105 posts categorized "Email Tactics" Feed

From Simple to Multivariate Email Campaigns

Here are some of my takeaways from this article by Stephan Dietrich:

There are two important things marketers can do to evolve their email strategies and improve interactions with customers and prospects. One is to improve the personalization within the emails themselves, and the other is to better coordinate these emails with other channels such as direct mail, phone and mobile.

Moving from simple to multivariable email marketing
Email marketing is evolving from simple approaches to more behaviorally based multivariable, or dynamic, approaches.

Multivariable, or dynamic, email marketing relies on multiple components to determine the next marketing step, including data obtained from user profiles and actual user behavior. For example, suppose a customer visits a women's clothing website where she has previously made a purchase. She clicks through a couple of pages, spends extra time on a page with shoes, taking a closer look at specific styles and colors, but then leaves the site without buying. The customer then is treated to an email offering a discount (her user profile is already in the system) on a pair of shoes -- buy one get one half-off -- promoting just the style she spent the most time viewing.

Maturing from multi-channel to cross-channel marketing
What is perhaps more wasteful than using simple email marketing is the use of email campaigns that are not well-coordinated with direct mail, telemarketing or mobile initiatives.

Coordination and consistency are very important -- imagine a customer's reaction to receiving two different offers from a triple-play telephone/cable/internet provider. One arrives by direct mail and offers a bundle of all three services for $99 per month. One arrives via email and offers the same bundle at $99 per month plus as an additional incentive, a free HDTV. The consumer calls the toll-free number on the mailed postcard and asks about the email offer. The call center agent isn't aware of the HDTV offer and cannot honor it. The customer is annoyed and, believing the experience may be symbolic of the type of service she can expect should she switch, decides to remain with her current provider.

Situations like this arise when companies take a multi-channel marketing approach versus a cross-channel marketing approach. "Multi-channel" infers the ability to drive marketing through multiple channels -- something most marketers have certainly achieved. Meanwhile, "cross-channel" denotes the ability to drive the coordination and consistency of a campaign's message across channels.

Source: iMediaConnection

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10 Steps to Survive the Spam Button

Dan Forootan shares these 10 reliable steps to make sure your recipients don't hit the dreaded spam button:

1. Never send to anyone who didn't give you explicit consent. Recipients are now conditioned to use the spam button as a way of disposing of unwanted and unknown e-mail messages.

2. Don't send to old addresses that have been sitting idle in some database. This is like going up to an adult on the street, telling him you were his preschool teacher and asking him if he remembers you.

3. Send regularly. Don't wait too long between messages, but don't send too frequently, either. Remember, the key is to have the recipient recognize and appreciate your message.

4. Clearly identify yourself in the from field. Using your company or brand gets your message recognized, and hopefully opened.

5. The subject line needs to truly represent the message content. The subject line shouldn't try to trick the recipient into opening the message. Use the subject line in tandem with the from field to build brand awareness and highlight the value of the message content.

6. Add a couple of sentences to the top of your content. This lets recipients know why they're receiving your message and where the unsubscribe link is. The "click here if you have trouble viewing this message" and the "please add our from address to your address book" are great for people who know why they're receiving your message and want to receive it. But what about those who don't?

7. Make sure the message content looks professional. Also, make sure it's engaging, offers value and isn't too long.

8. The unsubscribe link needs to be easy to find. It also must be easy to use — to get to it, visitors should only have to click two times at the most.

9. Move the unsubscribe link to the top of your content. This helps reduce complaints, especially when you're sending to new list members.

10. Honor all unsubscribe requests. Nothing gets a complaint faster than sending an e-mail to someone who's previously unsubscribed from one of your lists.

Source: eM+C

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Email Creative Tips

Here are my main takeaways from this article by Ken Magill on email creative:

  • Test, test, test: view the e-mail on as many platforms as possible, such as Yahoo and Gmail accounts, an Outlook address, and on mobile devices. E-mailers can gain insight into which e-mail readers they should be designing for simply by eyeballing their lists.
  • In e-mail design, less is more. You don't have to package every offer under the sun. Make sure your call to action is clear and keep it simple.
  • Employ so-called ALT tags, or HTML instructions that provide alternative text to appear when graphics are shut off.
  • Mind the preview pane: You always want to put your branding and your prime content as far to the left and as far up as possible. The default state of the preview pane is either under the list message view or to the right, meaning the preview pane will cut off things on the right and on the bottom.
  • Test the impact of site navigation. Site navigation [such as, say, ‘shoes,’ or ‘shirts’ on an apparel site] is a familiar way to browse content. If I can get better clicks and conversions from [including] site navigation, why am I not putting it in e-mail? I just think it's an opportunity, and that marketers should be at least testing it.
  • Don't forget the subject line. Marketers tend to create the subject line at the last moment even though it is easily one of the most important parts of the message — if not the most important part. As is the case with traditional direct marketing, the most effective subject lines are often not the ones a marketer would predict to win. How much time would a direct marketer spend on an outer envelope? Subject lines don't get the same kind of attention. Yet they're just as important.
  • As for the “from” line: brand the company in it and nothing else because the majority of people decide whether or not to open an e-mail based on who sent it.

Source: Multichannel Merchant

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Subject Lines Inspiration

In this article, Chad White provide some tips for testing your subject lines. He also posted some great tips if you're looking for inspiration for your next subject lines:

  • Repeat or tweak successful subject lines from your past campaigns.
  • Pay attention to the searches run on your Web site and the organic searches that bring you traffic from major search engines. Consider using words from the most popular searches in your subject lines.
  • Mine the subject lines of your closest competitors for ideas for words and phrasings.
  • Take note of headline constructions used by newspapers and magazines, especially in their online editions, which some are now optimizing for search.
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Avoiding Spam Filters

Neil Anuskiewicz wrote a great blog post on avoiding spam filters. Here are some of the tips he shares. Read the rest on his blog:

1. Unless you really have made a breakthrough such as cold fusion or a flying car, avoid claiming you have made an important "breakthrough!" Filters love that.

2. Do not talk too much about cash on the barrel head. Excessive discussion of money is like manna from heaven to many spam filters. If your topic is money, well, you have to talk about it but try to be discreet and not directly mention money too much. You know what the "get rich quick scheme" emails look like. Avoid the "get rich quick" look and feel at all cost.

3. Sorry Mortgage brokers but if the email looks like a mortgage pitch, the spam filters are likely to latch onto it. There are many legitimate mortgage broker marketers out there, of course, but the ones who abused email in the past have hurt your current opportunity to get into the Inbox. Make your pitch in more subtle ways, when possible.

5. A "money back guarantee" is sort of like the "check is in the mail." Nobody believes it in any context including email and the spam filters don't believe it either.

9. Try to avoid sloppy HTML in your emails and never send an email out that is basically one giant image. The spam filters often assume spammers are sloppy with their HTML and legitimate email marketers are likely to be more careful. Second, a legitimate email marketer is very unlikely to send an email that is one giant image.

Source: Streamsend

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Acquisition, Targeting, Personalization, ESP Selection: Some Tips

I had this article by David Baker on my "to read" list for a couple of weeks now. I finally got the chance to sit down, read and digest the contents. Here are some clippings from the article that I especially liked:

Email acquisition
If you think you will have cause-and-effect from an ad to a transaction through a third-party email campaign, you may be setting yourself up for failure.

Email is a great retention and lead fulfillment channel, and the acquisition stage should be looked at through a longer lens.

Phase I: Get readers to opt-in to you, so you can then re-market to them for pennies.

Phase II: Welcome them to your brand, business and promotional strategy.

If you go with a very aggressive sweeps or viral program, you risk growing the file of one-time subscribers that will ultimately degrade the delivery value of your file over time, increasing opt-outs and spam complaints.

Targeting
There are very discrete times of the year when consumers are in their inbox. You must leverage these times to tie your message and brand to these themes. They could be lifecycle events (life stage: had a baby, purchased a house, started a new job, graduated from college), or they could be seasonal (back to school, holidays).

Personalization

We know that if you target email based on site behavior and personalize from that data, it drives 30-40 percent increase in response and conversion. We also know that event-triggered messaging drives a 40 percent improvement in response and reach. Leverage these events and this will drive the 20 percent improvement most need to grow their business.

The more personalization, the greater the technical task to implement. One caution: If you are even remotely worried that you can't pull it off technically or process-wise, don't do it. There is nothing worse than misrepresenting your company to a loyal customer.

ESPs

There are many Email Service Providers (ESPs) at many different cost levels. It's really hard to discern the differences among them. While price shouldn't be the only factor in evaluating vendors, with less variance between what you'll really use in these platforms, look for better financial fits. But remember, service is a value-add, and with lower CPMs come lower expectations for service.

David offers a whole bunch of great tips and advice in this article. Make sure to read it here.

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Holiday Email Marketing: Tips From the Experts

In this article on Mark Brownlow's blog, he shares some advice from industry experts on the topics of frequency and standing out from the holiday crowd.

Here are some clippings from the article.

Make sure to read the complete article here.

The main problem is that everyone is upping frequency, so that alone may not be enough to break through.

"Your signal will fade simply because everyone else is also ramping up messages."

"I would encourage folks to watch their spam complaints and unsubscribe rates closely during the holidays and perhaps send fewer emails to their less engaged subscribers."
"A purchase can trigger an email asking the customer to rate or review the product. Then, come holiday time, you can send a top rated products promo email."
"Segment on past purchase behavior, consumer type (high vs. low value), click behavior, location, etc."
"...increasingly, segmentation and targeting are the keys to standing out. We talk all the time about how important relevancy is, but it's even more important when your inbox is suddenly getting 50% more mail."

Everyone offers free shipping around the holidays, so offer something more to your email subscribers to reward them for their loyalty and to encourage list growth.

  blog it
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Do Personalized Subject Lines Work?

DJ and Julie over at Bronto did some testing and asking around about the effect of personalization in subject lines. Here are their main findings:
clipped from blog.bronto.com
Do personalized subject lines work? Do they lead to more opens/renders, higher click-through rates, a bump in conversions?
Answer: It Depends!
Ask yourself, is personalization relevant to your audience?
What is your goal with your personalization tests? Higher open/render rates? More click-throughs? An increase in conversions? This is critical. Some tests will prove that personalization will lead to higher opens, but if there is no noticeable positive impact on conversions (and this matters to your program), then who cares?
Your subscribers may not respond the same way if you personalize on every single email. Mix it up once in awhile.
Bad data can cause incorrect (”Dear Firstname,” or “Dear Bob,” when their name is Mary) or even blank (”Dear  ,”) content, potentially endangering the trust and credibility you have built with your recipients.
Any way you slice it, it all boils down to testing.
 blog it
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Amp Up Email Results with Honeymoon Segmentation

Jason Baer has a great post up on his blog about what he calls the Honeymoon segment. Here are some highlights:

Subscribers to your email list are most likely to open, click, forward to a friend, and buy in the first 30-60 days after joining the list.

This is the Honeymoon and you need to use it to boost your email results - especially in the 4th quarter holiday shopping season.

Treat Honeymooners entirely differently than you do your other subscribers. Mail more frequently, ask them to forward to a friend, use aggressive offers.
Two components of the Honeymoon strategy you absolutely must employ are thank you messages and testing. Send an immediate thank you message to all new subscribers. That thank you should include a meaningful offer (preferably with a time limit) and a request to forward to a friend.
Second, use rigorous testing to maximize the impact of the Honeymoon.
Subject lines. Day of week. Time of day. Layouts. Offers.
 blog it
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If you send it - they may reply

Today I recieved an email from - no, I won't name and shame - but basically the from address was:  'noreply@nameofcompany.com'.

It recalled to mind Seth's blog post: "If you don't want to get email...Don't send email"

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/07/if-you-dont-wan.html

I love Seth Godin's blog - who doesn't? He has the ability to remind us not to accept the things we sometimes blindly accept.

How long have we all been sitting back and accepting 'donotreply' emails from our service providers, retail vendors, utility providers etc etc?

Worst still - how many of us implement this tactic within our own email campaigns?

The reasons why not to do things are numerous, but 2 significant and obvious reasons are:

1: Using an invalid and not functioning email address may stop your emails from being delivered
2: You cheese off your customer - especially as most of the email I recieve like this are customer service based emails.

One of the wonderous benefits of email marketing is that it is a two-way channel. The more interactivity and the more replies -the (generally) more successful a campaign is considered to be.

So, why limit your success?

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Improve Your Results Through Testing

In this article, Aaron Smith explains how to improve the results of your email marketing campaigns through testing.

"Meaningful testing is easier to conduct than you might think, and needn’t be disruptive to your regular production process. Effective testing doesn’t have to involve complex multivariate data analysis, or the creation of multiple versions of disparate designs. In fact, most times, simpler A/B tests will yield more effective results, and just as importantly won’t drive your production team up the walls" he says. 

There are several keys to successful testing:

1. Make tests controlled and easy to understand. Simple A/B tests, comparing just one changed element against another, are the easiest to understand and act upon. If you test five different items within the same email, you may need to hire a rocket scientist to figure out the results — and good luck trying to explain the results to your boss and co-workers.

2. Test frequently and make it a consistent part of the process. Optimally, you should include a simple test in every mail, but at the very least, create a regular schedule for testing (for example, every two weeks or once a month) — and stick to it!

3. Most importantly, use the results to inform the process. Great tests won’t do you any good if you don’t act on the results. After sifting through the results, sit down with your team to review the test, and determine how the information will be used going forward.

4. Archive the results. Post the results of your tests in a document, wiki or spreadsheet that everyone on the team has access to. Not only will it help you remember the results of important tests six months after the fact, but it will also be an invaluable training aid when bringing new members onboard.

5. Don’t get complacent. We live and work in an ever-changing media world, where today’s best practices become tomorrow’s pitfalls overnight. Don’t be hesitant to run the same tests every few months. Effective subject lines, for example, are a constantly moving target, and what works well today may not be very effective in three months.

With the above key elements in mind, here are a few simple ideas for tests you can run within your own email program:

  • Graphical versus HTML text: A frequent topic of debate — best practices say HTML text will generally outperform graphical text. But unless you do a test, you may have a hard time convincing your design team of the efficacy of HTML text.
  • Text links versus button calls-to-action: We all know buttons perform best for calls-to-action, but some designers may be hesitant to place a button in the middle of their lovely design without some good numbers to help back up the decision.
  • Subject lines: This is one of the most important tools to encourage email opens, so testing of subject lines should be an ongoing and regular part of your email program. Need I say more?
  • Best time of day/best day of week to send: The best time of day and best time of week to send messages varies by industry and even by company. There is no magic bullet — or more to the point, the magic bullet is for you to find out, by conducting a series of tests.

These are just a few ideas — the possibilities are truly limitless.

Source: Email Insider

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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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Successful Email is Like a Good Marriage

While I was on holiday recently with friends, they found out how long I've been married and immediately began quizzing me on the keys to a successful marriage.

Naturally, being the email-marketing person I am, I realised as I was talking that the foundations of a good email relationship with your customer are quite like those of a solid marriage.

No, I won't tell you how long I've been married, but I'll gladly share my marriage theories with you and how they parallel with your email relationships:

1. Marriage is something you must work hard at every day and make a priority in your life. You can't take it for granted or let it fall into a series of dull routines.

The email equivalent: Email marketing needs to be continually worked on. The rules for good emailing are changing constantly, as are your subscribers' needs and interests. If you send out the same old offers in the same tired format time after time, you shouldn't be surprised if your subscribers get bored and look for that old zing somewhere else. 

2. Marriage is a giving relationship, in which you place the other person's needs above your own.

Always focus on your subscribers, what they want and expect. Don't just guess at what they want. Watch their behavior – where are they clicking on your emails? Are they clicking at all? Ask them what they want and give it to them, as much as you can within your own business model. In return, they will reward you with loyalty and a healthy ROI.

3. Maintain respect for each other. If you respect your spouse, you can't help but treat him or her well.

You absolutely must respect your subscribers. Honour their preferences for content, frequency and format. Don't abuse the relationship by sending messages they didn't ask for, by sending more email than they expect or sharing their data with others unless they say you can.

Maintaining high quality is another way you show respect for your subscribers. No email should ever go out with broken links, spelling errors or format problems.

4. Dolphins mate for life.
OK…so maybe this has more to do with the fact when I said this I had just been swimming with Dolphins - than any email marketing correlation! In fact, one of the oddities of good emailing is that you make it easy for your subscribers to leave rather than try to hang on to them!

However, if you apply the other three precepts I outlined here, you will build a stronger tie with your subscribers, one that will stand the test of time and bring you the kind of rewards not possible with a constantly changing cast of partners

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Making Good On Your Mistake

Here's what I found in just one day's worth of email messages recently:

1. Wrong landing page
2. Spelling mistake in the subject line
3. Test subject line not removed
4. Email sent to the wrong company division list
5. Personalisation code showing instead of name
6. 2007 copyright date
7. Broken link to Web version
8. Images failed to load even when enabled
9. Brand name misspelled

Yes, everyone makes mistakes. But how you recover from them will either save your reputation and business or make readers think you're unprofessional and untrustworthy.

A good recovery isn't enough, though. Know where your greatest vulnerabilities are in your email program and what you have to do to make sure errors either don't happen or get caught before you click "send."

First Rule: Don't Panic!

Don't rush out an immediate email correction. Sending a second email to your entire list right after the first one can make you look like a spammer to ISPs if your list has too many undeliverable email addresses. You look like you're pounding on addresses that don't exist, belong to closed accounts, have become inactive or are temporarily unavailable.

If the mistake doesn't involve an email function – broken or wrong links, wrong price, incorrect image, wrong copy -- or won't mislead your readers, don't send out a follow-up to the whole list. Instead, include a short apology in your next regular email.

Second Rule: Fix the Mistake

You must correct the mistake if it could mislead readers or if it breaks the email's functionality. Also, if you are sending the email on an advertiser's or partner's behalf, you have to make good. However, it's still not time to rush out a correction email to your entire list.

If the mistake involves your Web site –- the landing-page link is broken, or you published the wrong link or the wrong offer –- post a note on the page with an apology and a link to the correct page. Post a similar note on your front page, again with a link to the correct page.

How to send follow-up emails:

1. Send a follow-up email only to those who either opened or clicked within 24 hours. This is a typical watch period for most ISPs and spares you from hitting all those inactive or undeliverable addresses again.

2. Send a follow-up email after 24 hours to your list if you can't segment out your openers and clickers. If you email more often than weekly, wait until your next regular email, then including an apology and the correct information.

Yes, you could lose some sales, but that will motivate you to make sure your emails are correct before they go out,

Third Rule: Apologise the Right Way

What not to say: "Ooops! We goofed!" or "Did ya ever have one of those days when nothing goes right?" if you mail to a business list. It looks unprofessional.

Better: "We apologise for the mistake and the inconvenience. Here is the correct link/information/price." Imagine what your typical reader would say, and match your apology to that.

Fourth Rule: Look for List Churn

Scrutinise your list metrics for higher unsubscribes and changes in open or click rates. Also, watch for more spam complaints and act on those immediately.

Fifth Rule: Step Up Your Quality Control

These steps can help you spot mistakes better without adding too much time to your publishing schedule:

1. Create a checklist that includes all relevant information for the email, including deadlines, who's responsible for it and who signs off that the information is correct. Include the offer, price, images, graphics/design, lists/sublists/segments the email will go to and any other relevant information.

2. Create a fresh email message every time, using an error-proofed template. You won't forget to change the subject line or placeholder copy or images.

3. Create a test message before it goes live. Spelling and format mistakes will stand out. Unlike the test you use to try out subject lines and offers, this test goes only to a few people inside your company.

4. Have others review this message in different Web browsers, on different platforms (Mac, PC, smartphone and not just iPhone) and in different email clients (desktop, Web client and smartphone).

5. View message without images and in preview pane. Then, turn on images and open message, view content and click all links.

6. Watch all mailboxes to spot bounces or customer complaints about mistakes as soon as the message goes out.

Sixth Rule: Know the Traps

1. Content:

  • Old/placeholder subject line left in final mailing
  • Wrong/placeholder pictures
  • Old content retained in reused message (headlines, head shots, graphics)
  • Spelling/grammar/punctuation errors 
  • Wrong offer in mailing (old, not approved by client or sales team, etc.)
  • Outdated contact information

2. Format:

  • Errors in links
  • Coding incompatibility resulting in unreadable or broken formats in different browsers or on different platforms

3. Landing page:

  • Page not updated to reflect offer or before articles are uploaded
  • Link error redirects to homepage or an interior page
  • Page taken down too soon

4. Mailing list:

  • Mailed to the wrong list
  • Mailed test message to entire list
  • Mailed general message to single segment
  • Wrong segments identified for targeted mailing
  • Mailed live message to do-not-email database or to unsubscribe database
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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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Seven Ways to Leverage Email as a Real Time Marketing Tool

In a presentation he gave at the eTail East 2008 conference, Morgan Stewart offered a number of pointers on how to make e-mail work in real time as a marketing tool.

Here are the seven most noteworthy take-away tips:

1. Use e-mail to turn a potentially negative out-of-stock experience into a positive. Have a call out on your site that lets customers know that if you're out of stock of a particular product, they can be notified via e-mail when the item is back in stock. This helps to accomplish two things, Stewart said: to stave off the competition and to build your master e-mail file.

2. Use e-mail coupons as a way to track cross-channel sales. Coupons are viewed by many marketers as either a danger or an opportunity. Stewart emphasized the increased exposure as a viral opportunity for your brand, citing an ideal example of enabling consumers to print out a coupon included in an e-mail and using the coupon in a retail store. Then, if you can determine the person using the coupon isn't the person who received the e-mail, you gain an opportunity to get that person to sign up for your e-mail program as well.

3. Maintain the mind-set that there's no optimal time or day to send an e-mail. "It's absolutely impossible to find the best day to send an e-mail … because there is none," Stewart said in a response to a question from the audience. "It varies all over the board."

4. Use a sliding scale for contact frequency with e-mail. For customers who have been unengaged (not clicking through) for more than three months, Stewart suggested sending them e-mails to confirm that they're still interested in hearing from you. This can work in the other direction, as well, he added. If you've reduced the contact frequency for some customers but notice their increased activity, look for the opportunity to bump up your frequency.

5. Create "subscriber rules." These should include serving the individual through timely and relevant content, as well as honoring requests for communication, contact frequency and contact channel, Stewart advised.

6. Send a "second hit" e-mail before any limited-time offer is set to expire. This technique will help boost response, Stewart said. He recommended sending this e-mail 24 hours prior to expiration.

7. Address engagement problems. This can be done in three ways, Stewart advised:

  • stop mailing them;
  • conduct a re-opt-in campaign and continue to send to responders;
  • reduce the contact frequency.

Many online marketers are unwilling stop mailing people, because they feel e-mail addresses are too valuable, and find the second and third options to be the most desireable, Stewart said. But he cautioned that a re-opt-in campaign is terminal. "If they don't want to re-opt-in, they're no longer mailed," he said. At the same time, a reduced frequency can yield comparable cost savings.

Source: eM+C

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How to Keep a Recipient From Hitting the Spam Button

In this article over on MarketingProfs, Louis Chatoff, shares some tips on how to keep a recipient from hitting the Spam button:

Before they open your message:

  1. Make sure the From address is easily recognizable; it should contain the name of your company or organization.
  2. Make sure the Subject line is relevant and truly matches your content.
  3. Send your messages in regular intervals so the recipient comes to expect them.
  4. Do not over-send. If you send monthly, do not start sending weekly.
  5. And, most important, send only to those who have requested to receive your message. Do not send to addresses that come from a third party, and do not add members who have previously unsubscribed. Remember, it only takes one complaint in 1,000 to get all your messages blocked.

After opening your message:

  1. Consider adding a sentence to the top of mailing, such as this: "You are receiving this message because you have subscribed to list XYZ."
  2. Make sure the content matches the subject line and is relevant to the recipient.
  3. Make sure the Unsubscribe link is easy to find.

Read the full article here.

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6 Email Marketing Myths Debunked by Loren McDonald

In this article, Loren McDonald debunks 6 email marketing myths:

  • Myth #1: The CAN-SPAM Act doesn't require permission
    "CAN-SPAM is just a start. Permission, in fact, is the foundation of customer relevance and trust."
  • Myth #2: Open rates are a good measure of email success
    "In the early days of email, the open rate was a valued metric because it captured who opened and, by inference, who then viewed or read the email. Today, the preview pane and image blocking have turned the open metric into a tired, inaccurate and irrelevant metric that no longer measures what it was originally intended to."
  • Myth #3: Email is cheap, so send again. And again.
    "Consumers and the ISPs control the ecosystem. Yes, increased frequency can often deliver short-term results. But it also increases list churn through higher spam complaints and unsubscribes and, subsequently, higher acquisition costs to replace the lost customers and revenue."
  • Myth #4: "I don't control my delivery rates"
    "There is, however, no magic pixie dust to sprinkle on the email list to get high delivery rates. It simply requires following well-publicized best practices."
  • Myth #5: Larger lists are better
    "Yes, growing your email database is important because you'll typically lose about one-third of your list annually through normal churn. Additionally, various studies suggest that one- to two-thirds or more of your list members are actually inactive (no opens or clicks for some extended time frame)."
  • Myth #6: Moving beyond "batch and blast" is really difficult
    "No, it isn't. Advances in email marketing software now make sophisticated techniques such as lifecycle, trigger- and behavior-based email programs possible for marketers at all tiers."

Read the full article here.

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