Monday, June 25, 2012

Email Still Getting It Done
Will telemarketers to ever adapt to the new landscape? Who are biggest influencers on Facebook?

A new report from Epsilon and the Direct Marketing Association’s Email Experience Council shows a steady increase in open rates over both Q4 2011 and Q1 2011 as overall volume declined. Highlights compiled from 7.1 billion emails from January through March 2012 show that:
  • Open rates increased 12.6 percent year over year, with an overall open rate of 26.2 percent
  • Click rates decreased 0.5 percentage points (8.3% overall) from last quarter to 4.7 percent. Click rates also decreased from Q1 2011 (5.2%), but continue to remain established over the last two years
  • Open rates for triggered messages were 75 percent higher than for "business as usual" (BAU) in Q1
  • 2012Triggered messages continued to perform well with 119 percent higher click rates than BAU
In a statement, Judy Loschen, Vice President of Digital Analytics at Epsilon, said “open rates continue to increase as click rates decrease... partially a result of consumers' tendency to open emails on their mobile devices... then abandon without clicking because the content is not optimized... or the mobile experience is lacking.” 

Telemarketers May Have to Pay for Privilege of Bugging You
James Rule’s thought-provoking op-ed piece in last Thursday’s NY Times got us thinking about the future of telemarketing. As we gear up for highly anticipated November elections, automated “robocalls” will be invading our homes and businesses like never before. Not only will unwanted calls increasingly irk consumers and small business owners, but will continue to give all marketers a bad reputation. Rule, a sociologist and a scholar at the Center for the Study of Law and Society at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, argues that all telephone service providers should be required to offer every subscriber the option of accepting only “bonded” calls. To complete a call to a subscriber electing this option, the caller would have to show willingness and ability to compensate the recipient — should the latter designate the call a nuisance. Before calls to these numbers could be completed, a message would state the amount of the potential charge. A few seconds after the connection is established, the recipient would have the option of terminating the call and charging the caller by pressing a keypad button.” The technology already exists. A “simple, low-tech regulatory change could shift the advantage decisively back in the direction of privacy,” rule explains.

Facebook Study: Women influence men more than other women

A new study of Facebook users suggests that men are major influencers, while younger users and married people are the least susceptible to suggestion. The researchers sought to figure out who influences whom by tracking 1.3 million Facebook users. Specifically, they followed 7,730 users who tried out an application that allowed them to rate movies and actors, among other Hollywood-related subjects. Whenever a user rated something, Facebook randomly sent messages to that user's Facebook friends disclosing the rating and including information about the application.
The researchers were able to track who had the most success when it came to convincing others to try the application and who was most likely to be convinced. However, not many people seemed interested in the application: The notifications went out to almost 42,000 Facebook friends, but only 976 actually tried it out.
Among the findings: Women have more influence on men than other women, and people 30 and older are more influential than younger people.
Study lead author, Sinan Aral, assistant professor of information, operations and management science at New York University, said in a statement that, "These types of targeted advertising will be based on whether you're a likely candidate to be influential considering the type of product. The idea is to make sure that people get the messages that they are most interested in and less spammy interactions."
What could advertisers of computer applications do with information from this kind of study?
"You'll want to use estimates from our methods to find people who are more influential, who have friends who are susceptible, and have a low spontaneous likelihood of adopting the program on their own," Aral said. That way, advertisers won't waste money trying to reach influential people who don't need coaxing to try a product.
The study was published online June 21 in the journal Science. The American Psychological Association has more on social networking.


As we’ve said time and time again, every type of legitimate marketing deserves a seat at the table—there’s no one size fits all solution and the cheapest approach usually comes back to bit you in the rear-end over the long haul. Whether you’re in B2B or B2C, those with the smarter marketing approach will always win out over those with the larger marketing budgets. Your customers, clients and advocates will thank you again and again for taking the time to respect their time.


Epsilon, Direct Marketing Association’s Email Experience Council, Facebook Influencers, Email marketers, James Rule, Sinan Aral New York University, University of California Berkley, Telemarketing, Do Not Call Registry, robo calls

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Email Increasingly Viewed on Mobile Device, Not PC Internet advertising sets Q1 record

“Traditional ideas about what is opinion and what is news, what is advertising and what is editorial, is evaporating each day,” quipped New York Times media columnist, David Carr earlier this week. But, we can assure you if it’s advertising, and it’s digital, it just keeps growing.

Internet Advertising Revenues Set First Quarter Record 

Internet advertising revenues for the first quarter of 2012 set a new record for the reporting period at $8.4 billion, according to the latest IAB Internet Advertising Report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PwC U.S. It is the highest first-quarter revenue ever measured by the IAB and PwC and a $1.1 billion–or 15 percent increase–over the $7.3 billion figure reported in the first quarter 2011.
The growth comes on the heels of 22 percent growth in 2011according to IAB's Annual Internet Advertising Revenue Report.

Mobile Email Viewing Taking Over

Here’s another milestone for you. By the end of this month, more people will be reading their email on mobile devices than on personal computers, according email marketing company Return Path. Mobile email views have increased over 82 percent in the past 12 months and Apple iPads and iPhones now account for 85 percent of mobile email that’s opened. Guess we don’t have to tell you which platform to optimize for.

Tablets Gain Mobile Video Viewers

Meanwhile, a new comScore study of the U.S. tablet market found that the devices have reached a critical mass in the U.S. with 1 in every 4 smartphone owners now using tablets. Smartphone owners are also three-times more likely to watch video on their devices compared to smartphone users, with 1 in every 10 tablet users viewing video content almost daily on their devices.

In April 2012, one in six (16.5%) mobile phone subscribers used a tablet, representing an 11.8 percent increase in the past year. Growth in market penetration was even more apparent among the smartphone population with nearly 1 in 4 using a tablet device in April, up nearly 14 percent in the past year. A lower 10.4 percent of feature phone owners use a tablet, suggesting that smartphone ownership is highly predictive of tablet adoption in the current market.

Internet Video to Surge by 2016

Internet video will play a major role in the quadrupling of the Internet over the next four years. That traffic growth from 2011 to 2016, according to Cisco’s latest report, will be driven by a proliferation in devices. Cisco projects that by 2016 the number of network connections will reach nearly 19 billion -- up from 10 billion last year, due to the growth in tablets, mobile phones and other smart devices. Video will drive the growth. Cisco said to expect about 1.2 million video minutes to travel the Internet every second by 2016. “Globally, there are expected to be 1.5 billion Internet video users by 2016, up from 792 million Internet video users in 2011,” Cisco said. 
Last year, computers accounted for 94 percent of Web traffic, and that share should drop to 81 percent by 2016 as more traffic rides on devices like tablets and smartphones. That figure underscores how quickly handheld devices are becoming the gateway to the Web for many consumers.

Macro view (with a Twist)

A few signs of optimism on the economic front for you. Single family home starts rose 3.2 percent in May and according to the U.S. Commerce Department, builders requested more permits for homes and apartments last month than they have in three and a half years.
U.S. Federal Reserve officials extended through the end of the year a program meant to drive down long-term interest rates and signaled that they were "prepared to take further action" if needed amid heightened worry about the economy's performance. By continuing the program, known as "Operation Twist," the Fed will buy $267 billion in long-term Treasury bonds and notes while it sells short-term Treasurys. The Fed said it still had big concerns about the economy as  the growth in employment "has slowed in recent months, and the unemployment rate remains elevated," with household spending rising at a “somewhat slower pace than earlier in the year."


We’re in a slow growth mode, with more emphasis on “growth” than on “slow.” For the short-term, technological advances have allowed companies to get by with fewer people than before, but those short-term productivity gains (including metrics such as revenue-per-employee) will begin to fade as human fatigue and disenchantment with “The Man” will eventually take over.

Pick your spots carefully when marketing to B2B prospects, but you do have to spend in order to stay in the game. Make sure mobile and video are an essential part of your marketing mix.


TAGS: David Carr, Cisco,
IAB Internet Advertising Report, mobile view of email, smartphones, tablets, online advertising growth, Operation Twist, comScore

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Time for Facebook, LinkedIn (And Users) to Grow Up
Publicly traded social networks have a responsibility to protect our privacy; and we have a responsibility to be judicious about what we share about ourselves for public consumption

In case you missed it last week, hackers waltzed through LinkedIn’s lax security system and stole more than 6 million user passwords which had been only lightly encrypted. (the CBS music site) and eHarmony the dating site were also hacked recently. Facebook and Google aren’t exactly Fort Knox either, considering how much they know about you.

On the surface, a breach of LinkedIn doesn’t seem so serious since the platform is mainly used for professional networking and posting resumes and other career credentials. But hackers know most users tend to use the same (or similar passwords) on their brokerage accounts, online bank accounts and company logins. That should send a few shudders through I.T. departments across the country.

Companies with massive amounts of valued customer continue to gamble on their own security. Why? It costs money and doesn’t translate directly to the bottom line as you can’t sell ads against it.

Forget Facebook, Twitter for contacting customers

Security issues aside, Email is still customers’ preferred channel for permission-based promotional message according to ExactTarget’s new 2012 Channnel Preferences Survey. Nearly four out of five (77%) of customers preferred to be reached by email, easily outdistancing direct mail (9%), text messaging (5%), Facebook (4%), telephone (2%) or Twitter and mobile app (1% each).

Meanwhile, new research from The Sales Benchmarking Index found that poorly executed lead generation programs are the main reason they fail to grow and retain good sales staff. Low quality leads were shown to cause a direct increase in employee and customer turnover, work-related burnout, rejections, complaints and the time it takes a new sales rep to hit their quota. Not surprisingly, researchers recommended that companies allocate a large source of the budget to pursuing sources of high quality leads.

We couldn’t agree more—provided that you put a real lead gen plan in place and don’t just throw money at the problem.

Macro view

Stocks advanced earlier this week thanks to speculation that the Fed will act to juice the economy and job market and that the European Central Bank will back a plan to guarantee bank deposits. We’re also encouraged by yesterday’s government report that said U.S. consumer prices fell in May for the first time in two years as plunging gasoline costs offset increasing rents and more expensive medical care. U.S. consumer prices fell in May for the first time in two years as plunging gasoline costs offset increasing rents and more expensive medical care. Experts say modest inflation gives the Federal Reserve room to act further to help prop up the sagging recovery, if necessary.


If you’re going to take advantage of the powerful free platforms on the social web—whether for personal or business use—you need to consider the extent of what you share with the world or how you use these platforms to interact with customers. By and large, research says they don’t like it. Consider that, and a weak sales lead generation program, when you’re wondering why customers aren’t renewing or calling you back.


TAGS: ExactTarget, Sales Benchmarking Index, Sales leads, Facebook over-rated, Twitter over-rated

Monday, June 04, 2012

Online Video Accounts for Half of All Internet Traffic Tablets preferred over smartphones for viewing. Plus, expert shares insights on global financial market woes

If you think web-based video is everywhere, you’re not alone. Experts say online video accounts for more than half of all Internet traffic today and nearly 800 million people consumed watched at least one Web videos last year. That rate of adoption will likely double in the next 12 months according to networking services firm, Cisco, Inc.

According to Cisco, Web connected devices such as tablets, phones, game consoles, and TV sets, etc. are driving the surge in video consumption. Cisco claims that by 2016, HD streams to TV sets will grow six-fold, accounting for 6 percent of all worldwide consumer Web traffic.
However, this is chump change compared to mobile video consumption on tablets and phones. Cisco says mobile video traffic will grow 18-fold between 2011-2016, while the number of worldwide mobile users will reach 1.6 billion – a projected six-fold increase over 2011.
The Cisco report also claims that close to one-third of all Web traffic will come from devices other than the PC by 2016.

Tablet owners watching a lot more video than smart phone

Meanwhile, new findings from
Rhythm New Media suggest that people prefer tablets to smartphones for watching online video. Depending on the mobile app, researchers say users watched from 50 percent to 175 percent more videos on tablets than they did on smartphones in Q1. However, because smartphones are more ubiquitous than tablets, they still account for the vast majority of time spent watching mobile video—79 percent versus 21 percent for tablets on premium properties.

Macro view

OUR TAKE: Domestically, manufacturing activity picked up a little bit according to the Institute of Supply Management, despite disappointing data on the employment and housing fronts. The equity markets are giving back most of the gains they accrued over the first five months of the year, but inflation and interest rates are still at historic lows. We think it’s still time to be cautiously optimistic about your own investments in advertising, hiring and infrastructure. Just pick your spots carefully.
Even those of you in small to midsize enterprises are really operating in a global economy however. For a global perspective, it’s too complicated for us, so we turned to our friend Paul Brian Gibson, of Norwalk, Conn-based Harborview Capital Management, LLC.
While the media has been filled with European headlines the last two months they have ignored the very poor data from China, Gibson told us Friday. “The reason oil has dropped 20 percent over the last few weeks is not Europe, it’s China, as the marginal buyer of the world’s commodities. Today’s official manufacturing PMI from China underscores the larger problems China faces--large decline in real estate prices, big drops in money supply, stagnating loan growth, declining rail activity and electricity usage. Chinese officials are wary of a major 2008 style stimulus that created the current bubbles in real estate and commodity prices.  The bubbles are not just in China, but in the commodity producing nations like Australia, Canada and Brazil.” 

Gibson said Europe has severe problems, but without crisis there will not be real reform. “Prepare for more downside in the risk markets, with the commensurate bounces in periods of severely oversold conditions until that real reform occurs, with support at that point, and only then, from the ECB and other central banks.”

Whether you’re talking about traditional media, new media, social media or the financial markets, you and your customers are connected globally for better or worse.  It’s never been easier to stay connected—but it’s never been harder to insulate yourself.
Winners in the global economy are not only the ones who are faster and more adaptable, but the ones who can see through a 360-degree lens (regardless of where that lens is manufactured).


TAGS: ECB, European Central Bank,
Paul Brian Gibson, Harborview Capital Management, Cisco, Rhythm New Media