33 posts categorized "Trends" Feed

How Animated Video Can Boost Your Marketing Message Delivery

At the Email Evolution Conference in Miami, Kath and I learned that video is a great way to engage an audience - and when featured in an email, they tend to get a lot of clicks!

I'm a big fan of animated videos, that's why I invited guest author Manroop Takhar of of Qudos Animations (turn your volume down before you click!) to write a short blog post on how to create animated videos:


How Animated Video Can Boost Your Marketing Message Delivery

by Manroop Takhar

Welcoming visitors to an inspiring animated video, away from the bustling mayhem that is the internet, can make an invaluable first impression.

Attracting visitors to your animated video is not always easy, though.

Here are my top tips for producing a video that attracts, gets shared and makes an impact.

Tip 1. Simple is attractive

With so much content crowding the web, people can become overwhelmed. 

So making your video simple yet striking can be the best way to retain attention and encourage click-through.

It is best to provide potential customers with the minimal information necessary at first. Don’t push them, but captivate them with an inspiring thought.

Don’t forget, simple can still be original and make you stand out from competitors.

 Tip 2. Educate and explain complex concepts

You can simplify complicated ideas this with the use of various elements in animated video – i.e. imagery, music, voiceover, special effects.

These also stimulate the viewer’s senses.

One minute of video is the equivalent of 1.8 million words of text, according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research.

A personable or authoritative voiceover can help viewers relate to an educational video.

Tip 3. Trigger an emotion

Appealing to the viewer’s visceral emotions can be an effective method for keeping them engaged - whether happiness, excitement or shock.

Viewers are then more likely to hear your message, and these emotion-rendering videos are most likely to be shared with their friends.

Tip 4. Create memories and enhance brand recall

If you look back at the most memorable television adverts you’ve seen, the chances are that many of these will be animated.

The simplicity, imagination, unusual voices and often vibrant colours make these often unforgettable; and these can become synonymous with a brand.

Paired with a positive message and this can be invaluable to brand image and loyalty.

Tip 5. Create appealing characters

Give your story a hero - or several.

Some marketers will make the brand the hero of their story, but this often does not answer the questions that your customers have.

It is more effective to tell stories about the problems your customers have faced, so that they can relate to the hero.

For example, if your prospects are animal-lovers, tell a compassionate animal-rescue story.

With your customer taking the lead role in the story, you as the company or brand might take the role of the sage, providing them with answers.

Tip 6. Include gaps and cliffhangers

To engage with your audience, you need to understand the importance of the disparity that exists between what the hero of your story wants and where he/she is now.

As the hero closes in on his/her goal, viewers follow and expect to see their accomplishment, but an unexpected cliffhanger can add to the story’s lure.

Your audience also have gaps in their lives and goals to reach, which they’ve invested a lot of energy in to. A story that recognises this can have power.

Tip 7. Take time choosing your style

There are many methods and styles of animation to choose from, some with potentially different benefits.

A quirky paper cut-out animation can inspire creative minds, while the most up-to-date motion graphics with special effects can appeal to a different target audience.

Find the best style to put across your message to your audience, adapting it to your creative ideas, and this could give a considerable boost to your brand image.

I wish you all the best in creating your animated masterpiece!

This blog post was written by Manroop Takhar, who is the founder of Qudos Animations, an animation studio that creates engaging advertisements and high impact explainer animations for businesses.

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A Look Into Email Marketing Trends for 2013

Email is one of the most profitable marketing channels today. Looking at all the new technology hitting the market it does seem like the sky is the limit. With this new technology comes new consumer expectations, and new email marketing trends.

Many of the trends in email marketing are heavily based on technology advances. Optimizing email messages, both in design and message, for mobile platforms appears to be the wave of the future. At least, this is the big topic for discussion around many marketing tables.

Let’s take a look at what the predictions and trends are for email marketing in 2013 and beyond.

Digging into the Details

There has been talk that email marketing is on its way out, but the data shows a different picture. Email itself is only increasing in popularity, especially as more devices make it so easy to check messages anywhere and anytime.

According to the Radicati Group, Inc., the number of email accounts reached 2.9 billion in 2010, and email currently outpaces accounts on Facebook and other similar sites. The group predicts that email accounts will grow to over 3.8 billion in 2014.

With the growing reliance on email, it’s no wonder that consumer behavior continues to be influenced by the inbox.  ExactTarget found that well over three-quarters of those surveyed in its 2012 Channel Preference Study preferred to get permission-based marketing messages via email versus other channels.

Impressively, the same study found that email drives consumer purchases more than any other marketing channel. Sixty-six percent of the respondents said they made a purchase based on a marketing email, followed by direct mail, telephone, Facebook and text message, in that order.

The email marketing trend is growing because it works, and if you aren’t on board, you should be. A Forrester Research Email Marketing Forecast, 2011 to 2016, the amount spent on email marketing in the United States will increase by just shy of $1 billion by 2016.  More and more companies are including email in overall marketing strategy, giving them a possible competitive edge over those who haven’t heeded the trends.


Image source: http://www.forrester.com/Forrester+Research+Email+Marketing+Forecast+2011+To+2016+US/fulltext/-/E-RES59101

It’s a Mad, Mobile World

According to Flurry Analytics, December 25, 2012, alone, saw 17.4 million new smartphones and tablets activated. Christmas week saw a record 50 million iOS and Android devices activated. There’s no question that we are firmly in the mobile age.

As such, it is predicted that email marketing will continue to evolve to be mobile-device friendly. And it should be. The data shows that consumers clearly are accessing and influenced by emails on their Smartphones and other mobile devices.

Here are just a few eye-opening stats:

  • 79% of people use their smartphone for reading email, a higher percentage than those who use it to actually make phone calls. Adobe –2013 Digital Publishing Report: Retail Apps & Buying Habits (2013)
  • More email is read by Mobile device than by desktop or via webmail. About 40% of email is now opened on a mobile device. Litmus –Email Analytics (Jan 2013)

In addition, mobile emails influence purchasing behavior. According to ExactTarget’s 2011 study Mobile Dependence, just over one-half of U.S. consumers who made at least one purchase using their Smartphone have done so because of a marketing email accessed via a mobile device.


Image source: www.ExactTarget.com/sff

Surprisingly, data shows that only a small amount of companies have optimized their email campaigns to be compatible with mobile devices. Only 14% of companies and 24% of agencies are designing emails specifically for mobile, according to the 2011 eConsultancy Conversion Rate Optimization Report. 

This could be the make or break for successful mobile email marketing, with good reason. Consumers often say they find reading emails harder on mobile devices than on computers; if they open a non-optimized marketing email via a mobile device, it could lead to disaster.

A 2012 BlueHornet study found that nearly 70% of consumers will delete an email immediately if it doesn’t display correctly: 


To be a successful email marketer, you would do well to get ahead of the curve, and consider making your messages mobile-friendly. 

Managing the Message

Now that we know the trends in email delivery, what are we looking at in terms of the emails themselves?

In 2013 and beyond, out are the one-size-fits-all email messages.

As technology becomes more sophisticated, so must the email marketing campaigns that we send. The basic tenets of email message crafting are the same, but some aspects are evolving.

1. Personalization:

According to the Aberdeen Group’s report, Email Marketing: Get Personal with Your Customers, personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%.

Blanket email blasts to an entire mail list are falling by the wayside. It is safe to say that email marketing will get better response if the message is personalized to the recipient. Analytics and data collection are key to tailoring your message for specific segments of your audience.

A way to kick personalization up a notch is by using triggered emails, where further emails are triggered by a recipient’s response, or lack thereof, to a previous email. According to Chad White, principal of marketing research at ExactTarget, email marketers using this and other sophisticated technology are significantly outperforming those that aren’t.

“Under invest in triggered emails at your own peril,” White relates.

2.     Visualization:

The popularity of sites like Pinterest and Instagram has shown that consumers are interested in images and visualization. This trend is predicted to carry over into email marketing, as well. Images, graphics and photos can all serve as visual aids to add impact to emails.

According to White, recent graphic developments, like special characters in subject lines, are here to stay. In addition, video in email will become much more popular due to new advancements.

“HTML5 video will finally deliver on the video in email experience that marketers have long craved,” he says.

3.     Integration:

Marketing across the various devices and channels available to consumers can give them a new experience with your brand. Messages that link to other social sites, like Facebook and Pinterest, or are accessible across several devices, are well-received, if not expected, by consumers.

If you plan to take advantage of this trend, make sure you present a clear theme that ties all channels and messages together.

The Trend to Follow

As you look at your email marketing strategies are you taking into account these trends? Technology, and most importantly mobile devices, are dictating the future of email campaigns. Are your messages responsive or mobile friendly? Do they engage a reader with a degree of personalization? Are they interesting or visual?

Ask yourself these questions and research how you can best integrate the trends to optimize your email marketing campaign returns.


MZ-ProfilePhoto-XXSMichael Zipursky is an author, consultant and entrepreneur. He is co-founder of the consulting blog, Business Consulting Buzz, a resource center with hundreds of articles and interviews helping consultants to become more successful. Michael is also actively involved with FreshGigs.ca, a jobsite specializing in marketing, communications and creative jobs in Canada. You can connect with Michael on Twitter @MichaelZipursky



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Email And Search Continue To Be The Most Popular Online Activities

A May 2011 Pew Internet survey finds that 92% of online adults use search engines to find information on the Web, including 59% who do so on a typical day. This places search at the top of the list of most popular online activities among U.S. adults. But it is not alone at the top. Among online adults, 92% use email, with 61% using it on an average day.


Email is similar to search (and many other online activities) in that the youngest online adults, the college-educated, and those in the highest income categories are more likely than others to engage in the activity. These demographic differences are considerably more pronounced when one looks at email use on a typical day.


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Gmail is testing a feature that allows browsing within an email

This week Sears will be wrapping up beta testing of a potential new Google offering called “Enhanced Email,” which allows a form of browsing to occur within an email viewed within Gmail. 

For instance, in a limited test of the functionality last month, Sears was able to include seven “pages” containing 20 best-selling products that its Gmail subscribers could browse using the navigation within the module without leaving the email. When a subscriber hits the “next” link in the module’s navigation, the current set of products slides out of the box to the left and the next set of products slides in from the right in one smooth motion.

Andrew Kordek showed this feature live to me at the Email Evolution Conference in Miami, and we both agreed that it was VERY cool. Can't wait for them to roll it out.

I remember reading that Goodmail is also going to release a new product that is supposedly going to allow readers to buy products from an email without having to leave the email.

I wonder if the two are connected...

Read more about this on Chad's RetailEmail blog - he has a screenshot to show what it looks like!

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Why You Don't Want to Give Up on Email

I was reading an excellent post over on the Copyblogger blog called "Why Email Marketing is Dead (And How to Bring it Back to Life)" and I wanted to share some great quotes from the article with you:

Why you don’t want to give up on email 
For awhile, it looked like email was old-fashioned anyway. RSS was where it was at. We were going to create amazing connections with our blogs. Not only could we have terrific conversations, but our content was linkable, findable via search engines, and part of a global dialogue. Who needs boring old email? 

But here’s the secret that smart online marketers know: When you want to move from conversation to commerce, email just works better. 

Email lists are more responsive than RSS subscribers. They’re more engaged. They’re less likely to drift away and forget you. And they’re more profitable. 

Email is a more intimate medium than RSS. If RSS is a networking event, permission-based email is a dinner party. (As opposed to mailing to an email list you purchased, which is some jackass cold-calling you to sell life insurance during your dinner party. Don’t do that.) 

The Direct Marketing Association consistently reports that the ROI on email marketing remains far above that of search or other marketing channels. That’s in line with what I see and hear in online business.  And guess what? Smarter email marketing = better results.
This is just a snippet from the post on Copyblogger. I highly recommend the entire blog post.! It's really good stuff!

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Email Marketing's future is looking good

Today Seth Godin came up with a couple of interesting predictions in his post, 'Sixty to zero':

Prediction: 90% of your sales will come from word of mouth or digital promotion by 2011. How do you change what you're doing today to be ready for that?

Prediction: The effort required to outsource a task involving the manipulation of data of any kind will continue to decrease until it will be faster and cheaper to outsource just about anything than it will be to use in-house talent. What will you do today to ensure your prosperity when that happens?

Along the same lines, Simms Jenkins recently interviewed Stan Rapp and he says 'Rapp gets that your online messaging today consists of Twitter and Facebook as well as the email inbox. He fully embraces the simple and powerful differentiating aspect of email marketing -- that it is delivered to the people that ask for these offers, updates, and newsletters. This unprecedented by-request-only aspect is what separates email from its peers. In Rapp's view, it is the most powerful yet underutilized force in marketing today.  '

The interview then goes goes onto say:

Jenkins: You said "the inbox is the beating heart of the internet, and email is the tightest link ever forged between buyer and seller." This resonated with me, as someone that runs an email-focused agency. Can you expand on this?

Rapp: No. 1, the tightest one-to-one link you can have is a relationship in which the consumer invites you to talk to them. The beating heart of the internet is the inbox. Its pulse pounds away as each of us clicks open and sends out our hourly emails.

So, the question is: are you doing everything you can to utilise this powerful channel?

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Most popular email clients in February 2009

Campaign Monitor analyzed 6 months of data covering more than 250 million opens. The result - a birds eye view of email client popularity and usage trends over time. Check it out here.

What I found most interesting to see is the total market share held by the 5 most popular email email client over the last 6 months. Seems like the adoption of Outlook 2007 is growing slowly but steadily...


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Does Email Marketing Have a Future?

Yesterday someone asked me if a message that is sent from a Facebook fan page owner to his/her fans could be considered to be email marketing. Today someone asked me if I thought that social networks would mean the end of email marketing. My answer to the first question was yes and my answer to the second question was no. Let me explain.

I consider any message that is sent to a digital mailbox to be a form of email marketing, or to use a better term: digital direct marketing. A digital mailbox can take many different forms: it could be an email inbox, it could be your Facebook inbox, your RSS reader, your mobile inbox or even your Twitter inbox.

Which form it takes, doesn't really matter: basic email marketing best practices apply to all of them: you need to have permission and you need to provide value, otherwise you won't be successful.

I think it's very likely that the term "email marketing" will cease to exist in the near future. Not because we won't be doing email marketing anymore, but because we won't only be targeting email inboxes anymore.

I see a future where technology will allow us to prepare a message that can be delivered to all these digital mailboxes with just a push of a button. One person will receive it as an email, another will get a direct message on Twitter, a third one will see it in his/her RSS reader, a fourth one will read it on his/her Blackberry, a fifth will get a text message and someone else will read it on Facebook.

So what should we start calling this type of marketing? Digital Direct Marketing? Digital Dialogue Marketing? Inbox Marketing? What do you think?

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DMA Releases ‘Future of Direct Marketing’ Report

Marketers facing the current weakened economy remain unclear about what this year and beyond will bring, according to the Direct Marketing Association’s first-ever “Future of Direct Marketing” qualitative report, released Monday. Nevertheless, a common theme of the report is that technology will become increasingly essential to success.

Consisting of interviews with direct marketing leaders and a compilation of their views on a variety of factors affecting the industry, the report found:

  • Consumerism increasingly will drive legislation and self-regulation in the direct marketing arena.
  • The customer will gain more control of choices and transactions, especially concerning marketing communications. Marketers should ask customers their preferences about what marketing messages they want to receive, how often they wish to receive them and through what channels.
  • Multichannel marketing driven by Web. 2.0 technologies will become increasingly important, including capturing and capitalizing on data acquired through digital channels.
  • The movement away from single-channel campaigns will continue, with more integrated multichannel strategies being implemented.

The report, available for download at DMA’s online bookstore via www.the-dma.org, is priced at $135 for DMA members and $240 for nonmembers.

Source: btobonline.com

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The Pendulum is Swinging Back....

Not too long ago, Matt Blumberg of Return Path wrote "It's interesting to note that after months (years?) of "email is dead" stories specifically around blogging, RSS feeds, and social media in general, the pendulum seems to be swinging back to email". You can read his full blog post here.

I manage a couple of blogs and it's interesting to note that the percentage of subscribers to these blogs via email is greater than via RSS....I guess this is part of the pendulum swinging back.

Of course, this hasn't always been the way...receiving blog posts via email is relatively new...but it seems to be catching on rapidly. I personally am a huge fan of email, and will choose subscribing to a blog via email over RSS any day....so much so, that if a blog doesn't offer subscriptions via email I most likely won't subscribe to it.

Subscriptions via email is very easy to implement and there are various ways of doing it - from using an Email Service Provider to using something like Feedburner, which has a very easy to use 2 click step when using a blog provider such as Typepad or Blogger or the like.

Anyhow - if you're a blog owner and you don't currently offer subscriptions via email, I would encourage you to consider adding it to your blog - who knows how many subscribers you are potentially missing by not having this available?

And if you're not, I'd love to hear back from you as to which method you use to subscribe to blogs - and why.

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Fingerprint : Email Client Market Share Report

Fingerprint, the analysis tool which enables you to see which email clients your subscribers use to read your emails with, has just released their first report. The report was compiled this month using data from almost 3,000,000 email recipients.

The report looks at both business recipients and consumer recipients - with, I must add, some surprising results.

You can read the full report here

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Email is Not A Viable Acquisition Tool in the Way Direct Mail is

In this article, Chris Marriott says that email is not a viable acquisition tool in the way direct mail is for a couple of reasons:

  • anti-spam legislation
  • it's not as easy to get your email address as it is your postal address.
  • even if a business has your email address, you can opt-out of that first prospecting email and be free forever from further offers.

According to Chris:

"email is the most cost-effective retention, cross-sell and loyalty tactic in the universe, but it is not a viable acquisition tool in the way that direct mail is."

So how do you generate demand through digital channels, and at the same time incorporate the targeting of direct mail?

"The real workhorse of demand generation on the web is targeted display advertising. For the time being, this is the digital successor to targeted direct mail. And in today's world there are many different approaches being applied to targeted display ads -- behavioral and contextual being the two with the most promise. In both instances, marketers deliver ads based on knowledge gleaned from either the actions of the user -- a visit to one website can be the basis for serving ads to that person on another site -- or the content consumed at that particular moment -- an article on the latest tech gadgets brings up an ad for a new smart phone."

There's lots more to say about the many improvements in display ad targeting, but the point I'm making is that the next time you hear someone at your company suggest replacing direct mail demand generation with an email program, make sure he or she understands that targeted display advertising is the better road to travel for demand generation on the web.

Once your display ads have hooked that new customer, and you get him or her into your email database, then enjoy the universe-dominating cost-effectiveness of email for retention, loyalty and cross-sell. And if you work with a digital agency that is proficient in both email and targeted display advertising, you're already off to a great start in "going green!"

Read the full article on iMedia Connection.

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Key Email Trends According to Bill McCloskey

Industry vet Bill McCloskey (founder and chairman of Email Data Source) lists these key trends in email marketing:

1. The largest corporations shifting focus from e-mail marketing to newer channels.
Many of the larger Fortune 100 companies are pulling their attention away from e-mail and instead looking at other new marketing channels, such as mobile texting, RSS, blogging and social networks. The tried and true e-mail marketing campaign is not the hot, exciting toy in the boardroom at these companies. It’s more exciting now to say, “Here’s our mobile marketing campaign.” Some of the budgets for e-mail are now being targeted to other early-stage marketing channels.

2. More smaller companies jumping on the e-mail marketing bandwagon.
On the other hand, I’ve noticed over the last six months stronger interest in smaller companies using e-mail in their b-to-b efforts. The insurance industry and others are beginning to see a lot of excitement in e-mail marketing because the technology is more sophisticated and it’s easier for them to create the campaigns and manage them. The [e-mail management] companies marketing specifically to smaller businesses can make sure the campaigns look good, and they’re delivered to the inbox instead of getting blocked by the ISPs. The price point has come down, too, so now we are seeing the smaller guys using e-mail marketing to level the playing field.

3. E-mail marketing campaigns expanding beyond in-house lists.
In the b-to-b world, a lot of successful marketing is happening through sponsorship of affinity newsletters and magazines online. Lots of people in a particular business subscribe to the trade magazines of that industry and they see the banner ads and white papers offered by companies that advertise in those affinity publications. Those are very successful campaigns that will drive a dramatic spike in traffic to your site. Marketers have to decide how much money to spend developing an in-house list versus spending it on advertising in trade publications.

4. Brands being compromised in the marketplace.
Over the last couple of months I’ve noticed a big increase in the number of spam e-mail and phishing schemes where people are illegally using large technology companies’ domains ... to get their own word out to sophisticated users. It also goes beyond others trying to sell Viagra with your company’s e-mail. Some companies may be incorporating your brand into their logo or e-mails without your knowledge. It’s important to monitor your e-mails if you want to protect your brand.

Source: BtoB Online

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