64 posts categorized "Messaging" Feed

Tips for Using Email to Send Press Releases

As the saying goes, when all you have is hammer, everything looks like a nail. Such is the case with e-mail. It is pervasive in all corporations and an often preferred method of contact by editors, reporters and analysts. As with any e-mail program, corporate PR e-mail starts with considering the needs of the audience. These same media magnets are inundated with e-mail press releases every day. If you want your important news to get opened—and more important, to get covered—follow these best practices:

  • Stop including the entire press release in the body of the e-mail. Research reports you have less than six seconds to capture attention in the preview pane. Press releases can average five or more paragraphs. Instead, include a teaser of the release and a click-through to a hosted version on your Web site.
  • Don’t include attachments. They can be deliverability killers. Corporate e-mail filtering systems are often more stringent in their rules than even the largest ISPs. Attachments from outside sources are often confused with viruses or attacks. Leave data sheets, photos and other release-related attachments to an expected, person-to-person e-mail so you’ll be ensured they get delivered.
  • Think carefully about “from” and subject lines. Remember the rule: The “from” line tells the recipient whether or not to delete the e-mail and the subject line tells the recipient whether or not to open the e-mail. If an individual at your company has a relationship with the media, test using that person’s name in the “from” line instead of the company name alone. Write an engaging subject line and include first name personalization. Recipient first name personalization has fallen out of widespread favor in the b-to-c e-mail world, but in b-to-b, it’s still another way to catch the recipient’s attention.

Once the e-mail gets opened, the relevance of your message takes over. Just because the media recipient list may be smaller than your customer retention or acquisition lists doesn’t mean relevancy rules don’t apply. If your message isn’t important to the recipient, you’ve lost their attention today and maybe in the future as well.

Source: btobonline.com

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12 Ways to Reel Inactive Subscribers Back In

In a recent whitepaper, Spring Clean Your Email List: 5 Easy Steps, marketing technology company Lyris touches on 12 ways to reel these inactive subscribers back in.

  1. Special offers. Consider offering discounts or free shipping for retail or a motivational whitepaper for B-to-B communications, suggests the whitepaper.
  2. Survey subscribers. Find out why inactives have become disinterested in your e-mail communications.
  3. Update profile. Using incentives, drive subscribers to their profile update pages where they can change preferences and personal data.
  4. Understand their demographics. Many of your inactives could share common traits—they opted in as part of registering for the same whitepaper, seminar or promotion; a majority are the same sex, age, ethnicity, etc. Find ways to connect better with their demographics.
  5. Try different send days/times. Different people respond better at different times of the day, week or year. Send out e-mails at different times to see if it spurs response.
  6. Modify frequency. Considering adjusting your frequency. Maybe inactives are receiving so many solicitations that they’ve become annoyed. If so, tone it down. Or maybe interested customers are not getting enough e-mails to make an impression. In that case, try sending out more.
  7. Create new content. Perhaps the content these inactives signed up for has become stale or their needs have changed. Offer different and new content to re-engage them.
  8. Try different formats. Test using a text version, suggests the whitepaper, that is very simple but with specific links and messaging intended to drive action.
  9. Test different subject lines. If the subject line doesn’t catch their attention, chances are the e-mail goes straight to the trash or junk folder. Try changing the subject line for inactives to see if it triggers response.
  10. Monitor seed/proof lists. The whitepaper advises sending your messages to proof and seed lists for key domains. Monitor delivery in case content or images are causing your messages to be filtered or treated differently with specific ISPs and companies. If problems are detected, develop different versions of the messages that may not trip filters.
  11. Send a postcard. Send a postcard that offers an incentive for inactives to update their e-mail preferences and profiles.
  12. Move re-engaged to active status. After each e-mail message sent to inactives, change the demographic status of those recipients that clicked a link to “active.” This helps keep your focus on converting the inactives and tracking your success.

Source: Target Marketing

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Your Newsletter: The Basics

When designing your newsletter always keep in mind the amount of time you can expect your reader to spend viewing your newsletter. Everyone today is information hungry, but always in a hurry. How you display your content within your newsletter can capitalize on this assumption.

What Information Should I Include in My Newsletter?

Obviously, this will depend on your business and the audience in which you are marketing, but here are three recommendations:

  • Announcements: Include recent information about your company and/or products that impacts your readers. For instance, you can include a link to an upcoming tradeshow where your company will be exhibiting or perhaps a seminar that your company will be sponsoring.
  • Article: Include an article that relates to your products or services and helps your readers. It is also a great idea to develop a resource library that contains additional articles and provide a link for your readers so they can find more information on similar topics.
  • Case Study: Provide an example of a client who has achieved great results while using your products or services. This will help build credibility with your readers. Again, provide a link where your readers can view additional case studies.

Those are three key items to include in your newsletter. If you include these, you are keeping your readers up to date on recent information about your products or services, including an article providing value on topics affecting them and by providing a case study you are proving to your readers that others are achieving success by using your products or services.

Making Your Articles Easier to Digest

Think of how we read newspapers; the same holds true for how we read material on the web. We skim headlines looking for something that interests us and only then will we begin reading an article. We also stop to view photographs and any visual cues offering greater insight as to the information held within an article.

I see far too many articles within newsletters that are very long (greater than 900 words). When writing your article try to keep it at 800 words or less and break each section into smaller, easy to read blocks with bolded headlines over each section. This will encourage your reader to skim your article and stop at each section they find interesting. If you are finding it impossible to trim your article simply find a good point within 800 or fewer words and provide a link to a webpage that contains the article in its entirety.

Sharing Your Newsletter with Others

Always give your readers a reason and a means to share your newsletter with others. By providing valuable and relevant content to your subscribers, they will be inclined to share this information with others by forwarding your newsletter. Most email marketing platforms provide a "Forward-to-a-Friend" feature that inserts a link within the footer of your message allowing your readers to easily forward your newsletter. The goal is to obviously reach out to as many people as possible by providing valuable, relevant, timely content and an easy way for your readers to share this information with others.

Source: iContact's Email Marketing Monthly

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What Makes a Relevant Email?

There are several tactics you can take to increasing e-mail relevance, all relying on marketing ingenuity and information contained in your customer database. These tactics can be broken down into six key elements that characterize relevant e-mail, and are guaranteed to increase customer engagement and e-mail productivity.

  1. Segmentation - Why broadcast an e-mail campaign if you have the ability to target specific audiences? Use the data you have on customer demographics, preferences, location and behavior to segment individual groups who share the same attributes. Your audiences will be smaller but far more qualified and responsive.
  2. Personalization - You would be surprised how many companies are not even marketing to customers on a first-name basis. Use the customer data you have to personalize the content based on profile, attributes, location, status, preferences and behavior.
  3. Lifecycle management - Is the customer new to your business, a loyal shopper or no longer active? Being able to key your messages to a person's place in the customer lifecycle will help you refine your programs and optimize retention efforts.
  4. Triggers - Whenever possible, your e-mail marketing should include programs that are driven by customer status and behavior. There are applications that enable you to automate these programs, ensuring consistency in the way you handle welcoming new customers, up-selling certain products or following up with those who abandon their shopping cart.
  5. Interactivity - Indulge your customer's curiosity and feed her need to be entertained. Include a clear call to action as well as interactive elements that engage customers, such as a preference center, survey or information links. Always leave the customer wanting more.
  6. Testing and measurement - Understand the impact your e-mail program has and how to improve it by employing valid control groups, A/B testing and any available metrics.

Relevance isn't easy. It requires a confluence of customer data, targeting tactics, marketing expertise, process, and technology. But as an email marketing strategy, the impact relevance can have on both customer engagement and profitability makes it worth the effort.

Source: DMNews

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Using Email to Promote Conferences and Events

E-mail is one of the most popular ways for b-to-b marketers to publicize conferences or other events they’re hosting or attending.

In this article Tara Lamberson provides some tips to make the most of your event-oriented e-mail campaigns:

1) Make sure the right people get invited to events they’d care about.
If you already have established groups of people who come to conferences, e-mail is a great way to retain those attendees and give them information about upcoming seminars or conferences.

If you’re just beginning to gather subscriber data, use surveys to determine what kinds of events customers and prospects would be interested in. Tapping advanced relationship marketing and behavioral targeting also can provide intuitive recommendations for relevancy, she said.

In addition, marketers are moving away from sending long newsletters listing upcoming events for the month or quarter, Lamberson said. “Marketers assumed the user would scroll through and pick the one that’s relevant for them,” she said. “The trend now is to send a targeted communication that has only two events instead of 10 to a customer who might be more likely to check them out.”

2) Timing matters.
Marketers that send messaging out too far in advance run the risk of participants forgetting about the event. But if there’s too short a window, there’s a strong likelihood the e-mail recipient won’t attend.

If the event is offline and participants need to book travel or seek budgetary approval, It is recommended to send an initial notice between six months and 90 days in advance. For online events, messaging 90 days in advance gives interested recipients enough time to put it on their calendar.

Sending out reminders as the event nears is important, too. Some companies ask people who sign up when and how they’d like to receive reminders—for instance, more e-mails or a text messagemeaning texting via cell phones?

Personally I think 90 days for an online event is way too long. One month is more than enough notice in my opinion.

3) Keep event announcements concise.
A short e-mail is critical. The top of the message should contain a brief sentence or two describing the event. Then, use a bullet format to tell e-mail recipients why they should attend, she suggested. Add a link to another site for more detailed information, and always have a call to action in every e-mail so recipients can sign up immediately if they want to.

4) Don’t focus exclusively on the acquisition end of the event.
Most marketers focus all their energy—and budget—on drawing people to their company’s events. However, there’s also great value in connecting with attendees via e-mail once the conference is over. She suggested sending attendees from a recent event an e-mail with a link to an online survey to provide feedback. “It’s a great way to capture quantitative data, get testimonials and find out if this kind of event is still relevant for them going forward,” Tara said.

One more tip:

If you are trying to get top-level executives to your event, try to make the email as short and as personal as possible: 

  • go for a short, simple text email that focusses on the benefits of them attending the event. Remember, these people typically have hundreds of emails in their inboxes and they will very likely read your email on a blackberry or smartphone.
  • if relevant, put a familiar name in the sender name to make it look like the email came from someone that they know, or have heard of eg. your CEO.

Source: btobonline

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How to Make Sure Your Email Campaigns Are Relevant and Effective

In their whitepaper, The Retail Marketer’s Playbook: Your 180-Day Email Marketing Game Plan with Top 5 Plays, Responsys offers five “top plays” to make sure your e-mail marketing campaigns are relevant and effective:

1. Refine segmentation tactics.
Segmentation allows for more targeted e-mail messages. The white paper provides some tips on how to segment:

  • Segment based on consumer behavior, not just demographic information.
  • Use whatever data you have available, and send more relevant content to subsets of subscribers.
  • Create different versions of your messages.
  • Perform continual testing.

2. Improve transactional messaging.
Transactional e-mails are highly relevant and very likely to be opened and read. Therefore, they should offer the customer something, furthering his or her relationship with you. Recommend additional products or services the customer might want or need; offer a subscription to your newsletter; and send transactional messages in HTML format to reinforce your brand.

3. Strengthen welcome messaging.
In e-mail, it’s imperative to make a good first impression: “The moment you acquire a consumer’s e-mail address is a key point of engagement—quite possibly the most relevant and defining moment in the relationship.” Suggestion: send new subscribers a series of well-timed and well-designed HTML e-mails that grab attention.

4. Reengage customers with a win-back program.
With the cost of attracting new customers so high, it’s important to keep existing customers coming back. Every e-mail marketing team should implement an automated win-back program. Let customers know you’ve noticed that they haven’t made a purchase in a while; send surveys to solicit feedback, and make an exclusive offer that’s too good to pass up. The more you engage your customers in a positive way, the more likely they’ll stick around.

5. Recover revenue with a cart abandonment program.
Shopping carts are great tools for e-mail marketers, but just because people put items in their cart doesn’t mean they’ll buy them. However, the interest is there, so Responsys suggests you help nudge these would-be consumers along with these tips:

  • Trigger the timely delivery of e-mail messages to potential purchaser who abandoned their shopping carts;
  • provide easy access to saved shopping carts;
  • include quick links to more information about shipping and return policies or alternative methods of ordering; and
  • offer a special discount to accelerate the buying cycle.

You can download this whitepaper here.

Source: Target Marketing

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Linking to Video's Can Have a Positive Impact on Email Performance

Although it’s still as good as technically impossible to embed actual videos into email messages with reliable success, linking out to hosted videos can have a positive impact on email performance.

In this blog post on the EEC blog, Lisa Harmon provides these 3 tips:

  1. Reference Video in Your Subject Line. Including the word “video” in your subject line can help inspire opens.
  2. Use Strong Visual Cues to Indicate a Link to Video. Recipients respond best to obvious treatments like play buttons, and frames that look like Windows Media or Quicktime video players.
  3. Match Your Video Content to Your Message. Video needs to support your ultimate goal, whether that’s to build your brand or inspire a direct response.

Read the full post here.

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10 B2B Email Marketing Best Practices

A B2B email campaign is very different from a B2C campaign. According to Simms Jenkins there are three major differences:

  1. Your tone should be much like it would be in a face-to-face meeting with your prospects: direct, professional and in a manner that makes your audience want to do business with you. Don't waste your time building up to the pitch -- state why you are sending this message and what's in it for the recipient.
  2. The message should clearly articulate the purpose and value to the subscribers while making it easy for them to identify and act on any call to action. Don't bog them down with too many cross promotional messages or secondary marketing messages. Allow them to scan the email and find out what's in it for them.
  3. Your main measurement analysis should not be based on opens and clicks but on how many leads are generated. Careful attention should be paid to forwards and any additional email subscriptions generated from the campaign. A high open and clickthrough rate but lack of leads could mean you put up too many barriers to capture the lead. Ensure your landing page and relevant gateway pages (for example, the white paper sign-up page) are easy to find and utilize. This may take some coordination that goes outside the realm of a typical email manager.

Simms lists these 10 best practices in B2B email marketing:

  • Know your audience: If you are mailing to IT network administrators, an image-heavy newsletter probably will not be well received. Instead, send a text-only message. Follow the cues of what your audience is like and don't take a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • Mobile email triage is real: An increasing number of business executives use their mobile devices/PDAs to perform email triage. This means that if you have a weak message or lack something compelling or of immediate value to your email, you may have the busy exec delete your email while in a meeting. On the flip side, a unique email with a relevant purpose may get saved for the executive to read in the office.
  • Make it easy for the mobile audience: Click here to read on your mobile phone is becoming more commonplace on B2B emails and may help you escape mobile email rendering snafus.
  • From & Subject lines: Emails from a CEO to a fellow executive tend to resonate. Ensure your From line is from someone who matters. Combine this with a short Subject line that can break through the clutter while demonstrating a reason for the user to read this email.
  • Short and sweet: Whether read on an iPhone or laptop, make your message count. That means make sure it gets read. Long emails without clear calls to action will get skimmed and deleted. Make your value proposition above the fold and obvious to the people that will browse over your email looking for a reason to read (or delete).
  • Don't oversell: Too many promises, customer raves or pricing information may overwhelm your audience and diminish your opportunity to have people click on a link where they can find the details of the service or product being offered.
  • Respect the audience's time: Frequency is a significant issue for all mailings, but if a business subscriber doesn't respond to the first two messages, it doesn't mean you should send to him even more frequently.
  • Test: I received seven different emails from a lead generation company in the span of five minutes this morning. The emails actually contained decent messaging and links to at least one relevant case study. They had me until hello occurred seven times. Someone was asleep at the wheel when the campaigns were segmented and set. Do your due diligence before an email is sent as these campaigns did more damage than good.
  • Offer something unique: A white paper can often work, but they are everywhere, aren't they? Provide access and perks that are gold to the C-suite audience. For example, one client attempting to register business executives for an annual event tested pricing breaks versus admission to a VIP event. Remember, the B2B audience usually isn't spending its own money so you can guess which offer performed better.
  • Remarket: Create a follow-up campaigns based on how each user responded (or didn't) to the initial campaign. Using your metrics can guide you to a better and more relevant strategy.

Source: iMedia Connection

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How To Combat "Inbox Triage"

What do you think your subscribers are doing with your e-mail right this minute?

Most likely, they aren't sitting at a desk scrolling patiently through their inboxes, looking for your message.

Instead, they're doing what David Daniels, Jupiter Research VP, calls "inbox triage" -- wading through their increasingly cluttered inboxes quickly to remove the junk (permission e-mail as well as spam) before they start reading and responding.

They're multitasking like crazy, too: watching TV, talking on the phone, instant-messaging, listening to their iPods, downloading, taking a break from an online game, or even all of these at once.

They're also getting sidetracked by their e-mail clients, which keep squeezing the inbox into a smaller space to make room for RSS feeds, social-networking tabs, instant messaging clients, calendars, contact lists, notepads, and display ads.

Here's a snapshot of your subscribers' inbox behavior, according to Daniels' research:

  • The average person gets 274 personal e-mail messages a week and 304 work e-mails.
  • 74 percent have at least two e-mail accounts (either personal and work, or shared and personal, or public and private accounts)
  • The average reader takes two to five seconds to decide whether to read or delete an e-mail.

Studies of how people manage their cluttered inboxes vary, but the results are the same: They hit the "report as spam" button when they don't recognize the sender, often without opening the e-mail.

Continue reading here to find out what you should do to get your messages recognized and read.

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Why Birthdays Are Important for Email Marketers

Most people, even those who claim otherwise, like birthdays. They provide an opportunity to take stock of one's life, pat oneself on the back for accomplishments, and give thanks for years past.

For marketers birthdays are an opportunity to reach out to current, former, and prospective consumers. The message might be one of congratulations and best wishes, but it's also part of a personalization program. It reminds the customer that you (and your products) are there.

Birthdays are the interactive media equivalent of celebrating an anniversary or holiday by tucking a catalog clipping of the object of your desire inside a card.

Birthdays are perhaps most evident in e-mail marketing, as we often have access to birthdates through subscriber profile data. Given the challenge in e-mail campaigns of delivering a subject line and message that escape the delete button, birthdays open the door to a friendly, and usually welcome, correspondence.

Consumer birthdays are also an excuse to offer a one-time promotion, free trial, or product coupon designed to encourage brand loyalty or later transactions. Your local bar will pour you a free drink on your special day. Ice cream seller Baskin-Robbins will serve up a free scoop, and Applebee's will give you a free dessert.

Through e-mail or a mobile message, hair stylists can offer a free bottle of conditioner on a customer's next salon visit. An epicurean property might send a link to a recipe for a sumptuous birthday cake to prompt a site visit, while a lifestyle site might do the same by delivering a few teaser tips for planning the party. This sort of approach is popular among parenting sites as well. Consumers provide their children's' birth dates when opting in to receive age-specific baby and child development reports, and publishers like BabyCenter mark little ones' birthdays with tips for pulling off a smooth celebration.

Regardless of the offer, companies make a point of making it relevant, particularly to the consumer's special day, individual product or service interests, and time of year. Consumers love to be treated to something exceptional, and recognizing their birthday reminds them that you, as a company, care about them enough to gift them with something timely and appropriate.

Continue reading here: Happy Birthday, Mr. Consumer - ClickZ.

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Every Email You Send Should Be Relevant, Valuable, Welcomed and Wanted

As we move closer to a time when consumer spam complaints will weigh heaviest on a marketers' deliverability and ROI, successful firms will increase their focus on making sure that every e-mail they send is relevant, valuable, welcomed and wanted by its recipients.

To survive and thrive in the next phase of e-mail marketing, keep these two core principles in mind:

  • How you give notice trumps how you get permission. Getting consumers' permission is meaningless unless you are clear about what they are agreeing to when they sign up. At a recent industry conference, AOL's postmaster, Charles Stiles, told attendees, “I don't care if they triple opted-in and gave you their credit card number.” He drew chuckles, but made his point loud and clear: Opt-in is meaningless if consumers subsequently click the “Report Spam” button.
  • Relevancy rules. There are no “throw away” communications in the e-mail world, where consumers provide immediate and constant feedback about what they think of your programs to their ISPs. Before clicking send, always ask yourself, “Is the individual recipient I'm sending this to going to find it valuable?” And while you're at it, “Would I be happy to receive this message.”

Source: DMNews

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5 Ways to Keep the Conversation Going

In this article Wendy Roth offers five ways to salvage the relationship when readers want to unsubscribe:

1. Let subscribers choose how often they want to get email from you.
Offer a weekly alternative if the links stay active that long. Think of it as a cheap way to repurpose your daily content and keep the clicks coming in.

2. Let subscribers pick the content they really want, not just what you think they like.
You don't even have to have a fancy content-management system that generates dynamic content down to the most granular level. Just create a new list that spins off one segment of your market and could appeal to a lucrative niche in your subscriber base.

3. List all the ways subscribers can receive information from you.
Sure, I love email, but I know it's not the only way people want to receive information. Today, your subscribers have so many communication channels open to them that if one doesn't work anymore, another one surely will. RSS feeds, blogs, podcasts, IM deals, even old-fashioned paper catalogs are all ways you can keep the relationship alive if email no longer works.

4. Tell them in each email message how they can change or update their subscription records.
Think of this as a pre-emptive strike. Assuming they still open their email messages from you, you can put this important information where they'll see it quickly, no matter whether they see a truncated version of your email in their preview pane or on their cellphone, or the whole message in all its HTML glory on a 21-inch desktop monitor.

Not everybody who unsubscribes really wants to leave. They might just want to change an email address because they're switching email providers or dumping their current address because of spam from other senders. (Certainly not from you!)

5. Wrap it all up with an easily accessible subscriber page that loads with their data and lets them update with just a few clicks.
This means "no passwords." If their records include sensitive data such as credit-card numbers or bank accounts, save that information on a separate page and restrict access to it there.

Look for other barriers, too. Do you still force confirmation on opt-outs as well (I hope!) as on opt-ins? Drop that barrier too. Instead, put a resubscribe line in a follow-up email or a confirmation page on your site. If they really did screw up and unsubscribe when they just wanted to change, they can resubscribe there.

Source: iMedia Connection

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6 Tips for Creating Effective Welcome Messages

The welcome message should be used to build off the initial engagement you created with the recipients when they first signed up to receive future campaigns. Many senders just send a text welcome message or a simple opt-in confirmation. There is so much more you can do with a welcome message, and the opportunity should not be wasted.

In this article on iMedia Connection, Spencer Kollas shares these six tips for creating an effective welcome message template:

1. Don't be afraid to send an HTML message.
A welcome message that looks like future mailings will let users know what to expect.

2. Give recipients a sneak peak of the type of content they will be receiving.
If you have a weekly newsletter, put one article in your welcome message from the week before to show the benefits of the information they will be receiving from you.

3. Ask those who have opted in to add you to their address books.
The welcome message provides the best opportunity for interested people to add your sending address to their address books, since you know they are currently engaged with your company.

4. Thank the recipient for subscribing.
Recipients have just done you a favor by signing up for your campaigns -- remember that and tell them you appreciate their trust in you and their future business. People get a lot of email in their inboxes, and you want them to know they are special and a vital part of your business.

5. Give those receiving your email an easy way to unsubscribe.
By giving them an example of what the messages will contain, they might realize that it was not what they expected. Let them go now before sending multiple messages to them and eventually having them mark your message as SPAM. It is better to have them formally unsubscribe from your list right away then have them mark you as SPAM later.

6. Give people an incentive to take further action now.
If you want them to buy something, offer them a discount on their first purchase with a coupon code in their welcome message. They might have been thinking about eventually purchasing something from you, which is why they signed up for your messages in the first place. By giving them a little nudge, they might make the purchase sooner rather then later.

Source: iMedia Connection

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Eight Steps to More Effective Welcome E-mails

Brand and subject lines are key factors in getting your e-mails opened, but so is your recipients’ prior experiences with your e-mail efforts. According to a study conducted last year by Return Path, 51.2 percent of survey respondents indicated prior value influences their decisions to open e-mail. What’s more, prior value was the only factor to exhibit year-over-year growth.

What this means is the value clock starts ticking with the very first e-mail contact you make. And for many marketers, that’s the welcome e-mail. To ensure your welcome message sets the proper stage for e-mails to come, check out these eight best practices offered by Margaret Farmakis, Return Path’s director of strategic services, in her whitepaper A Welcome Message Study: Marketers Are Missing Opportunities to Pave the Road to Relevancy:

  1. Send your welcome message within 24 hours to people who sign up for your e-mail program.
  2. Provide a link to your preference center so subscribers can manage their subscriptions.
  3. Include a welcome offer or other incentive to make a purchase; be creative about incorporating this offer into the subject line without making it too long to display in subscribers’ inboxes.
  4. Provide subscribers with information on the types of content they can expect to receive from you and how frequently.
  5. Include whitelisting instructions so subscribers can keep your e-mails out of their junk folders.
  6. Although welcome messages likely are considered transactional under the CAN-SPAM Act, it’s still smart to include an opt-out link in case people change their minds about subscribing.
  7. Try to personalize the content for maximum relevancy and subscriber retention.
  8. Tell subscribers how you intend to use their e-mail addresses or provide a link to your privacy policy.

Source: Target Marketing

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Top Five Reasons To Communicate With Your Customers

In his latest Email Insider column, David Baker a look at the top five functional reasons to communicate with your customers and offers some really great tips on how to get creative on the messages:

5. To fulfill or confirm an order.
Can you add some creativity to standard emails?  This can be as easy as modifying your template with a holiday theme, or having fun with the messaging. For example: "Santa thanks you for your order; it's less for him to carry down the chimney."  People appreciate humor and creativity, and your team can have a lot of fun with this.

4. Promote your site, product, or service.
When you promote your company, do you tie your USP to a theme? A creative voice gets the most attention in the inbox. Try a few options with your promotional strategy. Tactics like countdowns to Christmas got a lot of traction last year in the retail space, but think outside of that and come up with some witty metaphors to wrap your product/service around. Imagine a product promotion that's a surprise only to be opened on the site or tied to an instant win, or sweeps with pick-a-present under the tree. Check your calendar. There are over 20 events from October to January to which you can tie a theme, each unique and with different audiences.

3. Deepen the loyalty to your site or brand.
Think about the considerations involved in making your consumers enthusiastic supporters and evangelists of your brand. They need a "container" to carry your message and build on it in their own social mechanisms. Is it a refer-a-friend / share component or an incentive to share?  Think outside the box and bring a creative metaphor to the table. It could be putting their face on "Sexiest Man Alive" on the cover of People magazine, or a comical photo-sharing contest — anything to create additional value that can travel. Instead of thinking solely about your communication goal, think about enabling the community of customers. Remember, Halloween is the most prolific photo-sharing event of the year; how many ways could you take advantage of this community event with your product or service?

2. Introduce your brand or acquire a customer.
It's tough to brand amidst the noise of the holiday season. This puts more pressure on you to create great acquisition messaging and programs that are fun, engaging, and have the ability to be shared and syndicated. Whether it's a list rental, partner email, sponsored email or your own prospect list, this is the time to be creative with themes. Remember, though, they may not know your brand well enough to understand an off-the-wall metaphor, but that doesn't mean they won't appreciate a bit of fun and humor in your messaging. Remember the first time you traveled on Southwest Airlines and you got a sarcastic response from the flight attendant? You were a little shocked at the candor, but worked yourself into enjoying the experience.

1. Thank them for their patronage.
Did you know that the type of email that gets the highest open rate is an apology letter? The personal touch is widely appreciated, yet we reserve it for mistakes only. We all want to be recognized, so personalized notes thanking customers for their patronage to your brand is a worthwhile effort. A brand can't live on direct promotion alone - there needs to be a little massaging of your messaging to show you aren't a robot marketing arm sending to the masses. This is ideal for a New Year's e-mail, thanking them for a year of loyal patronage to your brand. It's also very easy to tie a reward to this message.                         

The most successful opt-out page I've ever seen was for Milwaukee Best Beer. It had a super-attractive female asking if you were sure you wanted to opt out. For men, that was a reaffirmation of why they were on the site in the first place. An opt-out page doesn't have to be a lost cause.  You could have Santa ask them if they are sure they want to be taken off his list. Satire and humor give color to your brand. Play with it and you'll be amazed at the feedback you get.

Source: Email Insider

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3 Rules for Applying Personas to Email Marketing

Ian Lurie, author of the Conversation Marketing blog, explains how you can create personas for your email marketing campaigns by following these three rules:

  1. Design for convenience, for that persona. 'Convenience' means different things to different people. For me, it means messages I can easily scan and delete or act on. For someone else, it might mean all the information they need, right in the e-mail.
  2. Tailor every offer to that persona. Sending a 10% off deal to a persona who wants luxury at any cost won't get you much.
  3. Refresh your memory. Every time you launch an e-mail campaign, review your personas. Otherwise you're going to drift into what I call 'coupon land', where every e-mail starts with '20% Limited Time offer!!!!' or some such. I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad offer. Just make sure it'll work for your audience.

I'm not sure I follow the example that he gives. Check it out here.

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Components of a Successful Welcome Email

A welcome email should come immediately after sign-up. It should thank users for opting in, explain what they can expect from your email program and get them excited to receive the next one.

In this article, Whitney Hutchinson says these are the components of a successful welcome email:

  1. Personalization - Starting off your relationship with a personal tone is key to driving great experiences and a good first impression. Utilize as much known information as possible.
  2. Benefits of Sign-Up - Highlighting the benefits of your email program and creating a sense of exclusivity can make your customers feel part of a privileged group. Highlight these benefits and exclusive offers via bullets or call-out boxes within your creative to make sure they are noticed.
  3. Welcome Offer/Prominent Calls to Action - Providing a special welcome offer can immediately make users feel special. Additionally, it's important to get the user to make that first purchase - so anything you can do to get them over that first hurdle will pay off in the long run. Include clear and prominent calls to action throughout your email. Don't go overboard but make sure it's clear to people who want to make a purchase exactly how to do so.
  4. Easy Navigation/Site Introduction - The welcome email can introduce users to your site navigation (via header navigation that is consistent with your site) and also encourage them to click through and explore your site on their own.
  5. Utilization of HTML - Use this message to introduce people to your brand's look, feel and voice.
  6. Tapping Into the Subject Line - If possible, include your welcome message and offer into the subject line.
  7. Account Confirmation - For some, it makes sense to confirm certain aspects of a user's account. A welcome email can be a good vehicle for this. You should encourage users to save the email in order to access this account information in the future.

Read the article here and find some good examples across the industry.

Source: Email Insider

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A Tale of Two Welcomes

Hello there!  This is Maddy Hubbard.  You may know me from my previous blog, Email Marketing Voodoo.  This week Tamara asked if I would be interested in co-authoring  BeRelevant!  As you can imagine, I jumped at the opportunity.

I have opted-in to some new email marketing campaigns and I because I have a new email address, I opted-in to some campaigns I was receiving before.

Cb2_welcome_3 One of my favorites, CB2, starts the relationship with their signature tongue and cheek style.  My favorite aspect of their welcome is a reminder that "this is a dialogue  and feedback is always welcome."  It’s nice to see a retailer acknowledge their subscribers as individuals and express that they are open  to suggestions. 

Sears_final_2 A new campaign I opted in to receive from Sears, didn’t make me feel very welcome.  And maybe because I  couldn’t get through their message.  Their text email was incredibly long and for most subscribers, I suspect,  just too much to read. 

While it is a well-known best practice to send a welcome message,  what that message looks like and says should  be thought out .  Put yourself in the shoes of your subscribers.  How would you feel if your received your welcome message. 

Your welcome message should set the tone,  set expectations of what your subscribers can expect and also, don’t forget... make your subscribers feel welcome.

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Ask Your Reader What They Consider Relevant

You know that your email communications need to be relevant to the interests of your readers. But how can you discover what information they consider relevant? Open and click-through rates give you some idea, but that's only part of the story. There's only one way to get the specific feedback you need from your readers: ask them.

Asking your readers for their feedback on your email communications will give you valuable insights that help you achieve better results including more sales, additional website visitors, and higher open and click-through rates. You will also show your contacts that you are interested in what they think-that you understand your email communications are about them (not you).

The simplest way to get detailed feedback that is easy to evaluate is to send a brief online survey.

When you prepare your survey, think about what aspects of your email communications you want feedback on. Then, think about the questions you need to ask to get the insights that can help you make improvements.

Here are some key areas to focus on:

Overall satisfaction
Before you get into the details of your email communications, start out with a general question that gets a "gut" reaction from your contacts. Here's an example: "On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, how do you rate our newsletter?"

Most valued sections
Understanding what your readers value most in your current emails will help you focus your energy and effort. If there is a section of your emails that your readers don't find helpful, you may want to remove that section. If there is an area you find they really enjoy, you can explore ways to expand it and make it even better.

What you're doing right-and what you can improve
This is perhaps the most important information you can gain from your online survey. Ask your contacts how the newsletter helps them, what they appreciate most about receiving it-and why. In a different question, ask them what you could do to improve your newsletter. When these types of questions are open ended, your contacts have the opportunity to share their valuable thoughts with you, in their own words.

Continue reading "Ask Your Reader What They Consider Relevant" »

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New Report: 6 Elements of a Content-Rich, Money-Making E-Newsletter

Nick Usborne just published a great new report called "The 6 Elements of a Content-Rich, Money-Making E-Newsletter". In this 16-page report he gives you the information you need to build a content-rich e-newsletter.

Buy the report here for $8.95. I promise you it will be well worth your money!

My key take-aways:

  • Continuity in design and content are major factors in establishing recognition and value in your e-newsletter.
  • Use contests or surveys or questions or subscriber-generated content to involve your audience.
  • Establish a balance between editorial and promotional content in your newsletter, and keep that balance consistent.
  • When you want to make a sale, keep it relevant and useful.
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