News and opinion on business,
marketing and related technologies.

Join my Marketing Club to get these articles delivered to your inbox.

5 simple steps to your email marketing MOT

You already know the power of your email marketing. It sends a friendly prompt to encourage your audience to engage with your content. But with competition for eye time rising every year, it’s easy to lose valuable readers.

Here’s how to keep your emails and recipient lists in tip top condition…

1. Streamline

As a subscriber, one of my biggest pains is having to delete/spam/unsubscribe all the emails I receive from companies that I’m just not interested in. So, do your email recipients a favour and streamline your list first. Send it only to those who want to hear from you and remove those who don’t open or no longer engage with you. That way you won’t annoy anyone and your good reputation will remain intact.

Don’t make people puzzle over where you got their information – if they think you’ve got it through dubious means (buying email addresses) then they’ll dump you in spam. Ensure the consent of your subscribers, and include details in your email content. This is particularly important with GDPR coming into force next year.

Unfortunately, no matter how good your content is you won’t please everyone. If your open rate is falling it may mean that unsubscribes (and worse, spam complaints) will follow. If more people keep unsubscribing, try to identify the cause. Keep doing what works, stop doing what doesn’t.

Take notice of what people are telling you by not opening your emails. If they’re not already opening them, they’re not likely to start any time soon. Remove them from the list and your open rates will increase.

Don’t be a victim of the email recipients’ kiss-of-death: move to junk. Great newsletters work because they are aimed at a specific group of people. Attempt to cater to all and you’ll miss your mark. Focus on the kind of people who make up your specific audience and deliver content that they will appreciate.

2. Personalise

Use that personalisation button to ensure the recipient feels that the email is for him or his business. Yes, of course he knows that you’re sending the same email to hundreds, possibly thousands of people, but nothing is likely to turn people off reading than receiving a “Dear Customer email. Also, personalise the “from” email address. People are more likely to engage if they know they can respond to a real person.

3. Avoid clickbait

There’s nothing more frustrating that clicking on a subject line that turns out to promise more than it delivers. Manage readers’ expectations by providing good quality content that is truthful to the subject line. Otherwise your click-through rates will suffer and you’ll start getting unsubscribes, or your email sent to spam.

4. Have purpose

Do you want to tell people about an upcoming event? Are you offering exclusive content in exchange for more information about their organisation? or are you offering a promo code for a purchase on your website. Ensure you have a clear and concise goal for your email and make sure it’s clearly laid out. Give calls-to-action and plenty of links, so recipients have multiple avenues to engage with you.

5. Build trust

As I’ve mentioned above, it’s important your recipients actively show that they want to receive news from you. This means that when they receive your email they’ll instantly recognise you. The DMA’s Consumer Email Tracker 2017 report showed that almost half (49%) of recipients need to recognise the brand before opening their marketing emails.

People are put off by gimmicks but a carefully crafted email, with well-written text and energising images, is vital if you want to create trust in your recipients. It’s trust that you’ll deliver good quality content that will get your recipients buying your goods and services, and sharing your message.

Don’t know where to start? Look at newsletters that you love to receive, why do you love it? What are they doing to incite your engagement with it? Do your readers say, “Wow, I love reading this.”

Unless you’re producing quality content, every single time, then you could just be a nuisance to your recipients who’ll dump your email straight into ‘Trash’.

It’s getting more competitive just getting your subscriber’s eye but don’t be discouraged. Email is still the mainstay of digital marketing. Put more effort into giving your subscribers good quality content that they’re pleased to receive, and they’ll reward you by opening and sharing your message.

Did you find this interesting? If you’d like more articles like this subscribe to our monthly newsletter in the box below.

Image credit – 1972 Chevy Chevelle by Holmes Palacios Jr.

Interview: GDPR with Rebecca Hardy and Jeremy Aldous-Fountain

A brilliant interview with Rebecca Hardy, practice director at Kidwells Law, and Jeremy Aldous-Fountain, GDPR Practitioner for HEXAD Information Security Services joining Ben before their excellent workshop on the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to help him navigate its muddy waters.

If you would like to find out more about GDPR and what your business needs to do to prepare, get in touch on Twitter @KidwellsLaw or visit kidwellssolicitors.co.uk.

Photo Credit: Blogtrepreneur, Data Security Breach

Boiling down to the essentials in GDPR – Our first step in navigating this new regulation

There has been an awful lot of hype about the new GDPR regulations that are coming into play in May 2018 and I for one have been trying to get my head around it.

The GDPR, also known as the General Data Protection Regulations are changing and in a lot of ways are changing for the better. It is giving us, as an individual more rights to know what data is being held on us and to have the right to be forgotten. It is finally giving consequences for companies that sell and spread our data without our consent. We might finally even be able to get off that cold call list!

However, as a business, it provides a little bit more of a headache as like anything in life it is easy to pick up a trail of computerised and archive debris which we need to ensure we have permission for, regularly review and endeavour to archive safely and securely.

This is no easy task but a lot of people are suggesting that we see this as opportunity. An opportunity, to dust off the files and reconnect with previous clients, to evaluate all the information we hold and review what is actually necessary. Or are we simply just clogging up our disc space.

I was asked to try and get us ahead of the curve to ensure by early 2018 we are in a strong position to deal with this. It won’t be long before our clients will soon be asking us what we are doing and what data we hold but with every new venture, there is not always a clear path.

The first step I took was to get in touch with the governing body, the ICO who regulate this law and have released some guidelines, a 12 step plan to be precise to help companies navigate the changes.

1. Awareness

The simplest one of all. If you are aware this is happening from the 25th May 2018 then you are currently ahead of a lot of people.
More laws are coming into place to protect our personal data which boils down to any data that can identify an individual, directly or indirectly. So this would include their name, personal email, personal number, personal address, image amongst other information.

2. Information

Within your own organisation you need to start reviewing what personal data information you hold. The new GDPR regulations dictate that these records need to be maintained and regularly updated to ensure they are current and accurate. If you have shared these details with a third party it is your responsibility to inform them so all data can be updated.

3. Communicating

The key ingredient to everything we do – you need to start communicating internally with your employees how to handle data correctly and start communicating externally how you deal with data within your company. Review your current privacy notice and check if you cover how, why and where you store your data, how long you intend to hold it, guide customers on their right to be forgotten and their right to complain to ICO if they feel there is a problem with the way you are handling their data.

4. Individual Rights

Check your procedures to ensure you cover all the rights individuals now have, including how you would delete personal data or provide data electronically and in a commonly used format.

The GDPR includes the following rights:

  • the right to be informed;
  • the right of access;
  • the right to rectification;
  • the right to erasure;
  • the right to restrict processing;
  • the right to data portability;
  • the right to object; and
  • the right not to be subject to automated decision-making including profiling.

Some good questions to ask yourself – if someone asked for the information to be deleted is: Would your current systems help you to locate and delete the data? Who in your organisation will make the decisions about deletion?

5. Subject Access Request

Beware that customers now have the right to see what data you hold on them and you will no longer be able to charge for this service but to simply respond within 30days with the information requested in a concise, easy to understand language. So you may need to think about how this information could be contained and easily managed to allow you to do this.

In exceptional circumstances, you can refuse to do so if the requests are manifestly unfounded or excessive. However, this must still be done with the 30days and you must explain to the individual why you have taken this decision and that they have a right to complain to the ICO. I would also recommend liaising with the ICO before you take this step to ensure your reasons are supported.

6. Lawful basis for processing personal data

(I am still to wrap my head around this one) The ICO advises that you should identify the lawful basis for your processing activity in the GDPR, document it and update your privacy notice to explain it.

7. Consent

Gather consent, this one sounds easy but imagine in the next few months when everyone will be reaching out to everyone and once the novelty wears off won’t our customers become numb to even the most cleverly spun consent letter? Will we end up having to delete client data as they are simply fed up of having to tick boxes and respond with their consent?

8. Children

For the first time, the GDPR will bring in special protection for children’s personal data, particularly in the context of commercial internet services such as social networking. Minimum age of consent is currently 16 years old although I heard this was being moved to 13 years.

9. Data Breaches

Make sure you have the right procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach. From May 2018 you will have 72hours to notify the ICO if you have had a breach which could result in discrimination, damage to reputation, financial loss, loss of confidentiality or any other significant economic or social disadvantage to a client. The ICO will then advise you on whether you will also need to notify the client. Failure to report a breach when required to do so could result in a fine which can be up to 4% of your annual turnover as well as a fine for the breach itself.

10. Data Protection by Design and Data Protection Impact Assessments

I am yet to get to this stage on the list but the ICO recommends that it is a good idea to carry out a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) as part of this.

11. Data Protection Officers

Designate someone to take responsibility for data protection compliance and assess where this role will sit within your organisation’s structure and governance arrangements.

12. International

This one is not really applicable to us (yet) but if your organisation operates in more than one EU member state, you should determine your lead data protection supervisory authority and document this.

 

When faced with the above it can feel a little overwhelming particularly when you look at the client list and see how much data you need to account for. So, I attended Kidwells Solicitors Free GDPR Seminar to help me understand some of the grey areas without all the heavy jargon. You can hear what I learnt in the workshop on our episode 19 of our podcast or  listen to an interview with Rebecca and Jeremy, the workshop hosts.

The main thing I took away is that you must make your policy relevant to you and your company. There is no official stamp yet on whether you are GDPR compliant, this will only come to be tested when you get a breach. It is not a case of if, it is a matter of when. Make sure you are making the relevant steps above and are only keeping what is necessary. If in doubt you can always contact the ICO on their helpline who offer free advice and policy reviews.

As you can see our GDPR journey has only just started and each of us will be taking a slightly different path to ensure we are compliant for May next year.

Image credit: Data Thief – Hacker – Cyber Criminal by Blue Coat Photos

Something Inventive 19: Minimum Lovable Podcast

Ben and Al are joined by new Rather Inventive employee Clare Harris, to discuss cybercrime, driverless cars, flexible working hours, fake news and the Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


Episode sponsored by Ticked Off Marketing Checklist

Simple marketing tasks to act on right away. Each task includes examples, downloads or the steps needed to complete it, plus a big button to tick it off when you’re done. Sign up for a free 30 day trial at ticked-off.com with just your name and email and no credit card plus If you are Something Inventive listener let us know you’ve signed up by mentioning @ratherinventive on Twitter you’ll get a year free, that’s 360 days of Ticked Off for no cost.

Show notes

The Hosts

Al Osmond (@inventiveal) – An unusual mix of logical thinker with a creative eye
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social Media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Be part of the show

Tweet a service or product you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes

Thanks for listening!


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Photo: Blue Coat Photos, Data Security – Cyber Crime – Hacking

Word-of-mouth marketing – let your work be your message

I walk into my usual hairdressers. They make me feel welcome by greeting me warmly and offering me a coffee. They behave as though they want me to be there, and are pleased to be cutting my hair.  Most importantly they do a really good cut.

In return for the exceptional service I receive, I will tell anyone looking for a hairdresser about my favourite salon. I sing their praises, evangelizing about the quality of the cut and the excellent customer service.

This hairdressing salon is a little different to other businesses because it doesn’t advertise, it doesn’t have a Facebook page, and it doesn’t have a Twitter following – it doesn’t need it. This may be considered a little outdated these days, after all as a business you want to be building your clientele, but by focusing too much on followings, likes and shares you’re taking away focus on your service or product. My hairdressers don’t need to think about social media because they get enough business through word-of-mouth.

Focus on connecting, not just collecting

You probably spend an inordinate amount of your time trying to reach out to people. And to some degree, you’ll measure your success by counting the number of e-newsletters opened, or views of your products on your website pages. And, although your ‘reach’ is important what is more vital is that you give your customers what they need – a good experience in working with you.

Be good at what you do and care about your customer’s experience and you won’t need to spend so much time promoting yourself by other means. Create customer experiences worthy of being passed from person-to-person and people will flock to you.

Word-of-mouth is still the original and most powerful way to influence business results. The quality of your work and your customer service will be all the advertising you need because this form of marketing is what your consumers trust above all others.

But what if word-of-mouth recommendations are not forthcoming?

Asking for feedback reminds people about your business and gets them to think about your company or product. The ‘How would you describe us to a friend?’ question forces them to think about, and create a concrete opinion to you. If people form an opinion of you then they are more likely to share that opinion with others.

Advertising or promoting yourself on social media is not fundamental for success. If you’re adverse to Twitter or Facebook (or any other social media platforms), or you simply don’t have the time or inclination, then don’t bother with a half-hearted attempt. Instead create a wonderful experience for your existing business clients. Create happy customers, and they will send many new ones in your direction.

Image credit: Midnight Believer, Whisper

Something Inventive 18: A festival of logos

Listen on Apple Podcasts app Listen on Apple Podcasts app Listen on Sticher Listen on TuneIn

Subscribe on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Android or search ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


Ben shares the experience of his first podcast interview and joined by Al they talk about logos and how people remember them plus they dive into the new Apple Safari feature ‘Intelligent Tracking Prevention’.

The sponsor for this episode is the Ticked Off Marketing Checklist. It empowers you with marketing resources, advice and guidelines in a simple, step by step process – And it’s free.

(more…)

Video case studies – the social proof is in the pudding

Do you look at reviews before you buy a product? Have you ever got into a long line outside a club or restaurant because you thought it must be good? This is social proof at play –  and you can use it to your advantage.

There’ll be many reasons your prospects want to buy from you – good product, service or price. But ultimately what convinces them to make the final decision is the reassurance that you are reliable and trustworthy. And there is no better reassurance than a peer-to-peer recommendation.

Case studies can demonstrate more effectively than anything else how your product or service can help prospects achieve their goals. Having someone impartial tell their story about your business and how it has helped them, will have so much more influence on a prospect’s decision to buy, than your words alone ever could.

Social Proof is the reason why funny cat videos go viral, why we check out reviews of products before we buy something online, and why we ‘like’ on Facebook, ‘Tweet’ on Twitter and ‘pin’ on Pinterest. Social proof is the reason for the ‘first follower’ – the reason why, once one person does something or follows something, others will follow suit because it feels like a safe choice. We trust other individuals like us and are influenced by them, and we will adapt their behavior according to what other people are doing.

‘User’ social proof is just one of many different types of social proof (including Expert, Celebrity, User, Wisdom of the Crowd and Wisdom of friends, all of which rely on others to influence us to take action). User social proof is particularly beneficial for your business because it is offering positive feedback from actual users of your products.

BUT there is an even more convincing type of social proof. This is where your ‘user’ is telling his story using video. Through the medium of film, your customer is actually engaging directly with the viewer, bringing their story to life with real emotion and enthusiasm, and making their experience so much more real. This has the effect of building trust in your business and authenticity in your brand because video adds gravitas and authenticity to the story being told. 

And the demand for video is increasing. Research has shown that 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers? and 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI?

Social proof is a very powerful psychological motivator that businesses can utilise in order to influence potentials. But the business that uses video to capture its customers experience, where they can demonstrate their authenticity and leave viewers in no doubt as to the quality of the product or service they are endorsing, is a very savvy one indeed.

This case study video shows Communion Architects revealing how Rather Inventive has helped them. 

With video case studies, you don’t need to blow your own horn, your happy customers will do it for you, on film. How’s that for an endorsement!

Image Credit: Karunakar Rayker, Life On The Wire

Something Inventive 17: Al In His LEM

Donal McPartland joins Ben and Al to talk about why studied an MBA, diversifying his business and editing our podcast. We also discuss how we make our podcast at great length.

Finally, Al is now settled into his garden office or Lunar Excursion Module as he describes it and is almost ready to ditch his power and internet umbilical.

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 on or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

 

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


Episode sponsored by Be Sociable

Easy-to-follow social media tips and strategy to get noticed by the right people for the right reasons. Available for iPhone, iPad and Mac for £9.99. Or get it free by subscribing to our email newsletter at the bottom of this web page.

Show notes

Al's cabin exterior

Al’s new cabin AKA ‘The LEM’

Al's cabin interior

Interior of Al’s cabin

Al's cabin interior with purple light strip

Prepare for launch!

The Hosts

Al Osmond (@inventiveal) – An unusual mix of logical thinker with a creative eye
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social Media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Promote your service for the price of a tweet

If you’d like the opportunity to have an advert for your product or service read out on our podcast, for FREE! Simply tweet what you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes. Here’s an example:

‘Sick of writing boring blog posts? Try Wordbirdy.com #podvert @RatherInventive’

First come, first served. So get your tweets in early.


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Photo: Al’s office, by Al Osmond

Being human – the vital factor in marketing

Every interaction you have with potential or existing clients is an opportunity to market your business. So, do you think they would want to deal with a cold bloodsucker or a real human being?

In a world where we are all besieged with advertisements and sales pitches, marketing your business is no longer about getting as many eyes as possible on your ads, it is about using your qualification as a human being to speak directly to clients, to build relationships, and give them the means to identify with you and your business.

Trying to suck the money out of clients with out-of-date marketing concepts that appeal to no one in particular is a loser’s game. But showing your human side by building relationships, whether as an individual or as the representative of a business, will get people on your side.

When it comes to fulfilling business or personal needs, consumers have a world of choice.  And too much choice become baffling. The only thing they have to rely on is their contacts, and they’re going to trust the ones who take the time and energy to help them make the right decision. Building authentic relationships with people is what fosters trust in you and loyalty to your brand. It is trust that drives people to purchase from you.

Doing it the right way ultimately comes down to showing your human side, and appealing to theirs. Talking directly to people about their needs, writing blog posts that speak to people and gets to the heart of their problem, creating ad and email campaigns that clients can relate to – this is all relationship building.

To err is human

Of course, being human, you WILL make mistakes. Mistakes are a natural part of life. The important thing is to demonstrate that you can rectify those mistakes because in doing so you will not only demonstrate your conscientious-ness, but also your ability to deal with problems effectively.

To deny problems exist by sweeping them under the carpet or respond ineffectually, shows clients that you have the problem-solving abilities and emotional intelligence of a frog – this is not conducive to good business relationships.

Your customers will know when you’re being up front or when you’re stretching the truth. Give them a hint that you’re not being honest and you’ll lose them. Instead, admit to your mistake, explaining how you’ll handle it and what steps are being taken to prevent the same from occurring in the future, and they’ll appreciate and admire you more for it.

Expecting faultlessness from yourself or your employees is not realistic. There is a fine line between striving for excellence and unhelpful perfectionism, which does nothing but lead to an unhealthy workplace. It can impact on the mental and physical health of you and your employees, which filters out to the clients. A healthy level of quality control, as opposed to control freakery, creates beneficial relationships between employees and clients. In fact, research shows that the more human and connected a workplace feels, the healthier and more productive people are.

Show you care

For some reason being ‘professional’ seems to be synonymous with a lack of emotion. But pretending we are not human does not make us better at business, and sterile interactions are not the way to come across as a human being. You can be professional AND reveal your true personality, the human in you, even within a larger business, as long as you’re adhering to its core brand identity.

These days, being busy and stressed is often worn as a badge of honour. And for some people, to be seen as the type of person who considers work to be the centre of their universe is the ideal. It is almost as though their endeavours at work have to displace their human relationships or be cold and detached from the realities of being human, in order to be good at their job – this isn’t true – Being ourselves and bringing all of the aspects of our lives to complement our work is what makes us truly human, and come across as such. So, feel free to go surfing at the weekend and tell your newest client all about it.

No matter what business you’re in, the human element is vital. To deny your humanity by failing to build healthy working relationships, or being cold and detached with no warmth and personality coming across in your interactions, creates an unfavourable impression and suggests that there is something about your business that is not quite as it should be. In which case, you may as well have fangs, and blood dripping down your chin, because customers will run a mile.

Image sourced from http://sexyaidanturner.tumblr.com/

Interview: Louise Jenner – The Dream Job Coach

Ben interviews the lovely Louise Jenner. She’s enthusiastic about using online marketing tools and has lots of great advice to help develop a business that doesn’t run you. She says “if you’re not in your dream job, you’re in someone else’s”… so true.

Find Louise on Twitter @LouiseJenner1 or visit louisejenner.com/ebook/ and signup for her free book “Your Dream Job. How to find it and get hired to do it!”

Photo Credit: Louise Jenner

Join my Marketing Club to get these articles delivered to your inbox.