Mack Collier is a social media strategist and popular public speaker. He works with all sizes of companies helping them leverage social media for marketing. His website, MackCollier.com is a popular spot for social media insight. You’ve probably read some of Mack’s posts at sites such as Marketing Profs.
While on the subject of Marketing Profs, have you checked out our own Maciej Ossowski’s great post there yet? The Email Marketer’s Success Kit: Five Trends for 2012
I recently had the opportunity to ask Mack a few questions about email marketing and his answers provide some great insight for marketers!
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing email marketers in 2012?
I think they are facing the same challenges that all marketers are facing: How can my message reach my intended audience without being seen as an “interruption”, or worse, ‘spam’. In general, I think people will listen to a ‘sales pitch’ if they are getting something of value as well. Or better yet, position the product/service itself as being of value.
For example: I probably get 3-5 emails a week from Marketing Profs. Everyone is promoting a webinar they are offering, or asking me to subscribe to their premium membership. But those emails always talk about the benefits I will get from their products. It’s never “Pay only $99 for next week’s webinar with Twitter Expert on How Your Business Can Better Use Twitter!”, they always position as “Want to Learn How You Can Increase Sales and Improve Customer Satisfaction By Leveraging Twitter? Next week we’ll show you how 6 big brands are doing just that, all for only $99!”. Or whatever price.
And additionally, they are constantly sending out links to great articles they and other people have written. In other words, they are “asking for the order”, but at the same time, they are also providing valuable content. I think it makes their email marketing efforts far more effective.
In your opinion, how do smartphones alter email and online marketing in general?
Because it forces us to understand how and why our customers are using them. Same as above, it forces marketers to focus on providing relevant information that’s also valuable to customers, not an intrusion.
This is why technologies like geofencing, where customers can receive a text from a store when they are in close proximity to it, are interesting. Or QR codes in stores.
It’s all about creating and distributing relevant and valuable content when the customer WANTS it.
You’ve blogged about using content buckets instead of the more formal editorial calendar, can you give us a quick overview of them?
I refer to them as Topic Buckets, and it’s a simple way to get more organization around your blog content, and write more blog posts. Just break your blog down into 3-5 main topics that you want to cover.
For example, if you want to write a marketing blog, maybe your 3 main topics could be Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Point-Of-Sale Marketing. This way, if you write one post a week related to each of these topics, bang, you’ve got 3 new blog posts a week!
And you can also dig in and set up Google Alerts to let you know whenever a new article or news story comes out about any of these topics. So when eMarketer publishes a new study on the effectiveness of email marketing in reaching millenials, you can catch it with your Google Alerts in minutes, and then use it to write a blog post!
What one tip would you have for people using email marketing and content marketing?
Make sure that whatever content you create is as valuable as possible for your target audience.
How did we connect? Over the post I wrote on Topic Buckets and helping bloggers understand basic SEO, right? Notice there was no direct call-to-action for hiring me, or buying my services (and sometimes you SHOULD include those, but I didn’t in that post). But the post WAS valuable to you and many others. I know, because I can see the RTs and comments and referral traffic coming in. So that valuable content helps establish my blogging expertise, and builds awareness for who I am and what I do.
So the key is, this valuable content will indirectly lead to business for me. This is what is so hard for many online marketers to understand today, especially when it comes to creating and distributing content via social media channels. Often, it’s not about using the content to push a sales message, it’s about creating content that has value for the people you are trying to connect with. THAT will indirectly lead to sales for you.
What’s the most important thing to keep in mind for your company blog?
I’m not sure if it’s the most important thing, but probably the most misunderstood area of blogging for most companies is negative comments. Companies are scared to DEATH of seeing customers leaving negative comments and reviews about them online.
There was a study done earlier this year that found that if a company responds to a negative customer review online, 33% of the time the customer then went back and posted a positive company review, and 34% of the time the customer DELETED the original negative review!
This speaks to one of the great powers of blogging for a company:
Participating in an online conversation CHANGES that conversation!
If a customer leaves a negative comment about your brand, if your brand responds and honestly attempts to help the customer solve their problem, it WILL reflect positively on your brand. Often, as the above study proves, the customer will change their stance and possibly even advocate on your brand’s behalf.
The absolute worst thing a brand can do is let a negative comment go without a response. Respond, identify that you work for the brand, let the customer know you understand their issue, tell them what you will do to help resolve it, and encourage them and others to contact you. Doing this consistently will quickly convert angry customers into passionate advocates for your brand!