Exclusive: Q & A with Matt McNeill, CEO of Sign-Up.to

Posted by | Aug. 2, 2010 | 1,900 views

Sign-up.to is a marketing company that has been around for seven years, providing software, services and support to over 2,000 UK businesses to help them communicate with their customers using email marketing, SMS and social media. In their latest marketing report, the music sector saw one of the biggest gains in open rate for their campaigns. I spoke with Matt McNeill, CEO of Sign-Up.to, to find out more about the significance of those results.

You recently released your 2010 instalment of the UK Email Marketing Benchmark Report which shows that the music industry has made one of the biggest gains in fan engagement. Can you explain those results?

We’re seeing people invest more time in honing their digital marketing now. It’s so much more effective than the more ‘traditional’ offline channels so as budgets get squeezed people turn more and more to digital. The fact that email is so measurable allows for quick learning and rapid improvement, as well as making it easy to justify the investment – as a result we’ve seen an increase in more engaging campaigns from our music customers – exclusive track giveaways, competitions etc. rather than just bland ‘our new track is out now’ campaigns.

How did you define and calculate the figures in the report?

Our report is based on an analysis of over 200 million emails sent through Sign-Up.to by our customers from 1st January – 3st June 2010. We allow our customers to specify their industry, we then anonymize and compile the results for each of the sectors, as well as looking at overall averages. The individual statistics are all calculated using standard formulas which we define in our report for clarity (http://www.sign-up.to/email-marketing-benchmark/definitions.php)  for example open rate is based on unique recipients who open an email campaign.

What are the most effective means companies can use to capture subscriber loyalty?

It all comes down to setting subscriber expectations, then meeting them and ideally exceeding them. You can only get true loyalty if you consistently offer great value to your subscribers – content that’s relevant and interesting and that they want to receive. It takes time to build and it’s easy to lose if you abuse their trust. Starting the relationship on a good basis is key, so offering a ‘thank you’ for subscribing is an excellent beginning – this could be a free download, discount voucher, competition entry – get creative!

Can you explain, in marketing terms, how Rage Against The Machine managed to knock the X-Factor single from the number one spot in the UK last Christmas?

Simply by offering a proposition that was very attractive to their audience, was fun, engaging and easy to spread across social networks. It was the right message at the right time and gave people an easy way to vent their frustrations and feel part of a community at the same time. The fact that it came from a grass-roots level and wasn’t a commercial campaign gave this enormous weight as well, I don’t think this would have succeeded at all if it was commercially orchestrated.

Do you think any lessons were learned by advertisers and marketers and/or the music industry?

I think that the key lesson is that social media gives everyone a voice, and that a great concept can mean far more than a huge marketing budget. It also illustrated the importance that engaging key influencers can have on a campaign – when people like Peter Serafinowicz started tweeting about RATM, things really took off.

What advice and services would you offer to an artist/band just starting out?

They should start by building a small core of loyal fans – having a few really engaged people who want to hear what you have to say is far more important than a massive list of people who just ignore you. Make sure you’ve got a presence on all of the key social platforms and encourage people to join your mailing list. Then ensure you actively use all those channels and create engaging content for them. As an artist/band you’ve got masses of potential for good content as people love to have the feeling that they’re seeing what’s going on behind the scenes.

What about a company trying to engage a specific market? For example, B2B marketing, such as a promoter or small label wanting to attract business from artists?

The same rules apply to B2B marketing as B2C – ultimately you’re always talking to people, so you need to treat them as such. However, the motivations of your audience are different and so the proposition needs to be. If you were a label or promoter wanting to attract artists then creating an informative newsletter that provides helpful information to artists and positions you as an expert (rather than just sending company news that tells them how great you are) would be a smart move as it will create engagement and hopefully word of mouth recommendations, so when people are in the right phase of their career to want your services, you’re at the top of their mind.

Do you have thoughts or plans for the future that could improve/enhance the service you provide?

The great thing about web apps is that we’re able to constantly innovate. We release new features every single month. At the moment we’re just about to release a fantastic new email campaign tool that makes it incredibly simple to create beautiful email campaigns that work perfectly in every email client (way harder to do than it sounds!) As more and more options open up for online marketing we’ve made it our mission to make it as simple as possible for our clients to use and measure those channels, so following the email designer launch we have a host of new social media tools coming  (in addition to our existing Twitter, WordPress and Facebook features) which make it really easy to manage and measure all your permission marketing from within Sign-Up.to.

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Posted by on Aug 2 2010. Filed under Business Models, Digital, Gadget & Services. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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