Let me see a raise of hands, how many of you ….

December 8, 2016 / Arnie McKinnis  / 

…use Email as a marketing tool?  My estimate is that 100% of all marketing professionals use email in their campaigns. Based upon some numbers, from 2015, the email market is huge … 

Like 8 trillion emails a year huge. Like 200B mobile phones huge. Like multi-hundred-millions-in revenue for companies such Mailchimp, ConstantContact, SendGrid huge.

Now, let me ask you another question – and please show those hands again – how many of you have gone to the effort of crafting DRIP campaigns?  (and if you don’t know what a drip campaign is, then you don’t really do them, so please take down your hand).

Drip email campaigns are crafted, the are (were) born from a requirement to create “touches”, which is the holy grail of marketing and demand generation.  We (as marketers) are forced to think how to create demand from the 8 or less seconds we have with any single consumer of our product.  That bull rider and you  have the same problem – stay on the beast for 8 seconds or lose.  At least when we lose, no bones are broken, but careers are built on that 8 seconds – yours, mine, and that brilliant 13 year old trying to become a Youtube sensation.

Now, since I know you use email in your marketing campaigns. And some of you have jumped into drip marketing to create multiple touches, the next question is this (and it’s a big one, and yes, show me your hands if you do this)…

How many of you use the Calendar as a way to “hook” that attention deprived prospect or customer?  Now be honest here, and having a “save to calendar” or doing calendar sync doesn’t count.  Because here’s the difference:

One Event is all your customers can think about at a time.  Which means that ONE event is the key to success.  And since your customers are like every other customer out there in the world, you have 8 seconds and ONE CLICK to get it right.  I would guess, almost 100% are wasting that one click sending one more email (or a series of emails) or spamming their calendar with 100s of events (not the one they are interested in).  And you still don’t know if they have it on their calendar!!

Here’s the difference … 31Events is all about getting that ONE Event, on your customer’s calendar, in ONE click.  And once it’s there, you can talk to them based upon that single action.

If they accepted, you can reward them.  If they declined, you can ask why.  If it’s just sitting there doing nothing, ask them to do something, and provide an incentive to do it.  What you can’t do, once you have that information, is ignore it.  

But, while you’re stuck in the world of Email Marketing, worried about open rates and click through rates and all the other interesting little data points of email, you will start losing market share to someone else, that came out of nowhere, that is actually getting their marketing campaigns on someone’s calendar, and talking to them like human beings, instead of screaming at them through mass emailing bullhorns from your prominently positioned soapbox  –  because you have no clue about their intent with your event.

That’s the punch line – I’d love to chat more about it.  We have spent years, perfecting a solution that jumps beyond the “manufactured” touches of email, and starts marketing to the only real non-renewable resource, TIME.  

Pop Up Calendar Invite Modals

December 3, 2016 / Arnie McKinnis  / 
screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-8-13-31-pmNote 2018 Update  – This was an orginal post of of our 1st version of software that is no longer available.  I thought I would leave the post as a reminder and a small Easter egg for Arnie and I on some of the first requirements.  As we continue to build and experiment with Calendar Modals for the Mobile phone, we stumble upon some good mockups around trying to get responsive design to work across desktop and mobile. In this case we believe this one is going to work well.  We have standardized on BANNER, CALENDAR INFO, INVITE EMAIL BOX, CALENDAR MESSAGE, COUPON, SHOW MORE , SHOW LESS as a standardized Template for our script generator.  We have over 20 modals running today for Web Iframe Embed.

Click to Calendar: Countdown Clock Example

November 26, 2016 / Arnie McKinnis  / 

We created an example (using standard tools like WordPress and little Javascript) to create a direct to calendar invite with a countdown clock.  How it was built, and what it does is described further down, just realize, this is doable today …

1) create the event in 31Events
2) copy & paste the code
3) your site visitors (however you drive traffic to that landing page) are presented with a single input box and button
4) fill in their email address, and they get a CALENDAR INVITATION 

Simple. Your Event, Their Calendar, One Click.

31Events: how we built the page

the build

31Events Embed: 
simple input box with submit button, we provide the iframe code, copy from your 31Events admin page and paste within any HTML web page

Page:
WordPress: within our theme, we have a page template specifically for demo example pages, it has not footer or header (you can use any page template within your site)
WP Plugin – Elementor: I personally can’t say enough about Elementor, it is pure drag-n-drop and simple to use.
Background & Animation – Coverr.co: the background video was available through another great free design resource, check them out to find all sorts of free video backgrounds
Countdown Clock: to create the count-down clock, I had to use a little HTML, CSS and Javascript magic – but I found it by a really quick search, and embedded it as HTML on the webpage.

flow

1 Click to get Calendar Invites in Constant Contact, MailChimp, Exact Target

November 26, 2016 / Arnie McKinnis  / 

2018 – Update – I left this post in here.  We are now using AWS and getting ready to release the way we are doing calendar invites under our new “HeadLess Calendar” Interface.  That is using your Calender client on your Mobile Phone or LaptopWe have been working hard on trying to keep this simple. A One Click Call to Action Button.  We are still doing Call to action for Web and Email. 

Here is the workflow with our code in an Email Template for MailChimp, Constant Contact or Exact Target. 

Was it hard to do?

 No- takes about 10 minutes to generate the code for the calendar invite and test.

What do your customers get?– A one click Call to Action button to a webinar, event or promotion. You can include coupons if you want in the Calendar Invite, Address for google maps integration, web conference call information – etc, and use all the great reminders of the native Calendar specification for the Mobile phone to make sure they attend. 

What do you get?–Better signup responses because its on their calendar, better per event tracking and reporting. 

Your Call to Action – Get and account and give it a try. 


screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-7-46-32-pm

HOW TO: A/B Testing Event Signups

November 21, 2016 / Greg Hanchin  / 

One of the things we do as marketing people is testing – we test our products, our messages, our offers, our designs.  It’s what we do to ensure we are hitting the right points, to the right audience.  Tests are not about good or bad, they are about maximizing our efforts.  Some things work, other don’t – our tests give us the data to back that up.

Live Events (such as webinars, seminars, tradeshows, training, launches, etc.) can be a challenge.  We spend so much time and money on the event itself, along with our messages and campaigns to support them, it’s hard to determine exactly how to test them in the short time we have to promote them.

I have a solution, but it does require a bit of effort on your side to pull it off.  The solution actually makes it easier for your customer or prospect, but more work for us the marketeer.

Register for an account at 31events.com. We’ve made it fairly simple to do register, no credit card needed and no cost use.  And believe me, I understand about learning another tool, to do one more thing – but I believe the effort will be worth it.

Now, once you’re in the system, you’ll need to do a couple things (I suggest working through these next steps a couple times, before you try it on a real event, just to get the hang of how it all works).  And if you get hung up, let me know, and I’ll help get you through the first one.

Step 1: Create New Event

Just like creating a meeting in your calendar app, you’ll need to create an event within 31Events. Every entry box has a purpose, so be ready to fill in the details.  We provide space for a couple extra things which are important, especially as you create you’re A/B test harness.

Step 2: Send Test Calendar Invite

We force you to send out a test, we give you the ability to send your test invite to a max of 25 of people.  I usually just send it to myself, but you may have a larger team which needs to either view or approve the communications associated with the event. Until the test is sent, your event will remain in your workbench – after sending, it will be “live”.

Step 3: Duplicate the Event

Within our system, we allow you to duplicate any live event. It comes in handy if want have a standard template for your event communications, or, like in this case, you want to create an A/B test for various types of communications.

Once duplicate, you will edit the event details in the same way you created them – all details will be editable, but the most important is the Event Name and Event Subject – you will want to change those (much like changing the subject on an email).  Also, you might want to edit the Banner image and Coupon, along with any additional links you want to create within the message body itself.  Anything you want to test, or believe could have an effect, you should change.

Suggestions:

  1. Change the Event Name to something relevant to the test.
  2. Change the Event Subject – test it like a subject for an email campaign
  3. Change Banner Images
  4. Change Coupon Images and/or offers
  5. Change the message body itself, include additional links, wording, anything you’d like

Examples of possible A/B tests to run:

  • Create one event to be sent only to your email list, and one to be used as an embed within your website
  • Create a different event for each social media channel
  • Create a different event for any advertising you plan to use

Here’s the reasoning behind all these tests. At the end of the event, you can get a count of the following:

  • How many people received invitations
  • How many people ACCEPTED the invitation
  • How many people DECLINED the invitation
  • How many people didn’t interact with the invitation, leaving it as TENTATIVE on their calendar

An the last thing you get, is the email address associated with that action, which allows you then run all kinds of analysis against the raw data – or combine with data from other systems (like your CRM or email).

This is data you can’t get (easily) from any other source.  Actually, I don’t believe this type of data is available to you regardless of source, mostly because we are one of the few (potentially the only) company provide INTENT data for events.  Meaning – your attendees have express their “intent” with the calendar invitation, it is either Accepted, Declined or no action is taken and it’s Tentative (just like sending out meeting notices for team meetings).  That little bit of data is invaluable, especially after you have it for a few live events, and can start to recognize patterns.

So, now it’s up to you.  You can do it, but it will be a new tool, with a small learning curve.  It also takes you out of your routine.  Personally, I believe it’s worth the effort.

Register for your account today!

Simple is the hardest thing

November 4, 2016 / Greg Hanchin  / 

I just read a great article by Jason Fried over on Medium about his favorite subject matter, Simplicity. The example was a visual representation of MeetUp.com as simply rows and columns.  Below is the graphic representation:

Meetup.com at it’s core, is a matrix of cities and interests. You know your city, you know what you’re interested in, it’s simply finding the intersection between them.  Truly, a very simple thing.

After reading the article, I thought about some of the giants in of online – and most can be boiled down into very simple ideas:

  • LinkedIn = Online Resume
  • Twitter = Newsticker
  • Facebook = Updates to family and friends
  • Google = Search

Can we decide to get more complicated? Yes and we often do.  But our jobs as Marketers (which I consider a great profession extending beyond “promotions”) is to make it easy and simple for our customers and prospects. 

And easy is pretty damned difficult

At 31Events, we are dedicated to making it drop dead simple for your customers to get your timed-based event onto their calendar.  We believe the calendar is much more personal than email, for a single fact, time is important (their time, your time, my time) – because it’s the one resource we can never replenish.

We are constantly trying to simplify the concept behind 31Events, it’s not easy for us, just like it’s not easy for you or Google or Facebook to simplify who and what they are, but it can be done.  But when you think about us, remember this …

31Events = Your Event on Their Calendar in 1 Click

Our mission is make it as easy as possible for anyone, with a single click, to get your event on their calendar. One step, one action.  It simplifies their lives, not necessarily yours, but it does show a significant amount of respect for your customers and their time. 

Our jobs as marketers is not to make our lives as easy and simple as possible, but to make our customer’s lives simple and easy. We know the registration process, calendar syncing process, saving an iCal or filling out a long registration form – those things make our lives easier as marketers.  Let’s flip that coin and start looking at making it easy on them, not us.

We provide a great service.  You can create your event, test the message and sending process, then have all the website and email codes for communicating with your customers. 

After that, you can actually SEE who has that event on their calendar, and the intent behind it (accepted, declined, tentative) – and then use our skills as communicators to message directly to that intent.

It’s a couple extra steps for us, but so much easier for our customers.  I encourage you try out the service – it’s rock solid, it’s been working for several customers over the past few years, and it really is different.  

Your event is time-based, why not start marketing to the one function everyone has that’s time-based, the Calendar.

Dunkin Donuts in a Calendar Invite?

October 18, 2016 / Arnie McKinnis  / 
Another Example of a Direct Mail piece we received.  It has Multiple dates on the punch card that we are supposed to come in and get a free coffee.  We have missed the last 2 weeks in a row to get the FREE Coffee . It’s not on my Calendar.  If it was I would have been reminded on my mobile phone.  

Just send me the Calendar Invite with the GIF Coupon in a URL in the Calendar.  I can click through it at the counter to scan or show my free coupon for the Coffee, since I will be reminded and alarmed on that date by my Phone. 

In addition – put it on a Splash page on your website about the promotion.  I can just put my email address in the Calendar modal and get the Calendar Invite.  If I “accept” this on to my calendar, we track this on our reporting engine. 

In addition the retailer can start directing me to my local DD,  by just putting the address of the closest DD into the Targeted Calendar Invite knowing that I am a “OPT” in customer. 

dunkin-donuts-coupon

Coupons in a Calendar Invite? Its not that Crazy.

October 18, 2016 / Arnie McKinnis  / 

This is a Coupon in Email I received today from one of my favorite Bagel makers.  You can build a Coupon Calendar Invite in 31events , add the Coupon as a Gif Image , and the coupon would be a URL to Click thru when the Alarm went off in your Mobile Calendar. 

For more on how to build one see our Get started page

This should work in an Calendar Invite with the Coupon as a URL.

This should work in an Calendar Invite with the Coupon as a URL.

Webinar Example: LeadPages

October 11, 2016 / Arnie McKinnis  / 

Calendar Marketing, especially marketing online events through email is standard practice today.  Email is the most effective way to communicate to your audience, it is cost effective and the person has given you “permission” to communicate with them.

In the example above, LeadPages is presenting two count-downs clocks for a webinar to be presented on two different days.  You’ll notice, there is a button to “Claim Your Spot” which takes you directly to their registration page.  

This process of EMAIL to REGISTRATION is repeated 1000’s of times per day through email. It’s worked for years and continues to drive traffic, and is a great approach.

There is an alternative approach

In the example above, when someone clicks on the button, they go to a webpage to register. LeadPages is better than most, since they sent the email and have your contact information, they pre-fill the registration page.

What if…
When you clicked on the button, you were automatically sent a Calendar Invite (meeting notice).  It now lives in two places – in email AND the calendar.  Even if the email is deleted, the calendar invite is there – with your event information and a reminder popup about the meeting (set by you).

In the Details of the calendar invite, this is where you provide registration links – you can provide an incentive to register – or just ask. You provide the details of how to attend, and your customer has all the information right in their calendar, without having to fill in another form, click another button or do anything.

That’s Calendar Marketing.

the above is from our Pinterest board.  See more examples of using the calendar to market your time-based events.

What is Calendar Marketing?

October 9, 2016 / Arnie McKinnis  / 

A long, long time ago, I sent my 1st Calendar invite. Probaly some 15 Years ago, when I worked at Netscape. In those days it was a new, exciting and “my secret weapon” to meet with a customer or prospect. It was the beginning of corporate scheduling of people, time and resources. Or I would argue the birth of “Calendar Marketing”.

Today, in the digital world, the Ical invite is just part of the modern B to B world we live in. If you want to get on somebody’s calendar, you send an invite. If they accept, you will call them at that time, or meet them @ the Restaurant. Etc.

We see it on the iPad, the phone and the desktop — someday’s I get an alarm at the same time on all 3 devices!

It really works and I would be lost without having my Calendar.

So, I built a software tool called 31events.com about three years ago. I said, I love this calendering so much, I need to build something I can use in my day to day, to help enhance my chances of people showing up to my events on the web or in person, – seminars . But more than that , I thought — why can’t we use this same approach to consumer B to C emails , or B to B web marketing ?

We can generate codes to embed into your website for a Calendar Modal, or email template. In the email template, you can use the email to generate a “Click Here” now, and we “hook” the email address to the Calendar invite and send to them a Calendar invitation that you can track- Accepts or Denys. In addition we can add Coupons and Tickets as URL’s into the Calendar invite. Of course it has a Rest Api as well. I think my Samsung Refrigerator has a Rest API ? — LOL.

We define this category as “Calendar Marketing”. The ability to track and share Calendar invites for any type of events where you would like to gather and use all the great reminders that are built into the Calendaring specification. They include notifications, driving directions, reminders — etc , all built into the Ical specification.

They also look great on the Apple and Android watches. 🙂

Long live the Calendar!