Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Don't call us, We'll call you.

I saw a promotion for the above titled webinar. I looked back at the direct marketing field and started thinking about what response looked like in the past. Thirty years ago people got a mailing for a product or service, (postal only by the way) and either went to the store to make their purchase OR, made a phone call if it was for a catalog. Then, email became a household method of communication. Although visiting a store and calling a call center continued to be key, people got used to seeing an email, clicking on the link and ordering their product or service.

Life got easier, more streamlined, but as with all new methods of marketing it too had it's problems. People would load their cart, then abandon them. They would respond to an email, click through and discover that what they thought they wanted, wasn't really what they expected. Forms asked for too much information so people just left, or they found that there are many more interesting things to click on than fill out a form or order.

Fast forward to the current environment and phones are as complex as a home computer. Everything that used to require a printed catalog and call center are now in our hand, accessible 24/7. I believe we have become overwhelmed with information. Everyone wanting a part of our time, a piece of our life. To the point where people no longer want to give their information to companies without a compelling reason to do so. Why? They know that the followup inundation of mail, phone calls or email will be more than they wanted. Which, brings me to the title of this blog.

People have developed the attitude of "If I want what you're offering, I will call you". I admit, I do this a lot. I get more advertisements (mostly email) from list managers pushing their latest and greatest list. Are these valuable to me? Not really. It's just more junk to delete and not particularly relevant. There are two sources that list every direct marketing list on the market. SRDS and NextMark and primary search engines for direct mail/email/telemarketing lists. Why keep or respond to an email for a new, updated list, when I can type in a few keywords and get a complete list of all lists on the market? It turns out, I have been using the Don't call us, we'll call you approach for years! I just didn't realize it.

What else does this new attitude toward our marketing message mean? Tracking sales is more critical than ever. Where did an order come from? If you do an email campaign, get an order but not from on line, where did that customer get the information they needed to order or attend your school? I guarantee you that if you have been doing billboards, broadcast ads, direct mail and email campaigns you likely have NO idea where your leads are actually coming from.

I had a client who spent hundreds of dollars on inserts in coupon packets. I did an analysis (at their request) of performance, added a user code, tracked it for 3 months and discovered that what they thought was a fabulous lead generation tool, generated zero response. NO ONE used their coupons to call and attend their school. Instead, their direct mail program generated over 50,000 leads over a period of years. Enough for them to call and follow up to attract new students.

The key to all of these changes in customer response is to build a system to track where your customers are actually coming from. Ask them. If you're a school in Higher Education, go to your Adult Students and ask "What brought you to our school?" It's simple, Ask and you will find out so much about your prospects and how to reach them. BUT, remember they are likely calling YOU, not responding in a way that you expect or anticipate.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Baseball has 3 outs, how many outs do you have?

I am constantly being asked to review email creatives and landing pages for my clients. What surprises me is the number of clients who fail to understand what their ultimate goal is. Let's look at this from the end result to the beginning.

First, the goal of any campaign is new students. So, consider your landing page. What should it contain? A list of benefits! A matching message from the email that they got. A form for them to fill out to indicate interest. A phone number in case they want to call. That's it! NOTHING ELSE.

Why nothing else. The reason is simple, if you give them any other options such as links to Facebook, LinkedIn, your website, even a program related portion of your website they are gone. They leave your landing page, never fill out the information, you never hear from them again UNLESS they decide to contact you in some other way other than the landing page. I constantly see reports where people click through to the landing page and then disappear in to the outs that you gave them. Why give them ANY choice but to fill out the form, or call you? It's self defeating and it dooms any campaign to the failure category. This is a sample email I sent in 2014, Notice that even I didn't know the best practices back then. Now, there are key Call to Action (CTA's) through out the email and NO outs other than to the relevant landing page.

Next, let's move backwards to the email. You craft a perfect message, benefit laden for a prospective student to want to attend your school. The CTA button is below the fold. Will they find it? Very possibly not. Above the fold? Yes, they will click on it if they are motivated. BUT, included in your email are OUTS. Why would you give a prospect the option to leave your email and go anywhere other than your landing page? You need their information. You have peaked their interest. Yet, you let them get away to YouTube, Facebook, or anywhere else.

2014 Email with over 14 outs

2017 Email with zero outs

I recently had a client who had a landing page with 18 outs. And they wondered why no one clicked through. Well, they did, they clicked everywhere but to their landing page to fill out the form! Understand the purpose of your campaign and then design ALL elements to focus on that goal.

Outs are never good. They distract from the purpose of the campaign and offer the prospect a way to go places that you don't want them to go. As an example, say you want to show a video. Most people will put a link to the video, the prospect clicks on it and goes to YouTube. Guess what? You just lost them. They go there, see other opportunities to click on or think about that new video that's out from Beyonce and poof, they are no longer thinking education, but are instead being entertained. The solution? All videos should be put in a shadow box. Click on the link, it opens a box over the landing page or email, runs and then stops, closes and they are back to where they started, your email or landing page. No interruption in thought process and they AREN'T watching a music video!

Keep all of these thoughts in mind,

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Innovation in direct marketing list acquisition!

Innovation in Direct Marketing comes slow. MMP List Management Inc. is on the cutting edge of innovation by dealing with multiple issues that affect direct marketers. What is it that companies want?

  • ·         Deliverable postal addresses.
  • ·         Customers who WANT to hear from you.
  • ·         Emails that don’t bounce.
  • ·         Phones that actually connect.


So, what is the solution? MMP List Management Inc. has solved all of these issues. Instead of updating our files every quarter or every month, we update our files when ordered! We survey our database of over 140 million consumers asking if they are interested in hearing from your company….Your products or services. Those who say yes, get added to your prospect database. The results?

  • ·         Prospects who WANT to hear from you.
  • ·         Postal addresses are up to date and deliverable.
  • ·         Emails with less than 5% hard bounce rates.
  • ·         Phone that are current, cleaned through the Do Not Call system and will connect.


PLUS! You can take delivery of postal, email and phones to contact on your own. While under license, your prospect list will be updated monthly, allowing your file to stay fresh, deliverable and up to date.

Join an Innovative Company and let us give you a quote for our prospect mailing lists. We offer a Customer Satisfaction Policy that guarantees email delivery exceeding 95%. Don’t rely on surveys that were done a month ago, six months ago and are generic in nature. Get a prospect list that contains people who WANT to hear from YOU!

Call David Fant, President 616-914-0537, or write David@mmplistmanagement.com


A new approach to target marketing. Be on the cutting edge of targeting. Call us today.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Increase response by creating an emotional appeal


It’s interesting to work with so many different institutions of higher education. Each one looks at their programs from a unique perspective and feel that they have the best degree programs in their area. I am not qualified to determine if that is true or not, but I do know that finding adult degree completion prospects is a never ending fight for every institution.
 
What makes my job difficult is that everyone creates marketing plans that focus on the institution and on some of the roadblocks that people have for returning to school to complete their degree. They talk about: 

·         Flexible classes
·         Fast degree programs
·         Convenient location
·         Some mention daycare
·         Low cost is referred to by most 

Yet, the one thing that most marketing campaigns miss is EMOTION. People frequently make decisions based not only on facts, but on their emotional feelings toward a given subject. Take a quick look at Harley Davison. What is it that they sell? In their ads, in their stores? Motorcycles? Not exactly. If you ask Harley Davison that question they will tell you they are selling a lifestyle. A way of living that INCLUDES a motorcycle. 

So, the question is, what is YOUR emotional message?  

US News and World Report recently published an article that referenced the fact that college graduates will earn an average of $20,000 per year more than not having a degree. My question is, what could someone do with $20,000 per year? Strike an emotional note with the following approach: 

Life is filled with ups and downs. What is it that you would like to do in your life that you can’t afford to do today? Maybe you are looking to: 

·         Take that historical trip to Machu Picchu.
·         Buy that one car that you’ve always wanted.
·         Invest in a house for you and your family.
·         Visit every baseball stadium in the country.
·         What is YOUR dream activity if you had the money? 

No matter what your dream is, a degree will allow you to earn as much as $20,000 more per year compared to not having a degree. Attend Xyz College and let us help you attain YOUR dreams. 

Emotion, draws them into thinking about what they can do with a degree and increased income. Benefits, not features. Focus on what they will get out of their degree and how you will help them achieve all that they want to do.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What makes a strong offer?


The first questions is, what is an offer? We all know the answer to that so I won't go to the Dictionary to give you the formal definition of an offer. Yes, is the word "offer" the right word? The offer states what you would like someone to do. Whether you are selling toothpaste, a car, a college education the offer creates the groundwork for a prospective student to decide to move forward and actually buy.

Remember the offer is the first step in the sales process. Your goal is to get people to buy, not browse and "kick the tires" so to speak. So the offer has to have some serious incentive to get someone to move forward. Let's look at a couple of examples.

You are selling a tube of toothpaste for $2.95/tube but the offer is $.50 off the retail price. The savings is 17%. Not an insignificant savings.

You are going to buy a car, It's retail value is $15,000, you offer a $1,500 discount plus a trade-in guarantee of $1,000 for a total savings of $2,500. The savings for this offer is 16.6%.

Now, you send out a mailer, offering a student a degree completion offer with a total projected cost of $20,000 and you offer to waive the application fee (estimated at $75). The total savings for this offer is .37%. Pretty pathetic when you compare your offer to offers people see every day in the overall marketplace.

People have come to expect something for their investment. Whether it's toothpaste, a car, or an education. I find, that most Higher Education institutions don't recognize the fact that to attract more students (note, I did not say prospects) they have to give them something that they consider valuable! And keep in mind, that doesn't have to be money. Meeting the needs of a busy family, a tiring job, a busy work schedule and around hobbies and other areas that conflict with them completing their degree can be more valuable than a cash outlay. However, it's YOUR job to translate the intangible benefits of your institution into a strong offer.

One negative example comes to mind. I have a good friend, single mother, child under the age of 10, who was working on completing her degree. She registered for a class, started taking it, and due to a work/child scheduling problem missed two classes. When she returned to class after her mini crisis she was told by the professor, she had been dropped. She knew, going in, that she was only allowed one absence/semester. Now, this may have been a totally unreasonable professor (by the way, it was a required class) yet, had the institution had a resource to help her work through that issue this could have been a huge offer to make. We have an office to help you with a flexible schedule. Had this institution done that she would have remained in school or that class she would have felt wonderful. As it was, she finished her other class, dropped out and completed her degree at another local institution.

On the other hand, a positive example. A Midwest University wanted to increase enrollment to their degree completion program. After three email deployments, 75,000 each they ended with 112 new REGISTERED students. How? They offered each of them a $1,000 scholarship, no strings attached. It's the offer and how you communicate the offer to your client that makes the difference.

My recommendation is, don't think institutionally, think like a prospective student. What do they want and from there, create the best offer possible. The offer is what get's them to buy.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Landing Page 101


Anytime you use social media, email, banner ads to advertise your schools programs you need a landing page. But many people don't understand the true purpose of the landing page and why it is so important. In addition, many don't understand what makes a landing page effective. These tips will show you how to make your landing page effective.

In a nutshell, a landing page is an internet micro site that is a single web page that simply states your offer. When someone clicks through to a landing page they have shown that they are interested in learning more. Opening an email (as an example) doesn't have much meaning. But clicking a link is an action that they take on purpose. Something in the email/banner ad/social media has peaked their interest. It's up to the micro site to capture that interest and get them to act on it.

What are the most important elements of a landing page?

·         It must state your offer simply and directly.

·         Do NOT add links that allow them off of the landing page without filling the form.

·         A consistent message between the email/banner ad/social media and your Landing Page.

·         It should have no copy "below the fold".

·         The call to action/variable fields are above the fold.

·         No more than 5 mandatory fields to complete.

·         Keep it simple, not text heavy. State the offer, give them a form to complete and be done with it.

·         Make it visually interesting but not visual heavy.

Once they complete the variable fields and click "submit" send them a thank you note immediately after their submission and tell them information is on the way.

Remember, this is the ONLY way you will know who they are. Keep it direct, to the point. This is not the place for a full sales pitch. That's what your Admissions staff is for. This is for your prospect to tell you who they are and how to get in touch with them.

So, what do most Universities do wrong? I've developed a list of mistakes that are fatal in capturing the needed information.

·         NO OFFER! Everyone expects or needs some incentive to buy. Going back to school is no different. It could be as simple as a scholarship, day care, a free class to get things going, discounted tuition. Anything that gets them past the time and cost involved in returning to school.

·         Variable fields that go on, and on, and on, and on, and on. 60% of all internet users who click through to a landing page will abandon the page if there are more than 5 variable fields to fill out. FIVE!

·         More text than existed in the original message. This is the place to make short, bulleted points that reinforce your offer. Make the sale, but make it simple.

·         Multiple links that allow the visitor to click away from the landing page without filling out the information. There can be only ONE way to leave the Landing Page. Fill out the form and click "Submit"

·         If I have to I will say it again. NO OFFER - no one will complete the form!
The landing page is the one way for you to capture your leads. The role of prospecting is to identify those who are interested (clicking through does that) and capturing who they are (the Landing Page). Most schools violate one or all of the above bulleted points. To be successful, you need to adhere to the first set of recommendations. This isn't rocket science, it's a study in psychology and motivation. If you give them the proper motivation, they will do what you want them to do

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why prospect three times a year, when potential students are looking for degree information on a daily basis?


My past 23 years has taught me a few interesting things about Universities. First, and foremost they are "traditional" in their approach to marketing. They think that there are two key semesters per year, and one summer session (by and large). So, they market three times a year. Yet, prospects are a fickle bunch. They go on line, research for information and want to make a decision when THEY are ready, [...more] not when you advertise to them. So, the question becomes, how do we reach prospects when they are doing their immediate search, OR, as close as possible to the time when they are doing their research.

As most advertising articles will tell you, customers frequently select an item based on their last impression. What I am saying is, when presented with a number of options to buy from a given company/institution, the one that last contacted them (or, in the case of Higher Education was the first) is the one they choose. Degree program offerings, cost, location are all factors, but when you get right down to it, if you have the right program, at the right price in the right place, you will capture them as a student simply because YOU were the one to contact them.

Let's say there are 20 different institutions of higher education in your market area. Prospects are confused, curious as to which one is best for them, and yet, the one that is responsive, contacts them first, follows up with good information in a timely manner will likely win. So, how do you do that?

Change your mindset from marketing three times a year, to marketing monthly, weekly and if possible daily! Imagine one week after searching for a degree program in business, a prospect gets an e-mail from your institution offering them a free consultation (for not only the student, but their family as well), give them a counselor that is uniquely theirs to contact, invite them to visit a class, whatever you are able to offer to get them moving forward. They expressed interest in completing their degree or getting an advance degree only 4 days ago. Now your message goes out, offering to help! Kind of like setting up a school Concierge program.

We do the e-mail campaign, you get the response in a timely manner. Change how you think about marketing. Focus on what the prospect wants TODAY. A quick reply to their search. Market Mapping plus LLC can make that happen. Contact us today for a quote and to discuss how to implement a program that targets your best audience in a timely way.