Industry Knowledge for Decision-Makers

Why email is the right medium for content marketing?

To quote a recent article from Forbes

“A recent study by predictive analytics firm Custora discovered that customer acquisition via email has quadrupled in the last four years and now accounts for almost 7 percent of customer acquisitions. Too many people are chasing the new thing instead of investing in the thing that really works, which is email. Email is more important than ever, not less. And those who leverage email most effectively will be the big winners.”

We live in an increasingly interconnected world. Social media has boomed in the past decade. What was seen as unimaginable a decade ago is manifesting itself through companies like Facebook & Twitter that have scaled Billion $ valuations through the power of social.

Despite the entire hullabaloo around social, there is this silent, strong & smart player that has quietly carved a niche and has been the most successful medium to generate ROI. You guessed it right. Its Email. From being the first mode of electronic communication in the 1970’s to the most sophisticated and scientific way of connecting two individuals today, email has come a long way

We at Tradebriefs eat, live & breathe email every day. It’s the core of what we do and how we have generated ROI for our clients.

For any marketing campaign to succeed, content is critical. The content could be pictorial, literary, humourous, controversial or even satirical. What aids in the success if content is the mode of delivery.

From our experience, here are some points why we think email is the best suited medium for content delivery & marketing

Context

Any marketing effort needs a warm-up exercise. Context does exactly that for your brand. It builds the initial rapport and gets the prospects hooked on to your brand and wanting to know more. With our inboxes flooded everyday with spam messages urging us to ‘BUY NOW’, context setting can be done with a subtle subject line & a desirable body (pun, of course intended!). Fro eg, if the prospect is from Mumbai and is in the financial sector, an email that talks about financial trends of the past quarter could be a good context setter. Though the brand would take a backseat here, the prospect is warming up to the fact that good content is available for consumption

Behavior

Email is one of the digital mediums where user behavior can be tracked over a period of time. Opens, clicks & forwards can be easily tracked and reported to the brand owner. The brand owner in turn can push relevant messages to keep the conversation going

Remember the golden rule – ‘Conversations get you business, not ‘in the face’ marketing’

Call to action – To have or not to have?

Most spam emailers we receive have a glaring ‘buy now’ button that would mostly put us off that we end up deleting the email. Its not a bad decision not to have a CTA. By this, we are reassuring the user that we aren’t just interested in selling something to you. Mind you, this can do wonders to your brand perception

To conclude, content marketing in itself is not a magic wand to increase ROI. Content & Email marketing go hand in hand. It has the ability to convert your interactions from ‘conversion driven’ to ‘conversation driven’. It has the power to make your users want more of you(again, pun intended!). Sale would happen at a later point in time. Don’t worry about it

An email from you may not end up in a sale. But its good to keep your users hungry for more, isnt it?

We at Tradebriefs strongly believe in the power of good content and its ability to generate, nurture & cultivate leads for your brand. Would love to hear from you!

Content marketing case study– GA software technologies

Preface

Tradebriefs is India’s largest B2B email publication with over 8 lakh subscribers across 9 industry verticals. We have associations like ETailing, FAI. RAI tying up with us to provide free content to their subscriber base. We strongly believe that content could solve a marketer’s problem of lead generation through inorganic means.

Its an increasingly competitive world where opportunities slip out of businesses at the bat of an eyelid. With organizations going gung ho on new media, its very critical to be prudent and brands must always be on the lookout so that they don’t miss out on lead generation opportunities

The case

GA software is an I.T company based out of Bangalore, India with offices worldwide. They have a fully functional BPO unit in rural India which generates employment for the rural masses through outsourced projects. Tradebriefs was hired to work on a plan to generate more leads for their BPO offering through content

The approach

We brainstormed for a significant duration on the approach. Many ideas cropped up like

  • 1. Why not an emailer campaign?
  • 2. Why not emailer campaigns with ‘drips’?
  • 3. Why not a banner to improve viewer retention?
  • 4. Why not advertorial to do soft selling?

Why not content marketing?

After long hours of deliberation, we zeroed in on content marketing as the approach to this case. We haven’t tried out content marketing as a full fledged exercise before so we weren’t even sure if this would work!

The groundwork

Following is the ground work we did before we actually went ahead with this exercise

  • 1. Picked up a relevant report. In this case, we shortlisted ‘Achieving high performance in BPO’- an exclusive report by Accenture
  • 2. We chose the report for its relevance, branding (Accenture), recency & interesting content
  • 3. We created a custom lead collection page(well, for the sake of simplicity, lets call it mini landing page) hosted at Tradebriefs’ end
  • 4. We carefully crafted the messaging and ensured that all relevant details are captured
  • 5. We also made sure that the subscriber was well informed about the fact that his/her details would be passed on to the advertiser

The actual page

This is how the page actually looked like

Ga-soft Lead collection page

The results

The client (GA soft) got an overwhelming response for this campaign. A total of 96 leads were generated. As per the feedback we have from the client, the leads were of good quality and their sales team is pursuing. Well, that put a big smile on our face as well.


We at Tradebriefs strongly believe in the power of good content and its ability to generate, nurture & cultivate leads for your brand. Please do get in touch if you wish to power your lead generation efforts through content! Happy to help

“Are you an email list owner? Ask us how to nurture them through content and generate more leads”

Email, by and large is the seen as the most traditional and the most effective medium in digital marketing. Studies show that email generates more ROI than any other form of digital marketing. Most B2B companies rely on emails to generate, nurture & close leads through emailers. Email lists are seen as precious assets to have if you are in a B2B selling organization. Though B2B businesses have traditionally steered clear of other forms of digital marketing, there are signs to show that they are gravitating towards email.

As a part of their expansion strategies, most B2B firms build a database of prospects through various sources. The sources could be trade shows, existing customers, customer references, offline campaigns, industry bodies etc.

For the sake of simplicity, lets call them an ‘email list’, or to make it shorter, just a ‘list’.

So you have done all the effort to procure and maintain a list. What next?

Shall I send out emailers to them right away?

Shall I spam the hell out of them about my products and services?

Shall I care least about their preferences and send them all the content I have?

Above are 3 mistakes most brands commit. If generating leads was such an easy exercise, all of us would have been making millions, wouldn’t we? Sadly enough, we aren’t!

If you want maximum utilization of your list with minimal collateral damage in forms of unsubscription, here is a 4 step process you should follow

1. Segment the list – Not all lists are homogeneous. The members of a list are from different sources, are of different designations, business functions and geographies. Create separate sub-lists from the master list. This can help you in 2 ways

a. Know which list is most profitable for you

b. Know which content to send

2. Create an email newsletter – This is the most critical step in the process. Its most likely that the master list is a prospective consumer of your products & services that belong to a particular domain. Get our content experts to strategize which industry newsletter would work for the list. Also, make sure that your branding is prominent. Here are the advantages of newsletters

a. You keep your list engaged through content that’s fresh and relevant to them

b. You ensure brand recall as your prospects see your branding everyday

c. You keep your prospects smart, thereby increasing your brand equity

3. Profile them continuously – Relevant information about your list is very critical to lead generation. Once your prospects in the list are comfortable with the newsletter (How do you get to know that? Ask us), create catchment areas for your list to update their profile on a regular interval. Shower them with incentives like exclusive reports in exchange of profile information. By this process,

a. You know which of your prospects are interested and which aren’t

b. You know which ones are eager to know more about you

c. You know which are accepting to be contacted by you

4. Send out targeted campaigns – The last stage would be to segment the list again based on behaviour and lead scoring. The leads that showed maximum engagement would make it to the high priority list and other would go down the priority. The idea is to ensure that the hot leads are pursued first. Plan your campaigns in such a way that you create a ‘drip’ to progressively score your prospects. Once your prospects reach a threshold score, send them a sales email and ask them for an appointment. This way, you can not only identify the right people to talk to, but also know that they have consumed enough content so that your sales person need not have to give the pitch from level zero.

We at TradeBriefs strongly believe in the power of good content and its ability to generate, nurture & cultivate leads for your brand. If you’re a list owner, do get in touch with us. Would love to hear from you!

About the author
Salar Mohamed Bijili
Contributing editor
www.indiadigitalbrief.com

How you can get an extra hour in your workday every day aka ‘Solving the Curation Problem’

Let’s analyze your daily content consumption habits. You are spending way too much time on Twitter and Facebook! Sure, you read that great blog through Twitter last week and that inspirational quote on FB, which got you all fired up and productive. But at the end of the day, you feel like you’ve not done much work. The fact that your likes and comments have earned you ‘favourite cousin’ status in your family and you know exactly what Richard Branson was thinking a few minutes ago don’t seem to help.

So you’ve decided to filter your tweets and removed a bunch of acquaintances from FB who are not really your friends. Good for you!

Now, subscribe to TradeBriefs. It’s work-related stuff – News, Insight, Jobs. It will keep you smart (think promotion! think raise!)  and it’ll save you an hour every day; from roaming the corners of the internet, looking for content.

Our editors (aided by our curation algorithms) read everything that’s important, then pick the articles that really matter, package it into a nifty newsletter and deliver it into your Inbox every day.  If you are in India, we have 7 sectors that you can deep-dive into right now (www.TradeBriefs.com). Since you love infographics so much, here’s one that explains how we do it. The individual personalization is limited to jobs right now, but soon we’ll be able to tell if you care about macro-economic fundamentals or cross-channel merchandising and help you become an expert at either.

TradeBriefs Content Curation Methodology

 

Entrepreneurs and Wantrapreneurs: Keep these things in mind when receiving feedback!

One piece of advice every early-stage entrepreneur will get is to get feedback from a lot of people on your business. This is indeed important, especially customer feedback, to improve your product and business model; but also investor feedback, mentor feedback and feedback from anyone who could potentially add value to your business. However, one of the challenges with going out and getting all this feedback is dealing with NOISE. Noise is feedback that should NOT be included in your decision-making process, because it is, well, noise; not useful information! For various reasons, people don’t always give useful feedback.

A real challenge is avoiding the tendency to dismiss negative feedback as noise because you don’t like what you hear.

So, how does one figure out what is useful feedback and what is noise?

I had an opportunity a few months ago to go through this process, as I met with several mentors at 500 Startups as part of the accelerator program. We also went through several weeks of modifying our investor pitch, getting feedback and going through that cycle again and again. The people giving us feedback were investors, ex-entrepreneurs and others in the startup scene. I got feedback from well over 50 people in a period of 3 months. Here’s how I went about separating the feedback from the noise.

Is he good at giving feedback?

Where I had an opportunity, I observed the person giving feedback to others before I formed an opinion on that person’s ability to give good feedback. You watch someone giving feedback a few times and it becomes clear to you if the person understands the objective of the process and is actually giving good actionable feedback – something the entrepreneur can use to improve the pitch/business model. Observing as a third-party helps you be neutral and not let your own pre-conceptions cloud your opinion of that person’s feedback-giving skills.

Does the person understand your space?

Somebody who might give excellent feedback to an entrepreneur in the real estate industry may not be the best judge of online media. Industry knowledge and experience matter, especially when diving into the details. Give more importance to feedback from someone who has done something similar before, more so than from someone who is a celebrity but has never dealt with your space before.

Un-bias yourself, be statistical in your approach

If 10 people who are good at giving feedback and understand what you are doing tell you something you don’t like, it is more likely that you are biased in your opinion. Don’t kill the dream, but take something constructive out of every feedback and incorporate it. Intuition is great, but bias towards something as personal as your own venture is a real thing. So, when in doubt, get statistical. Are many ‘credible’ people telling you the same thing? Use it!

Take something positive out of every interaction

While we like to read stories about how successful entrepreneurs beat the odds by defying conventional logic, remember that the untold story is one of the mentorship and feedback they got from others who tread that path before.

What’s happening at TradeBriefs – Our New Office, Partners, Re-targeting and more…

Thank you for your continued support and appreciation emails. As we continue to keep corporate India informed (625,000 subscribers and counting), I wish to share some exciting new developments at TradeBriefs.

Our New Office

This is where the magic happens. Our content, technology and alliance teams (led by Yahya , Mohsin, KotiReddy) work hard to come up with new ways to excite our subscribers, partners and advertisers every day. Our team of industry curators – Phalguni, Arpit, Sathya, Salar, Amit, Sreehari, Madhavan and Kuldip help create the best content for you, so you stay knowledgeable about your sector at all times.

Partners

We have added a new stakeholder to our eco-system in the past few months, our partners. Our partners are top companies/associations with high quality opt-in lists. We help partners by creating high engagement daily communication vehicles (e-newsletters) that can be used to provide industry knowledge, engage with their member base and build brand recall. The Association/Company and Members receive this valuable service for free. We are proud to announce Retailers Association of India (RAI), Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and eTailing India as our first 3 partners.

Contact us now to see if your organization/company qualifies.

Industry Experts

TradeBriefs welcomes Nivedita Betgeri and Sanjay Badhe to our panel of columnists.
Nivedita comes with a wealth of experience in the Retail industry in India and abroad. Her current role is Head, Western Region for HiDesign.

Sanjay is a veteran in the Indian Retail industry, with senior level appointments at Tata Trent, Aditya Birla Retail and Shoppers Stop. He currently helps SMEs and startups in retail take the leap to the next level of growth.

If you understand a sector well and wish to write for us, Apply to join our panel of industry experts.

New verticals

In partnership with IAMAI, we have launched TradeBriefs Digital Media, the most comprehensive daily brief on the Digital Media sector. Sign up here.
In collaboration with eTailing India, we have launched TradeBriefs eCommerce, the essential daily brief on the eCommerce industry. Sign up here

Advertisers

We welcome Shopify, Adobe, Times City, Easy Educate, TUI India and Balance Design and Fashion to our community of advertisers.

In the past quarter, we have also piloted re-targeting. Now, advertisers can get the benefit of targeting subscribers who have already shown an interest in their product or service. Our first two clients have received phenomenal open rates of 33%+ on these campaigns.

Contact us today to see how we can help your company get more customers from India’s most engaged subscriber base of 625,000 professionals.

A Framework for Email Communication

 

 

Most companies are NOT satisfied with their Open Rates and Click-Through Rates (CTR). If you really want to solve this problem, it is important to take a step back and look at email as part of an overall communication strategy. Here’s a framework to help you identify the levers that really matter for effective email communication.

Place in Life

Since email is push-based, you have to figure out how much of a role you play in your target audience’s life. While we all like to think that our customers are constantly thinking about us or will want to use our platform 24 hours a day, it’s important to be realistic. When designing an email communication plan, think about the ‘Place in Life’ you occupy in your target customer’s life. The infographic gives you a place to start.

For example, if your target audience is 20-30 year-old males and you are an e-commerce company, your target customer does not expect to hear from you more than once a month (ok, definitely not more than once a week). Make sure that the communication is really high quality, targeted, personalized, based on past purchase behaviour if you have that information, and adding value beyond the transactional relationship.

Opt-in Quality

We introduce here a concept called opt-in quality, which is extremely important in gauging the response you can expect from your email audience. An email address collected on your website where intent and frequency of communication is explicitly stated is of much higher quality than one collected with a checkbox as part of another signup process or at a physical store while filling out a loyalty form. This concept relates to the ‘intent strength’ of the subscriber when signing up. This has an impact on open rates and click-through rates. The higher the intent strength, the higher the engagement you can expect.

Frequency of Communication

An explicitly stated frequency is much better than ‘we will occasionally send you updates on our products’. Sometimes less is more. I am less likely to unsubscribe from your monthly communication than your daily one. You can also segment your customers into various communication buckets. While your power users might like to hear from you every week, others might prefer less frequent communication.

Quality of Content

This is the holy grail. Quality here includes the concept of Relevance. The initial Quora weekly emails were of high quality because the topics were universally interesting (how does it feel to murder a person – with answers from a real convict, wow!). They also personalized them, with questions related to my alma mater, for example. With email, you have the opportunity to speak to each individual as an individual. However, the effectiveness of this depends on the quality of information you have about each subscriber. LinkedIn has begun sending me job emails, but most of those jobs are irrelevant. To begin with, I am not looking for a job. Also the keyword matching is sub-optimal. I receive many jobs that are not related to my background or areas of interest. Twitter, on the other hand, has managed to get me spending more time with it because it is helping me discover interesting people almost every day, based on my twitter behaviour and that of others in my network, on twitter and on the web (every major site has a tweet option). Facebook emails are not interesting any more, as tags from friends and likes and comments are mildly interesting, but this information is easier to browse and discover when I visit Facebook a few times a day.

For businesses, it is important to see how social and new media companies are using email, because they look at email more intensely than most companies out there. Think about email in conjunction with your other communication efforts. Use it to engage (and re-engage) customers who may have forgotten you.

Opens and CTR

Open rates are an indicator of your brand’s strength (From Name and Quality of previous emails) and the Subject Line. While catchy subject lines might get you a temporary bump in opens, it can backfire if there is dissonance between the subject line and the content of the body of the email. However, most companies under-estimate the importance of a good subject line. A fair yet powerful subject line can improve open rates by upto 30%. Your ‘From Name’ is your brand. If you have a strong offline (or online) brand, use it. But make sure your communication quality backs it up.

The Click-through Rate (CTR) is what you typically want to maximize. You want people to click on links within your email, go to your landing page and read that information or make that transaction. There are several best practices for optimizing email creative to ensure high click-through rates – some of the basic ones are – make one point in the email, have multiple click-through links (at the top and the bottom for example) and use a good mix of text and images. Too much image ends up not appearing properly on many mobile clients and in inboxes where images are not turned on. Images also take time to load. Only-text emails might be boring and may not do a good job of making the communication lively.

The more you can think about adding value to your subscriber’s life with your content, the better. Make it useful and/or entertaining. Only then, ask them to consider buying your product or service.

How we acquired 400,000 subscribers and what you did not know about email!

The Beginning

TradeBriefs started off as as an attempt to solve a personal problem. When the organized retail business in India started taking off a few years ago, I was a Retail consultant in the US, eagerly watching the space. The lack of a comprehensive and reliable source of information on this exciting new sector is what made me start our first portal and newsletter – India Retail News (www.IndiaRetailNews.com). Soon, we had visitors and a few subscribers for the newsletter. Open and click rates were high, so I knew we were on to something.

Offline Subscriber Acquisition

After the move back to India, my initial efforts to get subscribers revolved around in-person acquaintances at conferences and events. Soon, we had interns collecting business cards and lucky draws to attract more subscribers from offline events. Our Retail training venture (the pre-pivot business) helped us gain word-of-mouth publicity and more subscribers. However, subscriber growth was so slow that we really didn’t know if this could be a viable business.

Our First Advertiser

One fine Monday, a consulting startup founder I had met at an event, called me to ask if he could advertise with us. I wasn’t sure if it would be a good investment for him and offered him email marketing at a nominal cost to begin with. His email to our audience of 10,000 subscribers got him several email responses, 10 of which were good leads (3 of whom eventually went on to become clients). We were in business!

BBC World News

We used the money earned from our training business to grow our newsletter venture. I hired our first editor. More raffles, more business cards, more subscribers. We made our presence felt at Retail conferences. Our newsletter was becoming the most comprehensive and trusted source for industry information. And one day, I got a call from BBC World News. They wanted a reliable estimate on the size of the Retail industry in India, with projections. We had no clue! I quickly ran through a bunch of reports we had curated, called a few industry folks and cobbled together some estimates. Our brand was on TV! The visibility helped us get some more subscribers and interest from advertisers.

Subscriber Needs and Advertiser interest go hand-in-hand

One thing that has caused good things to happen to us from the beginning has been our focus on subscriber needs. Even today, when I go through our subscriber logs to check what is working and what is not working, it helps me give direction to our offerings. And the best part about focusing on your audience is this: If you focus on subscriber engagement, the content stays relevant and subscribers will love you and Advertisers will find you! To this day, almost all our advertisers (including large ones like Ogilvy and The Financial Times) have approached us, rather than the other way around.

TradeBriefs is born

I remember having this conversation with my chief editor one evening. We seem to be doing well, she said. I agreed and thought to myself – we are doing this for Retail, but can we do this for other industries – can we scale this up to something much bigger? Some research on the internet made it pretty clear that there was a need for an industry-focused offering in several industries in the country. Within a matter of days, we put together a plan and launched 4 more verticals – Telecom, Finance, Software and FMCG.

The Dark Underbelly of Email

By now we were relying on SEO to get most of our subscribers. Offline subscriber acquisition was expensive and not scalable. Since we had started small and accidentally landed up in the email newsletter business, we ended up building all the email infrastructure ourselves. Over a period of a year, we educated ourselves on SMTP, IP reputation, Complaint feedback loops, Relay servers and all the wonderfully dark alleys of the email universe. In the early days, we would sometimes get asked why we charge so much for marketing to our audience, when one can purchase 10 million internet addresses on the internet for $100. Depending on the sophistication of the audience, my responses would range from – “That’s just illegal” to “Imagine your sending reputation to be like a credit score and how you’ll get screwed for life if you default on a big loan. That’s what will happen to your IP and domain if you try to send an email to 10 million addresses bought off the internet”.

What is truly Opt-in?

Very soon we got our own lessons in what happens when you piss off the cops in the email universe, namely the email providers (aka yahoo, hotmail, gmail, etc). While Gmail provides an Unsubscribe header option and Yahoo, Hotmail and others provide feedback loops where they let you know which subscribers are marking you as spam, it wasn’t very clear to us upfront why someone who has opted-in would mark your emails as spam. Well, for that we have to dig into what “opt-in” really means. The easier you make it for someone to sign up (let’s say by dropping a business card at an event), the easier it is for that person to forget why they signed up with you in the first place. Also, if you use the wrong incentives (like a cash prize) to get your users to get their friends to subscribe to your service, the more spam they send and your IP reputation suffers in the process. Besides, the more emails you send someone, the more you are likely to be perceived as spamming them; no matter how relevant you think that information is for them. Even some large companies like Facebook have learnt this the hard way. Access to someone’s Inbox is a privilege and should be treated as such.

The Future

We have 400,000 subscribers today, who trust us to provide them with industry information on a daily basis. It is a privilege for us to be able to reach them and every once in a while, we let our advertiser partners access that privilege. So, for those of you out there who are thinking of using email as a mechanism to communicate with your audience, remember that it is an excellent medium (There are more Email Inboxes being read every day than any media channel in the world), but tread cautiously!