1800PetMeds email marketing and your pooch

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It’s been tough to find time to write this past week with the kids school ending, kids activities, and home projects. I did come across an email from 1-800-Pet-Meds in my inbox. The email was a marketing promotion to reorder heart worm pills for my dog. They knew it was time for me to reorder because I had ordered a 6 month supply from them 6 months ago.  We typically use this e-Retailer because they offer the same medicine as our veterinarian but at substantially lower prices.

Now, what was nice about this email was that it was composed in the form of the site shopping cart. The heart worm pills order was already in the cart. All I had to do was click to jump to their site and then click again to order with my profile information. 2 clicks and my order was complete. Fast, easy, and timely. Nice marketing job guys!

I believe this form of email marketing works well for a couple of reasons:

  1. It came from a merchant that I’ve used in the past (Trust)
  2. It offered a product that I’ve ordered in the past (Relevance)
  3. It came at a time when I would probably need to order this product (Timeliness)
  4. It offered a path to complete a transaction in two clicks (Efficient and Simple)

This type of email is an effective way to earn customer retention as repeat business.  I believe it creates customer loyalty as it focuses on the need of the customer based on some simple analysis of past behaviors.

What loyalty marketing programs advertise to you? Do you appreciate targeted marketing emails like this?

An alternate view: The end of blogging

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blog-bloggingI read a post today by Andrew Serwer titled The end of blogging. While I agree with the premise that the manner in which we communicate is rapidly changing, I disagree that blogging is dead. I too use both Facebook and Twitter as a communication vehicle with family, friends, and those interested in my thoughts and writings. However, I see distinct usages and styles forming that differentiate the use of Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.

In my experience, Facebook is used as  mostly social medium for personal messages. My friends are posting updates on everyday life. Facebook provides an easy tool for those who don’t want to write fully versed and thought-out blog entries. Instead they can type short simple status updates about themselves, their families, or their interests. It’s quick, easy, and doesn’t require alot of  mental wrangling on a topic. For those that do keep blogs, they have to decide if they want to filter their Facebook status updates from having links to the blog or other promotion type messages. The risk is that too much self promotion or other content push outside of a personal status could alienate them from acceptable behavior (Facebook etiquette) and they could be dropped as a Facebook friend (gasp!).

I see Twitter being used more for business and information-push type of messaging. There are a large amount of personal status updates on Twitter, but short messaging has really taken with business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) updates.  Just take a look at the number of businesses using Twitter for customer service relationship management or businesses using Twitter as a syndication vehicle to promote their content.

Twitter Business Examples:

Marriott

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Intuit

Starbucks

SouthWest Airlines

While Twitter is changing communications to short messages, bloggers are using Twitter to publish intros to their content along with a shortened link. Bloggers and businesses see Twitter as a vehicle to establish relationships which then leads to links to other types of communications such as blogs, video, audio, etc.

So is this the end of blogging? In my view, no!  These new communication devices simply provide another vehicle for bloggers to promote their content. Blogging gives people a forum for in-depth thought and focused discussion.

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Tweet overflow. Manage tweets and disable @replies

It’s official. I’ve reached the limit on my ability to process unfiltered tweets from those I’m following on Twitter. I’m coining a new term: Tweet Overflow. I did a search on this term among all tweets and only found four ocurrences of it in normal conversation. Programmers will appreciate a like reference to stack overflow for memory usage.  Tweet overflow is when the rate of incoming tweets exceeds your ability to read and process those tweets in a meaningful way. Unread tweets then become unheard noise.

As if by some strange coincidence ( I had this post in draft before finding out), Twitter announced yesterday they were modifying the default behaviors of @replies.  Now, they will assume that you don’t want to see all of the @replies from those you follow intended for those you don’t follow.  This is good for me, because its the setting that I tried to update yesterday in my profile only to discover it was missing. Now I know why.

While this will works for me, I wonder about taking this selection ability away from Twitter users. Some of us want that type of vision for research and discovery purposes. I expect to see alot of chatter about this in the blogosphere.

I had been using TwitterFox as my primary source of reading and writing tweets. Recently I installed TweetDeck and then started to customize it. TweetDeck is for the message junky and provides a good way to start segmenting messages into groups for easier reading. This however, doesn’t stop the shear volume of @messages or @replies that come in from those you are following. What a strange world we live in now. A twitter @message is like walking into a party or other public area and beginning to shout your message intended for one individual so that everyone can hear it. Think about that. If everyone started doing that, pretty soon you’d have chaos in the room and effective communication would be very difficult.

Up until yesterday, Twitter provided a way to manage the delivery of @replies to your message stream through a selection in your profile. It’ll be interesting to see how long that help page stays active.

How do you manage @replies?  Are you happy with this new release from Twitter where they assume your preference? Are you suffering from tweet overflow??

Internet Marketing, eCommerce Marketing, and the 4Ps

I had a thought this week that Internet Marketing and eCommerce Marketing should be two distinct positions in an organization. An Internet Marketer is concerned with how to get more people to the store while the eCommerce Marketer is concerned with how to get more people to buy once they are in the store.  But they can’t work independently from each other.  The Internet marketer’s tool set includes items such as brand name, product positioning, landing pages, and keywords. The eCommerce marketer must make sure that the store front and store merchandise use the same types of keyword strategies and that customers can both find products and navigate the site without distraction.

My boss challenged me to think about this topic in context of the 4Ps of marketing. I think these positions align nicely in that framework.

Internet Marketing

eCommerce Marketing

Product

Focus on product value proposition and what customer needs the product solves. Look at how the product/service is promoted on external Internet sites or in print advertisements. Use keyword strategies for search engine optimization.

Presentation of product on an eCommerce web site. Product photos, product description, product rules for purchase.

Price

Is the product adequately priced for the marketplace? Is price part of the value proposition shown to get potential customers to come to the store front?

Where is the product pricing shown on the site? How is the price presented to the customer? Are their additive fees for additional options or does the price quoted contain all parts of the product. Does the price that is quoted match the price that is billed?

Promotion

External advertising to generate interest. Promote product through tools such as email, social media, affiliate programs, and general Internet search.

How is the product presented in the eCommerce store? Are discounts available? Does it complement other products and services that you can offer the customer?

Place

Decide where advertisements are placed. Decide how to use social media to strengthen relationships and show product expertise. Decide strategy on how to channel customers to phone, Internet, or storefront.

Make sure store front is easy to navigate. Keep the sales funnel clear an free of errors. Create trust at your storefront by stating return policies and privacy policies.

How is your organization splitting these disciplines?

Innovation sourced from standard processes?

Innovation from the everyday
Innovation from the everyday

In a MBA class last year I took the following note during a lecture:

Drucker – creativity and innovation driven off standard process

This week I found that note in a review of some materials and thought it would be a good topic for further thought. Peter Drucker lists process need as one of seven sources of innovation in his book Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Drucker’s thought makes sense to me. From experience I know that standard processes tend to grow over time to:

  • Account for items previously not thought of or missed
  • Cover new regulations or contractual obligations
  • Add steps for quality assessment

Standard processes also tend to grow stagnant over time and often lose touch with other changing business forces. When this happens, people feel confined within the boundaries of the process. The worst case scenario is when a customer is confined by rules of a process and it does not meet their needs. See my open letter to cell phone providers for some good examples on standard processes not serving customers.

So when this happens. Innovation sets in because in general people want to help their customers.  Standard processes that block customer focus within an organization are prime candidates for innovative thought. The innovation can help by:

  • Reducing complexity – An example is when theme parks came up with a seasons pass offering. Instead of requiring their customers to pay for each visit, they came up with a process for a single transaction that gave the customer the ability to reduce their payments as well as get a volume discount.
  • Reduce cycle times – The Toyota Production System has received alot of attention based on its ability to reduce the cycle time create a new automobile.
  • Resolving items found in customer feedback – I’d like to think that AT&T rollover minutes came from customer feedback regarding purchasing minutes they did not use.

Do you agree with Drucker? Do we find new innovative ways of thinking while going the everday ho-hum?

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