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How Apple iOS 15 is Impacting Email Marketers [New Data]

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How Apple iOS 15 is Impacting Email Marketers [New Data]

Back in September 2021, the announcement of Apple’s iOS 15 data privacy changes triggered a mass hysteria among email marketers, with some even proclaiming that email marketing as we know it could come to an end. 

Considering that Apple Mail and Apple mobile devices make up over 35% of the global email provider market share, those fears didn’t seem too far-fetched.

But the question remains – were these fears well-founded or were they false alarms? 

Now that enough time has passed to see the impact of data privacy changes, I surveyed 300 email marketers to understand how iOS 15 and GDPR changes have affected their marketing strategies and the steps they took to adapt.

The Impact of Data Privacy Changes

Change can be scary for all of us, but when that change includes reduced visibility into email analytics, it’s no surprise that email marketers were shaking in their boots when iOS15 was announced.

Surprisingly, my survey shows that the changes, while definitely impactful, were not all bad.

While two-thirds of email marketers surveyed report a moderate-to-significant impact on their email marketing strategy, whether the impact was positive, neutral, or negative, is not as clear-cut as you might assume.

Screen Shot 2022-03-28 at 12.38.03 PMFor starters, 47% of email marketers say the impact of data privacy changes was neutral on their email marketing strategy. Admittedly, 29% said the changes had a negative impact, but 24% said the contrary, claiming data privacy changes had a positive impact on their marketing strategy.

How is this possible?

To answer this, let’s break down our survey data on the specific ways data privacy changes affected email marketers, and the strategies they took to adapt. 

This will help us understand how some marketers made the most out of the situation and came out on top, while others weren’t able to keep up.

How Are Data Privacy Changes Affecting Email Marketing Strategies?

In the survey, I found that 65% of email marketers say they’ve been impacted by both Apple’s iOS 15 updates and GDPR. 

I also asked them to share how their email marketing strategy has been affected by each, and interestingly enough, the results were very similar.

Email marketers in both camps were most impacted by the same factors, in the same order:

Screen Shot 2022-03-28 at 12.39.37 PMSo what can we take away from this?

For one, these changes have a similar impact whether you are affected by Apple iOS15, GDPR, or both. 

More importantly, data privacy changes clearly have a meaningful impact on certain functions that have been core to email marketers’ jobs. 

With location-based targeting, click-through rates, open rates, and A/B testing taking a hit, many email marketers have no choice but to adapt. So let’s explore how exactly they did that.

4 Ways Email Marketers Are Adapting to Data Privacy Changes

After the initial panic, email marketers began finding creative ways to reach their target audience and measure the impact of their marketing efforts. These are the most popular strategies they used:

Screen Shot 2022-03-28 at 12.40.44 PM

1. Prioritizing Different KPIs

At #1, 62% of impacted email marketers started prioritizing different KPIs to measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. 

To HubSpotters, this isn’t surprising. In fact, it’s one of the first strategies our own email team used when navigating the changes.

So let’s take a closer look at which KPIs became more and less important in a post-iOS15 and GDPR world.

The KPI hit the hardest by iOS 15 is email open rates. With the update, users can prevent email marketers from seeing when and if they opened a marketing email.

But don’t worry, this just means it’s time to turn to other KPIs like clicks, click-through rates, web traffic, click maps, unsubscribe rates, and audience surveys:

Clicks, Click Rate, and Clickthrough Rate

Ultimately, KPIs like clicks and click-through rates can tell you how engaging your content is. And, aside from those metrics, features like click maps, let you see exactly where people are clicking in your email, offering you a glimpse of what portions of your email are most (and least) engaging.

In a previous blog post, Jordan Pritikin, who leads HubSpot’s Email and Growth Marketing teams, similarly explained, “[Focusing on clicks, click rates, and conversions] is the right course of action. Looking at clicks and conversions is much more closely tied to how your database is engaging with your email programs,” 

Website Traffic and Leads

For email marketers, engagement isn’t their only goal. For example, while HubSpot’s acquisition team might send emails with goals of landing page conversion, our Blog team sends emails filled with blog posts to encourage traffic to our blog. 

That’s why website traffic and even conversions from your marketing emails can be tracked when sending through software like HubSpot. High email traffic indicates your email content is succeeding at getting recipients to visit your site. Meanwhile, high lead counts from emails indicate that you’ve successfully nurtured contacts to a landing page. 

Unsubscribe and Spam Rates 

Spiking unsubscribe rates can indicate that the content you are sending, or the frequency, has caused you to lose more of your audience than usual. On the other hand, a low unsubscribe rate means you are retaining your readers.

Similarly, getting one spam report here and there doesn’t necessarily mean everyone dislikes your content – but seeing a rise in spam rates could mean that subscribers suddenly see no value in your content, find it annoying, or aren’t getting what they signed up for. 

Open Rates (with a Grain of Salt)

As Pritikin wrote, “Open rates will not be going away. They will just be — different.” 

And, while you could say, “We will never look at open rates again,” you could still be doing yourself a disservice by ignoring them completely. At this point, you should continue to monitor your average open rate (and how it changes). This way, you can create a new Open Rate benchmark for your team that’s adjusted to meet new tracking standards. 

While an adjusted open rate benchmark won’t be 100% accurate, it will still tell you when you’ve successfully gotten a large chunk of subscribers to open an email, and when your subject line might need work. It can also be used as backup evidence if you’re using all of your KPIs to determine the success of a new strategy or email campaign. 

Surveys or Feedback Forms

Each time the HubSpot Blog tests a major email experiment or a new type of content in our emails, we try to include a feedback survey where readers can let us know what they thought. Meanwhile, The Hustle and other HubSpot emails offer a rating scale where you can rate your email experience and give feedback. 

While this doesn’t always lead to make-or-break data, surveying, polling, or seeking feedback from your audience can also be a great way to understand their interests and what they want to see more or less of in the future.

2. Gaining User Data From Other Sources

The second most popular strategy is leveraging user data from sources unaffected by data privacy changes, used by 52% of impacted email marketers.

An example of this would be analyzing email data coming from non-Apple users, which can still give you a clear idea of an email’s open rate, among other metrics.

3. Expanding on Messaging Channels

Coming in at #3, 37% of impacted email marketers started leveraging channels other than email marketing, like SMS.

Before you scoff at the idea, consider these facts. 3.8 billion people currently carry a cell phone with them everywhere they go and 48 million opted in to receive marketing messages over text in 2020. 

Still not convinced? Here’s the kicker – SMS has a 98% open rate, while our survey shows that only 3% of marketing emails have an open rate above 50%. Furthermore, 65% of marketing emails have an open rate that falls in the 16-35% range, significantly lower than the open rate of SMS correspondences.

If you’re ready to add SMS to your marketing strategy, you can find 30 SMS templates here

But there are plenty of channels marketers can lean on. In our recent media planning survey, we found that while email marketing is the most popular channel marketers leverage, it comes in #3 for ROI, and doesn’t see high engagement.

Paid social media content, however, has the highest ROI and engagement of any marketing channel, followed by organic social media content at #2 for both ROI and engagement. Organic search (SEO) also has comparable ROI and engagement levels when compared to email marketing.

which media channels have highest ROI

4. Improving Email Deliverability

Lastly, 28% of email marketers responded to privacy changes by focusing on improving email deliverability. 

That means leveraging strategies like maintaining a healthy email list, providing easy unsubscribe options, personalizing emails, using engaging subject lines and preview text, and making sure your emails and mailing list are GDPR compliant.

While this data on how email marketers adapted to privacy changes tells us which strategies are most popular, we also want to know which are most effective. 

The Email Strategy Pivots That Help Most

So let’s compare these strategies by splitting our data by those who say privacy changes had a positive impact on their email marketing strategy vs. those who report a negative impact:

Screen Shot 2022-03-28 at 12.41.42 PMLooking at the data above, we can see that those who say the data privacy changes had a positive impact on their email marketing strategy are:

  • 9% more likely to prioritize different KPIs to measure the effectiveness of email marketing
  • 7% more likely to leverage channels other than email for marketing
  • 21% less likely to focus on improving email deliverability
  • 5% less likely to leverage user data from sources unaffected by data privacy changes.

While the differences between these groups can give you an idea of where to get started, remember that these strategies can all be effective, and every situation is unique. 

For example, if a majority of your customers use Apple mail, it may not be as effective to study email data of the handful of your clients who use Gmail or Outlook. 

Navigating Email Privacy Impacts

All in all, email privacy protection is not even close to “the end of the world” for email marketers. That said, it does and will continue to require some creative pivoting. 

Like any major online marketing strategy, email marketers must learn how to adapt to a changing world that continues to prioritize consumer privacy. And, although privacy features will continue to evolve and pose new challenges for brands, companies that navigate them successfully will still be able to create experiences that feel personalized, memorable, and – importantly – secure for online audiences. 

Ultimately, that’s good for everyone.

Want to learn more about Apple iOS 15’s email privacy protection updates? Get the backstory here, learn how HubSpot’s email team has responded, or this Community thread if you’re a HubSpot user.

Looking to find a tool that offers transparent email data estimates and can help you optimize your messaging for the most engagement possible? Check out HubSpot’s own Email tools

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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