MAIL LIST MANAGEMENT FAQ

Mail List Management FAQs

The answers below assume you are using Constant Contact or Vertical Response as your service provider. The only other provider we work with is MailChimp, but their list management is a struggle and contrary to the way our clients work, so we avoid them if possible.

Q.
If the same e-mail address is on several lists in my account, will that person receive the e-mail campaign more than once?

A.
Short answer, no.

The service provider catches duplications and only sends the campaign to each address once. For example, say you have three lists in your account, Peninsula Clients, Marin Clients, and South Bay Clients. And Maggie Jones with address mj@gmail.com has visited your locations in San Jose and Palo Alto and so is on two lists. If you select all three of your lists to which to send an e-mail, the service provider will catch this and send only one to mj@gmail.com.

Q.
How to I get addresses to you to add to my account?

A.
You’ll need to export them from your internal system or database and send to us, usually as an Excel or .csv file attached to an e-mail. All databases, whether MicroSoft Outlook, gmail contacts, your POS system, etc, have a feature to export. Occasionally John visits a client to train them on how to export, but usually a few minutes Googling “export + your database type” gives adequate direction.

We prefer to work with an Excel doc. But we have also received email lists as pdfs, hand-written addresses, and Word docs.

It is important to name the file to send to us uniquely and logically. For example, if the list is all clients, be sure to name it so – “acme-co-all-clients-022117.xls”, or if it’s just your VIP clients, “acme-co-vip-022117”. Including the date is also a good way to track the file in case we need to troubleshoot in the future.

Even more important, if you have more than one list in your account, be sure to communicate clearly to which list we are adding these new addresses.

Q.
How do I prevent an unsubscribed person from receiving mail from me?

A.
That’s one of the great things about e-mail service providers. Once a person is marked as unsubscribed, there’s no way that account will send to that address. Even if that same address is added to the account manually or by uploading of a list, it will be blocked.

Q.
Can I log onto my account and edit lists myself?

A.
Any time. We don’t own your account, you do. We’ll be happy to point you in the right direction to handle your own list management if you like. For example, some of our clients save by manually updating unsubscribes who have reached out to them directly rather than unsubscribing themselves from a campaign.

Q.
I have a question regarding mail list management which is not answered here.

A.
E-mail John!

AN ADWORDS CAMPAIGN DONE WELL

Our client wanted to attract new customers for a high-value treatment they provide, and to help pay off the high-end equipment they just purchased.

If only one method of online advertising to get new clients is possible due to budget constraints, we always recommend Google AdWords campaigns, which reaches the largest audience in a targeted area, such as within a ten mile radius of your location.

We set up the campaign and wrote the ad copy, made a landing page, chose quality keywords and a specific method of keyword matching to maximize their daily budget.

We measure whether the ad is performing well in a few ways. (Please refer to the graphic below for the numbers in parentheses.)

  • Placement on the results page: Ideal positioning is either the first, second or third place on the page (6).
  • “Click Through Rate”: The percentage of time someone clicks on the ad (3) compared to the total number of times the ad is displayed. Above 0.5% is considered very good. It means the keywords we selected are a good match to what the user is seeing in the ad copy and is responding well to it.
  • “Conversions”: This is a big one. There are a number of ways to measure this, but it always refers to a way of tracking when the user takes a desired action. In this case a conversion is counted when the appointment form is submitted (7). The cost per conversion (8), is the total number of conversions divided into the total amount spent. In this case the cost per conversion is currently $89. Considering that the treatment being marketed typically brings in a few thousand dollars in revenue, paying ninety bucks for a likely new high-value client is money well spent.

adwords-screenshot

It should be noted that conversions don’t measure all of the success. Visitors who click on your ad may also call your business for an appointment from your phone number on the landing page (the page we create specifically for the ad offer), and even if they don’t call or make an appointment right away, they have seen your company name and your offer. Repeated exposure to your business is one of the keys to brand layering and attracting new business, so every click to your site furthers your efforts.

We realize most of our clients aren’t seeking such high-value clients where $90/conversion is a reasonable number. This is just one example. A reasonable cost for a new customer or sale depends on your business. And it is not always possible to track just how much new business you are getting from any sales promotion, but a well-executed AdWords campaign should be high on your online marketing agenda.

There are many more important aspects of Google AdWords, enough to fill books, but the info presented here is the very core of how to measure the success of such marketing campaigns.



SEASON’S GREETINGS

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It’s been a great December.  Thanks to friends and clients – and those who are both.  We are grateful.

This December, John’s worked a few weekends from our Bear Valley Offices.  Not a bad view from the cross country ski trail, right?

All the best, and happy new year too, from John and Rachel



CLOTHING BOUTIQUE PHOTO SHOOT

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It was wonderful that when shooting the fabulous Susan Graf in her DressCode LBD and jacket, this gorgeous man, dressed in coordinating attire, walked right into the middle of the shot.  He was such a good sport and took some photos with us.

The other shots are of clothing from Susan, and Bogner, Schneider, Herno, and other and will be appearing soon in the on-line store we are building for her.

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WHY WE DON’T CURRENTLY LOVE ANY E-MAIL CAMPAIGN SERVICE PROVIDER

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For years we have produced exclusively custom html e-mail campaigns for our clients and, if we had control over the selection of the service provider, we used Vertical Response.  When responsive e-mails became essential, we looked at what was available in pre-made templates and decided they look and perform badly, so offered our clients custom html responsive e-mail campaign, or what we called mobile-friendly campaigns.  Most of our clients opted for mobile-friendly as they were attractive, fast for us to produce, and functioned well in all devices and views, although not technically responsive.  (See a sample here.)

The two of us have developed and launched thousands of e-mail campaigns since 2003.  We have many clients on Vertical Response Classic which we loved and recommended for years before responsive took over.  We have one client on Constant Contact Old and one on Constant Contact New.  Sadly, we also have a few clients on MailChimp, but are not including this in this post as it’s not at the level of our two leaders.

Vertical Response Classic is no longer an option as the form design and processing features have not been upgraded since launch of New VR.  But most of our existing clients have their accounts here simply because there’s no better option available to which to upgrade them.

Vertical Response New is not ready.  Currently, if we have a new e-mail campaign client, we are going with Constant Contact New.

Constant Contact New made us angry as they launched far too soon and used us as beta testers.  Back in June we opened a new account for a new client and CC still has not fixed the issues they said they were working on.

Constant Contact Old is no longer available.  We mention it, however, as they had some great features that we wish CC New would develop – in fact, in our comparison below, this now obsolete platform got the highest score.

We know we expect a lot from an e-mail campaign provider, but in this high-competition field, we don’t think that too unreasonable.  Here are some of the features we look for and how the available options respond:


BILLING

Pay as you go pricing option (not just subscription.)  This is so crucial for clients who do not have monthly e-mail campaigns in their marketing plan.

Vertical Response Classic – Yes

Vertical Response New – Yes

Constant Contact Old – No

Constant Contact New – No

Address list billing on the account level, not individual list level, meaning that each e-mail address – even if it’s on multiple individual mail lists – is billed just once.

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – Yes


CUSTOMER SUPPORT

Same time-zone, phone customer support from reps who know the product and care.

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Very much – Yes

CC New – Very much – Yes

Short hold time for customer support and no horrible phone tree.

VR Classic – Mostly

VR New – Mostly

CC Old – Sometimes

CC New – Sometimes

The entire e-mail stream gets included in customer support e-mails, rather than just the last one from the rep.  (Incredibly frustrating and un-helpful.)

VR Classic – No

VR New – No

CC Old – No

CC New – No


DESIGN INTERFACE

Has two views: html and design.

VR Classic – Not applicable as we only used this for custom html e-mail campaigns

VR New – No

CC Old – Yes

CC New – No

Intuitive campaign development.

VR Classic – Not applicable as we only used this for custom html e-mail campaign

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – Yes – this one is the best


FORMS

Embed-able, modern, easy to use, responsive sign-up forms.

VR Classic – No

VR New – Sorta

CC Old – No

CC New – Yes

Option to allow us to select which address list a signed-up e-mail address is added to, rather than requiring one address list per sign up form.  We really need to have several forms that drop addresses into one list.

VR Classic – No

VR New – No

CC Old – No

CC New – No


FUNCTION

Choose the “to” address lists after the campaign is ready, not before.

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – Yes

Seed lists for testing (pre-set testing lists so you can test with one click versus typing in each testing e-mail address one at a time for each test.)

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – No

CC Old – No

CC New – No

Can migrate account information and all lists from old version to new.

VR Classic – Not applicable

VR New – No

CC Old – Not applicable

CC New – Yes

Text and graphical links in e-mail campaigns can be coded to open in a new browser window (target=”_blank”) so the browser version functions as a well-coded web page should.

VR Classic – Not applicable

VR New – No

CC Old – Yes

CC New – No

Forward to a friend feature.

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – No – ridiculous

Share to Facebook in launched e-mail puts a graphic into Facebook post.

VR Classic – Fantastic, but only because we custom coded it

VR New – Unknown

CC Old – Yes

CC New – No – fail! 8/1/16 they told me they were fixing this

Share to social media which allows us to select the graphic which is posted.

VR Classic – No

VR New – No

CC Old – No

CC New – No

Ability to set text styles so any new copy added to a template is consistent.  This is really important – who has time to set each section of text to font, size, colour, line height, etc, individually to typed in text, or pasted in text?

VR Classic – Not applicable

VR New – No

CC Old – Yes!!!!!!!!!!

CC New – No

Ability to create the landing page (browser version) of a campaign when it is scheduled, rather than after it launches (another benefit to custom html templates.)

VR Classic – Not applicable

VR New – Unknown

CC Old – No

CC New – No


LISTS

Allows for multiple address lists and the ability to mail to any number of address lists per campaign.

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – Yes

Address list management on the account level, rather than list by list (so that if someone unsubscribes from one list, that unsubscribe is noted throughout the account no matter how many lists that address is on.)

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – Yes

Recognition of duplicated addresses so that if an address is on many lists, and an e-mail is sent to all those list, the recipient will receive only one e-mail

VR Classic – Yes

VR New – Yes

CC Old – Yes

CC New – Yes

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INSTAGRAM ADS

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Instagram advertising allows you to reach a large and targeted market, using a variety of media, and with options for calls to action and objectives.

There’s an initial, one-time, set up phase which takes considerable time and work.  This is a project for John!

First, you’ll get the opportunity to consider your objectives which is a great way to solidify your goals and help you set in stone what will make Instagram advertising a success for your business.  We’ll have you choose one objective from the choices below:

Instagram Ad Objectives

These objectives will allow Instagram to funnel you to the best ad choice for your business.

We’ll then ask you to go through the targeting list below to be sure you are not paying for ads for people out of your targeted market.

City, state, region, country? Age range? Gender? Language?

You’ll also be able to target with user interest keywords.  For example, this sample ad we are setting up is for a pickleball lifestyle products company, so we are targeting anyone who has shown a social media interest in pickleball.

You may also narrow down your targeting by selecting mobile or desktop devices or both if that’s relevant to your ad and/or business.

Then there’s some general book-keeping:

  • ad start and end date/time,
  • do you wish your ad to run all the time, or at just specific times each day,
  • how much do you wish to spend,
  • do you wish to be billed by impression or by click?

These are the ad options:
Instagram Ad Objectives

Carousel ads which scroll images or video upon which you may put a text caption.  We selected carousel for our pickleball client and that’s what’s shown in our header graphic.

Static, single image ads with text overlay.

Video ads, which can be a set of images with captions as a slideshow, or full video, up to 30 seconds.

Nearly done!

You’ll need a landing page.  We recommend a page on your web site which is customized to your Instagram ad.  It will be more effective and will allow you to better track your ROI.

What would you like your call to action to be? Apply Now, Book Now, Contact Us, Download, Learn More, Shop Now, Sign Up, Watch more?

Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, ads are actually set up through Facebook’s business portal.  You may also run these exact ads on Facebook which can be a big time-saver.

We’ll walk you through every step of the way.  We’ll also ask you how you would like to see reporting.



SWITCH YOUR INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT TO A BUSINESS PROFILE

If you use Instagram to promote your business you can take advantage of new business-only features by converting your account. We are recommending that all our clients who have an Instagram presence do this.

instagram accounts for business
 

When you switch, you will have the following new features and tools:

  • A “Contact” button is automatically added to your public Instagram page. You can choose to provide a phone number, email link, business address or any combination of these.
  • You can connect your Instagram account directly to your business Facebook page and invite your Facebook friends to follow you on Instagram right from your Instagram account.
  • You can learn more about your followers and see how your posts are performing with Instagram’s metrics tool, “Business Insights”.
  • You can create promotions and ads to help grow your business.
  • Instagram is promising more features in the near future.

Upgrading to a Business Profile takes some effort, and requires connecting to your business page on Facebook. Please contact John if you would like us to upgrade your account.



PLAN AND ORDER NOW FOR HOLIDAY MARKETING

Holiday Marketing

A gentle reminder from Rachel that now is the time to start thinking of the holiday season.

And then for those of you who like a heavier hand, here’s your “I told you so.” Every year, around September, we remind our clients to start prepping and ordering gift bags, greeting cards, holiday decor, gift certificates, gift tags, posters, etc, and plan your online marketing: e-mail campaigns, seasonal web site changes, and AdWords campaigns. And then each year in November and December we get a slew of last-minute projects for which clients end up paying rush shipping and printing rates. (Reminder of our rush project policy.)

Are you sending cards, party invitations, and/or gifts to your clients and partners this year?  Let’s get on that too!

Selling gifts?  Check your inventory and the lead times of items you wish to stock.  From October on-wards, order fulfillment and shipping from your vendors may take additional time.  Also, be sure you stock plenty of festive packaging and shipping supplies if you plan on mailing items.

No stress, added costs, and drama this year — let’s get started on marketing’s silly season work now! We’ve plenty of ideas and sources for product.

Here’s some key dates to keep in mind…

OCTOBER

Halloween, Monday, 31th

NOVEMBER

Daylight Savings, Sunday, 6th

Veterans’ Day, Friday, 11th

Thanksgiving, Thursday, 24th

Black Friday, 25th

Cyber Monday, 28th

DECEMBER

Pearl Harbor Remembrance, Wednesday, 7th

Green Monday, 12th

Festivus, Friday, 23rd

Hanukkah, Saturday, 24th through Sunday, January 1st

Christmas Day, Sunday, 25th

Boxing Day | Kwanzza, Monday, 26th

New Year’s Eve, Saturday, 31st

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