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Latest Issue: May/June 17

2017

Last year was the worst year of my professional life.

A company I was trying to take public gotten eaten alive by legislators and we had to go back to the drawing board.

I had to walk away from an investment that I had wasted far too much time and energy on because the other people involved are greedy {expletive} and the product’s service levels did not meet my standards. At all.

The owner of a business I was buying dropped dead of a heart attack two hours before closing.

I could go on (and on) but suffice it to say, I was one dead dog away from a country song.

When life/business doesn’t go as planned, people react in 3 ways. They fight. They flee. Or they freeze. It’s human nature. We’re wired for it.

Six months of my straight-out-of-Sartre existentialist Hell made me want to run off to Bora Bora or curl up in a little ball and hide in the closet (ok, binge Netflix and eat blocks of Vermont Cheddar.)

But I’m a fighter (surprise, surprise) so I gave myself a month-ish (we’ll say -ish because I’m still squawking loudly about a few things) and I came up with a plan of attack.

Three months later, things are back on track and WAY better than before.

What do my #firstworldproblems have to do with you?

Yes, there’s a Trump Bump for a lot of companies right now but for many folks, last year was not the Year of Rainbows and Unicorns and they’re really worried about 2017 and the future.

If this is you and your company, here’s my best advice for 2017 (besides finding an internet witch who can hex your enemies for only $99 each.)

Work your new customer acquisition programs like mad. You’ll be getting an email from me in the next few weeks that details my favorite (read: most lucrative) new customer acquisition tips right now. In the meantime, take a look at your current plan and ask yourself: How am I expanding the things that are working? What new channels and programs am I trying? If you are primarily an offline business (like an old school cataloger, for example), you may also want to add: How can I improve what I am doing to integrate my online and offline efforts?

Evaluate your merchandise as if your business depends on it (because it does.) Are you bringing in enough new stuff? How much of it is exclusive? Are you expanding your bestsellers? Are you using dynamic repricing tools on your site and marketplaces? How is it being merchandised? Are you doing SQUINCHI (square inch analysis for the internet?) What’s your clearance strategy?

Get more inquiries. How many inquiries are you collecting? And please don’t tell me that you’re just relying on your pop up on entrance. Are you using website caller ID? Do you have an aggressive remarketing program? Are you graveyard testing? How are you handling your unsubscribes who want to get back into the fold? What’s your social acquisition plan? What about refer-a-friend?

Implement a promo cop. If you use offers, you need a hierarchy. They should be dynamic based on the channel, the user, or other variables important to you. From usability and analytical studies, I can tell you one of the biggest reasons users bail is because of offers. For example, they can't figure out where to put their promo code in the cart/checkout. Or maybe they see a promo code in a PPC ad but it vanishes when they get to your site and they don't know how to make it appear again.

The other thing that marketers often underestimate is how important the number of offers is. Users can't handle it when they’re presented with lots of offers at the same time. Recently, I spoke to a client who used special offers for their PLA/Shopping ads (great thing -- worth testing.) When the users got to the site, they were presented with a special discount offer for submitting their email address. (10% off.) This was a different offer than the PLA offer (shipping discount.) They also had another offer ($10 off) in the corner for Refer-a-Friend. PLUS, a different overall site offer and a big push on site clearance. Some of these offers had minimums. Others did not. So, what's a user with a $50 cart to do at that site? Apparently get a CPA. To figure out the best deal, they have to do the math. That tricky math? Ends up in analysis paralysis, waiting for a better offer or just bailing altogether.

Double down on your triggers (SMS and email.) On average, good triggers perform 4 to 6 times better than your best performing thrusts. Biggest problem? Most companies don’t do enough of them nor do they use the available open life. If you’re working your open life properly you mail until the user buys or dies. You don’t just stop mailing because it’s the end of your 3 part series. Also, please remember, mobile folks can often tolerate more frequency and faster time between triggers on a lot of programs – if you haven’t tested that, you should.

Employ good hygiene. I’m floored (and not in a good way) by the number of people who don’t clean their lists on a regular basis. This is not expensive and it typically makes a very big difference in deliverability. This is especially good to do if you have a call center who can query as to whether or not you’re getting inboxed.

Automate what you can. This includes technical SEO, trigger emails, zones in your blast emails, autoresponders for Customer Service, live chatbots, ECOA, IP targeting, merchandising on your entry pages, instigated chat, and all the other little things that are taking up real estate in your brain. The new technology stuff isn’t all that tricky but it takes time and lots of iterative testing so you need to work it.

by Amy Africa. CEO, EightByEight

Come and see Amy Africa at the DCA Annual Summit on 15th June- click here for more details