Tag Archive | "What’s"

Here’s What’s About To Hit Netflix

As you know, content comes and goes on Netflix. Each week, we’re bringing you a list of titles that you’ll be able to stream in the U.S. in the coming days. As always, dates are subject to change.

I really can’t tell you much about any of this week’s titles so let’s just get right to it.

Available on 09/04:

Baby Daddy: Season 4 (new episodes)

A 20-something bachelor bartender becomes an unlikely parent when an ex-girlfriend leaves a baby girl on his doorstep.

Bad Night (2015)

Lauren Luthringshausen, Jenn McAllister, Julianna Guill

When Kate (Lauren Luthringshausen) and Abby (Jenn McAllister) are mistaken for famous art thieves (Julianna Guill and Judy Marte), their fun night out quickly goes from good to bad, and Mrs. Goldstein’s (June Diane Raphael) boring class field trip turns into the trip of their lives. But now they have to contend with a roller-skating Russian Mobster (Matt Walsh), a “method painter” with one ear (Adam Pally), a pregnant tattoo artist (Casey Wilson) and The Collector, a Bond girl turned Bond villain (Molly Ringwald). Whether or not the BFFs can survive is as much a question as whether or not their friendship can.

Madame Secretary: Season 1

Ex-CIA agent Elizabeth McCord is living the quiet life of an academic when a plane crash and a presidential request present a challenge she cannot refuse, and she finds herself thrust into the spotlight as the newly appointed secretary of state.

Melissa & Joey: Season 4 (new episodes)

Single politician Melissa has her life turned upside-down when she is made guardian of her niece, Lennox, and nephew, Ryder. She hires Joe, an unemployed stockbroker, as a live-in “manny” (male nanny) to help out, a job he hopes will be temporary.

Available on 09/08:

6 Years (2015) – NETFLIX EXCLUSIVE

Taissa Farmiga, Ben Rosenfield, Joshua Leonard

As a volatile young couple who have been together for six years approach college graduation, unexpected career opportunities threaten their future.

Love At First Fight (2014)

Adèle Haenel, Kévin Azaïs, Antoine Laurent

When he meets the intense, muscular and beautiful Madeleine Beaulieu on France’s southwest coast,mild-mannered Arnaud Labrède becomes obsessed with her — so much so that when she signs up for a military training course, he follows suit.

Available on 9/9:

Teen Beach Movie 2 (2015)

Ross Lynch, Maia Mitchell, Grace Phipps

Modern day teens Mack and Brady get a real world visit from Lela, Tanner, Butchy, and other surfer and biker pals from the beach party film within a film, Wet Side Story.

Available on 09/10:

Fugitivos: Season 1

Julián and Esperanza, both unjustly imprisoned, form a passionate bond behind bars and conceive a daring scheme to prove their innocence.

Longmire: Season 4 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Based on the Walt Longmire mystery novels by Craig Johnson, this contemporary crime thriller focuses on a Wyoming sheriff who’s rebuilding his life and career following the death of his wife.

Available on 09/11:

About Elly (2009)

Marila Zare’i, Mani Haghighi, Taraneh Aidoosti

After years abroad, Ahmad returns to his native Iran to recover from his recent divorce, where he joins some old pals on a trip to the Caspian Sea. His friends also invites Elly, a young teacher who may be the cure for Ahmad’s broken heart.

God Bless the Child (2015)

Harper Graham, Elias Graham, Arri Graham

When their depressive mother abruptly disappears, five children are left to their own devices, with 13-year-old Harper assuming the role of caretaker.

Madame Bovary (2014)

Mia Wasikowska, Laura Carmichael, Ezra Miller

In this faithful adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s immortal novel, young Emma Bovary’s passions overwhelm her solemn vows of marriage when the dashing Marquis d’Andervilliers captivates her heart, ultimately leading her down the path to ruin.

Image via Netflix

The post Here’s What’s About To Hit Netflix appeared first on WebProNews.


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What’s In A Name?

Many SEO love keyword-loaded domain names. The theory is that domains that feature a keyword will result in a boost in ranking. It’s still a contentious topic:

I’ve seen bloggers, webmasters and search aficionados argue the case around the death of EMDs time and time again, despite the evidence staring them in the face: EMDs are still all over the place. What’s more, do a simple bulk backlink analysis via Majestic, and you will find tons which rank in the top 10 while surrounded by far more authoritative domains.

No matter what the truth of the matter as to the ranking value of EMDs, most would agree that finding the right language for describing and profiling our business is important.

Terminology Changes

Consider the term “startup”.

This term, which describes a new small business, feels like it has been around forever. Not so. Conduct a search on the time period 1995-1998 and you won’t find results for start-up:

It’s a word that has grown up with the web and sounds sexier than just business. Just like the word “consultant” or “boutique” sounds better than “mom and pop” or “1 person business”. (You must remember of course when “sanitation engineer” replaced “trash man”.) oI just did a search to see the use of the word startup from the period 1995 to 1998 and came up with zilch in terms of relation to business

Start up does sound sexier than “mom n pop” or “one person business”, or “a few stoner mates avoiding getting a job”. A pitch to a VC that described the business as a “mom n pop” may not be taken seriously, whereas calling it a startup will.

If we want to be taken seriously by our audience, then finding the audience’s language is important.

SEO or Digital Marketing Or…..?

Has SEO become a dirty word? Has it always been a dirty word?

SEO’s don’t tend to see it that way, even if they are aware of the negative connotations. They see SEO as a description of what they do. It’s always been a bit of a misnomer, as we don’t optimize search engines, but for whatever reason, it stuck.

The term SEO is often associated with spam. The ever-amiable Matt Cutts video’s could be accompanied by a stern, animated wagging finger and a “tut tut tut” subtext. The search engines frown on a lot when it comes to SEO. SEO is permanent frown territory. Contrast this with PPC. PPC does not have that negative connotation. There is no reputation issue in saying you’re a PPC provider.

Over the years, this propaganda exercise that has resulted in the “SEO questionable/PPC credible” narrative has been pretty effective. The spammer label, borrowed from the world of email spam, has not been a term the SEO has managed to shrug off. The search engines have even managed to get SEOs to use the term “spammer” as a point of differentiation. “Spam is what the other SEOs do. Not me, of course.” This just goes to show how effective the propaganda has been. Once SEOs used spam to describe their own industry, the fate of the term SEO was sealed. After all, you seldom hear doctors, lawyers and retailers defining what they do against the bad actors in their sector.

As traffic acquisition gets broader, encompassing PR and social media, new titles like Digital Marketer have emerged. These terms have the advantage of not being weighed down by historical baggage. I’m not suggesting people should name themselves one thing or the other. Rather, consider these terms in a strategic sense. What terms best describe who you are and what you do, and cast you in the best possible light to those you wish to serve, at this point in time?

The language moves.

Generic Name Or Brandable?

Keyword loaded names, like business.com, are both valuable and costly. The downside of such names, besides being costly, is they severely limit branding opportunities. The better search engines get, and the more people use social media and other referral channels, the less these generic names will matter.

What matters most in crowded markets is being memorable.

A memorable, unique name is a valuable search commodity. If that name is always associated with you and no one else, then you’ll always be found in the search results. SEMRush, MajesticSEO, and Mo are unlikely to be confused with other companies. “Search Engine Tools”, not so much.

Will the generic name become less valuable because generic names are perhaps only useful at the start of an industry? How mature is your industry? How can you best get differentiation in a crowded market through language alone?

The Strategy Behind Naming

Here are a few points to consider.

1. Start Early

Names are often an afterthought. People construct business plans. They think about how their website looks. They think about their target market. They don’t yet have a name. Try starting with a name and designing everything else around it. The name can set the tone of every other decision you make.

2. Positioning

In mature markets, differentiation is strategically important. Is your proposed name similar to other competitors names? Is it unique enough? If you’re in at the start of a new industry, would a generic, keyword loaded name work best? Is it time for a name change because you’ve got lost in the crowd? Has your business focus changed?

Does your name go beyond mere description and create an emotional connection with your audience? Names that take on their own meaning, like Amazon, are more likely to grow with the business, rather than have the business outgrow the name. Imagine if Amazon.com had called itself Books.com.

3. What Are You All About?

Are you a high-touch consultative company? Or a product based, functional company? Are you on the cutting edge? Or are you catering to a market who like things just the way they are?

Writing down a short paragraph about how you see yourself, how the customers see you, and your position in the market, will help you come up with suitable names. Better yet, write a story.

4. Descriptive Vs Differentiation

Descriptive can be safe. “Internet Search Engine” or “Web Crawler”. There’s no confusing what those businesses do. Compare them with the name Google. Google gives you no idea what the company does, but it’s more iconic, quirky and memorable. There’s no doubt it has grown with the company and become a natural part of their identity in ways that “Internet Search Engine” never could.

Sometimes, mixing descriptions to create something quirky works well. Airbnb is a good example. The juxtaposition of those two words creates something new, whilst at the same time having a ring of the familiar. It’s also nice to know if the domain name is available, and if the name can be trademarked. The more generic the name, the harder it is to trademark, and the less likely the domain name is available.

5. Does Your Name Travel Well?

Hopefully, your name isn’t a swear word in another culture. Nor have negative connotations. Here are a few comical examples where it went wrong:

Nokia’s new smartphone translates in Spanish slang to prostitute, which is unfortunate, but at least the cell phone giant is in good company. The name of international car manufacturer Peugeot translates in southern China to Biao zhi, which means the same thing.

This is not such an issue if your market is local, but if you plan to expand into other markets in future, then it pays to consider this angle.

6. There’s No Right Answer

There is probably no universally good name. At least, when you first come up with a name, you can be assured some people will hate it, some will be indifferent, and some will like it – no matter what name you choose.

This is why it’s important to ground the subjective name-choosing process in something concrete, like your business strategy, or positioning in the market. You name could have come before the business plan. Or it could reflect it. You then test your name with people who will likely buy your product or service. It doesn’t matter what your Mom or your friends think of the name, it’s what you think of the name and what your potential customers think of the name that counts.

7. Diluting Your Name

Does each service line and product in your company need a distinctive name? Maybe, but the risk is that it could dilute the brand. Consider Virgin. They put the exact same name on completely different service lines. That same brand name carries the values and spirit of Virgin to whatever new enterprise they undertake. This also reduces the potential for customer confusion.

Creating a different name for some of your offerings might be a good idea, Say, if you’re predominantly a service-based company, yet you also have one product that you may spin off at some point in future. You may want to clearly differentiate the product from the service so as not to dilute the focus of the service side. Again, this is where strategy comes in. If you’re clear about what your company does, and your position in the market, then it becomes easier to decide how to name new aspects of your business. Or whether you should give them a name at all.

7. Is your name still relevant?

Brands evolve. They can appear outdated if the market moves on. On the other hand, they can built equity through longevity. It seems especially difficult to change internet company names as the inbound linking might be compromised as a result. Transferring the equity of a brand is typically expensive and difficult. All the more reason to place sufficient importance on naming to begin with.

8. More Than A Name

The branding process is more than just a name and identity. It’s the language of your company. It’s the language of your customers. It becomes a keyword on which people search. Your customers have got to remember it. You, and your employees, need to be proud of it. It sets you apart.

The language is important. And strategic.

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What’s in a Gnome? Groupon launches new point-of-sale device

gnome_w_standI’ve often thought that the one thing keeping Groupon from being a total success is the lack of a specific cash register made to handle Groupon coupons.

No, I’ve never actually thought that, but someone did and now there’s Gnome – a tablet-based, point-of-sale device specifically designed for businesses who promote through Groupon.

The tablet will let merchants instantly recognize their Groupon customers as they enter their business, seamlessly redeem Groupons and save time and money with a simple point of-sale system and credit card payment processing service.

Really? There are enough merchants using Groupon coupons on a regular basis that they need a system like this? Okay, maybe NEED is too strong a word. How about want? And what if you don’t ‘want’? Doesn’t matter. Word around the farm is that Groupon is going to (gently) insist that any merchant who works with Groupon, use Gnome to process their transactions.

Sounds kind of pushy? So what’s in it for us?

It will cost $ 10 a month to license the machine and I hear the payment processing fees will be lower than average, so this isn’t a money-maker for Groupon. That could add up to real savings for a small merchant.

The bigger plus is the fact that the system works as a customer management system as well as a cash register.  The system tracks customer data including purchase history and preferences, so merchants can create customized marketing campaigns that really speak to their loyal visitors.  The machine also allows merchants to share customer feedback and respond to feedback via Facebook and Twitter.

The Gnome website also outlines the benefits to shoppers – the big one being that they don’t have to print out Groupon vouchers to redeem them. Since it hooks into the Groupon website, all you need is the customer’s name to find their voucher and redeem it. Groupon also reminds shoppers that when a merchant values you, they learn more about you and in return you should support stores that use the new Gnome machine. (And boycott those who don’t?)

This whole business is Groupon taking another step away from their roots as a Daily Deal site. The concept is good, not wildly different, but solid. But I still have to ask the question – are there that many merchants using Groupon enough that it’s worth buying a specific POS system just to make that end of the business easier? Seems like a leap to me. What am I missing?

 

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What’s Wrong With A/B Testing

A/B testing is an internet marketing standard. In order to optimize response rates, you compare one page against another. You run with the page that gives you the best response rates.

But anyone who has tried A/B testing will know that whilst it sounds simple in concept, it can be problematic in execution. For example, it can be difficult to determine if what you’re seeing is a tangible difference in customer behaviour or simply a result of chance. Is A/B testing an appropriate choice in all cases? Or is it best suited to specific applications? Does A/B testing obscure what customers really want?

In this article, we’ll look at some of the gotchas for those new to A/B testing.

1. Insufficient Sample Size

You set up test. You’ve got one page featuring call to action A and one page featuring call to action B. You enable your PPC campaign and leave it running for a day.

When you stop the test, you’ve found call-to-action A converted at twice the rate of call-to-action B. So call-to-action A is the winner and we should run with it, and eliminate option B.

But this would be a mistake.

The sample size may be insufficient. If we only tested one hundred clicks, we might get a significant difference in results between two pages, but that change doesn’t show up when we get to 1,000 clicks. In fact, the result may even be reversed!

So, how do we determine a sample size that is statistically significant? This excellent article explains the maths. However, there are various online sample size calculators that will do the calculations for you, including Evan’s. Most A/B tracking tools will include sample size calculators, but it’s a good idea to understand what they’re calculating, and how, to ensure the accuracy of your tests.

In short, make sure you’ve tested enough of the audience to determine a trend.

2. Collateral Damage

We might want to test a call to action metric. We want to test the number of people who click on the “find out more” link on a landing page. We find that a lot more people click on this link we use the term “find out more” than if we use the term “buy now”.

Great, right?

But what if the conversion rate for those who actually make a purchase falls as a result? We achieved higher click-thrus on one landing page at the expense of actual sales.

This is why it’s important to be clear about the end goal when designing and executing tests. Also, ensure we look at the process as a whole, especially when we’re chopping the process up into bits for testing purposes. Does a change in one place affect something else further down the line?

In this example, you might A/B test the landing page whilst keeping an eye on your total customer numbers deeming the change effective only if customer numbers also rise. If your aim was only to increase click-thru, say to boost quality scores, then the change was effective.

3. What, Not Why

In the example above, we know the “what”. We changed the wording of a call-to-action link, and we achieved higher click thru’s, although we’re still in the dark as to why. We’re also in the dark as to why the change of wording resulted in fewer sales.

Was it because we attracted more people who were information seekers? Were buyers confused about the nature of the site? Did visitors think they couldn’t buy from us? Were they price shoppers who wanted to compare price information up front?

We don’t really know.

But that’s good, so long as we keep asking questions. These types of questions lead to more ideas for A/B tests. By turning testing into an ongoing process, supported by asking more and hopefully better questions, we’re more likely to discover a whole range of “why’s”.

4. Small Might Be A Problem

If you’re a small company competing directly with big companies, you may already be on the back foot when it comes to A/B testing.

It’s clear that its very modularity can cause problems. But what about in cases where the number of tests that can be run at once is low? While A/B testing makes sense on big websites where you can run hundreds of tests per day and have hundreds of thousands of hits, only a few offers can be tested at one time in cases like direct mail. The variance that these tests reveal is often so low that any meaningful statistical analysis is impossible.

Put simply, you might not have the traffic to generate statistically significant results. There’s no easy way around this problem, but the answer may lay in getting tricky with the maths.

Experimental design massively and deliberately increases the amount of variance in direct marketing campaigns. It lets marketers project the impact of many variables by testing just a few of them. Mathematical formulas use a subset of combinations of variables to represent the complexity of all the original variables. That allows the marketing organization to more quickly adjust messages and offers and, based on the responses, to improve marketing effectiveness and the company’s overall economics

Another thing to consider is that if you’re certain the bigger company is running A/B tests, and achieving good results, then “steal” their landing page*. Take their ideas for landing pages and use that as a test against your existing pages. *Of course, you can’t really steal their landing page, but you can be “influenced by” their approach.

What your competitors do is often a good starting point for your own tests. Try taking their approach and refine it.

5. Might There Be A Better Way?

Are there alternatives to A/B testing?

Some swear by the Multi Armed Bandit methodology:

The multi-armed bandit problem takes its terminology from a casino. You are faced with a wall of slot machines, each with its own lever. You suspect that some slot machines pay out more frequently than others. How can you learn which machine is the best, and get the most coins in the fewest trials?
Like many techniques in machine learning, the simplest strategy is hard to beat. More complicated techniques are worth considering, but they may eke out only a few hundredths of a percentage point of performance.

Then again…..

What multi-armed bandit algorithm does is that it aggressively (and greedily) optimizes for currently best performing variation, so the actual worse performing versions end up receiving very little traffic (mostly in the explorative 10% phase). This little traffic means when you try to calculate statistical significance, there’s still a lot of uncertainty whether the variation is “really” worse performing or the current worse performance is due to random chance. So, in a multi-armed bandit algorithm, it takes a lot more traffic to declare statistical significance as compared to simple randomization of A/B testing. (But, of course, in a multi-armed bandit campaign, the average conversion rate is higher).

Multivariate testing may be suitable if you’re testing a combination of variables, as opposed to just one i.e.

  • Product Image: Big vs. Medium vs Small
  • Price Text Style: Bold vs Normal
  • Price Text Color: Blue vs. Black vs. Red

There would be 3x2x3 different versions to test.

The problem with multivariate tests is they can get complicated pretty quickly and require a lot of traffic to produce statistically significant results. One advantage of multivariate testing over A/B testing is that it can tell you which part of the page is most influential. Was it a graphic? A headline? A video? If you’re testing a page using an A/B test, you won’t know. Multivariate testing will tell you which page sections influence the conversion rate and which don’t.

6. Methodology Is Only One Part Of The Puzzle

So is A/B testing worthwhile? Are the alternatives better?

The methodology we choose will only be as good as the test design. If tests are poorly designed, then the maths, the tests, the data and the software tools won’t be much use.

To construct good tests, you should first take a high level view:

Start the test by first asking yourself a question. Something on the lines of, “Why is the engagement rate of my site lower than that of the competitors…..Collect information about your product from customers before setting up any big test. If you plan to test your tagline, run a quick survey among your customers asking how they would define your product.

Secondly, consider the limits of testing. Testing can be a bit of a heartless exercise. It’s cold. We can’t really test how memorable and how liked one design is over the other, and typically have to go by instinct on some questions. Sometimes, certain designs just work for our audience, and other designs don’t. How do we test if we’re winning not just business, but also hearts and minds?

Does it mean we really understand our customers if they click this version over that one? We might see how they react to an offer, but that doesn’t mean we understand their desires and needs. If we’re getting click-backs most of the time, then it’s pretty clear we don’t understand the visitors. Changing a graphic here, and wording there, isn’t going to help if the underlying offer is not what potential customers want. No amount of testing ad copy will sell a pink train.

The understanding of customers is gained in part by tests, and in part by direct experience with customers and the market we’re in. Understanding comes from empathy. From asking questions. From listening to, and understanding, the answers. From knowing what’s good, and bad, about your competitors. From providing options. From open communication channels. From reassuring people. You’re probably armed with this information already, and that information is highly useful when it comes to constructing effective tests.

Do you really need A/B testing? Used well, it can markedly improve and hone offers. It isn’t a magic bullet. Understanding your audience is the most important thing. Google, a company that uses testing extensively, seem to be most vulnerable when it comes to areas that require a more intuitive understanding of people. Google Glass is a prime example of failing to understand social context. Apple, on the other hand, were driven more by an intuitive approach. Jobs: “We built [the Mac] for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research”

A/B testing is can work wonders, just so long as it isn’t used as a substitute for understanding people.

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Check Out What’s Happening at Entreproducer

Image of Entreproducer.com Logo

I launched Entreproducer one year ago (to the day) as a multimedia email newsletter.

My idea was to — very publicly — lay out the experiences I’ve had running several successful online businesses, profile the entrepreneurs and companies that are pushing digital content innovation, and take a shot at sharing with where I think independent digital media is going.

After doing a bunch of writing over there (and taking a break to get some work done), Robert Bruce and I shifted into audio mode. We missed doing the Internet Marketing for Smart People Radio Show, but we also felt it was time for a slightly different angle on the business of content marketing and DIY digital media.

With that, I want to welcome you back to Entreproducer.com. Here’s a few quick samples of our latest episodes, and I hope you’ll join us going forward.

The latest from Entreproducer:

Brad Feld on the Start Up Life, Blogging, and the Power of Community

Brad Feld is one of the most respected venture capitalists on the planet, and a fellow resident of Boulder, Colorado. While Brad disdains traditional marketing, he’s a thought leader in the VC space thanks to his blogging efforts and local community building that has elevated Boulder into one of the hottest tech startup spots on the planet. Lots of amazing lessons here for online entrepreneurs.

Native Advertising: What Does it Mean for Content Producers?

Just a few days into 2013, and we already had a new buzzword that’s burning up the Interwebs. It’s called native advertising, and it just may signal the cure for why online advertising models have sucked so far.

The Resurgence and Rebranding of Affiliate Marketing

It seems that a huge segment of the online publishing industry that had been previously vilified by “respectable” online “journalists” (use of quotation marks intentional and appropriate) is also finally being seen as another savior of online content. Welcome back, affiliate marketing.

Check out those three to get started, and then sign up and join us for everything we’ve got coming up, including interviews with Lean Startup author Eric Ries, 500 Startups founder Dave McClure, and much more.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and CEO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Brian on .

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What’s in a Name: Microsoft Rebrands Their Ad Tools

Welcome to the Yahoo! Bing Network formerly known as the Microsoft Search Alliance and now home to Bing Ads, formerly known as Microsoft Adcenter.

I’ll give you a minute to catch up.

From a purely linguist standpoint, these were needed changes. Microsoft Search Alliance always sounded like a roaming, group of rogue rebels from an upcoming Star Wars spin-off. Whereas Yahoo! and Bing are both known search engines, so now you know what you’re getting. The only downside, the weird punctuation. And why did they put Yahoo! first? Did they flip a coin or was there a logical reason?

As for Microsoft Adcenter. . . well, that simply sounds too much like the competitor, doesn’t it? Bing Ads gives the tool its own identity. It’s not a copycat anymore. . . except that it is. One of the features of the new site is the ability to import your Google Adsense campaigns with just a few clicks. Wow, that almost sounds illegal or at least unethical.

And can we talk about this homepage:

I understand that Bing is known for its glorious photos of natural vistas, but is this really the best use of the space? Shouldn’t they use these pixels to demonstrate what they do or at least identify themselves as a business tool?

Let’s get back to Google bashing. How about this?

Yahoo! Bing Network reaches 151 million searchers in the U.S. who are likely to spend 24% more than the average searcher, and likely to spend 5% more than Google searchers in the U.S.

They had me at 151 million searchers.

All in all, the rebranding looks like a good move. The new names feature brands marketers know and by combining Yahoo! and Bing it gives the sense of getting more coverage for your money. Will the rebranding have any impact on your actual search results? Probably not, but a new coat of paint is always good for morale, so Yahoo!



Marketing Pilgrim – Internet News and Opinion

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What’s the Best Time to Send an Email?

image of pocket watch

Talking email marketing strategy can be a bit like talking religion or politics at a party. Everyone has their own (very strong) opinions about what does — or does not — work.

You’ve heard it all before:

“Don’t send anything on weekdays, on the weekends, or after 5 pm, because people aren’t at their computers.”

“Don’t email on Mondays because your prospects are too busy, and avoid Fridays because everyone is winding down for the weekend.”

“And be sure to stay away from the lunch hour. In fact, the best time to email is on Tuesday at 10:13 am.”

I call B.S.

The fact is, your industry, your business, and your audience have unique demands and desires. You’ve got to test (and test, and test) what works in your world, and then test some more.

My experience of email marketing

Because I’m impatient, I like to send out emails as soon as have something to send, whether it’s on a Sunday night or Thanksgiving day. And I get responses: I’ve had editors email me back at 10 pm, and last year I had an editor request a phone meeting on Christmas Eve.

That’s all fine and good for my magazine writing, but what about emailing my list? I have a email list of about 2,200 writers who are interested in hearing about my e-course, e-books, and mentoring, as well as getting the scoop on freebies like contests and webinars.

I recently decided, on a Saturday afternoon, to hold a contest to see who could come up with the best topic idea for my first podcast.

Within four hours, more than 500 people had opened the email, and a couple dozen writers had sent in their suggestions. By Tuesday, I had a winner and posted the resulting podcast on my blog.

Looks like people were checking their email on the weekend after all — and taking action, too.

So this past weekend, I did a little experiment. On Sunday at 11:23 am — probably one of the worst times to send a marketing message, according to conventional wisdom — I sent out an email announcing that I was holding a contest to promote my newest e-book.

Within 30 minutes, I had 97 opens, 16 clicks, and 8 sales. Within an hour, the numbers had increased to 212 opens, 39 clicks, and 11 sales. By 3:23, I had 484 opens, 93 clicks, and a total of 27 sales.

By the time I went to bed early that evening, I’d sold 53 e-books. The next day, Monday, I sold 30 more.

After-hours marketing: The experts speak

To be clear, this is not proof of anything.

Maybe if I had sent out the email on Monday or Tuesday, I would have gotten the same results — or even better. But still, the old saw that “no one is checking their email or buying on the weekend” doesn’t seem to hold.

To find out if others had the same experience, I asked around. I looked for seasoned marketers who had good results emailing their lists on weekends, after hours, and on holidays.

  • Hope Clark of Funds for Writers sends out her newsletters on Friday by 10 pm. “I settled on this release date after feedback from many readers over the years, and I feel I’ve found a happy balance for all concerned,” she says. She finds that her readers with 9-5 jobs enjoy relaxing with the newsletter on Saturday.
  • Max Librach of the Groupon-like business Gluten-Free Saver posts deals on Sunday and sends out email blasts on the offers the following Saturday and Sunday. “The workweek is filled with the split testing of subject lines, headlines and email copy, so that our weekend [mailings] are as optimized as possible,” he says. “By sending subscribers the most optimized message over the weekend, we are able to reach people who are too busy during the week to purchase the deal.”
  • Dan Bischoff of Lendio.com says, “We often send our newsletter out on Sundays, although we continue to test the best days. Sundays seem to have lower open rates but better click through rates, with people spending more time reading content.”
  • Jeff Kear of Planning Pod finds that the best time to email prospects depends on whether they’re business clients or consumers: B-to-B companies do best emailing during the week when people are at their desks, while B-to-C businesses do better mailing after hours and on weekend mornings when prospects are checking their personal email accounts.
  • Alessandra Souers of One Click Ventures, which sells mostly fashion products, says her email program includes morning/midday/afternoon sends on weekdays, but her company saw so much success with Thursday, Friday, and Sunday evening email specials that they’ve integrated them into their regular schedule as well. “Holidays such as Memorial Day have also been huge for us,” she adds.

So I’m not the only one: Smart marketers are constantly testing sending emails on different days and times, and not shrinking from sending evening and weekend email messages.

My take is that you never know when someone is going to be at their computer and ready to buy — so why knock yourself out trying to figure out “the very best minute” to email? And why apply a hard-and-fast “waiting” rule, when you’ve got something of value to pass along to your audience?

Also, there’s this amazing thing about email: If the recipient is not available right when you send it, the email will be sitting there waiting for them when they are ready.

Do you send emails after hours?

How about you?

Have you ever experimented with sending emails on evenings, weekends, or holidays — or is this your usual M.O.?

If not, do you think you’ll try it? Let us know in the comments below …

About the Author: Linda Formichelli has written for more than 130 magazines and 25 corporate clients, and is the co-author of The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success. Visit the Renegade Writer blog to get free copies of her e-books Editors Unleashed: Magazine Editors Growl About Their Writer Peeves and 10 Query Letters That Rocked.

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The Harpoon or the Net: What’s the Right Copy Approach for Your Prospects?

image of victorian fishing boats

Once you decide to learn more about the craft of copywriting, you quickly find out there are two schools of thought.

One school hammers the reader with red headlines, yellow highlighting, and aggressive copy that grips the reader like a terrier shaking a squirrel.

The other school develops a compelling personal voice, nurtures a relationship with the reader, and uses soft-sell techniques to nudge the reader down the path to purchase.

So which one is right?

Well … they both are.

How to harpoon a customer

It’s easy to make fun of traditional sales pages, but they’ve been widely used because for a lot of years, they worked like crazy. And there are still versions that work well today. Like infomercials and Cosmo headlines, they may look dopey, but they’ve convinced millions of people to take action and spend money.

Traditional sales pages are ugly because they’re designed to hold and keep attention. Attractive design is completely secondary.

Readers for these pages typically arrive from an ad or, somewhat less commonly these days, an affiliate referral. The prospect tends to make up his mind in a split second about whether or not he’s in the right place. He then spends another three or four seconds deciding if this offer is going to meet his needs.

Red headlines, yellow highlighting, irritating pop-ups and pop-overs, and the other tricks of the trade are all ways to grab a stranger and focus his attention on what you have to offer.

Sure, long sales pages can be cheesy, but if you only have one shot at the prospect, they can work very well. A well-written traditional sales page acts like a harpoon. When a likely prospect swims along, if the writer’s aim is good and she gets enough power behind that harpoon, she can make the sale.

Is a harpoon always the right tool?

Harpoons work great when you need to strike quickly. But they have a few problems.

First, the “ugly” version that used to be widely used gives an impression of shoddiness and a lack of ethics.

That impression isn’t always accurate — long sales pages have been used for great stuff as well as junk. But unless you’ve already established credibility with your audience, the prospect can’t tell the difference. If the reader doesn’t urgently need what you’re selling, she’ll hit the back button as fast as she can.

Second, it’s really hard to write a good “harpoon” sales page that can convert a prospect in one shot.

The difference between effective sales letters and miserable failures can be surprisingly subtle. If you aren’t already Clayton Makepeace, you may find that although your letters look like his (to your untrained eye), they don’t work like his.

Third, cheap traffic is getting hard to come by.

With competitive pay-per-click keywords going for a few dollars instead of a few cents, these single-shot long sales pages are becoming less and less effective. The masters can still pull it off, and do … but you have to be a master.

If you’re still inspired to learn this strange and fascinating form, study the crusty old guys who developed the original techniques. Gary Bencivenga, Joe Sugarman, Clayton Makepeace, and Dan Kennedy all have resources out there that can start you on your apprenticeship.

You could also use a net

There’s an alternative approach you might want to consider.

Instead of hurling your single-pointed communication as forcefully as you can, consider encouraging your prospect to wrap himself in a friendly, supportive net.

In other words, rather than trying to harpoon customers with single-shot sales letters, snare them in a net of useful, relevant content.

Strong content will keep luring your prospect back for regular bites. Each bite builds a little more trust. Each bite builds your reputation as a friendly authority.

Whether it’s a freeform stream like a blog or the organized sequence of an email autoresponder, a well-crafted content net not only snags your prospect for this sale, it keeps him fat and happy for the next one.

And you’ve probably noticed that it’s very handy for things like SEO and social sharing as well. The more connected we are with communication technology, the better the net works.

How to use a net without getting tangled up

Great single-shot copywriting is usually the result of many years of work and study.

Creating a net of great content over time, on the other hand, is a lot easier to master. You don’t have to get every word perfect. You don’t need an arsenal of sales tricks.

It’s mostly a matter of figuring out what your customer wants and needs, then getting out of your own way. And the copywriting techniques you do use can be “pretty good” instead of “The next incarnation of Gary Halbert.”

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the content net is the copywriting method we favor here at Copyblogger. You’ll still benefit from a well-crafted landing page (not an ugly one, please, we’re in 2012 now). But frankly, the fish are a lot easier to catch when you’ve been keeping them happy in your content net.

If you’re interested in finding out more specifics on how to do that, I put together a free, 20-part course called Internet Marketing for Smart People that can give you a solid head start.

It talks about the delicate balance between audience relationship, selling, and traditional copywriting. Go snag it now, and start weaving a net of your own.

Editor’s Note: This is a Copyblogger Classic post, originally published in June, 2008. We’ll be republishing classic content from the archives from time to time, updated — as this post has been — to be sure the advice is as relevant as ever.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and Google+.

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