Category Archives: Email Marketing

BMI Elite Buys Employee A New Car, Then Takes Staff to Bahamas

There’s never a dull moment around here at BMI Elite.  We’re back in the news once again, this time for surprising one of our longest and most deserving employees with a brand new 2013 Ford Escape for his 52nd birthday last week.  We’ve been on the front page of the Sun Sentinel’s money section, on the homepage of MSNnow, and many other news channels including CBS12, CNN and WPBF.

Chris Ninos has been BMI’s chief financial officer for the last two years and is one of the most loyal, honest, trustworthy and hardworking employees that our CEO Brandon Rosen has ever met.

“Chris will call me up at midnight, at 5:00 a.m., and on holidays just to talk about business,” said Brandon.  “He’s one of the hardest workers I know.”

Chris has been driving an old 1998 green Ford Escort for the last 11 or 12 years, and recently it’s been giving him lots of trouble.  Even though everyone around the office has been telling him to trade it in and get something new, Chris was determined to ride it until it died.  So last week, a few days before Chris’ birthday, Brandon and BMI’s president, Dan Lansman, decided to surprise him with the new Escape as a way to thank him for all that he does for the company.

Chris was told by some co-workers that they were taking him out to lunch to celebrate his birthday.  They said they needed to make a stop at the Maroone Ford dealership, and when they arrived at the showroom, Ninos was surprised with a new 2013 Ford Escape filled with balloons.

Before this all happened, BMI contacted the media to capture the moment as well.  Not only did Chris get a new car, but he also got the celebrity treatment for a few days.

If that wasn’t enough, BMI Elite is taking its entire staff on a cruise to the Bahamas this weekend for our holiday party.  I am excited and I feel lucky to be working at a company that is doing so well.  In less than two years, BMI has grown from two employees to 55 and next month, we are moving from a 4,500 sq. foot office to one that is over 21,000 sq. feet.  There are lots of big things to come!

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The Email Marketing Faceoff: Obama vs. Romney

According to StrongMail, the email marketing campaigns of President Obama and Mitt Romney are weak.  When it comes to implementing a good quality email marketing strategy, none of these two parties came out with the upper hand.

StrongMail is an email marketing provider for big name companies like MasterCard, Sony, and AT&T.  The marketing experts at StrongMail analyzed emails by both parties from August 11 to September 10, using the same analyzing system they do for their clients. The two campaigns were praised for their specific viewpoints, but Obama’s campaign contained more professionalism. In an overall email marketing analysis, they were found to lack in many important areas of email marketing.

StrongMail discovered that the content of both emails appealed to their respective markets, often times advertising their need for donations or volunteer efforts. It was found that Obama’s emails were more targeted towards avid digital technology users, which are mostly people who are under the age of 40. Even though Obama did win the professionalism battle, they went through a slight discourse when one of his subject lines was “I’ll Be Damned,” after his party celebrated out-raising the Romney campaign in August. The content of Romney’s emails was something that was seen in the ancient email marketing days. It was text-heavy. After Obama gave a speech in September, his party sent out emails with less than 50 words asking for donations. Romney responded with a 275-word critique of Obama’s speech. Good email marketing is not word heavy and it should get straight to the point with consumer benefits or offers. For example, Obama offered Obama items with free shipping in return for donations. Incentives are always good!

Neither one of the campaigns put data to good use. Both campaigns had a high immediate delete rate. For anyone who opened an email from either candidate, 1.5 immediately hit delete for an Obama email and 1.3 for Romney’s. In Romney’s situation, this was due to the fact that they didn’t have a target audience, nor emailed at the right time. As far as Obama goes, his party was emailing donation requests to people who already donated. There was no personalization on either side.

When it came to actually pumping out emails, for every email Romney sent, Obama sent 20. According to StrongMail, there was just a larger list of democratic voters. In this situation bigger was not better because Obama received an extremely high spam rate. About 93% of Romney’s emails made it to inboxes compared to Obama’s 85%. However, Obama’s average open rate was 10.7% compared to the 6.4% of Romney’s.

When it is all said and done, what really matters most is whose name is put on voter ballots, but could email marketing play a big part in determining who is more fit for presidency in the next four years? Being technologically savvy and keeping up with digital trends is important, after all.  It shows intelligence and both parties had their flaws.

Only five more days until Election Day!  Who do you think will win?

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Yahoo Closes $7.6 Billion Deal with Alibaba Group and Marissa Mayer has Money to Spend

After more than two years of on-again, off-again negotiations, the complex $7.6 billion deal is done between Yahoo and China’s Alibaba Group.  Yahoo’s shareholders, who have painfully watched the company weaken over the last few years, are likely breathing sighs of relief right about now.

In recent months there has been a lot of buzz about what would happen when this deal finally closed.  Where would the billions of dollars in cash and stock go?

Before hiring its latest CEO, Marissa Mayer, in July, Yahoo had pledged to distribute nearly all of the proceeds from the sale to its shareholders.  But then there was talk of Mayer warning shareholders that she might not return money to them after all.  Yahoo wavered from its pledge and filed regulatory documents disclosing that Mayer was in fact considering denying shareholders of the proceeds.  Instead, the money would eventually be spent in her efforts to revive the company’s growth.  The documents stated that Mayer was examining possible acquisitions, but they did not provide specifics.

Obviously this did not make shareholders happy, but overall I think that using the money to grow the company would have been a wise idea.  Giving billions to shareholders through a stock buyback or a one-time dividend is like giving a five-year old $10,000 instead of putting it toward his college tuition.  He’ll love you at first for it, but eventually it will be forgotten and the long-term outlook will grow dimmer.

Upon the completion of the sale we have learned that Mayer will not be holding on to all of the Alibaba money.  After taxes, most of the profits from the sale ($3.65 billion) will be paid out to shareholders in the form of dividend or stock buybacks, leaving Mayer and her team with about $1.3 billion to play with.

“This yields a substantial return for investors while retaining a meaningful amount of capital within the company to invest in future growth,” Mayer said in a statement.

Now that Mayer got the cash infusion that she was looking for, the technology world is eagerly waiting to see what she is going to do next.  She’s already provided free food and offered to buy an iPhone 5 or Android for her entire staff, so now what?  Her options are numerous, but there is speculation that she may try to make a huge move like putting together a takeover offer for one of the Internet’s hot websites, such as Pinterest, Vimeo, Yelp or even Foursquare.  Mayer already tried to purchase Yelp once when she was at Google, but Yelp rejected the offer and went for an IPO.  Yahoo is not nearly mobile enough, and acquiring Yelp would give its mobile platform a tremendous boost.  Yahoo currently has a monthly audience of 700 million users that it plans to build on as it develops more effective ways to connect with people on smartphones and mobile devices.

Vimeo would also be an excellent site for Yahoo to purchase.  I consider Vimeo to be YouTube’s potentially very talented little brother.  If Yahoo aims to be a serious contender to Google (who owns YouTube), it could use its own version of a leading video sharing site.  Internet videos have become a useful method of sharing information, and they are extremely popular with people.  Internet users watch more than 500 years’ worth of YouTube videos on Facebook every day, and they share about 700 videos on Twitter each minute.  Video content is now part of the content marketing strategy of many webmasters and marketers.  Acquiring Vimeo would probably come with a price tag of around $3 billion, but it could greatly increase the amount of traffic to Yahoo, boost the company’s search and social, and bring in lots of brand advertising money.

If Mayer does not wish to spend most of Yahoo’s money in one place, a smaller, less costly acquisition would be Foursquare.  Reports surfaced back in 2010 that Yahoo was considering purchasing the mobile check-in service for around $100 million.  That deal didn’t work out, and Foursquare’s last funding round valued the company at $600 million, meaning that Yahoo would have to pay at least $500 million to $1 billion for the company.  Foursquare is currently one of the hottest names in location-based services, and it could give a big boost to Yahoo in social, mobile and local.  Mayer was in charge of local at Google, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Foursquare was her top acquisition candidate. 

In order to succeed, Mayer must use the money from the Alibaba sale to take one of the Internet’s most recognizable brands and make it more profitable.  She must apply her extensive knowledge of working on the user experience, doing for Yahoo what she did for Google.  By recapturing the audience’s attention and driving more traffic to Yahoo’s website, this will in turn help Yahoo sell more online advertising space and revive revenue growth. I am personally rooting for Mayer’s success because I am eager to see epic new products that will give Yahoo the reinvention that it needs and make the Internet a better place for all of us.

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Your Baby Can’t Read- It’s Just false & Deceptive Advertising

At 9 months old, most babies are just starting to babble, crawl and pull themselves up. Have you ever met one who can read?

If you ever saw an ad for “Your Baby Can Read” and still had doubts afterward about children as young as 9 months old actually being able to read, you are not crazy.  These ads promoting the program were nothing but fiction, says the Federal Trade Commission, who just filed false and deceptive charges against them.

The charges come as another huge blow to Your Baby Can, LLC, which was forced to close its doors last month.  The settlement with the company and its president and CEO prohibits the defendants from further use of the term “Your Baby Can Read” and imposes a $185 million judgment, which equals the company’s gross sales since January 2008.  How the company will pay back this money is questionable, considering they are already broke or pretty close to it.  When Your Baby Can went out of business last month, the company cited the high cost of fighting complaints alleging that its ads were false.

The lesson learned by Your Baby Can and all the other companies that are facing similar lawsuits is that false and deceptive advertising may seem like a great way to make fast and easy cash, but it will get you nowhere in the long run.  If a company is running ads that are not factually correct and deceive or mislead consumers, it is only a matter of time before the consumers will figure this out.  It probably didn’t take very long for parents to realize that their baby was not actually learning to read, and I’m sure it didn’t make them feel very good.

In this age of the internet and social media, these consumers who feel angry, disappointed or misled by a company have a place to publicly complain.  In many cases social proof causes these negative posts to spark comments and feedback from even more unhappy customers.  These negative posts are available for potential new clients to see and can be extremely destructive to a company.  In the case of Your Baby Can, it ruined their reputation.  When you search “Your Baby Can Read” on Google, almost all of the results on the first page are negative.  A majority of the related search suggestions refer to the words “reviews, scam, and does it work,” which will also lead to negative posts.

Companies should use this as a great lesson and example of where false and deceptive advertising will get you.  With all the information that consumers have access to today due to the internet and social media, it’s no longer as easy to get away with deceiving and misleading them.  Consumers should also learn a lesson from this case- if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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Marissa Mayer Leaves Google to Become Yahoo’s New CEO

By now I’m guessing that we have all heard the biggest news story out of Silicon Valley- Marissa Mayer has been hired as the new CEO at Yahoo.  The second-biggest news story seems to be the fact that she is six months pregnant.  Good for her, but what I’m really interested in is who she is, what she accomplished at Google and what we can expect from her at Yahoo.  Surely she has her work cut out for her, so what changes can we expect from the company in the upcoming future?

Mayer received her B.S. in Symbolic Systems and her M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University, specializing in artificial intelligence for both degrees.  She joined the Google team in 1999 as its 20th employee and its first female engineer.  During her time there she held five different roles, beginning as a software engineer and finishing as the Vice President of local, maps and location services.  She is credited with maintaining the company’s home page for a decade and overseeing some of their most popular products including Gmail, Google News and image, book and product search.

She made her Yahoo debut Tuesday, replacing Ross Levinsohn, who ran the company on an interim basis since Scott Thompson’s resignation in May.  She is the company’s fourth chief executive in less than a year.

David Filo, co-founder of Yahoo, said in a prepared statement: “Marissa is a well-known, visionary leader in user experience and product design and one of Silicon Valley’s most exciting strategists in technology development. I look forward to working with her to enhance Yahoo’s product offerings for our over 700 million unique monthly visitors.”

By accepting the position at Yahoo, she accepted the huge challenges that come with it.  Mayer is joining the company as its fortunes have pretty much come to a halt.  Its financial performance and stock price have been steadily declining since Yahoo rejected a $47.5-billion takeover offer from Microsoft in 2008. The company’s lower profit makes it clear that Yahoo is losing the battle for people’s time and attention and marketers’ advertising dollars to rivals Facebook and Google.  Both companies have been thriving as advertisers spent more money on Internet advertising.  It currently takes Google a little more than a month to make as much money as Yahoo does in a year.

To succeed, Mayer will have to take one of the Internet’s most recognizable brands and make it more profitable.  She must apply her extensive knowledge of working on the user experience, doing for Yahoo what she did for Google.  By recapturing the audience’s attention and driving more traffic to Yahoo’s website, this will in turn help Yahoo sell more online advertising space and revive revenue growth.

She could work with Levinsohn to build on what he had envisioned- revamping the site and making it the hottest spot on the Internet by using a combination of exclusive content and material produced by a wide range of other media outlets.  He was particularly focused on improving the quality of Yahoo’s video offerings, estimating that if the company’s website was serving up professionally produced news and entertainment clips, it will attract people and they will stick around.

Mayer has yet to announce the fate of Levinsohn, declining to discuss her plans for him in a Monday interview.

Whether Levinsohn stays or leaves, Mayer will have to develop a road map for Yahoo and decide where the company fits in the Internet and mobile market that is mainly being controlled by Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.  Yahoo currently has a monthly audience of 700 million users that it plans to build on as it develops more effective ways to connect with people on smartphones and mobile devices.

As one of Google’s former top executives, it is safe to say that she knows the company’s strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities very well.  Her experience at Google has probably also given her some insight on the areas where Facebook, Apple and Amazon.com are vulnerable as well.  Mayer has already stated that she is confident that she can make Yahoo’s services “even more innovative and inspiring in the future.”

Yahoo needs a sharp leader who can build excitement and ultimately traffic and revenue.  It looks like after a string of short-lived CEOs they may have finally found a good match. The next few months will be an interesting test to see how Mayer handles the huge challenge that she is facing.  I believe in Mayer and wish her the best of luck.

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21 New Statistics About Online Marketing

We’ve all heard over and over again about how important the Internet is and how it is changing the way businesses advertise. HubSpot has recently released some new data about the state of the Internet marketing world that are helpful and surprising. Check it these newly-released facts:

1) The more posts per day, the less engagement — when a brand posts twice a day, those posts only receive 57% of the likes and 78% of the comments per post. (Source: Track Social)

2) The click-through rate on triggered messages is 119% higher than “Business as Usual” messages. (Source: Epsilon and DMA)

3) On average, companies respond to only 30% of social media fans’ feedback. (Source: Factbrowser)

4) The average tablet user spends 13.9 hours per week with the device. (Source: OPA)

5) Text messaging users send or receive an average of 35 messages per day. (Source: Forrester Research)

6) Email opens on smartphones and tablets have increased 80% over the last six months. (Source: Litmus)

7) 27% of TV sets shipped worldwide in Q1 of 2012 had internet connectivity. (Source: Display Search)

8) By 2016, more than half of the dollars spent in US retail will be influenced by the web. (Source: Forrester Research)

9) In any given week, less than 0.5% of Facebook fans engage with the brand they are fans of. (Source: Marketing Science)

10) 45% of the world’s 2 billion internet users live in Asia. (Source: Ecommerce Europe)

11) 61% of emails received at professional email accounts are non-essential. (Source: Mimecast)

12) 20% of Facebook users have purchased something because of ads or comments they saw there. (Source: Ipsos)

13) 17% of the top 1000 search terms on Twitter “churn over” on an hourly basis. (Source: Twitter)

14) U.S. consumers send 2.304 trillion text messages per year, up from 2.052 trillion in 2010. (Source: CTIA)

15) 40% of the accounts and 8% of the messages on social media sites are spam. (Source: Businessweek)

16) 88% of adults in the US have a cell phone, 57% have a laptop, 19% own an e-reader, and 19% have a tablet. (Source: Pew Internet)

17) 64% of smartphone owners are using their mobile devices to shop online. (Source: eDigitalResearch)

18) YouTube users watch more than 3B hours of video per month. (Source: YouTube)

19) About 1 in 3 bloggers are moms. (Source: Nielsen)

20) 73% of smartphone owners access social networks through apps at least once per day. (Source: Lightspeed Research)

21) 91% of online adults use social media regularly. (Source: Experian)

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What Do Marketing and Beautiful Women Have In Common?

You see a beautiful woman at a party. You walk up to her and say, “I am very rich. Marry me.” That’s DIRECT MARKETING.

You are at a party with a bunch of friends and see a beautiful woman. One of your friends goes up to her and pointing at you says, “He is very rich. Marry him.” That’s ADVERTISING.

You see a beautiful woman at a party. You go up to her and get her telephone number. The next day you called her and say, “Hi, I am very rich. Marry me.” That’s TELEMARKETING.

You are at a party and see a beautiful woman. You get up and straighten your tie, walk up to her and pour her a drink. You open the door for her, pick up her bag after she drops it, offer her a ride, and then say, “By the way, I’m very rich. Will you marry me?”  That’s PUBLIC RELATIONS.

You are at a party and a beautiful woman walks up to you and says, “You are very rich.” That’s BRAND RECOGNITION.

You see a beautiful woman at a party. You walk up to her and say, “I am very rich. Marry me.” She gives you a nice hard slap on your face. That’s CUSTOMER FEEDBACK.

You take a shower, shave and put on some clean clothes. You go to a party. Everyone in the room smells bad. A beautiful woman walks up to you and gives you her number. That’s INBOUND MARKETING.

The lines above were written by Carole Mahoney.  I thought it was funny (as funny as marketing can get) and decided to make up a few of my own about online marketing:

You see a beautiful woman at party.  You make friends with everyone else in the room and they all tell her “He is very rich.  Marry him.”  That’s LINK BUILDING.

You see a beautiful woman at a party.  You pay someone to go up to her, point to you and say “He is very rich.  Marry him.”  That’s AFFILIATE MARKETING.

You are at a party and see a beautiful woman.  You get her name, find her on Facebook, message her and say “Hi, I am very rich. Marry me.” That’s SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING.

You see a beautiful woman at a party. You go up to her and get her email address. The next day you email her and say, “I am very rich. Marry me.” That’s EMAIL MARKETING.

Hope you enjoyed that.  Stay tuned for future comparisons!

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Why Your Company Should Be Blogging

Does your business blog?  If not, you might want to consider it before you get left behind.  From 2009 to 2011 the percentage of businesses with a blog grew from 48% to 65%.  With 85% of those businesses using the words “useful,” “important” or “critical” to describe their blog, I expect that percentage to continue growing.

There are many good reasons for your business to be blogging, and they go way beyond SEO.  Don’t just blog so that more visitors will be sent by Google to your website.  Do it for the following reasons as well:

  • It forces you to stay up-to-date with news and technology.
  • You’re an expert in your industry, so why not establish yourself as one?
  • It can help you answer customers’ questions more easily.
  • It can help you explain things more clearly.
  • It humanizes the company- people will feel like they know you and be more comfortable.
  • It enhances visibility- consider it free or inexpensive advertising.
  • If you have been criticized, you can defend yourself.
  • You will learn about your customers and what they want through blog comments.
  • It will direct targeted traffic to your website.

The overall reason you should be blogging is because you have a lot to gain from it.  It’s a cost-effective way to expose your business to existing customers and gain new ones.

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What Email Marketing Does That Social Media Can’t

ImageThe picture above is my cat, Penelope.  As you can see, she’s a huge fan of social media (particularly YouTube).  She may not be able to type, but she enjoys hissing and making chirping sounds at her cat and bird friends online.

With online marketing methods such as social media rapidly growing more popular recently, some have been quick to declare email marketing dead.  That declaration cannot be more wrong, and some of these people may end up kicking themselves for undervaluing it.  Evidence that email marketing is alive and still necessary lies in numbers and the benefits that only it offers.

While social media is an important method that is not to be ignored, one of its biggest disadvantages is that it is not as clean, targeted and direct as email marketing.    Here are some of the ways that social media cannot even compare:

Email lists are easily segmented.  You can post a message on social media, and everyone will receive the same thing whether they’re interested or not.  There are no one-size-fits all customers, so luckily email allows you to segment and send the right messages to the right audience.  If people are actually interested in the emails you send them, they will welcome them, reducing unsubscribes and raising conversion rates.

There’s proof in numbers.  You can post a message on Facebook or Twitter, but there is no way of knowing how many friends or followers will actually see it.  Not only do email lists usually have an audience larger than a typical list of friends or followers, but it is possible to see the number of times your email was viewed and clicked, as well as the percentage that didn’t make it to a reader.

Email continues to provide the highest ROI.  It requires very little time and money to send a targeted email to a specific group of customers.  Top marketers have been surveyed and studied many times throughout the growth of social media, and the results always prove that email marketing still returns the greatest return on investment.

Social networks fade, email is forever.  How often do you still check your MySpace?  Have you ever neglected Facebook in favor of Twitter, or vice versa?  Unlike social media, where people migrate from one trendy network to another, email addresses rarely change.  People may create a secondary email address and use their older one less often, but they are still likely to check it from time to time.

It’s a one-on-one conversation. Social media is a dialogue.  A single post suddenly turns into a group conversation with dozens of responses, and sometimes nobody even buys anything.  With email, all you have to do is send a message directly.  Unless the customer is buying something, or has a question before making a purchase, you don’t have to spend another minute taking further action.  Just send and move on with your day.

Longer visibility.  On Twitter and Facebook, new messages have a very short life due to the rapid rate that others tweet and post.  Your post is likely to only be seen by people who happen to be online and looking at their screens at that moment.  An email remains visible and available in an inbox until the user chooses to open and read it.

With that said, social media is still an important marketing strategy that should not be ignored.  But while you are posting and tweeting, let’s not forget that it is important to continue building your email lists as well.

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