The inconvenient truth about traditional content marketing

Content is king! Brands are now publishers! Google loves content!

If you read as many marketing blogs as I do, these statements pretty much sum up every article on the topic of content marketing. To build links, brands must publish “great content”.

Unfortunately, because of this self-perpetuating advice, too many businesses and websites are churning out average content that is being lost in a sea of mediocrity.

The result is under cooked content that adds no value, and looks like a dog’s dinner.

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How to reactivate your churned customers

Customers come and go, that is the nature of any business. However, that doesn’t mean you have to accept that all those that have left are gone forever.

By implementing a series of key customer strategies, you can reduce the number leaving and reactivate more of those that have already left.

In this post I will show you how to protect churning customers, and reactivate more of those that have churned.

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Product Recommendation Technology in Email Marketing

This is a guest article from Ian Roderick, Communications Manager for email marketing software provider Newsletter2Go.

 The goal should be to make every email relevant to everyone who receives it.

You’re not going to fool anyone by sending mass email blasts to your entire list. Emails that aren’t relevant will be deleted without being opened. And if you do it too often, your contacts will start unsubscribing from your newsletter entirely.

The key is to get relevant content to the right people at the right time.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably already intuitively doing this by segmenting your contacts into lists, and sending separate emails to the different lists with different content, products, or offers.

The Future of Email Marketing

But the next big step in email marketing is coming onto the market, and will start being available to more and more small businesses and marketers.

I’m talking about automated product recommendation technology made specifically for email marketers.

Based on certain parameters – which products a customer has viewed, purchased, or what other customers have viewed and purchased – a product recommendation is automatically generated.

Big brands like Amazon have been doing this for a while already, but they use their own propriety recommendation engine, which aren’t available to the rest of us.

As the technology has developed, a number of recommendation engines technologies have come onto the market for small and medium sized businesses – those without the resources to develop their own technology.

In the email marketing world, this is really exciting. Why? Because in theory, you’ll be able to send every single one of your contacts a totally unique email.

The email marketing provider builds a recommendation technology into our software. This means you import contacts, create newsletters, and send them as normal – with the added option of including automatically generated product recommendations within the email.

The contact lists, the sending infrastructure – all that’s the same. The only change is that recipients receive a custom, targeted email recommendation.

How it Works in Email Marketing

Basically, the way it will work is this. A product recommendation engine will be embedded on your website. It will track user behavior – which products they’ve been looking at, which they’ve put in their shopping cart, which they’ve previously bought – and hold on to that data.

The newsletters that you send will all contain a product recommendation block. When the contact opens the email, the recommendation technology will fill that block with a custom recommendation based on that user’s behavior on your website.

Think about that. You’ve created one newsletter, but all of your 10,000 subscribers see a different one. The power of your communication has grown by orders of magnitude.

Leverage Product Recommendations to Send Better Emails

Use automated product recommendation engines to send effective newsletters that increase engagement and drive sales:

Shopping Cart Abandons – According to Nosto, around 70% of shopping carts are abandoned prior to checkout. This is frustrating, but also represents an opportunity.

You know your users are interested in the product, they just haven’t made that last step yet. Step in with an automated email including the products they’ve left in their carts, as well as a few releated products that they might be interested in.

Post-order follow-ups – Turn one-time purchasers into people who come back again and again. Send emails a day or two after they’ve ordered or had their package delivered with products that other people, who’ve bought that product, have also bought.

We miss you – use the browsing history to remind them of the products that they’ve looked at, and get them back onto your site.

Welcome emails – Use unique identifying information from customers or new registrants to send products that are likely to be interesting for them.

What To Watch Out For When Using Recommendation Technology

That being said, there are some things that you should keep in mind.

  • Smaller shops will find it more difficult to generate great recommendations because there are fewer data points. Consider using browsing history instead of purchase history.
  • The same products might be generated over and over again. If you don’t have a huge product selection, make sure that you leave enough time in between product newsletters
  • Because the recommendations are generated at the moment the email is opened, your platform needs to have enough server bandwidth to handle the requests instantaneously. Slow loading emails, or improperly loaded emails, will end up straight in the trash bin
  • Don’t embed product images in emails – this looks like spam and will be flagged
  • Don’t include product recommendations as attachments
  • Don’t make recommendations for gimmicky financial services or offers, as these will look spammy and won’t be delivered
  • Make sure the text in your email matches the product that you’re describing

In Summary

Automated product recommendation technology is a powerful tool for E-commerce platforms, and for email marketers. It’s never been easier to send relevant, useful products that are more likely to generate opens, clicks, and sales.

But like with any technology, there are challenges and potentially unforeseen limitations.

Over at Newsletter2Go, we’re working hard on seamlessly integrating a product recommendation technology into our email marketing software. We’ve entered testing phase and are really excited to start rolling it out.

I hope you found this article helpful and informative. Good luck, and happy emailing!

Mobilising your customers to sell for you

Hands down, word of mouth is by far the most powerful, and cost-effective form of marketing.

How powerful…?

84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family and friends about products (making these recommendations the information source ranked highest for trustworthiness). [Nielson].

Additionally, Nielson found that 84% of consumers reported always or sometimes taking action based on personal recommendations. 70% said they did the same after reading online consumer opinions.

Our social media connections are also an important part of our lives. 81% of people admit to being influenced by what their friends share on social media. [Market Force]

In this post I will show you how to mobilise your customers in to an effective sales force, driving sales through word of mouth and positive online reviews.

Gaining control

There are countless ways for people to share negative and positive feedback about your business.

This makes it more critical than ever to have a proactive strategy in place to:

  • Make sure positive sentiment massively outweighs the negative
  • Ensure positive sentiment is left where your audience goes and trusts
  • Control your brand story

Waiting and hoping for customers to share positive reviews/comments is not an option.

Proactive businesses that understand the importance of this type of marketing are winning.

What motivates people to recommend a company?

The bad news is, there is no magic bullet.

Brands that inspire a higher emotional intensity receive up to threes times as much WOM as less emotionally-connected brands. [Keller Fay Group].

The same academic study that found these results, also found that highly differentiated brands have greater levels of WOM, as these brands allow consumers to share own sense of uniqueness.

However, more than 50% of respondents are more likely to give a referral if offered a direct incentive, social recognition or access to an exclusive loyalty program.

39% of respondents say monetary or material incentives such as discounts, free swag or gift cards greatly increase their chances of referring a brand. [Software Advice].

Whilst 72% say reading a positive customer reviews increase their trust in the business; it takes reading between 2-6 reviews to get 56% of them to this point. [BrightLocal]

The key take away points are:

  • Incentives do work, but they are far more likely to work if your customers are happy and feel connected to your brand.
  • One or two reviews won’t cut it, you need to be generating a lot of good quality, positive reviews across multiple channels.

Whether it is verbal recommendations or leaving a review on a website, you don’t have to sit and hope your customers share their positive experiences.

Putting it into practice

Here are some practical ways you can turn your customers into an active sales force:

Support customers’ micro-moments

Micro-moments are the want-to-know, want-to-go, want-to-do, want-to-buy moments that now dictate our search and purchase behaviour (check out a previous post where I looked at the range of ways you can support your customers’ micro-moments.)

As well as supporting your brand, and positioning yourself as a thought leader, this content also gives your brand fans something useful to share with friends or family, as well as linking to online in forums, email, blogs etc.

“I’m looking for a great Lamb shank recipe”

“Check out Knorr’s YouTube channel, they’ll have one…”

Mobilise customers who give high NPS ratings

If you are using NPS to measure customer sentiment, you have already taken a huge step to identifying those most likely to leave a positive review online.

Net Promoter Score

(Image source)

Pick out your NPS Promoters (those who left a score of 9 or 10) and contact them asking them to leave a review on your target website(s) e.g. TrustPilot etc.

Keep the approach email concise, and don’t ask them for any specific type of review, it is up to them.

Here as an example template I have used successfully in the past.

We Want To Know What You Think

Hi [Name]

Thank you for taking the time to rate us.

We are writing to ask if you would review us in more detail on [URL]’s website here [Link]?

It only takes a couple of minutes to do and you can review any aspect of our service you wish. We aren’t looking for biased reviews, just honest ones from our customers.

Kind regards


This has been in play for quite a few years now, and not once has anyone left a negative review.

Give customers something to physically pass on

At the end of your transaction/ correspondence with a customer, send them something tangible they can pass on to friends and family.

This can be as simple as a handful of business cards, a leaflet with your contact details or a full blown brochure.

For example, snack company Graze include a batch of discount codes with your snack box to pass on.


Incentivise them

You can encourage your customers to refer people through financial incentives that they also personally benefit from.

For example, give them access to coupon codes they can spread around, which in turn gives them money off their next order if someone then uses it.

For example, SKY TV run a ‘Introduce a friend’ program that (at the time of writing) rewards both the referrer and the new customer with £125 Mastercard credit.

Sky Rewards

In conclusion…

With so many ways available for your customers to consume media and marketing messages, the age of interruption marketing is quickly coming to an end for all but the biggest marketing budgets.

The new battlegrounds are customer sentiment and content marketing.

Make sure your business is at forefront of this shift, and put processes into place to direct customers to sell for you via positive online feedback, word of mouth and referrals.

A quick anecdote about Deliveroo’s wasted marketing budget

In marketing, if you get your targeting right, your communications/media plan should fall in to place beautifully.

Here is a personal anecdote that suggests deliveroo aren’t quite getting that quite right.

Right message, right person…wrong time

I love the idea of deliveroo; real restaurant food delivered to your door. The only problem is they don’t deliver to where I live, at least not until recently (or so I thought).

A deliveroo leaflet had been pushed through my letter box telling me they were now delivering to where I lived. That was that night’s meal sorted straight away!

The problem was when I went on to their website to start my order I was informed they didn’t deliver to my postcode. Gutted!

But I was also confused why they had posted their leaflet when they knew I couldn’t use them.

I assumed they’d messed up that particular leaflet drop. However, a couple of weeks later I got another leaflet as part of their follow up campaign.

I checked again. Still can’t use them.

I appreciate one leaflet isn’t going to break their budget, but how many other households around the country are getting this marketing they can’t act on?

Leaflet drops are targeted at the street level, so there is no reason why this should happen except for poor planning by their marketing team or poor execution by the agency they hired to fulfill the job.

Deliveroo’s poor targeting and execution all adds up to:

  • Wasted budget
  • Wasted opportunity
  • Wasted brand equity

Creating a targeted media plan

Whether you are advertising on a national or local level, they key component of your media plan has to be your target audience.

Where do they live, how old are they, what are their interests, what offers do they respond to, what media do they consume…etc?

Each one of these questions builds a profile of your target audience that enables you to deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time.