Blog Activity

  • Claire Burns - DMCNY Member profile


    2013, May

    Q:  Now that you’ve been a member, and a sponsor, of DMCNY for a year, what would you say are the benefits of supporting our club? 

    A: Being a member of DMCNY has been great. We've been thrilled to connect with other members whose services compliment ours. The luncheons and evening events have featured so many dynamic speakers who have explored all aspects of traditional direct marketing as well as email marketing, which has helped us become better experts in this field. 

    Q:  Tell me about your career.  How did you get into direct and email marketing in the first place?

    A: I've been in client services for 12 years in various industries. Prior to Emma, I was in background screening which is an industry void of creativity.  So I was quite interested in moving to a field where I could not only use my creative strengths but also be part of an industry that was fast growing. Emma was the perfect fit. I started as a compliance officer to learn the technical side of email, and then transitioned to account management to help some of our larger clients. 

    Q:  What’s going on at Emma?  Any things our membership should know about?

    A: I'm lucky to see a number of great success stories, but one sticks out in particular. One of the accounts I manage, Mario Batali, had a pretty impressive year. They moved to Emma last spring after having not a lot of success with their previous email campaigns. I worked with them to find their focus through better design and mailing strategy.  After the better part of a year of thoughtful and consistent emailing, we compared the success of their holiday mailings to the year prior. They had a 57% increase in opens and a 64% increase on clicks on their licensee ads. They were thrilled. 

    Q:  What do you see as some of the challenges and new directions where email marketing is headed?

    A: There's been a shift of focus since I started with Emma five years ago. While spam is still prevalent, it's not the biggest enemy of your mailing's success any more. Now, we must focus on how your email can stand out among all the other credible emails. The consumer is smarter, so the marketer must rise to the challenge by making their content relevant and personalized. Personalization has gone beyond a mere "Hi, [Claire]."  Now you need to consider your messaging strategy carefully, sending them content specific to their interests and at a frequency they respond to. You need to give them options on your signup form and honor their selections. It may mean an extra step of work on your end, but the result is an appreciative and engaged audience.

    Q:  What is the most important thing to consider when looking at your email marketing plan?

    A: Before working with any new account, my first question is: Why are you doing email marketing?   Many jumped into email because everyone else was doing it.  It's essential to understand the why so you can gauge your success.  Then, your mailing calendar, content plan and mailing expectations will all fall into place. This type of focus and consideration will undoubtedly be appreciated by your audience and readers, and result in better ROI.  


    Claire Burns
    Claire Burns's picture

    Emma, a new sponsor of DMCNY, is an innovative email marketing services provider.  Postings’s Ruth P. Stevens spoke with Claire Burns, who enthusiastically manages Emma’s relationship with our club. 

  • Drive Business Results With LinkedIn


    2013, May

    In today’s rapidly evolving world we must adapt, or risk falling by the wayside. Online connections will never replace real-world contact, but you can leverage your relationships online to drive tangible results in the real world. LinkedIn, with over 200 million users worldwide, can be used to make sales contacts, find decision makers, land a new gig or reach out to the next valuable employee. To get the most value from LinkedIn, here are three key points to consider.

    1) Are you an anonymous user?

    Don’t be! LinkedIn is a tool for professionals. When you’re looking at a profile, make sure that person can see that you viewed their profile. Whether you are in sales and looking at a key decision-maker, or you just applied for a job and are checking out the HR manager, this is a great way to draw attention to yourself, but in a professional way. Your reconnaissance could potentially turn into a conversation that may drive the result you are looking for.

    Quick Hints:
    - Click “Settings” from the drop-down menu under your name in the upper right hand side of any screen.          
    - Click “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile.”
    -  Select the top option.
    - Voila! No more anonymous user.

    2) What have you done, and what are your skills?

    Whether you looking to expand your business, or on a job search, your profile needs to be as up to date and robust as possible. Make sure that you’ve fully listed your work history. There are no space constraints in your profile, so “more is more.” List every position you have had, plus any technical skills. This does not mean you should do a “keyword dump,” whereby you cram words in unnaturally.  But do make sure that everything you can do is listed, so you can be found by people doing keyword searches.  The moment you are going to need LinkedIn is not the time to be making your updates, so get going now.

    Quick Hints:
    - Endorsements are a great way to get noticed. When you’ve listed your skills, people will be able to endorse you. - This makes you more credible.
    - If you want to drive traffic to your profile, giving endorsements to others can be a great way of motivating people to look at you.
    - Don’t over endorse people, as it can come across as less credible, even spammy.

    3) Have you connected?

    Think of the benefits of a robust LinkedIn network. When you have mutual connections, you can see more information about people you are not connected with directly. Regularly sharing content on LinkedIn gives increased engagement and recognition.  One of the best tools to build your network is the “Import Contacts” feature. By clicking on “Contacts” and then “Add Connections,” you will be prompted to input your email data. While I don’t suggest you blindly send out a request to connect with everyone who has ever emailed you, this can be a great way to find those diamonds in the rough.

    Quick Hints:
    - When extending an invitation to connect, take a minute to write a personalized message, instead of using the pre-canned message provided by LinkedIn.
    - Adding a few details, like how you met or why you are connecting, will increase the chance of a response.  


    Brian Murray
    Brian Murray's picture

    Brian Murray, director of talent with Likeable Media, invites you to connect with him via and

  • 9 Rules for Writing Video Sales Letters


    2013, May

    The “next big thing” in online video is video sales letters. 

    Here’s how it works.  Prospects are sent a short email inviting them to view an onlinr video on a subject of interest. The email copy teases the subject to generate interest and maximize click-through rates. 

    When the prospect click on the link, a video begins. The sales message is delivered both via audio and visually. 

    The video often contains a PowerPoint showing paragraphs of the audio copy as it is being narrated.  Another option is the “talking head” – a video of the narrator speaking, and sometimes drawing notes or charts on a white board. 

    Another appealing option is to include cartoons that are drawn as you watch, illustrating the sales points.  To see a short sample of a cartoon-style video I am using to sell a new ebook, visit this URL: 

    Video clips can be short, but for direct-response marketing, video sales letters typically run 15 to 25 minutes; the script is around 3,000 to 3,500 words. 

    A key difference between video sales letters and static (landing pages or print) sales letters is this: A prospect may read a conventional text sales letters several times, and can go back to reread portions if desired. And they often do. But the prospect will only watch a video sales letter once. 

    That in mind, here are some guidelines for writing effective video sales letters: 

    1— The way to begin is to grab audience attention with a statement that breaks them out of their normal pattern, says my colleague David Jenyes. Surprise them. Shake them up.. 

    2— Tell an engaging story that sweeps the listener along with it. Superstar marketer Michael Masterson calls this the “velvet slide.”  

    3— Keep it simple. The “information density” – the number of facts per page – should be about 20% less than a text-based promotion.  

    4— Use short sentences and especially short words. I don’t use any word longer than 9 letters.

    5— Use short paragraphs – a couple of sentences is typical. This makes the text on the video easier to read.  

    6— If you want to dramatize or prove a copy claim or fact, you can insert a chart or graph into the video presentation. Even if the prospect only has a few seconds to view it, charts and graphs give the impression that your point is well backed up. 

    7— You can concisely state the problem your product solves in the lead of the video sales letter, but be sure to explain the solution within the first minute or two.  If you wait too long to get to the solution, you risk having the prospect click away in boredom.  

    8— Don’t use more than two numbers in a sentence. If you do, round off at least one of them. 

    9— The tone of the copy should be positive and enthusiastic because the prospect heas a voice reading the text. But it should also sound authoritative.

    When I talk about video sales letters, invariably I hear the objection, “They’re too long! I always click away. Who would sit there for 20 minutes and watch?” 

    Answer: Plenty of people. How do I know? Testing shows repeatedly that video sales letters usually generate higher conversion rates than static landing pages.

     If you still object to video sales letters because you just don’t like them, I quote this advice from ace copywriter Peter Beutel: “Don’t let personal preference get in the way.” 


    Robert Bly
    Robert Bly's picture

    Bob Bly, a direct-response copywriter for more than 30 years, is the author of 80 books, including The Copywriter’s Handbook (Henry Holt). Reach him at

  • Unhappy About Your Campaign Results? Take a Look at Your Marketing Department’s Goals


    2013, May

    No matter how well you execute your marketing campaigns—sharp copy, fresh products, appealing promotions—your own marketing department’s organization, goals and metrics will have a surprising influence on your long term success.  Are you organized so that everyone gets the “big picture” that will lead to success?  Do the performance metrics you use to evaluate key staff truly reflect the organization’s long-term goals? What, in fact, is the big picture for your organization, and what are those long-term goals?

    For some marketers, the answers are easy. In the high-growth years, you may be simply looking to acquire as many customers as fast as possible. In which case, you are marketing at virtually maximum frequency at any opportunity. 

    But most of us face limited marketing resources, and we manage a large customer file that needs careful segmentation and contact frequency strategies.  We know that we need to acquire not just any customer, but one that will be profitable.

    So, where does your organization come in? Let’s take customer acquisition. Most of us operate with a negative cost per acquisition. That means we have to rely on future sales to justify the prospecting program.  But if your customer-acquisition group operates in a silo or is measured based simply on how many customers they bring onto the file each year, it doesn’t take long for even a gifted marketer to start acquiring the low-hanging fruit—the one-and-dones, the promotion grabbers  with no likely subsequent purchasing.

    Perhaps the biggest improvement in prospecting  over the last decade has been the ability to leverage the wealth of data contained in prospecting databases to predict the potential demand of a given prospect, and target those names within a list or database that are more likely to provide sufficient return on your marketing investment.

    Unfortunately, every customer file is eventually infiltrated with lower-value customers. That’s why so many of your customers lie dormant.  It’s not your marketing efforts.  It’s not your products. It’s their needs.  They simply may not require more of your product or service. 

    Now consider your retention versus reactivation efforts. You’ve probably invested in external data enhancement to understand your customers better.  You have some sense of which are your best customers and most likely to reorder in large amounts.  But when it comes to reactivation, do you treat those customers really differently?  Once the customer has aged to a certain point, do you reduce the number and frequency of contact?  

    If you broke down the wall between retention and reactivation roles within your department, you would notice that some of those inactive customers are actually better suited to increased investment and the normal retention sequence. 

    Even more challenging is looking at which active customers aren’t worthy of the normal retention sequence. Does your marketing organization facilitate slotting some of those active customers into the less expensive reactivation sequence?  Too many of us throw good money after a bad acquisition, like mailing expensive full-offer catalogs eighteen times a year to a customer who is inherently unlikely to order frequently or in substantial quantities.   

    The next time you look at how your marketing department is organized, and what metrics are used to measure their behavior, consider your long-term goals around customer acquisition, retention, reactivation and profitabilty.   Aligning your organization with your goals and metrics is the ticket to improved campaign success.  


    Blair Barondes
    Blair Barondes's picture

    Blair D. Barondes is vice president of database marketing at MeritDirect, with a 25-year history of innovation in B2B marketing, including MeritDirect's MeritBase, the MeritMatch multi-channel matchback, and Mercury Response-Analysis toolkits.  Reach him at


  • 14 Call-To-Action Tips to Boost Response


    2013, May

    Think about the Call to Action (CTs) as an advertisement for your offer. CTAs are an effective tool to drive traffic to your landing page and increase conversion rates. Creating persuasive, powerful calls to action isn't easy, but here are some tips and practices that you can test.

    1.       Use value-laden and actionable copy such as “Download Now,” “Get Your Free Trial” or “Speak to an Expert.”  Your copy objective is to get to the point and create trust, urgency and value.

    2.       Use a CTA only to offer something of real value to your visitor. CTAs should not be used for branding.

    3.       Adding the specific offer in the CTA makes it stronger. For example: “Subscribe Now and Save 80%,” which is better than just “Subscribe Now.”

    4.       Place CTAs above the fold and along the visitor’s eye path.

    5.       Use bold, contrasting colors in your CTAs so they don’t blend into the content.

    6.       Make your CTA one of the bigger, more prominent objects on a page.

    7.       Design the CTA to resemble a button, by adding bevels, shadows, and hover effects.

    8.       Make your CTA stand out by surrounding it with plenty of white space.

    9.       Link your CTAs to a dedicated landing page, not your home page.

    10.   Too many CTAs will distract your visitors. A CTA is meant to direct visitors to a specific course of action, so limit yourself to a primary CTA and possibly a secondary CTA only.

    11.   Experiment with and test your CTAs to know what design, copy and placement works best.

    12.   Add keyword-rich ALT tags so your CTA adds search value to the page.

    13.   Mobile optimize your CTAs so any device can see them. 

    14.   Personalization is a good way to improve your CTA’s effectiveness. Create different CTAs for different personas. 


    Brian Snider
    Brian Snider's picture

    Brian Snider is president of The GRI Marketing Group, Inc., and past president of DMCNY.  Reach him at