Email Is the New Direct Mail

Direct mail can target people by region and can count conversions with a specific phone number, coupon code or URL. Sounds like the perfect marketing tactic, right? Maybe not.

While some marketers swear by it, direct mail is no longer the end-all, be-all of direct marketing. Nowadays, anything important (paying bills, shopping, etc.), can be done online. “Junk mail” is often synonymous with direct marketing, and may create more annoyance than positive brand awareness.

Email marketing is the new direct mail. In a world where digital devices are an integral part of our lifestyle, it makes sense to try to reach people through those devices.

But that’s not email’s only appeal. Below are three reasons why email is the direct marketing tactic of today.

1. More Specific Targeting

Email marketing allows users to opt in or out. With direct mail, you can’t do either. If someone goes to your website and signs up for your newsletter, you already know they are interested. If they opt out after receiving your email, they may not be your target market.

Email marketing software can also help you tailor your campaigns based on other factors. Not only can you target by location, but if you have been in contact with them before, you can target by where they are in the buying cycle. Email lists can also be segmented based on purchase behavior.

2. Lower Costs

If you are a small business owner, the cost of running direct mail campaigns can be quite high. You may have to hire a designer, pay for postage and purchase high print volumes. Then, when it’s time for a second round, you send just as many because you don’t know who actually saw the first one. Even if you receive more responses from a piece of direct mail, some testing has shown the ROI is often higher on email marketing.

3. More Intelligence

You can gain so much more intelligence with email. You can tell how many people have opened the email, clicked on links and unsubscribed. If you sent them to a page on your website, you can find out what they did there as well. This way you know if the email actually led to a sale, in addition to creating more brand awareness.

When you can track online user behavior, you can optimize your next campaign for better results. If you are aware of the recipient’s response, you can make adjustments to elements like subject lines, CTAs, overall messaging and email layout. You also have the ability to test these variables by sending out two versions and seeing which one performs better.

In Summary

While email campaigns are an improved way to reach your prospects and customers directly, they should only be part of your marketing efforts. In some cases, it might be beneficial to use both direct mail and email as part of your integrated marketing plan. Either way, every situation is unique and if you aren’t sure what the best strategy is for your business, seek out the help of a professional.

Ryan Smeets Shares UX & UI Optimization Tips for the Masses

Ryan Smeets HeadshotAs our use of digital devices grows, the quality of our digital contacts and content become increasingly important. How do we create web interactions that are intuitive, informative and worthy of a user’s time and attention? All marketers are faced with this challenge today. At the last AZIMA event on July 23, Ryan Meeks the Director of Client Strategy at Brushfire Interactive shared his perspective and advice on facing the UX & UI conundrum with wit.

Ryan is responsible for how content and technology will strategically shape overall strategies for clients across the country. Ryan brings to Brushfire more than 10 years of experience in strategic marketing and consulting for various clients in varying industries including: professional sports, healthcare, automotive, agriculture, and non-profit organizations.

Ryan earned his Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and his Master’s degree from Georgetown University, however he divulged with the nearly 100 AZIMA attendees that his proudest achievement was winning the “Showcase Showdown” on CBS’ The Price is Right. Yes, clearly Ryan and Bob Barker have a close relationship. 😉

Understanding the Difference Between UI & UX

For those of you who aren’t as fluent in nerd as I am, I’ll briefly define the two key terms at hand in Ryan’s presentation for context. UX Design refers to the term User Experience Design, while UI Design stands for User Interface Design. Both elements are crucial to a product and work closely together. But despite their close relationship, the roles themselves are quite different, referring to very different parts of the process within the design discipline. Whereas UX Design is a more analytical and technical field focusing on human behavior principles, UI Design is closer to what we generally hear referred to as graphic design, though the responsibilities are somewhat more complex.

An analogy I’ve heard used before describes it like this:

  • UI is the saddle, the stirrups, and the reigns.
  • UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse, and rope your cattle.

Despite how simple it sounds, they do have a complex relationship which Ryan didn’t delve too deeply into in his AZIMA presentation. Mr. Smeets did, however share a few little nuggets that stuck with me. He began with this phenomenal Da Vinci quote.

Da Vinci Quote

And These Gems

In Ryan’s light and entertaining presentation he shared with us what he calls the “trifecta” for UI.

Photo of slide on Trifecta

Ryan gave props to the designers in the room and declared, “Good design is frictionless, inviting, and familiar.” He noted “the recent big rise in the ‘C-level’ design director. It’s proof that design and detail matter.”

As part of his discussion on the way we as humans interact with our environment and the internet today, he added that “if it’s not mobile, it doesn’t exist.” The audience seemed to agree.

He used this imagery, and suggested that this highly integrated, ubiquitous state is where the web will be soon.

This will be the web

Mr. Smeets also explained how “one of the biggest challenges in software is that it’s never done” and went on to share a couple of short case studies about recent work that Brushfire Interactive had done.

He displayed some good examples of “intentionally low fidelity” wireframes and explained that “the goal of a wireframe is to facilitate conversation around features and functions.“

He went on to share how in some cases his team has found it useful to overwhelm the client with all of the suggested features and functions that might be useful in a product. They throw the proverbial kitchen sink at them, and then refine from there. This helps reach an understanding about the importance of simplicity and the Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which is a term used most often in the field of product development. It refers to the product with the highest return on investment versus risk. The term was coined and defined by Frank Robinson, and popularized by Steve Blank, and Eric Ries.

See it for Yourself

For a look at Ryan Smeets’ AZIMA presentation deck in its entirety you can find it on slideshare.

[slideshare id=50973925&doc=humaninteractionkeynotebrushfireinteractivejuly2015-150727150029-lva1-app6892]

After the presentation Ryan fielded a few questions from the crowd and spoke easily about his experiences and successes in software development. Based on the Twitter response (#azimaevents) the crowd was pleased with Ryan’s humorous and compelling presentation and are all looking forward to next month’s AZIMA presentation on August 20 by Jordan Koen on Using Data to Build Content. I hope to see you there!

Is SEO Dead? Danny Sullivan Reports on the State of Search

Danny Sullivan- AZIMA SEMPOAZ event Scottsdale

Once upon a time search engine optimization (SEO) wasn’t even a term and the main search-related challenge for a web developer to reach the top spot was simply wording websites with the desired keyword phrases and maybe sneaking some colored text on a matching colored background. However, as internet growth surged and new search engines flooded the landscape, being search savvy became a thing and discussions about being at the top of the search results became a brass-ring challenge.

The Harmonious Collision of Search Engine Marketing and Targeted Display

Targeted Display vs Search Engine Marketing

Although not quite as contentious a rivalry as Android vs. iOS or as entertaining as Bear vs. Shark, there are many heated battles taking place in marketing forums and conference rooms all over the country regarding the statistics, user privacy and budgets for this latest rivalry: Search Engine Marketing vs. Targeted Display.

Since they often compete for marketing dollars and are both victims of subjective statistics that favor one or the other depending on the mindset of the analyst, SEM and targeted display efforts are commonly bantered as marketers continuously try and refine their campaigns for the golden goal of higher conversions.

Last Thursday, November 20, the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association (AZIMA) hosted the witty and sharp David McBee, director of training at Simpli.fi, who presented his experiences, anecdotes and thoughts on the SEM vs. Targeted Display rivalry.

David started his presentation with statistical, sidebyside comparisons that highlighted these marketing tasks as separate, standalone campaigns. These comparisons solidified the notion of SEM and Targeted Display being competitors, but David’s presentation of a rivalry quickly rebranded itself as the stories and metrics illustrated that the two worked better in tandem.

Most of us have been involved in the bashing of display ads because CTRs are practically nonexistent as hardly anyone clicks on them. “Only 8 percent of internet users account for 85% of display ad clicks,” David pointed out. Most of those clicks are not from the targeted audience, but rather the very young and old. The 2065 age group simply doesn’t click on ads. Display ad CTRs average a dismal 0.08%. Furthermore, according to GoldSpot Media, 50% of those clicks are accidental.

On the other hand, SEM, specifically PPC, often have CTRs averaging 4%.

There are a few reasons for this difference. First, a display ad is a passive visual thrown out to a wide audience. Even though display has some great targeting abilities, for the most part it relies much more on volume visibility than PPC. The web surfer is usually doing something completely different than what the topic of the display ad represents. PPC ads are the result of a specific search and the likelihood of that ad engaging the user is obviously much higher. “SEM is actionbased. Display is visual,” David said.

Although it’s easy to see the differences and it’s mostly common knowledge that these two have different goals, it’s not common enough to combine the efforts. For truly better PPC, it’s critical to consider incorporating display. “Display impacts search. A good targeted display blends tactics and a display can increase brand searches by 38%,” David said. Since the best kind of search is a brand search, blending these tactics significantly improves the campaign.

On the surface, poor display ad metrics seems to be enough to deter the allocation of marketing dollars. However, David pointed out that the metrics are not representative of their effectiveness: “Compared to SEM, CTR can be a deceptive measure.”

According to ComScore, the average person only does 4 searches per day, spending about 10 seconds per search. “How much opportunity do you have when a person only spends 10 seconds?” David asked. This represents a limited window of opportunity and is clearly a better medium for a calltoaction campaign. Now consider that the average person spends 4 hours online. This chunk of time offers more opportunity for branding via display ads.

This greater awareness opportunity of display ads increases the effectiveness of PPC campaigns. Although David and Simpli.fi represent team Display, he offers a compelling marriage of the two as a tandem effort that seems to appeal to team SEM.

Mindy Weinstein, SEO Manager at Bruce Clay, Inc. offered her thoughts on the event and the rivalry. “I am very focused on the SEO side of digital marketing, so I learned quite a bit of new information from David about targeted display. What stood out the most to me about David’s presentation is that doing targeted display doesn’t have to be in lieu of search engine marketing. You can and should still do SEO and PPC. Targeted display should be an addition—that’s how you maximize your results.”

While the Android vs iOS fans will never find peace and the Bear vs. Shark battles will forever live on, David’s concept of SEM and Targeted Display as “better together” clearly makes the most sense.

View entire presentation

Inbound Marketing – What it brings “IN”

Dan Tyre from Hubspot

Some 75 guests attended AZIMA’s October program where they learned about the role of inbound marketing and the latest trends in the segment. Dan Tyre, who is a founding team member at Hubspot, an inbound marketing and sales platform, shared his insights into the marketing trends. He started with trends in days of yore, and pointed out how the average customer considered the salesman as “He-Who-Knows-It-All” and was the go-to person for shopping insights.

Online Video – Engaging Ads Are Paying Off

As our lives get more entwined with digital and related games, and services and apps come out at a rate greater than anyone could possibly keep up, the ability to reach audiences is becoming increasingly fractured. In order to engage mass audiences and compensate for this fracture, marketers seek many slices of many pies to meet their numbers.

However, there is one channel that is massive and growing at a phenomenal rate: online video. In the U.S. alone, there are 190,000,000 unique people who watch online video each month. The key word there is ‘unique’. That represents 77{2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903} of the adults in the U.S. These 244,860,000 (that’s million) people watch 35,000,000,000 (that’s billion) video ads.

This poses a critical question: how do marketers capitalize on this massive, engaged and growing audience?

Recap of August Program: Second Screen Experience

AZIMA Second Screen Panel Event

It’s probably quick to recall countless moments of friends, family and colleagues swiping away on their phones as a meeting drags on or a TV show plays. Our adoption of smartphones and tablets continues to surge and as we integrate their use deeper into everyday activities such as watching TV, we inadvertently created a phenomena and marketing opportunity referred to as the second screen.

And the winners are…

AZIMA Most Valuable Board Member 2014 Award

Countless hours, an unwavering work ethic, a desire to connect offline and an enduring commitment to improving the understanding and application of interactive marketing best practices – these are the things that make outstanding AZIMA board members. Nathan Kinkead and Cristie Reed are two prime examples of that, as both recently won the 2014 Outstanding Volunteer award.