Posts by: doug

Evangelizing RealTimes! Check out the podcast

My thanks to Neena (@AlmostPractical) for giving me the opportunity to talk about our new product @RealTimes. As we looked at the people that might be the best user community to use RealTimes – Mom’s – stood out as a natural fit. Our focus groups really made it obvious and with over a million users in the first 90 days – it would indicate we were spot on!

I really enjoyed this opportunity and look forward to doing some more!

Podcast with Neena on RealTimes


Introducing RealTimes

I am very pleased to let you know that we have announced the launch of RealTimes™, an innovative new app. RealTimes is the fastest and easiest way to get the most out of all of your personal photos and videos. It finds the best photos and videos you’ve taken and automatically turns them into RealTimes Stories™ that can be easily saved and shared.

RealTimes solves one of the biggest problems consumers face today: too many photos and videos, and not enough time to organize and share them. RealTimes automatically picks the best moments from a consumer’s photo and video camera roll – that big soccer goal or baby’s first birthday – and automatically and instantly creates an engaging RealTimes Story. It’s also easy and fast to customize RealTimes Stories by rearranging clips and photos, changing the duration, and adding filters and personal soundtracks. RealTimes Stories are fun to watch and can easily be shared – recipients don’t even need the app to view the Stories.

RealTimes is great for everyone who uses a smartphone to take pictures, which is to say anyone with a smartphone. But it’s especially valuable for parents, for two reasons: (1) parents take tons of photos and videos of their kids, and (2) because parents are super busy, they don’t have the time to cull through their massive camera rolls to enjoy their photos/videos again or the time to pick the best ones to share with friends and family – they need a solution that creates great results automatically.

Add the app on your iOS, Android smartphone or download to your PC. You’ll be amazed!

TwitterUsersCaptureSo, Twitter reported interesting results yesterday. The active user count rose 18% to 302M.

The company further reported that 80% of users access Twitter via their mobile device. Really? That’s it? I’ll bet my usage is 99% mobile.

Sales increased 74% year / year to $436M. Unfortunately, between January and March 2015, $162.4M has burned off the company’s books.

Bummer for investors as the stock declined 18%.

The Power and Profit of the Customer Newsletter..Seriously!

NewsletterPostIf you’re a digital marketing agency customer of Optify, I want you to be as successful as possible (we want B2Bs to be successful too ☺). One of the hard parts about being a new agency or a team that’s expanding in a new direction is how to get started. Some teams are great at SEO, marketing strategy or creating great messaging and product positioning, but what if you want to expand your business and offer new services to your current customers? What should you offer? How do you sell it? How much do you charge? All great questions and I’ve got a place for you to start.

Discover the power and profitability of the customer newsletter service. It’s a relatively simple service to deliver, but it can have a tremendous impact on your business and a great ROI for your clients.

Really? A newsletter? Yes! Before your business clients start worrying about social media, an HTML5 responsive website, AdWords, display advertising or anything else – make sure they have an outstanding customer newsletter.

A good customer newsletter will:

  1. Establish a trusted relationship with the customer. It’s an online world, but customers still buy from vendors they know, trust and have bought from in the past. A well-constructed newsletter with important and relevant content is delivering value. You’ll know it’s valuable and be able to prove it when they read and respond to it.
  2. Deliver upsells of related products and services. Again, it’s easier, faster and cheaper to sell related products and services to people who have already bought at least once. In fact, it’s 5x more expensive to acquire new customers than to sell to existing ones!
  3. Increase referrals to other potential customers. Prospective customers have already done research. Many times they’re simply looking for referrals who have had success. Ask for and promote customer success stories in the newsletter.
  4. Demonstrate cost-effective marketing and great ROI. The newsletter targets the most valuable prospect of all – the current customer. For example, by using Optify for creating a template, sticking to a consistent frequency, and leveraging the power of Optify’s email marketing software, landing pages, autoresponders and Optify Connect to tie it all together – you can deliver a complete, effective and profitable campaign for your clients.


Section 1: What’s New

Successful businesses rarely stand still – what’s changed that’s great for the customer? Do they have a new product or service that’s an add-on? New packaging/pricing for extending a subscription or generating an upgrade?

Section 2: Customer Spotlight

Demonstrate customer successes. Make sure they know they’re not alone! Include a customer Q&A or customer success story with a picture and a quote.

Section 3: Industry Spotlight

Educational 3rd party article/blog post. There’s a lot of content out there. However, it’s not all good or accurate. Be selective. Credit the source. Another ‘authority’ will support your topic or create added interest and validation.

Section 4: The Call-to-Action

Create a single (or at most two) call(s) to action. What do you want the customer to do, specifically? Call now, order today – you get the idea.

Take them to a landing page with a focused offer. This will give you an opportunity to create context and not distract them with other visual noise (i.e., don’t drop them onto a home page of the website).

Make sure you have set up the autoresponder off the landing page to ensure the customer gets a confirmation and follow-up.


The customer newsletter is an awesome offering because it’s something that you can do right away. However, it’s critical to determine how often it makes sense to engage with the customer. Consider the difference in a B2B world versus a B2C client’s target audience. B2B will likely be less often, while a B2C customer might expect multiple emails per month. Have you ever heard the saying “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”?

Start with one email per month and go from there. It’s easy to add more communications, but difficult to recover from a bunch of unsubscribes from over-communicating in the first 30 days.

Important: You can always ask for feedback from the audience BEFORE they vote with their Unsubscribe button!


Our CEO Rob Eleveld is constantly reminding us “Successful agency customers know how to keep their business repeatable and we need to help them.” So, why did I start with the customer newsletter?

It’s repeatable. The newsletter service is an easy way to have an ongoing relationship with your clients. In the end, you want to offer retainer-based repeatable services.

The service should be very affordable to clients. Therefore, it’s a relatively short sales cycle and your clients can see almost immediate value add. It’s a service that agency owner/principals are not required to deliver and can still be successful. A much more junior (i.e., cheaper) resource can be applied to research and deliver – more margin.

Cost and Pricing models

Ok, let’s break it down. Clearly, this model is an approximation and won’t be an exact calculation for everyone, but it will give you a framework to use.


Part of the secret sauce to making the service profitable is understanding how to allocate the costs for successful delivery and managing the content.

  • Resource
  1. Communications/Journalism Major, 0-2 years experience
  2. Approximately $20-$25/hr.
  • Content

Newsletter development: ~4 hrs.

Section 1: What’s New

1-2 paragraphs created by the client, formatted by agency (0.5-1.0 hrs.)

Section 2: Customer Spotlight

Consisting of a short phone interview, write-up and a photo of the customer: (1.5 hrs.)

Section #3: Industry Spotlight

Find/link to 3rd party educational article: (0.5 hrs.)
General formatting & test send: (1.0 hrs.)

Note: there will be a one-time setup cost in your model to upload the customer list and create the landing page with a great call to action.


Now that you have the cost model, let’s review the all-important pricing strategy.

Gross Margin Analytics:

  1. Target 65%+ gross margins for your list pricing (about 3x markup)
  2. Resource, $75/hr. ($25×3)
  3. Content, $300/newsletter ($75×4)
  4. Allocate your costs for Optify or other software at $150/client

Total monthly newsletter retainer: $450-$500 per month per client.

Note: $300 per month is still 50% gross margins!

Here’s some additional thoughts and recommendations to consider. If more hours are required, raise the retainer, but keep the fee less than $1,000/mo. It’s more important to sell as many newsletter services as possible. Similarly, as an overall pricing strategy, it’s worth discounting to $300-$400/mo. to get more clients on retainer.

Power and profitability, revisited

Remember, this service is a powerful strategy for moving clients from project-based services to retainer-based services. Your profitability is not only the immediate revenue and margin benefits of the service, but now you’re part of your client’s ongoing marketing process.

If you convert 10 clients @$500/mo. that’s $5,000/mo. in retainers and a very high probability of delivering great ROI for your clients that will lead to additional business.

Powerful resources and next steps

At Optify, we’ve recently done a complete webinar on this digital marketing service and have developed a co-branded presentation you can use to help present your newsletter service to clients. It’s fast, free and complete. Click here to watch the webinar, download the sales presentation and, most importantly, get started today!

Excerpts from Peter Bernstein’s article – Thanks for the quotes!

My thanks to Peter Bernstein for a great article. It’s always good to have a discussion with someone else that remembers what the taxi line was like at Comdex in 1986. Jacob Javits, not a good time.  And yes, we have both been around the block..uh..twice!

Optify Report Says Google Dominates B2B Search and Twitter Outperforms Facebook on Lead Generation


In the statement announcing the study, Doug Wheeler, CMO of Optify stated that, “Google has long proven to be the uncontested leader in the search market, and as our research shows, that authority will only continue into the foreseeable future.”

He further noted that, “With such a clear domination of search, we believe that marketers should diversify their marketing programs beyond organic search. It will come as no surprise if Google decides to monetize elements of its organic search data such as referring keywords, access to analytics or other, currently free services, leaving marketers no choice but to adhere to its terms.”

Wheeler had me with the word “monetize.” In fact, it prompted a call where I asked him for more insight on the findings. He congratulated me that my previous article was on the right track. He noted however, that Optify had hard data that the situation is “worse than you thought.” He went on to caution that the trend of an increase in “not provided” because you did not pay, and hence traffic was blocked, is laying the groundwork for what I have characterized as Google being a not insignificant (and possibly not inexpensive) tollgate on the Internet.

Back to the issues revealed by the study. Reality is that because of Google’s dominance, and the seeming lack of a disruptor, as Wheeler explained, “You are likely locked into Google as a customer and they are going to make you pay for the data.”
In short, traffic information at a high level is interesting and you need it, but the underlying data and analytics behind it are what are very valuable to marketers always on the search for more perfect data to fine-tune their efforts. And, because they are intrinsically valuable they will be something you have to pay for. You probably do so sooner rather than later.

It also means according to Wheeler that, “Because social media as we found is not great on referrals, content marketing and SEO are going to be harder work than ever before, and Google is likely to continue to adjust its algorithms.” He did say that such adjustments are not just based on locking in customers and positioning them to pay for value added, but also because the goal of business intelligence is to hopefully make tools continuously smarter and hence even more valuable for you the marketer and by extension Google.

I also wanted to share a few of Wheeler’s words of advice if you are putting together a marketing program. He said the study uncovered the fact that, “Things that bring traffic to your site are not highest converters.” Concentration does need to be on diversity with the understanding of:
What brings traffic to your site? What gets them to opt in so you can further engage them? Realization that social media may be valuable for getting awareness, and consideration, but it has yet to prove itself as a means for conversion.

Wheeler in fact stressed the fact that e-mail is the way to convert people. He said, “Use others to opt in, but convert using email. Work the funnel.”

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