7 Deadly Sins of Marketing
Takeaway notes from Bronto webinar. By Aliza Bornstein, copywriter, Melissa Data

Sally Lowery of Bronto Software takes you through the seven deadly sins made in marketing in this webinar recap.

1. Sloth (auto-piloted campaigns)
It’s not laziness that prevents marketers from testing and optimizing email marketing programs—it’s band-width. You need to be conscientious about how that impacts your program and testing should be part of your game plan.

Questions you should be asking yourself:

• Do I want to re-engage with inactive people/subscribers?
• Am I satisfied with my KPI’s (Keeper Performance Indicators); my open rate; my click-through rate?
• Are people taking the path I intended? (Are they going where you’re trying to direct them to?)
• Have my overall stats declined? (If they have, it’s important you start thinking of an alternative to an auto-pilot campaign).
It’s easy for us, as marketers, to put things on auto-pilot and focus on the fire, but there are some nice, Quick Wins, that you can do to optimize your campaign performance.

Auto-piloted campaigns Quick Wins:
You can impact your open (the start). So if you’re not getting great opens, you’re not going to get as many people clicking through or converting. You can do this through the subject line, the from line, the best day to send, and best time to send. For the subject line, you can do an A vs B; winner takes all. The results could be an increase in open rates, and in turn, an increase in click through rates, and conversion rates. Branded awareness is important. Your subscribers won’t open email they don’t recognize. Most likely, they’ll hit the spam or delete key.

Don’t make it difficult. Start with something easy like an A/B split test to 30 percent of your list and see what subject line gets the better open rate. Which ever one gets the better open rate, send the rest of your list that campaign, with that subject line.

If you want to impact your click-throughs, you can do that through creative layout, copy, or calls-to-action. Are your calls-to-action a button or a text? How are you trying to get them to actually respond?

2. Gluttony (Over-sending)
There are do’s and don’ts to over-sending: Don’t abuse your subscriber list; Do develop a frequency strategy; Do set expectations with subscribers—or you risk losing them, thereby impacting your brand and impacting your deliverability.

In today’s society, subscribers can hit the spam button even if you’re sending them relevant information. They can still view it as spam. So, high frequency with low relevance depresses the inbox placement due to higher complaints. In an untargeted approach, it reduces your response rates and lowers your lifetime value.

So what do you do? You decide what your frequency is going to be and be sensitive to what your subscribers’ needs are. If you promise a specific frequency then you deliver on that frequency, because you’re building trust with your subscribers. Any frequency that is outside what your subscriber base is used to experiencing is going to be perceived as over-sending.

One way of solving over-sending is by segmenting your audience. Not every subscriber has the same needs. You want to identify segments or groups with common interests and build the offer around those.

In addition, in an Email Marketing Benchmark survey by Marketing Profs, half of the marketers say they segment their file to boost response. Of course, that means that half do not take advantage of this powerful technique.

There are three different ways to segment:

1) Behavioral Offer free trials; study browser behavior; past purchases; average customer order; recency; etc.
2) Demographic Regionally segment your audience; customize in-store promos; man vs woman; etc.
3) Preference Put the decision in the hands of your subscribers—when they receive, what they receive, etc.

3. Lust (Asking for too much, too quickly)
We, as marketers, have a habit of asking for too much consumer information up front. So, it’s important not to ask for too much, too quickly. Review the following questions:
• How many fields are you requiring at sign up?
• Have you considered building data over time?
• What is essential to beginning an engaging dialogue with the subscriber and what can hold off and wait?
A customer needs to trust the company they interact with. A good tactic you can consider is nurturing the data collection throughout the customer lifecycle.

First, begin by asking for permission to send email marketing to your customers and then start to build upon that: first name; last name; state; email address. These are critical for regional campaigns. Then you start building data based on their behavior: preferences; purchase history; etc.

Next, create a preference center and then consistently promote it. Allow subscribers to customize the content they’re going to receive from you. Practice what we just preached! Don’t ask for too much information too quickly from your subscribers. Start off with only two required fields: name and email address.

Follow up with an email asking your new subscriber what they want to receive.
It’s important to find what their industry interests are (are they a B-2-B or B-2-C?) because the content delivered is going to be very different. Ask if they want to receive targeted campaign promotions, tips and tricks, alerts, white papers and webinars, etc.

4. Wrath (CAN-SPAM compliance)
Sending email to those that don’t subscribe can impact your deliverability and your brand. Even subscribers can mark irrelevant email campaigns from you as spam.

Send an email to someone who hasn’t opted in to receive your message and risk the wrath of their mouse click delegating you to spam, or worse—unsubscribe.

Worse, they could tell their friends. So now, not only have you damaged your reputation with that person by sending them content they never requested, you’ve damaged your reputation with all the people they told.

The benefits of an opt-in list are more engaged respondents that have intentionally begun a relationship with your organization and brand.

5. Greed (Don’t just go promotional)
In marketing, greed is only seeing dollar signs and not people. We are all guilty of it, because we have a bottom line we have to meet. But the reality is, it doesn’t always have to be promotional.

Too much emphasis on sales may turn off subscribers. Not every message has to be a sales pitch. Start a conversation and don’t just speak—listen to what your customer is saying. Assess their wants and needs. If you do these things, sales will come.

You need to have a really integrated strategy, one that isn’t just promotional or sales-geared, but one that also leverages content that your subscriber is going to enjoy. Sending things to your subscriber that enables them to do their job better or enables them to just enjoy what they’re reading—that’s going to be something huge in the minds of your subscribers.

Conversations are needed, they’re critical in a B-2-B and B-2-C world. You can create content and conversations through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, product reviews, surveys, white papers, case studies, etc.

Not enough people are leveraging their blog from an email marketing perspective. They’re putting out great blog posts, but their not really promoting their blog posts, so they’re not getting nearly enough traffic. And this is where your subscribers can really engage with you.

6. Pride (Ignoring your subscribers’ interests)
We would all love to say we don’t do it, but the reality is, we’re wearing multiple hats. We have sales we have to meet and sometimes we’re not listening to where our subscribers are at in the customer lifecycle. Instead, we’re thinking about what we have to sell to make this month’s sales goal.

Look at the customer lifecycle. Identify where you are currently at in communicating with your customers, subscribers, and prospects. Ask yourself: Where are the holes? How can I achieve success here?

Trigger-based messaging is one way you can really focus on the customer lifecycle, and it’s because of that automation that’s focused on how your customers, subscribers, and prospects are engaging with your brand online.
You can leverage a trigger-based email program to create relevant and timely campaigns. From this, you can learn to relate to them instantly.

Keys to success
To be successful, you really need to define business rules. A well-defined trigger-based program can create significant return. Creating a business rule that sends a transactional message that includes optimum opportunity only makes sense if that product promoted actually matches your customer’s interest.

So, what are your business objectives? Is it important to have trigger-based campaigns all over the place, or are there maybe four or five places you think are really important?

7. Envy (Competitive stats)
We all wish we had our neighbors email stats, but you can’t compare apples to oranges. Industry to industry, business needs may be very different. What people are doing with their email marketing program may be different.

Set your own goals and objectives. Apply today’s lessons, optimize your campaigns, and you will get there. It’s more important for you and your organization to find out what works for you, than contemplating what your neighbors are doing.

---Source: Bronto Software webinar Dec. 10, 2009 ( Sally Lowery is the Director of Online Marketing for Bronto Software. You can reach her at


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