Archive for October, 2009

Email Marketing Still Going Strong; Social Media Not a Threat

MarketingSherpa just released its 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report with information gathered from over 1,400 marketers. The biggest trend to come from this year’s report is the effect (or lack thereof) that social media is expected to have on the future of email marketing. Some of the highlights are listed below. email

 What’s gaining importance?

  • Competition with social media for recipients’ time and attention (a 48% increase from last year – in 2008 only 23% of marketers said it was important, compared with 71% this year)
  • Getting people to opt-in to lists (a 10% increase)
  • Measuring and proving ROI of email campaigns (an 8% increase)

Conversely, delivering highly-relevant email content has decreased in importance by 6% and email deliverability has decreased by 5%.

Email marketing budgets are still steady overall…

  • Business/financial services saw the biggest increase in email marketing spend, with 51% increasing budgets in 2009; 38% of technology companies increased email marketing spend
  • The industries with the biggest decreases in budget included publishing/media and hospitality/travel (18% decline reported for each)

Social media’s impact on email marketing…

  • 81% agree that social media has extended the reach of email content to new markets and over three-quarters believe that this has helped increase brand awareness (check out an article from B2B earlier in the year on tips how to do just that)
  • However, social media is not aiding in lead generation – 57% of marketers say they can’t prove that social media has helped them generate more qualified leads and 43% don’t think it’s helped grow their email list
  • Social media has not “killed” email marketing – yet. When asked how marketers share something from the Internet with others, 78% said they email them the link. Only 22% said they share it through social media tools.

It will be interesting to see if these metrics change next year, although other studies also support the claim that email is here to stay despite the increase in social media usage. A recent survey of SmartBrief on Social Media readers found that 59% say email use has stayed the same despite the growth of social networks and an ExactTarget 2009 Channel Preferences Study found that 75% of online consumers prefer to receive permission-based promotional messages through email—up 3.6% from 2008.

 — Posted by Melissa Coyle

Something Ventured

The beleaguered national and New England venture capital industries have apparently stopped the bleeding. The news yesterday from PricewaterhouseCoopers’ MoneyTree quarterly venture capital report was good, not great, but hey, we’ll take it.  Nationally VC investing increased for the first time in 18 months with the total amount invested in Q3 reaching just over $4.8 billion. Here on our home turf in New England, Q3 saw a small uptick as well with investments of $558,829. This represents the second consecutive quarter in which we’ve witnessed an increase over the prior quarter.


Biotech and clean tech led the way, according to published reports in the venture trades, the Boston Globe, TechCrunch and other media  outlets. Internet investments (remember the Internet?) saw a substantial increase – 42 percent during the quarter.

For what it’s worth, somewhat ironically on the same day that PWC released its MoneyTree data, Sequoia Capital (yeah the guys with the infamous PowerPoint slides last Sept.) announced a $12 million investment in Jive Software.

Now here is the bad news: the quarterly investments both nationally and in the region were actually lower than the same period a year ago.  Does this situation sound just like your money market, 401K or 529 account performance?  Probably so.  The best way to look at the MoneyTree numbers might well be the same way many of us now view our investment and savings portfolios – definitely better than a year ago, but leaving something to be desired and certainly still a ways to go.

It makes one wonder – Is this the New Normal?

— Posted by Tim Hurley

Death of the Handshake?

handshakeWant to know my mom’s advice on avoiding H1N1 and other sicknesses? Refuse to shake someone’s hand (or at the very least, disinfect right after). Try as I might, I simply can’t get her to understand why this might not be appropriate and may even be offensive in a business setting where we are expected to shake hands with clients, candidates and associates on a daily basis.

But it got me thinking…what if the impending H1N1 pandemic really is the death of the handshake as we know it. How will people greet each other when introduced – A wave? A wink? A thumbs up? A fist pump?  Maybe it will be common to hear people say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, but I’m now abstaining from shaking hands.”

Or perhaps nothing will need to be said at all. Maybe items like these from  IAFTAHA (the International Association for the Acceptance of Handshake Alternatives – whose mission is to “promote the acceptance of salutations sans shake”) will do  the talking for us.

All jokes aside, the inquisitive market researcher in me really wants to test it out first-hand (pun intended) and see how people react if I break the shake, but the professional in me never will. So, I turned to the most authoritative sources out there in my quest to seek an answer – twitter and facebook. I created a poll and asked my friends and followers to answer. Check out the results – they might surprise you (you can vote HERE):


I’d personally be happy if someone said, “I’m battling a cold, so I won’t shake your hand.” And if I was the sick one, I’d provide the same courtesy.

Whether the handshake really will decline thanks to fears of catching H1N1 and the seasonal flu remains to be seen. In the meantime, I’ll keep my Purell handy.

Posted by Melissa Coyle

Do you agree with the poll results? Leave a comment and let me know!

It’s not Web 2.0. It’s not Web 3.0. It’s Simply Life.

I had the opportunity this week to attend a presentation given by Peter Shankman, infamous in public relations circles for founding Help A Reporter Out (HARO), a service that in under a year became the de-facto standard for thousands of journalists looking for sources on deadline.

Investor’s Business Daily has called Shankman “crazy, but effective” – and after listening to him speak for an hour and a half, I have to agree.  I was quickly immersed in his rapid-fire, sometimes tangential, lecture on how HARO was built largely through social media, even before “social media” became “social media.”

When HARO launched in early 2008, it quickly became one of the most successful word-of-mouth programs ever, attracting more than 75,000 members without spending a penny on advertising.

Shankman credits HARO’s enormous success to four basic, yet powerful rules that I think are worth sharing:

1.     Complete and Utter Transparency

According to Shankman, the beauty of social and viral technology is that it allows us to reach thousands of people in nanoseconds. The danger of it? The exact same thing.

In today’s world of real-time Twitter and Facebook updates, blog posts and text messages, it has never been easier to ruin someone’s, or some company’s, day by talking about how they messed up or provided a bad service. Remember how Enron’s downfall began with one Forbes article? Just imagine if Enron happened today.

The bottom line is that you will never NOT mess up. To quote Shankman, “Transparency is the new black.” Just admit it and move on, Obama-style (hint: think Tom Daschle).

2.     Be Relevant

HARO’s average e-mail open rate is 85 percent. Anyone who has ever used a Constant Contact-type service for their company or for a client knows that this is impressive – and almost impossible. So what’s his secret?

I get a TON of e-mails every day – five or six of them being HARO updates. Yet I’ve never NOT opened one. Why? I regularly find media opportunities for my clients, my company, and on occasion, even my friends. His information is relevant to me. 

What a great reminder, as I engage with my clients, co-workers and media contacts, that relevance equals value, and ultimately, stronger, longer-lasting relationships.

3.     Never Underestimate the Power of Getting up Early

Shankman isn’t known for “redefining the art of networking” for nothing. Every morning, he wakes up at 5:00 a.m. and sends personalized messages to each of his HARO Facebook friends celebrating their birthday that particular day. And there are a lot of them.

Maybe advertising and public relations used to be about telling people how awesome you were. Today, it’s so not about that. It’s all about getting others to do it for you.

As a communicator, it’s my call. Am I genuinely engaging with my audience without always requiring something in return?  A phone call, an e-mail or even a hand-written note (crazy, I know), goes a long way.

4.     Keep it Short and Sweet

Unlike this blog post (oops), brevity is best. As a society, we’re embracing bite-sized messages. In fact, the average attention span of a person today is 2.7 seconds – or roughly 140 characters. So, how can I get an audience to pay attention to me? Simple. I must learn how to write for an A.D.D. world, be compelling and keep it short.

That being said, I’ve blown way past my 140-character limit. So thanks to those who’ve read to the end. I hope some of this sticks.  It did with me. Thanks for the reminder, Peter.

 — Posted by Jill Newberry

Taking the Time to Smell the Roses

In the world of PR it seems that we are always planning ahead, we are all “type A” and that is what our clients expect us to do. Whether pinpointing opportunities on editorial calendars and pitching weeks ahead, looking to the next year’s trade events and planning for speaking opportunities and sponsorships, or crafting press releases in enough time for them to go through the corporate approval process – it seems my to-do list is very rarely centered around items with short deadlines and my mind is trained to think in terms of “lead time”.

Well, all this planning ahead makes the days fly by, the weeks turn into months and the months turn into year ends. When I was doing some research the other day it dawned on me, the PR cycle is almost in the end of year pattern with magazines and trade publications planning their “year in review”, “people of the year” and “outlook 2010 stories” and I thought, it cannot possibly be that 2009 is wrapping up!

My parents recently attended a fundraising event for friends of the family whose son became paralyzed a few years ago in a skiing accident. At the end of a heartwarming speech thanking everyone in attendance, the boy’s mother asked everyone to vow to live in the moment at least twice a day, and really be in that moment, because life can change in an instant. Last week, I made the pledge to myself that twice a day I would live in the moment and I have to say, it’s refreshing. From something as simple as noticing the changing colors on the leaves lining the highway as I drive to work and not just focusing on racing down 128, to taking a break on Friday afternoons to have a weekly foosball game with my colleagues and bond with co-workers  (even though my colleagues can tell you I have won only 1 game in the last six months) , to turning off my cell phone when eating dinner with my family each night and I challenge you to do the same and see how your life changes.

– Posted by Danielle Millerick

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