Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing tips & ideas to help you grow your business, by Jim Connolly

Month: August 2009 (page 1 of 2)

Response rates and timing

Here is a simple marketing tip, to help you quickly improve your mail shot, email marketing and blogging response rates.

response rate email mail shotsIt’s all about – Timing.

Even if your marketing message is irresistible, you will only get the maximum return form it, if you get it in front of people at the right time.  This holds true, regardless of what form of marketing you use – though in this post I will focus on; mail shots, email marketing and blog posts.

Mail shot response rates

If you send a business to business mail shot out, which people receive first thing Monday morning, it will typically get a lower response rate than the same mailing would, if it arrived on a Tuesday – Friday morning.  Letters that arrive on Monday morning, have to fight for the reader’s attention, against all the other Monday mail PLUS all the mail that arrived on Saturday.  Equally, Monday morning is usually a particularly busy time for most businesses, meaning the reader often has less time to read their mail too.

In short, by arriving first thing Monday morning, your mailing could be reaching people who have less time to read it and it will have to compete for their attention, against a lot more mail.   Does avoiding the Monday morning post make a massive difference? No, but it will usually give you a better return.  Now, as it costs you the same to send a mail shot, regardless of what day you post it, it makes sense to avoid Monday’s and improve your response rates.

Whether you sell business to business or direct to the consumer, you need to find out when your target audience is most likely to have the time to read your message.  This is why testing and measuring your marketing feedback is so important.

Email marketing response rates

Timing is also important for email marketing.  In my experience, you should get business to business marketing emails out during office hours; again avoiding Monday mornings.

For example, the best time to send my marketing newsletter, is after 9:30am Tuesday – Friday.  I have tested and measured this for almost 4 years and the results are constant.  Think about it and it makes perfect sense.  If Sue gets into her office Monday morning and finds my newsletter in with 30 pieces of spam or junk email, that arrived since she left work on Friday evening, it’s way too easy for her to delete the newsletter by mistake.

It also makes it harder for her to actually see my newsletter, in with all that clutter and junk.

Blog post viewing numbers

I have spoken to many, many business bloggers who have all found that their weekend posts are usually read by far fewer people than their weekday posts. Clearly, a lot of people disconnect from their business or job between Friday evening and Monday morning.

However, a lot of bloggers write their blog posts during the weekend, because it’s the only time they have available to write – Then publish their posts immediately.  In my experience, this is not usually the best way to maximise your reach.

I find that when I publish a post on a Saturday, the post will usually get just 25% as many views as it would have got, if I published the same kind of post during the week.  On a Sunday the numbers are usually a lot higher, but still 50% lower than a midweek post.  So, if you only post once a week or less and you write a business to business blog, avoid publishing your content during the weekend.  It’s fine to write posts whenever you like, but businesspeople read in greater numbers during the working week.

Of course, if you blog 7 days a week like many professional bloggers, this is far less of an issue.

Your experiences?

I would love to know if YOU have noticed any time-related trends, when you send or publish marketing material. If you have anything to add, please share it below.

Marketing advice

I was looking at our search analytics yesterday and saw that a number of people found this blog, searching for the phrase marketing advice, using google.

I entered the phrase into Google and saw that I was on page 1 of google.com.  As I write this, I’m still on page 1, though this will change – possibly by the time you read this. See below:

marketing advice

Is Google getting smarter?

Although I use meta tags for each post and title tags for some posts, the copy writing here is not deliberately optimised.  In other words, I write exclusively for humans and not to keep search engines happy.  Even so, google has been able to identify that there’s lots of marketing advice on this blog.

This confirms what many experts have told me; that the easiest way to optimise a site, is to stick to your topic and make it as valuable as you possibly can.  After all, the content on your site is what encourages people to link to you. These links allow new people to discover your site – But they are also used by google as a way to ascertain the value of your content.

Any good search engine optimisation (SEO) expert will be able to help you get more targeted traffic to your site. In my opinion, every business these days should have a budget for professional SEO. However, it’s comforting to know that by focusing on good quality content, you can still achieve page 1 rankings for valuable search terms.

Are you embarrassed enough?

No one likes to feel embarrassed, yet embarrassment can be a powerful motivator if you use it correctly.

Jim Rohn, (Tony Robbins’ former boss), tells a great story about how his life was transformed, after he was embarrassed. A little girl came to his door selling cookies for charity and Jim was too broke to buy any – so he lied to her.  The deep embarrassment he felt afterwards was a tipping point, which eventually saw him go on to develop a multi-million dollar fortune.

When I first set my business up, I had a client, who was always late paying me.  I found out later from one of her former employees that this was something she did with everyone; not for cash-flow reasons, her business was cash-rich, but because she actually enjoyed it!  I used to get really embarrassed having to call her office and ask for my payment each month; so I decided after 1 too many embarrassing conversations, to fire her as a client.

However, that embarrassing experience was what helped motivate me to create my massively successful marketing program; which for fifteen year now, has seen me help small and medium sized businesses from all over the world to make more sales and boost their profits.

If you are feeling embarrassed about any element of your business right now, use the power of that feeling to motivate you to do something positive about it.  If you can’t afford to fix what’s embarrassing you, then focus first on making more money.  Here are 34 marketing ideas you can use starting today, to help you quickly increase your sales and profits.

Oh, and here are another 10 great marketing tips I suggest you take a look at too.

Whatever you do, don’t just complain and then stay the same.

That kind of thinking will drive you nuts!

Social networking or commercial networking?

Whilst it’s relatively simple (if time consuming), to develop a large social network, many business owners tell me they find it difficult to successfully market their products or services via social networks.

Here’s why I believe this happens & how to fix it!

People talk in terms of “increased brand awareness” and “being part of the conversation,” yet many struggle to turn the time they invest in social networking, into bankable results for their business.

One person, with over 100,000 people in his social network, told me that he has not made a penny for the thousands of hours he has invested in developing it.

Social network or commercial network?

Part of the marketing challenge with social networking, is the social part.  Our social network is considered by most, to be our family and friends – The people we actually socialise with outside work. This helps explain why people get the same negative response when they try and “sell” something on a social network, that Multi Level Marketers used to get; back in the old days when they were told to sell to their family and friends.

It just feels wrong!

Whilst professional networks like LinkedIn are designed from the ground up for commercial networking, other networks like FaceBook and Twitter etc were not. These were designed for social networking – Places where family and friends can keep in touch and have fun.

If someone uses Twitter or FaceBook for business and they are not getting the results they want, I find it’s usually because they have built a social network, instead of a commercial one.  When they then introduce a commercial component to their messages, their social network often kicks back against it.  If you have used Twitter for any period of time, you will know exactly what I mean!

As I write this, my business has generated over £60,000, via commercial contacts I have made on Twitter in 2009.  I have a 100% commercial network on Twitter and as such, I love to chat about marketing and share great marketing ideas with people.  Yes, I let my personality come through, but I do that off-line too.

Because people know me as a marketing professional on Twitter, if I had a marketing book and offered it to my network there, it would feel right to them.  It would be totally consistent.  Equally, because people associate me with the marketing of small and medium sized businesses, when they want to speak with a marketing specialist, they feel totally comfortable giving me a call.

Commercial networking tip

If you network online for commercial reasons (like I do), focus on developing a great commercial network.

Inspired marketing

If someone has a piece of your written marketing in front of them right now, will they feel inspired to take action?  Will your marketing message compel them to call you, email you or visit you?

Written marketing

I am in the process of writing an article for my next marketing newsletter.  It’s all about how to make your written marketing more powerful.  Copy writing is one of the most overlooked areas of marketing within small and medium sized businesses.  They will often invest thousands in a great website, an advertisement, a mailshot or a brochure – only to blow it all by writing their own, uninspiring copy.

A professionally written marketing letter, advertisement or website can out perform one written by a keen amateur by thousands of percent.  I’m not talking marginal differences here.  For example, this blog generates more enquiries in one day, than many sites with more traffic will get in a whole month.

Fortunately, it’s really easy to measure how effective your existing written marketing is; simply by measuring your results.

Unfortunately, a lack of results is not usually enough to motivate a business owner to have their copy written professionally.

I spoke to a web designer recently, who designed a £17,000 website for a client.  Unbelievably, the client was happy to spend all that money on a new website, but refused to pay for a professional copy writer!  Three  months later, his client has had four email enquiries via the site and not a single phone call.  This, despite the fact they have very effective search engine optimisation (SEO) and get a lot of targeted visits each day.  When my friend asked the site’s owner why she didn’t have her new site copy written by a professional, she told him; “the cost would probably be too high.”

Clearly, she can afford the cost of losing tens of thousands of pounds worth of new business though!

When I speak with business owners, who are getting poor results from their marketing, they always blame outside factors.  They will blame the economy (even when times are great), the marketplace, the time of year etc. 

It never crosses their mind that the reason they are going nowhere, is because their marketing is ineffective!

By the way, these are the same people, whose mailshot letters you throw in the paper bin and whose advertisements and websites you ignore.  They honestly believe that YOU are the reason they are failing; not thinking for one moment that their pedestrian copy writing and amateur marketing might be to blame.

Inspirational marketing

We have to remember that our prospective clients are not idiots.  Today’s consumer is better informed than ever before.  They see ‘average’ marketing all day long; it just washes over them.

To motivate someone to become a client or customer, we need to capture their attention and then inspire them.

Are you on course?

Did you start using Twitter in order to waste a stack of time attracting “followers”- Or to generate more sales, leads and business connections?

Did you invest in those expensive brochures in order to watch them slowly go out of date – Or to increase the effectiveness of your marketing?

Did you invest in your website in order to remain invisible online – Or to generate a regular, predictable flow of sales, leads and enquiries?

Marketing tip: Focus on your outcome

It’s way too easy to start a marketing activity with all the right intentions, only to realise one day that you have been slowly drifting off course and are now getting little if anything in return.

Grab yourself a coffee and take a few moments to look at your current marketing activities.  Are they on track to help you make more sales and generate more high quality business?  If not, stop whatever you are doing and either get back on track or develop a more effective marketing strategy.

Your true voice

Here’s a quick question for you: Think about the websites, blogs and newsletters that are most valued. What do they all have in common?

The answer is that they all have something to say, which is not just a generic rehash of popular opinions. They dare to be different. The writers have the courage to state an opinion, which is not always in line with popular thinking.

bloggingAs soon as you think about it, it makes perfect sense.  After all, no one is going to recommend a website to someone if it’s just saying what everyone else says.  These recommendations are how blogs like this one grow. I rely on you sharing my content for the vast majority of my readership.

The technology blogger Louis Gray is a great source of original ideas and insights. As a result, his blog is one or the most respected in his field.  Louis has a new feature on his blog, where once a month, he recommends a small number of less well-known blogs to his readers.  He told me recently that a key part of his selection process, is that the blog must have something original to say. If it hasn’t, no matter how cleverly it’s written, he won’t waste his readers time recommending it to them. He’s totally right – I mean, how many times does someone want to read the same opinions?

I have written a few times recently about the importance of having the courage to be yourself - to have your own authentic voice.  I believe that when it comes to developing a readership or even a community, it’s essential to let the real you shine through.

In a recent blog post, Seth Godin says:

In our desire to please everyone, it’s very easy to end up being invisible or mediocre. Far better to please the right people.

The majority of small business blogs, websites and newsletters are all-but invisible; because they are so similar to one another.  Their similarity acts as camouflage, which ensures they blend into the background and don’t get noticed.

Whilst I don’t advocate being ‘different’ just for the sake of it, I very strongly encourage fellow newsletter providers and bloggers to have the courage to be themselves and plough their own unique furrow.

Don’t copy your social media guru

I’m a marketing man, not a social media expert. However, because some social media tools are excellent for helping small businesses market their services, I’ve spent years studying the marketing potential of social media.

Here’s an important observation I would like to share with you.

Don’t copy your social media guru

It’s all about why you should not necessarily use the same social media strategy, as your social media guru.  Whilst their advice might be superb, simply copying what you see them do, is not always the right thing to do.

Let me explain.

In my experience, most social media professionals make their living selling a mixture of; books, downloadable products and ads or sponsorships on their blogs. Some of the better known social media figures also offer seminars / workshops internationally too.  Unlike most of their readers, they are not geographically limited in what they provide. Someone buying their latest book or eBook in the same street is no different from someone making that same purchase, on a different continent 10 time zones away.

If you run a business, which provides services (or sells to) a particular geographical area, you are going to need a far more geographically targeted approach to your use of social media.  You will need to focus your efforts in a way that attracts and develops opportunities in the area that’s of commercial interest to you.

For example, if you are an accountant or lawyer, it’s unlikely that you will be seeking business leads or referrals on an international basis.  Apart from anything else, your qualifications will restrict what you can offer internationally.  If you work in insurance, your products may have geographical limitations too.  Same again if you operate a franchise business, with a set territory.

Tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook and FriendFeed are known for making it possible to easily develop an international network of contacts.  However, they also make it possible to search for (and connect with) your target audience too – people where you do business.

Your social media feedback

I know that a lot of my readers are big users of social media, some with great success!  If you have developed a social media strategy, which has a geographical element, or you have any tips for a more regional approach to social media; please share it with your fellow readers and myself.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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