the worst advice you’ll ever get

Having worked for both the client side and the agency side I’ve heard and said many things that are “best practice” and “good advice.”  Of course I was always right, ok that’s a lie, I’m sure I gave bad advice at times just like everyone else, I would’ve thought it was a good idea at the time but we can’t always be right (gasp!).  So how do you figure out what is good advice or bad advice?  How do you know if the “trusted adviser” you work with is actually giving you good information?

Let’s look at signs you are getting bad advice:

  • They speak in absolutes.  Nothing is quite as simple as “always and never” in this world.  For example, your subscriber base may be responsive to three emails a week, they may not though.  How do you find out, by testing and giving them choices in their subscription preferences.  If a consultant marches in and says “never” or “always” to your sending frequency they don’t show much knowledge of your situation.
  • They compare you to the “industry” at large.  Let’s face it, as much as we all wish there was such a thing as “industry” benchmarks that really did apply to what our companies do and who they are speaking to so we could compare apples to apples there just aren’t. Be smart, benchmark against your own performance and be discerning, if you plan to use industry benchmarks know who is considered in this “industry” you are comparing yourself to.  Understand if it’s a true comparison or a thumb in the wind.
  • They do not understand the technology.  Let me be clear here, your strategy consultant may not be a Marketo-whiz or an Eloqua-guru but they should know what the technology is capable of and how you can best optimize your use of it.  In broad brush-strokes they should understand the tools to recommend what you need for your specific situation and if need be, they should be able to help you find the technical expertise to fulfill your needs.  If they cannot help you understand what you need to get the job done give them the boot.

At the end of the day the key is to find a partner or strategist (either internal resource or external) who really can dig in and be specific.  Speaking in platitudes and generalizations will get you exactly no where.

data hygiene & acquisition- where to begin

As high as 70% of a marketing database will go stale in the course of a year because of contacts changing jobs or changing roles within a company. Inaccurate data can have a detrimental impact on any business, affect its credibility, and can also lead to decreases in productivity. Maintaining a high standard for data entering your database is crucial, elements of data hygiene include:
• Enhancing, correcting and expanding a record
• Appending and validating the data
• Finding missing elements in the database
• Identifying duplicate entries

Data management begins with understanding what qualifies a record as good or bad. A good record meets the minimum requirements for entry into your CRM and make that the standard for what can enter your Marketing Automation Platform (which means that all required fields are complete and accurate), better is when this record has extra data points that allow for proper segmentation. A bad record is one that does not contain the all of the minimum required fields to enter your CRM or has incorrect/inaccurate data in those fields.

A few questions to ask yourself:
• What fields are required to create a record in your CRM?
• What explicit/profile data points are used in lead scoring?
• What other data points are good to collect and include in a record?

As you prioritize what data points you request on forms, from data providers and from those who submit files to be added to the database it is important to keep in mind the required fields should always be included and then the addition of the four explicit fields for lead scoring should follow closely behind. Everything beyond that should be considered optional but highly valuable all the same.

Once you understand what’s good and what’s bad, assess your database against those standards so you know where your gaps are. As much as I hate the idea of ‘acquiring’ contacts via purchases it is a necessary evil so here is a quick checklist to use if you plan to purchase your data:

• Complete due diligence on the list and the broker.
o Understand the subscriber experience from sign-up through inbox (if your content is being broadcast to a new audience through a system other than your own Automation tool this is important)
o Speak to actual clients, run a credit check, and confirm that the mailing address is a real office.
o Confirm opt-in and unsubscribe process and management of unsubscribes and opt-outs.
Understand what you are buying/renting
o Verify the source of the records.
o Verify the permission level of the records.
o Find out if the sign-ups are incentive-based.
o Confirm that the list is never used for porn or spam offers.
o Make sure that the vendor is CAN-SPAM, CASL or EU Privacy compliant (depending upon the region of the data you are purchasing).
Ensure the ability to Segment.
o Prevent oversaturation by segmenting by category selects, demographics or past behavior
Test. Measure. Repeat.
o Always send a small test and adjust.
o Test subject lines, headlines, offer language and placement of links.
o Ask for benchmark data on response by your chosen segments.
o Know the inbox deliverability, not just bounce rate.