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Roy Beagley

What's the Future of Telemarketing?

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 04/15/2014-14:01 PM

Telemarketing seems to be getting more and more difficult.

It was not too many years ago when people had one, or possibly two telephones—one at home, and one at work. Then in 1983, Martin Cooper invented the cellular phone and started a movement that has led to many people having no phone at home whatsoever. And those that still have phones in the office often divert them to their mobile phone so you never really know where you are calling (I called a friend the other day to wish him a happy birthday, and he informed me he was in Turkey, of all places).

Caller ID is all well and good, but it may be killing the response. If I get a call that does not have caller identification, I ignore it. If I get a call that does have caller identification, and I don't know who it is, I ignore it.

Telemarketers are doomed if they do, and doomed if they don't.

The problem is further compounded by the fact that so many rented lists seem to have really bad names and numbers.

I do not want to tar everyone with the same brush, but compiled lists seem to be susceptible. Recently, we rented a list where over half the numbers did not even exist, and of the 50 percent remaining, most of the people attached to those numbers had moved on. We rented another list as a result, supposedly of people who had placed an order within the last 90 days, but here again, many numbers were no longer valid.

Time was when someone left a job, their replacement took over their office, desk and telephone extension, so at least you stood a reasonable chance of getting someone that might be interested—now, you don't know where you are going, or who you are getting.

Telemarketers probably love me because I have three phones: one in the office, one at home and one Martin Cooper helped invent. But, the only reason I have three is that I cannot figure out how to divert the work and home phones to my cell.

If lists cannot produce results, then no matter how low the telemarketing company's cost per order may be, people will look elsewhere because the cost of list rentals will become uncontrollable. I am not sure how to solve this problem, but it may not be too long before publishers have to increase their budgets to maintain circulation and or sales.

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Roy Beagley

Four Crucial Tips for Testing Your Campaigns

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 04/01/2014-15:04 PM

 

Testing is not just a good idea, it is paramount to everything you do. Regardless of whether you are trying to build an audience, build circulation, change direction or change focus you need to test to make sure you head in the right direction.

However, you need to make sure your test will give you meaningful results and there are some rules that should be followed.

1) When testing, only test one element at a time. As soon as you put in another variable, the results of the test will no longer be valid. You will be tempted to test more than one element at a time, but if you do, whatever the results of the test are, you will not know which element triggered the result, so you will have learned nothing.

2) To ensure the results are statistically valid, you need to test at least 5,000 names; anything less will not give you a response that you can accurately project. In this day and age of virtually instant response from email blasts there is a great temptation to test “a couple of hundred names to see what happens.” This is not going to work and any results you get, and follow, will lead you in a false direction.

3) If your test consists of 5,000 names, then a response in excess of 50 to 100 orders is what you really need to be able to draw conclusions from that test.

4) When you conduct a test, you cannot assume the results of that test can be extrapolated across other platforms. For example, if you get a 10 percent response using one channel, you cannot assume a 10 percent response on another channel to the same market segment. The only real assumption you can make is that your promotion is worthy of a test across that platform as results suggest a positive outcome.

We all like to think we know our customers, but in a world that is changing faster than ever before, the chances of messing up are greater than they have ever been. Far better to mess up and annoy 5,000 people on a test than send an offer to your whole file and have it blow up in your face.

Many of us have met the editor who cannot understand why we need to send more than one renewal reminder. More and more magazines are now owned by companies that are not print-centric and the editors have been joined by other people of influence who also believe one renewal is enough. Are they right? Most of us know the answer to that one, but that is why we test—to prove or disprove ideas, both good and bad.

 

 

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Roy Beagley

Design and Material Tips for Your Print Collateral

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 03/13/2014-13:40 PM

 

If some of the recent cover wraps and tip-ons I’ve received are anything to go by, just because something looks good in a PDF format does not mean it will look good when printed on paper. Here are a few tips to make sure your printed matter stands a chance of working.

First, consider the type of paper you are printing on because the same design is going to look different depending on your stock. Coated stock usually handles reverse type well, but stock used for tips and cover wraps tends to be cheaper and soak up more ink.

Reversing type really means being be able to see the color of the paper stock you are using, but now it means any color out of a dark background—so black and white, black and yellow or black and a light cyan all work well. Using a dark color for the type is dangerous. A tip-on I recently received was totally unreadable because the purple had bled into the black.

Remember, using a large reversed area will use more ink and will cost more. If you are going to reverse out smaller type, don’t use a serif font unless you are printing on really good stock, the effect will be lost on cheaper stock. And reversing out really small type—6 pt or smaller—makes reading the copy nearly impossible.

Speaking of fonts, just because you have over 1,500 of them does not mean you have to use them all at once.

Promotions printed on paper are trimmed to size after printing, so getting too close to the edge of the paper can result in some of your copy being trimmed off.

Designing work that can be used across several platforms such as websites, email and print is not difficult and is made considerably easier if you give some thought to the final output. You may have to adjust some colors, perhaps some fonts and perhaps some final positions, but this is something designers have been doing for many years—the more things change; the more they stay the same.

 

 

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Roy Beagley

Optimizing Your Direct Mail Efforts

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 02/27/2014-16:45 PM

 

Now is the time to plan your spring direct mail campaign. And just because you do not currently do one, does not mean you should not be thinking about it.

Direct mail is still the only source of new orders that can be projected with any degree of accuracy and until digital marketers get excited at net orders rather than open rates, that always will be the case. The question is: Apart from the usual marketing tools available to help increase response, what else can be done? Direct mail can be expensive, but there are things you can test that might help increase orders and offset some of the cost.

If your magazine is on the newsstand, consider increasing the draw in key markets for a couple of issues to coincide with your direct mail campaign. Newsstand sales often increase because people see your magazine on the shelf and decide to give it a try. Do not go crazy here because this will add cost to your bottom line, but sometimes a little bit can get you an awful lot.

Also consider giving people access to a digital version of the magazine to check out how great it is. This could simply be your current digital edition or the current digital edition with interactive components relating to the mailing—including several different ways people can pay online.

Making direct mail profitable is what it is all about, but unless your family name is Midas and you have “the touch,” chances are you are going to lose money on new business direct mail campaigns. However, the objective should be to lose as little as possible. So, consider testing the automatic renewal option for direct mail orders in your mailing. I am big not a fan of this technique, but more and more I see publishers using an automatic renewal option in their new subscription promotion so it is certainly worthy of a test. But, test this carefully.

The more you can do to increase exposure of your magazine the better off you are going to be. As that wise old sage of publishing once said “The Economist is its own best ambassador, so it is sensible to offer sampling.” Now of course we can sample online which makes sampling even more cost effective, but proves yet again The Economist almost always makes the right decisions.

Next time we will look at specific ideas and techniques you can test in your direct mail package to help increase response and will not break the bank.

 

 

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Roy Beagley

Measuring Your Digital Magazines

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 02/10/2014-18:13 PM

 

In my last post, I talked about how to match your digital magazine's features with your audience. Here, I'll carry that forward into measurement. It is imperative that you measure the effect of your digital edition initiative very carefully—and honestly. You need to set your goals in advance, but there is no reason why these goals cannot change providing there is a sound reason to do so.

See Also: Matching Your Digital Magazine Features With Your Audience

Circulation professionals long ago learned that the editor who said, “Just send people one renewal. People love this magazine, they’ll renew,” was never correct. If you think that works, give me a call, I have a bridge I can sell you. It is important you base your decisions on actual results compared to what you are trying to achieve.

I know it is going against popular thinking, but a 20 percent open rate is really not that impressive because what a 20 percent open rate really means is that 80 percent didn’t.

What should your strategy be if you're faced with this situation? First, is the open rate approximately the same each month and is it the same people each month? If the answer is yes to these two questions, then you need to concentrate on the 80 percent who are ignoring you. You also need to ascertain how many people in the 20 percent category actually download the magazine—the more the merrier. Those people who open the email, but do not download the issue need to be addressed. There are many reasons why they didn't download it, but you need to know because it could be something that is easily fixable.

How you approach improving the digital response depends on what it is you are trying to achieve with your digital issue. If your digital issue is just to support the print product as an added benefit, then a low open rate may be acceptable. If you are trying to move to a digital-only platform, a low open should not be acceptable.

The reason people renew a magazine is because it helps them professionally or entertains them privately, but in both cases, this requires the reader to actually have access to the magazine. A print magazine has an advantage because it can sit on a desk or table and have visibility until the cleaners come, but a digital magazine lurks on a computer and is not as visible. Put simply, people forget.

If you are creating digital issues based on demographics, or regions, check to see if there is any variance in open rates because it could be a certain demographic does not respond as well as another—and the same goes for regions. It does not make sense to create something that is being ignored but unless the data you are reviewing is measurable, making a decision is difficult.

The key thing is to work on the 80 percent who don't open the edition. The more you can reduce this figure, the better off you will be. Whether it is fair or not, digital magazines get judged differently than print because data is available on digital deployments that is simply not available on magazines deployed by the post office.

 

 

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Roy Beagley

Matching Your Digital Magazine Features With Your Audience

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 01/24/2014-11:28 AM

 

More and more publishers have a digital version of their magazines and if you are about to embark upon the digital road, there is a great deal to consider before you take the plunge.

Digital magazines can do a lot to boost a publisher’s presence, but there are many issues to keep in mind. The savvy circulation professional knows to look at both the positive and negative possibilities as a matter of course. The savvy circulation professional recognizes,   for instance, that a 70 percent renewal response really equates to 30 percent of the file disappearing. The savvy circulation professional will recognize that you need to evaluate what kind of digital magazine will work for your market.

Digital magazines have one major advantage over print: you can adapt them to individual readers’ requirements. Print cannot do this easily, although it has been done for longer than you may think. The Economist, Time, and Newsweek as far back as the seventies used to change the pagination of most issues to reflect readership simply by moving sections of the magazine around.

In deciding what will work for your magazine, you have to look at what you have available. You also have to decide what you want to achieve by producing a digital version. Is it going to support the print product or branch out on its own? Is it going to replace the print product? Does the editorial department have the ability to be proactive in possibly producing “personal” content? What information can you access on your subscribers to make their digital experience worthwhile?

Answers to these questions will dictate the digital path you need to take. Digital magazines arguably have a disadvantage over print—and that is accessibility, ironically enough. You need something to read the magazine on, be it a tablet, phone, laptop or desktop. Some of these options are more portable than others, but the fact is that a print product just needs to be picked up and you are good to go. You need to make readers’ experience as memorable as possible otherwise renewal and requalification rates will start to fall and this is something we already know, certainly on controlled circulation as response rates differ vastly between print and digital.

At its simplest your digital magazine can just be a copy or replica of your print publication. Not only is this the simplest solution, it is also probably the cheapest—and the most boring. However, as noted above a digital strategy is a companywide thing, it relies on the abilities of production, editorial, advertising as well as circulation or audience development. You can split a digital edition out by geographic area, and this could be as broad as continent or as narrow as zip or post code. If you have demographics on your subscribers, you could gear your editorial according to those demographics.  The more demographics or information you have, the more defined your digital magazine can be.

Next week we’ll discuss how far you can take your digital initiative and what you need to measure to see whether it is working—or not.

 

 

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Roy Beagley

Renewal Notices and First Impressions

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 01/15/2014-14:04 PM

 

Harlan Hogan said “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” which is almost as annoying as “there is no ‘I’ in team,” but even more annoying is both these sayings happen to be true.

Whether you are sending a new offer, a renewal effort, an invoice or an order acknowledgement, your outer envelope speaks volumes about your publication. Therefore, before you decide on outer envelope copy, make sure you understand your audience.

“Yo Dude! Here’s a mega awesome offer!” is probably not going to work well if you are offering a new subscription and your audience is CEOs, expectant mothers or students of English literature. Keep in mind the audience you are serving. Sending a letter to chief executives in a plain envelope without any copy whatsoever almost guarantees the letter will be opened, thus proving the adage “less is more” is just as annoying as “there is no ‘I’ in team” as well as Mr. Hogan’s message noted earlier.

Keeping the message on target is important, but urging the recipient to do something is also a good technique. If I get an envelope that states: “You need do nothing”, then I do nothing and throw the unopened envelope away. If I get an envelope that says: “You need do nothing… but what about 5 extra issues?” my trash can may not fill up quite so quickly, since now I am intrigued by the offer.

I’m not sure how many people only send renewal notices by email, but if you do not put at least a couple of renewal efforts in the mail, you are missing an opportunity. I know more and more people are getting and paying their invoices on the Internet but many are still convinced it’s unsafe for personal data. Don’t let “being green” stop you from mailing some renewal efforts. And be creative. Done correctly, you will see a good response to mail efforts, probably better than your email response.

Putting an acknowledgement of an order into the mail is not a bad idea. You can use this notice to offer people an opportunity to extend their subscription term (called a renewal at birth), or offer them other products. Here’s suggested copy: “Thanks for being part of our family and as a valued member, here are some other products we thought you might like to know about.”

This approach makes you a) look as if you really care (which you do) and b) get more revenue just for being nice.

However, all of this relies on one thing, getting people to open the envelope. Ask yourself what makes you open an envelope. The promise of a benefit? Something free inside? Engagement, such as a short quiz?
Think long and hard…and prosper!

 

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Roy Beagley

Sourcing Controlled Subs From Your Website

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 12/17/2013-14:58 PM

 

One of the best ways of reaching your market is via your own website. I know this sounds obvious, but it always surprises me the number of controlled magazines that do not have a new subscription offer on their site. In some cases this is because the magazine’s rate base is very healthy, but in this day and age of reduced budgets this is the exception rather than the norm.

I visit many websites during the course of a week, and there is no real happy medium. You either get no subscription offers at all, or so many that every time you go to a site,
any good cheer gained at this time of year is well and truly lost.

If you are making multiple offers via your website, keep them under control otherwise you will scare people off. There is nothing more annoying than navigating to a page, only to get an offer for something you don’t want that is replaced by an offer for something else you don’t want when you close the page on the first offer. The record so far stands at seven offers, and by the time I was able to rid my life of all these offers, I had forgotten why I had gone to the website in the first place—and have not been back since. Actually, I lied, there is one thing more annoying. Going to the same website and getting the same “literature” every time.

Control your offers including when and how people see them. Any circulation or audience development professional that does not liaise with the IT department on at least a weekly basis is missing opportunities and more importantly probably losing orders. Being able to react to news relating to your business is key, especially if it is “hot” news. Taking quick advantage of breaking news can be handled with a 250 x 250 ad on the website that circulation or audience development can upload themselves; early birds catching worms comes to mind. You know what I mean!

Make sure your offer can be seen efficiently on mobile devices. Some advertisements I have been exposed to have rendered my mobile phone immobile. I know it sounds obvious, but there is nothing worse than an Englishman with an immobile mobile—Sting might even write a song about it. There is only so much any one person can take, so make sure you do not overplay your hand, or else you may well find your prospect is going somewhere else (and despite paywalls, there usually is somewhere else) to get the information you yourself offer.

 

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Roy Beagley

Managing the Variables of Digital Circ

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 12/03/2013-16:26 PM

 

For good or for ill, digital is here to stay. I have no doubt it is good for many readers, I am not sure how good it is for publishers because there are still too many variables concerning digital circulation. These variables are being worked out, slowly in some cases, but as an industry we have to make sure we understand the results and interpret them correctly, and not as we would like them to be.

Just because the recently released version of the iPad sold in the millions does not mean digital circulation is going to increase as a direct result of the release. Most people I know who purchased the latest iPad did so to replace the iPad they already had. Over the next weeks people will receive some sort of reader for the holidays, but the total in sales will not see a similar increase in digital circulation.

It is important to recognize why digital circulation increases. Many controlled publishers are shifting their three-year old-circulation over from print to digital, not because the reader desires this, but because the publisher does. We have found that re-qualification response rates of digital subscriptions are lower than those on the print file. I believe this is because digital magazines are not as readily accessible as their print cousins. Therefore, you will probably have to send digital subscriptions more efforts to get the same net response as print. There is nothing wrong in this, just remember that you will have to send more efforts and this may affect your promotion budget. What you are saving in printing and mailing costs can be used to send additional efforts, although in reality these savings are almost never passed on.

Do not get hooked on the general belief that digital subscriptions will respond better to electronic methods than more traditional methods; there is no rationale to support this thinking, and until you have tested all formats and gained meaningful results—results supported by facts, not opinions—tread carefully.

The digital world is upon us, and as promoters, marketers and indeed users, we should embrace the new technology and make it work for us. Digital circulation is a small part of total circulation. It will grow over the next few years, although the growth will slow down, but for all that it would be dangerous to make assumptions based on opinion rather than test results.

Yesterday, on one of the networks, an expert said, “People feel more confident in the market than they did a few years ago.” On the same show, another expert said, “People are not confident concerning their financial futures.” Facts based on opinions have no value, but opinions based on facts are worth their weight in a ton of iPads!

 

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Roy Beagley

Embracing Connectivity in a Digital World

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 10/24/2013-15:04 PM

Over the past few years, the word “digital” has gone from merely denoting a replica of a print magazine to just about anything you do electronically. Engaging people through the various means we have available to us takes time, effort and, dare I say it, some money, as well. It also needs another thing that many do not currently have—a strategy.

Whether you engage people via a Web site, an iPad or smart phone app, through email or via any other platform, you need to have a strategy in place to make sure your customers or prospects engage with you for a long time to come—wherever they are. Assuming you plan to reach people through more than one platform, you’ll need a strategy to integrate all of them.

How frequently you need to engage with people really depends on what you’re trying to achieve. A newsletter, a tweet or an updated RSS feed certainly works on a daily basis. You can update your Facebook page or make an entry on LinkedIn to keep people involved, too. Whatever it is, you just need a plan to reach your entire market.

Newsletters are a good way to engage people and keep them involved, but your strategy must make sure your newsletter carries information people are going to benefit. This is where some spare cash may come in useful. Do not overwhelm people with content. You are more likely to drive them off a cliff rather than toward your product.

Some say sending an email first thing in the morning, so it appears at the top of the recipient’s inbox, is a good thing. Others claim sending email after 10:00 A.M. is better. All this really proves is we don’t always know what works and what doesn’t. I would venture to suggest it depends a great deal on the market with which you are dealing. After all, a night worker’s shift ends when most others’ start and an email at the end of their shift may indeed work very well early in the morning.

If you are going to engage via social media, make sure your strategy details when you plan to do this. You should add content on a regular basis and testing should determine the optimum frequency. You should also add content when the situation demands like with hot news or a special story. Don’t forget that this content should always be worth sharing.

Wherever you post content, keep an eye on it to make sure people don’t abuse your efforts. Check Facebook and other (anti) social media at least once day. When people ask to be removed from lists, remove them—no muss, no fuss. Just say “thanks” and move on.

More and more, digital is part of our world. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I have yet to figure out. For now, it is here and we need to embrace it—not willy-nilly—but in a well-ordered manner so we can take maximum advantage whilst we may.

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Roy Beagley

Cramming for Your November Audit

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 10/15/2013-15:21 PM

 

If you are working on a publication with a November audit cycle and you still have to get more orders, here are some things you might like to try.

If you need new orders, try calling your existing one-year subscribers to ask them if there is someone else in their organization who would benefit from a subscription. Then, email the prospect and inform them their colleague suggested they might like a subscription and see if you can get them to order from that email. If not, try calling them.

If you are still trying to re-qualify your file, now is the time to send a short-form email. Short forms work well, but remember even though the age of the subscription will be one year, the demographics will not be updated, and this is something you need to make a note of for next year. You can also do a short-form phone call as well, and since you are not asking all the demographic questions, most telemarketing companies will give you a good rate, providing the telemarketing company can make room for the program in its schedule.

If you have fax numbers on your file, and permission to fax, send one out for re-qualifications. Faxes are so old they are new again. While results are not earth shattering, they may be the butt-saver you need. Use a purl in the fax so people can reply online as well as a fax number for responses.

The somewhat anti-social social media may be of use to you. If you have a Facebook page, trying offering a new subscription on your page and if you have a Twitter presence, why not tweet out a new subscription offer—every order counts. If you have a LinkedIn page, create an offer there too, it can do no harm and while social media may not be the best responder, it is certainly worth a try.

 

 

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Roy Beagley

Tips for Optimizing Email Marketing

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 10/01/2013-14:19 PM

 

Despite best intentions, it seems as though response to email efforts is still difficult to predict. Quite why this is, I am not sure, but the “usual” rules of marketing just don’t apply to an email effort, be it for new subscriptions, renewals, re-qualifications or other products.

Even the rules that have been established do not apply all the time. I am constantly told not to send an email out on Friday, yet many of the email blasts I send on a Friday get good results. The problem is, what works this Friday may not work next Friday, but there is no obvious reason why. I am told the best time to send an email is at 6:00 am, so the email is in the recipient’s inbox when they start to look through their email. I tried this. It failed the first time, worked the second time, and the third time most of the messages seemed to get delayed since many of the responses came back the following afternoon.

Until the rules are standardized and predictable, you need to be the rule maker. Try a few simple tests to see what works and, just as importantly, doesn’t work for you.

1) Do an a/b split on your email blast and send half in the morning, half in the afternoon and see if one responds better than the other. Do this several times to see if you can determine a pattern.

2) Test html and text versions of the same email. Text may but ugly, but ugliness did not stop Frankenstein’s monster from getting a bride!

3) If the first email does not succeed, send it again. Very often response is better on the resend (and resend of the resend) than on the original deployment.

4) Make sure your html does not have too many images because this can cause spam filters to go into hyper drive.

5) I know spam filters supposedly hate the word “free,” but test it, you may be surprised. “Free” does work in some cases.

It is a good idea to send out a re-qualification effort on controlled books over a three-week period. The first is deployed on Tuesday, the follow up nine days later on Thursday and a final follow up six days later on the Wednesday. Very often, the response on Wednesday is higher than the previous Thursday’s response. Why? I don’t have a clue, but that is what makes being the rule-maker fun! 

 

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