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The Power of the Inbox: 3 Tips for Driving Traffic with Email Marketing

Last year, the tech world took significant strides toward becoming more competitive with publishers. Apple launched Apple News and Facebook introduced Instant Pages, both in the name of a better user experience. While Instant Articles have proven to have higher engagement, they’re not great for monetization. But if you’re a publisher relying heavily on social traffic, then you’re relying heavily on Facebook. And whatever Facebook wants Facebook gets.

This is just one way to look at sourcing traffic, of course. There are three main types in total: earned, paid, and owned. Within owned, there’s the social route — but down this path, it’s becoming increasingly more important to “play ball.” Email, on the other hand, is fully owned and in our control.

Here are three important tips to consider.

  1. Strike the right balance for the right audience.

Using only completely owned media is a publisher’s dream. Our roundtable agreed that it’s a smart bet to invest in owned media. However, when you take a look at the publishing landscape at the moment, it’s pretty difficult to spin off and just do your own thing with an email campaign. People don’t want to see your content on Facebook and then see it again in their inbox. You need to keep an eye on the social conversation. This is especially important if your audience is younger. Email is definitely not the preferred method of communication for teenagers (according to statistics, only 7 percent check their inbox daily).

So it’s almost impossible to abandon one for the other. Emails will never go viral like social media content. And yet your email audience will always be more valuable, as they tend to spend more time on websites and are more likely to have opted into your content. Strike a balance by thinking about the type of content and audience, and adjust accordingly.

At the end of the day, it helps to be in as many relevant places as possible. If you want to reach someone, you have to be there first.

  1. Play around with personalization.

There are many ways to create more personalization with emails. You can alter the subject line (based on what a user has opened or engaged with in the past). And then there’s the content itself, personalized based on a user’s interests. Think of yourself as a curator of the best, most relevant content out there.

When it comes to email, the more specific you can be in terms of what’s driving people’s passions, the better. The key is matching content to user segments. As an example, for many years, the NFL had talked to people the same way across the board. Once the organization started segmenting its email list, it began seeing higher conversion. All it takes is something as simple as using an image of a Jets uniform when talking to a Jets fan. Personalization is simple but powerful. It’s all about finding a better way to maintain that consumer relationship.

  1. Tinker with timing.

Facebook and Google have shifted the way we produce content. We’ve begun looking at what’s trending in the news and writing to that. There’s been this major push toward news-centric rather than evergreen content. We’re seeing a similar trend arise with email as well, with some moving toward a triggered system. News sites in particular are sending break news emails (Mashable has done a particularly good job of this). And to help, Marketo and HubSpot have easy-to-use trigger platforms.

Frequency plays a huge role in timing as well. Obviously it first depends on what users have opted into. From there, you have to think about how to maximize results without becoming white noise. Think of CNN: If everything is “breaking news,” then why even bother, right? We’re seeing a sweet spot at 2-4 times per week.

And what about if someone does hit that unsubscribe button? Many of our experts argue for adding the option to downgrade frequency as a last-ditch attempt to stay in a user’s inbox. Even better: send a specialized email to people who haven’t opened your emails in a while with a special offer. It’s a clever way to hook them again and stop them from leaving in the future.

I’ll leave you with one last thought from our discussion: If you see no difference between people reading content via your website and in an email, then how can you make email feel more like your website experience?

3 Keys of Mobile Acquisition

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The Golden Rule of Content Marketing

February 19th: Advertising & Marketing in 2010 and Beyond.

MediaMath: MediaMath’s automated buying platform provides advertising agencies with access to tens of billions of impressions daily, and a simple workflow that manages the powerful analytics and rich data necessary to make best use of them. Headquartered in New York, the company was founded in 2007 by a team of seasoned entrepreneurs, marketers, technologists, and quants.

Attending: Rick Greenberg, VP Account

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MyStudiyo: MyStudiyo is the place to create professional looking quizzes for your website, or blog. It takes just a few minutes to make a quiz and seconds to add it to your site. Any quiz you make is hosted on our site and is available to play for free anytime. It was founded by a group of Israeli – American entrepreneur-engineers. Our challenge was to deliver a complex next-generation engine that would flexibly drive a suite of business and marketing tools. It also had to be really EZ to use.

The goal was to enhance any web site by transforming content into engaging & interactive fun. We aimed for our tools to be very DIY (do it yourself). We wanted the results to be fresh online marketing that is fun, sticky, & friendly.

Attending: Gili Torovezky, VP Marketing,BD and Client Services

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adMarketplace: adMarketplace brings the power of Search to the Content Space. Since 2003, adMarketplace has delivered proven Pay Per Click traffic to over 100,000 advertisers – while maximizing yield for more than 250,000 web properties.

The adMarketplace platform delivers customers from unique Pay-Per-Click inventory with Return on Ad Spend (RoAS) metrics that compare favorably with Search Engine traffic. The adMarketplace platform is offered as a managed service or via web services integration to large advertisers and agencies or as a self-serve service to small and medium sized advertisers.

Attending: Adam Epstein, President & COO

BigFuel: Big Fuel is a marketing and communications company that takes brands from Content to Commerce  . A unique approach using social media and branded content to deliver measurable (and guaranteed) consumer engagement.  We work with major brands like MySpace, FOX, AOL, Yahoo, NBC Universal, Neutrogena, Kimberly-Clark, Alcon, Poly-Fil, The United States Department of Justice, Stetson, Fisher Price, Chevrolet and Colgate-Palmolive.

Attending: Mike McGraw, COO & Managing Partner

Advertising & Marketing in 2010 & beyond- Where is the industry heading?

As the “Who” sang during this year’s Super Bowl half-time show, “Who are you?”  While as an industry, marketers and advertisers may know what their objectives are, with a new decade ahead of us, the question of how we execute our goals is proving to be a complex one.  The yin and yang that used to exist between media adverting partners and marketing programs have changed have quickly changed over the past few years.  Traditional approaches need to be tweaked in response to new market realities.

Print circulation continues to decline across both consumer and trade titles as more readers turn to their laptops, netbooks and mobile phones for the latest information.   The 24-hour news cycle that cable news channels ushered in during the 1980s is evolving with the expanding adaptation rate toward the fast and frequent sharing of news and information on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  In fact, the marketing power of social media led one of world’s leading beverage companies, Pepsi, to pass on their tradition Super Bowl ad and instead invest those funds toward a user-generated campaign for bright ideas to create a better world with the Pepsi Refresh Project.

In an earlier television era, there were only three networks for advertisers to choose from and consumers had no choice but to sit though commercials or flip the channel.  Today, with DVR technology and on-demand subscription options, fewer viewers watch programming during the broadcast time slot, choosing to either record it or watch it online later on sites such as Hulu.com.

While the traditional print and TV mediums mature, tremendous opportunities are available in online advertising.   The four largest Internet advertising firms (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL) saw double digit growth in their online ad revenue in Q4 of 2009 led by resurgence in search advertising and display advertising.  As consumers spend more time at their computers, the potential to reach them with relevant banner and media rich ads continues to make gains within the marketing mix.

As John Lennon would say, “There are no problems, only solutions.”  This month’s Roundtable will feature conversation discussing what this changing landscape means for the marketers and advertisers of today.

Some of these topics include:

  • The role of social media channels in the marketing mix
  • The proliferation of online advertising opportunities across news and entertainment mediums
  • The new opportunities to engage consumers in fun campaigns that drive positive brand experiences
  • The use of social media for listening to consumers to understand opinions towards brands and products
  • The growing potential to engage with consumers via their mobile devices via ads and branded apps

Written By: Ezra Rich / @EzraRich