64 posts categorized "Messaging" Feed

Opt-In Doesn't Replace Relevancy

by Stephanie Miller

I spoke at both INBOX and Internet Retailer recently, and at both events heard smart marketers ask, "Why do readers unsubscribe, ignore or complain about my emails? They opted-in!"

The answer is that permission is not forever. Subscribers opt in and then promptly forget about their actions. Many marketers are not clear about what they will be sending, or at what frequency. That disconnect is real -- in fact, it's not unusual to see a high number of complaints and unsubscribes on a Welcome Message.

Nor is permission a panacea. Opt-in doesn't replace relevancy and keeping your promises.

To that end, here are a few key moments in the subscriber experience when permission should NOT be assumed:

  • When you add a new content set
  • When you launch a new product/press release, etc.
  • When you haven't emailed in a really long time (like more than 3 months)
  • When you "find" an old file that hasn't been used (maybe ever) - yes, this happens all the time!
  • When you've already sent more email this week/month than you promised.

Do you need to re-permission everyone just to send a press release or introduce a new type of email promotion/newsletter? Not necessarily.  

Continue reading "Opt-In Doesn't Replace Relevancy" »

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Editorial Calendars for Email Campaigns

When you are planning the long-term goals for your email marketing campaign, consider the frequency of your messaging and prepare an editorial calendar.

Editorial calendars, when planned correctly, allow you to get an overall view of the year and will provide enough insight to make changes and adjustments to your planned sends. You also have the ability to lay out your testing plan, approval dates and deadlines for content.

Let's discuss a hypothetical email newsletter that is scheduled to be sent on the Third Wednesday of each month. As straight forward as it seems, when it's laid out on a calendar, you may find that you need to make small adjustments to your send days. For example, the third Wednesday in November is the day before Thanksgiving. This is not the best day to send an email newsletter. On one of the busiest travel days of the year, you can assume that at a good portion of your subscribers will be traveling and your email may end up buried in the inbox.

By planning your editorial calendar in advance you can see early on that the November send should move to the second Wednesday in November. Content due dates, testing and approvals can all be adjusted accordingly to remove the potential for the fire drill that may have occurred without proper preparation.

Source: EmailMarketingVoodoo

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Personalization: 5 challenges

The advent of integrated, personalized, optimized marketing is near. However, Michael Gorman sees five challenges that marketers must overcome before marketers can create emails of which the content is assembled dynamically to match the users' needs and the marketer's goals.

1. Data integration. This is top priority for many marketers right now. Companies must work out how to assemble data from external and internal sources to build that elusive single view of the customer.

2. Cross channel integration. Today, technology makes every type of marketing dynamically targetable, but the numerous systems and solutions that make targeting possible generally don't talk to one another. So the behavioral data, which I used to target the banner you just saw does not travel with you as you enter my Web site; nor does your recent click behavior accompany you into my email database after your purchase.

3. Optimization.
With so much content and so many users, and each visit lasting only a few clicks, how do you decide what to show next on your Web site? Once you pluck the low hanging fruit, like 'abandoned shopping cart' and 'last product viewed', how do you make systematic progress at a rapid pace without spending a fortune on creative development?

 

Continue reading "Personalization: 5 challenges" »

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Content From Your Readers' Perspective

A strong approach to forging any relationship is to put yourself in the other person's shoes, and consider things from their perspective. Let's break down your subscribers' experience into their two main choices, and then provide the best practices on guiding them toward the best decisions:

1. Should I read this email, delete it, or add it to junk-mail filter?

  • Write a subject line that clearly spells out a benefit to them relevant to their current needs based on any information you have about them. Keep it short - 50 characters or less. Lean toward active voice and action verbs like "Save." Finally, remember to avoid the use of words and punctuation that will label your email as spam by filters - "!!" or "Free" are common examples.
  • The top 800 pixels or so of any email are considered "above the fold," a term from the newspaper industry describing the top half of the front page. This is typically the area that appears in the "preview pane" that readers use to glance at an email while deciding if they should read it. Grab them with a strong visual expressing the benefit your campaign offers: if you sell a popular item at a great price, show a beautiful graphic of the item with the price above it. If you're a publisher of recipes and food newsletters, feature a scrumptious looking meal, Remember that some email clients hide graphics by default, so always include the same information in text.
  • Include your brand name prominently in the campaign. If you've done your homework and stick to a regular schedule, they'll know your messages are valuable, timely, and take their purchasing behaviors into account when segmenting markets, so they're incented to check out what you have to offer.

Continue reading "Content From Your Readers' Perspective" »

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It's Time To Prepare Your 2007 Email Marketing Calendar

Back in July, Karen Gedney wrote this article in which she discussed the need for an email calendar. Most of us are already planning our 2007 campaigns, so I thought it was a good idea to post about this now. So here are a couple of things to consider:

Consider the seasonal nature of your prospects' work and personal lives and when they want to read about certain topics. This varies both by industry and by the kind of person you're trying to reach.

Business-to-business (B2B) magazines in your industry probably follow a standard calendar. Analyze a year's worth of issues to see if you can detect a pattern in the kind of articles published at different times of the year. This can clue you in to email readers' interests. Additionally, you may spot ways to synchronize your mailing with the publication's regular features, such as annual buying guides, state-of-the-industry reports, and so on.

Continue reading "It's Time To Prepare Your 2007 Email Marketing Calendar" »

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UK Email Marketing Survey Highlights Importance Of Reporting

The majority of client companies state that 'reporting' and 'customer service' are the two most important factors when selecting an email service provider (ESP), according to the first Client Email Marketing Survey from the DMA Email Marketing Council. The emphasis placed on 'reporting' indicates an increasing interest from marketers in wanting to understand how customers interact with their email messages and, given how business-critical email has become to so many organisations, their desire to measure the effectiveness of each campaign. In addition, the fact that customer service is more important than functionality and price may demonstrate that cost per thousand for delivery has levelled off.

The report, which surveyed 110 client companies, also highlights the biggest concerns for email marketers as being 'conversion' rates, followed by 'deliverability' rates and 'click rates'.

Richard Gibson, chair of the DMA Email Marketing Council's Benchmarking Hub, comments: "Based on these findings, we could see Email Service Providers enhancing their reporting tools to meet client demands. The report further shows that 87% of companies rely on or work with their ESP to manage deliverability. Whilst there is only a small minority, it is concerning that some organisations either do not monitor or do not consider deliverability to be important."

Previous DMA Email Marketing Council predictions that email marketing will continue to grow are also reinforced by the report. The majority of companies (78%) believe that email marketing budgets will increase with 63% of respondents stating that the increase will not come at the expense of other channels, suggesting a rise in confidence in the effectiveness of the medium and its ability to generate returns.

The report also demonstrates that there is a real opportunity for clients to grow their opt-in email database with less than half of marketers surveyed stating that they had an email address for only between one and 25% of their entire database. Only 18% of companies surveyed have between 78 -100% of customer email addresses.

Offline data capture and websites are the most common places to acquire new email addresses, with over 50% of addresses being collected on a website by 39% of companies and offline by 32% of companies.

In terms of how the email channel is used, 78% of organisations state that the primary use is to drive traffic to a website, while 72% also use the channel to communicate new offers and 48% of respondents acknowledge that email is used to create brand awareness.

Gibson adds: "The Client Email Marketing Survey is a new initiative by the Email Marketing Council and provides a useful insight into the demand side drivers and complementing the National Email Benchmarking Report. As a result, it is likely to be run on an annual basis."

For further information please visit www.dma.org.uk.

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31 Content Tips And Ideas For Your Email Newsletters

Mark Brownlow wrote yet another great article! This one focusses on how to ensure enough decent content to keep readers interested, engaged and impacted by your emails.

In this article you can find some tips to keep the content flowing and actual content ideas to save yourself some thinking time.

Content management tips:

1. Keep a content folder
2. Develop reserve content
3. Watch your numbers
4. Sign-up to your competitors' newsletters
5. Go where your readers go
6. Talk to sales reps and customer service
7. Partner
8. Recycle
9. Let readers choose
10. Consider reducing length and frequency

Content ideas:

1. Problem / solution
2. How-tos
3. Top tips
4. Opinion / analysis
5. Look into the future
6. Fable
7. Horror/disaster story
8. Case study
9. Seasonality
10. Reviews
11. Educational content
12. "Best of"
13. Surveys / feedback request
14. Event recommendations
15. Resource links
16. Amusing or inspirational anecdotes, stories and quotes
17. Answering feedback
18. Interviews
19. News
20. Statistics and lists
21. Quizzes

Read the full article here
.

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Tips For Your Unsubscribe Confirmation

MailChimp provides some tips for your unsubscribe confirmation emails:

  1. Make it short and sweet. You don't want this to look like yet another HTML email newsletter. If the recipient just unsubscribed from your list, they'll be furious to receive even more "salesy" emails from you.
  2. Consider a plain-text email, or an HTML email that's "lite" and looks like plain-text. Minimal graphics.
  3. Try to include a link to a feedback survey. Keep the feedback survey brief. All you really need to ask is, "why are you leaving?" By the way, if you don't have a good survey tool, look into Surveymonkey.com
  4. Include a link to re-subscribe to your list, just in case it was a mistake.
  5. Got a blog/website they can bookmark instead? Sometimes, people get inbox fatigue, and just want out. Let them visit your website instead. Who knows, they might opt-in again later.

VerticalResponse, Inc.

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Add Content to E-Commerce E-Mails

Direct Marketing consultant Reggie Brady addressed key e-mail strategies at the MeritDirect Business Mailer's Co-op and Interactive Marketing Conference. Ms. Brady highlighted a series of ways to retain customers through personalized e-mail campaigns with content targeted at segmented clients. Read the story here.

Source: DM News' Email Marketing Weekly

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You've Got 51 Seconds

By Stephanie Miller

Readers spend an average of 51 seconds with email newsletters, typically skimming the contents. Only 19% of newsletters are read fully. (Nielsen Norman, 2006) That's good news and bad news for B2B email marketers, who are most likely to produce content newsletters rather than tips or pure promotions.

Good news is that 51 seconds is a long time in the email world, as promotional emails get about 15 seconds (Marketing Sherpa, 2005). The average person reads about 200 words a minute, which means, I'm loosely figuring, you'd get about 100-150 words after headlines and images to communicate and engage - or about 5-7 headlines if the reader is skimming.

The bad news is that most B2B newsletters have far more than 7 headlines and 150 words. In fact, we are encouraged to do so: The B2B marketers I've worked with who survey their readers find that subscribers report the length is fine and that depth of material is appreciated.

Yet at the same time, response is low for most newsletters, and this "51 second rule" helps explain why so few newsletters earn any clicks below the fold. Subscribers don't necessarily lie in surveys, they just don't always act (as tracked by response data) the way they think they do.

I've got 10 seconds left to give you some tips for newsletters:

  1. Place a table of contents in the preview window to encourage scrolling

  2. Use the masthead space to highlight a headline and engage the reader quickly. Think like a magazine cover headline writer -- what will get the reader to dive in?

  3. If your key success metric is clicks, keep the abstracts/articles short and punchy and offer compelling info behind the click. Don't frustrate readers by teasing them - provide the full story. But promote deeper info, stats or illustrations to drive the click.

  4. If your key success metrics is opens/readership, write the abstracts particular for the email. Tell the whole story, including the punch line. Make the value of your newsletter that it IS a summary - short and sweet and to the point. Think of the What's News columns in The Wall Street Journal front page. It tells the complete story, but in a very concise way.

  5. Promote cool stuff that is deeper in the newsletter. One of our clients puts a Quote of the Day at the very end of a long newsletter. Another uses an image of Dilbert and the guidance, "Scroll down for today's Dilbert." Another cross promotes by linking related stories to each other within the email (using anchor tags).

Make the most of your 51 seconds!

Source: Return Path

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An E-Zine Strategies Tip Sheet

By Matt Blumberg, Tami Monahan Forman & Stephanie A. Miller

It all sounds so complex. But do you really have to hire a think tank when mulling a newsletter program? Here are several strategic pointers to keep in mind when launching an e-zine.

  • People will gladly accept advertising in exchange for information and entertainment, so the creation of a content-filled e-mail newsletter is the best strategy to deliver your advertising messages to your audience with success.
  • You can place sales messages throughout your newsletter, provided you do so tastefully. In fact, relevant content that your audience wants to read may be more effective at driving sales and response than pure promotional copy.
  • A comprehensive program will include other non-newsletter e-mails, including event invitations, shipping and order confirmations and account information.
  • Start with a general newsleter then offer several other, more specific newsletters that target specific segments of your audience.
  • Only write about relevant, interesting subjects. Your audience will stick with you—and digest your sales messages—as long as you keep up your end of the bargain. This means that some marketing and executive “pet peeve” messages need to stay out.
  • Make sure your e-mail looks good on various e-mail programs and monitors, including laptops and handhelds.
  • Create fun or interesting e-mails that your subscribers will want to share with friends. This type of viral marketing is critical to keeping subscribers happy and building your subscriber base.

This article was excerpted from the book, “Sign Me Up! A Marketer’s Guide to Creating E-mail Newsletters That Build Relationships and Boost Sales (iUniverse Inc., 2005)

Source: Chiefmarketer.com

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Emails Offering Fewer Choices Perform Better

According to study from Marketing Experiments, emails offering one service compared with emails offering a choice of several services bring higher conversions. The study compared an email with one service being promoted, with one that pushed four services. The email that focused on just one free service outperformed the multiple promoter by 464 percent.

Read more here

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Treat Your Subscribers In A Way That Builds Their Trust In You

Without trust it's impossible to build a relationship. When someone gives you their email address, they are trusting you - but only a little. They are providing you with a small window, a brief opportunity, for you to prove that you are worthy of that trust and possibly even more.

How to build trust?

  • Respect: the number one ingredient in building trust is respect. In the case of email marketing, you can show respect by not bombarding your receivers with messages and by making sure that what you are sending them is well thought out and relevant.
  • Connect: you don't want to over communicate, but it is equally important that you consistently connect with your list in order to get the best results.
  • Listen: ask those on your list what kinds of messages they want to receive from you and survey them to learn more about who they are and what they are looking for from you. The more you can give them what they want, the more effective your email marketing will be.

How to erode trust?

  • Irrelevant messages: every time you send a message that is irrelevant to the sender, you are wasting their time and damaging their confidence in your product, service, or organization.
  • Broken links: when a receiver clicks on a link that is broken, it tells them something about you and your business. Whether it's true or not, you can be perceived as careless. Make sure to check all of your links before sending a campaign.
  • Bad writing: it's very important to proofread and spell check your campaigns before sending. Even better, have someone else (preferably someone with writing skills) read them before they go out. Typos and poor grammar do not build confidence in the professionalism of your business or organization.
  • Too much information: your readers will stop being interested in what you have to say if you overwhelm them with too much information. Always remember the "less is more" rule.

Source: Constant Contact

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What Do You Want Your Email Newsletter Readers to Do?

Whether you are selling something in your email messages or not, you want your email readers to take some action. Even if you simply want to inform your recipients, you still want them to do something - read your message! Take a look at this article to discover how to get the response you want from your email newsletters and marketing campaigns.

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Developing Creative For An Email Acquistion Campaign: Some Tips

In Return Path's latest issue of their newsletter "Sign Me Up!", Matt Blumberg explains why you shouldn't use the creative that you've been sending to your house list for an email acquisition campaign. Here's what he says:

Email creative that works well for your in-house list won't be effective in an acquisition campaign. When you are looking to get your message in front of new prospects you need a fundamentally different approach than you would use for recipients who are already familiar with your company.

When developing creative for an acquisition campaign, keep these tips in mind:

  • Introduce yourself first:
    It might be considered strange to walk up to a stranger at a party and start telling them about the funny thing that happened to you on the way over. But, that's what many marketers inadvertently do when they send out a message to a new audience without first saying, "Hello, my name is ..."

  • Don't try to do too much with one message:
    Instead, focus on what the reader needs to know about your company to move them to take a next step.
    Use a clear, prominent, compelling call to action: What is it that you want the reader to do? If the action isn't clear, the email's chance of success is limited. Use strong, unambiguous action words like read, sign up, buy, learn, or download.

  • Lower the hurdle:
    Consider that it's a lot easier to download a whitepaper or checklist, get a coupon or sign up for your email program, than it is to make a decision to buy from an email.
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Dynamic E-Mail Messaging: The Four Basic Customization Mechanisms

In a series of articles on Clickz, Derek Harding will look in more detail at what is meant by "dynamic messaging"; what its costs; what the benefits, pitfalls, and advantages are; and where and how to utilize it effectively.

In this article he focusses on the four basic customization mechanisms:

  • Segmentation: Divide the list into segments and send each segment a different message.
  • Variable Substitution: Fields are placed in the message template representing recipient attributes and are substituted for each recipient.
  • Conditional Blocks: A piece of programming code is placed in the message to perform an if-then test. This allows recipient attributes to be used to include or exclude specific content.
  • Content Insertion: A field is placed in the template that is later substituted. Unlike variable substitution, entire sections of content (phrases, paragraphs, etc.) are inserted based on recipient profile. This inserted content may itself contain substitution fields.

Read the full article to find out what the possibilities and limitations of each of these mechanisms are.

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Personalize Your Emails For The Specific Needs Of Your Customers

iMedia Connection is featuring a series of articles on "Marketing and the 2005 Holiday Season". One of the articles is wrtten by Silverpop CEO Bill Nussey: The Secret to Holiday Email Marketing.  According to Nussey the secret to holiday email marketing is to give preferences, for which you shall receive conversions.

"A solid, robust preference center program can help drive sales and expand brand value. Preferences aren't only important during the holidays, but it's particularly during this joyous-yet-stressful season that caring for your customers translates to increased enthusiasm for and loyalty to your brand.

Preferences allow you to personalize communications for the specific needs of your customers. They are the ultimate way to steer your campaign from appearing only to benefit you, the sender, toward helping the recipient see the importance and relevance of the campaign."

Read the full article and find out which are the elements that make up the perfect preference page.

Source: iMedia Connection

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Content Always Wins - Everything Else Comes In Second

This month's issue of Loop Consulting's EMI newsletter is featuring an article called "Content Always Wins - Everything Else Comes In Second".

Which is more important - how the eNewsletter looks or what it says? Marcos Menendez has no doubt about the answer.

According to him the most important things to consider when crafting content for your e-newsletter are:

  • Target the audience.
  • Write what you know.
  • Enhance the experience.
  • Think advice.

Read the full article here.

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