Top 4 Signs you MUST Clean Up Your Marketing Database Now!

Marketing databases are one of those things that every business has and frankly, few truly understand.  In my work as a consultant, I work with many businesses over time and one of the first orders of business is to analyze the existing database.  The incoming CMO must make an assessment of the value of that database and determine if what is there is sufficient to meet your lead generation goals.

Marketing Database

After many iterations of this, I have a set of observations about the process.  In general, my going-in assumption is that “something is useable here” That’s a good assumption to start with but as they say, “your mileage may vary.”   Here are 4 clear signs that you should be thinking about a database refresh and clean up:

  1. No one knows where the database came from.  This is the first sign of a dead database.  If there’s no documentation and you truly do not know how the database was built over its life, you are headed for disappointment when you actually use the database.  It’s even worse when you get more than one story about what is contained in the database.
  2. Most records are just name and email.  It seems to be human nature to overestimate the completeness and quality of our data.  Having just an email address is not a marketing database, it’s an email list.  A database has enough data such that you can begin to tell what is what and start to segment the data.  No one would intentionally build an email-only database and expect segmentation from it would they?
  3. Each mailing brings spam notices.  Many of the vendors that we use to send out email (including Marketo and Eloqua) will ding you whenever some level of bad emails are sent out from your account and ultimately will reduce your ability to execute.  If you do not clean it up, it will be more difficult over time to send out emails and the vendor may shut you off altogether until you clean up your act.  Use an email verification service and only mail verified emails addresses.  It’s not cheap and takes some effort, but it is worth the hassle. It will keep you out of hot water.
  4. The percentage that have opened an email in the past year is tiny.  In general, if you email someone and over some extended time they do not open your emails, they are not likely to all of a sudden begin opening your emails and acting upon them.  Consider reducing the database to just those records that have opened or clicked on an email in the past year.  While this feels like a radical action, the non-openers are very unlikely to ever respond, so you will not miss them in your database.  You may also pay less to your Marketing Automation vendor for housing a smaller database.

The joy of having a clean database is a marketers’ dream.  Once you have one it’s real hard to go back.  A clean and maintained database will become a source of new leads with minimal hassle.  A database filled with unclean data will yield nothing but frustration.  Bite the bullet and clean up your database now!  You’ll be glad you did!

What issues do you have with your marketing data?  Have you taken steps to clean up your database?


You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn:

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Don’t Forget About Email as a Marketing Tool!

The marketing profession has had the good fortune of having some game changing things happen to it over the past few years.  Social media, smart phones and ubiquitous video are examples, to name just a few.  These “shiny objects” get a lot of attention and create great new marketing channels and capabilities that everybody rushes to. But what about the tried and true methods we’re all familiar with?  Do they go away?

Well, email has not gone away.  The original “opt in” marketing tool is still strong.  In an often-quoted study released by Experian Marketing Services, email volumes and open rates were both up in the second quarter of 2013.  Email volume increased 17.9% in the first quarter of 2013 compared with the first quarter of 2012, and unique open rates increased 7.2%.

Experian Quarterly Email Benchmark Study

Source: Experian Quarterly Email Benchmark Study, Q2 2013

However, as shown in the chart above, not all is created equal.  Catalogers had the highest year-over-year change with a 31.7% increase, while Business Product and Services dropped 20.9% in volume.

Why does email stay around?  There are many new outbound choices and social media to attach to but despite impressive growth numbers social networks communicate differently to much smaller numbers than email.  Here are additional reasons email is not only alive, but thriving:

Email is ubiquitous; everyone has it.  Few have been able to get by without email.  Many have tried and perhaps in the future other forms of communication will become more important, but for now having an email to give to websites or to make purchases, is required.

 It’s well-understood.  By both sides.  Marketers know how to send out emails that will be effective and consumers of emails know how to use them, categorize them and unsubscribe from them.  It’s a well-developed science that still earns its keep.  Marketers get access to the targets they need; consumers get the control they need.  It’s a win-win!

Email is a very sticky application.  While we may not check in with LinkedIn or Pinterest every day, we seldom let email fallow more than a few hours.  Now with email on our smart phones, we take it everywhere.  What do you check the most among your email and social networks?

Still cost-effective.  Outbound email is not totally free, but the small costs make this a very effective medium to spread your marketing message.  You can also deliver fairly long style messages along with pictures and other media.

It can be targeted and tracked.  Some of the social media tools we have today are great at spreading our gospel, not good at telling you who read it.  Or who will read the next one. Email does not have these  problems; well-developed techniques and tools make it easy to track exactly who is opening and reading your emails.

We can expect email to continue to thrive and for different sectors to grow faster than others.  Experian’s study confirms that email continues to thrive, even if it’s not getting the headlines that social media gets.

Do you still use email in your marketing mix?  Do you use it more or less than before?

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn:

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7 Tips for Successful Webinars

Webinars have been a mainstay of content marketing for a long time now.  Technologies have improved but sometimes we forget just how to run a good webinar.  In a busy, deadline-driven marketing department, the finer points of putting a webinar on can sometimes get lost.  Here is a checklist to help you make sure your next webinar provides useful information to your audience and is a marketing success .


  1. Start on time, every time.  It seems to me this should be obvious, but it fails to happen much of the time.  Also, you should be ready for people who like to sign on early. Post a slide ahead of the start time that has your branding and says “Our Webinar Will Begin in 5 Minutes.”  Then count it down, 4 minutes, 3 minutes, etc.  Your audience has taken time out of their busy day to spend with you; respect that by starting on time.
  2. Don’t just read the slides.  Make sure the presenter does more than just read the slides.  Since it is all the webinar attendee has to look at, they will read what’s there quickly and the presenter needs to augment the slide content.
  3. Make the slides visually interesting.  Slides that work well for a face-to-face presentation might not cut it in a webinar.  Once again, in a webinar the audience has no presenter to look at, only the slides.  Add color, pictures, graphics, or clip art to enhance your points and make the slides more pleasant to look at.
  4. Keep it short.  If you study a webinar’s sign on-sign off log carefully, you’ll often find people start to fall off after a while.  Design your webinar content to show the agenda, present the key points quickly and succinctly, provide a quick review and then go to questions.  Planning for 30 minutes of presentation and 10-15 minutes of questions seems to be a good rule of thumb. Don’t try to pack too much in.  If you go too long, it’s unlikely the audience will be with you at the end.
  5. Make sure there are some questions.  Nearly all webinar tools allow for the audience members to ask questions, usually via a text system.  Encourage your audience to ask questions during the webinar and address them at the the end.  You should have a few questions already prepared, in case you don’t get enough questions or the ones asked are not of broad interest.
  6. End the webinar well.  I have seen webinars end suddenly, or reveal the presenter’s desktop as they dropped out of PowerPoint.  This type of bad ending looks unprofessional and detracts from the entire event.  Make sure you have “Thank You” slides at the end of the presentation, with contact info and links to learn more on them.  Leave them up for several minutes after the end or until all attendees have logged off.
  7. Record your webinars and make them available on your website.  If you choose a conference tool that allows recording and posting of the webinar, you’ll be able to repurpose that content and make it available to those who could not make the live presentation.  You can also choose to gate the content, requiring registration before viewing to add additional contacts to your database.  You can even promote the recorded webinars on social media.

Webinars are a powerful tool to help reach your content marketing goals.  There is a segment of your target market that prefers this format to others because of the personal touch of hearing the presenter in real time and the chance to get questions answered.  Make them a regular part of your outbound marketing.  Follow these easy tips and you’ll be successful with them.

How have webinars worked for your marketing?  Have you had special guests or well-known analysts involved?

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn:

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Content is King in Today’s Marketing: 3 Easy Steps to Hail The King!

In the stone ages of marketing, savvy and educated consumer marketing professionals cranked out slogans, taglines and clever plays on words, then made them come to life on paper, radio and television and distributed them ad nauseam.  Their B2B counterparts crafted copy that detailed benefits and advantages galore, as if the potential buyer had no choice and would suffer great disappointment if their product was not purchased.  Very little of this content educated or excited the purchaser, but marketing departments produced it by the truckload.


That world is gone.  Forever.  It didn’t even say goodbye. Today’s potential purchaser has mass quantities of information available and is not so easily fooled by clever but meaningless dribble.  Moreover, given today’s social media focused, smartphone engaged, constantly connected world, the consumer holds the power to accept or reject the content. They can unsubscribe your email list, unlike you on Facebook and stop following your Tweets.  With no consequence, no guilt and no warning.  The buyer had no such choice in the stone age of marketing.  But today’s buyers have these abilities and aren’t afraid to use them.

How then does the marketer avoid being “unliked?” The answer is quite simple. You have to say something that the buyer wanted to hear.  Something that they find interesting, that makes them think. Content that educates them, that is straightforward, honest and fair.  Content that is not blatant chest puffing or insulting to your competitors.

Now, just avoiding being “unfollowed” is not nearly enough.  Necessary, but not sufficient.  You must be noticed in an increasingly crowded space, where content is mixed between personal interests and the business-related.  Content falls victim to that constantly.  Most of us do not have time to read every tweet or Facebook posting.  Often only those that “jump out at us” get read.

How then to avoid these pitfalls?  I’ll suggest these three rules for pitfall avoidance:

  1. Know your audience.  Be up to date on the issues your customer is focused on.  Ask your audience for feedback on a regular basis.  Find out what their concerns are and help them solve those problems through your content, even if it’s not directly related to your product.
  2. Start with a content plan. Create educational content, not “in your face” marketing.  Respect the customer’s intelligence.  Deal with them in a straightforward manner.
  3. Be consistent.  Let the audience get to know you.  You’re in it for the long term.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

You can easily find examples of both good and bad content every day.  Look in your email and your Twitter feed.  Some get it; some don’t. Observe, learn and make your content the best it can be!

Do you have a content plan?  How would you rate your own content?

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn:

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Is B2B Direct Mail Dead?

Corporate mail rooms were once teeming with marketing messages.  Glossy postcards, carefully-designed envelopes and catalogs filled the corporate inbox.  Industry publications, including large scale formats, proudly promoted the new and exciting.


Then direct mail in B2B fell out of favor.  The obvious cost advantages of email, websites and social media have cannibalized what was once a powerhouse communication channel.  Social media has viral and two-way advantages.  Direct mail pales in comparison in flexibility, utility and functionality.  RIP direct mail, right?

Not so fast.  B2B marketers from many industries are seeing success with direct mail.  Sometimes a successful campaign gains power from integration with online and email marketing, sharing imagery and message to maximize the “frequency” part of the marketing equation.  Other times an impressive, 3D piece can deliver the message and get it noticed like no other medium.

Some products or situations lend themselves to print.  High quality photography printed on glossy stock gives a much different impression than a website.  Direct mail also has one component that no online media can match: feel.  Holding a quality printed piece in your hands delivers a visceral impression of excellence before a word is read.

Couple that with overstuffed email boxes, crowded social media channels that have become increasingly harder to have your message heard and direct mail makes sense again.

Now this isn’t to say that all you need to do is design and mail a great piece and the world beats a path to your door.

A few years ago, I received a fairly large box at my office.  It was a piece from a marketing agency that featured a real, red boxing glove (just the right one) with the agency’s branding expertly pasted over the “Everlast” branding.  To the right there was an impressive, bound capabilities document titled “Fighting it Out With Your Competition.”  The box was custom designed, including inserts, to hold these two items.

I was so impressed with the piece that it sat on a chair in my office for several weeks and I literally showed it to everyone who visited me.  I was impressed with the impact.  This was a piece that would not go unopened or ignored.  I assumed there would be a follow up and call and sure enough a couple days later the call came.  I enthusiastically told the account exec at the other end of the phone how much I liked the piece.  I started firing questions at him:  What was the delivered cost? ($35) How has the response been? (Fantastic)  Did you develop it yourselves? (Of course!)

A couple minutes into this I realized I had totally thrown the caller off his game and I was in control of the call.  I used that “power” to bring the conversation to a close without the caller ever even asking me for a meeting or whatever his goal was.  I ended it by thanking him and wishing him luck, then hanging up.  I don’t think he knew what hit him.  I got off the call and thought, wow, the most impressive direct mail piece bought them nothing because they fumbled the ball on follow up.  I never heard from them again!

The point?  Direct mail still works in B2B.  But we must still cover the basics, the fundamentals, the follow up.  As the volume of direct mail declines, the remaining pieces have less competition, at least in the physical inbox.

Give it a try.  Consider the advantages of direct mail for your product and execute.  You’ll be surprised.

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn:

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