Search This Blog

Sunday, November 28, 2010

How to Get a 40% Open Rate on Your Email Marketing

I just did an email blast to 500 people who never received a marketing message from me...And I got 230 of them to open the email! I'm usually happy with somewhere between 4% and 10% so 40% blew me away. I wanted to let you know how I did it, because maybe you can do even better, who knows?

Anyway here's how I did it. I tested my email subject lines. I divided a large list of 1,500 people into three smaller lists of 500 people each. Then I crafted an email to send to each group of 500. The email itself was the same for everyone, but each group also got a different subject line so I could test which one worked best.

The subject-line variables I tested were:

1. Personalization;
2. Camp name; and
3. Urgency (with a deadline)

For Personalization, I put the recipient's name in the subject line like this:

"Eric, save 10% off Aloha Beach Camp wetsuits today"

For the camp name, I used this subject line:

"Save 10% off Aloha Beach Camp wetsuits"

And I created urgency by putting a deadline in the subject line this way:

"Today only: Save 10% off Aloha Beach Camp wetsuits"

Now remember, the email content and offer (save 10% on wetsuits) were the same for all three groups. But while the first two lists of 500 people only got 2.2% and 3.1% open-rates, the third one -- where I told people they had to buy the wetsuits today or they couldn't save 10% -- got a whopping 40% open rate!

Now keep this in mind: What we're testing here is email OPEN RATES, not response or click-through rates. Open-rates means how many people actually opened the email. Response or click through rates, in this case, means how many people actually clicked through to view the wetsuits, requested more information and/or actually bought a wetsuit. The email with the highest open rate isn't always the one that will get you the most sales... but that's a post for another day.

Lesson learned: If you don't test, you're just guessing. If I'd been content just personalizing the subject line, or putting our camp name in it without testing, I'd never know an unbelievable 40% open-rate was available to me. So, for next time, here's what I'll do.

I'll email the entire list of 1,500 people the "Today Only" email, knowing if I get less than a 40% open-rate I did something wrong. Or maybe I'll test that "Today Only" subject line against a new one, just to see if I can do better.

The reason why testing is so important is because you can find out what works for your group of prospects and get the most bang for your marketing buck. Then once you've refined your system, you can expect fantastic email open-rates all the time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reach Camper Prospects Everywhere With Text Message Marketing

This Mashable article argues that SMS (text message) marketing "still makes sense" for small businesses. Huh? Since when was there ever a question about whether it makes sense?

Not only is text message marketing relatively cheap, you can reach highly targeted prospects everywhere. Millions of people all over the world have the ability to receive text messages, including probably every camp family you know.

Marketing to people on their cell phones works -- in fact my wife just received a coupon for Toys R Us on her cell phone, then went right in to redeem it -- and if I were you I'd definitely look into this strategy.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Do You Have Marketing Questions?

Every day I get lots of emails with marketing questions. I read all of them and promise to respond as quickly as possible. I realize many questions pertain to you or your camp individually, so please, NEVER hesitate to email me with question or comments.

At the same time, please be aware many other folks who read this blog probably have the same question(s) as you. In fact I probably get the same question from several different people several times a week.

Accordingly, I have a preference for answering questions publicly so everyone can benefit from the answer and we can engage in discussions. If you have questions or want to share information you think others might benefit from, please feel free to post it in the comment section of my posts. Thanks!

Google's New Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

Google has recently updated its Search Engine Optimization starter guide. Following the tips in this free guide can help you improve your site's
visibility in the search result rankings. Who wouldn't want to position their website better according to Google's best-practice suggestions?

I read this guide 10 times today before positing it here for you. If there's one piece of advice I could give you, the best search engine optimization strategy you could ever do is create compelling content on your website that people will want to share with their friends.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Are You Killing Puppies? (You are if you're sending emails to rented or purchased lists!)

Received an email (several, actually) asking my opinion on renting or purchasing email marketing lists. My suggestion is, don't do it! For one thing, it's a waste of money, and for another, you're killing puppies each time you rent or buy email lists.

I've met many people over the years who've rented or purchased email marketing lists. None of them would do it again. The companies who sell and rent email lists don't have tremendous reputations, and the email response rates suck (boarding on zero) because the email gets deleted or goes right into spam.

You know me, I'm a HUGE proponent of email marketing done the right way. That means focusing on lead generation by collecting emails for your own house list and then mailing to your list with offers and information that endear the recipients to you.

If the people you're emailing to don't know who the heck you are, or if you haven't gotten their advance permission to send them emails, or if they haven't specifically requested to receive emails from you, don't do it. It's bad form all around.

Now here's a way you can reach tons of other hot, qualified camper prospects via email in addition to people on your house list: Collaborate with other non-competing businesses (like a kid's music teacher, for instance) and ask her to send emails to HER list endorsing your camp. Then, do the same for her. This way you reach many other prospects you otherwise wouldn't, and you're not pissing them off in the process. To the contrary, the endorsement from a trusted source (in this case the music teacher) could be just your ticket to getting more kids into camp next year.

Now there's just one more thing. I love dogs. I have two of my own and got them both when they were puppies. I don't want any more puppies to die, so PLEASE, don't rent or buy any more email lists. Watch the video to learn more. Thank you!!



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Are "Likes" Better Than Links?

In today's social media world, getting "Likes" on your Facebook page are almost as important as when websites link to yours. Soon they'll be more important.

When a popular website links to your camp's website, Google views that link as a "vote" for your site. The vote helps your site rise in the search engine rankings.

When a friend or fan "Likes" your Facebook page, status, blog post, or web page, everyone connected to that person sees the "Like" too. They may be tempted to see what all fuss is about. So they follow the "Like" back to your page. Then, they might "Like" it too...and so on and on....

If you think about it, the Facebook "Like" button -- and Facebook itself -- are becoming their own virtual -- and viral -- search engines. Unreal.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Easy Way to Get More Referrals

There's lots of ways to get more referrals. But here's the easiest one I know. Set two different prices for your camp tuition. When someone contacts you to ask how much it costs (that's their favorite question, right?), you simply reply, "Well, do you want the regular price, or the referral price?" This will pique their interest like crazy, at which point you tell them the price of camp goes down a few bucks for each referral they give you. Your word-of-mouth enrollment will increase like gangbusters, trust me on this one.

Are the Yellow Pages Still Relevant?

Years ago, yellow pages marketing was a staple for every small business, company, consultant and organization. Many camps advertised in the yellow pages, too. If you want to maximize your marketing budget, stay away from the yellow pages. They're a waste of money compared to your well-positioned website.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Your Most Underutilized Marketing Tool

I posted on Facebook the other day the opportunity to discover your camp's most underutilized marketing tool. I asked for 15 "Likes," then I'd reveal the tool. No dice. Only got 6 likes. Too bad because it's such an easy strategy to implement and guaranteed to get you more enrollment for basically no work. Anyway, I'm keeping the info to myself for now. Maybe I'll share it another time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

How to Use Video Testimonials to Market Your Camp

Three weeks ago we discussed how your testimonial marketing must specifically identify the people who gave you the testimonials, otherwise they (your testimonials) lack credibility. Believable comments from happy camp families can persuade prospects to attend your camp. But if your testimonials aren't specific, they're not believable because anyone or his brother could've provided the testimonial.

Getting a comment like, "Johnny had the time of his life at camp" is nice. But crediting that statement to a general "Camp Parent" will not persuade a prospect to sign up at your camp. On the other hand, what if you attribute that statement to "Mary Higgins, Camp Parent of Johnny Higgins, age 10, from Las Vegas Nevada who's been attending our camp for 6 years"? Now you've got a believable testimonial since it has a specific attribution.

Now here's how you can REALLY make your testimonials even more powerful. Use video.



You already know moms love to talk to other moms about where they're sending their kids to camp. And moms use YouTube, you can bet on that. Make a video testimonial to put on your blog, website, facebook page and YouTube. Email your testimonial video to your list. The credibility you get from a live, happy customer on video is amazing, and people will share your video across the internet with their friends simply due to video's built-in social nature.

If the video goes viral enough at least in your local community, chances are good someone who sees the video will already know the person giving the testimonial -- and that could be just what you need to push a family on the fence to enroll at your camp. (I made the video above 2 years ago. It's only been viewed on YouTube 181 times, but it's accounted for 26 camp enrollments from people sharing it with their friends.)

You don't need an expensive, high-quality video camera to make this work. You can use your cell phone. Whatever you do, just make sure you add video testimonials to your marketing strategy next year.

Friday, November 12, 2010

20 Great Subject Lines for Your Holiday Email Marketing

Just because it's winter doesn't mean you shouldn't market your camp. You should market year-round. The Holidays are a perfect time to generate a few extra bucks you might not otherwise get. Selling gift cards or gift certificates is one thought. Having a camp reunion ice skating or ski day -- and charging for it -- is another. Whatever you do, you'll want to announce your money-making activities via email. Check out these 20 great subject lines for the Holidays from the Vertical Response email marketing blog. You can easily adopt many of these to your camp's email marketing program.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Hate Twitter but Google Loves it

There's about 200 reasons why I hate twitter, but that doesn't matter because Google loves it. Post often enough on Twitter, and eventually your tweets start showing up on Google only a few minutes later.

Free Digital Photos for Your Website, Brochure or Blog

You probably already take hundreds of camp photos each summer. But what if you can't find just the right one, right now? Here's a few sites you to help you find just the right picture to make your web page or brochure stand out. Most of these images are free, but remember to read the terms and conditions of each site so you're in compliance with their rules:

Free Digital Photos.net
PhotoRogue.com
Free Photos Bank.com

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What's Your Camp's Second Best Marketing Tool?

Social media gets the lion's share of the press nowadays. It dominates the news everywhere. As the new kid on the block, everyone's enamored with it. Used the right way, social media can help your camp grow. But it's not the best marketing tactic out there. Your staff is. Word of mouth marketing -- getting tons of referrals from happy customers -- is second best.

Have You Created Your 2011 Marketing Calendar Yet?

With 2010 winding down, now is a good time to make a marketing calendar for next year. Not a marketing plan -- a calendar. A marketing plan outlines the marketing tools, tactics and strategies you'll use to get more kids into camp. A marketing calendar details when you'll use those tools, tactics and strategies. And it helps keep your marketing activities and budget on track all year long.

Monday, November 8, 2010

How to Reach Thousands of New Prospects for the Price of 1

If you could reach hundreds (even thousands) of prospects for the same price of reaching one, wouldn't you jump at that chance? Now you can. Put together a seminar marketing, webinar marketing, cooperative marketing, social media marketing and joint venture marketing plan. You'll introduce your camp to the masses for next to nothing.

Start Building Your Email List Today

This time of year - the fall - is a good time to build your email list. Collect as many prospect emails as you can right now, so you have lots of potential camp families to connect with when you marketing program begins full force later next year. My personal goal is to get at least 2 new people to join my email list each day. You can do it to. Put your email sign up form on every page of your website and blog. Update your blog furiously, and you'll be in good shape.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Search Engine Optimization Tip: Incorporate Keyword and Keyword Phrases into Your Blog Post Titles and Website Pages

Keywords and keyword phrases are the words people type into Google to find your camp online. For example, if someone types Los Angeles Summer Camp into Google, my camp's website might come up, or maybe one of my blog posts.

To increase your chances of your blog posts or website showing at the top of Google every time, your blog post title and website pages should mirror the keywords and keyword phrases you include in those blog posts and page titles.

Google's main interest is showing relevant search results to a user's query. If your blog posts and website pages match the words someone's keying into Google, you can't get much more relevant that that. Or can you?

Yes, you can. There is one fail-proof search engine optimization secret that'll get your site to the top of Google (and ALL the search engines, actually) every time. Not 9 out of 10 times. Every time.

Think I'm blowing smoke? Keep reading this blog, because I might share the secret I'm talking about soon...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Marketing To Moms and Kids: Fast Facts

Did you know only 20% of moms say advertisers do a good job of connecting with them? Did you know 30% of moms worry their kids might lie about their age? Learn more about these facts and other incredibly helpful information to help your create a summer camp marketing program that connects with moms and kids the right way.

Resident Camp Marketing Tip

One of the best ways to find new marketing ideas is to "steal" them from other industries. Most camp people market the same way, so you need to look elsewhere for fresh promotional ideas.

Here's a tip for resident camps. You can get LOTS of great marketing ideas from the travel industry.

Just Google "travel marketing ideas," "travel industry marketing," or that kind of thing. I'll bet you find lots of great marketing ideas you haven't thought of before, Then you can "steal" and tweak those ideas for your own marketing program at camp.

Today's the Day to Start Marketing with Email

The reason email marketing is works so well is because it's the ultimate social marketing tool. If families don't know you, don't like, and don't trust you, they're not sending their kid to your camp, period. You might be in love with Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In, but none of these can touch email marketing's ability to build those critical relationships with customers and prospects you need for more enrollment.

Know what else I love about email marketing? You can send emails on your own schedule whenever you want, and recipients can open, read and respond to your emails on their own time whenever they want. In this sense you're not pushing your marketing at them...your marketing is less intrusive. If you give people an option as to when to view and respond to your marketing messages, you're way ahead of the game.

If you don't market your camp with email, now is a good time to start.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Two Customer Service Principles to Keep in Mind

If you're singling out the top two or three marketing tips for camps, customer service gets my vote. When you're putting together your customer service marketing strategy, here's where you might start:

1. Get people to know, like, and trust you

If I know you, you're more likely to do business with people you know, like and trust than others you don't know. All else being equal, you can bet camp family prospects feel the same way. Even if your camp's more expensive, they'll gladly pay more if they know, like, and trust you compared that shyster running a cheaper camp across town.) 

2. Speed, Speed Speed.

Next you need to focus on speed. Respond immediately to customer's questions. Be available at all times. Address problems instantly. Don't make people wait.

If you apply these two rules consistently, soon your camp will become known for providing great service and your enrollment will see a nice boost because of it.

The 2 Main Differences Between "New" and "Old" Marketing Strategies

  • Before the internet and social media craze, camps created marketing messages that spoke to customers. Today your marketing needs to speak with people, not at them.
  • In years past, camps searched for customers. These days customers search for camps.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Are you Thankful for Your Customers? Send them a Thanksgiving Card

Everyone sends Christmas cards in December. Why not send your customers Thanksgiving cards instead?

When I think back, I can't recall if my doctor, lawyer, or gardener sent me Holiday cards last year. They certainly may have, because I get so many. But I can't say for sure.

Now on the flip side, there's one person I can DEFINITELY single out as someone who sends me Thanksgiving cards each year: my accountant, Phil Ross. He's the only person I know who sends them.

Phil's a shrewd marketer. He understands that with so many Holiday cards flying around, dozens get lost in the crowd. So here's what he does. He sends Thanksgiving cards instead, timed to arrive just before the typical Christmas card rush to help himself really stand out from the crowd.

Sending Thanksgiving cards is a low-cost, high impact way to get a marketing advantage. No other camps I know of send Thanksgiving cards, so here's
your chance to be among the first. You can personalize your Thanksgiving cards by sending a hand-written note with a few lines of text on each one. Or if you don't want to commit that much time, just buy some Thanksgiving cards at your local stationary store, sign each one and send them out.

Either way, you'll show your customers and prospects how much you appreciate them while separating yourself from competitive camps who are too lazy or don't care enough about their camper families to do this. Just remember, November's already here, so be sure to get started today.