a license fee per user and or by volume – much as you do for freemium models. And in some cases, the running costs are about as much as you use for your freemium tools if you’re using different plan elements (using the Mailchimp example – you can run a professional platform email marketing solution for the same cost as Mailchimp Pro for large volume sends). Does that surprise you? It’s worth investigating and thinking about the tipping points for when to move to a platform.

But our technology decision should not be based only on price – it should be based on strategic fit.

You may also want to think about how that tool will work with your charity email marketing programme:

  • How to improve ROI on lists – which tools are going to give you the best support in terms of improving your return on investment. Which ones will help you learn, grow and develop your email skills and knowledge internally to improve everything from design through to delivery and engaging audiences?
  •  Future proof – making a decision about email is a strategic choice. The results of the decision will take staff time in set up and training. It’s a time investment that is vital, but in the interests of productivity should be limited. The decision about tools should be taken with a view to the future and minimising disruption with the potential need to switch tools again to move forward a few years down the line
  •  Integrate-ability – it’s not just your primary data source (CRM) that you should consider. It’s additional data about audiences that builds the complete picture – from finance through to social media. Your email tool is a valuable part of the full data mix. The tool should also, in an ideal scenario, support your data approach by integrating new channels that you choose to use. When you’re ready to start using SMS and mobile push notifications – how will that integrate with your other digital channels? Is your platform extendable?
  •  List growth and email volume – email will long be the cornerstone of most organisations communications toolkit. Alongside considering other tools that many integrate with the system for an ‘omni-channel’ marketing approach, email volume and list growth will be key driving factors. Costs vary from tool to tool for email volume and contacts, so an eye on where there may be additional costs on number of contacts is key. Email volume costs are likely to decrease the more you send, but any licensing or service access fees may change as you expand your reach.

What does this all mean?

What does all that mean? Well, we challenge the inertia that has set in around charity email marketing, your choice of tools and want you to think about what you’re doing now.

Mailchimp may be ok because other people use it, and it feels sort of free-ish, and is easy to use. But it may not be.

Think about these levels of your email marketing programme to find out if this is a problem for you.

  • Is it ok now? If it’s not what are you doing about it?
  • Is what you’re doing now going to be what you need to be doing in six months, in a year? Think about you programme and plans. If they’re not right when are you going to start thinking about making a switch?
  • What’s your vision for five years’ time and how are your comms tools going to help deliver that?

Next steps:

If you’ve any questions, give us a ring (0203 176 1249).  We can help you identify what the right mix will be for you to meet your future goals and make sure you have the data and information at hand to help you build your grand vision. We can explain what a platform based email solution is and show you how and why they may need to be part of your thinking.

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Building Journeys

I spoke at CHASE 2016 (#CHASE2016London if you want to check the twitter action) today, and included a template for starting to build journeys.

For those at the session it’s linked here so you can open it as a PDF.

Journey Toolkit -Build a Journey

More explanation to follow shortly for those of you that weren’t in the audience and are wondering what on earth I’m talking about!

Omni-channel marketing and the non profit sector

If you’re only just getting the hang of multi-channel, hang on there, you’re in for a ride. If you’re still using Outlook to email your booking quotes, the next year or so could be a bit of a rollercoaster.

Omni-channel is the integration of all online and offline channels to create one to one personal experiences. Yes, it is actually truly possible to manage that. It’s not just hyperbole.

In the beginning ….

Most of us started with email – single channel. We’re probably pretty good at it by now – monitoring open rates, looking at subject lines, A/B testing to identify the content and subject lines to which our audience is most responsive.

The next big thing was Mobile. “Quick” we all said “let’s get an app”. So we did. But what happens to the comms around that – how easy is it to send a push notification to those who have the app? Did you get email at point of download and registration to add the person to your list? And can you connect how that person is interacting in your app, with the rest of their interactions with you?

And of course alongside all that, there’s social. Very few of us integrate our social with our CRM, never mind the rest of our comms channels so interest and conversations happening on Twitter or Facebook probably aren’t being connected to accounts that need to know about queries, questions or heaven forfend, complaints.

Oh, and let’s not forget the thing that started all of this – the web. How many of us have actually gone beyond adding a sign-up link to newsletters and options to get info via a form (and where does that data go – into your CRM to create an alert for you to create a quote or into an email?). How many of us use the data we have about browser behaviour to modify content based on preference or previous visits? Or target previous site visitors with advertising content?

Enter the vision for the future

Enter the marketing clouds – born out of frustrations with a lack of integration and connection, born out of the need to move forward and have a single, clear picture of our customers – or prospects or even potential prospects. Enter a vision for the future that is real, here and now.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a cloud with a mission, and a clear roadmap of future features and tools that will mean the future for marketing and connected communications is possibly so bright, we might actually have to wear shades in the office.

As for why we’ve recommended to several clients they look at integrating Salesforce CRM with Marketing Cloud. In short, it will make your life in marketing and operations and sales and procurement easier. It will help you to connect all your strings of activity and bring together a single, clear, customer-driven communication approach throughout their whole experience with you. And beyond that, into a lifetime relationship with you as you are more clearly able to respond to their needs. It will also save you time. Once you have set out your logic and planned your communication assets, it’s  fairly plug-n-play to deploy on a day to day basis. So it will save time where it counts – at the front end.

And a new way of marketing?

In the olden days (last year?) we talked of segmentation. We can still talk about it. It still works. But we’re still lumping together people based on what we think their behaviour and response may be, using patched up bits of data, maybe the results of a campaign or two and a bit of anecdote thrown in.

Our brave new world (this year or if you need time to plan, the year after) we are flipping our thinking to being 1:1 – no more lumping together (except if we want to – what happens in Vegas and all that). Now we are tailoring based on actual real-time behaviour and expressed preferences. And we can make that leap to truly personal by integrating all of our comms and using tools and channels together to drive journeys that individuals respond to, and which flex and adapt in real time too.

This is called omni-channel. All our channels. Offline and online. Built into journeys. No more multi-channel. Omni-channel is where it is at.

Lots of other sectors are using it. Retail, in particular, has many parallels with our own stories. Financial services. It’s well past time for us in the travel sector to start to harvest the benefits and be prepared as innovations drive faster and faster. No more invest for 3 years then find a new tool. Now we need a platform that will flex and grow as we do.

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