Email – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting http://www.convinceandconvert.com Fri, 23 Feb 2018 12:39:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.5 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/cropped-convince-convert_C-orange-32x32.png Email – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting http://www.convinceandconvert.com 32 32 The 5 Worst Email Issues Facing Today’s Digital Marketers http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/worst-email-issues/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/worst-email-issues/#respond Tue, 09 Jan 2018 14:15:56 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148616 New research from Emma reveals today's greatest email marketing challenges. Here's what marketers have to say about the email issues they face.

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The 5 Worst Email Issues Facing Today’s Digital Marketers

Part of the reality we face each day as digital marketers is that our role requires us to be entrenched in content. This responsibility is a double-edged sword. On one side, there’s the excitement of all the reading, writing, and sharing that can be done! On the other side, there’s the dread of all that reading, writing, and sharing that needs to be done…

It’s pretty clear we all have our work cut out for us. Fortunately, there are some things we can do to stay on track.

Marketing software and services provider Emma talked to more than 200 marketers and industry leaders at their annual Marketing United conference and compiled the results into their 2017 Email Marketing Industry Report. Here are the top five takeaways on what’s driving today’s marketers.

1. Marketers Feel Overwhelmed

Emma found that only 12 percent of marketers say they’re always meeting both customer and internal expectations. It varies, of course, but it does imply that a whole lot of us are just trying to keep up.

Meeting customer and internal expectations


Only 12% of marketers feel they meet both customer and internal expectations - @EmmaEmail
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It’s true, we have a lot to do. We do our best to meet organizational needs and take care of our customers. But we all have those times when we feel like Sisyphus, pushing our big marketing goals up the hill and trying not to get squashed when they roll back down on us.

Working smarter, not harder, goes a long way in relieving that load. Perhaps you have manual processes you could automate to save you time, money, and frustration. Just remember, though: If you do implement automation, check on it regularly and don’t just “set it and forget it.”


#MarketingAutomation Pro Tip: Robots aren’t good marketers. Don’t set it and forget it.
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2. Marketers Have Data but Need Resources

If there’s one thing that marketers love, it’s data. We solicit it via forms and surveys and collect it from websites, social media posts, and sales. Data is critical to helping us understand our customers’ preferences and behaviors as well as how we can improve our products and processes.

Yet despite the plethora of information at our disposal, we’re stymied on what to do with it all.

According to Emma’s research, 64 percent of marketers say they don’t have the time or personnel to do the marketing they would like.

Making time for marketing


64% of marketers say they don’t have the time or personnel to do the marketing they'd like.
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That’s pretty significant when you think about it, and it should give you pause. After all, as Convince & Convert president Jay Baer says, “Capturing data just because you can doesn’t matter; capturing it for a reason does.”


Capturing data just because you can doesn't matter; capturing it for a reason does. #bigdata
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Ask yourself: Why are you collecting data? Could you put the information you’ve gathered to better, or more efficient, use? Consider the possibilities. By revisiting the data you already have, you could discover new insights that inspire new campaigns—and justify getting more of those resources we all want and need.


Revisit existing data for new insights, to inspire new campaigns, & to justify new resources.
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3. Marketers Struggle with Conflicting Priorities

How many times have you faced the question, “Deliver content that satisfies our audience, or deliver content that satisfies our bosses?” In a perfect world, it’d be both, but it’s a constant balancing act for most team members.

In its report, Emma suggests that if marketers want to address both internal and external demands and hit goals faster, then personalization is key.

Segmenting, customizing, and personalizing your content makes it more relevant to your audience. Greater relevancy strengthens the customer-brand relationship, and a better relationship means a more invested (i.e., profitable) customer. Put simply: Great personalization campaigns answer questions consumers haven’t yet thought to ask.


Great #personalization campaigns answer questions consumers haven’t yet thought to ask. #marketing
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Accenture research backs up Emma’s findings, showing 75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from retailers that personalize content.


75% of consumers are more likely to buy from retailers that personalize content. - @EmmaEmail
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If you’re not already prioritizing personalization in your content marketing, you might want to start because it provides a win-win for meeting both internal and external expectations.

4. Email Is Still Number One

With many of us constantly chasing the new and shiny in digital marketing, it’s easy to neglect more established tactics that may have lost their luster. Emma says that email marketing, while certainly not a new platform, still vastly outperforms other channels including social media, SEO, display/pay-per-click ads, and mobile/SMS.

Email generates the most ROI


47% of marketers say email generates more ROI than any other digital channel. - @EmmaEmail
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According to Emma’s ebook, “Why Email Holds the Key to Lasting Customer Relationships,” email continues to reign due to one undeniable power: It provides guaranteed reach.

Barring obvious barriers like incorrect addresses or non-functioning servers, “if you send your customers an email, they will receive it,” Emma points out. They may not open it. They may not click on it. But it will reach them.”

Marketers have the power to target, test, tweak, and track email to improve that reach—and hopefully its relevance and engagement. It’s no wonder marketers find it so essential.

5. Marketers Aren’t Using Email to its Full Potential

Because email is a familiar platform that generally requires little to no effort to maintain, marketers may find they underutilize it to their detriment.

Emma asked respondents, “How well is your email marketing integrated with your other marketing systems?” The response was, dishearteningly, “Not well at all.” A mere 12 percent confirmed they’d fully integrated their email program with other systems. 49 percent indicated partial integration.


39% of marketers say they don't integrate email with other marketing systems at all. - @EmmaEmail
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Integration with other channels, personalization, and targeting continue to present challenges, but marketers are starting to reevaluate their email programs. Emma learned that 58 percent of marketers plan to increase spending on email in the next year, primarily to tap into its significant ROI advantage.

Marketers plan to increase spending on email


58% of marketers plan to increase spending on email in the next year. Why? Because it works.
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Emma’s research provides an inspiring reminder for marketers that email is still relevant, useful, and above all, valuable. Isn’t it time you take a fresh look at your existing email marketing and rediscover its potential?

For more insights, download Emma’s “2017 Email Marketing Industry Report” and “Why Email Holds the Key to Lasting Customer Relationships,” or browse Convince & Convert’s email articles.

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A Marketer’s Guide to the Best Time to Send Email http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/best-time-to-send-email/ Tue, 13 Jun 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=40220 Why do so many studies on the best time to send email reach different conclusions? Learn how to parse the right strategy for your specific business.

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A Marketer's Guide to the Best Time to Send Email

Anyone who’s ever Googled “best time to send an email” knows that there’s a ton of information available on this topic. The problem, for those of you who’ve managed to avoid this particular rabbit hole, is that the many studies on optimal email send times all seem to reach different conclusions. Some recommend sending emails during weekend downtime, while others suggest weekday afternoons when your target is at work. Rather than providing a practical solution, this simple Google search often results in more confusion than ever.

Why is it so hard to get a straight answer? Probably because the studies are not consistent in their methods.

The Problem with Email Marketing Research

This type of research is always a bit tricky because there are so many variables at play. While most of the studies focus on B2B emails, some are based on B2C emails being delivered to a list of subscribers or previous customers.

Even among the studies featuring B2B emails, there are discrepancies based on who the target is, their job title, and what their work schedule looks like. For example, a different set of rules applies when you’re contacting entrepreneurs who check their messages 24/7 compared to your typical nine-to-five office worker who only reads their email during business hours.

This should come as no surprise, but there is no single best time to send an email for every use case. The ideal time to send a follow-up email to a qualified lead is different than the best time to generate clicks with an e-commerce sales message.

More importantly, there’s no universal definition of what makes an email successful. Someone who considers each opened email a win will reach a very different conclusion than someone more interested in click-through rates or responses.

The Truth About the Best Time to Send Email

Since there is no simple solution that applies to every scenario, the best time and day to send your email depends on your goal, audience, and industry. Regardless of when you decide to hit “send,” your individual mileage may vary based on who you’re emailing and what action you want them to take. Almost none of the studies on when to send emails parse all of these factors, which makes it tough to figure out how the findings apply to your specific audience, industry, and objective.

We decided to approach this topic from a different angle. Instead of regurgitating data from a wide range of studies or focusing on one specific use case, we dug a bit deeper to find out what factors contributed to the differences. We’ve taken all of the conflicting data and sorted it into an easily digestible visual guide: The 2017 Email Marketing Field Guide by Propeller CRM.

2017 Email Marketing Field Guide from Propeller

Editor’s Note: This infographic originally appeared on the Propeller blog.

Get a weekly dose of the trends and insights you need to keep you ON top, from the strategy team at Convince & Convert. Sign up for the Convince & Convert ON email newsletter.

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6 Reasons I Blew Up My Email Newsletter and Started Over http://www.convinceandconvert.com/convince-convert/6-reasons-i-blew-up-my-email-newsletter-and-started-over/ Wed, 22 Mar 2017 16:01:32 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=38833 A behind-the-scenes look at why Jay Baer and the Convince & Convert team overhauled their email strategy, embracing video and humanization in all-new ways.

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6 Reasons I Blew Up My Email Newsletter and Started Over

Email has been a big part of Convince & Convert since we started in 2008.

Our ONE THING email newsletter was among the first curated emails to focus on social media and content marketing, bringing readers hot news and insights.

A couple years ago, we killed ONE THING and spun up DEFINITIVE, a daily email that goes deep on one topic of interest to marketers (B2B Snapchat ideas, for example) and showcases the 3 best resources about that topic from anywhere on the Web.

Now, we have put DEFINITIVE to bed, and launched Convince & Convert ON, a totally new email experience.

Here’s what’s different, and why I detonated a very successful email program to start over with something new:

(btw, if you haven’t subscribed to the new email, do it right here.)

Focus on Intermediate and Advanced Concepts for You

The reader survey we conducted last year very clearly showed that Convince & Convert fans are experienced marketing and customer service professionals. Most are managers, directors, and VPs, and three-quarters of our audience have been in the business for over six years.

The new Convince & Convert ON email embraces these findings by delivering 301/401-level advice and insights and adheres to our editorial mission, which is to provide “and therefore” content to our audience. We don’t want to tell you what’s happening, as other people do a great job of covering news and trends. We don’t even want to tell you why it’s happening.

Our role is to tell you what to do now that it has happened. That’s “and therefore” and the new email is all about it.

Use Video to Tie Trends Together for You

Video consumption continues to soar, especially short-form, explanatory video. In fact, I wrote a post recently called “Why Video Is the New Blogging.” We create quite a bit of video at Convince & Convert, including my Jay Today series. We decided to integrate video with email in a new way, to help narrate “and therefore” for the audience.

Each issue of Convince & Convert ON includes a video about three minutes long that covers a key move in the industry, and what you need to do next. We’re really excited about this feature, and I hope you are too. Feedback is welcomed! Videos don’t auto-play in the email yet, but we’ll be exploring that in the future.

Greater Synergy Between Consulting and Media

We have two divisions here: Convince & Convert Consulting, which provides social, content, amplification, and influencer strategy to some of the world’s most interesting brands. And Convince & Convert Media, which produces this site, our network of podcasts, the email program, and a ton of other stuff (including producing podcasts from several major companies).

The two groups have functioned mostly independently, and that’s probably less than ideal. With the new Convince & Convert ON, our strategy team takes turns identifying the trend, curating the related resources, and shooting the overarching video. We have some of the brightest minds in the business on our team, and I finally figured out a way to insert their thinking into the Media side of the house.

I’m Not Going to Waste Your Time

DEFINITIVE has been a four times per week email for two years. Our research shows it’s just too much. Nobody says, “Gee, I wish I could get more email!” So, we’re scaling it way back to one to two emails per week. We’re also doing a lot of list hygiene, removing people that don’t open the emails, etc.

As I wrote recently, the right time to publish in social media is when you have something worth publishing, and the same is true in email (perhaps even more so). This reduced cadence will reduce subscriber fatigue. I want you to be fired up when ON hits your inbox.

Better User Experience

DEFINITIVE had a defined aesthetic, but it wasn’t always the easiest to read, especially in mobile. Also, our significant use of orange (our signature color) is not the most friendly option for visually impaired subscribers. We have totally overhauled the look and feel of ON, making it a lot simpler and more streamlined.

Humanity Equals Trust, and I’m Not Going to Be a Hypocrite Any Longer

I’m proud of what we did in DEFINITIVE. The resources we provided were on-target and useful. But, DEFINITIVE lacked a personal touch. Convince & Convert created and produced DEFINITIVE. With ON, we are moving to a real person at Convince & Convert telling you what they think, and why it’s important for you and your business.

In my books Youtility and Hug Your Haters I wrote extensively about the power of humans to build trust bridges. Simply, we trust people WAY MORE than we trust organizations of any type. Yet, I foolishly neglected to follow this advice in my own email program.

That stops today.

With ON, we are showcasing our people, not just our company.

Our vision statement says it best: “We will become North America’s most-trusted source of digital marketing and online customer service advice and counsel.”

We don’t want to be the biggest, we want to be the most trusted.

In a world where you’re not sure what’s true and what’s useful, trust is currency. This is why I blew up our entire email program, and started over with a focus on “and therefore” and building human-level connections between you, and our team.

I hope you love it.

And thank YOU, for your trust and attention. It means the world to me, and I don’t take it for granted.

(To give our new ON a try, please go here.)

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7 Emotional Triggers to Hook Your Subscribers http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/emotional-triggers-to-hook-subscribers/ Thu, 09 Mar 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=38566 Emotional triggers are the secret to successful email campaigns. Learn how to structure your emails to spark the perfect response.

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7 Emotional Triggers to Hook Your Subscribers

Over the years, I’ve managed the creation and analytics of nine email newsletters, each with over 1,000 subscribers, with varying success. An average engagement rate has never been good enough for me. Through trial and error, all-nighters spent on A/B testing, and strategy building, I’ve created a more-or-less accurate picture of what works and what doesn’t. And when it comes to improving open and clickthrough rates (CTRs), I can tell you that emotional triggers are the secret to successful email campaigns.

The groundwork, build-up, and execution of rousing emotions via email is an art that can take a while to master. Luckily, you’re going to learn exactly what it takes to elicit feelings that lead to conversions. Let’s discuss the most important point first.


Emotional triggers are the secret to successful email campaigns.
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Laying the Foundation with a Goal in Mind

Before making a decision about which emotional triggers to use, you need to know the purpose of the email campaign. Are you nurturing leads, building customer relationships, or promoting sales? Trust me—it makes a difference. Only once you know the goal (content traffic, social media likes, sales, etc.) can you make a decision about which emotion to provoke.

Common Goals for Email Campaigns

Everyone’s circumstances are different, but here are the some of the common examples of professional email marketing goals:

  • Deliver high quality, relevant content.
  • Drive additional traffic to a website.
  • Increase sales conversion and/or revenue.
  • Boost email engagement metrics (clickthrough rate, open rate, etc.).
  • Grow and retain subscribers on a list.
  • Integrate email with other marketing (social, mobile, etc.).
  • Strengthen lead generation.
  • Build brand awareness or reputation.
  • Effectively nurture prospects.
  • Segment email database.
  • Achieve or measurably increase return on investment from email efforts.
  • Improve deliverability and inbox placement rates.
  • Expand testing and optimization practices.
  • Improve database health.
  • Qualify leads.
  • Integrate email data with customer relationship management software and other databases.

What Emotions Do I Trigger in My Emails?

Once I’ve determined the goal for a campaign, I choose from the seven basic emotions that drive conversions:

  1. Belonging: Make the reader feel like part of something bigger than themselves.
  2. Hope: Create a sense of expectation for a certain outcome.
  3. Guilt: Help the reader understand that they have the opportunity to make something right.
  4. Vanity: Flatter the reader with praise over their intelligence or smart decision-making.
  5. Fear: Inform the reader what they’re in danger of if they don’t take action.
  6. Lust: Tug the heartstrings of the reader by waving the carrot of desire in front of them.
  7. Greed: Appeal to the reader’s want for wealth or power.

I choose one of these emotions and put forth effort to prompt it before I ever ask the reader to take action.

Email Campaign Structure

When outlining an email campaign, follow a general outline: Each email should include personalized details, a physical problem, an emotional trigger, a solution, and a call to action (CTA).

Personalized Details

With the use of email marketing tools like MailChimp, HubSpot, or Aweber, you can choose personalization tokens from any contact information in your database. Personalized emails generate 600 percent higher CTRs. Consumers like to feel they’re having a conversation, not just being spoken to. Personalized emails help create this feeling.

Using the reader’s name in email body text is common. I sometimes use the reader’s company name, month of birth, city of residence, and more. Get creative with this, but make sure it makes sense if the reader hasn’t given you all of their information.

Real World Problem

In order to be a problem solver, which is exactly what email marketing professionals are, you have to address an issue that your reader has. In each email I write, I state a real-world problem that can be resolved with the information being presented. At the end of the day, it’s all about helping your readers out and providing valuable solutions to help them resolve their pain points.

Emotional Trigger

After you state the problem, it’s time to stir one of the seven emotions that create conversions (listed above). I step inside the mind of my reader and actually imagine how I would feel if I were reading this message for the first time. When I can actually make myself feel a converting emotion, I know that I have fine-tuned my trigger.

Solution

As soon as the target emotion has been initiated, write in a solution (relevant to the linked content) to the real-world problem that has just been stated. I do this quickly because the most important piece comes next.

Call to Action

The call to action (CTA) provides the reader with a sense of what to do next. Depending on your industry and skill level, you can expect a clickthrough rate between two and 10 percent. Including a link and CTA more than once in the email body will help increase the odds that your reader will actually click.

Finally, Time for the Engaging Subject Line

Though the subject line is the first part of your email that a reader will see, I save this for last. Only after you know the content of the email can you write a relevant, clickable subject line. Because it takes the guesswork out, I use SubjectLine.com to test several headlines before I decide upon the best one for my needs. Choosing a headline that falls above 90 percent on this scale makes emails more likely to be opened. The tool even gives advice for perfecting your subject lines when they still need work.

The Writing Process

I’ve always written all emails myself. I wanted to learn what works and what doesn’t the hard way. But if you are not a confident writer yet and could use some professional help, hiring a copywriter on websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Essay Writer Pro.

After you’ve practiced your writing craft for some time, you can get to writing the emails yourself. Don’t be too shy to seek help if you need.

These are the seven emotional triggers that lead to email conversions and how to execute them effectively. Take some time to study this information, take notes, and try this out with your next email campaign. Note the open rates and clickthroughs of the emails you were sending out before compared to the ones you’re about to send.

In addition, start paying attention to the email lists you’re subscribed to—even the emails you don’t want to read. What made you want to take action, and what made you want to pass over without engaging? You will learn more through hands-on experience than anything else.

Get more content like this, plus the very BEST marketing education, totally free. Get our Definitive email newsletter.

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4 Ways the Email Newsletter Is Making News Better http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/the-email-newsletter-is-making-news-better/ Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=38347 Discerning readers are abandoning social news feeds for the email newsletter, and it's making news better.

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4 Ways the Email Newsletter Is Making News Better

From Facebook’s Macedonian Fake News Factory to Google returning false election results, fake news was a major story of the 2016 election. Anyone who’s ever received a chain email will tell you fake news is nothing new; it’s just spreading faster than ever (maybe even faster than the disease you’ll get if you don’t forward this to 10 coworkers). Regardless of the broader effects of fake news, everyone agrees it’s harder to get to the real stuff when you have to sift through twelve million links to who the Pope endorsed.

The sheer amount of Internet content—true or not—is one of the reasons 62 percent of people use social media as a news source, but it’s also part of why more discerning audiences are retreating to the humble email newsletter. While the post-election surge of interest in reputable journalism led to subscription surges at many major publishers, it also leaves readers with an overabundance of news. People want real news but need it fast, and newsletters provide the convenience of Facebook with less noise.

Meanwhile, the email newsletters publishers have long relied on to boost engagement and ROI are now being recognized as a means to hold onto these new subscribers. Though derided and routinely declared dead, email remains a favorite of audiences and publishers alike simply by playing to its strengths: delivering easily-digestible content that increases traffic.


Email newsletters provide the convenience of Facebook with less noise.
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Constraint-Based Innovation

Sure, email won’t win any awards in the “shiny next-big-thing” category, but as Financial Times journalist Andrew Jack has observed, the same technical limitations that have emailers sharpening their pitchforks have allowed email to innovate in more subtle ways. Jack identifies four characteristics of many major email newsletters that combine to make them a uniquely ideal medium for readers, publishers, and everyone who’s not your conspiracy theorist uncle.

1. Easy Discovery

Publishers can use email to bring a selection of articles to the surface, making discovery simple. When the Washington Post alone produces 500 stories each day, it’s a struggle just to find relevant articles, and those pesky social media algorithms don’t make discovery any easier over there. Subscribing to any of the Post’s 50-plus newsletters provides immediate access to top articles, skimmable segments, or the latest content about a particular subject. It’s the fastest way for an audience to discover the content they want, and it’s not a bad deal for publishers either: pushing newsletters helped the Post increase their digital subscriptions 149 percent YoY.

2. Context and Curation

Newsletters are curated, allowing the incorporation of context and/or a broader narrative. Facebook has backtracked on human curation, preferring to make their trending topics section an automated mess rather than seem biased. Meanwhile, the email newsletter has been more than happy to play “arbiter of truth,” and readers are more than happy to listen. They’re the ones who signed up for the letter, after all.

Curation adds the human element absent in mere content aggregation by filling in knowledge gaps with context, forming a meta-narrative with related articles, or just providing a little extra analysis. That way, the reader sees the complete picture, the publisher sees a little more engagement, and nobody has to see the obscene video Facebook’s AI thought was so important.

3. New Ideas

Email can introduce readers to new content they wouldn’t normally seek out. While social media’s hyper-personalization tends to shield people from different views, newsletters provide a peephole to the outside world by occasionally showcasing content that doesn’t quite align with the reader’s interests. The enclosed nature of email makes it more likely the rogue article grabs the reader’s attention, encouraging discovery of something new.

This serendipitous effect is great for an inquiring mind, but it can also be a boon for publishers, who benefit from the increased engagement. Publishers often incorporate pieces from their other newsletters, in hopes the reader might find a new favorite email.

4. Easy Completion

The newsletter’s contained space provides “finishability.” People like to complete things. It’s why crossing items off your to-do list feels so good, and why writing additional items just to immediately cross them off is no big deal, leave me alone. Mail newsletters are finite, unlike news sites or your uncle’s rants on international trade, and having a clear end in sight makes them a satisfying read.

Whereas endless walls of text and links intimidate less focused audiences, the newsletter’s easily-digestible bits motivate them to finish reading. The sense of completion newsletters provide also increases the likelihood that readers will return to engage with the next one, which is pretty satisfying for publishers too.

Email as a Force for Good (News)

Readers are looking for alternatives to social media for their news, and the idiosyncrasies of the email newsletter make it attractive to readers of all interests. It’s a consistent source of curated content that’s easily digestible, easily completed, and easily forwarded to your uncle who keeps getting duped by mischievous Onion wannabes (scallions?).

Email newsletters are great for publishers too, and never more so than they are now. Search engines and social media sites are finding that solving the fake news problem may be harder than they thought. In the meantime, the renewed interest in paid journalism means people are twice as likely to purchase a subscription if they already receive a newsletter, which makes this the perfect time for publishers to double-down on their email efforts.

With everything they have going for them, it’s not hard to see why email newsletters have earned high praise from readers, publishers, and even the Pope himself.

Or so I’ve read.

Get more content like this, plus the very BEST marketing education, totally free. Get our Definitive email newsletter.

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7 Ways Email Can Boost Your Productivity http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/email-can-boost-productivity/ Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=34722 We're wasting time and money wrestling with our inboxes. It's time to revolutionize productivity by shifting how we think about email.

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7 Ways Email Can Boost Your Productivity

Pop quiz: Don’t you wish you could spend more time in your email?

Answer: Don’t be absurd.

Between managing, reading, writing, attaching, replying to, forwarding, and (on occasion) cursing it, you’re already spending a ton of time in your email. Your inbox has become the mortal enemy of productivity. 

Most business professionals in the U.S. spend about 6.3 hours a day checking and responding to email, according to The Huffington Post, based on research from Adobe Systems Inc. That’s about 31.5 hours a week, or 1638 hours a year. That’s an impressive number of hours spent shuffling through a depressing amount of email—and a staggering drain on business.

Collectively, workers spend roughly 4.2 trillion hours in email each year, summed from statistics culled through the U.S. Bureau of Labor, McKinsey Global Institute, and The Radicati Group, Inc. It’s no secret: The cost of productivity lost in your inbox is absolutely insane.

The average digital advertising pro clocks about 46.5 hours a week at work (That number seems low to me, but for example’s sake, let’s roll with it). That means the median hourly wage in advertising is $22.58 an hour, making the individual cost of email about $36,986 a year. With 2.6 billion business email users, we’re talking trillions of dollars spent on the time in your inbox—$96 trillion, in fact.

That’s enough money to give every person in the United States a Lamborghini Huracan (at a cool $300,000 a pop).

What if you could realign your day, though? How productive could you be if you were to shift 15 percent of your time (and money) to role-specific tasks that’ll help your agency grow? Shed the excess weight in the noxious beast of your inbox and get back on task. Be more productive. Here’s how.

1. Batch and Tackle

Depending on your role at the agency, start by limiting your email exposure to just a couple times a day. Set up specific time blocks to respond to a bunch of inquiries at the same time, rather than answering them one by one as they come in.

To get started, watch the pattern around when your emails come in. Log into your account just once an hour, every hour, for three work days to figure out when your inbox is most active. Create a schedule around those peak hours and only check your email at those times.

Clearly, this tactic will be tough for the account execs. Sales is a different pickle in this game, but it’s still a good idea to answer with the batch-and-conquer mentality over racing to respond.

2. Make It Your Digi-Multi-Tool

Up your productivity game by using your one-to-one employee email as an owned marketing channel.

Take a trip with me and scan down to your signature. Are you using it as just a simple sign-off with contact information and, well, that’s about it? This all-too-often overlooked slice of digital real estate can add huge value in your marketing efforts.

You’re already sending messaging along to your contacts, but instead of sending an email to answer their question, then another to redirect them to this new piece of content on your website they might find handy, and another to send a link to register for your upcoming event, be tactical in your approach. Sigstr lets you add a custom call-to-action to the signature of everyone in your company to deliver consistent messaging and cohesive branding. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of email.

Bonus: One person should be tasked to man all employee signatures for the entire company, meaning you don’t have to worry about spending your time trying to hone your messaging. Someone in your marketing department is already doing it for you (unless it’s you, in which case, look how productive you’re being).

3. Holy Cow, Enough With the Auto-Responses!

The one exception here is vacation auto-responders. Those I can stand behind. But there are some people who use auto-responds on their email to inform the sender they’re going to respond to the email later (say, the time they’ve determined best to batch and tackle). I love their enthusiasm for batch-work, but it’s setting an expectation that may not be achievable. What happens if they get busy today around the time noted to reply and can’t reach their inbox?

And from a philosophical stance, it’s not a great practice. In an agency, you’re in the business of creating relationships with people. You want to show your recipients you respect their time. What message are you sending if you’re adding fluff-mail to their inbox, especially as you’re struggling to manage your own?

4. Hush, Little Chirp

Turn off your notifications—all of them: your computer, your phone, your tablet, the works. Every time you hear the ping of an email, it takes your brain over a minute to fully regain concentration.

If you switch gears and respond to that email, it takes an average of more than 23 minutes to get back to the original task at full capacity, according to a study from the University of California Irvine.

5. O-H! I-O!

O-H! I-O!

Not exclusive to Buckeye fans, this one comes straight off the backs of the big fellas at Google.

Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, religiously uses the O.H.I.O. (Only Hold It Once) method to manage and send emails. If Schmidt receives an email that’ll take less than two minutes to answer, he’ll respond immediately, so he’s not revisiting small tasks more than once. But if it’s an email that’ll take a little more time and brainpower to answer, he finishes up what he’s working on before switching gears.

6. Sprint and Rest

The human mind works most efficiently if we move naturally through periods of higher and lower alertness. Nathaniel Kleitman, the sleep researcher who discovered the basic rest-activity cycle more than 50 years ago, said we move progressively through five stages of sleep a night through a 90-minute span. But did you know he also figured out our bodies operate by the same 90-minute rhythm during the day?

According to an article from the Harvard Business Review, for a boost in productivity, less is more. Work in 90-minute “sprints,” punctuated by 10- to 15-minute “rests” in your inbox.

7. Keep It Short

With any type of content, brevity and clarity are fan favorites—and your email is no different. Keep your message succinct and on-task. Skip the open-ended questions, and be proactively specific in your first message. If you’re setting up a meeting with an established client, suggest three specific times, and see which works in their schedule.

Bonus: Signing Off

Speaking of brevity, keep your email signature short, sweet and to the point. You want to use your email tactically, turning it into a new owned marketing channel. You’re aiming to direct readers to specific content on your website, so you want to snag their attention right away. Use clean design and clear text in your call-to-action.

Want more tips? Check us out, or join the conversation on Twitter, @SigstrApp.

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When Should You Use Employee Email Signatures as a Marketing Channel? http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/email-signature-as-marketing-channel/ Fri, 10 Jun 2016 13:23:10 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=33342 Is it time to start leveraging your employees' email signatures as a marketing channel? These questions can help you decide.

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When Should You Use Employee Email Signatures as a Marketing Channel

Listen to this blog post as a podcast here: 

Whether you’re a marketer at a startup, scaleup, or enterprise company, creating meaningful marketing messages and finding new channels to promote those messages is key—but it’s hard work! With more and more digital channels being introduced to the market, it’s often hard to ensure your company’s most important initiatives are communicated broadly to your audience of prospects, customers, and partners. But more than that, you need to ensure your messages are noticed and actionable.

Employee email has been a mainstay in the marketing toolbox, and it’s no wonder: Email remains one of the hardest workers, with each employee at a company sending approximately 10,000 emails per year. So for a company of just 25, that’s 250,000 emails per year. And what do all of those 250,000 emails include? An email signature.

While email has been a workhorse for communication for years, research from the Radicati Group still has traditional email growing by at least 26 percent by 2019 to 5.59 billion users—up more than one billion email users from today. Because of this volume, email signature marketing can be an incredible distribution channel to promote your company’s most important initiatives, including content, upcoming events, company news, product demos, and more.

What Exactly Is Email Signature Marketing?

Solutions like Sigstr’s email signature generator combine a cohesive email signature with engaging campaigns, which can be easily managed by a single administrator.

  • Signatures: Individualized, employee-specific names and titles. Centrally controlled branding, content, and information.
  • Campaigns: Campaign banner integration highlights latest marketing content.

email signature 1

Email signature marketing allows your company to gain control of employees’ email signatures to ensure proper formatting and branding on every single employee email signature. No longer will you have to worry about outdated signatures, formatting issues, or wrong uses of colors or fonts. The best part? Get the data to see what’s working so you can continually improve.

Here’s just a few examples of branded employee email signatures:

email signature examples

For marketers that are evaluating new digital channels, there are a few questions to ask in order to determine if email signature marketing is something your company should consider, whether now or in the future. How do you know when the time is right?

When Email Signature Marketing Makes Sense

  • Do you use Gmail or Outlook for your company’s email client?
  • Do you have a growing team?
  • Does each new deal have the potential to produce significant revenue for the company?
  • Do you have a complex product that needs further explanation to understand value?

What Are the Value Propositions?

Does Your Team Produce Lots of Content?

Does your marketing team have content to promote (at least quarterly, ideally monthly), and do you know where a click on an email signature call-to-action banner will lead your audience? (landing page, form, website, video, etc.)

“As an analytics company, we thrive on innovation and using data to make decisions. Email signature marketing has opened a new channel for us to share customer case studies and industry content in a measurable way. Now, we are more strategic than ever with our employee emails.”

– EVP of Marketing, Springbuk

Do You Invest in Tradeshows, Events, or Webinars?

Events are another key use case for email signature marketing. If you attend trade shows, conferences, or host webinars, every email your team sends lets your key stakeholders know about events and gives them the opportunity to register or request a meeting.

“Distributing up-to-date content and ensuring brand consistency is a challenge for any marketing team. Now, each of our 270 Account Managers have an email signature that contains a branded call-to-action to a key customer event. In 6 months, we had over 2 million displays, and it drove far more visits to the landing page than any other marketing activity.”

– Director of Marketing, Angie’s List

Need to Reign in Branding on Signatures?

If you don’t have at least a half-dozen events or content resources planned, then the value prop for email signature marketing is a consistently branded signature that employees don’t have to update.

“Email signature marketing has allowed us to create a unified front when our employees are emailing with our most important contacts: our clients, prospective clients, referrals, and many others.”

– VP of Marketing and Brand Excellence, Brooksource

If the answer to any of the above is “Yes,” or if your company, team, or product/services are growing, then maybe it’s time to start leveraging your employees’ email signatures as a new digital marketing channel.

Start experimenting, whether you invest in a tool or not. Find out what works for your company or team. And if you want to learn more, check out this recent episode of Marketing Marvels on how to get more from employee email signatures.

Get more content like this, plus the very BEST marketing education, totally free. Get our Definitive email newsletter.

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The Ultimate Guide to Email Design Best Practices for Marketers http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/guide-to-email-design-best-practices/ Wed, 25 May 2016 14:32:43 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=32941 A new era of email design best practices has arrived. Here's what marketers need to know.

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The Ultimate Guide to Email Design Best Practices for Marketers

First impression may not be the last impression in the world of emails, but it always matters—mainly because user behavior indicates that the maximum chance of emails being opened is only once. So what is it that ensures maximum open rates?

design begins in the inbox

Designing the perfect email isn’t just about finding the right images and colors for the message you want to deliver to your subscribers. The process includes everything from choosing a familiar “from” name to crafting the perfect subject line and ensuring your email does not look like a spam mail.

Crafting the Perfect Email

Visually appealing email designs and flawless code are the basis to creating the perfect email experience. Even though email design is one of the most underrated aspects of the email marketing process, the impact email design can have on the success of a campaign is immense. So what are the things you need to take into consideration?

1. Brand Optimization

Brand optimization is by far one of the most crucial email design best practices. From including your brand name in the “from” field and using an identifiable address to ensuring that the “to” field carries the recipient’s name and not their email address, every part of your email should be on-brand. This is indispensable for ensuring email success and sustainable brand reputation.

There’s no shortage of theories as to what to write and what not to write in subject lines, but what actually matters is the domain reputation. If you have a high domain reputation score, all those factors are obsolete; but if you have a low score, you need to take care that you stay away from using phishing phrases in the subject line that attract spam filters.

2. Pre-header and Header

Email marketers often fail to recognize the importance of headers and pre-headers in an email. Along with adding a link to an online version of your email, snippet text is one of the most popular trends at the moment, as many email clients like Gmail, Outlook, and the iOS mail app allow you to show snippet or preview text (usually limited to 100 characters or less).

Pre-header in emails

Pre-header (left) and Peek & Pop feature (right)

There’s also the “peek and pop” feature in iOS 9 and iPhone 6S, which allows email subscribers to peek at the content of the email from the pre-header section itself without even opening it. This features comes with its own limitations: Even though consumers are not really opening the emails, they will be counted as opened emails.

3. Email Layout

Marketers don’t always place much importance on email layout: how it should look, its size, the text to be used, the fonts, the colors, etc. Studies indicate that an ideal email width is 500 to 650 pixels, and a vertical layout is preferred over a horizontal one. A table of contents should be used if you have a lot to cover in a restricted space. If you have multiple products or categories to display, a navigation bar can be key. Limit yourself to four or five sections for better visual emphasis, and include clear and appealing calls to action.

4. Visual Impact

“A picture’s worth a thousand words” is especially relevant to the media world. When it comes to email marketing, graphics and imagery should define content sections clearly.

If you are using an image, it’s important to provide fallback color and alt-text for the image. Avoid background images layered behind text, as many of the email clients (such as Outlook) do not support background images. Avoid squishing or stretching of images in emails to ensure they’re sized appropriately. If you’re creating images for fluid emails, make sure they can scale up to 599 px. Make feature headers or product offers easily clickable in the email template. It’s all about making your email alluring—there is no second chance to make a great first impression.

5. Copy and Content

Content is an integral part of email design—it is the context and the copy that drives business from the email campaign. Besides using short sentences and paragraphs, make sure you use design elements like spacing and dividing lines to separate content sections. Add line breaks every 60 characters in your plain text emails to increase legibility.

Also make use of bullets to make your content more visible while using web-safe standard fonts like Arial, Arial Black, Arial Narrow, Comic Sans, Courier New, Georgia, Impact, Tahoma, Times New Roman, and Verdana. Play it safe with a body copy font size of 14 pixels and 22 pixels for title.

6. Footer

Even though the footer comes at last, it’s not the least—in fact, it’s one of the most significant parts of an email. An ideal email footer should not include the organization’s contact details, but also links to main segments of your website, key services or products, and social sharing or “forward to a friend” buttons. Another significant addition to the footer that most marketers miss is a, “Why are you receiving this email?” line that will diminish chances of your emails going to spam folders.

Footer in Emails

Email footer

The introduction of block functionality by email clients like Gmail empowers subscribers to “block” a sender, which will ensure they’ll never receive an email from that sender again. Too many blocks can be detrimental to your sender reputation. Make sure you do not hide the unsubscribe button.

7. Social Media Integration

Using social icons is one of the easiest ways to integrate your social media marketing with your email campaigns. Even though it seems obvious, make it a best practice to insert social icons into all your email campaigns, including:

  • Sharing icons within the email.
  • Social icons on your unsubscribe page.
  • Social icons on your “thanks for signing up” page.
  • Sharing icons inside recurring email newsletters.
  • Social icons in auto-responders and official mail signatures.

 

Optimization Best Practices

1. Bulletproof Buttons

Image blocking is one of the biggest challenges for email marketers. One of the proven solutions is to use bulletproof backgrounds and buttons, which will help display background images in Outlook as well. Make sure to check if your ESP supports VML (Vector Markup Language) coding, an XML-based file format for two-dimensional vector graphics.

You can also use alt tags to create beautiful pixel art in emails as a clever way to reach out to your subscribers who have default settings to block images in their emails. However, while using pixel art, ensure that you scale the images accordingly for smaller devices.

AltTag in Emails

Images created with alt tags

2. Retina Emails

Blurred logos, images, and icons in your emails are passé. Welcome to retina emails! All you need to do is double the normal dimensions of email images to around 1,100 pixels. This will not only reduce file size by 20 percent with no downsides, but also save them five percent on quality.

retina emails

With the advent of the mobile revolution, more and more users are using Apple devices to access their emails. Retina images in emails can be an important strategic decision for your company.

3. Wearables

The global wearable market is expanding at a compound annual rate of 35 percent and is expected to hit 148 million units shipped in 2019. This makes optimization of marketing emails for wearable technology viewing environments all the more important and a strategic decision for businesses nowadays.

Email for wearables

What needs to be taken into consideration when designing emails for wearables such as Apple Watch, Gear, etc.?

  • Minimalist design
  • In the absence of a browser on wearable watches, links in the plain text version are specified with grayed out text.
  • Embedded images or remote images stored on your server will not render well; relying on plain text is the key.

 

4. Peek and Pop

The revolutionary “peek and pop” feature that comes with iOS 9 and iPhone 6S has changed email marketing to a great extent. While the feature allows the subscriber to peek into your email without actually opening it, the challenge for marketers is that it gets acknowledged as “email opened,” possibly setting open rates stats in a tizzy. The pitfalls of this feature lie in the possibility of pseudo-signals, causing discrepancies in open rate values and reduced engagement.

Think Mobile, Go Responsive

The world of email marketing has begun to brace itself for the growth of the smartphone industry, set to reach 2.65 million users by 2019. A sizeable 50 percent of users open their email on smartphones, and the number increases to 67 percent when taking into account mobile devices in general, making it all the more important to design emails that are responsive for greater reach.

Smartphone users Stats

Smartphone users are set to reach 2.65 million by 2019 (Source: Statista)

So what parameters do you need to consider while going mobile?

  • Determine the number of third-party app users. For instance, if the native app on your iPad is Mail, you might also have other third-party apps for iOS to support it like Gmail, Yahoo!, and Mailbox, etc.
  • If the majority of your subscribers are third-party app users, try using a single column layout instead of two or more columns, as a one-column format is more readable, while the latter crowds the screen space.
  • Follow email design best practices that suggest emails should be designed for 320 and 480 pixel view.
  • Make your CTA button a minimum size of 44×44 pixels with plenty of white space around it. Make sure you spread the button across the width of the email if possible, and set it apart from the rest of the email content so it’s conveniently tappable.

Next-Gen Email Designs Will Change the Way You Do Business

The advent of mobile has not only brought lifestyle changes, but the way people do business as well. With brands steering their way through cutthroat competition and consumers always on the move, targeting and engaing your customers has evolved beyond merely creating responsive emails.

1. Create Menus to Help Customers Navigate

Menus within emails are trending, thanks to the prevalence of responsive design. Also known as hamburger collapsible menus, you can find them everywhere these days in responsive mobile websites.

Email Menus

Hamburger menu

Menus require mobile native app support. Having menus can be one of the best ways to allow users to browse across various products or service categories right within their inbox.

2. Move Over Scrolling, Accordions Are Here

Reinvent your campaigns by creating emails powered with accordions. This interactive feature allows you to stack content and send out more articulate emails without requiring recipients to scroll through a long email. Accordions are now popularly used in retail, media, and technology websites.

Accordion

Accordion

One of the best attributes of accordions is that they allow you to provide different email layouts for desktop and mobile recipients. Accordions allows marketers to measure the clicks on the tabs and identify the area that draws the most engagement.

3. Hybrid Emails

Responsive emails are great if your user base views emails in native apps on Android and iOS. But if your user base is viewing emails using third-party applications such as Gmail, media queries may be a problem, as they appear just like their desktop version.

Hybrid emails

(Left) Responsive Email with Media Queries, (Right) Responsive Email without media queries (for Gmail)

In such cases, you may consider a hybrid approach to allow your email to look like a responsive email. Here, hybrid coding technique is used that help emails render just like the responsive version in the third-party apps without relying on media queries.

4. Boost Customer Engagement with Scratch and Flip

The scratch and flip effect in emails is one of the most productive ways to keep the flame of customer relationships burning. The scratch effect allows you to send out coupons, offers, and other discount codes. Your recipients can scratch the code and redeem the offer easily. If you have a new product or news to share, using the scratch effect works great. Similarly to menus or accordions in email, flip works wonders to engage more mobile users.

Scratch

Scratch effect

Flip

Flip effect

5. Go Visual with Graphs

Visual effects have a lasting impression on any promotional campaign. When it comes to email marketing, interactive graphs are an added bonus for showcasing information. Not only do they increase your email’s visual impact, but they also help boost the credibility of your information.

6. Grab Readers’ Attention with Rotational Banners

Rotational banners are great for emails stuffed with multiple images, CTAs, product/service specifics, other offers, and discounts. Besides being compatible with Apple Mail, Thunderbird, mobile-native email applications, rotating banners carry multiple advantages, from showcasing multiple images to driving customer interactions.

7. GIFs in Emails Build User Engagement

Marketing Sherpa revealed that the use of GIFs in emails can help increase the conversion rate by 103 percent. GIFs in emails with enhanced email client support are now being implemented by email marketers worldwide. While some retailers are using them to display product gifts, explainer animations, and more, a few information technology companies are also using GIFs to show how interactions on their app work. GIFs are proving to be an effective tool to build user engagement, inviting an increase in click-through rate by up to 26 percent. GIFs are compatible across all platforms, except for Outlook and Lotus, which will only show the first frame.

8. Say More with Sliders

Besides being appealing, your emails should possess relevancy and uniqueness. Sliders are a revolutionary way to enhance your email campaign, allowing you to display multiple products in one go, generate curiosity, and much more. Sliders are compatible with email clients like Apple Mail and Thunderbird, while other email clients will provide a smooth and appropriate fallback for the slider.

9. Tickle the Sales Cycle with Counters

Email campaigns are all about making your emails look exclusive. It’s also important to create a sense of urgency in an email with countdowns to promote any sale or event. The countdown feature is compatible with all platforms, though Outlook and Lotus will render the images only if they are provided with proper fallback support.

Countdown

It’s a new era for email design best practices. Harnessing open data and analyzing industry-wide email open trends is crucial to refining the design strategy for your email marketing initiatives. If you come across email marketing data that is similar to your own audience, you can use that data to make informed design decisions. Tracking user (subscriber) behavior and understanding their engagement patterns can be integral to creating and making design adjustments engage, convert, and maximize ROI for your business.

Have you got your email design plan ready for your next email marketing campaign?

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4 Ways to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Email Content http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/measure-effectiveness-of-email/ Mon, 16 May 2016 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=32550 Don’t waste resources on email that isn’t working. Use these testing strategies to measure the effectiveness of your email content.

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4 Ways to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Email Content

Listen to this blog post as a podcast: 

Need more and better leads from your content marketing? (I mean, who doesn’t?)

Email marketing is still the go-to tool for getting and nurturing quality leads, engaging and escorting them all the way through your sales funnel. However, ask yourself, “How many commercial emails do I delete every day without even opening them?”

That’s the same inbox calculus your potential readers go through, too. In fact, recipients deleted nearly 10 percent of the emails that brands sent to them last year without even reading them. What’s more, more than half of successful email marketers surveyed claimed that creating relevant content was the biggest factor in reaching their goals. Unless you’re feeling awfully lucky, you must optimize your business email content by tailoring it to suit your readers and their needs.

Don’t waste resources on email content that isn’t working—after all, you are directly and deliberately reaching out to your own consumers and pre-qualified sales leads. A targeted email is much more powerful than a print or digital ad that could be viewed by millions of non-vetted, unqualified strangers.

Track and Tweak to Add Real Value

To see a return on your email marketing investment, you’ll have to get serious about measuring the effectiveness of your email content—what works and what doesn’t. If you don’t commit to these analytics, you won’t know what your market wants. You’ll just blindly send emails, hoping for opens.

Being good is better than being lucky any day, and you get good at email marketing by embarking on strategic study of your email content and campaigns.

Here are four ways to figure out where to focus your efforts to see the greatest success.

1. Experiment With Your Subject Lines

As the first piece of content readers see, subject lines are your first hurdle—or gate, depending on your audience’s response. As such, your subject lines dictate your open rate.

Take a good look at your open rates now to get a feel for which subject lines have worked well (or not) in the past. Craft at least two different subject lines for your emails—A and B—because you’re going to split test them (a.k.a. A/B testing your campaign).

To keep things fresh and write some winners, keep these strategies in mind:

 

In every future campaign, run A/B tests on subject lines, so you can hone in on what makes your audience tick—or rather, click.

2. Use Many Anchors for the Same Link

Your main goal in email marketing is getting more visitors to your site, where your other content and calls to action can get to work nurturing visitors along their sales journey. To find out how well your emails accomplish that, you need to track click-through rates (CTR) for your links. An increase in CTR means more readers are finding your content applicable and actionable (and clickable).

Try this two-step approach:

  • Link to the same piece of site content more than once in a single email.
  • Use different language to describe each link. These are the words that appear underlined and in a different color, also called “anchor text.”

 

This is how you A/B test—or A/B/C/D test—anchor-text language to discern which will compel readers to click.

3. Track Engagement Rates, Not Just Open Rates

Figure out how long people are spending with your emails. Are they actually reading them? If they’re just opening—or being served a preview by their inbox applications—but then immediately deleting them, then the engagement rate will be less than two seconds.

It takes at least six seconds to develop an impression of just one part of your email content. Anything between three and seven seconds should be considered a “skim rate” metric; a “read rate” means emails are open eight seconds or more.

4. Alter Only One Variable at a Time

Remember: As with any good experiment, don’t test all the variables at once. Otherwise, when you tweak your email marketing content, you won’t know which changes worked best. None of these can be considered true optimizations until they’re repeatable.

Several different email service providers (e.g., Bronto, Constant Contact, Infusionsoft, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, and AWeber) include these core metrics. Generally speaking, all of them offer a free basic service for small marketing programs that have short subscriber lists of around 250 email addresses. As your campaigns improve, you’ll grow out of the free versions, but you should first have the additional sales to cover the extra overhead.

When you know the effectiveness of your email content, down to the level of engagement for each individual reader, you can add much more value to your messaging—even to the point of interactive personalization.

Delivering that kind of juice to opted-in inboxes will send that many more engaged visitors to your site (and more informed, mature leads to the sales team). And last, but far from least, you will be able to show the C-suite a higher ROI for its marketing spend.

Get more content like this, plus the very BEST marketing education, totally free. Get our Definitive email newsletter.

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How Important Are Confirmation Emails? http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/how-important-are-confirmation-emails/ Thu, 05 May 2016 14:00:41 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=32477 Email remains the most effective tool in a digital marketer's toolbox. Don't overlook the importance of confirmation emails to your strategy.

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How Important Are Confirmation Emails

There’s a reason why email is the second biggest category where marketers spend their money. Dollar for dollar, email is still the most effective digital marketing tactic available.

Email confirmations are one branch of email marketing, and they can be used for many purposes. For example, when someone uses an online ordering system to purchase something from your website, they should get a confirmation email, so they know the order went through properly and when they can expect it to be fulfilled. If someone subscribes to your mailing list, they should get a confirmation email.

Additionally, when a customer or reader sends you a message, you should confirm you received it even if you can’t respond just that minute. Communication is the key here if you want to run a successful online business.

Lack of Emails Can Frustrate Your Customers

Imagine you find a great deal on a new kitchen gadget, and you order it then and there. You go to your inbox to make sure you actually got the deal you think you did, but there isn’t an email from the company or the online ordering system. Did you get the deal? Did the order even go through? Should you try to re-order?

Lack of confirmation emails can be so frustrating for customers that they might refrain from ordering from your site in the future. A recent study of online ordering adoption in Saudi Arabia showed that the biggest uncertainty for customers was a lack of order confirmations.

Setting up an auto-confirm email when a customer buys something is so simple, there’s really no excuse for brands not to do it. Just as you’d show common courtesy to a customer in a brick-and-mortar store and thank them for shopping with you, you should show the same courtesy to online customers with a confirmation email.

Emails Can Help You Connect With Subscribers

When someone subscribes to your mailing list, they have a hierarchy of needs they expect you to meet. They want:

  • Respect
  • Function
  • Value
  • Remarkable content

 

If you don’t provide these things, then your conversions may suffer, and your bounce rates may skyrocket. Taking the time to keep your emails as high in quality as you would website content can help you connect with your subscribers on a personal level. Once they are connected, they are engaged, and you have a much better chance of turning them into lifelong customers.

The Daily Muse does an awesome job with their subscription content. Their Sunday Inspiration newsletter is a key example of this. Subscribers get truly helpful advice about managing a career, work-life balance, and general life happiness. Rather than spamming subscribers once they’re signed up, The Muse selects the best-of-the-best content to share with their readers.

the muse

Double Opt-In

When setting up your email subscription, it is a smart idea to use a double opt-in. A double opt-in simply means the subscriber must first indicate they want to sign up for your emailing list and then confirm that subscription by responding to an email the system sends.

There are a number of reasons why you should do this step, including the fact that you’ll be absolutely certain those signing up are already engaged—and you’ll reduce your hard bounce rate and spam complaints. You’ll also have the opportunity to touch base via multiple email messages upon signup.

The blog A Life Of Productivity uses double opt-ins to make sure that people signing up for the email newsletter really want to read it. If a site visitor was somehow subscribed by accident, the subscription won’t go through unless they click the verification button sent to their email address.

A Life of Productivity

Make Your Confirmation Emails Visually Compelling

Even when sending a simple message that someone has been subscribed to your mailing list or that their order has been received, your emails should look similar to your website and other branding.

If you have a logo, you should use it across all your communications. Try to keep colors similar to what is on your website and logo. The last thing you want to do is come across as looking amateur or unprofessional.

Many people associate logos with specific colors, so be sure you choose a couple and stick to them for everything from employee uniforms to email communication to correspondence mailed to someone’s home.

Take Scoop.It!’s confirmation email, for example. The email uses the website’s colors to not only unify the brand, but also to accent the site’s double opt-in button. Subscribers instantly know where to click, and, as with all double opt-ins, if they were somehow subscribed by mistake, they can just ignore the email.

scoop it

No Reply Is a No-No

Have you ever been emailed something from a company and tried to reply only to be frustrated with a failed-to-send message response? A no-reply email frustrates your customers.

Instead, use a dedicated email to send out your messages and to keep business emails in a central location so you can answer customer concerns quickly and decisively. This level of customer service will help develop your reputation as a company that cares about its customers.

After you’ve set up confirmation emails, be sure to test them. You’ll also want to open those emails on multiple devices and make sure the appearance is exactly the way you’d like. Using confirmation emails can help you develop a better relationship with your customers—and turn subscribers into buyers.

Get more content like this, plus the very BEST marketing education, totally free. Get our Definitive email newsletter.

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How to Create Your B2B Dream Team http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/b2b-dream-team/ Wed, 27 Apr 2016 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=32176 The average employee sends 10,000 emails each year. Use these touch points to attract prospective employees and build your B2B dream team.

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How to Create Your B2B Dream Team

If you’re a B2B company, then you know just how important your people are to your company’s success. Don’t get us wrong—employees are an important part of every business, no matter the industry. Without good people who do their job and treat customers well, your business will not be successful.

But in some cases for some B2B companies, especially those in the Services realm, your people are your product. You need to build the best team you can, or risk it all by having mediocre talent reflect poorly on your brand.

For B2B brands such as design or ad agencies, executive recruiting firms, law firms, or consultancies, company culture is a very important aspect of building a great team. How else do you attract good talent that will represent your brand well? Good culture and great people are often inseparable.

As a B2B company looking to establish and grow your brand, you need to stand out from the crowd. You need to showcase your culture in unique ways and attract top-level talent by offering them something they can’t get anywhere else.

Culture, People, and the Power of Employee Email

What is something all of your employees do every single day without fail? Sometimes even on the weekends? You guessed it: they send email. A lot of email! On average, a single employee will send 10,000 emails per year.

If your organization has just 100 employees, simple math suggests your company is sending one million emails per year! That’s a million brand impressions and engagement opportunities being sent out to your most important contacts—those your employees are emailing, which includes prospects, customers, partners, community members, and more.

Every one of those one million emails can either be a positive or negative brand experience. And sometimes, especially for B2B companies, email and phone calls may be the only interactions your contacts will ever have with your employees. Every touchpoint matters to your brand’s integrity.

Why not use this high powered channel to attract your dream team? Email is a powerful engine for business services companies. Use it for your brand’s advantage.

Here are a few examples of how your B2B brand can make the most of employee email signatures to promote your culture and attract your dream team.

1. Showcase Company Culture to Pique Interest

MitchLessonLyCompanyCulture2Do you have an amazing company culture where every opinion matters and every team member is expected to grow? Does your company have fun traditions, or does your team volunteer for service opportunities around your community? How about an awesome CEO that’s vocal about employee success? Use the email signature template as a way to highlight your team and the rewarding culture you’ve created by sharing a video from your CEO, a picture of the team, or stories about serving the community.

2. Promote Specific Open Positions

Your company is always on the lookout for superstars, especially those that are already aware of your business and the unique services you offer. Why not use email signatures (which are already being viewed by your most important contacts: prospects, customers, partners, and community members) to drive awareness for specific open positions?

ErikaKurkowskiStudioScienceOpenPosition

3. Ask for Referrals

CraigLileRaidiousHiringYour employee emails are far-reaching, so include an email signature that incentivizes your contacts to refer their friends to open job positions. Point email recipients to a landing page where they can either browse the current job openings (like the Raidious email signature example above), or direct them to a landing page where they can nominate rockstars for your team—and get rewarded if their referral is hired!

For more information on how your business services company can attract incredible content and showcase culture, check out these recent Sigstr resources:

 

Sign up for Sigstr and start your free 30-day trial today to begin using the power of an email signature generator.

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These Are the Biggest Disruptors to the Future of Email Marketing http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/disruptors-to-future-of-email-marketing/ Mon, 18 Apr 2016 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=31770 Email is evolving quickly, thanks to the rise of wearables, mobile, and more. What's in store for the future of email marketing?

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These Are the Biggest Disruptors to the Future of Email Marketing

Listen to this blog post as a podcast: 

Email marketing has changed significantly over the past several years—driven by migration of email reading to mobile devices, the debut of email on wearables like the Apple Watch, and broad adoption of engagement-based email filtering by inbox providers. Given all of these changes, we were curious what the next several years had in store, so we asked 20 experts: “How will email marketing and the subscriber experience change by the year 2020?”

Collected in our Email Marketing in 2020 report, their predictions cover everything from inbox functionality and email service provider functionality to email design and deliverability. While every prediction is interesting and thought-provoking, a handful of them are particularly disruptive to the status quo:

1. Brands will stop creating email campaigns because machine learning and automation will completely redefine what a “campaign” is.

Marketers have long sought to send relevant emails by sending the right content to the right person at the right time. The good news is that technology will enable that on a scale not previously possible. The bad news is that new scale is far too vast and complex for people to manage.

“As the number of behaviors captured increases, using the fixed message flowchart-type approach to creating automation sequences that is common to all current automation vendors leads to unmanageable automation,” says Tim Watson, Founder of UK-based email marketing consultancy Zettasphere.

The solution? Handing over many more decisions to machines, and moving to “principle-based automation rather than the current prescriptive-based methods,” says Watson. However, as the result of this shift, marketers will cease designing email campaigns as we currently think of them.

To deliver a one-to-one experience, customer data and content must be completely divorced from one another and algorithms applied that identify which content should be delivered to which customer, and when,” says Morgan Stewart, CEO and Co-founder of email marketing agency Trendline Interactive.

Organizations able to shift to this abstract level of marketing will pull away from the pack, while those caught in the status quo will struggle to stay relevant in the marketplace.

2. Subscribers will be able to opt out of tracking.

Marketers are investing heavily in technology and processes that set them up to deliver on the power of hyper-personalized 1-to-1 email messages. They are breaking down the silos between marketing channels, building a single view of the customer, and mining an increasingly deep pool of Big Data.

“Learning to drive loyalty with the use of contextual data clues—time, geo-location, weather, events, behavior, etc.—is gold,” says Kristin Naragon, Director of Email Solutions at Adobe. “By 2020, the ability to use these data points to inform campaigns will become the status quo.”

However, what if privacy laws or technology providers give subscribers the ability to mask a lot of those context clues? What if subscribers have the ability to mask simple inbox behaviors such as opens and clicks?

“We can expect ever greater restrictions imposed on marketers,” says Andrew Bonar, Founder of deliverability consultancy Deliverability Ltd. “We can expect users to demand the right to opt-out of many tools and data points that marketers take for granted. Open tracking, device tracking, location tracking, click-through behavior, and other data may all be subject to subscriber opt-ins and opt-outs.”

This will put the onus on marketers to explain and demonstrate to subscribers why sharing data back to brands will result in better subscribers experiences.

3. Marketers will have to cater to an entirely new audience: machines.

Email volume is going to go through the roof over the next several years. Thankfully, a good chunk of that volume will never be seen by human eyes. Instead, the recipients of those emails will be machines that we want to keep in the loop, says Paul Farnell, Chief Executive Officer & Co-founder of email creation, testing, and analytics software provider Litmus.

Email is the universal plumbing that connects the Internet of Things,” he says. “When I get low on milk, my smart fridge could email my grocery store app, adding milk to my shopping list. And when I go grocery shopping, the receipt will be emailed to my financial software app.”

To serve this new audience, marketers will have to adjust how they message and adopt new tools. “Building on the example of the calendar’s .ics file format, emails will make more use of standardized data formats,” says Farnell. “In the years ahead, there will be many more of these standard data formats available—think status updates, travel information, receipts…”

Just how much machine-to-machine messaging will there be? Len Shneyder, Vice President of Industry Relations at email service provider SparkPost, says, “The IoT has the potential to generate trillions of messages a day.”

4. Email messages will morph into push notifications.

Mobile email clients now dominate the list of top platforms for reading emails, with 55% of emails opened on mobile devices during March, according to Litmus Email Client Market Share data. This multi-year shift from emails primarily being read on laptops and huge monitors to being read on 4–6 inch screens has had a profound effect on email design. Email copy has gotten much shorter, and many emails have reduced their focus down to a single call-to-action.

Now imagine what will happen to emails as they make the jump from smartphones down to wearables like the Apple Watch, to Internet of Things–devices like cars and smart fridges, and to voice-interface devices like the Amazon Echo. That’s right: Short emails will get even shorter.

“Two things happen when you focus on ‘small screen and up’ for creating emails,” says Dan Denney, Front-End Developer at Code School. “You remove content because it’s more challenging to build, and you remove content because you realize it’s not necessary. The ‘necessary’ in email is going to continually reduce.”

If you extrapolate this idea, you’ll likely reach the same conclusion that Dan does: “By 2020, I expect the bulk of email marketing to be similar to the experience of Gmail’s Quick Actions. The whole message will be the length of a current subject line with a call-to-action.”

5. Email messages will morph into mailable microsites.

At this point you might be saying to yourself, “Hey, which is it? Are emails turning into push notifications or microsites?” The answer is both.

That’s right—the functionality of inboxes is being pulled in two directions. At one end of the spectrum, there’s the Apple Watch, which can’t display images or support links, since the Watch doesn’t have a web browser. And at the other end of the spectrum is Apple Mail and other WebKit-powered inboxes, which support HTML5 video and other code that allow marketers to create hamburger menus, carousels, and more.

Soon the most sophisticated inboxes will enable the holy grail of interactions: “Subscribers will be able to make purchases right inside a marketing campaign, without ever leaving their inboxes. Campaigns will offer more of an app-like experience, too, with embedded video and other interactivity,” says Tom Klein, Vice President of Marketing at email service provider MailChimp.

Following in the footsteps of social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter, email will try to make the transition from gateway to destination. The prize will be worth the pain this transition will cause email marketers in terms of added development costs.

“Early analytics have shown far greater engagement from users who receive interactive messages,” says Mark Robbins, Email Developer at Rebelmail, which has been a pioneer of interactive email experiences.

Email marketers will simultaneously cater to these high-sophistication and low-sophistication inboxes using the same tools they use today: multipart MIME and responsive design. For instance, the plain text version of a multipart MIME format email is served up when the inbox can’t handle the HTML version. This key way of serving up appropriate experience to both high- and low-sophistication inboxes will likely become even more targeted and indispensable going forward.

The fact that the Apple Watch supports a new MIME part, watch-html, is an early sign of the growing role that multipart MIME will serve. The Apple Watch reads the watch-html part preferably over the plain text version, allowing marketers to optimize messages for the Apple Watch’s limited functionality. Watch-html may become the standard for similar devices, and we may see the creation of an audio-html part that caters to voice-interface devices.

The email marketing channel is firmly ensconced in our daily lives and will continue to generate outsized returns for brands. As it continues to evolve in the years ahead, it will require marketers to stay flexible and be open to experimentation. Get ready for some rollercoaster changes!

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5 Smart Ways to Use Email Signature Marketing http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/email-signature-marketing/ Mon, 22 Feb 2016 15:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=30062 Expand your lead gen strategy toolbox with email signature marketing. Here are five ways to get started.

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5 Smart Ways to Use Email Signature Marketing

Listen to this blog post as a podcast: 

Every marketer, and especially those in software marketing, understands the power of “filling the funnel” with prospects that are interested in what your companies has to offer, whether products or services. Marketers across many industries have relied upon the trusty “paid, owned, earned, and shared” channels that have proven to be successful for years on end (with a few new channels introduced along the way): boost website traffic with SEO, attend trade shows and host field marketing events, use digital advertising and remarketing, implement a PR strategy, use social media, and on and on.

Marketers are open about sharing their experiences with these tried and true channels, and it’s true they’ve proven successful and have gotten many companies to where they are today—along with, of course, a lot of hard work, trial and error, and sales velocity. But what kinds of new technology are you trying? How is your marketing team innovating and experimenting with new channels that your prospects aren’t being inundated with? If you’re just doing what all of your competitors are doing and aren’t trying anything new, then you’re already behind.

In order to accomplish your lofty goals each month, quarter, and year, you’re likely investing heavily in the traditional channels above as a way to capture interest and educate your audience about your technology. We’d like to introduce you to a new channel that every marketer should add to their toolbox: email signature marketing.

The Power of Marketing-Plus-Sales

Often, marketers work alongside their sales counterparts to help craft messages and campaigns for the sales team to use in prospecting key accounts to open the door to conversations. Communicating via email (such as Gmail or Outlook) is perhaps one of the most commonly used methods of prospecting, and corresponding in general, for sales reps. In fact, the average employee of a company will send 10,000 emails annually! For a company with just 100 employees, that can quickly escalate to over 1M emails sent annually.

For marketers, these email communications can be a prime opportunity for helping sales open the door by using the email signature to generate great, warm leads from those already exposed to your company. How? Here are five ways to get started.

1. Prompt Prospects to View a Product Demo Video

When prospecting an individual or a company that is likely unaware of what your company does, give them some easy-to-digest information in the form of a quick video. Include the call-to-action in the email signature for them to watch this 1–2 minute demo video to gain more of an understanding of what your product or service offers, what the benefits are, as well as quick customer success quotes or logos.

By giving your prospects this information right away, they can determine almost immediately if the product or service could be of use, opening the door to further conversations, rather than seeking to schedule a 30-minute demo out of the gate.

email signature marketing - demo video

2. Showcase Your Brand and Company Culture

You have a great company culture, full of empowerment, advancement, and employees who are excited to come into work every day. Often, your prospects care just as much about your company’s culture as they do your products or services (shocker, I know!). It’s important to expose some of that culture by showcasing it to your prospects. Use the email signature as a way to highlight non-profit involvement, exciting new employee initiatives or job openings, or even a short video from your CEO talking about your company’s core values.

email signature marketing - company culture

3. Promote a Conference, Event, or Webinar

Inviting your prospect to sign up for an upcoming conference, trade show, webinar, or field marketing event is a painless way of engaging. By offering something of value to the prospect by way of your email signature, you are showing how your company values education and resources. If your prospect signs up, you’ll have the opportunity to meet him or her face to face at the event or conference and dive deeper into discovering their needs and goals, as well as have the opportunity to showcase your product or service by providing a personalized demo.

email signature marketing - events

4. Share a Great Customer Success Story

Your customers love your product or service, so why not share some of the successes loud and proud? The email signature is a great place to showcase brands across industry, use case, problem they were solving, and more. Use the email signature call-to-action to highlight the customer name and results, then direct the prospect to download the full case study to read more information about how the company achieved the results with your product or service.

Customer success stories are some of the greatest ways to accelerate a conversation, especially if your prospect is aware of the company that’s being discussed. Be proud of your customers, and share their stories!

email signature marketing - success story

5. Share Your Newest Research

Prospects that are researching products or services are always on the lookout for great new thought leadership, especially if it’s unbiased and conducted by a third party. Research reports, whitepapers, and interviews of experts in your field can be important assets for your prospects as they continue their search. Why not share the information with them via the email signature and prompt them to download it and share with the team? It will give your company an extra boost in credibility while also adding value to the relationship.

Sales teams are busy. They have a quota to hit and don’t need another distraction from the marketing team asking them to drop what they’re doing to promote the next event or amazing piece of content. It’s not that the sales rep doesn’t want to—they see the value, but these requests are a distraction and often get lost.

The email signature is a terrific opportunity for marketers to automatically insert promotions, content, or important calls-to-action directly within the email signatures sales reps (or any other department, for that matter).

Gain control of employee’s email signatures to ensure proper formatting and branding on every single employee email signature. No longer will you have to worry about outdated signatures, formatting issues, or wrong uses of colors and fonts (no more purple and red Comic Sans!). By using the email signature marketing opportunity to a marketer’s advantage, it’s easy to switch campaigns in and out with a few clicks of the mouse to ensure the content is always fresh and up-to-date.

For more information on how your company can accelerate in the digital marketing age, download Sigstr’s ebook 4 Emerging Channels for Your SaaS Marketing Toolbox, or check out our blog post on Elevating Your SaaS Brand with Email Signature Marketing. Sign up for Sigstr and start your free 30-day trial today to begin using the power of email signature marketing.

Get more content like this, plus the very BEST marketing education, totally free. Get our Definitive email newsletter.

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Why the Rebirth of Email Is Coming in 2016 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/rebirth-of-email/ Mon, 04 Jan 2016 14:00:51 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=29357 Brands are returning to email marketing to find that it has powerful new capabilities, broader integration, and fresh talent.

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Why the Rebirth of Email Is Coming in 2016

Image via BigStockPhoto.com

Email marketing was ignored, under-resourced, and declared uncool and dead during the rise of social media.

Now that leased media is morphing into paid media, and paid media is morphing into blocked media, brands are returning to permission-based email marketing to find that it has new synergies, powerful new capabilities, broader integration, and fresh blood.

Prediction #1: We’ll see many more positive media stories about email marketing than negative in 2016. 

It has always been the workhorse behind eCommerce, but now email marketing has become a driving force behind content during the meteoric rise of content marketing. Thanks to advancements in personalization, dynamic content, and predictive analytics, email newsletters have become “the new homepage,” in the words of Contently’s Jordan Teicher.

The Rise of Mobile

Email marketing has also become central to mobile strategies. Reading email has been a top activity on smartphones for a long time, and the growing adoption of responsive email design is boosting smartphone conversion rates to make the most of this opportunity. This holiday season has been a breakout one for mobile shopping and the momentum will carry into the New Year. Beacons, geofences, mobile bar codes, and app behavior triggers will further intertwine email and mobile in 2016 and beyond.

Prediction #2: The majority of email opens will occur on mobile devices in 2016.

Prediction #3: The majority of brands will use responsive design for their marketing emails in 2016.

The Integration of ESPs

Email marketing is also benefiting from broader integration across business functions, thanks to more than $6 billion in acquisitions of major email service providers (ESPs) over the past few years by Salesforce, Oracle, IBM, Adobe, and others. Rather than experiencing a wave of consolidation, where ESPs buy other ESPs, the email industry is experiencing a wave of integration, where ESPs are being melded into customer relationship management, digital marketing, and enterprise resource planning suites.

Prediction #4: Another major ESP will be acquired in 2016 by a software titan.

Together, these advancements have elevated email marketing’s stature and put it on a clear path to achieving the 1-to-1 marketing paradigm, as brands are increasingly empowered to facilitate customer journeys and maximize lifetime value. But it’s not just that it’s getting well-deserved attention again—email marketing is actually kind of cool again.

Whereas the email industry suffered an exodus of talent to social media and mobile during the mid-2000s, now there’s an influx of new talent, most notably from the world of web development. This fresh blood is driving the industry in a new direction, one where emails don’t always act like simple gateways to landing pages.

Sometimes the email will facilitate more of a customer interaction before the clickthrough to the destination, whether it’s through hamburger menus, email carousels, embedded video, or live Twitter streams—and sometimes the email will be the destination itself, where subscribers can take action or convert without leaving the inbox.

Pioneered by innovative companies like Rebelmail, interactive email experiences will bring new energy to the industry over the next 12 to 18 months as familiar web experiences make their way into the inbox.

Prediction #5: The first brands will offer checkout experiences that are fully contained within emails in 2016.

The cumulative effect of all of these developments is that email marketing will experience a second coming of age during 2016. It will be a time of accelerating competitive advantage for brands that are committed to investing in high-ROI subscriber-centric strategies. And it will be a dangerous time for brands whose resource-starved email strategies have never matured beyond batch and blast.

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Why You Need to Build Your Email List Organically http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/build-email-list/ Mon, 23 Nov 2015 13:02:16 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=28501 When it comes to building your email list, forget borrowed, scraped, or purchased lists—organic lists are the key to successful email.

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Why You Need to Build Your Email List Organically

Of all the marketing techniques I involve myself with, I like email marketing the least. While some people are able to breeze through the ins and outs, it took me many years to learn the various methods for successful email campaigns. One of the most important lessons I have learned is to build organic email lists as opposed to borrowed, scraped, or purchased lists.

Some of this may seem like commons sense, but the little things with email marketing can make or break an email campaign. Forgetting the importance of organic lists can harm you more than you think.

If you want to be effective with your email marketing, then make sure to focus on organically building your list.

Organic Lists Give You Better Delivery and Open Rates

According to Steven Macdonald from SuperOffice, delivery rates are higher for organic lists. “Organic list building not only gives you better results, but you will get a lot more emails delivered to your audience,” says Macdonald. “Compared to buying lists, where delivery rates are poor.”

This is an obvious stat, but some marketers overlook it.

If you send to a list of people who requested to receive your email, the likelihood of it going to an actual email address is higher. In fact, many of the “paid-for” lists have fake emails that people use simply to place their name on the list (either a giveaway, or paywall access, etc.). They never intend on receiving an email when they signup.

In addition to emails actually reaching their target, organic lists also give you better open rates.

Gretchen Roberts from Smoky Labs detailed a recent test she conducted which shows how open rates are much better for organic lists. “I recently ran two email campaigns that were structured exactly the same, except one was a cold, purchased email list, and the other was sent to an organically-grown email list that normally receives a weekly newsletter.” The results? You guessed it: a complete failure for the cold list.

“The cold campaign was a complete flop,” stated Roberts. “Not only was it expensive to purchase the list, but the open rate hovered around 1 percent for a supposedly highly-qualified list.” Of course, the organic campaign received a considerably higher success rate. “Open rates were over 50%, and premium content downloads were close to 35%.”

Overall, organic lists will give you leads that actually reach their target and will more than likely be opened, as the person receiving the email actually wants to see what you have to offer.

Scraping Emails and Buying Lists Just Don’t Cut It

Look, I scrape emails as well, but they are for one-time, specific, targeted offers to people who are more than likely going to use my service. Also, I don’t simply scrape and send. I vet everyone on the list and ensure that they will in fact be a qualified lead.

I also never add scraped emails to my email lists, as they never signed up to receive emails. They are used one time and then discarded, unless I receive a reply. As such, I consider these as low quality leads.

Scraped or bought leads are likely to be low-quality and far more trouble than they’re worth,” says Michael Heiligenstein from Fit Small Business. He also makes a good point about using lists that were scraped or purchased. “If an email address is publicly listed, it’s already been blasted by tons of spam, and if it’s been bought, chances are it’s been sold to a lot of people. If anyone is still using that email address, they’re probably sick of spammers and are likely to report your message as spam.”

Brand engagement is also important for your email campaigns. An organic list contains leads that have signed up and WANT to hear from you. They are sitting there waiting to see what you have next for them.

An organic email list is better because it is a more engaged list,” states Ashley Orndorff, director of marketing at the Visual Impact Group. “With a scraped/bought list, you’re sending emails to people who likely have not had any previous interaction with your brand.”

Not only is there no brand interaction with people who want it, but you are giving a bad impression to people whose first impression of your brand is coming from a purchased email list.

You Can’t Measure True Conversion Rates With Non-Organic Lists

I cannot emphasize this enough: You simply cannot judge the success or failure of an email campaign unless you use an organic list. Here is why.

Let’s assume you are selling an e-book that is specific to website building. Wouldn’t you think it’s better to target website developers or people looking for a website? These are the people looking for the information and more than likely to open your email.

Let me show you how it works.

Let’s suppose you purchased an email list from a company that says the recipients are your target audience (although you did not vet the list yourself). You build a landing page that is likely to convert, and you also create one of the most brilliant emails ever and send it on its way. If you receive zero return on that email, can you really judge how well the email was written or how well the landing page was designed? The simple answer is no.

Your landing page may be one of the best ever and likely to convert a large percentage of visitors—“targeted visitors,” that is. If thousands of people come to the page, and none of them are really the target audience you want, then you will think your landing page is not successful.

Now, let’s suppose you have an organic list that is targeted to people who are more than likely going to purchase the e-book. This is a list that you collected on your own, and the people on the list signed up to receive email updates on how to build websites. You use the same landing page and same email and send it out.

Now you can measure true conversion. If your campaign doesn’t convert, then the issue is likely with the landing page or the email itself. After all, the people coming to the page are the most ready to buy the book.

The Key to a Successful Email Campaign

It may not seem like rocket science, but having an organic list over one that is purchased or scraped is a huge deal. It can be the difference between a successful email campaign and one that falls flat on its face. Why spend all that time preparing an email campaign if you don’t send it to qualified leads who are more likely to convert?

Building an organic list takes longer than scraping or purchasing, but in the long run, it’s more effective. After all, having a 1% open rate with a purchased email list is going to net you fewer conversions than an organic list with 50%.

If you are still unsure and want to try yourself, take the path of Gretchen, and run your own test. In the end, you will find it would have been cheaper to just buy me a beer while we discuss this article rather than waste your time and money on a list that converts few (if any) leads.

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13 Business Goals You Can Achieve Through Email Marketing http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/goals-you-can-achieve-through-email-marketing/ Fri, 18 Sep 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=26936 Email is the Swiss army knife of your marketing toolbox. Here are thirteen of the many goals you can achieve with your email marketing.

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13 Business Goals You Can Achieve Through Email Marketing

Every marketing plan is built around very specific objectives that a business intends to accomplish. The tools that go into a marketing plan, therefore, depend directly on these goals. But what if there was a tool that was not a use-and-throw razor blade, but a veritable Swiss army knife?

Meet email marketing. A cost-effective, easy to implement, and versatile tool that makes most other marketing tools look one-dimensional. I mentioned “versatile” here, but just how versatile, you ask? Take a look.

Spreading the Word

Email marketing is superb at building awareness about a product, service, brand, event, or business. By delivering emails straight to the user’s inbox, the spillage involved in most other awareness generation methods like television is avoided. Also, even if the recipient does not open your email, you can still convey a world of information with just a creative subject line.

Spawning Conversions

Email has the unique ability not just to inform a reader and convince them of the benefits of the proposition discussed, but also encourage them to take action immediately. Think of emails that say, “Last day today. Buy now!” Without fail, each one of them has a Buy button that takes the user to the business’ website and leads (hopefully) to a sale. Now, how many TV ads can offer that?

Upsells and Cross Sells

Once a potential customer has moved on to being a regular customer, the time is ripe to cross sell them an item related to their original purchase. Figure out the personal usage habits of your buyers, and send out upsell emails around the time the original item needs to be replenished. By employing email for these purposes, you’re enlarging your repeat user base at zero cost.

Here’s an upsell email from Verizon:

Verizon upsell

And here’s a cross sell from Amazon, promoting a specific range of products:

Amazon upsell

Appointment Reminders

Calling a client to remind them of an upcoming appointment or event can be perceived as intrusive and rude. Take the more elegant way out of the situation by sending a gentle nudge via an email.

Dental appointment reminder

You can even ask users to confirm their attendance by clicking on a URL. Not only do such reminders help push repeat business, they also help you plan your inventory and time based on your users’ needs.

Tracking Emails

Since an email is, for all practical purposes, what a letter was just two decades ago, fall back on it when you want to send out order confirmation when a purchase is made. By offering your users detailed information about their latest purchase and following it up with a chance to track deliveries, you get closer to the user. The more useful your emails become to the user, the greater your chances of repeat purchases.

User Reviews

Emails can be very easily used to collect users’ reviews about your product or service, which in turn helps you reach out to brand new buyers more effectively. Tools such as 123ContactForm and SurveyMonkey allow you to build detailed surveys from scratch and embed them inside emails in an instant.

Amazon user review

Amazon uses its own built-in survey tool in the example above. Instead of making the user go to their website and rate the product, this one-step review email makes users’ lives easier and increases the probability of them leaving behind a review.

A more generally targeted extension of reviews within emails are surveys and polls. Not all market research comes at the cost of thousands of dollars. A simple email template that contains an embedded user behavior survey in it is a great way to save a few dollars and reach out to an audience that knows your products the best.

Sharing Vital Information

Share important information about the product and its workings via email campaigns. Email makes this sharing quick, cost-free, and permanent.

Uber privacy statement update

This permanence of emails is a huge benefit, especially in situations like a product recall, product malfunction, changes to privacy policy, etc.

Growing a Social Media Following

Did you just create a new social media presence for your business on a new platform? Say, Snapchat? Grow your followers’ list from zero to a few thousands in just one simple step: Send an email to all existing email subscribers asking them to follow you on the new platform. Sweeten the deal with a small goodie, if you like.

Announcing New Launches

What better way to introduce a new product or service into the market than reaching out to existing users about it?

Apple Watch product launch announcement

An email means that at near-zero costs, you get to generate curiosity, drive traffic to your new launch page, and encourage trials, all in one go.

Event Invites

You must have read about the importance of engaging with your regular users face to face to build their loyalty towards your business. Invite your users to attend your next tailor-made event using email. Not only do you save a pretty penny on RSVPs, your invite stays in your user’s inbox forever as a reminder of your friendly overtures.

Preventing Cart Abandonment

Studies show that nearly 70% of all users who begin shopping on your website will go on to abandon their purchase midway. A proven way of winning back abandoned shopping carts is by setting up triggered emails or auto-responders with email marketing software like GetResponse, which shoot out an email to the user’s inbox within hours of a case of cart abandonment.

Fab abandoned cart email

By reaching out to the user promptly, you multiply your chances of earning back a lost sale at zero cost to you.

Raising Funds

Emails are also used extensively by businesses as well as non-profits to raise funds for upcoming projects. Whether it is a KickStarter fund for a new product you’re developing or asking for donations to a worthy cause, or even offering your subscribers tax breaks in return for their contributions to a charitable cause, email dons each of those hats with ease. An embedded payment widget inside the email makes the process of fund raising even more seamless.

Customer Care

Customer care on the phone can be alternately frustrating, expensive, and fruitless for the average customer. On the other hand, an email to customer care usually has a much better satisfaction rate thanks to various factors.

Emails allow users to detail out their problems, unlike phone calls to customer care, where they are limited by pre-defined options on the answering service. Besides allowing detailed reports, email also removes the expectation of an immediate response from the users’ mind. This means your customer care teams have some breathing room to respond, and your users don’t get annoyed waiting to be served on an endless customer care call.

The Most Important Goal

There are many more goals that you can potentially address through your email marketing, including getting customer referrals, encouraging repeat purchases, holiday specials, etc. However, the most important goal that a well-designed email marketing program achieves is building a relationship of trust and mutual warmth with your users. Everything else follows from there.

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10 Content Promotion Opportunities You Might Be Missing http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/content-promotion/ Mon, 31 Aug 2015 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=26629 Are you emails truly maximizing engagement? Here's how an email signature campaign can spark even more audience interaction.

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10 Content Promotion Opportunities You Might Be Missing

In today’s technology-driven marketplace, being able to offer an incredible customer experience with your brand and content is important. There are a number of ways to do this, but getting the word out to keep them engaged is paramount—and needs to be a consistently evolving process.

Although you may have a large following or send out a number of communications through various channels, are you using your 1:1 employee emails in the best capacity to ensure your audience is truly engaged with what you’re creating?

Many companies don’t understand the influence of 1:1 email, or that 112 billion 1:1 business emails are sent every day! These personal touchpoints can play an important role in getting your external audience more in tune with your brand and company initiatives.

When your employees send out emails to different customers, vendors, or prospective customers, it’s a great time to engage them beyond the words in the email through creative campaigns and calls-to-action.

How can you do this? Through the email signature: the real estate at the bottom of every single 1:1 email sent.

Compelling email signature campaigns that include a call-to-action not only increase the level of professionalism your company displays but provide a reason to explore more. Getting the word out about your company’s most important content has never been easier. Below are 10 ways to promote your existing content and initiatives through email signature marketing.

Email List Growth

Prompt individuals to sign up for an email program to get value out of your best company emails, such as weekly newsletters that display your best content or specific promotions. This will allow the prospects to stay in the loop while building your database of valuable opt-in email addresses.

Label 1

Whitepapers or Ebooks

Depending on the audience, whitepapers and ebooks are a great way to keep your customers engaged by offering additional insight and thought leadership on a certain topic. Whitepapers add depth and knowledge on products and topics, positioning you as an expert and thought leader, and promoting these collateral pieces through email signatures shows that you care about education and innovation.

unnamed-1

Webinars

Have an upcoming webinar? A campaign in your employee email signatures is a great way to get the word out and promote sign-ups, so your audience can benefit from helpful thought leadership presented in your webinar. The extra promotion will ensure your team gets the word out without having them manually promote the webinar, which takes away valuable time. When the prospects click on the signature campaign, they are directed to a prompt that will provide all the information they need, as well as a sign-up form.

Events and User Conferences

Broadcasting upcoming events through email signatures is a smart idea if you’re trying to boost attendance over an extended period of time. Not only does it engage the email recipient, but it keeps them aware of what conferences, trade shows, job fairs, and other events your company is hosting. One of the best use cases we see is the promotion of user conferences for several months leading up to the event. In some cases, the email signature campaign drove more visitors to the registration page than any other marketing tactic!  

Label 3

Product Release Promotions

New product releases need all the publicity they can get through your content, especially with existing customers who use your product on a regular basis. Subtly broadcasting an upcoming product release builds buzz and prompts users to click and learn more.

Label 4

Non-Profit Activity

Non-profit events or involvement always need publicity. A content campaign promoting a food drive, blood mobile, or charity event keeps the customer engaged with your brand on a personal level and aware of company events that encourage civic activity.

unnamed-3

Analyst Rankings and PR

If your company is number one in a particular industry, is ranked as a top workplace, or has won a recent award, highlight it in your employee signatures through a campaign! It brands your company as best in class, while providing the third party validation via a report or magazine where further information can be found.

unnamed-5

Promotional Video or Product Teasers

Video teasers are engaging, informative, and (most of the time) fun. You can tie your promotional video teasers to almost anything. They’re a great way to disseminate information on new product releases or get the word out on initiatives your company supports.

unnamed-2

Team Culture and Referral Programs

Email signature marketing is effective both internally and externally for providing incentives through referrals for new customers or new employees. Get your network talking about why your company is a great community for employees and customers alike.

Label 8

Training and Certification Program Promotion

Trainings and certifications are an excellent way for organizations to advertise their achievement programs. This works well in settings that have school-based programs, or those large professional associations that offer in-depth certifications. An email signature campaign is a great way to promote a call-to-action that will allow the customer to find out more information, register, and learn about the training materials that can help them pass the exam.

Using email signatures as campaigns is the one of the best ways to leverage your content and build relationships. And it doesn’t stop at content promotion—human resources professionals can use this tool to keep employees (and prospective employees) engaged and aware of job fairs or new open positions.

Leveraging email signatures allows customers and vendors to be more responsive, and can help you determine where you can improve in your marketing efforts. Adaptable to any scenario, the power of the email signature campaign is a quantifiable step in the right direction.

As the demand for market share and brand visibility continues to grow, can you afford not to?

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5 Best-Practice Email Marketing Case Studies http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/email-marketing-case-studies/ Wed, 26 Aug 2015 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=26598 Email remains one of the most effective channels for cutting through the noise and converting leads. Here's how five companies make it work.

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5 Best-Practice Email Marketing Case Studies

Momentum Worldwide came out with a very insightful marketing chart for 2015. I’m curious, what catches your eye most?

Momentum infographic

Among the most important lead sources, email marketing stands out as a clear winner. It barely loses to social media and SEO in inbound effectiveness, and surpasses every other outbound lead source by a significant percentage. In other words, email marketing is, pound for pound, still your best source for quality leads. 

This should come as no surprise. Email marketing is the modern form of direct response marketing, which has long been revered as the most effective form of marketing.

David Ogilvy, the founder of mega-agency Ogilvy & Mather and a former door-to-door stove salesman, often criticized inbound marketing (what he called “general marketing”) for being ineffective and unscientific by comparison. And freelance direct response writers are easily the highest paid freelance writers, with members of AWAI taking home millions just to write sales letters and email marketing campaigns.

So why are marketers so focused on inbound lead generation these days? It seems like blog posts, social media, and SEO have far surpassed email marketing in terms of priorities, but email is probably still your best bet to convert leads and upsell existing customers.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at what these five companies have been doing with their email marketing.

Argos

Argos, a UK-based toys, trinkets, and home furnishings retailer implemented a new basket abandonment email.

They retarget customers who abandoned their online shopping cart with personalized follow up messages in their inbox by using browsing data and email engagement. The follow up email would offer up to six alternative products that the customer might be interested in, based on what’s in their abandoned cart, as well as their demographic information.

Although this might seem a bit underhanded, Argos was obtaining all their information legally, and the campaign bolstered their conversion and revenue.

Argos abandoned cart

Birchbox

Instead of trying to squeeze in a promotion at the bottom of an email, Birchbox smartly sends email subscribers a follow up email where they claim to have “forgotten” a discount code to Rent the Runway, a dress rental company that fits their online profile.

There’s no hidden metrics here, but it’s a brilliant example of smart, strategic marketing psychology. Do you really need to see the numbers to believe that this got more email subscribers clicking than a tacked-on promotion at the bottom of another email might have?birchbox-email-example

Dell

Dell GIF

Dell may not be known for any recent innovations, but the hardware powerhouse still knows how to pack a punch. After launching a GIF-heavy email marketing campaign, Dell lifted their revenue by 109%. Not too shabby for a brand many assumed had no more fight left in it.

This is both surprising and unsurprising. It’s surprising because video, rather than GIFs, is the trend for both emails and landing pages. But it’s also unsurprising because, by bucking this modern trend, Dell is staying consistent with its old-school brand and feel, which I’m sure its email subscribers appreciated.

Hammock

Hammock email header

Hammock, a creative agency, has its work cut out for it when it comes to email signups. Most agency email subscribers are B2B clients, and they already receive so much email from agency account managers, projects managers, and creatives that they would need a very compelling reason to read any more agency email.
Yet Hammock managed to increase open rates by 48% for B2B companies.

Their secret? Simplifying content. Hammock’s !dea Email is, in their own words, “One bright idea, every two weeks.” They even poke fun at it by calling it their “un-newsletter.” But hey, it works.

Zumba Fitness

Zumba Fitness - Real Men Dance

Not only is Zumba taking the nation by storm, but Zumba Fitness, the company behind the sensation, knows how to do email marketing like a 21st century contender.

Each year, Zumba Fitness hosts an Instructor Convention, which instructors at its 200,000 locations are encouraged to attend. In 2014, Zumba decided to kick off their Instructor Convention sign up with an email that included a compilation video of past Conventions. What made this email video special was the call-to-action at the very end, when an invitation with the recipient’s name appears.

This little bit of personalization worked. Zumba Fitness saw a 50% click-to-open rate with this email. According to MailChimp statistics, the average open rate of a company with over 50 employees is 23.61%, meaning Zumba Fitness beat the average by over 100%.

Then again, maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised with Zumba instructors like this guy. An Instructor Convention is probably a dream come true for him.

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4 Adjectives That Should Dominate Your Email Subject Lines http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/email-subject-lines/ Mon, 17 Aug 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=26201 You're a seasoned pro at email marketing best practices, but do your subject lines stand out from the crowd? Try these four fresh ideas.

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4 Adjectives That Should Dominate Your Email Subject Lines

David Ogilvy once famously observed that since five times more people read a headline than body text, once your headline was written, you’d “spent eighty cents of your dollar.”

But with email subject lines, it’s the whole buck. If your subject line doesn’t grab a reader, pull them in, and motivate them to open the email, it really doesn’t matter what the email says, what it offers, or how well-designed it is. It’s just one more unopened email.

Understandably, then, email subject lines are the subject of a lot of analysis and examination.

There are some basic best-practice tips that you already know all about: Keep it short, be specific, use names whenever you can, and don’t spam. But once you’ve done all that, you still need some new angles. Try these.

Adjective 1: Extreme

From: James Widmore

Subject: How to DOUBLE Your YouTube Views (and a giveaway!)

Adding figures to your subject line is a great way to add credibility and authenticity. It’s also an excellent way to short-circuit the process of good writing: Use hard facts and specific examples so people can visualize them. Use vague descriptions, and it’s less punchy, more forgettable, less credible, and harder to visualize as real.

If you’re trying to sell someone on a benefit, the more tangible it feels to them mentally, the better.

There is one trouble here, though: Using some over-precise technical figures and terms is going to put even an interested, qualified audience into a prolonged siesta of boredom. No one wants to look at more statistics.

The Extreme subject line gets around this by delivering a benefit that’s slightly difficult to credit: double your income in three months. Really? A 400% increase in clickthroughs? That sounds hard to believe, but apparently the evidence is just a click away, so let’s find out.

And if you’re in the middle of a long, established, trust-based, client-supplier relationship with the recipient of your emails, then when you tell them you’ve got this fantastic benefit, they’ll believe you—and they’re even more likely to open and click through.

James’ subject line is particularly great because it has the chutzpah to use those bold caps on “DOUBLE” paired with the more B2B caps-throughout style across the rest of the subject. And on top of kicking you up the rankings on the world’s second most popular search engine, there’s a giveaway? I’d open that. Wouldn’t you?

Adjective 2: Insouciant

From: Barack Obama

Subject: Hey

Hey. What’s up? How’s it going? No rush. Chill. Just saying, if you have a second, I thought you might want to…

Whatever you think of Barack Obama (and the fact he’s been elected president twice means that, statistically, you’re probably in favor), his social media and email campaigns are masterful.

This is a great example of an insouciant (that is, chilled out, almost careless, supremely relaxed and self-confident) subject line. In an inbox full of “HURRY!!!!!!” and “You DON’T want to MISS OUT on this!!!” subject lines, Obama’s combination of authority and insouciance is a breath of fresh air. And it makes you think, “OK, Mister President, let’s chat.” Hey, Barack, what’s going on?

It takes a lot of nerve to use a subject line like this, and it works best if you’re bringing the authority of a well-known brand—or, you know, POTUS—to the table. But even an unknown can swing it if you hit the right note.

It’s always about making the reader an invitation. But an insouciant subject line is turning to someone in a noisy, crowded club and inviting them to have a quiet conversation in the VIP. The implication—the subject matters, the person asking is important, and they think a lot of you—is difficult to resist. And the tiny “Hey” stands out visually in an inbox of much longer subject lines.

Adjective 3: Negative

From: ReachLocal

Subject: Your Marketing Sucks: Why You Need to Think Local

This one’s more about drawing a battle line in the sand. It’s done either by talking about another group in a negative way, or more effectively, delivering a bracing critique directly to the reader. Lines like, “Your smoothies suck. Here’s how to fix that,” are classic examples of the genre.

This method thrives on creating discord or a challenge, then offering to solve it—in the email. It’s like a story in miniature, with the last chapter only available if you open the email, and everyone’s instantly emotionally invested in how the hero gets out of this one, if that hero is them. So subject lines like, “your emails are all totally unsecured,” (probably true, by the way) are effective on a personal level. They also introduce a problem or identify a pain point, then offer a solution that’s relatively easy—classic sales copywriting, condensed into a 40-character subject line.

Adjective 4: Quirky

From: BuzzFeed

Subject: How’d You Get So Weird?

Humor works on two levels, appropriately enough: It makes you laugh, which means you’re having a positive experience while you’re reading the subject line, and it holds you there while that happens, which increases the likelihood that you’ll open it.

But there’s something else going on, too. Idiosyncratic humor is a profound way to increase group identification. That can take the form of using quotes from things only some people will be familiar with.

“Defense Against the Dark Arts: ESAPI” invited folks back in 2012 to a course on using enterprise API to defend their sites against hackers. But it works a whole lot better if you get the Harry Potter reference.

GoldFire Studios’ “Do gamers dream of HTML5 sheep?” references the source text for Blade Runner. So when you’re using subject lines like these, you’re trading on the laughter of recognition—and the pleasure of self-recognition. You’re saying, “I’m like you; we both get these jokes, because we know the same things.”

Over to You

Captivating subject lines that work for many different spaces and audiences top ones that need a great brand-customer relationship to already be in place. Use these ideas can build up that relationship, first—by getting opened, of course.

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Are You Satisfying Your Subscribers’ Hierarchy of Needs? http://www.convinceandconvert.com/email/hierarchy-of-needs/ Fri, 24 Jul 2015 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=25378 Your email subscribers have high expectations. Prove your relevance by meeting all four levels of the Hierarchy of Subscriber Needs.

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Are You Satisfying Your Subscribers' Hierarchy of Needs

Expectations are steadily rising in the inbox, and everyone agrees that sending more relevant messages is the key to staying in subscribers’ good graces. However, “relevance” is often talked about in vague, mystical terms or discussed within the narrow context of company-specific examples.

While relevance is indeed in the eye of the beholder, that doesn’t mean it’s indescribable or immeasurable. Relevance is about fulfilling all four levels of the Hierarchy of Subscriber Needs—that is, creating a subscriber experience that is:

  1. Respectful
  2. Functional
  3. Valuable
  4. Remarkable

 

Whether you’re meeting each of these needs can be gauged by measuring common email activities: opens, clicks, conversions, and forwards.

Hierarchy of Subscriber Needs

Let’s take a look at each subscriber need in turn.

Respectful

At the lowest level, subscribers need marketers to respect their permission grant. At the beginning of the email relationship, that means marketers should ensure that every person is aware that they are opting in to receive email—whether they’re using a passive or active opt-in, and whether they’re confirming that opt-in in the inbox with an opt-in confirmation request email or not. It also means setting the appropriate expectations around email frequency and content.

And at the end of the email relationship, it means an easy and quick unsubscribe process, as well as having a system in place to manage inactive subscribers. If a subscriber hasn’t opened or clicked on one of your emails in a long time, marketers need to acknowledge that permission has been withdrawn and stop mailing that person.

Respect and trust are the foundations of all business relationships. They are the foundation of email relationships as well.

While some think that a relevant message can compensate for a lack of permission, this is a losing strategy, as permission is foundational to creating relevance. The email element that has the biggest impact on whether an email is opened is the “from” name, which represents the person’s previous interactions with your emails and your brand in general. Disregarding permission puts your brand at an immediate disadvantage in the inbox, in addition to risking sender reputation damage and brand damage through negative word of mouth.

You can measure how respectful your emails are by looking at opens, as well as spam complaints. A lack of opens early in an email relationship likely indicates that you never really secured permission in the first place, and a lack of opens later likely indicates that permission has lapsed.

Functional

The next need is for functional email experiences. That means, among other things, that:

  • Emails render appropriately across the mobile, web, and desktop email clients that your subscribers primarily use.
  • Text is legible and links are spaced far enough apart so they can be accurately clicked or, more importantly, tapped.
  • The links in your emails take them to the intended destination.
  • The content is clear and free of errors.
  • Any special email functionality has a good fallback for when that functionality isn’t supported by a particular email client.

 

Essentially, all of this is about quality assurance.

As in other forms of communications, people are easily distracted by errors—which is especially detrimental to emails since you only have a few seconds to capture a subscriber’s attention. If they focus on an error in rendering instead of your message, for instance, then engagement suffers. And if they’re motivated enough to click through and then find themselves on an unexpected landing page or encounter a “404 page not found” error, then they’re less likely to click through in the future.

Rendering, in particular, is a challenge because there are no standards for email coding support, unlike web coding. CSS coding that works in Apple Mail may not work in Outlook 365 or Gmail, for instance.

Migrating to mobile-friendly email designs has been a struggle. According to just-released joint research between Litmus and Salesforce, only 56% of major B2C brands are using either responsive or mobile-aware email designs for their promotional emails, despite the fact than the majority of emails are now read on mobile devices.

Additionally, the number of devices that can display emails is growing—and becoming more challenging as well. For example, after years of contending with the small screens of smartphones, marketers now get to wrestle with optimizing their emails for the downright tiny screen of the Apple iWatch, which recognizes a new version of HTML: watch-HTML.

You can measure how functional your emails are by looking primarily at clicks. If your emails have broken links and images or have text that’s too small to read on mobile devices, for example, your clicks will suffer.

Valuable

In order for marketers to have profitable relationships with subscribers, they have to create valuable experiences for them. Whether it’s in the form of deals, news, alerts, or some other kind of content, subscribers must find your emails useful.

Thankfully, marketers now have many tools at their disposal to create valuable experiences. Generally speaking, basic analytics can help you determine the preferences of your overall audience, and A/B testing can help determine how best to communicate with your subscribers as a whole.

But the most exciting tools are ones that get us closer to the 1-to-1 marketing paradigm. Advanced analytics can power sophisticated segmentation, dynamic content, personalization, and product and content recommendations. And marketing automation and triggered messaging can deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.

You can measure how valuable your emails are by looking primarily at email conversions and revenue. This is the point in the Hierarchy of Subscriber Needs where marketers often go wrong. Because of confusion, poor goal-setting, technical roadblocks, and other issues, marketers will use top-of-the-funnel metrics instead of bottom-of-the-funnel metrics.

For instance, some marketers measure the success of subject lines by opens instead of conversions, leading to “winning” subject lines that sometimes maximize opens at the expense of conversions. Similarly, some content marketing efforts are measured entirely on clicks and web traffic instead of demanding that content at least partially contribute to conversions. Also, for privacy or security reasons, many brands don’t feed conversion data back to their email service providers, depriving those systems of key data that would help them help clients make better business decisions.

Remarkable

And lastly, subscribers need the emails they receive to at least occasionally deliver remarkable experiences—that is, something that’s worth telling someone else about. People are social beings and want to be in a position to share high-value information with their friends, family members, coworkers, and colleagues before anyone else. They want to evangelize for your brand, but you have to give them something worth sharing—be it an amazing deal, exclusive content, or a special experience.

Creating an email that subscribers will talk about isn’t easy. Less than 1% of commercial emails generate forward-to-open rates of more than 5%, according to Litmus’ Viral Email report, which examined more than 400,000 email campaigns to uncover the drivers of email forwards. Those drivers include:

  • Targeting niche audiences with segmentation and triggered messages.
  • Making the most of topics such as events and charity efforts, which are innately more share-worthy.
  • Planning periodic emails with extra-special content and using design to differentiate those emails from your run-of-the-mill emails.
  • Placing prominent “share with your network” calls-to-actions in your most share-worthy emails, as these links also increase forward rates.

 

You can measure how remarkable your emails are by looking primarily at forwards and social shares. In addition to raising awareness, aiding acquisition, boosting email engagement, and generating additional conversions, forwards are powerful indicators of the overall health of your email program. Used to measure the topmost portion of Hierarchy of Subscriber Needs pyramid, forwards are a sign that you’re fulfilling your subscribers’ needs at the highest level—that your emails are not just relevant, but deeply relevant.

An email program can be modestly successful while only fulfilling the first three subscriber needs, but a program can never be highly successful if it isn’t creating remarkable experiences that turn subscribers into evangelists. We recommend tracking your forward-to-open rate as a barometer of email program health.

If your monthly forward-to-open rate is in the bottom quartile—that is, less than 0.11%—then that’s likely a sign that your email program is not meeting this need. As a consequence, you may find that the engagement of your new subscribers falls off quickly, you’re managing a high level of inactive subscribers, and the lifetime value of your subscribers is low.

How well is your email program fulfilling each of the four subscriber needs?

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The post Are You Satisfying Your Subscribers’ Hierarchy of Needs? appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

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