When to Squeeze

A marketing email should not ever be an isolated interaction between you and the recipient—it should be a player in a concert designed to delight, woo and convert. Other players in this concert include forms, links, content, assets, and, importantly, landing pages or squeeze pages. For your recipients, these pages should

A marketing email should not ever be an isolated interaction between you and the recipient—it should be a player in a concert designed to delight, woo and convert. Other players in this concert include forms, links, content, assets, and, importantly, landing pages or squeeze pages. For your recipients, these pages should:

  • Provide a clear, concise path to becoming a customer.
  • Enable them to become customers.
  • Resolve any concerns they may have about becoming customers.

Let’s cover the basics:

A “landing page” is a web page, either on your site or hosted within your ESP or other site, that details the offer of your call to action (CTA). A landing page provides the visitor with several or numerous information sources or paths to engagement. For instance, you might link to white papers and videos that support your message (see Figure 1 int he media player at right), provide social media icons for connecting, or even reviewing options for feedback. In short, there is no limit to the amount of information you may include on a landing page—but more is not always better.

When more is not better, a squeeze page provides an ideal solution. A “squeeze page” is a Web page with a singular focus on the conversion (see Figure 2). Similarly designed to a landing page, it is without the myriad options one might find on a targeted landing page. On this page you’ll have no social icons, no links to your website, and only one option for engagement. As a mnemonic, think of a squeeze page as putting the squeeze on the visitor to do just one thing: complete the call to action referenced in your email.

Landing and squeeze pages provide you with ample opportunities for A/B and multivariate testing. Creating multiple versions of your pages, you can test messaging, buttons, images, color, formats (responsive or static) and much more. What’s more, combined with analytics monitoring, you can discern who’s visiting, for how long, what they did, where they go and so much more.

We have many clients who at the outset were performing some marketing (either direct mail or email), but in most cases were sending recipients to their home page—and without benefit of a tracking URL. There are two primary reasons you should never, never send your marketing traffic to your home page, 1) your home page should provide information appropriate for your general audience and, as such, does not specifically engage the marketing-message recipient; and 2) it is difficult or impossible to discern—even through analytics—which visitors came to your home page through other promotions, and which specifically visited your home page after having received your marketing campaign. These analytics are critical to understanding the behavior of your recipients, so don’t miss this opportunity to collect it, analyze it and act on it.

As you design your landing or squeeze page, use your email or direct mail piece as the guideline. Be sure you are directing clickthroughs to a page using the same art, same messaging and consistent branding. This similarity of design is comforting to the visitor and ensures they’ve come to the right place. Given they found the design of the email compelling enough to click, why spoil the moment? You already found what works, give them more.

If, however, you find that you’re simply not getting the conversions you expected, check the number of visitors first. You must have visits to gain conversions. If not, back up and take a closer look at the initial engagement and consider first things first. No matter how wonderfully written, artfully designed, and programmatically perfect a landing or squeeze page is, if your message does not drive your recipient to visit the page, your conversion rate will suffer. Ensure your message drives the visit before you give angst an audience over conversion disappointments.

If number of visits is within your acceptable range (but when is it ever enough?), work on the other players within your campaign, such as:

  • Form length
  • Form questions
  • Button design and placement
  • Text content
  • Links
  • Downloads
  • Supporting resources
  • Design
  • Programming errors

All of these elements can and should be tested and tracked through A/B and multivariate testing combined with analytics and heat-mapping. Using landing and squeeze pages makes this testing process easier and more reliable than trying to root through or make drastic changes to your site’s home page.

Taking this discussion just one step further, if a landing page simply doesn’t provide you adequate real estate, consider a “microsite,” a series of linked landing pages that spotlights your offer.

Sometimes integrated email means the integrated components within your campaign and rather than the components of the initiative. As you develop your emails, think beyond the inbox and give consideration to the end-to-end experience and what you can provide to your visitor in order to attain that elusive conversion.

Make Your Brand Blossom

This week I have flowers on my mind. It is planting season here in the Colorado Rocky Mountains … a bit later than most areas of the country. My husband and I live at 8,100 feet near Pikes Peak and the log home that our five acres is built on is frequented by deer, rabbits, foxes, coyotes and wild turkeys. In addition, all sorts of birds from owls to bluebirds to magpies and hummingbirds flit about. For many, where we live is too remote. For us, it is our sanctuary.

This week I have flowers on my mind. It is planting season here in the Colorado Rocky Mountains … a bit later than most areas of the country. My husband and I live at 8,100 feet near Pikes Peak and the log home that our five acres is built on is frequented by deer, rabbits, foxes, coyotes and wild turkeys. In addition, all sorts of birds from owls to bluebirds to magpies and hummingbirds flit about. For many, where we live is too remote. For us, it is our sanctuary.

While we love the splash of color that annuals and hanging baskets add to our flower beds, over the years we have reluctantly succumbed to making more and more of our landscaping bloom without us. Older and wiser than when we first moved here, we have learned to give into the wildlife who view our flowers as food, the early summer hailstorms that can decimate all our hard work in minutes and our often-on-the-road travel schedules that do not allow much time for all the things that plants crave on a near daily basis: weeding, deadheading, transplanting, watering, fertilizing and tending.

So it was with great delight that I learned about Proven Winners Shrubs in Country Living magazine as I flew home from my last business trip. This company captured my attention with a colorful full-page ad that casually highlighted one word over a gorgeous Hydrangea plant: OVERACHIEVER. This particular plant is called the Invincibelle® Spirit, and is positioned as one that requires minimal care, supplies abundant blooms, and is easy to grow. This is our kind of shrub. As a matter of fact, the entire line of Proven Winners feels like it was created just for us.

Since being enchanted with that ad, I researched this brand further and learned that Proven Winners Shrubs’s tagline, “A better garden starts with a better plant” informs of all its offerings and helped focus the company’s 2013 consumer campaign. In this clever and effective promotion, Proven Winners’ top 10 shrubs are personified with titles such as: Prodigy, Humdinger, Workhorse, Charmer and even Survivalist (one we are particularly attracted to, given our above mentioned conditions!).

Here’s how Proven Winners describes its unique point of differentiation:

Proven Winners partners with the top plant breeders around the world to ensure our varieties are vigorous, healthy, vibrant, and unique. Once a Proven Winners plant makes it to your house, you’ll fall in love. Proven Winners plants are:

  • Easy to grow and care for
  • Covered with blooms
  • Bright and colorful
  • All-season bloomers
  • Disease free
  • Trialed and tested

Meanwhile, these full page ads and product adjectives tell Proven Winners’ story succinctly and engagingly and direct customers to their site for more information and a free gardening guide. This spot-on, brand enhancing campaign makes its brand blossom.

Using this example as a creative springboard for your brand, how can Proven Winners inspire you and your team to “storysell” your products in a new, unusual and humdinger way?

Here are a few inspirational seeds to prompt internal conversations amongst your brand builders and product developers:

  • Can you easily identify your company’s top 10 “proven winners” and what your customers love about them?
  • What playful titles might you assign them?
  • What specific problems do these products solve?
  • How do these products erase or alleviate these pain points in your customers’ lives?
  • In what areas of your competitive landscape do they help your brand overachieve?

Take some time this season to cultivate new ways to make your brand blossom.

Is Frequency a Pay-off or Piss-off Strategy?

We’ve all heard about contact frequency strategies: Send (often) the same communications to your target audience repeatedly over a period of time. But if you continue to bombard your target over and over and over and over, does it really pay-off? Or does it just piss off your audience?

We’ve all heard about contact frequency strategies: Send (often) the same communications to your target audience repeatedly over a period of time.

The rule of thumb is that you’ll get half of the response rate you got from the prior mailing. So if you got 1 percent the first drop, you’ll get 0.5 percent the second, 0.25 percent the third and so on.

But if you continue to bombard your target over and over and over and over, does it really pay-off? Or does it just piss off your audience?

Earlier this year, I started noticing that Comcast was sending me a lot of direct mail solicitations. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT.

First it occurred to me that perhaps the marketing team at Comcast had never heard of a merge/purge process. Or perhaps the person who was in charge of merge/purge had gone on vacation … or had been laid off … or had dozed off.

So instead of filing them in the recycle bin like I usually do, I started to save every package that came to my office. And then I noticed that my husband was also being bombarded with the same packages at his home office—so I saved those too.

And then I was personally receiving business mail solicitations at home (my business is at a separate location). AND I was receiving very similar DM packages at home for home service (we already use them for Internet service but not for phone or TV).

While I realize there is no data strategy that will enable Comcast to match me to both my home and business addresses, the fact is, we got over 13 solicitations over a few weeks. THIRTEEN. Some arrived on the same day, while others were a day or two apart. Hello … have you heard of merge/PURGE?

It’s not like it’s a compelling creative package. Pretty plain really. A white, #10 envelope with a teaser in big blue type and my name, in all caps, lasered on the front. And inside? A form letter: No niceties like a salutation—A little “Dear Carolyn” or “Dear Ms. Goodman” would be nice. Nobody bothered to sign the letter. Just, “Sincerely, Comcast Business Services.”

Sometimes the offer changed price-wise (clearly I’m in a test panel), but more often than not, the packages are identical.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I have trouble believing this strategy has a positive ROI.

Several years ago, a prominent B-to-B client told us that a customer had contacted them after getting 28 direct mail packages in one month from them. Despite being from different divisions, and about different products, it brought home the point: How do companies control the communications flow to any single customer without a proper customer relationship management strategy in place?

I propose that all companies demand that the customer relationship marketing manager job description includes:

Managing and monitoring customer communication to ensure we are never perceived as badgering our customers. That means that no single customer will ever receive more than X no of direct mail or email solicitations in any given 30-day period.

With all of the sophisticated segmentation techniques, it isn’t uncommon that one customer would meet multiple criteria for selection for any given campaign. But part of that strategy should also include the “last time customer received an outbound communication.”

Merge/purge is a lost art. Purge being the operative word here. Finding duplicates. And protecting Customer Zero.

Comcast—I know you’re busy streaming, but are you listening?