Tendo Dev Blog

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The inside scoop on the Tendo View redesign

In January 2008, we redesigned Tendo’s monthly email newsletter, The Tendo View.

If we developed a new email approach for a client, we’d certainly follow-up with some analysis on whether or not the redesign was successful and adjust our strategy accordingly. So, we’re doing the same for our internal effort and want to share the results with you.

(Some call this “eating your own dog food” but we think it’s just fair play. If we’re going to hold our clients accountable, we should do the same for ourselves.)

What Did We Do?

The Tendo View is an email newsletter that we send to approximately 1,000 recipients each month. Our audience includes past, present, and potential clients as well as freelancers and marketing professionals that are part of Tendo’s extended network.

Given our business, we have many marketers and Web-savvy folks on our list—the type of people who receive a LOT of email newsletters.

In 2007, our newsletter metrics were very respectable. We averaged a unique open rate of 20.71% and an average click-through rate of 12.21%.

We believed that the content we delivered was good. It provided value to our users and we had a nice mix of different content types, from feature pieces to site reviews to our popular “jargon watch” to blog entries.

But we wondered if the look and feel of the newsletter was inhibiting our ability to generate even more opens and better click-through rates. So we decided to make some tweaks to the design—not a wholesale redesign, just tweaking some elements—to see if we could improve our metrics.

Here’s what we found… Continue reading


June 6, 2008 Posted by | Email Marketing, John Kovacevich, Metrics/Web Analytics, Tendo View | , , | Leave a comment

The lessons of improvisation

This week, I returned to work at Tendo after a five-year hiatus.

For the last several years, I served as executive director of an improvisational theatre company. Like any field, “improvisational theatre” is rich and complex and I could talk about the nuances for hours … but at cocktail parties, I usually just explain it as, “It’s like that show ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’”

Improv is creating theatre without a script. And while I wouldn’t recommend improvising your company’s marketing strategy, there are some lessons from the improv stage that can help you connect with your customers.

SAY YES – One of the cardinal rules in improv is to “say yes” to the offers made by your fellow performers. By accepting what has been suggested and building on it, you are able to create something new together. If you say “no” to an offer, you stop the scene and are unable to move forward.

Is your website “saying yes” to your visitors and potential customers? Are you building on their interest to lead them to new information? Do you engage them in a way that allows you to create something collaboratively?

LISTEN – Lots of people think improv is about being funny. But good improv is less about being clever and more about listening to what’s said and building the story with your partners. And since you are creating something from scratch with no script or roadmap, the only way forward is to listen to the contributions of others and use them as building blocks for your scene.

Do your marketing communication efforts provide an opportunity to listen to your customers? Does your website approach your partners with a pre-conceived idea or do you provide a venue where clients can engage in a two-way conversation?

BE FLEXIBLE – An improv actor may be required to play many different types of roles without preparation and must be able to construct a character on the spot. For example, if the scene calls for 80-year old grandmother from South Dakota who lost her arm in an alligator accident, you transform yourself into that character and step on stage.

Are your communication strategies nimble enough to respond to different needs? Do you have a “one size fits all” approach or do you tailor you tactics as required?

HAVE FUN – If you’ve seen the show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” you know that the players look like they are having a good time. In fact, many people don’t believe the show is unscripted because they look so loose and relaxed. Aren’t they worried about making a mistake?

No, they’re not. There is no script, so how can anything anybody says be wrong? They know that if everybody is working together, “a mistake” is just a new offer—an opportunity to go in a new direction.

Few businesses believe that mistakes are gifts, and I’m not suggesting that you instruct your marketing staff to screw up on purpose. But does your marketing communication work have a sense of fun? Are you willing to try new tactics and techniques, or is your fear of a mistake limiting your reach? Do your customers enjoy their engagement with you?

Another improv lesson: Know when to end the scene. I think I’ll end this one here. ―John Kovacevich, VP, Marketing Services

April 18, 2007 Posted by | Content Strategy, Customer Care, John Kovacevich, Tendo View | Leave a comment

The business of March Madness

Every March the requisite articles come out about how productivity goes down due to March Madness distractions: filling out office pools, watching games online, taking long lunches at the nearest sports bar, and gloating over friends who picked a #16 team to go to the Final Four. Since college basketball has been on my mind this week, I decided to think about the life and business lessons I could potentially glean from March Madness. Is this just an excuse to read SI.com and legitimize my NCAA research? Maybe. But I did come up with five lessons:

1) Hard work pays off. If you work hard for the whole season and you come out on top, you will be rewarded with a No. 1 seeding like North Carolina. In the business world, you can work hard and still not be Bill Gates, but it does reap rewards.

2) Prepare for the unexpected (aka, don’t underestimate your opponent). Just when you think your bracket looks perfect, a George Mason will come out of nowhere and spoil your party. This can happen at the office, too, so be prepared.

3) Overall performance is key. Don’t judge a team by its scoring or its famous coach. Look what happened to Texas Tech―one and done. You need to consider the whole package and make informed decisions.

4) Perfection is impossible. I stumbled on a site today that is offering one million dollars to anyone with a perfect bracket. That’s because it doesn’t happen. Mistakes happen, you just need to fix them. Or in the case of March Madness, accept them and hope you’re not eliminated.

5) Office pools have better odds than Vegas. OK, this is more of a gambling lesson, but it might come in handy.

Julie Jares, managing editor

March 15, 2007 Posted by | In the News, Julie Jares, Tendo View | 1 Comment

Keep it on the download—managing expectations

The media often latches on to a new, “revolutionary” technology long before it becomes available to the public. What this means is that for a long time people are excited about an idea—like downloadable movies—but then when it finally comes out the service is much more limited than the hype would have you believe. At times like these, a good communications strategy is key.

Take Netflix. Some people say that DVDs will soon go the way of the eight track and that Netflix is operating with a business model that’s yesterday’s news. Until recently, lots of people were wondering why Netflix didn’t move to a download-on-demand model. Sure, the movie studios are resistant, and not everyone has the bandwidth required—but if the iTunes store can do it, why can’t Netflix?

Well, Netflix recently answered with a video-on-demand feature initially available to only a small number of customers. The service will be rolled out, for free, to all Netflix subscribers in the coming months.

Netflix is definitely moving in the right direction—but already there are gripes that the catalog is so small, that the service only works in Internet Explorer on a Windows computer, and that downloads are only available to a small number of Netflix subscribers. Yes, it’s childish because Netflix is doing this for free (but not out of the kindness of their hearts, we’re sure), but imagine your neighbor gets this feature you’ve been yearning for—and you don’t.

The lesson here is that when your customers are really excited about something, make sure you communicate the “how” and “why” around your product launch. Netflix could have managed expectations better—the company only offered customers a vague message saying it plans to roll this out to all customers by June 2007.

Expectations from Netflix users are sky high: The company has a huge catalog of movies, it already has relationships with movie studios, and, most importantly, what took them so long? Netflix was once a shining star, and if anyone can pull out a second act, they can. In the entertainment business, it’s not what you’ve done, but what you’ve done lately.

February 22, 2007 Posted by | Content Strategy, Customer Care, Tendo View | Leave a comment