Posts Tagged ‘incentives’

One of your most important marketing and promoting decisions is choosing the right incentive to offer as a bonus to visitors who sign up for your e-mail newsletter or weekly tips.

It’s not enough to offer great information delivered at consistent intervals via e-mail; you have to go further and sweeten the pot with a sign-up bonus if you want to grow your list as quickly as possible.

Why you must offer an incentive

You have to strike while the iron is hot! One of the reasons to offer an incentive that is immediately delivered via an e-mail autoresponder is to immediately contact visitors who have signed up for your newsletter or weekly tips.

Visitors have short memories; if you’re midway between monthly newsletters or a weekly tip sheet mailing, by the time the next issue rolls around, visitors may have forgotten that they signed-up for it. This won’t happen, however, if they immediately receive your incentive and a thank-you for signing up.

Characteristics of successful incentives

Your sign-up incentive should reflect the quality of information you share on a consistent basis with your clients, customers, prospects, and readers. Key characteristics include:

  • Engaging. Pay as much attention to the title of your incentive as you pay to the title of your book. Your incentive must immediately communicate a benefit that will help visitors solve a problem or achieve a goal. For help choosing the title of your incentive, use the same techniques used to choose article, book, & event titles.
  • Helpful & relevance. The success of a sign-up incentive is based not on how well it “sells” your services, but on the quality of the information you share in it. Let your information be your salesperson; don’t hold anything back- -share your expertise and leave your visitor looking forward to learning more.
  • Actionable. Avoid incentives that are long on theory, but short on information. Instead, focus on concise and simply-stated ideas that your market can immediately put to work.
  • Perceived value. Pay attention to the quality of your incentive; let the packaging, or the design and layout, of your incentive add value to your words and ideas. The design of your incentive should project an appropriate image, one that tells a story and differentiates you and your firm from the competition.
  • Low-cost or no-cost. Electronic incentives, like Adobe PDF’s, downloadable audios, or streaming videos are best because there are few out-of-pocket costs involved in creating them and no costs (other than the low monthly fees for an auto-responder) involved in distributing them.
  • Trackable. In order to test, and, thereby, continue to improve, the desirability of your incentives, it’s important that you carefully track the number of incentives you distribute and the conversions- -or sales- – that result. A simple spreadsheet will help you correlate newsletter or tip-sheet sign-ups to specific blog posts or pay-per-click advertising.

Types of incentives

As mentioned above, sign-up incentive can take many forms. Format options include Acrobat PDF files, audios, videos, and- -even- -templates to be used with popular software programs. The following is a rundown of the types of content options you can choose from:

  • Assessments. An assessment can be as simple as a questionnaire, or as sophisticated as a self-grading interactive form. Assessments help visitors determine their needs and identify areas where improvement is possible.
  • Best-of compendiums. Your hard-drive may contain hundreds of previously-written articles, case studies, ideas, strategies, and tips, that you can assemble into a “Best of” incentive. Another source of information may be as close as your blog posts, which can be easily harvested for your incentive.
  • Checklists. Another popular incentive category idea includes checklists. Checklists help visitors evaluate their performance as they complete a task or work towards a goal.
  • E-courses. An e-course is simply an incentive sent by autoresponders at timed intervals. Typically, the first “lesson” is sent immediately, with follow-up lessons sent every few days or at weekly intervals. Each follow-up mailing reinforces your brand and your message, increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
  • Glossaries. Every field has its own professional terms and jargon. Newcomers to your field are likely to appreciate a list of important terms and their definitions.
  • Resource compilations. What are the recommended books and online resources in your field? Who are the big players in your field? You can enhance your reputation as the knowledgeable “go to” individual in your field by positioning yourself as an expert “filter” who helps visitors save time locating and evaluating resources they’ll find useful…and you’ll get the credit for introducing them.
  • Software templates. Software templates, prepared for use with the popular programs like Microsoft Excel or Word, Adobe In-Design, or Mindjet’s MindManager, help prospects get a head start on their projects. Spreadsheet templates can help prospects make better decisions, and newsletter templates provide a ready-to-use framework for creating a one-page newsletter with Microsoft Publisher.
  • Speeches. Be sure your next speech is recorded, so you can offer it as a downloadable audio or a streaming video.
  • Survey results. After creating a survey of your clients, customers, prospects, and blog readers, compile a report summarizing the major trends. Survey incentives become more valuable each year, if you update the results and include comparisons with survey results from previous years.
  • Tip sheets. Tip sheets are one of the most powerful tools available. A tip sheet can be as simple as 10 tips printed on one side of a single sheet of paper, or they can become as elaborate as you desire.

Your sign-up incentives are going to be judged by their appearance as well as their contents. Ideally, the appearance of your incentives should reflect the brand associated with you and your book.

  • White papers. White papers which are educationally-oriented reports focusing on current challenges and new developments in your field are an excellent lead generation and list-building tool. The ideal length is 12 pages, or less. The key to a successful white paper is to avoid overt marketing or promotion until the very end, where you can stress your firm’s role in developing and delivering the latest advances.

Content and format options

Here are some things to bear in mind when harvesting previously written content from your hard drive and previous blog posts:

  • Clients and prospects have a short memory. Blog content quickly ages, no matter how carefully you have organized your blog posts by category. By drawing attention to valuable content 6 months, or so, older, you’re performing a valuable service for your market.
  • Different prospects prefer different formats. Just because you addressed a topic in a previous newsletter, and you have it archived on your website, doesn’t mean every prospect is aware of it. Thus, repurposing previous newsletters and blog posts into audios and videos exposes them to prospects who may welcome the information because it’s new to them.

Takeaway

Don’t make the mistake of focusing on writing the perfect book, but fail to offer a helpful, relevant, and actionable incentive. In many ways, the title and content of your sign-up incentive is as important as the title and content of your book. Successful incentives lead to successful books!


Branding – Get the mix right!

by Laura Lowell on October 8, 2009

get the mix rightConstructing the optimal mix is part art and part science.  The art lies in understanding the nuances between the different marketing vehicles, how to craft copy tailored to the marketing vehicle, and how to combine copy with creative for the optimal impact. The science lies in the measurement and tracking of the effectiveness of various vehicles at delivering your message to the target audience in the context of the stated communications objectives.

There are two pieces of information that directly inform how we create the marketing mix.

  1. How does our target customer gather information? : Who do they go to for recommendations?  Do they search online or do they ask for suggestions from colleagues, friends or family?  Who influences the purchasing process?  Answers to these questions help us to target the influencers as well as the target customers.
  2. How does our target customer want to receive information? : Do they want a lot of detail but not very often?  Do they prefer to get more frequent information with less detail?  Do they like phone, email or old-fashioned paper and envelopes?  Again, this information will directly impact the types of marketing vehicles we invest in.

Marketing vehicles have a defined purpose and should be used according to the stated communication objectives.  The following is a summary of the primary marketing vehicles, definitions, purpose described in terms of awareness, demand generation or lead conversion, and examples of each.  This is not an exhaustive list, but is a great start.

Awareness:  Ensure that customers know you exist – eyes and ears

Demand Generation:  Attracting customers to your products/services – call, click or visit

Lead Conversion:  Converting prospects to revenue – customers

Marketing Vehicle Definition Purpose Examples
Advertising Mass communications that broaden perceptions. Awareness

Lead Generation

Broadcast (TV, radio), Print  (newspaper, magazine), Online (banner ads, site ads)
Collateral &  Sales Tools Material describing a product, service, or solution used to support sales and marketing efforts. Demand Generation Brochure, card/flyer, catalog, cover letter, envelope, datasheet, folder, binder, video, presentation, promotional item, poster, banner, magazine, newsletter, competitive brief, instant reference guide, order and configuration guide.
Customer Testimonials Customer endorsements illustrating the impact of the company product, service or solution. Demand Generation

Lead Conversion

Quotes, case studies, success stories, references, speaking engagements.
Direct Marketing A method of contacting individual customers directly and obtaining their responses. Lead Conversion Direct mail, telemarketing, addressable media.
Event An in-person or online occurrence designed to increase awareness, accelerate sales, and build relationships. Awareness Tradeshow, road show, seminar, conference, hospitality, executive briefing, webinar, online seminar.
Incentives Providing equipment, discount or rebates to entice customers to try and/or purchase products, services or solutions. Lead Conversion Demo equipment, evaluation and trade-in, free sample or trial, mail-in or instant rebate or gift with purchase.
Internal Communications Use of any marketing vehicle to keep employees informed. Awareness Broadcast/webcast, leadership meetings, internal websites, newsletters, webinars, etc.
Internet Marketing The use of the internet to promote, advertise and sell goods and services. Awareness

Demand Generation

Lead Conversion

Websites, pay-per-click advertising, banners, e-mail marketing, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, blogs, webcasts, podcasts.
Co-Marketing Funds and tools provided to partners to enable them to execute specific marketing strategies and tactics on behalf of the company. Awareness

Demand Generation

Affinity marketing, affiliate marketing, lead generation, co-op marketing, channel incentives, partner compensation (SPIF)
Market Research Research undertaken with the purpose on increasing understanding of markets, customers, competition, design and positioning of products, services, or solutions. Demand Generation Primary, secondary, syndicated, campaign testing, ad testing, competitive benchmarking.
Merchandising Materials created and displayed in retail locations for the purpose of affecting product selection and purchase. Lead Conversion Brochure, demo, samples, lugon, highlighter, posters, banners, rebate, selection guides, tear pads.
Packaging The physical material used to contain product including materials on-box or in-box designed to improve the customer experience. Lead Conversion Physical packages, inserts, literature, software, stickers, illustrations, installation guides, user manuals.
Public Relations Activities that focus on industry influencers to establish the public image of the company and its products, services or solutions. Awareness

Demand Generation

Press releases, endorsements, article placement, interviews, news conference, press tour, press kits, media briefings, product reviews, 3rd party releases, speaker’s bureau, white paper placement.
Viral Marketing Activities that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness, through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. Awareness

Demand Generation

Word-of-mouth with online enhancements, blogs, audio and/or video clips, flash, games, advergames, etc.