Blog Archives

eMarketing advice – refine your sign-up page

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Any eMarketer wants visitors to their website to sign-up to their email database.

Friction is your enemy. Friction is anything that slows down people from doing what you want them to do.

Badly design sign-up forms add friction and lower results.

Let’s see how we can fix this.

And if you want to really get your eMarketing together call Brett to discuss an eMarketing Savvy workshop.

Oh – download your free eMarketing eBooks from the Hootville Giftshop.


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Social media vs email. Can we talk?

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Brett de Hoedt gets asked to train people in social media across Australia and of course he’s happy to oblige. He almost never gets asked to train people in eMarketing but he usually insists on adding it to the curriculum anyway.

Clients ask Brett to train in social media – they should really make a broader request:

“Train us to use whatever means at our disposal to best drive traffic to our website, build relationships with stakeholders, alert and inform people and look important. Most of all we want to convert as many people into taking some form of action with minimal effort.”  That, dear Citizen, would be email.

Social media is new and sexy, eMarketing is old and familiar – but it should be your priority.

Definition: eMarketing is just communicating to people, usually lots of people at a time via email. We use MailChimp to do this; you may use Campaign Monitor, Vision 6 (bad idea) or something similar. Maybe you send mass email via Outlook (God help you.)


email vs social media

Email beats search engine optimisation and destroys social media as a way to drive conversion. You all owe email an apology.

The problem is this: in most cases, for most organisations in most situations…email beats the tight hipster jeans off social media. It ain’t even close as this study conducted by Monetate and reviewed by blog Convince and Convert  shows. It is based on 500,000,000 website visits to e-commerce sites! Only .71% of people who came to a site via social media were converted into buyers. Email converted four times more. Only 1.55% of visits to e-commerce sites were delivered via social media. Email accounted for 2.82%. That’s a huge difference – would you like to nearly double your traffic?

The study investigates e-commerce sites but the goal in e-commerce is exactly the same as in the non-profit world: conversion. By “conversion” we mean inspiring people who see your message to take an action such as visiting your site, donating, buying or booking a ticket.

Why email wins?

email vs social media

The further you move from websites and email, the smaller your audience. We made this graphic ourselves. Can you tell?

Potential audience: aside from using the internet to search websites, email is still the second most common use of the WWW. As you move from using websites and email, to Facebook and Twitter your potential audience shrinks dramatically. At the end of this journey is Google +, Pinterest, Instagram and the like. Would you use mail to reach audiences if only 20% of people had addresses? How about if only 5% had addresses? Of course not.

Building your base: want to dramatically boost the size of your database? Of course you do. (If you don’t please resign.) Well that boost is easier said than done for social media which is usually slow to build. There are lots of ways to dramatically increase your email database – from competitions, petitions, to gaining emails from those who participate in your programs or in exchange for resources such as fact sheets and whitepapers.

Response: this is where email destroys the competition. Simply put – nothing beats email for driving traffic your website. A benchmark for the open rate to an email is 25%. 20% or less means that something is horribly wrong. Some Hootville clients have consistently scored 50% open rates. The equivalent to open rates on Facebook is “virality”. If your Facebook posts scored 25% virality you would be on the board of Facebook. A 1.5%-2% virality percentage is typical. Would you call 100 donors if you knew that on average only 2% of people would take your calls?

Segmentation: do you segment your Twitter followers or Facebook friends? With email this is standard operating procedure and a smart and easy move.

Automation: email can be set-up to automatically send emails based on time. Eg: seven days after subscribing you can send a thankyou and a list of seven articles to read. Eg: a year after a course was taken, send out an automated email alerting them to another course. You get the drift.

Portability: email is just as omnipresent as social media on smartphones and tablets.

Social media compared to email marketing

Can you guess? Yep. Email wins again.

At risk of overplay the excellent downloadable Monetate report shows (left) that email-driven visitors spend more time on your site.

In defence of social media:

Social media plays a large part in building your reputation. That reputation may well assist people to act on your emails when they receive them.

Social media is fast, fun and free.

Social media is a far superior way to stay in the minds of politicians and media who devour social media like they once devoured flagons of tariff-protected claret and cartons of Viscount cigarettes. (Ask your parents about this.)

Social media is excellent for keeping hot-to-trot stakeholders informed and outraged. It’s grist for their mills. It keeps your most passionate followers attached to you.

You want to be a leader? Best look like one – get on social media.

Social media should be in most organisations’ marketing mix. Some organisations may be more inclined to benefit from it than most especially:

youth-related causes with youthful audiences;

passionate causes into which people opt-in such as animal  causes, marriage equality, environment and dying with dignity causes. These audiences wants information, they want actions to take, they want grist for their kill.

However many of us are communicating with people who used our services long ago, donated once, are members because it is obligatory or because their loved one uses your service (among many others). These people are less passionate and do not want to follow your every tweet or Instagram image. (Who could blame them?)

They do however use email everyday to conduct their working lives.

using email to boost website traffic

Email needn't be boring.

Could your organisation function tomorrow without social media? What about if you lost email? Exactly.

It’s similar for your audiences – they can and do look at social media but they do and must look at email.

Finally: what brought you here? Email? Social media? Random Google search? Directly typing in our URL? Even with Hootville savvy, social-media literate audience nothing ever beats the ol’ Hootville Lowdown. Bless you email. Your comments welcome.


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Using social media to build your email lists

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using social media to boost email subscribers

We like social media. We love eMarketing.

You’ve heard us bang on and on about eMarketing outperforming social media. In our experience it’s true. We know we get more value for our clients from an email subscriber than a Twitter follower or Facebook friend. That said, there is at least one use for social media – building up your email database. Listen to Amy Porterfield of the Social Media Marketing Podcast.

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One email that ALWAYS gets opened

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You know how we at Hootville feel about eNewsletters and eMarketing in general. We are eNewsletter fetishists and proud of it. Squiggle wags his tail involuntarily every time he  sends out another edition of the Lowdown and we hope they make your tails wag likewise.

Here’s a question for anyone (canine or human)  who edits an eNewsletter: of all the emails a subscriber will ever receive which is the most likely to be opened? Take 10 seconds to think.


Your subscription confirmation email. Yep – it’s statistically proven. So this raises the question – are you making the most of this opportunity? Likely answer is: no.

What could you do? Beyond a genuine, non-robotic welcome you could link to the five best articles on your website for some instant gratification, spruik an upcoming event or (this is good) have them take a 2m survey.

We dare you. You will instantly segment your keenest new subscribers.

People who have just subscribed themselves are hot-to-trot so they may undertake a quick online survey. More importantly, the survey may reveal something you could use. You may ask them if they have volunteered before, whether they could provide a suitable opportunity for your public speakers, if they would like a tour of your kennels or if they have a lead for your social enterprise team of office cleaners.

Any response shows them to be interested. The right responses may warrant a phone call. (Ask for permission first.) Let’s say a subscriber receives a polite, quick call from you about any of the above issues. The relationship is already well under way and you’ve certainly given them a connection to keep pening and responding to your future communications.

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Interesting fact: comedy and eMarketing share a key element

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What’s the most important element of comedy? Timing. Likewise in eMarketing. That’s why we at Hootville drop our shoulders when we see eNewsletters arrive late in the traditional working day. See below.

free emarketing advice

Too late she cried. Cry earlier in the day and in the week.

The Lowdown is overwhelmingly read at work during worktime so we aim for the Lowdown to be part of people’s first download of email.

The goal is to be a part of people’s pre-work procrastination and to allow them more worktime to read our content during the day. It works. How do we know? We A/B test varying send times and check the results. Try that with mail.


Virgin clearly gets the worms with these early words.

We’ve had clients with audiences which are less clear cut. Eg: older audiences, parents or carers all of which are likely to have more varied reading times. For some of you, it would be worth asking new subscribers when they are most likely to receive (not read) your material and send accordingly. The fresher your email is in the inbox, the more enticing it is.

That’s why, 24 hours after the first distribution we resend the Lowdown to Citizens who failed to read it the first time. Same email, same recipient, different result about 20% of the time. Not bad huh? Do you resend automatically? Why not?  

Also – we don’t send Monday or Friday. Monday mornings are too caught up with the return to work and Friday doesn’t allow us to resend 24 hours later. Interesting fact #2.

BTW – at least 5% of you are away at any given time rising to 15% during school holidays.

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No asky, no getty – so asky already

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Whether it’s an email address or cold hard cash; if you don’t ask, you won’t receive. There’s increasing statistical evidence that the best time to ask for either is mid- transaction yet we know from bitter experience that most nonprofits feel it an inappropriate moment to put the hard word. Welcome to the worlds of online fundraising and database building.

online fundraising

Online fundraising at its savviest. OK - keep the change.

Fundraising: We were hugely impressed (and somewhat taken aback) when we were asked to donate in the middle of booking tickets for a team night out at The Arts Centre in Melbourne. (Bob Downe at the Spiegeltent if you must know.) Unannounced, mid-transaction we were propositioned with various options to dosh up for the Arts Centre Melbourne Foundation. Note the clever option offered for which we opted.  

Database building:  Now think of the last time you bought an airline ticket online – were you aksed for your email address? Of course you were. And have you been receiving stuff ever since? We guess that if the content they send is full of enticing bargains the answer is yes.

Here are some other times you may wish to ask for email addresses and permission to use it to forward marketing material.

emarketing advice

Strike while the iron is hot and the sucker willing.

  • When a punter books a place in your course.
  • When a job applicant submits an application.
  • When a professional makes a referral to you.
  • When anyone attends your event.
  • When a stranger emails you a general query for services, bequests, volunteering, membership. Turn queries into ongoing contact. 
  • When a purchase is made.
  • When some other service asks for a plug on your website.

Nonprofits spend time worrying about eNewsletter content. They should just as much time building the database. Asking for emails during transactions and interactions is a key way to build your lists. Remember – it takes no longer not costs any more to develop an eNewsletter for 30 people as it does for 3000 people.



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eMarketing mistakes from two big companies

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This week two major corporations: and (Fairfax’s real estate brand) both sent Hootville an email communication. Both were immediately deleted. Both companies are big enough to know better but failed to grasp some basic principals of eMarketing. What did they do wrong?

1. Relevance: We never signed up for this. We used these two sites as a place to advertise. We never wanted to receive weird employment and property-related emails from them. 

2. Value: We may have overlooked the pushiness if the emails had included a special offer, valuable advice or a welcome diversion – they didn’t.

3. Timelapse: Both companies have left things waaaay too long. We last did business with these companies years ago. Now they want to build a relationship with us? Uh-uh. Even if we’d loved their service back in 2009 we have moved on since and are seeing other sites.

4. Credibility: Despite the immense resources available to both Seek and Domain both emails were text-heavy and unenticing. In fact they were so poorly designed they looked fake.

Bosses sometimes think that an email database can be held up one’s sleeve for a rainy day. It can’t. Your subscribers must be nurtured with regular quality contact.  


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