LinkedIn Prospecting: How Much Time Should You Spend?

“How much time should you spend on LinkedIn each week?” It’s a noble question. I understand why you ask it. But worrying about time is a dangerous place to start. True, we live in a world where we have limited time for new ideas. But saying, “You should spend X hours per week on LinkedIn” would be disingenuous.

“How much time should you spend on LinkedIn each week?”

It’s a noble question. I understand why you ask it. But worrying about time is a dangerous place to start.

True, we live in a world where we have limited time for new ideas. But saying, “You should spend X hours per week on LinkedIn” would be disingenuous.

Because there is no credible answer to the question. Instead, the best starting point is simple: Get more leads, faster, by creating a LinkedIn prospecting system.

You will be effective—regardless of how much time invested on LinkedIn!

Where to Start With LinkedIn
Here’s the skinny: The more success you have with LinkedIn prospecting the more time you’ll want to invest in it.

So invest time, first, in making sure you experience a little bit of success. Start by making the most out of every minute you commit.

Learn a systematic approach to:

  • Attract potential leads to connect with you
  • Spark questions about what you sell in buyers’ minds
  • Help prospects self-qualify faster

Let’s start today. Pick one of the above as a goal. Let’s commit to taking the first step toward a better LinkedIn prospecting system.

The Problem: Lack of a Good System
Most sales reps struggle with LinkedIn prospecting because they don’t use a system. Or the process they’re committed to doesn’t work.

For example, we’ve been told (by “experts”) to invest time on LinkedIn by:

  • publishing (blogging on the LinkedIn platform)
  • polishing your profile with new features
  • sharing knowledge with Connections and in Groups

Publishing on LinkedIn’s platform, sharing knowledge and polishing your profile might be effective—if they’re part of a system. These tactics, alone, are not enough. If you’ve already tried them you know what I mean!

A Direct Response Copywriting System
“How can I get customers to view content on my profile and be so excited they contact me?”

That’s a better question! One that leads us toward a proven system. A system to get customers curious about you. A better way to provoke response from buyers.

Content that makes customers respond does one thing really well: It uses direct response copywriting to make potential buyers think, “Yes, yes, YES … I can take action on that. In fact, I’ll probably get results from taking this advice.”

Most importantly, buyers must conclude their thoughts with an urge.

“How can I get my hands on more of those kinds of insights/tips?”

This simple idea (using a direct or subtle call to action) is the difference between wasting time on LinkedIn and effectively prospecting with it.

Response is what drives success. It’s what gets you paid. Invest time on LinkedIn with a system that grabs customers’ attention and gets them to respond.

Remember, publishing content on LinkedIn’s blogging platform or posting interesting updates will not work. Not without the direct response element.

More Success = More Time
The more success you have with LinkedIn prospecting, the more time you’ll want to invest in it. It only makes sense to invest time, first, in making sure you experience a little bit of success. Success that you can increase, systematically.

Start your LinkedIn prospecting journey by making the most out of every minute. Commit to LinkedIn, but resist worrying about how many hours per week to invest.

Instead, invest time for a few months in optimizing a prospecting approach. Use this proven system to get started. I guarantee you won’t worry so much about how much time you’re investing. In fact, you will probably want to invest more time in LinkedIn prospecting!

Good luck. Let me know how it goes for you.

Picking the Right Social Selling Training: A Cheat Sheet

Social selling training is on the agenda for B-to-B sellers in 2014. Sales reps and dealers are under increasing pressure to speed-up prospecting using LinkedIn, blogs, Twitter and more. But how can you choose the best social selling training or trainer for your organization?

Social selling training is on the agenda for B-to-B sellers in 2014. Sales reps and dealers are under increasing pressure to speed-up prospecting using LinkedIn, blogs, Twitter and more. But how can you choose the best social selling training or trainer for your organization?

Here’s where to start. Follow these steps to make the best decision. Plus, I’ll show you a way to make sure you, personally, benefit in the eyes of your boss.

7 Point Social Selling Checklist

  1. Create selection criteria and request for proposal email.
  2. “Short-list” candidates and solicit proposals.
  3. Review proposals.
  4. Interview best candidates & check references.
  5. Negotiate, review and sign contract.
  6. Assess your team.
  7. Start the training and report effectiveness.

Want to get started on this process? Print-off this Social Selling Training Cheat Sheet PDF. (No registration needed)

Selection Criteria
Will your sellers learn social selling tactics or will they start doing? Only consider training that:

  • teaches a practical, repeatable system based in traditional copywriting skills,
  • helps sellers take “first steps” to apply the system,
  • promises outcomes like more appointments & more response for sellers, in less time.

The more you stick with the above criteria the more you’ll be able to measure the performance of your training investment.

When considering what social selling trainer is best for you consider the instructional design. Only invest in training that:

  • includes worksheets that get sellers DO-ing, (not just learning)
  • is directly relevant to current challenges, goals and ambitions of your sellers,
  • focuses on a balance of platform (eg. LinkedIn) and prospecting tactics and

Beware of social selling training promising outcomes other than measurable increases in response to—and appointments with—your reps and dealers. Hire a trainer who measures his/her own success based on sellers taking action. (not merely repeating what they learned)

Place all of your criteria in a short, focused request for proposal (RFP) email. You’ll put this list of requirements to work in the next step.

Cost and Delivery of Training
Overall quality of the trainer, skills the training will develop and delivery of the training. These factors drive cost.

If your team is geographically disbursed an online training will be most cost effective. Are your sellers ambitious do-ers? Will they actually make time for the training? If so, a self-paced, “home study” program may work.

If your sellers will be reluctant to take the training, mandate attendance from your sales leader. Also, choose to deliver training using a live Webinar format. Make the training assignable to a date on their calendar.

Short-List Candidates
Using Google and LinkedIn search, scan the horizon for training candidates. Identify a short-list of potential social selling training trainers.

Use your selection criteria to solicit proposals from trainers. If you don’t wish to mail out a formal RFP, no problem. Use your selection criteria as a guide to identify the most capable vendors.

Review Proposals: The 3 ‘Must Have’ Components
Effective social selling training must result in sellers getting better response from prospects, faster. Make sure training you invest in focuses on a process that creates:

  • attention from a targeted group of potential buyers,
  • engagement that is provocative enough to spark
  • response—conversation that generates a lead or sale.

Choose a social selling trainer that basis his/her training in direct response copywriting that helps get more attention, engagement and appointments.

Assess: Make Sure You Succeed
Make your social selling training relevant and effective. Start with an assessment. Discover your team’s strengths, weaknesses and challenges—right now.

Require your social selling trainer to perform a low-cost assessment to guarantee your success and avoid disaster.

Make sure the assessment:

  • justifies your investment,
  • identifies and sets performance metrics,
  • uncovers current attitudes & experiences with tools like LinkedIn,
  • identifies both resistance to social selling and early adopters.

Identifying early adopters will insure success in the eyes of your boss. By finding reps and dealers eager to sharpen their skills you can focus the training on increasing their success (and reporting back to the boss on it).

You can stack the deck in your favor!

How to Avoid Failure
One of the most common reasons social selling and/or LinkedIn training fails is lack of focus on how to get response. Make sure your training provides more than how-to lessons on managing LinkedIn’s privacy settings and controls.

The primary goal of your training should be earning more appointments by increasing response.

When interviewing final candidates ask them for references who can tell you how their sellers are generating more response after the training.

Do you have more questions about investing in social selling training? Let me know in comments or send me an email. I’ll be glad to help! Or print-off this Social Selling Training Cheat Sheet PDF. (No registration needed)

Beyond Data: Why ‘Grit’ May Matter More

This past month, I was reminded how vital it is to have grit to achieve success, that is “true grit.” The sports world gave us an improbable U.S. Men’s College Basketball champion in the UConn (University of Connecticut) Huskies. Only one lower-seeded team in the history of the NCAA men’s tournament—Villanova in 1985—has reached the March Madness pinnacle. UConn achieved this success against all odds

This past month, I was reminded how vital it is to have grit to achieve success, that is “true grit.”

The sports world gave us an improbable U.S. Men’s College Basketball champion in the UConn (University of Connecticut) Huskies. Only one lower-seeded team in the history of the NCAA men’s tournament—Villanova in 1985—has reached the March Madness pinnacle. (Ironically, UConn also produced a most probable champion, too, in women’s college basketball this year.)

UConn achieved this success against all odds—well 100:1 odds anyway.

Statistically, UConn didn’t have a chance … the team was 144th in the country in points scored, 146th in offensive rebounds, 179th in assists and 142nd in field goal percentage. Defensively, they fared better—31st in points allowed, 75th in defensive rebounds, 8th in blocks and 80th in steals. Of the six games it played in the tourney, it was an underdog in the last five. Collectively, the data revealed a team that was hardly top-tier basketball.

After two years of tumult, its Hall of Fame coach was gone, its big stars had bolted under a one-year tournament ban issued by the NCAA—and nearly every power conference in the country said “no, we’ll pass” on UConn membership. The team was stuck in a conference no one wants or respects (well, maybe, now they do). Its last game of the regular season, UConn was beaten by more than 30 points.

No wonder only 0.3 percent of the tournament brackets filled out by fans picked UConn to win it all—and you have to wonder if any of the UConn picks were from outside the state of Connecticut.

But the data lied.

Or, more accurately, the data—the available data—could not tell the whole story or even produce insight that would predict success.

Something magical and intangible—something that cannot be measured in data—”caused” the Huskies to prevail. I call it grit. A young coach, a senior-led team, capable basketball play, a sense for the game and a steadfast faith that they would achieve the summit against all expectations (except their own)—all these intangibles willed UConn to the height of success. It wasn’t fundamentally pretty basketball, but it was a beautiful result—leveraging the “madness” of March Madness.

So perhaps Denny Hatch has a point in his beef with the term data-driven marketing, which deserves amplification, even as I embrace that term.

Yes, today’s integrated marketing is increasingly data- and analytics-driven, but it also needs the coaches, mentors, teamwork, vision and creative execution that makes for marketing genius—and breakthrough results. Data and analytics can’t do it alone—and sometimes the data tell stories that just aren’t true. Beyond the marketing dashboards and analytics prowess, you also have to have believers who know how to prepare for the game, no matter who or what the competition, or the daunting circumstances. In fact, having the latter (grit) may mean more than the former (data and insight).

Just look at the Huskies, the reigning national champions.

P.S. Speaking of marketing genius and championships, it’s that time of year where each brand, each agency, gets to put forward its own measure of success—its reach for the ultimate team award, showcasing innovative strategy, brilliant creative and the measurable results that exemplifies delight in clients and customers. The Direct Marketing Association International ECHO Awards has announced its call for entries—and the deadline is May 23. Win one, two, three or more, and show us your grit!

Signed,

Chet Dalzell
Alumnus
University of Connecticut
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Journalism

Marketing Automation Is Not Marketing Strategy

Too often these days, I hear B-to-B marketers mouth claims like, “We got this new [fill in the brand] automation tool, so now we can reduce headcount.” Or, “Once this automation system is installed, it will take our marketing to the next level.” This worries me. Marketers sometimes see automation as a silver bullet. But it’s only a tool

Too often these days, I hear B-to-B marketers mouth claims like, “We got this new [fill in the brand] automation tool, so now we can reduce headcount.” Or, “Once this automation system is installed, it will take our marketing to the next level.” This worries me. Marketers sometimes see automation as a silver bullet. But it’s only a tool. Marketing automation doesn’t identify your best target audiences. It can’t develop value propositions. No way will it make the tough decisions among competing investment options. I’m reminded of Mike Moran’s great book title, Do It Wrong, Quickly. In other words, marketing automation doesn’t work without strategy.

Remember ten years ago, when CRM came along? Déjà vu all over again, to echo Yogi Berra. Marketers thought that the new CRM software would solve their customer service and customer retention problems. Expectations dashed. Not only was it a nightmare to get up and running, the software served only to automate the processes—good or bad—that companies already had in place.

Even the marketing automation software vendors themselves recognize the importance of strategy, for their own success, as well as that of their clients. Think about it: If their clients can’t get the value from the software, their revenues are going to be impacted.

So education campaigns are underway. Marketo, for example, sponsored a compelling study by Sirius Decisions that explains the importance of a strong process in driving results when using marketing automation software. Their data shows that companies using automation combined with a reasonable lead management process—inquiry generation, qualification, nurturing and hand off to sales—produced four times the sales volume of companies with automation but with weaker processes.

Eloqua, too, makes a strong case for strategy in its guide, “6 Pitfalls to Avoid in Your Marketing Automation Journey,” which contains the important reminder to avoid putting “too much focus on technology, and not enough focus on buyers.”

So, what should we be doing with automation, to ensure its success? Three things come to mind.

  1. Be realistic about what it can and can’t do. Automation is not a silver bullet that you can set and forget. So make sure real humans are thinking through the essential tasks of identifying your key audiences, understanding their needs, scoping out their buying processes and developing contact strategies to move them along, in your direction.
  2. Clean up your database. By now it’s clear that the database is the single most important success factor in B-to-B marketing communications. So don’t be automating messages that can’t or won’t be delivered to the right targets.
  3. Train up your team. Too many marketing groups are leaving the campaign automation system to a set of junior staffers who interface with the tools, deploy campaigns and report results. I am not saying the marketing VPs should be executing campaigns, but to get the right mix of strategy and tools, we need better integration. Senior marketers should be deeply aware of the capabilities of the software. And junior staffers need training in strategic marketing thinking.

Are there other success factors in B-to-B marketing automation you can share?

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

From Views to Leads: Effectively Using Video in B-to-B Marketing

Tired of all the “guru” advice that doesn’t work when using video in B-to-B marketing? Getting views and subscribers on YouTube, but not enough sales? Here’s a simple, effective approach to get viewers to respond to videos and become sales leads.

Tired of all the “guru” advice that doesn’t work when using video in B-to-B marketing? Getting views and subscribers on YouTube, but not enough sales? Here’s a simple, effective approach to get viewers to respond to videos and become sales leads.

Focus on How You Speak, Not What You Say
It’s natural to focus on what we’re saying in videos. Yet it’s an approach that will sabotage you every time. Instead, focus on how you’re presenting knowledge, not the information itself.

We’re very busy being transparent, honest, showing our personalities and giving away our best advice using videos. But the truth is you must do all those things and do it in a way that creates response.

Otherwise you’re wasting time.

In my experience using video in B-to-B marketing, there is one reason why people fail with it. They over-focus on WHAT to say rather than designing what to say to trigger response.

“The HOW” is what makes the difference when using video in B-to-B marketing. Here’s what to do

1) Don’t engage—fix, guide, compare, serve! Contrary to what ‘the experts’ say, buyers don’t care about your personality, your passion nor how often you offer free advice. They’re selfish. They care far more about solving their problem or reaching their goal faster.

Let this be your guiding rule. If you want to get passed around a lot on social media go ahead-be cute, funny “engaging” and such. If you want to generate leads serve a purpose.

2) Talk about what matters (and nothing else). Get started by asking yourself these questions when using video in B-to-B marketing

  • What pressing problem can I solve?
  • What pain can I remove?
  • What pleasure can I help create?

The idea is to focus your video on the pain customers need to get rid of, or the goals they need to achieve faster.

3) Provoke response. The best way to start is claiming you can change the success rate of prospects. Then do it.

Tell them you can actually move their needle. Then prove it by showing them exactly how to do something important to them.

Show them how to avoid a risk, solve a problem, learn a new skill … step-by-step in the video.

The idea is to create confidence in them … get them to take action and experience some success. Because if they do *this creates trust in you.*

Over to You
So remember the formula for structuring your videos when using video in B-to-B marketing.

  • Tell customers you can increase their success rate.
  • Then, without wasting time, prove to them you can move their needle … give them results.
  • Give them an even better way to start right now … in return for a deeper relationship (a lead).

Do this with a clear call to action that gets them to take action.

Need an example? Watch this video!

3 Steps to an Effective LinkedIn Sales Strategy

“How much time do I need to invest in prospecting on LinkedIn each day?” The answer may surprise you. Getting more response, and earning leads, means developing a LinkedIn sales strategy that sets aside the time investment question. Instead, focus on applying an exceptional, proven approach to LinkedIn. Make sure everything you do on LinkedIn has one goal in mind: getting prospects hungry for more details, answers, short-cuts or satisfying experiences.

“How much time do I need to invest in prospecting on LinkedIn each day?” The answer may surprise you. Getting more response, and earning leads, means developing a LinkedIn sales strategy that sets aside the time investment question. Instead, focus on applying an exceptional, proven approach to LinkedIn.

Make sure everything you do on LinkedIn has one goal in mind: getting prospects hungry for more details, answers, short-cuts or satisfying experiences.

Put response at the heart of your LinkedIn sales strategy using a better idea: Make everything you put on LinkedIn create irresistible curiosity in what you (or your team) can do for prospects. Make what you say, and how you say it, foster hunger inside prospects. Then give them a way to act on it. Here’s how to do it in three simple steps.

The Argument for a Better Way
Nothing says “ordinary” like the approach most of us are taking to LinkedIn profiles and groups. Hey, I’ve been there. I know what does not work: posting my latest blog article in groups and putting all kinds of bells and whistles on my profile.

Yet “LinkedIn experts” (most of whom never held a sales job!) say putting videos and multimedia is the key to success. No, it’s not.

Videos, multimedia and words that grab attention, hold it and give prospects a reason to become a lead is one of a handful of keys to success.

Generating leads is not about video, Powerpoint decks or links to your blog. Your success relies on how (or if!) you structure these tools to create response-leads!

Step 1: Attract Prospects by Provoking Responses
Here’s where to start. The idea is to start LinkedIn group discussions (or answer questions inside existing discussions) in ways that provoke questions and create opportunities to generate leads. The same strategy can be applied on your profile page.

LinkedIn is filled with people just like you. They have problems to solve or goals to reach. They’re ambitious. They’re hungry.

They need your help.

Your potential customers are craving better ways to:

  • avoid risks
  • compete better or create market distinction
  • make faster, smarter decisions

Start by kicking off a magnetic LinkedIn group discussion that gives them what they want. Use this practical formula:

  • Focus on a nagging pain prospects are suffering from,
  • quickly suggest a specific, genuinely new/unheard of remedy and …
  • ask for group members to give feedback on it.

Use your discussion title and first sentence of the description to appeal to the emotional frustration of prospects. Then say, “I know how to solve this problem” (and make that pain go away). Appeal to the emotional end result prospects are longing for.

For example, in the Linked Strategies group I asked, “Why isn’t LinkedIn generating LEADS for me?” in my title. My description presented a dramatic take on the issue, suggested a compelling solution to the problem and invited others to comment on it.

When writing the description of your discussion you’re trying to encourage prospects think, “That sounds important for me to understand. I wonder what, exactly, he/she means by that?”

Present your remedy in a way that encourages readers to ask for more details. Leave out most of the important details. You’ll get to them in Step No. 2.

Step 2: Getting Prospects Hungry for Your Answers
Remember the last time you needed something fixed urgently? You were impatient. LinkedIn users are the same. So get right to the point when starting a LinkedIn group discussion.

Don’t make readers wait for the solution you promised.

However, when it comes to ALL the juicy details of your remedy take it slow. How slow?

Slow enough to encourage more questions. Be specific. Be action-oriented. But avoid being so complete that readers become totally satisfied with your words.

The idea is to satisfy the curiosity of group members for the moment.

The success of your LinkedIn leads strategy hinges on holding the attention you worked so hard to get. But you have another goal: Creating hunger for an increasing number of “the details.”

As the discussion unfolds, keep revealing more-and-more tips and advice … BUT do it in ways that:

  • prospects can act on yet also …
  • leads them to ask more-and-more questions of you … and …
  • creates hunger for a BIG SHORT-CUT to what they want.

That short-cut will be a free video tutorial, whitepaper, checklist or e-book that you will trade in exchange for contact information. I call these “knowledge nuggets.”

This is where you get a business lead!

Step 3: Make Calls to Action That Give Prospects Choice
The final step of your new LinkedIn leads strategy involves making simple calls to action. This gives everyone a place to put all that pent up hunger for your “knowledge nugget.”

Here’s how: As you continue to reveal more-and-more there will be a point where it feels natural to offer prospects a short-cut. Think of it as giving them access to a bunch of the answers they’re craving in one fell swoop.

This is where you link to an elegant, focused opt-in lead form page on your website. I recommend doing this once and absolutely no more than twice within a given discussion.

WARNING: Don’t be crass, but do be direct. You’ve worked hard to get here. All that is needed is a clear, text-based call to action that is:

  • casual in tone (are not pushy) and suggestive (“this might help you if you are serious about _____”)
  • in context with how the discussion is flowing
  • promises free, step-by-step instructions, a way to learn a new skill, avoid a risk, make a decision etc.

Here’s a trick I find to be VERY effective: Tell them that the decision is theirs.

Present the call-to-action confidently. Let prospects know you’re doing this because it will help them … BUT … be sure to reaffirm your prospects’ freedom to choose. Doing this indirectly says to them: “I am not threatening your right to say no. You have free choice.”

Want exceptional lead generation results from LinkedIn? Stop practicing ordinary tactics and dallying over how much time to invest in a LinkedIn sales strategy. Most sales people experience ordinary results on LinkedIn because they don’t know about an exceptional approach. This one. Let me know how it works for you in comments!

How to Create Content That Converts

It’s time to stop creating compelling content and start creating content that converts. The “create compelling content” mantra has failed us. We’re awash in a sea of ineffective, self-centered articles, videos, ebooks and whitepapers that fail to create leads. So follow these three handy success principles to create content that converts.

It’s time to stop creating compelling content and start creating content that converts. The “create compelling content” mantra has failed us. We’re awash in a sea of ineffective, self-centered articles, videos, ebooks and whitepapers that fail to create leads. So follow these three handy success principles to create content that converts.

3 Guiding Principles of Content That Converts
These are the three success principles powering today’s content marketing success stories like HubSpot and a handful of others. Now it’s time for you to apply them and create content that converts for you.

Content that converts does three things. It creates …

  1. Action: Customers cannot resist DOING stuff with it—including signing up to become a lead.
  2. Results: It doesn’t just impart knowledge; it increases the success rate of prospects (for free).
  3. Confidence: Buyers ultimately convert based on trust created by positive results.

Create Confidence
For years we’ve been told “create compelling content!” So we got busy. The goal was clear: get customers to consider, select and buy from us.

But for most of us, videos go unnoticed. Blogs aren’t shortening the sales cycle. Well, you’re not alone in taking your eye off of what works, and that’s confidence.

The difference between content that converts and all the other crap out there is simple: It gives prospects a free sample or “taste” of actual success. Real results.

Content that creates leads and sales uses results to manufacture confidence in buyers.

I know, I know. It isn’t very sexy. We’ve been engaging transparently, branding authentically, telling compelling stories … and let’s not forget the customer advocacy we’re fostering. But the truth is nothing works as well at creating leads as confidence.

Why Customers Will Ask You for the Sale
Let’s say you apply an idea from this blog post and have success with it. Maybe you take action on the three success principles and start getting more (and better) leads with your blog. Because of this experience, you sign up for my free training course where you learn more and experience more success.

Would those positive results be powerful enough to make you crave more? If I helped you change the way you’re blogging (to the degree you started getting more and better leads) would that be powerful enough to make you reach out to me?

Might you write an email to me saying, “Jeff, you’ve helped me see things differently and start to improve how I’m blogging. I’m actually getting leads now. Thanks, Jeff. This is so cool. How can I turn up the volume on this? What’s next?”

In other words, could I somehow convince you, through experiencing a steady stream of my content, to ask ME for the sale a few weeks from now?
Answer: Yes, a significant percentage of people who read this blog post will, likely, convert for me.

Move the Needle
My goal for you, right now, is for you to finish reading this post, apply my tips and experience an increase in success. Period. Forget about you liking me or even sharing my content. That’s not my goal. First I need to get you confident. I need to move your needle.

If I truly deliver results, you’ll share the good news (advocate for me). You’ll likely consider and possibly even buy from me. Why? Because I just proved myself.

This is how you use social media and content marketing to create leads. By creating a little bit of success in people’s lives through what you publish—helpful blogs, ebooks that guide, videos that teach, checklists that speed things up, whitepapers that create curiosity, tutorials that help people learn, etc.

Why Give Away ALL of Your Best Advice
Let’s get real. I’m not getting paid to give you my best tips and advice in this article. So why would I?

Answer: Because I don’t have time to worry about if you are actually my competitor, hoping to steal my material. I’m not losing sleep wondering if you’re going to take these instructions and do it yourself—without ever buying my coaching program. Neither should you.

You need to get customers’ success to increase—because of you. You need to get them confident. You need to get them doing something meaningful with knowledge that is truly new, insightful, powerful.

Because ultimately the knowledge WILL be given to them. They will discover the details of “how to do _______,” which you would prefer to sell them. Some customers will do it themselves because they can’t afford it otherwise.

Others will be able to afford to hire you, try it, fail and return to the market as a highly motivated buyer.

The only thing for you to decide on is who they will return to. Because the most likely selection they’ll make is the business or person who gave them the instructions.

So how did I do? Do you now feel an urge to DO something with what I shared? Because I now want you to do something that moves the needle. I don’t care if you see me as a thought leader or want to follow me. I want to sell something to you if it’s right for you. That’s why I gave you my very best tips and insights. Let me know how I did in comments or shoot me an email?

5 Things to Do Now to Prepare for the Next Stage of Email Marketing

The email channel is well known for being a low cost high performance marketing machine. Generating revenue requires little more than the ability to acquire opt-in permission and change content in a template. It’s so easy that someone with no experience could create a successful email program. But the email marketing world is changing. Evolution has already begun. Companies have to adapt or lose the effectiveness of a channel that has served well as a cash flow king

The email channel is well known for being a low cost high performance marketing machine. Generating revenue requires little more than the ability to acquire opt-in permission and change content in a template. It’s so easy that someone with no experience could create a successful email program.

And, they do. This is one of the reasons that spam continues to grow. Someone with access to thousands of addresses can fill his or her coffers by blanketing the list with promotional messages or scams. Those emails keep coming because they work. If people didn’t respond to them, the spammers would find a new source of income.

The minimal requirements for success also contribute to the cookie cutter emails sent by established brands. Subject lines, images and content change, but the layout and offers are strikingly similar. When asked why they do this, marketers claim that testing has proven that their subscribers respond best to this presentation and offers.

The problem is that they decided to stop testing once a solution was found. Any halfway decent direct marketer will tell you that testing shows what works best AT THAT TIME. The winner becomes the control that is used to gauge the effectiveness of future tests. Email marketing lulls marketers into complacency because it works so well at consistently generating revenue. Following the “don’t fix it if it’s not broke” theory keeps them from finding strategies that work better.

In fairness, the demands on marketing teams are continuously increasing. Participation in high maintenance, continuously changing channels requires time and effort that might have been dedicated to improving email campaigns if the world were different. Resources have to be allocated by need and email campaigns do not require much to be successful.

The email marketing world is changing. Evolution has already begun. Companies have to adapt or lose the effectiveness of a channel that has served well as a cash flow king. That adaptation has to start now because it takes time to establish the relationships required for continued success. Waiting until campaigns start losing their effectiveness will be too late.

There are two shifts creating the need for change. The first is increased competition. According to the Radicati Group’s email statistics report for 2012 – 2016, 144.8 billion emails were sent in 2012. By 2016, that number is expected to increase to 192.2 billion. Business emails account for 61 percent of the emails today, increasing to 75 percent in 2016. Consumer emails are decreasing. In 2012, 55.8 billion emails were sent. By 2016, consumer emails will drop to 48.4 billion. More marketing messages mean that company emails have to fight harder for recipients’ attention.

The second shift is the ongoing effort to provide a personalized universal search experience. Google is the first search engine to test adding emails to results. It’s only a matter of time before the field trial rolls out and other search providers follow the lead. This changes the rules of engagement for the email marketing game.

Email campaigns will need to work overtime to deliver the best results. In addition to generating immediate cash flow, they need to have a “save for later” appeal that keeps recipients from deleting them. The saved emails will appear when people search the web for similar products or services.

Fortunately, preparing for increased competition and universal search has immediate benefits. The same tactics that position your emails for success in the future also make them work better today. To get started:

  1. Improve your customer relationships: Loyal customers are more likely to ignore increased competition and save your emails. Including emails that make it easier for people to use your products and services solidifies relationships and adds life to your messages.
  2. Optimize emails for search: Adding alternative text to images provides information that can be accessed by search bots. Balancing text and images makes your messages more readable by recipients and bots. It also improves deliverability.
  3. Use personalized trigger emails to improve the shopping and service experience: Trigger emails are a low cost way to keep customers informed about order status and new products or services.
  4. Customize emails by customer behavior: Sending everyone in your database the same marketing message works. Sending customized message to individuals based on their shopping and communication preferences works better.
  5. Keep everything simple and easy: The easier you make it for your customers, the more loyal they tend to be. Work to eliminate as many steps as possible between the marketing message and sale. People keep coming back when the process is simple.

Wearable Mobile Devices Are the New Black

This year’s hot trend in fashion is computers. Whether at SXSW or in the tech and media hubs on the coasts, people are excited about the watches, wristbands and “eyeframes” that double as computers. Not all of these gadgets will succeed and those that do probably will evolve rapidly from today’s versions. But the trend is real—and marketers need to take note. They can expect consumers open to new forms of discovery and deeper relationships with brands, but also who have less tolerance for advertising that’s irrelevant, disruptive or disrespectful of privacy.

This year’s hot trend in fashion is computers. Whether at SXSW or in the tech and media hubs on the coasts, people are excited about the watches, wristbands and “eyeframes” that double as computers. Not all of these gadgets will succeed and those that do probably will evolve rapidly from today’s versions. But the trend is real—and marketers need to take note. They can expect consumers open to new forms of discovery and deeper relationships with brands, but also who have less tolerance for advertising that’s irrelevant, disruptive or disrespectful of privacy.

Nothing exemplifies the widespread interest in wearable computers better than Pebble, a watch that has its own Internet interface, apps and waiting list of fans eager to buy it. Last year, the founders of Pebble went to the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter with just a vague business plan and raised $10 million from thousands of investors. In less than a year, Pebble started to ship product and, in the past month, has released programming guidelines for outside developers. Not to be outdone by a start-up, Apple, Google, Samsung and LG are all rumored to be working on smartwatches, and Nike has made a big splash with its own wristband that tracks calories burned—the Fuel Band. Probably the most ambitious of all is Google Glass, the smartphone/eyeglass hybrid that projects information directly onto the lens of the wearer. Initial versions for developers have begun to ship already.

All of these devices will take the mobile revolution to a new level. The original iPhone ushered in an era when consumers expect to receive relevant answers any time, anywhere, to any question—even if they haven’t asked it yet. Still, wearable computing adds another layer of complexity. With screens that are always on and always feeding information, there’s even less of a margin for error with irrelevant advertising, and more opportunity for location-specific discovery. There will be new types of data—e.g., biometrics, location, eye movements—that could be incredibly relevant to marketers, but also frightening for consumers already worried about personal privacy. As a result, most marketing opportunities will have to be truly opt-in and transparent in how data will be used—and how that use is actually a service.

Take Google Now, a service that lets users receive pertinent time-sensitive or location-sensitive information without asking for it. It’s currently on phones, but it’s ideally suited for Google Glass. Although Now has high use-value, there’s also a high potential for creepiness, something Baris Guletkin, co-creator of Now, understands: “We take privacy very seriously, and make it very clear what the user will get, and what kind of data we’ll be using, and lots of controls so they can turn things off that they don’t like.” Google is banking on the fact that a lot of people will make that tradeoff in order to get useful information on-the-go. If I’ve just landed in Paris on an overnight flight and I am walking to a meeting, I’m OK with Google knowing what type of food I like if that information is used to suggest boulangeries along my route with highly rated croissants. But not everyone will feel that way.

Current discovery engines, such as Yelp and Foursquare, could probably also make a relatively easy transition to something like Google Glass or evolved versions of a smartwatch. Other marketers, however, will have to create new ways to use personal data and tags within physical objects to provide information that’s pertinent and enhances a real-world experience, not interrupts it. Peter Dahlstrom and David Edelman of McKinsey have written a great article about “on-demand marketing,” They describe a scenario where a headset has an NFC chip that communicates with a smartphone and opens an app that shows the headset in different colors and has related offers. Combined with augmented reality on Google Glass, the possibilities for this type of technology are pretty exciting. Even if Glass doesn’t catch on with the mainstream population, it will likely spur innovation that will trickle down to smartphones.

In addition to discovery, a second transformative role for wearable computers may be in how they turn solitary offline activities into daily social activities, creating a durable bond with the brand.

Nike’s Fuel Band is a great example. Nike has taken the daily workout and turned into a shared activity. The wristband uses a motion detector to calculate the amount of calories a person is burning during the day and tracks it against personal goals. It also connects to an app that shares this information with friends, creating value by turning the fuel points into shared successes and, for some, a competition. Because it’s always on, it creates dozens, even hundreds, of daily touchpoints with the brand.

Fuel fully aligns the brand with staying in shape, a high value for many people, and the core need that its other products satisfy. Eventually, Nike could connect Fuel points to support public causes, which would align the brand with the core values of the “new consumer,” described by sustainable branding agency, BBMG,

“Thirty percent of the U.S. adult population—some 70 million consumers—New Consumers—are values-aspirational, practical purchasers who are constantly looking to align their actions with their ideals; yet tight budgets and time constraints require them to make practical trade-offs every day … To deliver on total value, it’s no longer about pushing products, it’s about creating platforms for ideas and experiences that help people live healthier, greener and better.”

The Fuel Band and competitors like Jawbone are such platforms. They don’t just turn offline activities into online, social ones, they also link the brand to the values of the customer.

The Fuel Band right now is one of the first wearable computers that has been a commercial success, because it enhances existing activities in innovative ways. We’ll soon see whether Glass, Pebble and others have similar levels of success. Regardless, we’ll continue to see new wearable computers down the line, and they will undoubtedly lead to new opportunities for marketers that are impossible to see today.