Some tips for doing email marketing with care

Emailing is maybe the most common channel used by digital marketers. However it has gained bad reputation during the last years and some marketer even sentenced it to death penalty.

We have to admit there are good reasons to agree with that.mail marketing

First of all people receive way too many emails with some kind of commercial message. Having a quick look at my mailbox today I can count 10 emails (without counting the spam box) I have deleted before opening.

This is making people a little bit annoyed and, as a consequence, less curious for messages in their mailbox.

From the professional side I can also understand the disillusionment. With an average open rate going around 20-25% and a click through rarely higher that 4% many marketers see their efforts resulting in few conversions.

So, should we consider email marketing dead?

I wouldn’t say so; I actually consider it as one of the best channel to communicate with customers. I think the problem rely more in the way we are doing email marketing.

I list here few advices that might help doing better, and hopefully more productive, email marketing.

Consider you are entering a private space, respect it.

Think about your email box, don’t you consider it part of your personal area? So everybody does.2

  1.     Avoid buying email database; people don’t like messages from companies they have no relation with. As a matter of truth indicators prove that campaign based on external databases perform poorly. In alternative you can launch a campaign with the aim of collecting email from people willing to know more about you.
  2.     Don’t overload your customer’s inbox with messages. I see companies sending advertising almost everyday. This brings people to click on ‘unsubscribe’ or label you as a spammer.
  3.     Don’t shoot your email if you are not really happy with it. Make sure the content brings value to the receiver.
  4.     Personalize it. If you have the opportunity to do it, segment your database in clusters of people sharing a common element and make a more personalized message for each cluster.
  5.     Don’t leave automatic messages to IT people. Manage every message your customers receive from you and take the chance to engage with them.

Give emailing a place in your strategy and make it a part of it.

5Make sure you have a strategy for emailing. Ask yourself:

  1.     What is the role of emailing in my strategy? Keeping your customer informed, showing your new offer, sending a promotion are all good options but choose one specific role. This will help you being more consistent in the communication with your customers.
  2.     How does it match with my other channels? Emailing is only one of the channels you will use in your strategy; it should be well integrated with your web page, your social media, your display and your offline actions. For example, a well-executed action on social media can help you collecting customer’s emails.
  3.     Emailing is not a must. There is no obligation to do it. If when building your strategy you don’t find a place for email marketing, simply don’t do it.

Think carefully about the frequency

  1.     If you set a specific frequency (let’s say 1 email per month) you should have a reason for it. What happen each month that moves you to send an email to your customers? The risk of setting a higherc7a01ea2f3436ce495c1abc81508d234 frequency than necessary is that you will have to make up content to fill the message resulting probably in a low value message.
  2.     Email vs newsletter. When talking about emailing many marketers think ‘newsletter’. For same kind of business setting up a newsletter make sense. For a theatre it makes lot of sense to send newsletter about their new plays. But, for others newsletter may not be a good idea, simply because they have no news to tell.  In alternative think in sending email when there is something important to tell like the launch of a new product or significant changes in your website.

There is still lot of opportunities for email marketing for those willing to do it with care.

¿Quién se quedará en el juego? Las grandes empresa en la era digital

1bfde9aDentro de 30 años pensaremos en las grandes empresas como hacemos hoy con los dinosaurios: poderoso, hambrientos, que dan un poco de miedo pero al fin y al cabo extinguidos.

Las grandes empresas crecieron en una época donde dominar los mercados significaba construir una red de distribución extensa, invertir mucho dinero en publicidad, abrir oficinas en todos los países e incorporar muchos empleados para manejar esta complejidad. Para sostener los costes, la única forma era beneficiarse de las economías de escala y construir grandes superficies para la fabricación.

La inversión necesaria para competir en este escenario representaba una importante barrera a la entrada de nuevos competidor. Era complicado para una pequeña empresa pensar en competir con una gran empresa.

Sin embargo la era digital está cambiando este escenario de forma tan drástica que lo que antes formaba la ventaja competitiva se está transformando en un impedimento.

La estructura que las grandes compañías han construido durante años ahora las hace demasiado lentas para estar al paso que internet está marcando. Esto abre la puerta a nuevos competidores que se benefician de una organización ligera y flexible.

Internet es el lugar en que las start-ups pueden competir con las grandes. En la era digital las ventajas de las grandes empresas se vaporizan.

Tomamos como ejemplo tres aspectos para analizar en práctica lo que está ocurriendo:

  1. La organización

Ser competitivo en la era digital requiere decisiones rápidas, cambios esbeltos y una 2alta capacidad de adaptación. El problema es que las grande empresas nos saben, y no pueden, hacer ninguna de estas cosas. La complejidad y la rigidez de las organizaciones que en el pasado eran necesarias para dirigir las compañías hoy es más bien un obstáculo. Podemos decir que las grandes compañías son demasiado grande para ser esbeltas.

Las más jóvenes, al contrario, son pequeñas y flexibles con una gran capacidad de tomar decisiones rápidas, equivocarse y ajustar el tiro.

  1. La distribución

Uno de los ejes estratégicos más importante de muchas grandes compañías ha sido la construcción de una extensa red de distribución capaz de alcanzar todos los clientes potenciales. De este forma se aseguraban también una ventaja competitiva sobre los competidores.

La diferencia es que hoy incluso una empresa de dos personas con una buena e-commerce puede vender en todo el mundo sin necesidad de tener presencia física en ningún país. La superación de la necesidad de la distribución física se evidencia sobre todo en el sector servicios, como los bancos. ¿Cuándo fue la última vez que has entrado en alguna oficina de tu banco?

  1. La publicidad

Una de las ventajas más impactantes de las grandes compañías era la capacidad de invertir grandes cantidades de dinero en publicidad. La inversión necesaria a ganar un respetable share of voice en los medios tradicionales era simplemente inalcanzable para las organizaciones más pequeñas.

Hoy internet ofrece herramientas y medios que permiten darse a conocer a todos. Si una start-up es lo bastante inteligente usando su propios medios y los medios ganados puede darse a conocer a un gran público con una pequeña inversión.

En este escenario surgen nuevas figuras profesionales como los Growth Hackers: profesionBig companies vs StartUpsales expertos en el uso de canales como redes sociales, fórums, plataformas vídeo y motores de búsqueda. Sus misión es atraer las máxima atención con la mínima inversión (o a veces sin inversión alguna).

Estamos viviendo hoy los primeros años de la era digital, estamos todavía en un limbo entre la vieja economía industrial y la nueva economía digital donde los cambio descritos arriba representan sólo el principio. Los que no estén listo para el cambio probablemente desaparecerán y aquellos que quieran tener un puesto en el nuevo mercado tendrán que considerar la posibilidad de hacerse más pequeños.

Me gusta imaginar la economía industrial como una lucha de sumo donde el luchador más gordo y más pesado es lo que suele ganar.  Pero la nueva economía digital la veo más bien como una carrera donde gana el más rápido y ágil. Pretender participar en la carrera como luchador de sumo tiene pocas probabilidades de quedarse en el juego.

Who will stay in the game? Big companies in the digital era

1bfde9aIn 30 years from now we will think at big companies the way we use to think at dinosaurs: powerful, hungry, a bit scary but eventually extinct.

Big companies raised in an age when dominating the market meant building a strong and extended distribution network, spending lot of money in advertising, opening offices in every country and hiring many people to manage this complexity. In order to sustain the costs the only way was to benefit from economy of scale and so building big manufacturing facilities.

The investment required to compete in this scenario represented the biggest barrier to the entrance of new competitors. There were no chances for a little player to compete with big companies.

Nevertheless the digital era is changing the picture in such a drastic way that what formed the competitive advantage before is now becoming a handicap.

The structure big companies built during years is now making them too slow for the pace the Internet is marking. This opens the way to new and young competitors that benefit of a light and flexible organization.

The Internet is the place where a startup can compete with a big and consolidated company. In the digital era all the advantages big companies build in the past suddenly vanish.

I would summarize it in 3 main points:

  1. Organization

Being competitive in the digital era requires quick decisions, quick changes and quick adaptation. The issue is that big companies are not quick. The complex and rigid organization that in the past wa3ac75cda934e4b79a50a9a959164c030s essential to manage the company today is an obstacle. Most of the time big companies are just too big to be quick.

By the contrary start-ups are little and flexible organizations able to take decisions quickly, make mistakes and adjust direction accordingly.

  1. Distribution Network

One of the strategic assets of the most successful companies was to build an extended distribution network able to reach every potential customer. Doing so ensured also a competitive advantage over competitors.

But today even a little company with a good e-commerce site can sell worldwide. There is no need of a physical presence on the territory. This is especially visible when we talk about service, banking for example. When is the last time you entered your bank branch?

  1. Advertising

One of the most impactful advantages of big companies was the difficulty to compete with their spending power in advertising. The amount of money required to gain a respectable share of voice on traditional media was simply unaffordable for smaller organizations.

Today the Internet offers tools and channels that ensure a quick word spreading. If a startup is smart enough using its owned and earned media it can reach a vast audience with a very little investment.Big companies vs StartUps

In this scenario new professional figures raises like Growth Hackers: people experts in managing the buzz on social media, forums, video platforms and search engines. Their mission is to get the attention of the audience with a minimum investment.

We are living today only the first years of the digital era, a sort of limbo between the old industrial economy and the new digital economy where the changes described above represent only the beginning. Those not ready for the change will probably disappear and those who wish to have a part in the future market will have to consider downsizing.

In my mind I picture the industrial economy like a sumo fight where the fattest and heaviest fighter is normally the winner. But the new digital economy is more like a race where winners are agile and fast. If you pretend to join the race as a sumo fighter there are little chances to stay in the game.

10 Steps to Build your Mobile App

Recently I have been participating to the creation of two mobile apps, one is already launched and the other is under construction. I have asked two of my colleagues and friends to help me writing this post by identifying the steps to design and build a mobile app. Special thanks to Denis Tomas and Pilar Suárez.

Please, notice that what described below does not pretend to be the only or the best way to build an app. People may do it in many different ways; here I simple share my experience.

1. Concept10 steps design app

Even before starting to talk about a mobile app, you want to understand what you want to do and why. Start from the problem you want to solve, think about the solution you can provide to solve that problem in the most efficient way. Don’t be surprised if during this process you realize a mobile app is not what you need, don’t get too stuck to the idea of having a mobile app.

If you believe a mobile app is what you need, ask yourself what is the role of the app in your strategy.

Now that you know very clear why you want an app, you can start to list what the app does: what are its functionalities? What users can do with it?

At this stage you can already have a first idea of the final product

2. Create a Product Requirement Document (PDR)

This document should be a kind of “whish list” where you outline all the functionalities you want without having to get too much into details.

You can design here all the sessions the app should contain: login page, registration area, home page ect… It is better to design your ideal app, do not limit yourself with constrains such as cost and IT development; you will face that later in the process.

It is important to understand which are the essential features. I would suggest to organize all the features in 3 blocks: Priority 1, Priority 2 and Priority 3.  This will help you understanding what is really important to have and what is less.

In Priority 1 put those features that make the heart of the app. You can also consider this as your Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Think at it as the basic product you would be happy to launch.

3. Test the idea and the concept with users

So far you did it all yourself (and your team) but you have no clue if what you have in your hands makes sense for the people that are supposed to use it.

Before moving into more details it is better to test what you have.

It is that simple like showing the concept to family and friends. And if you want to make it a little bit more sophisticated you can select a group of 20 people that match the profile of your future user and call them to attend a presentation of the app (prepare some coffee and cookies)

This kind of tests may help you answering many questions like: could this idea work? How catching is the design? Is the name easy to remember? Would people use this app? Can users see the benefit of it?

Answering those questions may force you to go back to step 1 and 2 and make some modifications.

4. Make the user stories

Now it is the moment to get deeper into details.

In this phase you have to play both the role of the user and the admin. From this prospective you will describe in details all the functionalities of the app.

From the user side, play as you are using the app doing everything you can do. Example: I want to log-in with my Facebook profile, I want to place an order from the app; I want to pay with a credit card…. and so on.

From the admin side, play as you already have the app working and list everything you want to see. Example: I want to have a list of all registered users; I want to get a list of the product purchased, I want to send messages to the users…and so on.

In this phase work together with your designer and developer as they can give you the technical solution for building the app. Normally at this stage the IT and budget constraints raises. Your developer may have to confess that the cost of some functionalities goes beyond your budget. You may have to put them apart or find a different solution.

5. Create the Wireframes (with the designer)

The wireframe show graphically how the app works. Starting from your homepage draw a line from each button to show what happen when we tap on it.

This is much easier to explain with an image like the one below:

wirefrime app

The final wireframe will be the structure of you app. It is recommended to make it very solid since beginning because changes on structure later in the process means higher costs, time and instability of the app.

10 steps desing app6. Design each app screen.

This is the moment the designer designs the screens just like they will appear in the final product: colours, shapes, style.

If you work for a big company, colours and design are normally well established but if you are starting your business (or other kind of activity) with this app take time to think about design. Colours and style are part of your brand identity. However, this is the simplest aspect to change and modify with time.

7. Development

Once all your design documents are ready, is time to work with the developers. It is very common today to apply an Agile methodology.

Normally developers show you a first demo (and more demos as work proceeds) that you have to validate, most probably you will have to highlight those things that need a correction.

Note: as you can see there are 6 steps before going into development. These because developers will do what you demand so your ideas must be very clear. Make sure you don’t have to go back and forward: developers’ time is precious and costly.

8. User Test

When you consider you have an acceptable demo to show, test it with potential users in order to see if they understand the app and are able to navigate through it without perplexities. If people tell you they don’t understand some part of the product you need to do some changes.

Assign priority to each change so you make sure you work first on the most relevant.

9. IT Test

Developers will test: how the app works, IT security, stability and others important parameters that you want to be OK before launching the app

10. Launch

Launching an app may require a specific post because you actually need a strategy for it.  On the technical side you can launch your app in different modes: teaser, beta, pilot, open. Which one is the better depends on your strategy.

An important part of the launch is to position your app in the most important app stores. The two most used are the App Store of Apple and Google Play for all devices running Android. Both companies will take between 2 or 3 weeks to validate your app.

Mind that each operating system will require a specific development, so at the beginning you have to decide if developing your first version for IOS only, for Android only or for both (or even for Microsoft).10 steps app design

Now that your app has been launched work isn’t finished, actually is just started. You will have to monitor its performances and decide to modify those aspects that are disappointing. A mobile application should be an active creature able to adapt to changes and users’ responses.

And remember: once the app is launched is no more your app; the owner now is the user.

Trabajar en flip-flops

En las últimas dos semanas he visitado mi familia política en Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Las islas Canarias ofrecen un clima ideal, con temperaturas mínimas de 15 grados y máximas de 32 y la posibilidad de ir a la playa los 12 meses de año. Las islas ofrecen una gran variedad de deportes al aire libre: surf, windsurf, buceo, parapente y muchos más. Además, en Canarias se encuentran muchos lugares interesante para visitar y descubrir.

las-canteras-beach-la-cicer

Quizás alguien se estará preguntando si estoy haciendo promoción a las islas. No es el caso, pero como he estado allí varias veces y viendo lo bien que se vive he empezado a pensar en cómo la actual forma de vivir y trabajar está perdiendo el sentido gracias a las nuevas tecnologías.

Gastamos la mayor parte de nuestro tiempo desplazándonos desde casa a la oficina haciendo uso de medios de transportes saturados de gente o de coche propio que de vez en cuando se para en algún atasco sólo para llegar a una oficina gris y sentarse en frente de un PC. Lo más usual es que la oficina se encuentre al borde del área urbana de la ciudad con unas “magnífica” vistas a la autopista (por lo menos esta es mi experiencia en Madrid) .

El punto importante de todo esto, es entender que la mayoría de las tareas que hacemos en la oficina no requieren de nuestra presencia en dicha oficina. He pasado muchos días entre planes de marketing, reuniones telefónicas y (muchos) emails enviados a personas en el otro lado del mundo. ¿Necesitaba de verdad estar sentado en esa oficina? ¡Claro que no! Podría haber hecho lo mismo desde otro lugar simplemente con un ordenador portátil, una conexión a internet y un teléfono, nada más. ¿Entonces porqué no hacerlo desde el lugar que más me gusta? ¿Por qué no trabajar desde un lugar con unas vistas como las de la foto arriba? (Playa de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria).

Creo que es el momento de repensar la forma en que trabajamos y arrancar el cambio del sistema actual realizado en grandes oficinas de grandes ciudades, un sistema desarrollado durante la era industrial y que no hemos sido capaces todavía de superar.

La tecnología nos permite manejar todas nuestras tareas desde cualquier lado del mundo simplemente disponiendo de una conexión Wi-Fi. Los servicios de vídeo y voz (como Skype y FaceTime) nos dan la posibilidad de organizar reuniones con personas que se encuentran al otro lado del mundo. Entonces, ¿cual es el sentido de hacerlo desde una oficina triste y gris cuando se puede hacer en el lugar que más nos gusta?

Hay persona que han entendido esto con antelación y trabajan viajando por el mundo, working in flip flopsles llaman los Digital Nomads.

Junto a esta nueva forma de trabajar están naciendo nuevos formatos de oficinas en todo el mundo como por ejemplo los espacios compartidos (coworking), donde se puede alquilar un escritorio y muchos servicios útiles (internet, teléfono..).

En Gran Canaria opera desde hace un tiempo Surf Office, un espacio de co-working que junto con el espacio de trabajo ofrece también una acomodación para ti y tu tabla de surf (www.thesurfoffice.com)

Estos fenómenos pueden ser el principio de una revolución en la forma que trabajamos.

Estoy convencido que con el avance de las tecnologías digitales iremos viendo una deslocalización de los centro de producción. Esto permitirá elegir dónde trabajar en lugar de mudarse hacia las grandes y agobiantes ciudades en búsqueda de oportunidades.

Quizás esto necesitará un poco de tiempo, primero porque es necesario un cambio cultural (y estos cambios son lentos) y segundo porque la tecnología necesita avanzar más para ponerse como alternativa fiable a las oficinas.

Creo que, si de verdad queremos avanzar en dirección hacia una mejor calidad de vida, tenemos que juntar fuerzas para permitir este cambio cultural y la tecnologías puede ayudarnos.

Espero llegar a un momento en que podré vivir y trabajar en flip-flops.

Working in flip-flops

During the last couple of weeks I’m been visiting my wife’s parents. They live in the Canary Islands (Spain), more precisely in Gran Canaria. These islands, located off the west cost of Morocco, are well known in Europe for the ideal climate, temperatures goes from 15 Celsius degrees in the coldest days to a maximum of 32° in the hottest season. People in the Canaries can go to the beach throughout the 12 months of the year and there is a high variety of outdoor sport to practice: surf, windsurf, diving, paragliding and so on. On top of that the Canaries offer many different surprising places to visit and discover. las-canteras-beach-la-cicer

Now, some of you may wonder why I’m writing this. No, it’s not a promotion of the Canary Islands but having been there many times and having perceived the high quality of life of that place, I started thinking on how the current way of living and working is losing sense thanks to the digital technologies. We spend most of our time commuting from home to the office using crowded transportation or driving before getting stuck in the traffic to eventually get to an ugly office and sit in front of a PC. Most commonly offices are located around the metropolitan area of the city with a “nice” view on the motorway.

The real point is that the big majority of tasks people perform in those offices do not require people to be there. In my experience I have spent many days building marketing plans, scheduling conference calls and sending emails (many) to people located everywhere in the world. Did I really need to sit in that office? Of course not! I could’ve done the same somewhere else just with a laptop, an internet connection and a phone, nothing else.

So why not doing it from a place I enjoy living in? Why not working from a place with a view like the one above? (Photo of the beach in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria).

It is time to rethink the way we work and start to change the actual system, the one of big cities with central offices, born and developed during the industrial era. The actual system is just a heritage from the past that we are not able yet to get rid of. Mobile technologies allow as managing all our tasks from every place with a Wi-Fi connection. Video and voice services (such as Skype and FaceTime) enable us to organize a conference with people in the other side of the word, so what’s the sense of being in a grey office when you can do the same from the place you love? Some people understood this in advance and travel the world while working, they are the Digital Nomads. working in flip flops

They are the early adopter of this new concept. Along with this trend, new forms of offices are growing around the globe such as the co-working spaces, where you can rent your desk with many services included. In Gran Canaria operates Surf Office, a co-working place that in addition to the working place offers accommodation for you and your surfboard.  This may be seen as the first signs of a revolution in the way we work.

I’m sure that with the advances of digital technologies we will see a delocalization of the centres of production. This will allow people to choose where to work instead and moving to big, polluted, overcrowded cities searching for opportunities. This may not be right around the corner, first because it implies a cultural change (and this needs time) and second because technology is not 100% there yet (high speed internet coverage, video-voice streaming service, mobile apps for example have to improve in order to be a reliable alternative to offices). I think that, if we really want to go to the direction of better quality of life, we have to focus our effort in making this cultural shift possible and digital technologies are there to help us. I’m looking forward for the time I can live, and work, in flip-flops.

El Plan Marketing Fluido.

El mayor impacto de los canales y técnicas digitales sobre la estrategia de marketing es que ahora podemos medir el impacto de nuestras acciones con una monitorización a tiempo real.  Gracias a eso, podemos tomar decisiones rápidas y cambiar el enfoque si vemos que no está funcionando o reforzarlo si las acciones dan buenos resultados.

En consecuencia planear acciones de marketing online con una visión a más de 3 meses no solo está empezando a ser muy complicado sino que es incluso poco recomendable, el riesgo es de pasarse semanas escribiendo un plan de marketing que nunca verá la luz ya que después de analizar los resultados de nuestras primeras acciones, podríamos darnos cuenta que necesitamos rápidamente cambiar de dirección, volver a pensar nuestro enfoque y esto puede ocurrir muy rápidamente.

The fluid marketing plan0Con el creciente peso del marketing online en cualquier tipo de negocio (y por supuesto en los negocios online) la forma tradicional de realizar el plan de marketing está resultando obsoleto.

Si te suenan los documentos del tipo “Plan de Marketing 2015”, donde se describen las acciones de marketing para el año desde Enero hasta Diciembre, creo necesitas saber que esto está empezando a ser totalmente innecesario.

Las nuevas técnicas de marketing digital como, por ejemplo, los test A/B o el CRO (del inglés Conversion Rate Optimization) soportadas por un robusto equipamiento de analítica (no solo Google Analytics) dan a los marketers el poder de planificar acciones empezando por una hipótesis, testearla, analizar los resultados y hacer los cambio necesario para su optimización.

Esto abre las puertas a una forma totalmente nueva de planificación de marketing que me gustaría llamar el Plan de Marketing Fluido.

Como un fluido se adapta a la forma de su contenedor, así el plan de marketing se adapta a la situación que nos presenta los tests y la analítica para tomar una nueva forma.

La forma de planificar de la vieja escuela donde “hay un tiempo para pensar (y planificar) y un tiempo para ejecutar” hoy ya no se puede aplicar, las cosas cambian con tanta rapidez que lo que habías planificado hace 3 meses puede resultar no apto hoy. Con el Plan de Marketing Fluido la planificación tendría que ser más bien como una cadena de hipótesis -> test -> análisis -> optimización.

¿Quiero decir con esto que entonces todo es instable y mutable?

No, lo que quiero decir es que entre los componentes del plan de marketing (el componente estratégico y el plan de acción) la parte más “fluida” es el plan de acción mientras que la estrategia tiene que ser sólida y estable.

Me voy a explicar mejor con las palabra de Eric Schmidt y Jonathan Rosenberg de Google que he encontrado en una interesante presentación (La presentación es mas orientada al plan de negocio pero se adapta perfectamente al plan de marketing).The fluid marketing plan 2

Muchas empresas empiezan con un plan de negocio. Las cosas están cambiando tan rápido que el plan de negocio estilo MBA está garantizado a estar equivocado de alguna forma.

No bases tu empresa sobre un plan, básala sobre fundamentos estratégico. Puedes tener un plan, pero debes saber que va a cambiar, y probablemente mucho.

El plan es fluido, los fundamentos estables.”

Tu identidad de marca, tu posicionamiento, tu público objetivo, tu propuesta de valor son los fundamento de tu plan. Esto no tendría que cambiar tan fácilmente, es el ADN de tu empresa.

La forma de alcanzar tu público, de enlazar con ellos, de animar tu propuesta de valor puede y tiene que ser fluida.