64 posts categorized "Messaging" Feed

3 keys to improving your customers checkout experience

How often have you abandoned a checkout due to a confusing and difficult experience? Unfortunately this is more common than it should be and we lose customer's during the checkout process. In fact you're average abandon rate is around 80%!

Plan to Engage recently  hosted a webinar with conversion expert James Critchley of cloud.IQ and provided 3 keys to leverage in order to prevent abandonment of the shopping cart process. 

 The 3 Keys discussed are based on BJ Fogg's Behavioural Model which shows that 3 elements must converge at the same moment for a behaviour to occur: MotivationAbility, and Trigger.

Fogg Theory


In this webinar we detailed each of these elements and look to see how we can apply this model to our customer's checkout process  in order to refine and optimise the experience, resulting in increased conversions. 

Interested in seeing more? The please view the slides of the presentation below, alternatively you can watch the actual webinar here. 

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[Infographic] Boosting Sales Conversion with Cart Abandon Emails

Cart Abandonment experts, Cloud.IQ have just released a new infographic with some fascinating findings regarding how our customers are abandoning their purchases and how we can leverage this opportunity to generate more sales.

Some stats of interest:

  • 88% of online shoppers who abandon online purchases before completion are open to being emailed by retailers afterwards..
  • 35% actually say they will actively welcome these emails
  • For every £100 spent on driving customers to the site, only £1 goes into converting them

To see all the stats and the full infographic, view it here.

Boosting Sales Conversions

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Blending personas and personalities to optimise conversions in email marketing [Part 2]

Making your emails more relevant by appealing to different reader personalities

In Part 1 we introduced using Personas for Email marketing based upon motivation, in Part 2 I’m going to review the 4 main different personality traits that are common to everyone and show how to apply them to email creative. Aristotle was one of the first to identify them and named them: Melancholic, Phlegmatic, Choleric and Sanguine, however we will be using more descriptive names for these personalities in this post.

By leveraging both personas and personalities, you not only know where to place content, images and set tasks but also know how to speak to them (TOV), what offers to deliver and help them to accomplish their task the way they feel comfortable doing so – thus enabling higher and potentially quicker, conversions.

Read the full article

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Email Marketing Content Ideas

Content creation is one of the many tasks that email marketers have to be good at these days. Good content means more engaged subscribers, more social sharing of your content (which will attract new subscribers) and ultimately more leads and customers.

This list of content ideas will help you brainstorm and develop content that your target audience values and acts upon. Enjoy and feel free to re-tweet or re-blog! ;-)

Did I miss any content ideas? Let me know in the comments!

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7 tips on Building Your Own Engaging Welcome Messages

A welcome series is an automated series of emails that are sent automatically, to a new subscriber, based on a behavior (signed up on web site, purchased an item, etc…) and at a predetermined frequency (daily, weekly, etc…). It’s an extremely efficient and effective communications that is well received by the reader and will provide you a return.

The folks over at Open Moves compiled a list of 7 tips on building your own engaging welcome messages:

1. Differentiate the messages. The welcome series should stand out and stand alone. Don’t dilute the messages by sending your promotional campaigns at the same time.

2. Segment the audience. Target messaging based on the subscription point of entry. If a buyer opts in to your list during the checkout process, your welcome series could include member benefits, return policies, preference inquiries, and surveys. For those subscribers who joined your list without making a purchase, the series could include special offers, product reviews, and video testimonials to encourage a first sale.

3. Determine the right number of messages. Whether you send two, three, or more messages depends entirely on your audience, sales process, and campaign goals. There isn’t a right number; the key is testing to find what works best for you.

4. Set the right cadence of messages. The first message should be sent immediately upon subscription and clearly state it is the first of however many messages are in the series. It should also inform subscribers when to expect the other messages. After that, the rest of the welcome messages could be sent daily, weekly, or at whatever interval seems to work best for your audience.

5. Set specific goals. The overall goal of your welcome series should be to engage your subscribers and build brand advocates. But each specific message in the series should have its own particular goal while they work together to build your brand message.

6. Automate. Use a behaviorally triggered email solution to automate the messages. That way, you’ll guarantee that the messages are timely and effective. Each email can be set up in advance and deployed automatically, saving you time and resources.

7. Use clear subject lines. Stand out in over-crowded inboxes by including the term “welcome message” along with the number in the series.

Read the full article and check out the examples on the OpenMoves Blog.

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Are Your Subscribers Dogs or Cats?

Dogs love you no matter what. Dogs never hold a grudge. They forgive everything. They are miserable when you leave and ecstatic when you return. They think you walk on water and control the heavens and are the greatest creature to ever live. Ever. Dogs adore you.

Cats could not care less about you. They not only ignore you. They disdain you. The don’t care when you leave. They don’t care when you return. They don’t care. Period.

Now, I suspect we all want to believe the people who get our email marketing messages are like dogs. We want to believe that they adore us and can’t wait to hear from us, that we can do no wrong in their eyes.

But the truth is, those folks on our in-house email lists are more likely to be like cats. They really don’t care. We are an annoyance when we show up in the inbox. They never miss us or pine for us.

Read the full article here

Great analogy!

Have you ever tried to become friends with a strange cat? It takes time and effort. Now, treat your subscribers the same way... Take the time to win them over, let them get to know and trust you and eventually they won't run off as soon as you set foot in the door :-)

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Stuff you should read

Do you track your opt-in data?
"Surprisingly, I'm finding that many marketing managers aren't tracking this. This is sad, because sometimes this data is the last line of defense against you getting sanctioned over allegations of sending spam. When an ISP, ESP, or recipient asks for proof that a recipient opted-in to your email, they're asking for those exact details."

Four odd email ideas that (maybe) make sense
Mark Brownlow shares four email marketing concepts that seem wrong but might be right.

Three more odd email ideas that (maybe) make sense
And the list continues: poor open rates are a good thing, good responses don't indicate success, and delivering value is a bad idea.

You Need to Have a Privacy Policy 
When I reach out to ISP’s to resolve delivery issues, one of the items they almost always require is that email marketers have a clear and detailed privacy policy.

Let Your Subscribers Tell if the Email is Relevant 
Don't know if your subscribers find your emails relevant? Just ask them!

Link Tracking - Profiles Drive Greater E-mail Relevance
Stefan Pollard "The following two tactics will help you collect data at different points in the customer or subscriber relationship. There are more, of course, but these two work for me time and time again."

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Five Reasons why Content Strategy comes before Social Media

Here are five important reasons why a content strategy needs to be considered before integrating social media into your marketing plans. 
Social media = I hear you + I'm listening to you + I understand. Now replace "social media" with "publishing" or "content strategy". Works, right? 
Now try this...content strategy = I hear you + I'm listening to you + I understand + successful marketing goal and content measurement. This cements the fact that you are producing this content, not only to be shared by your customers and prospects, but to accomplish a significant marketing objective.
Read the full article here: Five Reasons why Content Strategy comes before Social Media.
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Winning back inactive subscribers in 7 steps

Your inactive subscribers don’t necessarily represent dead wood, uselessly clogging up your database. They are past and future customers who were once engaged with your program.

Chances are, it will cost you less to reach out and re-engage with these subscribers than it will to acquire new ones, so don’t leave good money on the table.

In this article, Margaret Farmakis provides these simple steps to win them back:

Step 1: Dive into your data and find out what portion of your database is inactive and how many non-responders you have.

Step 2: Break the inactive segment into smaller sub-segments. You’ll need to create a win-back strategy for each.

Step 3: Test a variety of content and offer strategies. Some subscribers will respond better to discounts, others to information on new products.

Step 4: Make sure you recognize their inactive status with a special headline in the creative and a customized subject line that lets them know you want them back.

Step 5: Track your performance metrics to learn what’s worked and what hasn’t.

Step 6: Next, remove persistent non-responders from your database. If you’re not quite ready to make the cut, consider sending out a final re-permission message. This email should clearly state that the subscriber hasn’t been opening or clicking on your messages. Include a link to reconfirm that they would like to remain on your file. Be clear about how long they have to reconfirm and what will happen if they don’t; you’ll then be    able to take the final step and remove them from your database.

Step 7: Take proactive steps to identify and reach out to your non-responders in the future. Create triggered messages that will engage with your inactive segments on a methodical basis, ideally after a defined period of time. If the subscriber hasn’t opened or clicked in 30 days, send them your win-back offer. If a customer hasn’t made a purchase in three months, send them a special incentive to get them shopping again.

Read the full article here.

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Turning Your Email Program into a Dialogue

In this article, Wendy Roth shares some tips to liven up emails and add the element of conversation. Here’s a summary:

  • Add contact links to your emails: your email address, your customer support contact and call center contact details, your main office telephone numbers...
  • Add a feedback link to your emails where readers can express opinions either about your products, company, or anything related to your market niche.
  • Start a user forum. Link to it in your email messages, even in your transactional messages. Incentivize customers to join and clearly explain the benefits of such a community.
  • Publish reader comments or product reviews. Publish these in your email messages, or devote an entire message to reader opinions. This can work in tandem with the feedback link to ensure these comments are worked into relevant reviews.
  • Answer reader questions in the newsletter. Share knowledge on how-tos. Answer questions about your products, editorial policy, or whatever is on readers' minds. For every one person who writes in, maybe 100 or 200 are thinking the same thing.
  • Use polls and surveys. Post mini versions in your regular emails, or link to a poll or survey at your site. Swap out one of your regular mailings for a reader-dialogue issue.
  • Blog in your newsletter. Publish a blog post or comments in your newsletter and link back to your blog's site. Allow comments without moderation, except to remove messages that are libelous, in poor taste, or obvious comment spam.

However, all of this dialogue-building is useless, unless you...
Pay attention and respond! Your subscribers and customers are talking, you are now paying attention -- but what about taking some action?

No matter how many channels you use to join the conversation, you have to monitor and participate in all of them. Otherwise, there could be a perception that you are not truly engaged.

Read the full article here.

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Forget relevance - it's about value!

As usual, Dela Quist of Alchemy Worx has decided to turn things on their head and not accept the 'norm'. In this case he's being irreverent to the holy 'relevance' mantra of email marketing....and he makes a good point.

In the latest issue of email-worx,, he talks about replacing 'relevance' with 'value' - as without value, it is very hard for your email program to be relevant. As he says 'Subscribers expect - and should get value!'

He goes onto say that an easy way to add value to your email program is to offer something which you can only get by being in the mailing list - that is, you can't get it by going directly to the website. This of course can be information, whitepapers, special offers, reduced shipping etc...

Watch the video here

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More Email Marketing Resolutions for 2009

A couple of weeks ago, Chad White posted some great tips for your email marketing program in 2009. Here's a summary:

1. Each month replace one of your previously planned broadcast emails with a targeted email to a segment of your list. A well-crafted, targeted email can generate as much sales as a broadcast email, while simultaneously increasing engagement and reducing list fatigue. However, a targeted email does take a little extra effort to create.

2. Schedule a review of all your email forms and triggered emails. Sign-up forms, preference centers, welcome emails, triggered emails -- if you haven't done an inventory of these pages and emails and reviewed them to make sure that they're accurate and up to date, do it now. These tend to get set up and then forgotten about - sometimes for years.

3. Speak to the subscriber and not from the point of view of your business. Make sure that your emails and forms address consumers with them in mind. What's in it for them? What's appealing to them? And how does your email program help them?

4. Redesign your email templates with image blocking in mind.

5. Segment out your inactive subscribers. Send them different messaging than your active subscribers and at a lower frequency. Also consider sending them emails with a different template, one that has an unsubscribe link at the top, or offering the choice to opt-down to a lower frequency. After a long period of inactivity, you may also want to send a reactivation campaign, asking them to opt in again in order to continue receiving emails.

Read the entire article here.

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Elements of a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

Here are the slides of my presentation at the Brussels Email Marketing Forum yesterday where I talked about the things I look at when I evaluate an email campaign. Let me know if you have any questions!

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Think Global, Speak Local

As I sit at Heathrow Airport awaiting my flight back to the U.S., what a truly global village we've become - even in email marketing.

As I spoke with clients from Germany, Holland, the UK and elsewhere - the challenges, opportuniities and even lexicon was all very consistent. Terms I had thought were very American - "batch and blast", "pray and spray" and others were widely used by my Silverpop peers and clients.

And of course challenges such as deliverability, proving ROI to management, having enough resources to deploy "world-class" programmes, etc. were also frequently discussed. But the opportunities to maximize the email channel, delivering increasingly relevant content, integrating email with social networks and taking advantage of the explosion of the growth in mobile devices was alsu universal.

But as I edited my Powerpoint presentation for a UK audience, I was also reminded of another maxim - "Think Global, Act Local." It was a great reminder that even when we think we speak the same language - we don't. And email is no different - with increasing customer choice, it is vital that email marketers speak to their customers not just in general terms - but in a voice that resonates with each individual on your list....and off to my plane...

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Email: Isn't It About Communicating?

The global financial meltdown reminds us again how important good communications are in our societies.

In 1929, the United States experienced a major stock-market crash, which precipitated disastrous bank runs – thousands of account-holders descended on their local financial institutions, demanding their life savings in cash – and contributed to what we now call The Great Depression.

As news spread over the last few weeks about potential failures in the financial markets, the specter of the bank run rose again as people talked again about withdrawing their hard-earned money before it disappeared.

But it didn't happen and isn't likely to happen in most countries throughout the world. I believe we will avoid failure because of the systems and protections enacted throughout the world to avert these runs and because of the instantaneous nature of communications.

While TV, radio and the Internet alerted people to the financial-system meltdown, customers could go online and read press releases from the affected banking institutions and government bodies and be reassured that their savings were either insured or protected.

Where does email come in to play? I personally have direct relationships with three financial institutions (not including credit-card issuers, mutual funds, etc.). Only one of them has reached out to communicate with me about the market turbulence in the last few weeks.

This company has sent me three separate emails, all meant to educate and reassure me about my accounts and status of the financial markets.

One of the other institutions is, in fact, a well-known bank that has been in the headlines in the last few days as pieces of the bank will be sold to another bank. But nary a communication from them. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

As marketers, we spend most of our time talking about things such as customer acquisition, conversion rates, average order size, revenue per email and other short-term top-line-oriented metrics.  But, at its core, email is still a communications channel from consumer to consumer and between businesses and consumers.

The emails I received from the one financial institution recognized that we had a relationship and sought to strengthen it through timely, candid and reassuring communications.

My point here is not to talk about the quality of crisis communications but to make us think about all the ways to use email beyond the typical approach of sell, sell, sell.

For most businesses and consumers, email is still the most efficient and quickest way to communicate. When developing your email program and communication cadence, build in the aspect of basic, value-added communications: keeping your subscribers and customers up-to-date on both good and bad news.

It might be as simple as a notice that a popular product is out-of-stock, a bulletin that seminar registration is full, a Web site will be down for maintenance, or you have to add a fuel surcharge because of higher jet-fuel costs.

At its core, email is a communications vehicle, not a just billboard for your latest free-shipping offer. Use email for all it can be.

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Make Your Call-to-Action Stand Out: 4 Tips

In this article on the Email Experience Council's blog, Lisa Harmon explains how to make your call-to-action stand out:

1. Stay focused.
Design the entire message to direct recipients towards the CTA. Don’t distract them with too many equally-weighted links and offers. Select imagery that draws the eye toward the point of conversion. Make the path appealing and clear, and make sure that it extends beyond the email itself to the landing experience.

2. Keep it direct and clear.
It’s fun to write clever copy, but make sure that even the quirkiest wording is to the point. 

3. Make sure it’s above the fold.
Keep the CTA above “the fold,” or in the part of the message that’s visible without any scrolling. While the fold location can be hard to predict with all the varying preview panes and computer monitors out there, put your CTA up top where it gets the attention it deserves.

4. Make the CTA stand out visually!
Keeping it above the fold is a good start, but go further. Make your CTAs stand out visually. Try using HTML buttons as opposed to text links. You’ll grab more eyes that way and generate a higher CTR. For more on buttons, check out Lisa's article on “The Bulletproof Button”.

Read the full article (including examples) here.

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How to Encourage Readers to Interact with Your Emails

There are many ways to encourage readers to interact with an e-mail newsletter or Web site and just as many ways to use the resulting content. In this article, Jeanne Jennings offers a few tips for getting started:

Surveys, Polls, and Quizzes

Jeanne often recommends clients include a survey, poll, or quiz in each issue of their e-mail newsletter. The question can be based in fact or opinion; multiple choice questions work best, as this makes it easier for readers to respond. If you want to collect additional information, ask an open-ended question or two after readers have responded to gather more detailed information about the answer.

Results of a survey, poll, or quiz can be used in a number of ways. Some marketers report them in a future issue. If you have more resources, include the results in an article that delves further into the issue. Often, answers to the open-ended questions asked in addition to the original poll or quiz will be information you can include in an article or publish separately.

Discussion Boards

If you have discussion boards on your site, there's an opportunity to pull content from them directly into your e-mail newsletter. Including a particularly interesting post, along with a link to join the discussion on your Web site, is a great way to engage readers. It also drives more visitors to the discussion board to grow that community.

Many e-mail newsletters include a generic discussion-board link back to the site. This isn't an effective way to pull people in. The idea of a discussion board isn't interesting. The value lies in the actual discussions going on there. By pulling actual posts into the e-mail you provide readers with a reason to get involved.

Article Comments

Many e-mail newsletters feature a "comment" button at the bottom of articles, but I'm often disappointed when I click through to see what others have said. Too often, there are no comments at all. When comments do appear, they're frequently not substantial ("Great article, really enjoyed it.") or self-serving ("Great article, my company offers a service like this, contact us at...").

If you hope to get substantial comments, a link to comment isn't enough. Ask some open-ended questions at the end of your article. Make the article a jumping-off point to begin a discussion of the topic on your site. Even better if the author or another member of your staff helps to manage the discussion by chiming in with additional thoughts or comments.

Content From Readers

The holy grail of UGC is having readers submit entire items, articles, or stories for publication in your e-mail newsletter. People like to see their name in print, and more than you expect are willing to provide content. Your job is to make it as easy as possible for them.

One way to do this is to focus their efforts. Give them a situation to write about. If there's an industry event coming up, ask readers to write a synopsis of one of the sessions and send it to you. Or give them an open-ended topic, such as "your most successful marketing campaign" or "a time when you found the silver lining in a bad experience." Don't require a long piece. A couple hundred words is easier to write and can be just as effective. Response probably won't be overwhelming, but if you publish submissions the program will build on itself.

If it makes sense for your industry, you can also request visual input from your readers. If you make or sell cameras, encouraging readers to send in photos and publishing the best images in your e-mail newsletter with attribution is a great way to leverage UGC.

Source: ClickZ

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Welcome Emails: Dos and Don'ts

The first e-mail you send to a new subscriber is where you set and manage expectations. Your efforts will be rewarded if you do this successfully and then meet those expectations.

In this article, Derek Harding lists the dos and don'ts for writing and delivering a welcome message to new subscribers.

The what, when, and how of that first message is key. It sets the tone for the relationship. As with any relationship, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Explain Why

This takes on added importance if there's a time lag between subscription and first message. Remind recipients when, where, and how they registered. Otherwise, they may not remember having subscribed or they may not connect your e-mail with the Web site they visited a few days earlier.

Sometimes an e-mail address is shared by two or more family members. Providing the details can avoid a situation where an angry spouse complains of spam. Whatever the reasons, the more you tell recipients about why they're receiving your message, the fewer complaints and issues you'll have.

The number one way to reduce complaints among new subscribers is to provide a clear and accurate explanation of why someone is receiving a message.

For example, something like this doesn't count and won't help: "You are receiving this message because you signed up on our Web site, or that of one of our affiliates, or contacted our customer support, or in some other way indicated a desire to receive e-mail from us."

However, this will: "You are receiving this e-mail because on Saturday, August 24 at www.example.com you signed up for our product updates newsletter."

Don't Delay

Your confirmation message should be sent quickly. Ideally, that means immediately upon receipt of the subscription. There can be reasons why a message takes time to work its way through your internal systems, but it's vital to make this happen as quickly as possible.

The greater the delay, the greater the disconnect among subscribers between their subscription behavior and the received e-mail. This leads directly to an increased complaint and opt-out rate.

Offer an Opt-Out

If you aren't using confirmed (double) opt-in, at the very least ensure there's a clear and easy opt-out mechanism in your confirmation message. Sure, it can be argued that this isn't legally required because the message is transactional in nature, but this is when recipients are most likely to change their mind.

When someone wants off your mailing list, making it hard -- or even fighting with that person -- does more harm than good. If you don't let them easily unsubscribe, many will use the TIS (this is spam) button instead, which harms your reputation, may result in delivery issues, and -- most importantly -- irritates your customers and prospects.

Explain What

This is your opportunity to set expectations. Even if your signup process discloses what someone signs up for, it's worth repeating. If you send daily offers, yet subscribers don't expect them, subscribers will find out pretty soon and may be upset. Tell them up front what they're going to get, and how often, so they can choose to join or not.

If you offer a profile management center, this is also a great place to get new subscribers to ensure their profile is accurate and that their subscription preferences are what they really want. If you send a variety of communications, your subscribers may or may not realize just how many of them they agreed to when they first signed up. This is especially true for off-line subscription processes.

Source: ClickZ

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12 Content Ideas for Your Email Campaigns

If you’re just getting started with email marketing, if it’s been awhile since you sent an email because you aren’t sure what to send, or if you’re looking for new content ideas to help you move beyond an email newsletter, this list is the perfect starting point:

  1. Interview an executive.
  2. Create a series about your product/service.
  3. Write educational, how-to tips and articles.
  4. Interview a customer (or member, or fan).
  5. Write about an event you’re attending, from the event.
  6. Share some behind-the-scenes information about your company or product.
  7. Promote thought leadership articles.
  8. Share company successes and awards.
  9. Repurpose content from a seminar.
  10. Showcase a partner company or service.
  11. Interview an employee.
  12. Broadcast news from your industry.

Source: the Emma blog

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