Thursday, December 8, 2011

If you build it, they may not come! Thoughts on closing the sale.

I have been conducting e-mail campaigns for a few years now. In that time, I have sent out over 1 million prospect letters to prospects for undergraduate degree completion programs or graduate programs. An interesting trend has occured that I didn't anticipate, nor did I expect. Most clients look at their direct mail/e-mail campaigns as an end all and be all. Literally "If we send it they will come" perspective. Yet, like most campaigns a few facts need to be reviewed.

First if you watch TV, look in magazines, read newspapers, what strikes you about the ads that you see? Yes, there may be too many of them, but, the fact is, they are repetitive! In order to generate sales, businesses have learned to repeat the same message over and over again to get someone's attention. This is the first rule that I see happening. Mail fewer pieces but send them more often is very helpful when planning a direct marketing program.

Second, something particular to e-mail campaigns is what are prospects "clicking through to"? Basically most clients click through to the program web page, or to the general website for their school. There is no way you can track performance if you do this. They go, disappear into the mass of traffic that goes directly to your website. You MUST create a landing page. That page is specifically designed to do two things. One, capture their name/address/phone and e-mail. Next you MUST succinctly state your special offer for them giving you their information. As an example, if you offer a $1,000 scholarship for registering and attending your institution, the landing page informs them that if they don't fill out this form, they will not be eligible for the scholarship. Cause and effect. You want $1,000, tell us who you are.

Third, follow up on the campaign. Using the landing page, using whatever response vehicle you can manage contact, these prospects multiple times, just like commercial retailers do. The recency/frequency of contact are keys in winning over prospects.

So, how do you build an effective e-mail campaign? That will be in the next blog within the next few days.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The reality of Click Through Capture Program

We have a click through program that allows Colleges and Universities to receive 100% of the click throughs when an e-mail campaign is completed. This is a wonderful time saving program that eliminates YOUR need to capture names and addresses on your end. But, there are a few limitations to this program.

First, and foremost, our e-mail files that we send to are double opt-in files. What this means, is that the person receiving the first e-mail (that generated the click through) has given permission for us to send them e-mail messages on a given topic (in this case educational opportunities). The difficulty with this is that when you take possession of the list you are not sending e-mails to them from an "approved" source, but from whatever source you are using to distribute your e-mails. (As a side note, do NOT send from your school's servers. This is a good way of having your school black listed and even though the people have created a business relationship with you by clicking through, you can be perceived by a machine as spamming.) Because you are not sending from our servers, you may, or may not get through the prospective student's firewall, or filtering system. In my experience you can see a 35% to 55% bounce rate for ANY e-mails provided to you using the click through program.

It is for this reason we provide the postal as well as e-mail address of all the click throughs. It allows you a secondary channel to reach these prospects.

Second, People have short memories. They may or may not remember requesting information, or confirming that they want to receive information if time has passed. So, you may have some issues with people complaining or expressing concern that they received mail from you. Out of 4 recent campaigns where we provide click through names/addresses to University clients, we found that fewer than 8 (out of an average of 1400 click throughs) complained. They may be vocal, but they are a very small minority.

Finally, for any given campaign, you need to offer them something substantial to peak their interest. Waiving application fees is nothing in this day and age. Find something of value that a prospective student would feel "supports" their educational goals. Scholarship, book discount for the first semester, free daycare if you offer it are just a few of the options available to you that just might set you apart.

Click throughs are a tool to a goal. Understanding their positive points and limitations will help you better achieve your recruitment goals.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Where do prospect names come from for e-mail campaigns

This is a common question I get from clients and prospects regarding where our prospect names come from for our e-mail campaigns. Eveyone has the preconceived notion that there are bots out there, combing every e-mail server harvesting names left and right. Those names are then placed in a massive database and sold. Actually, this does in fact happen and as you might know, these lists are garbage. We ONLY use double opt-in e-mail addresses. What is the difference between a harvested e-mail list and a double opt-in mailing list?

Basicially a double opt-in mailing list is created by someone REQUESTING information on a given topic not by them having their e-mail address "stolen" from them. Maybe they are interested in boating, hunting, cars, furthering their education, or changing careers. The process for obtaining these names is simple and straight forward.

People start by searching the web looking for educational opportunities, they find our web site(s) or maybe they receive an e-mail asking them if they are interested in getting a degree in xyz field. They click the link and fill out a form asking that they be put on the mailing list for educational opportunities in that field of study. There are over 60 fields of study that we track. This is step one in a a double opt in system.

For the next step they will receive a follow up e-mail asking them to confirm that they did, in fact, want to receive further e-mails from us that are related to educational opportunities. (Or any other of a hundred interest areas.) If they click accept, a cookie is placed on their computer so that further e-mails from us will bypass their filtering system and be delivered to their inbox. It's this confirmation step that makes our database a double opt-in program. This process also makes our lists Can-Spam compliant.

One other key factor to consider is that most  people own multiple accounts. These e-mail addresses tend to be home/personal addresses, but I know in the case of my wife and I we have 9email accounts between us. I have two business accounts and 5 personal accounts (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL) and my wife has two accounts (Yahoo, AOL). At any given time I use multiple addresses for form completion or when asking for more information. So it is very possible that someone may have filled out multiple requests using different e-mails. There is no real way of eliminating the duplicates, but where there are duplicates you are assured that they will be receiving your request. We typically e-mail 10% more e-mails than are ordered to cover bounces, but our bounce/non-deliverable rate is typically less than 10%.

One last thought. Many e-mail lists that are created by bots have an infinite life. They use them over and over and over again, even when the address has gone dead. We however, send a confirming e-mail every two months to every e-mail in our database (yes, millions of conformations) asking the recipient if they still have an interest in whatever topic they selected. If they say no, they are removed from the database, if they say yes, they stay. Each e-mail campaign also has an opt-out option at the bottom of the page. A recent campaign of 182,000 e-mails got 24 opt-outs. Not a significant number, and a testament to the quality of the names on the list.

I hope this helps! Contact us for your next e-mail campaign and we will help you reach your needed student prospects.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Quantity or Quality? Do e-mail campaigns have to be large to be effective?

I have been conducting a number of e-mail campaigns lately and have uncovered some interesting facts. More is not necessarily better. Many campaigns have been running in the 100,000+ e-mails sent range, with about a 28% open rate and 1,300 click throughs. Yet, two recent campaigns were under 50,000 emails (one was under 6,000) and they acheived 1,560 click throughs (on 50,000 sent) and the other 1,200 click throughs (on 5,890 sent). Other campaigns with 180,000 e-mails sent got about the same number of click throughs.

In analyzing the difference between the large versus small campaigns the results can be explained in one way. Targeting! Both of the small mailings were for very targeted programs in a VERY specific geographic area. The name recognition of the school, combined with simple, uncomplicated design and copy allowed the recipient to:

1) Identify quickly that this was an institution with name recognition
2) Was in their target area of interests.
3) Was worth looking into more deeply for more information.

Each of these programs, received 100% of their click throughs for follow up. I will be checking with my clients to see what their conversion rate may be. However, in the meantime, e-mail marketing can deliver large numbers of prospects to your door. People waiting to complete their degree, or advance their degree. Will you get them to attend YOUR school? Or will another school win their business?

For more information, contact:
David Fant
Market Mapping plus LLC

Monday, June 27, 2011

Targeted E-mail campaigns are the key to success

I have been running a number of E-mail campaigns for Universities across the country. An interesting phenominon has occured in that the smaller the campaign, the higher the response. The key has become how to focus on the EXACT market segment you want and then focusing your message on those prospects. I have recently gotten over 50% open rates and as high as a 32% click through rate for two schools on highly targeted campaigns which delivered over 1,200 new prospective students to these schools.

What are the keys to their success?

1) Their market segments they are reaching were very specific. RN's and MBA degree prospects.

2) They identified the benefits of attending their school over their competitors. BENEFITS, not FEATURES.

3) They know who their key competitors are, and focus on pointing out why they can exceed their competitors programs.

4) The message is simple, 5 or 6 bulleted points at the most.

You don't need to have a complex message filled with graphics and images. Keep it simple, to the point and those who have an interest will follow.

If you need to learn more about E-mail marketing and prospect development contact us today and we will be happy to help you acheive your admissions goals.

David Fant
Market Mapping plus LLC

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Capture 100% of your E-mail campaign click throughs

Universities have always wanted to do e-mail campaigns but have had difficulty in capturing who is clicking through to their website or landing page. Clicking through is the first step in a prospect exploring their educational choices and by clicking through to YOUR website it shows they have a higher than average interest in your institution. However, getting a student to click through and then tell you who they are has always been the challange.

Market Mapping plus LLC has solved that problem. We now have a program where we deploy your e-mail campaign, AND when they click through, we will provide you with the e-mail address and name/postal address of the person who clicks through. You will receive this file for your own use! You can follow up with them, prospect, contact them by e-mail/direct mail to see if there is a fit between what you offer and what they are interested in.

If this is a program that you would be interested in, contact Market Mapping plus LLC today for a free quote. There are millions of prospective students out there looking to complete their degree or get an advanced degree. Let Market Mapping plus LLC help YOU identify and sell them.