August 26, 2016

Email turns 45 this year. It remains one of the top reasons why most people use the internet. That’s why I am a big believer in having a robust email marketing effort. But the dark side of you using email to promote your business is most emails never show up in your customers’ inbox.

According to a new Return Path report,  less than 70% of emails are delivered. Reviewing the report, here’s some of the challenges your emails can encounter:

Primary Mobile Challenge for Premium Publishers (% of 300 US premium publishers)
Challenge % of Respondents Saying “Primary”
Ad blockers 49%
Quality of consumer experience 44
Quality of content/creative 42
App installations 38
Measurement deficits 31
Platform and service costs 30
Off platform monetization 30
Off network traffic/audience 27
Lagging advertising spend 27
Inadequate revenue/ROI 24
Source: AOL Platforms, August 2016

If you are looking to boost your deliverability, the report outlines the best practices for a successful email marketing effort:

Building and maintaining reputation – If you send email, you have a sender reputation, a rating that helps mailbox providers and spam filters determine whether your emails are trustworthy, safe, and wanted. Looking up your sending reputation, or Sender Score, is free at senderscore.org

Acquiring and maintaining quality subscriber data – An unclean list has severe consequences on your deliverability. Every spam trap, unknown user, and inactive account on your list can damage your reputation, your deliverability, and potentially can land you on a blacklist. Consider investing in a list validation service to ensure each address you add will maintain the quality of your list

Generating subscriber engagement – Mailbox providers like Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and Gmail, are focusing more and more on subscriber engagement in their filtering decision process. Marketers who frequently generate high positive engagement from their subscribers are more likely to reach the inbox, while marketers that generate low or negative engagement from their subscribers find their emails landing in the spam folder

Defining seed data – Information captured from high volumes of monitored email accounts (seeds) controlled by senders to sample mailbox providers’ placement decisions irrespective of user-initiated or engagement-based filtering. For new programs with little or no history of subscriber interaction, seeds can provide an accurate assessment of inbox placement

Defining Consumer Network data – Information captured from monitored email accounts controlled by real subscribers to sample user-initiated and engagement based filtering decisions by mailbox providers. Uncover behavior-based factors and thresholds that influence inbox placement at large mailbox providers, and can’t be identified by non-interactive seeds.

For more information from ReturnPath please visit here. Need help in setting up an email marketing program? Contact me for a no cost evaluation of your needs.



August 15, 2016

I haven’t talked much about ad blocking, but it is a real issue online advertisers. The digital ad industry has tried labeling it as a “fringe” activity popular among young men, gamers and Europeans. But it can no longer be dismissed as an underground activity.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), reported by the Wall St. Journal, 25% of web users in the U.S. now employ ad blockers on desktop computers. What to do? The IAB believes two-thirds of those people could be talked out of using ad blockers, reports CMO Today.

How exactly? The IAB recommends a multipronged approach for website owners/publishers, including cutting off some content from people who use ad blockers, cleaning up annoying ads like autoplay video and making sure ads won’t slow down web experiences. Is this view overly optimistic? Yes, given that people who have already chosen to install ad-blocking software aren’t likely to give publishers the benefit of the doubt.



August 5, 2016

As many of my blog followers know, my firm does numerous research projects a year. So, I am often asked if you can trust all these political polls? This is actually a tough question. The truth is, collecting quantitative data today is very different than just a few years ago.

Why, primarily do to the demise of landlines, the portability of phone numbers, the use of cell phones, and the increased use of automated telephone surveys known as interactive voice response (IVR). That is why you are seeing such an increase use of online panels – people who have agreed to participate in surveys ahead of time.

One of the best essays I’ve read recently on the challenges of contemporary data collection is from the Pew Research Center. They are the gold standard for contemporary social research. If you are considering a study or are just curious if you can trust political polls, it is a must read. Here’s a link to the essay.

If you are interested in conducting a poll, let me know and I can help explain the pitfalls that make research more difficult today. Contrary to popular belief, just using survey monkey doesn’t does not create reliable data.



July 27, 2016

I gave my annual speech to the Southern Oregon Rental Association last month and outlined my predictions for the region’s economic future. One of my predictions was “the impact of recreational marijuana cannot be overestimated…” While the full impact of legal marijuana won’t be felt until 2017, it has already impacted the ad agency business. A well-known ad firm in Portland (Sockeye) has now created the first ad for a cannabis-infused drink.

As reported by the Portland Oregonian, the video ad (click here) features a casual backyard party where people sip the soda call: Legal. It underscores how much cannabis has already merged into mainstream culture, at least in Oregon.

“We were raised with, ‘This is wrong,’ and it’s hard to shed that predisposition,” states Andy Fraser, Sockeye CEO. “It’s a polarizing subject matter, but we have just taken the approach that here is a great entrepreneur making a great product and doing it really well.”

The agency researched the market to figure out the best appeal to consumers. The catchy jingle highlights Legal, whose retro label and stubby brown bottle could easily be mistaken for a craft beer. The ad doesn’t feature pot leaves, green crosses or bikini-clad women, which are common images associated with marijuana.

Aimee Huff, an assistant professor of marketing at Oregon State University who has studied marijuana advertising in Colorado, said Sockeye’s ad targets consumers new to cannabis or people who don’t want to smoke. She said the ad, which echoes alcohol advertising, is clearly an effort to give the product mainstream appeal.

NEED A SPEAKER? I’ve got a brand-new talk “95% of Us Don’t Know What is Going On.” It’s a fun and light-hearted look at the importance of business research and why you can’t trust most polls and research. Email if you would be interested.



July 24, 2016

One of the marketing principles in my book POWERSHIFT MARKETING is that most people do not have a favorite product. Brand loyalty is pretty well dead especially with younger consumers. Most people today pick the least objectionable product. Think about how you watch TV. Using your remote, you click-through 200+ channels and when you find nothing you want to watch, you don’t turn off the TV. You simply select the least objectionable program.

This is very much where we are with this year’s presidential election. All polls show that the majority of Americans (59% or more) have an unfavorable view of Trump and Hillary. Even more people believe they are both untrustworthy. So, will voters just turn off the TV and not vote? I suspect that the majority of the 57.5% of eligible voters that vote (2012 data from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate) will reluctantly choose one of the two leading candidates.

Why is this important to small business marketing? Because you gain a tremendous marketing advantages if you are not the least objectionable product or service. That is why it is critical to make sure your potential customer have a favorable opinion of you. How do you do this?

Do not act like a presidential candidate. Our research and other studies we’ve reviewed show that people want to purchase products/services that are trustworthy, honest, do not over promise, and our transparent (what you see is what you get). Every month we conduct studies for our clients to make sure that these values are driving their brand.  It is unfortunately that one of the best brand marketers (Trump) and one of the worst (Hillary) have not learned more about the basics of real marketing.



June 30, 2016

A question I am often asked by clients is what percentage of people that start to place an order online actually complete it? What percent of people online place something in their shopping cart but don’t buy, book the flight, complete the hotel reservation, or buy the performance ticket? According to a recent study by Catchpoint (reported by MediaPost), shopping cart abandonment rates run between 60 and 80% of all online shopping experiences.

According to the research study, smartphones have created much of the challenge. More customers may just be putting items in their cart to buy later from their desktops. Or, save a product to their mobile site shopping carts to eventually buy in a brick-and-mortar store, a sort of “reverse-showrooming.” Shopping cart abandonment may not be a lost opportunity as much as precursor to a future sale on a different device or through a different channel concludes the report.

Some causes of abandonment, like page and interface design and performance issues, are within your control. Of course, there is the issue of comparison shopping with customers having multiple browser tabs open to check different sites at the same time. They only complete the transaction at the site that has the lowest price, including shipping. This phenomenon is especially common for travel booking sites, leading to the rise of travel aggregator sites. Finally, the study shows that the No. 1 cause of abandonment is shipping charges or other unexpected costs at check-out.

Bottom-line: There are a lot of reasons for abandonment but the key is to track it! Make sure you are looking at your conversion ratio – number of people that go to your cart page (URL) vs. the number of orders you are getting from these page visitors. Increasing this ratio (lowering abandonment) is probably far more important than getting more people to visit your website.



June 28, 2016

There has been a lot of press on Nielsen Research’s new Total Audience Report: 1st Quarter 2016 (good Nielsen PR effort). Here are the most important takeaways from the report for local advertisers.

Broadcast TV is still a good advertising tool – Traditional TV consumption is still huge, but people ages 18 to 24 are watching nearly two hours less TV per week than last year. Overall, adults spent an average of four hours and 31 minutes a day watching live TV, down by three minutes compared with a year earlier.

More and more people can skip your commercials – Streaming video subscriptions are now just as common as DVRs (digital video recorders). Half of U.S. TV households had a subscription-based video on demand service such as Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime in the first quarter, on par with the number of homes that have a DVR. So now there are two barriers standing in the way of your commercials reaching viewers.

We all love video – Adults in the U.S. spend an average of 10 hours and 39 minutes a day consuming media across various platforms and devices, an hour more than the year-ago quarter.

We also love our phones! – Nielsen’s latest data found double-digit percentage increases in the amount of time adults were spending consuming media on their digital devices. Adults spent an average of one hour and 39 minutes a day on a smartphone in the first quarter, up 60% from the year-ago quarter.


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