Why ‘Design Thinking’ Is Critical For Your Business

Design Thinking has been around for almost 40 years. It originated as a business concept in the early 90’s at Stanford. Design Thinking has picked up steam over the past 5 years, and is now the latest craze for many Fortune 500 companies.
 

 

While the average small business owner may not be familiar with Design Thinking, the philosophy that it promotes is a mindset that anyone can benefit from. Without diving too deep into Design Thinking, (which would require a lot more time and text), a brief summary of it as a business concept is creatively understanding a problem and searching for answers through trial and error. In essence, Design Thinking promotes the “right” way to get to a solution. And of course, since it is the right way, that means it is not the easiest way. Design Thinking requires discipline, creativity, focus, and above all, a truly open mind.

 

 
Many times in the business world, we skip steps or try to force a pre-conceived idea or assumption onto a problem. We think we know what the problem is, and the pain points of our target audience. But in actuality, we usually don’t. This is because it takes time, effort, and the ability to be a good listener to actually get inside the minds of the consumer and discover their true intentions, fears, and problem areas.
 

 

Design Thinking formalizes a process, forcing us to take the time to interview and really understand the people we are working to serve. There are 5 phases of the Design Thinking process:
 
1. EMPATHIZE
2. DEFINE
3. IDEATE
4. PROTOTYPE
5. TEST
 
 
5 Phases of Design Thinking

The 5 phases of Design Thinking

 
 
No matter what type of business you have, whether you are B2B or B2C, service-oriented or product-oriented, at the end of the day you serve a customer. Design Thinking requires us to dig into the minds of our customers. Conduct empathy interviews with them, asking open-ending, probing questions that move past the superficial and unearth sub-conscious motivations and pain points. The benefit of this empathy is that we are able to assign a human story to our business or product, no matter what it is. The key to empathy is to listen and ask the right questions. This is a tried and true rule that will make any business better, yet far too often we skip it and assume we know the answers already.
 

 

The second phase of Design Thinking is DEFINE. This phase relates to taking what we’ve learned from our empathy interviews and putting it all together, understanding what it means and identifying the patterns behind it.
 

 

Most companies skip these first two steps. They jump right to the IDEATE phase, brainstorming their ideas to the problem they have identified already without doing their homework to make sure they are solving the correct issue. This is trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
 

 

There’s a reason Design Thinking has become so en vogue lately. It’s because at the end of the day, in order to be successful your business must be able to connect to people in an emotional way that rings true to their priorities. There’s no short cuts to getting to that place. And when you do it the right way, you set yourself up for long term success.
 

 

Interested in learning more about the popular concept of Design Thinking for your business? Contact us today at hello@protocolred.com today.

The #1 Reason You Should Fire Your Marketing Agency

Is Your Businesses’ ROI Suffering Because Of This? 

For businesses of all sizes, digital marketing has become a necessity, not a luxury. Digital, or online, marketing delivers an invaluable benefit that traditional advertising can not: accurate analysis of ROI. Online metrics and tracking mechanisms provide real-time data on every single post, click, and share.
Digital marketing is continually evolving and adapting. Agencies that do not keep pace with these changes get left behind. Above all else, in this analytics-driven digital age, there is one egregious sin that can and should not be forgiven:
 
Not conducting A/B split tests!
 
 Many agencies take what worked for them with past clients and do the same thing with your business. They believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to digital marketing. As you know, this is not the case. What works for one company or industry will not necessarily work for another. The only way to maximize results for your business is to conduct A/B (split) tests with your actual customers.
 
WHAT IS A/B SPLIT TESTING?

A/B testing is a standard tool for success in today’s digital age. It allows you, the client, to find out for yourself what works best for your customers and your goals. It takes the guessing out of the equation, and allows you to make decisions based on hard fact and proven results.

 
HOW DOES IT WORK?

An A/B split campaign funnels your customers to two different testing options and compares the results. The A version is an original, controlled option; while the B version is the variation option.

Example: You have been hearing more and more about parallax scrolling, but you’re unsure if your industry will respond well to this type of web effect. Maybe you have an older customer base who may get confused or turned off by it.
Instead of playing the guessing game, you can simply run an A/B test. The A version is your original website, and the B version is your website designed with a parallax scrolling effect. You set the goals you want to measure and begin conducting your tests in your Google analytics account.
 
You can check in at any time and see real-time results. After an appropriate amount of time (which may vary but is normally no longer than a few weeks) you can compare the results to see which version performed better.

 

WHO SHOULD USE IT?

A/B testing is an invaluable method that has no downside. It is beneficial to any type of business, no matter the industry, size, location, or audience. Testing is not so much a procedure as it is a mindset. If you’re spending money on PPC Adwords, testing is the only way you can hone in on the most effective keywords and maximize your budget. Not sure whether to send your email blasts at 9am or 10am or 3pm? Test it. Wondering if your customers prefer your old website design instead of the new, slicker design? Conduct an A/B test!

 The sad truth is that all of this data is available, yet most agencies today are not utilizing it. Your business is not seeing the ROI it should because it is flying in the dark.
 
CONCLUSION

That’s why Protocol Red employs split testing in everything we do. We work hand-in-hand with the client to identify the objectives and goals we want to accomplish, and we set about conducting non-stop testing to continually hone in on what resonates the most with your customer base.

Wondering if it’s time to give your agency the pink slip? Contact us at hello@protocolred.com for a free consultation to see how we can help your business increase brand awareness and revenue.

Time’s Up…Google’s Intrusive Ad Penalty Is Here!

 

How to know whether your site’s SEO traffic has been impacted

 
In August 2016, Google made headlines with a major announcement that every business owner should be prepared for: as of January 10, 2017, Google will begin penalizing mobile websites that continue to use “intrusive interstitials” (aka pop-up ads).
 

(Need a refresher course in how SEO works? Download our FREE eReport “The 5 Minute Beginner’s Guide to SEO” now!) 

 

WHY GOOGLE DID THIS

Google’s continued top priority for their search engine is to provide the most relevant content to users as seamlessly and intuitively as possible. Mobile devices account for almost 60% of all search traffic in the US, and is the bread and butter for Google’s search engine now.
 
Mobile screens are smaller than desktops, so intrusive pop-up ads have a much more debilitating impact on the user experience than they do on a desktop or laptop screen.
 
 
As Google stated in their August announcement:
Pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high.
 
Google is primarily concerned about the transition from the user conducting a search on Google on their mobile device, and then going to the actual website they click on. The last thing Google wants is for annoying ads to pop-up right away and disrupt the flow for the person searching for what they want.
 
 

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY AD IS ‘INTRUSIVE’?

It’s pretty simple, really.
Is the interstitial (aka pop-up ad) visually obscuring the actual website’s content or making it difficult to access the mobile website’s page?
 
If the answer is ‘yes’, you can understand how frustrating this can be to Google’s users.

 

 Google's examples of intrusive ads

 

Google's examples of non-intrusive ads

 

HAS MY MOBILE WEBSITE BEEN PENALIZED?

There are two ways to identify very easily whether your site has been affected by this new penalty:
1. Check your SEO rankings today on a mobile device and compare it to your SEO ranking on mobile a month or two ago.

 

2. Look at your mobile website traffic for the past two months to see if there is a significant decrease since January 10th.
 

REMEMBER…

The jury is still out on exactly how widespread and serious this new ruling will be. Many experts have yet to see serious traffic decreases in a majority of mobile sites still violating this mandate. However, others have observed certain mobile sites that drop over 10 SEO ranking spots.
 
It’s still very early, the this may not have been fully rolled out yet. Also, there are hundreds of different signals that factor in to how a site ranks on Google. This is just one piece of it.
 
The safe bet is to remove any intrusive ads from your mobile version of your website just to be safe. There are alternative ways to get your message across on mobile with free offerings such as Hello Bar.
 

CONCLUSION

When it comes to your website, the best mindset you can take is to put yourself in YOUR CUSTOMERS shoes. Find out exactly what it’s like for them to experience your website.
 
Intrusive ads are annoying and frustrating for the majority of people. Yes, some industries see tremendous success in generating leads by using them, but they are still incredibly disruptive if not used properly.
 
Even though Google’s penalty only affects mobile traffic, take this opportunity to revisit your website’s entire conversion strategy on BOTH mobile and desktop. Get rid of anything that could frustrate your visitors, and figure out a better way to achieve what you want.

 

 

Need help removing the frustration from your website and optimizing your conversions?

 
 

FACEBOOK ROI FOR STARTUPS IN 2017

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY OF FACEBOOK ROI IN 2017

 

INTRODUCTION

Facebook.

It seems like it’s been around forever (although I still remember managing Myspace pages for businesses; but that’s a story for another time). For any entrepreneur with their own startup or small business, creating a company Facebook page is one of the few must-have requirements. Many businesses rely on their company Facebook page in lieu of a website. There was a time when Facebook first burgeoned onto the mainstream scene that many businesses considered the number of ‘likes’ their page had as the ultimate status symbol.

My, how times have changed.

The past 12-18 months have seen the Facebook honeymoon come crashing to a halt. Relying on college interns to post funny memes on a regular basis just doesn’t cut it anymore. With all the continuing headlines about the dwindling impact a “like” has nowadays, it’s easy to understand why you would be sitting there dazed and confused.

Well, the past is the past. We’re here to look ahead and point you in the right direction to maximize your Facebook ROI in 2017. Because no matter what you hear, there is a tremendous ROI opportunity to be had with Facebook in the future. You just have to know where to spend your time and money.

So let’s look at the GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY of Facebook in 2017 for startups and entrepreneurs. As a special bonus, we’ll even reveal the SECRET to ROI SUCCESS for Facebook in the next 12 months.

 

THE GOOD

Despite the doom and gloom you may hear about regarding Facebook’s reach, there is still plenty of ‘good’ out there when it comes to this social media mainstay. First, no matter how “uncool” or “old” Facebook may be to some user segments, it still is hands down the #1 social media platform in the world with over 1 Billion users visiting it every day. While the younger audience segments are flocking to Snapchat and Instagram, Facebook still delivers a tremendous opportunity for any business looking to showcase their brand to an audience segment.

While Facebook is no longer the new kid on the block, they are continually pushing the limits of future technology and features. The majority of users utilize Facebook’s mobile app, which is a key factor to their continued success moving forward. Virtual Reality, the next big thing in consumer technology, was introduced to Facebook in May 2016 and is expected to grow substantially in the near future.

Facebook offers many user-friendly features and settings that allow a business to showcase their product or service in a compelling manner. For example, you can personalize the call-to-action button in your profile page based on the type of action you want your users to take. For example, you can have them contact you, download a free offer, etc. You can also gather valuable insights into the behavior and demographics of your page followers from their analytics metrics. Finally, you can still use your page as a bulletin board posting the most relevant and topical news and content surrounding your business or industry.

There are also a number of advantages that local business can and should capitalize on to increase engagement. Local Facebook pages have 5x the reach, 8x the engagement level, and 40x the overall impact that regular business pages have.

While it’s easier for a B2C (Business-to-Consumer) business to create engagement on their Facebook page, there are plenty of tactics that B2B (Business-to-Business) pages can pursue to make an impression with their followers as well. Plus, there are free tools available to specify which types of followers will see your posts, to increase the ratio of engagement and interaction your posts get.

 

REMEMBER

When you are posting content to your Facebook business page, always choose quality over quantity. Facebook has changed their algorithms so that the more people who really love your content and engage with it, the more likely they are to see your content again in the future.

 

THE BAD

When businesses and publications bemoan the death of Facebook’s impact, they are referring to organic reach.

Facebook defines organic reach as “the number of unique people who saw your post in News Feed or on your page, including people who saw it from a story shared by a friend when they liked, commented on or shared your post, answered a question or responded to an event.”

In plain English, think of organic reach as the amount of engagement and interaction your post garners without you having to spend any money on it. You probably noticed how Facebook slowly moved towards the “Boost Your Post” offerings. This is the revenue model Facebook pursued, and the reason the organic reach for businesses has dipped to almost non-existent.

OK, time for the really bad news!

All the people claiming Facebook is dead for business in terms of organic reach are correct. It is dead. Case in point: your Facebook company page now has a less than 1% organic reach. That means if you have 100 followers, and you post something to your page, only 1 person will see that post initially. If that person does not comment, like or share that post, then you’re screwed. You’re only option is to pay Facebook to “boost” that post, so you can get more exposure.

Even worse, the power of “likes” has plummeted as well. According to a study by SocialSamosa, only 1% of users who like a company’s Facebook page will actually visit their page.

 

THE UGLY

Which brings us to the ugly truth about Facebook in 2017.

The age-old question of “do Facebook ‘likes’ deliver any kind of ROI?” has been answered in an astoundingly loud and clear fashion.

NO!

Facebook ‘likes’ offer little to no true ROI in 2017, for the reasons we stated above.

1. Facebook deliberately limits the amount of your followers who will even see your content (less than 1%)
2. Those who do ‘like’ your page are 99% likely to never visit your Facebook page again

This is where many entrepreneurs and startups are getting ripped off, even to this day! Marketing agencies across the country are promising tremendous brand exposure, charging $2,000 – $5,000 per month, and when it’s all said and done all you have to show for it is a few thousand Facebook ‘likes’. Which wouldn’t be that bad, except that your actual posts have zero likes, comments, or shares. So that means all the money that agency charged you to grow your followers was literally worthless because they are not engaging with your content whatsoever.

There are still companies out there who will offer to “sell” you fake ‘likes’, to help you feel less insecure about the small number of followers your business page has. Again, like with SEO, this black hat technique is a waste of money that will hurt your brand and reputation in the long run.

Do not EVER spend one penny on Facebook ‘likes’. There is no ROI in it whatsoever.

 

THE SECRET TO FACEBOOK ROI SUCCESS IN 2017

You may be wondering what value Facebook could possibly deliver your startup business at this point, after all this doom and gloom.

Well, the great news is that there are two very clear venues where Facebook will deliver tremendous value for your company in 2017.

1. Facebook Ads
2. Video

 

I. Facebook Ads

Remember, when it comes to organic reach, Facebook is worthless, and you should spend NO time or money on ‘likes’. However, paid advertising is a different story completely!

Again, because Facebook is the largest social media site, and because there is so much invaluable data regarding each user’s demographics, interests, etc., Facebook offers the unique ability for you to specifically target display search advertisements to exactly the specific audience segment you desire, more so than any other platform (including Google).

Selling used violins? No problem! You can run ads to people in the age range you want, who expressed an interest in violins, composers, etc.

Want to drive more business to your local gym? It’s simple!

And remember how we stated that Facebook skews older than Snapchat or Instagram? Well, Facebook acquired Instagram, so you can actually run ad campaigns on Instagram from your Facebook Ads account as well!

There are a variety of different ad platforms that you can choose from, including:

• Page post engagement
• Page likes
• Clicks to website
• Website conversions
• App installs
• App engagement
• Offer claims
• Video views
• Local awareness

And just like Google Adwords, you can run split testing on your ads to determine which headline or image works the best. You can pause or end campaigns whenever you want. You can set your own budget, at your own pace.

All of these characteristics are exactly what a startup should pursue with paid advertising. You are throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks. Facebook advertising allows you to test out campaigns, offers, calls-to-action, etc. and adjust accordingly. It truly offers an ROI unlike any other digital advertising channel in 2017.

 

II. Video

The power of video on Facebook has exploded, and will only continue to dominate in the next 12-24 months. Facebook has seen a 75% increase in video posts from 2014 – 2015. Users watch more than 8 Billion videos every day on Facebook. Whether you are posting non-paid, ‘organic’ content; or running paid ads, video is the can’t-miss medium that you need to be employing.

Why?

Facebook is very aware of the success that Snapchat and Instagram have amassed. And they are very aware of the power that video plays in this relationship. Facebook has been very concerned internally with the rapid decrease in unique postings on their site over the past few years. The majority of posts are actually just re-posts or links to stories. Fewer people are actually sharing updates on their lives or posting unique content about their lives. And Facebook knows that is the key to engagement.

That’s where video comes into play.

Video is engaging in a way that text or even photos are not. This explains the big push towards Facebook Live, and even their 360 video offering.

 

Harness the power of video on Facebook

            Videos are the present AND the future of Facebook

 

Facebook is so keen on promoting video, that if you run a Facebook ad that has video in it, your ROI will skyrocket beyond what it normally is with a standard ad. If you conduct a Facebook Live stream, Facebook will boost the exposure that stream receives beyond what any other type of post would get.

The key is to embed the video directly into Facebook. Don’t just post a link to a video on YouTube. Actually save the video to Facebook and then post it. Your organic reach and engagement will skyrocket as a result.

 

 

Download the FREE e-Report “The 10 COMMANDMENTS OF FACEBOOK LIVE” now!

 

CONCLUSION

Facebook organic reach is dead. Long live Facebook ads and video!

Startups and small businesses need to be smart with their marketing and advertising budgets. Don’t waste your resources on ‘likes’. Focus on crafting compelling Facebook ads with engaging headlines, captivating calls-to-action, and relevant landing pages. And be sure to harness the power and opportunity that video offers, because it won’t last forever!

Ready to learn how to see a positive ROI from Facebook in 2017? Contact us at info@protocolred.com for a free consultation today!

If Your Site Uses This Type of Pop-Up Ad, PLEASE STOP!

Imagine this scenario: I’m browsing the internet, and I happen to come across your website on Google. I read the meta description, and decide to click on your site to take a look and see if you have what I want.

 

BAM!!!!

 

The second I open up your website, I’m bombarded with a pop up window asking me to subscribe to your email newsletter. Really??? I don’t even know who you are or what you’re about, let alone if I want to hear from you on a weekly or monthly basis. This is a clear example of why pop-up ads have such a bad reputation. When they’re done right, pop-up ads are an invaluable tool that can dramatically increase conversion rates, newsletter sign-ups, etc. However, that little caveat “when done right” is the critical piece to the puzzle.

 

So, if you are guilty of annoying your visitors like this, what can you do to fix this?

 

First, lets review the different categories of pop-up ads, and when/how they appear:
• ENTRY POP-UP ADS – appear when you first land on a website or web page
• TIMED POP-UP ADS – appear if you’ve been on a page for a certain length of time
• CLICK POP-UP ADS – appear when you click on a specific button or section
• SCROLLING POP-UP ADS – appear when you scroll to a certain section on the web page
• EXIT POP-UP ADS – appear when you show ‘intent’ to leave the web page or website

 

Let’s stick with our specific scenario for this post: ill-timed entry pop-ups. Can they work? Like all pop-ups, yes they can. But this specific type of pop-up is so easy to get wrong. The timing of it places it at the epitome of an intrusive, unwanted disruption that will be ignored immediately.

 

So, what’s the solution?

How do you still increase sign-ups or conversions with the valuable pop-up tools in a way that doesn’t annoy them as much?

 

Simple.

 

Instead of hitting them up when they first enter your site, wait until they have done everything they want to and use the EXIT POP-UP.

 

Exit Intent Pop-Up ads have spiked in popularity over the past few years. They use javascript logic to show you an ad when your mouse cursor leaves the browser window. Again, like anything pop-up, the key to success is “when done right”.

 

Here are a few standard best practices:
• Use compelling copy with a strong call-to-action.
• Keep it short and sweet.
• Offer a relevant piece of content or value.
• Avoid more than a few fields of information if you have gated content (Meaning, if you ask for their name and email in order to download something, that’s fine. But on this type of ad don’t ask for a ton of fields of information.)
• Make sure there is a very clear, obvious way for the user to close the ad.
• Remember not to go crazy with pop-up ads all over your website. Balance is critical.

 

Like everything digital, best practices are just that: industry averages. In order to discover what works best FOR YOU, make sure you are always conducting A/B testing.

 

Also, there are a number of ways to execute exit intent pop-up ads. However, if you’re new at it, it’s best to utilize an existing vendor such as www.hellobar.com (they have FREE options and it’s incredibly easy to set up).

 

When in doubt, put yourself in your web visitor’s shoes.

 

If you need help improving, or even setting up, pop-up ads on your site, give us a shout at info@protocolred.com for a free consultation.

don’t ask, don’t sell

SOLVING THE STARTUP MARKETING DILEMMA

One of the dilemmas that startups face early on is how to create awareness for their service on a shoestring budget. It’s a little like the cart and the horse. How can a new business afford effective marketing and advertising unless they get more customers, and thus more revenue? And conversely, how can they get more customers if they don’t have money for marketing and advertising?

This is a legitimate question that most startups struggle with.

The answer, however, does not lay in the horse. Nor does it lay in the cart. The solution is actually neither one of these.

It’s easy to get so caught up in worrying about new businesses that we fail to recognize the golden opportunity sitting right in front of us: our existing customers!

Even if you only have one existing customer, that one customer presents a high-quality opportunity to spread the word about your services to their network. Whether it’s word of mouth, through their social media networks, or in other ways, every single customer you already have should be carefully groomed to grow into a dedicated brand evangelizer for your business.

 

THE VALUE OF REFERRALS

No matter what you sell or who you sell it to, customer referrals represents one of the most effective advertising tools that exist. Which makes complete sense when you think about it. If you’re looking for a cleaning service company to come 3x a week and clean your office, what would be a more convincing tactic to convince you to use a company? An ad you see on TV, or a referral from a colleague? The referral will be significantly more impactful and persuasive every time because it is coming from a credible source. Also, it’s providing social proof to the other person.

 

THE CHALLENGE

Of course, you can’t expect your customers to do this automatically. Sure, if you have a great offering that goes above and beyond, you will (hopefully) get a good amount of organic referrals from your existing customers. But unless you make your customer base aware of your requests, you cannot expect them to do anything about it.

Remember, the key here is to be transparent and ethical. We are not espousing bribing or other unethical tactics. It can be as simple as telling every customer as they complete their purchase that referrals are how you get most of your business, and you would really appreciate if they could keep you in mind for any of their friends or colleagues.

Automated email campaigns are tremendously effective for this.

The point is you have to ask. Similar to when you are in Sales; you have to ask for the sale at some point. Recognize the tremendous value your current customers can provide you by significantly growing your customer base at no actual expense to you.

 

KEEP IN MIND

Having said all this, you must understand that if you are asking this of your customers, you owe it to them to deliver an outstanding offering that they will feel excited sharing with their network. If not, this strategy will never get off the ground, and the only person you will have to blame is yourself.

Again, the reason this is so valuable is because it allows startups with little to no marketing budget to increase revenue in new ways at no expense.

So take a moment to think about what tactics you are using to create brand evangelizers out of every customer.

 

Need help creating and implementing a Referral program in your startup? Contact us today at info@protocolred.com for a free consultation.

Top 5 Reasons Your Email Open Rate Sucks

Email marketing’s influence and popularity continues to surprise industry experts who forecasted it’s demise years ago. In fact, email marketing offers an astounding 4,300% ROI. So if email marketing is so successful, than why isn’t it working for your business?

Why aren’t your customers opening your emails?

There are 5 critical areas to cover when determining why your email open rate is lower than you’d like. We’ll take a quick look at each area. As always, for more information or a free analysis of your current email marketing performance contact us at info@protocolred.com.

I. SUBJECT LINE

33% of email recipients open emails based on subject line alone. Your subject line is the equivalent of the first impression. Think of your own personal inbox, and the hundreds of emails you get every day. Many of them are spam. Some are from lists you signed up for long ago that you’re no longer interested in. Our time is more precious than money in today’s society, so we scan the subject line to determine whether an email is worth opening to learn more about the contents.

Mailchimp just released their latest list of best practices to help you construct the most effective subject line. First and foremost, keep your subject line as short as possible. Second, avoid spammy words such as “free” or using multiple exclamation marks. Consider adding tags that dynamically insert the recipient’s name into the subject line if it seems appropriate. Emojis are growing in popularity; however, consider whether they are an appropriate fit for your brand before you employ them. And use them sparingly without over-doing it (unless that is in line with your brand).

Think of your subject line as the headline for a story. Craft an intriguing, engaging phrase or question that will make them curious to want to find out more.

II. SEND DAY/TIME

When is the best day and time to send your customers an email? Unfortunately there is no magic answer to this question. However, a good place to start is by reviewing Constant Contact’s industry average list.

Remember, these are averages, and your company may be different. The only way to truly know is to test different days and times and compare the metrics to identify winning trends.

III. LIST QUALITY

It’s so easy to be guilty of this one. We barely have enough time to run our business, and the last thing we feel like doing is cleaning up our email list. But this is one of the major culprits for poor performance. Continuing to send emails to inactive or disengaged recipients hurts the open rate and costs you money.

Luckily, email database modules such as Mailchimp and Constant Contact make it very easy to remove recipients who have hard bounces or even soft bounces. You just have to remember to do it regularly to optimize your campaign performances.

IV. SIGN-UP EXPECTATIONS

Are your email subscribers’ expectations of what your email blasts will deliver in line with the reality? If not, then take a good, hard look in the mirror and clarify this in your sign-up forms and messaging.

An effective tactic is to require a double opt-in to join your email list. The upside is that you are requiring an extra step that increases the likelihood that the person subscribing to your list is truly interested and will want to hear from you. The downside is that you’re making it that much harder for someone to join your database. The quality of the list will increase, but the quantity of the recipients will be negatively affected.

Most experts and sources recommend a double opt-in wherever possible. I tend to agree with that sentiment, although every company and industry is unique so only you can decide for sure what works best for your business.

V. A/B TESTING

This was alluded to briefly in the section on the send day/time, but this is critical for everything that has been discussed. The only way to know the best answer for your specific business is to conduct on-going A/B testing in everything you do. Every single blast should include A/B experiments that you learn from and employ in future sends. Subject lines can only be optimized through sound A/B tests. The same goes for determining the best day and time to send your blasts and finding the best language/messaging for your sign-up forms.

If you are not A/B testing, you are falling behind the competition.

So there you have it. 5 areas you can work on to make an immediate impact on your email open rates. Try them out and tell us how they work for you in the comments section below.

What Mitsubishi Got Wrong on Super Bowl Sunday

So, what was your favorite commercial from the Super Bowl? Maybe it was Drake’s T-Mobile commercial. Or the creepy Doritos commercial. The internet is flooded with blogs and sites ranking the best and worst TV ads of the Super Bowl.
One commercial in particular stuck out to me: the Mitsubishi Outlander commercial.
In fact, I am probably the only person this commercial made an impact on. It didn’t even get included on this site’s best and worst rankings.
WHEN YOU TRY TO PLEASE EVERYONE, YOU PLEASE NO ONE
The gist of the ad is that this new Outlander model is so different and has so many new improvements, they had to hire 100 different spokes people to tell you about everything. There’s a plastic surgeon talking about the perfect appearance; an eskimo marveling at the AC; a ninja commenting on the quiet engine; and so on.
As anyone who is a fan of Seth Godin could guess, this TV ad was a dud. But why? It’s simple: it tries to be too many things to too many people. It’s obvious that this TV ad was the result of a decision by committee. No modern marketer will ever win by trying to be as generic and broad-appealing as possible. It just doesn’t work that way.
Take Donald Trump for example. Forget about his political views or your personal opinions on him. Why has he continued to shock America and be the Republican front-runner for the nomination?
Simple: he’s not playing it safe. Being conservative is death for politicians. At some point, a politician has to take a stand for something and plant a flag in the sand. Otherwise, you remain unremarkable, and the debate moderators forget to even introduce you at the town hall.
Mitsubishi can learn a lesson from Donald Trump. So can your company.
Taking the broad, generic approach like Mitsubishi is the easy way out, and it’s doomed to fail every time. Narrow down the 100 different spokes people in the ad to one. Pick a niche you want to dominate, and build your marketing efforts around that brand persona. Even if your “views” are extreme, at least people will take notice. Otherwise, you’re destined to be an afterthought that doesn’t even get included in the conversation.