Ad:tech – Day 2 by pictures

I visited ad:tech sydney again on day 2 (Wednesday, 11 March 2009). This time I arrived later in the afternoon at 2.30pm. 

I was there to help out with the exhibit. I was at the Next Digital stand from 2.30 – 4.30pm. I also took a bunch of pics and posted them on Flickr and below as well.

It’s interesting being an exhibitor as opposed to a visitor walking around on Day 1. Some people walk up to you just to chat and find out what it is about, others have an interest or something they want to pitch at us. I think the most important thing is to be nice and have a casual chat. Not everyone is interested in hearing the marketing spiel and you have to be ready for all types of questions.

There’s a lot of people at ad:tech that are very tech savvy, and you have others there for the 1st time who looked like they just walked off the street. Overall though, it seemed pretty quite and there was not a lot of people walking around. It look like ad:tech was winding down on Wednesday afternoon.

Next year, I’d like to go to some more of the seminars, possibly even the paid ones. I hear the chatter on twitter from following the hashtags (#atsyd, #atsyd1, etc…) and there seems to be a lot going on.

When I look back, I realise that I have progressed in this industry and it is a humbling experience that a year ago, I wasn’t even working in digital. Now, I had the priviliege and the opportunity to talk to people at ad:tech as an exhibitor about online marketing regarding email marketing, analytics, etc… They say that 1 year in online is equivalent to 7 dog years. I believe that’s so true. Online just moves so fast, new things are emerging all the time. As I’ve heard people say, it may be changing but the fundamentals haven’t changed.

Overall, ad:tech was very good for checking out some new things. One of the most important things I was exposed to was affiliate marketing and traffic marketing, and different companies in this area. These aspects about online marketing I would never had learnt about sitting at my desk at work.

I’m out like ad:tech,

Matthew Ho.

How to manage your email inbox

Like all working professionals, I get bombarded with emails every day. Its that dreaded feeling in the morning, when you open up your inbox, and there’s a bunch of emails waiting for you already. Before you get started at work, you are dealing with these new emails. Not to mention the ones that constantly keep coming into your inbox. At the end of the day, you feel that all you’ve done is answer emails and have done nothing productive. I found a great set of tips from NY Times on how to manage your inbox. 

Check it out here.

Their tips were: 

  • Archive
  • Check your inbox 3 times in the hour (i.e. every 20mins). I try to do it every 30 mins, but sometimes i just can’t help but keep it open
  • Turn off auto-notifications (this is the worst feature! keeps you hooked into email)
  • Respond immediately, if the response is going to be less than 2 mins
  • Longer than 2 mins response, flag it and come back later

I’m out like letting your inbox control you!

Matt

How to improve your email marketing: Part 1

One of the hats I wear at work is email marketing, amongst other talents I possess – SMS, Promotions, Microsites, Basketballer manager, Chocolate Scotch Finger connosieur.  On a regular basis, I speak with customers of all shapes and sizes about email marketing. I was talking today to one of my colleagues about some email marketing tips, some of which I want to share with you. I have decided to break these posts down into parts, since there is so much I can discuss about email marketing.

Some of these tips I’ve picked up along the way, from general observation, actual practice, from reading email marketing articles and a lot simply from being a recipient of email newsletters!

1.Plan your email marketing strategy

You must plan! You can’t be sending out random emails whenever you feel like it. There’s gotta be an email strategy in place in line with your overrall marketing and communication strategy. Plan for regular communication with your customers, stakeholders and subscribers. Because a failure to plan is a plan to fail!

You can take a longer term view and look at it on annual basis. Think about your peak periods, events, specific times where you need to ramp up communication. If you are a retailer, consider sales periods, downtimes, etc… If you plan to hold a major sale, what better way to drive people to the store then to send a quick email to your mailing list. Perhaps in periods of  expected quieter activity, send out more emails to drive sales and visits to your website.

Do not send out random emails in the dark. A lot of people actually do this, and you can only expect mixed results.

2. Aim to send a regular email

When someone knocks on your door, when do you open it? If its in the middle of the night, and you don’t know the person, are you going to open it? Probably not.

The same applies to email marketing. If you send a regular email on an expected day, you are more likely to get opens and clicks. It’s because I know its coming in and its a friendly party. If something random turns up, or on irregular basis, I’m more likely to ignore it or even opt out.

3. Test your email to an internal test list with different email clients

I can’t emphasise this enough. You may think you’ve done an absolute bang up job and created the perfect newsletter. But when you send it out, one of the pictures look funny or the text is distorted. Customer’s will laugh at you, your brand gets tarnished, it looks sloppy. In two seconds, your subscriber realises you stuffed up.

I suggest that you test extensively to a small group of people. Having more than one person means that you are less likely to miss something. Like a painter deeply involved in his artwork or a student engaged in his year long thesis, these people rarely see the flaws in their work. Because they are so deeply involved. You need a fresh pair of eyes to review it.

Ensure you send to a variety of email clients. Email clients are hotmail, gmail, yahoo, etc….. the reason you do this is because emails can render differently in hotmail as opposed to gmail. You need to ensure the email has been designed to look the same.

4. Keep your subject line short and simple, yet catchy

Sounds easy right? Some people recommend 6 words or less. There’s no hard or fast rule. But remember this: you only have a few seconds to impress someone to read an email in their inbox. An unattractive subject line means delete button.

5. People don’t read emails , they scan

I rarely read online articles in full online. The same applies to emails. Online attention spans are just really short. I look at the top, scroll to the bottom and read the ending. If something catches my eye, I’ll look deeper into it. That is why you cannot have large slabs of text in an email. You CANNOT expect people to read emails in full. Intrepid, puts out the longest email ever and I don’t even bother reading it. (I do not see how they won an email marketing award).

Make your email into bite sized chunks. Consider it as an appetiser, inviting people to find out more information. Have a lead in, a few paragraphs, and the rest on your website. Or just keep the content short.

6. Please, please do not write headings sideways

I’ve seen a few powerpoint slides and email newsletter with vertical headings. I’m sorry, but it looks very bad because they are not clear. Anything that makes me require extra effort to interpret, I don’t like – if it means I have to tilt my head sideways, fuggetaboutit!

7. Have a very clear understanding about email marketing prices

Some email marketing platforms charge access fees, record upload feed, monthly subscription fees. So understand how it works. The thing I like about the email marketing platform I support is that the pricing is pretty clear to the public. You know what you are paying.

Enquire about increased or decreased capacity. Most of the email marketing platforms work have some kind of per email volume basis i.e 1,000 email cost $x dollars. However, what happens when you require extra emails? If you want to send 5,000 more for your January specials, are you able to do so? And how much will it cost?

That is why you need to plan ahead. Understand if you are locked into a specific amount per month or if you can change your capacity.

8. Segmenting your email database to deliver relevant communication

Email marketers and advertisers always talk about segmenting your database. Why is this important? Well the more you know about your customers, the more you can personalise the communication and serve them relevant content.

If you can, break up your database into groups. For example, if I am working for a sports store, I might be able to split the database into people interested in soccer, basketball, football and rugby union. I don’t want to send basketball fans sales about soccer shinpads, because they are probably not interested. You have to gather information about them, through sales data, membership drives, instore and online promotions, inviting people to give you more details. You have to give people an incentive to provide their details. If they feel that they are getting a benefit from it, and also continue to recieve relevant communication from you, then that will build a healthy relationship with your customer.

9. Integrate other digital marketing efforts with your email marketing

Again, this feeds back into point 1. Email marketing cannot be considered in isolation to other marketing efforts. Online display advertising (ODA), search, websites, offline advertising, all tie in together.

10. Have a valid reply address

I abhor email communication which says “noreply@company.com”. It’s annoying because sometimes you DO want to reply to them. And if you do and do not realise it, it bounces back. You should have a valid email address. There may be customer complaints, sales inquiries, unsubscriptions, who knows. You will lose that opportunity of subscriber communication if have no return address. Why should you be able to send emails to them and they can’t send emails back to you?!!!

That’s all for now. I hope that will be helpful to your email marketing efforts. In times like now, it’s all about maximising your dollar spend and getting the best ROI (Return on Investment). Email marketing typically for every $1 spent, has an ROI of $57. Which is fantastic for a budget conscious time.

I’m out like spam,

Matthew Ho.

Experiment faster, fail faster, quicker to market – Gmail Labs

A lot of people use the popular gmail client. It’s only been around for 4 years, and it is rapidly catching up to hotmail, Yahoo mail and AOL Mail. The techcrunch blog reports:

“According to Google launched Gmail only four years ago, and it is now the fourth most popular e-mail service on the Web after Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, and Windows Live Hotmail. In 2008, it saw some serious growth in the U.S. Google doesn’t break out the number of Gmail users, but comScore estimates unique monthly visitors. According to the latest stats, the number of people visiting Gmail grew 43 percent last year to 29.6 million.”

That’s some serious growth. I’ve got 3 gmail accounts along with 2 other ones for my domain http://www.inspiredworlds.com. I switched to gmail because it was new at the time and the incredible storage space. But I’m not going to harp about Gmail’s growth.

Google Labs & Gmail Labs

I wanted to highlight this feature which I have known about for a while, but never used. It’s called Gmail Labs. Google has an experimental arm called “Google Labs” which has products that are available but they are not quite ready yet. As part of this, there is gmail labs which contains a host of innovative and experimental features. It’s not ready for public roll out, but you can try it out and leave feedback for them.

The premise is that a google engineer can come up with an idea during lunch time, and have it implemented within a couple of hours. That’s incredible. It doesn’t go through a lengthy process of review, analysis, testing – it just rolled out for experiementation for users. I believe that’s the best way to find out if something will be popular.

It allows google to get new products out there for testing by the public and to get a superior advantage in the market place by being the first to go to market. How many companies would do this?

You can try out gmail labs by clicking on “settings” in the right hand corner of your gmail account. Then you click on labs and you can try out a bunch of nifty features.

gmail_labs21

Features I’m experimenting with

I’ve currently trialing the following Gmail Lab features:

1. Switched the chat coumn to the right hand side.

2. When I right click on my mouse I get a quarter circle which allows me to navigate to the previous email or the next one.

3. Send & archive button: How often do you send an email and then go to the sent box and archive it. This is awesome. They should have this as a default in Microsoft Outlook. I would use this everytime to archive work emails to clients.

4. Default “reply all”: Normally all email clients are just “reply”, so it assumes you want to reply to everyone as a default.

The catch with Gmail lab features is that they are experimental and can be taken down. There is also a fail safe button to restore back to your normal settings. This is what I like about Google, the ability to come up with innovative products and also to push the boundaries of normal accepted practices.

I’m out like hotmail,

Matthew Ho.

http://www.inspiredworlds.com