Optimizing Automated Communication Strategies

Jan 4th

When someone hits you up with a commercial email you never asked for that is spam. But there are other types of automated communication which have the opportunity to suck, or the opportunity to be helpful. Call customer support for a Fortune 500 monopoly and you will see the wrong end of selfish automation. Numerous third party solutions are dedicated to balancing these selfish relationships.

It is easy to write off fields you don't understand. seo=spam, email marketing=spam, affiliates=spam, public relations=spam. But just because you have never used a technique does not mean that it is spam. In much the same way that communication can be selfish, communication can also be meaningless, or offer the bare essentials needed to be utilitarian. Every channel and every interaction is an opportunity, and every interaction has costs. In the past the welcome email for joining SEO Book said something like this:

!username,

Thank you for registering at !site. You may now log in to !login_uri using the following username and password:

username: !username
password: !password

You may also log in by clicking on this link or copying and pasting it in your browser:

!login_url

This is a one-time login, so it can be used only once.

After logging in, you will be redirected to !edit_uri so you can change your password.

-- !site team

I recently changed it to

Hello !username,

Thank you for registering at !site. You may now
log in to
!login_uri
using the following username and password:

username: !username
password: !password

After logging in, you will be redirected to
!edit_uri
so you can change your password.

-------------------------------------------------------

Please introduce yourself here
http://www.seobook.com/introduction-thread-who-are-you-what-do-you-do
And fill out your user profile. My profile is here if
you want to take a look
http://www.seobook.com/user/aaron-wall
By default your user profile includes a couple Google
gadgets that make it easy to do competitive research.

-------------------------------------------------------

You can read the latest SEO news and participate in the
discussion here http://www.seobook.com/blog

-------------------------------------------------------

Please have a look at some of the featured content
offered on the site, including
http://www.seobook.com/glossary/ - learn SEO jargon
http://tools.seobook.com/ - collection of free SEO tools
http://www.seobook.com/bloggers - the Blogger's Guide to SEO
http://www.seobook.com/archives/001792.shtml - 101
link building tips

We have many more features in development, and will
release some of them soon!

Have a great day!
-- Aaron Wall, and the !site team

I am sure I can greatly improve it from there, perhaps even offering a 7 day autoresponder series for new members, and a different autoresponder series for people who buy SEO Book.

I recently joined one service that sends daily quick tip emails for the first month. Every third email is an advertisement, and yet somehow as I marketer I have not taken offense to the ads and actually find the emails useful. 2 out of 3 emails offer tips to master topic x, while the 3rd email tells you to buy a product or service in a related market. Each email, based on who sent it, reminds me to use the service I am paying for, which lowers the odds of me unsubscribing.

Some successful marketers can take a basic concept that you would write a sentence about and turn it into a 10 page article 20 minute video. When you are trying to give people direction you rarely get in trouble for making an idea too accessible and too easy to understand. Building trust is a process. After people give you permission you can use automation to help build trust and encourage participation. Or you can ignore a free marketing channel that is easy to set up, while your competitors increase visitor value and take marketshare from you.

The relationship between sales and email is not a 1 to 1 ratio, but the days I spend 6 hours answering email I sell many ebooks. Assuming your offers are compelling and clearly stated, communication and inquiry have a rough correlation for purchase demand. Each of these emails gets a personalized response, but the more you can make your automated marketing feel personalized the less personalized selling you have to do to make sales.

Automation ideas that apply to most online communities and software businesses:

  • package information in multiple formats to give people many different paths to reach conversion
  • answer common questions on your site so you can point new customers at it and so searchers can find it
  • personalize welcome or sign up emails to thank users for joining and highlight featured content (I used to do this for SEO Book orders too, but need to modify the affiliate software again after I upgraded to the latest version)
  • use autoresponders that offer free helpful tips and build trust (I need to take my own advice here too, and am hoping to soon)
  • store answers to some common emails in a searchable online database like iDevaffiliate does
  • create a community where consumers can solve each other's questions
  • offer tutorial videos and/or FAQs with any piece of complex software
  • create software which allows people to restore default settings
  • cross reference complementary tools - as is done by my keyword tool

Product launches that fail often fail because the marketer assumes everyone wants what they are producing rather than giving people what they want in a format they like. Many successful marketers have been throwing away a lot of money for a long time by assuming everyone wants to read the blog.

Published: January 4, 2008

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Comments

January 5, 2008 - 4:51am

Hi Aaron,

Great advice. A tip to consider: under the featured content section of the recent auto-responder, I suggest putting a link to the videos section of your site. The videos are very helpful for visual learners such as myself and they reinforce the concepts and practices in the SEO Book e-book. Also, you may consider segmenting the video content into categories: beginner, intermediate, and advanced SEO. The categories are rather subjective but they may provide some guidance to someone who is trying to learn SEO for the first time.

Is there a way to get automated emails with updated site content such as newly posted videos, blog posts, etc. on a topic of interest?

Keep up the great work.

January 5, 2008 - 8:30pm

Hi rsinno
There might eventually be the ability to create topic specific RSS feeds, though my programmer has been a bit hard on time recently.

January 7, 2008 - 8:22pm

Aaron

One of the best opportunities to get information from your customer is the follow up survey. In your case, the delivery is an ebook, so the survey would be 1-3 days after the download, but for companies actually shipping a product, the ideal time for an automated follow up is when they receive the delivery confirmation from the carrier (UPS/FED-EX/Etc).

Not only is this an excellent time to ask if the product arrived in good condition and was what they ordered, the customer will also likely answer a few more questions about themselves. This really helps the customer feel you care, surfaces issues that might go unreported and helps solidify long term relationships that are critical for many companies.

The only caveat is that the savvy marketer must read EVERY response and be proactive if the customer reports any problems.

Jonah

January 10, 2008 - 10:40pm

Aaron,

Whats your take on the content analysis page in google webmaster tools. I've been reading on some posts that rankings of some sites have been moving around because of duplicate meta tag descriptions. Do you have any feedback.

Regards,

Andrew

January 10, 2008 - 11:39pm

I have not tested for any duplicate meta description issues.

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