Insights, strategies, and techniques for business leaders and entrepreneurs.


Email Marketing, and "You’re Nobody ‘Till Somebody Loves You"

dean-martin-youre-nobody-tiThis morning I was listening to Pandora, to my friend Kevin’s Dean Martin station while reading my incoming mail. I was delighted to see my first email from my new favorite health food store, Earth Origins, having just visited their new outlet just a few miles from home. What caused the delight, you may ask? How about a title of, “Customer Appreciation Day – 20% Off!” Health food is expensive, and 20% was music to my ears.

Now for the bad news…they didn’t appreciate me quite as much as I’d thought. The 20% off was for their non-outlet stores, none of which are even remotely close to me. So what started out as a delight quickly became disappointment. I felt like the girl who sees the cute guy walk across the dance floor only to ask her what time it was.

Just then Deano began to croon out, “You’re Nobody ‘Till Somebody Loves You.” How sinchronistic is that? Deano, you never said a truer word, especially to email marketers, and here’s why:

  • I was prepared to love Earth Origins for making this first email so special
  • I get tons of email daily, and Earth Origins was one of the few that I opened
  • I went from “feeling the love” to feeling like nobody
  • I felt a bit cheated and mislead by that title
  • Earth Origins’s status went from “loved” to “spam” (less than nobody!)
  • I scrolled to the bottom of their email to unsubscribe (the last thing they would want me to do!)*
* Fortunately for them, they are not CAN-SPAM compliant, and don’t have any unsubscribe links in their email. Unfortunately for them, that’s not a good thing!

What are the take-aways?

Here’s how to get the customer love going and keep that open rate high:

  • Make that first email count big time. You only have one chance to make a first impression, right?
  • Give a little gift to show that you appreciate being invited into your customer’s inbox. A discount or a coupon. Extra points if it’s relevant to that customer, too.
  • A blanket discount is a good option if you can’t filter your customers by demographics or buying habits.
  • Can’t afford a discount? Give Information. You’re likely an expert in something, so share some news or advice that your customers want to know.

What have you done in your introductory emails to cement the relationship with customer love, so that they love you back – for a long time?

Non-Profits: A-C-E it! and Increase Online Donations

Increase DonationsAnn’s Restoration House, run by a Fort Myers couple, has spent 16 years reaching out to those with substance abuse issues and helping them get back on their feet. Now they needed help, because Ann’s house had termites. Even the local news ran a story a few months ago to help the small non-profit out, sending people to their website to donate. I heard about their story and went to their website, and wondered how many donations they lost because they didn’t know the three ways to promote donations.

Sadly, many non-profits make it actually hard, if not impossible! – for people to donate. Thankfully, there’s something that can be done! Aren’t you glad you clicked to read this?

So, how can you increase your online donations?

Just A-C-E it!

Make donations:

  • Agile
  • Critical
  • Easy

Let’s unpack those three words with some actionable steps.


Yes, agile as in flexible. From cash, cars, stocks, and annuities to backpacks, diapers, and canned goods, there are many ways to give to a charity. Your website needs to handle them all, or at least get the ball rolling. The most epic fail in most non-profit websites how they handle non-monetary gifts.

Yes, by their nature non-cash gifts are non-standard, but look at it from your donor’s point of view. They’ve already chosen a giving method that means more effort for them, so it makes sense (especially since many non-cash gifts are HUGE!) to make the process EASY for them.

  • Explain all the ways people can give to your organization, not just in cash.
  • Give clear instructions for non-cash donations. Even if you can’t handle the process on your site, explain the process with clarity and enough detail.
  • Allow for the odd donation: It’s fine to have suggested levels of donation, but always allow the user to specify an amount as well.


Your donors need to see their donation as mission critical. Why? People give based on connection with shared ideals and values, and they want to know they’ve made a difference.

Have the answers to these two top questions prominent on your website:

  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • How will my money make a difference (How will you spend it?)

These are the top questions donors want to know before they donate. Guess what? If you answer them, you’re way ahead of the pack. Among non-profits:


Make cash donation processing easy. More than that, stupid easy. Did you know that non-profit payment processing is 7% worse than average eCommerce? [ref]Non-Profit Organization Websites[/ref]

Easy fixes to make it easy to donate:

  • Prominent donate button – remember, people can’t give if you don’t ask. If the donate page is in secondary navigation, get it out top. Give it top billing.
  • Decluttered home page – keep “tiny tasks” from taking over real estate on your home page. That includes old events, old reports, old articles — you get the idea.
  • Streamlined donation process – I have seen some of the most convoluted processes on non-profit pages, and it’s ridiculous. Honestly, if they never donate because your donation page is too complex, what difference does it make that you asked how they arrived at your website?
  • Stay on-site – unless absolutely necessary, don’t take them to a third party site to finish the payment process. If you’re freaked about PCI compliance, look into payment processors that use tokenization.

The Start of Something Big

These tips are the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Overall website usability, page layout, design, and content that’s web friendly all add to a delighted user. Delighted users that get drawn into your mission become donors. We can help by analyzing your website for A-C-E and many more factors, and give you a blueprint for how to improve your website without breaking your budget. Contact us today.

Image Credits: Stock Exchange

Is Blogging "Out"? No, We Need a Better Interface

Is Blogging “Out”? No, We Need a Better InterfaceOkay, Mark Schaeffer’s tweet, “What Will Become Of Blogs And Blogging?” caught my eye today, and sent me on a thread-chase where I listened in on his point-counterpoint with Mitch Joel on the future of blogging. Their convo was almost an hour long, but worth the listen. However, if you’re strapped for time, it came down to this:

  • Mark sees the impact of blogs eroding because of the mobile boom (for 25% of web browsers, mobile is the first screen of access, and it’s 50% for Facebook users). If you’re not adapting to that, you’re going to die.
  • Mitch countered that what keeps blogging alive is new blood, new ideas, and new ways of “tinkering with words”.

While I agree with Mark that for the present, the tiny screen of mobile needs to be dealt with, the ultimate answer won’t be for us to adapt to it.

I found it funny that Mark doesn’t see that hardware needs to adapt, not necessarily the content. Why? Well, his “eye opener” for seeing the decline of the blog answers that question. Mark attended the 2,000 attendee Blog and New Media World in the hotel basement. Meanwhile the 20,000 attendee National Book Expo was partying a few floors up. To which he quipped, “Weren’t books supposed to be dying?”

I’m kind of amazed Mark said that! Thanks to my new Kindle device, I’ve read more this year than I have probably in the last five years combined. The reason is really simple – I have a better interface that allows me to tote hundreds of books anywhere I want to go. Now that eBook self publishing has come into its own, the big publishers need to keep pace of course, and provide enhanced book experiences to stay in competition.

Is blogging on it’s way out?

I’ve got to have a better interface. (Reginald Barklay, Star Trek TNG)

Blogging isn’t dead, as long as we have new content to consume (and that seems pretty likely, with 55 million WordPrss blogs alone!) What we need is a better interface for consuming content, and it’s coming!

Technology like Google’s interactive heads-up glasses paired with hand gesture interfaces like Leap Motion make it pretty obvious that we’ll be moving off the traditional screen pretty soon. When these ways of interacting become widely distributed (and they will – quicker than you can imagine) screen size will be irrelevant. We’ll be able to scroll screens with the wink of an eye. We’ll be able to leave comments on blogs by voice and video.

Improve or die

Mark also makes the point that those who continually improve and adapt will survive in a free market economy. Totally agree!

How do we improve blogging?

The interface imperative is there, and so is the excellence imperative. Fortunately, there is a lot of excellent content out there in the blogoverse. What’s most challenging (and often frustrating) to me as an information consumer is the huge amount of information out there. I need to have ways to organize and pre-qualify the information that is flooding into my digital world as relevant and reliable.

Right now most of us are depending on trusted brands and our community to determine what’s worth consuming. If CNN tells me it’s news, I’ll read it. If my friend Betty posts a blog article, I’ll check it out. If its on Joe’s blog, I trust it. Will we continue to trust these channels in a world where we know so much is driven by agenda and profit rather than a quest for truth, and even our friends can be snookered by a slick headline? Okay, I”m getting a bit too philosophical, maybe even a bit cynical, but these questions have practical implications. We need content curators in this information bloated world, and trusted channels of information in a world where trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. This is where I see the need for improvement in the blogosphere and the Internet at large.

I’m excited for the future of blogging. I hope you are, too!


Customer Delight: What Do Customers Really Want?

Customer DelightThe last time I had a problem with my phone service, it didn’t end well. Months prior I’d “liked” AT&T’s Facebook page. Shortly after my bad experience I saw their post on my Facebook timeline touting their great service. I said, “Humph!” and left a comment (i.e. if they’d like to know about a major problem with their customer service, I’d be glad to give them the 411).

That got some attention from AT&T’s social peeps, and soon my Facebook inbox had a message from an AT&T representative.

They called me, and I told them my sad story and explained what was broke at AT&T – actually told about three people. They listened nicely, but I never got far enough up the AT&T food chain to really get anyone to truly hear me. In the end, though I was treated well and listened to, I was still an unhappy camper. After three times relating the same story, they wore me out and I just gave up.

So, what did I, their customer, really want out of my customer service experience? What would have delighted me? That’s critically important, since there is a huge difference between customer satisfaction and customer delight. A delighted customer is twice as likely to repurchase.


I wanted a positive outcome. That’s really it. I didn’t want friendly voices, helpful attitudes, or a caring heart. My positive outcome would have been talking to someone who could have said that they:

  • Understood my problem
  • Saw why I was upset
  • Would take action to fix the problem (as I suspect my problem is one that thousands of AT&T customers have)

So, how do you measure customer delight? In order of importance, the focus is:

  1. Outcome – did you get what you want?
  2. Experiential – how were you treated?
  3. Influential – will it affect future decisions?

Note that each of these builds on the one before, and outcome is the foundation and driver for the others. If you didn’t get the desired outcome, you don’t care so much how nice or caring a person is. If you’re unhappy, the influence will be negative (you won’t buy, you won’t return). On the reverse, when you get resolution, the experiential cements that foundation The icing is the influence the positive outcome will have on future decisions.

Hitting all three of these factors is the key to customer delight. When we measure customer delight online through our survey index tool, our questions are strongly geared toward outcome first, and experiential second. We know that the icing will come because a delighted website visitor will naturally become a satisfied, return customer.

Graphics: Stock Exchange, J. D. Power 2012 Customer Service Champions