Monthly Archives: November 2013

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The Best Email Marketing Blogs You Should Start Reading Today

Bloggers and the blogs they write can be a wonderful resource of information for business owners!

The Best Email Marketing Blogs You Should Start Reading Today

The best email marketing blog that you should start reading today is mine! Oh, wait. You are reading it! Well, I’m biased and mine is the best, but I’m also professional, so let me refer you to some other knowledgeable bloggers. You might be wondering why I’m doing this, and my reasoning is simple: My goal since the beginning of my blog has been to teach you all there is to know about email marketing, and these bloggers can help you out to!

Special Databases

Of course I want you reading my blog and the other contributors’ blog posts on our Special Databases website blog first. The reason why we are the best is two-fold. One, we are all experts in what we do and what we blog about. Two, we’re experts in email marketing and we have the email address databases for your business to prove it! You see, we can tell you how to design the perfect email marketing campaign and then give you the email addresses to send it to!

Constant Contact

Constant Contact has a marketing blog that covers email and many other facets of your business marketing needs just as the Special Databases blog does. Constant Contact’s posts are informative, fun, and provide a good read for any business owner looking to extend his or her social networking marketing reach knowledge. Constant Contact has been in business since 1998, and its blog is one that is definitely worth checking out.

Duct Tape Marketing

Written by marketing expert John Jantsch, as well as several guest bloggers, Duct Tape Marketing’s blog is another must-read, especially for small business owners. Duct Tape Marketing’s posts cover a variety of small business and marketing solutions, including business start-up topics and email marketing tips. This informative blog has a wide variety of posts covering numerous topics, so readers never tire of what the Duct Tape Marketing bloggers have to say.

Email Institute

Email Institute’s mission is to teach email marketers the best practices in the business. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, email marketing is regulated by the federal government. The Email Institute blog covers all there is to learn about email marketing the right way, and the best practices your business can put into place with your email marketing campaign. If you have a question about the appropriateness of your email campaign practices, you’ll probably find your answer in this blog.

Email Marketing Rules

Another email marketing blog dedicated to conducting email marketing campaigns the right way is the Email Marketing Rules blog. Written by Chad White, Email Marketing Rules gets down to the nitty-gritty of email marketing, including informative blog posts about birthday marketing campaigns and how to grow your email audience. White’s approach provides informative and easy-to-read content, making this email blog worth your time.

Litmus

The Litmus blog takes a more technical approach to email marketing and often gives readers tips on the importance of email marketing testing and tracking marketing results. The Litmus team is dedicated to full-proof email marketing techniques confirmed by testing first. Reading this blog is a must for any small business owner, because it provides some comprehensive information about the technical part of email marketing, including HTML programming and campaign results.

Vertical Response

Dedicated to helping small businesses everywhere, the Vertical Response VR Marketing blog is another all-encompassing read. Bloggers for Vertical Response discuss everything you need to know about business, including email marketing. Other blog topics include business social networking, small business management tips, and even some interview tips for job seekers out there. Add the VR Marketing blog to your reading repertoire for an all-around business education experience.

Special Databases

Okay, I’m just messing with you! Yes, I put our blog first on the list, but I’m going to mention it again because our blog, too, covers a wide variety of business topics designed to aid in your business marketing needs. Our experts know their stuff and, hey, our blog posts are a lot of fun because we’re a lot fun. I encourage reading the blogs I’ve mentioned in this blog post, but I also encourage staying on top of our posts as well. If we don’t cover a topic you need, give us a shout! We’ll see what we can do. And, don’t forget to contact us for your emailing list needs. We’ve got the emails lists that you need to expand your business customer base!

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How email marketers can target Thanksgiving weekend shoppers

How email marketers can target Thanksgiving weekend shoppers

Black Friday and Cyber Monday – the two most important 24-hour shopping periods of the year – are now mere days away. It's not too late, however, for marketers to make that last ditch effort to beat the competition and generate sales from their email marketing lists

If you find yourself staying up late the night before Thanksgiving or waking up early on the holiday to put the finishing touches on the email campaign you hope will seal the deal with your customers and maximize revenue this weekend, it's key that you know the market predictions for this year's holiday shopping season so that you can effectively target your promotions.

Cyber Monday will be crucial this year
The Monday after Thanksgiving is the traditional date on which retailers offer a range of great deals on purchases made through digital storefronts, and this year in particular, ignoring Cyber Monday can spell disaster.

Adobe's Digital Index revealed that Cyber Monday is expected to generate considerably more revenue than Black Friday this year – $2.27 billion, compared to the day after Thanksgiving's $1.628 billion. What's more, online sales on Thanksgiving Day itself will rise by 21 percent this year over 2012.

As such, marketers should consider sending promotions that customers can take advantage of instantly on Thanksgiving weekend by going to the company's website to make a purchase.

Brick-and-mortar retail remains relevant
That doesn't mean, however, that firms should bank on in-store shopping becoming a thing of the past. A recent study by WD Partners found that consumers still go to brick-and-mortar retailers for experiences that online stores like Amazon simply can't provide.

The researchers found that 79 percent of consumers value physical stores for the instant gratification of making a purchase and having the item immediately in their possession, as opposed to waiting for it to ship. Furthermore, 75 percent said they liked in-store shopping for the richer sensory experience it provides.

As such, retail stores need to meet certain customer expectations.

"The store should be a place of inspiration and ideas that leaves shoppers with a high or sense of euphoria. The in-store shopping experience must offer more than a warehouse does," noted Lee Paterson, WD Partners' executive vice president of creative services.

For companies that have an online presence but still want to bring consumers into their stores this holiday season, email marketing plays an important role. Your emails should position your brand in a way that highlights its unique character, and you might also consider making some – but certainly not all – promotions available exclusively in-store.

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Don't let quantity trump quality in holiday email marketing

Don’t let quantity trump quality in holiday email marketing

For email marketers, the holidays are a time of considerable pressure. Cluttered inboxes mean stiff competition for customers' attention, and in such an environment, it can be easy for marketers who've developed sophisticated campaigns in the past to forget those best practices and bombard their email marketing lists with batch-and-blast style messages that lack subtlety and effective targeting. Rather than letting the holiday shopping season throw you off your game, consider employing a few straightforward techniques that can help your customers differentiate the signal from the noise.

Stay relevant
The principle that not all customers on your email contact list are interested in the same promotions holds just as true in December as it does year-round. In a post for Marketing Land, Adobe's Director of Deliverability Alyssa Nahatis pointed out the effectiveness of real-time marketing, which tailors messages based on customer location and other factors, in the competitive holiday season.

"By sharing meaningful content, consumers are more likely to be engaged and open the email," Nahatis wrote.

Adopt an informative tone
Your marketing emails attempt to persuade customers to buy a product, of course, but that doesn't mean they have to be transparent in their methods. Drew Berard, senior director of brand management for Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway, revealed in a column for EContent that one of his recent email campaigns enjoyed a 126 percent open rate when a message sent to 11,000 contacts was opened 13,000 times. 

In Berard's opinion, one of the keys to the email's success was the authoritative, information-based tone it took.

"It did not hard sell. It simply informed," Berard noted. "It goes back to the age old principle of adding value to your audience's life and that will come back to you tenfold in loyalty and purchases."

Optimize for mobile
Marketers are well-aware by now that they can't ignore the mobile shopper, but new research suggests that customers who make purchases on smartphones and tablets may be even more valuable than previously believed. A recent study by GE Capital retail bank revealed that 40 percent of consumers are more likely to increase the purchases they make with a given retailer if that company offers them promotions they can take advantage of on their mobile devices.

As such, marketers who fail to design emails that look good on smartphone and tablet screens risk losing the business of this considerable customer segment to the competition. Consider how you might tweak your email campaigns with the goal of increasing mobile sales in mind.

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emaildesign

6 Email Design Rules You Should Follow

Face it. You simply cannot have a business today without establishing your brand on the World Wide Web. There are many ways to get the word out about your business in cyberspace, and they are not all created equal, contrary to popular belief. You must differentiate between your marketing mediums online, just as you differentiate your offline campaigns; your windshield flyers are different from your newspaper ads, for example. Let’s talk today about your email marketing campaign, and some important design tips exclusive to this marketing medium.

Some No-No Design Rules

Email is a tricky beast, and there is a lot that can go wrong with an email marketing campaign once it’s sent. You might be looking at a perfectly designed email on your end, but who knows what your recipient is going to see when he or she opens the email on the other side. Many things can turn a perfect email into a perfect nightmare. Here are three things to avoid when designing your email:

  1. It’s tempting to create a graphically enhanced email using JavaScript or some other interactive programming, but chances are the nifty email you’re looking at won’t translate over your recipient’s email client. Your recipient might open up your email and see zilch, because his or her email client removed the JavaScript coding for safety’s sake. Avoid using coding other than HTML; otherwise, your email might be blank or misaligned upon opening.
  2. If you’re overloading your recipients with critical information – perhaps you’ve just revised your five-page privacy policy and you’re sending the new one out – don’t make them fish for the information they want to read. Many senders think including a linked table of contents in an email is a step that should be avoided, and nothing could be further from the truth. Linked TOCs should be included in emails packed with information, so your recipients can click immediately to what they want to read.
  3. Never be shy. If you think adding a call to action to your email makes it too “sales-pitchy” or pushy, you’re making a huge mistake. No, you don’t want to assault your recipient’s eyes with a giant, flashing red banner screaming at them to “CLICK HERE!!!” when they open your correspondence. You recipient, however, doesn’t want to have to go onto the Internet, navigate to your Web page, and then navigate again to your sales page. Help them avoid these steps by giving them easy access calls to action at the top of your email to take them directly where you want them to go.

Some Yes Design Rules

We’ve gone over some things that you shouldn’t do, now let’s go over some things that you should do when designing your perfect marketing email. Keep in mind the number one no-no above while reading these three tips: Use HTML coding when designing your e-correspondence. There are a few other tricks to use that ensure your email makes it into your customer’s inbox and looks how you sent it – for the most part. Three things to keep in mind are:

  1. If you have too many pictures or too much text, your email is going to be tagged as spam and dumped into cyber no-man’s-land. To avoid this from happening, create a balance between your email’s text and images. Make certain your text-to-image ratios are as equal as possible to avoid your email being tossed into the spam black hole.
  2. Speaking of images, you know when you open an email and all you see are boxes with a red “X” in them? That is so annoying. The problem is you can never guarantee that this isn’t going to happen. Chances are your recipient’s email client is going to replace your images with empty, red “X” boxes and prompt the reader to download the images separately. Therefore, always keep the important stuff in your marketing email within the text – don’t embed it in the image. Your recipient can’t read it if it’s an empty, red “X” box.
  3. You have to properly code your images, too, even if they don’t show up on the other side. If you’ve built your email’s text around the images, everything is going to be thrown off if the images don’t automatically download and display. When coding your HTML for your images, make sure you include each image’s height, width, and alt attributes. This will make certain your empty, red “X” box is the same size as your image and keep your text in place.

So, what is the reward for all of your efforts in designing the perfect email? Keeping your email subscriber list engaged in what you are saying and what your business is doing. Your emails will receive two reactions once they hit your customer’s inbox: One, a grunt of disgust and immediate “Trash” click, two, a bounce of excitement and immediate “Read’ click. I don’t have to spell this out for you, but you want reaction number two, so take the time to design emails sure to keep your subscribers happy and in the loop.

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How doctors can create email marketing engagement

How doctors can create email marketing engagement

It's taken the health sector a while to to catch up other fields in terms of what technology it uses to keep in touch with patients, but that's now begun to change: Health care is going digital. The advent of electronic medical records, which have seen an impressive rate of adoption over the past year or two, is reshaping the way doctors and hospital administrators manage their facilities – and how they interact with patients.

Electronic health record technology gives doctors a wider set of tools by which they can market their services to patients. Many of the new software solutions have secure digital messaging built into their design, so it's easy to communicate with patients electronically about personal health matters or to send them messages of universal interest – a change in hours over the holidays, or a reminder about the importance of flu shots during the colder months. As such, your patient database can easily become an email marketing list.

Establish regular contact
Since many doctors still communicate primarily via phone calls and postal mail, your patients may not be used to receiving email from you. It's important that you get them comfortable before you use email to market to them. Be sure to establish email as a convenient way you can provide patients information relevant to their health.

Josic Media recently suggested that allowing patients to respond to your digital messages is a great way to foster trust and ultimately make marketing via email more effective.

"If you build a two-way communication with them, you'll get better results for your promotion," the source wrote.

Become an authority
When it comes to health care marketing, however, your patients' ability to contact you through email isn't the only component necessary to build trust. You'll also need to establish yourself as a reliable source of authoritative information about health-related issues.

Doctors can move toward this goal by linking their emails to a blog curated by themselves or their staff members. In a post for Business2Community, marketing and technology expert Zsolt Bicskey pointed out that blogs are essential for increasing the authoritative tone of marketing efforts, and doctors can promote blog content through a variety of channels.

"You can write a blog, share it through social media and even have it hosted on a broader health care website," Bicskey wrote.

Furthermore, Josic Media noted that physicians can use email to send patients relevant health tips and advice. 

The more engagement you create among your patients, the better results you can expect from your marketing efforts.

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Increase the relevance, quality of your marketing emails

Increase the relevance, quality of your marketing emails

Email is one of the oldest resources in the technological toolkit, and marketers have been using digital messages to send promotions to customers almost as long as email has been around. With its low cost and high return on investment, email is an obvious choice as a key marketing channel, and many firms find they can't afford to ignore it.

However, because email marketing is such a longstanding and essential tool, companies may often let their strategies go undiscussed and unevaluated, thereby failing to use email effectively and adapt their campaigns based on the results. If you're looking to re-up the energy your promotional messages may be missing and re-engage your email marketing list, it may be time to consider whether you've been taking full advantage of what email can achieve.

Relearning email marketing's strengths
Marketers are well aware of the rise of social media as a channel by which firms can communicate and share directly with customers, and if you're using both social sites and email as marketing platforms, it's important to take a step back and consider what each tool does best. Email is great in certain areas of marketing where social media just can't perform.

Customer education, for instance, is a marketing tactic that calls for the use of email at some level. In an interview with the Next Web, Saptarshi Nath, co-founder of Indian re-sale ecommerce startup Bootstrapp, said that his firm used email to share resources by which customers can learn about the company.

"Email newsletters linked to our blog content provide us this opportunity more clearly than social media," Nath told the news source. "As for offers and deals, we're generally able to reach only about 1 to 5 percent of our target audience via social media, and so we use email to reach customers who aren't regulars on Facebook."

Another noteworthy factor that differentiates email from other channels is the level of privacy it implies, the Next Web pointed out. While social messages are seen by many, recipients still perceive email as being directed expressly to them. As such, marketers should take advantage of the opportunities for targeting and personalization that email presents them.

"Brands should be respectful of this and avoid being too impersonal, too frequent and too irrelevant," William Grobel, manager of marketing and insight at Deloitte, told the Next Web.

Relevance is key
In fact, some field experts are suggesting that relevance is more important than many of the data points email marketers have traditionally relied on to gauge their successes. In a post for Business 2 Community, Monetate Content Marketing Director Rob Yoegel argued that relationships are more important than click-through and open rates when it comes to acquiring and retaining customers. He noted that Email Experience Council Co-chair Luke Glasner talked about the need for engagement in email during a recent webinar.

"The onus is on email marketers to develop good list management and list hygiene practices as well as engaging content," Glasner said, according to Yoegel. Glasner went on to note that historical metrics – open, click-through and conversion rates – have to be combined with real-time behavioral data – what kinds of devices email readers are using, for instance – in order to fully achieve relevance.

In a recent column for ClickZ, Derek Harding, CEO at Innovyx, discussed the need for marketers to improve email quality in order to increase engagement. Noting that about 10 percent of major brands have inoperative links and images in their marketing emails, Harding suggested firms learn a lesson from the publishing and software industries, where having a perfect product by the time of release is paramount.

With more polished emails, the customers on your targeted email lists are likely to hold your brand in higher regard.

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Targeted campaigns make email marketing more adaptive

Targeted campaigns make email marketing more adaptive

One of the trademarks of our mobile-equipped, technologically rich culture is the multitude of platforms on which people can broadcast any and all personal matters to their virtual communities. Social media enthusiasts post everything from major life events to the mundane details of their daily routines on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, while others take to Instagram to play the role of photojournalist for their own lives.

Since the personal is at the center of of this new online landscape, email marketers have to learn to adapt their promotional campaigns to appeal to their customers' sensibilities – and creating more targeted email lists is one of the key ways firms can ensure they are keeping abreast of the times. 

The end of the email blast
In an age where social media lets everyone feel that there's a spotlight just for them, impersonal email campaigns are sure to set marketers up for failure. Instead of sending a high number of email blasts to the entirety of their email marketing lists, brands are taking a more focused approach.

Adam Sarner, an analyst at research firm Gartner, recently told Internet Retailer that email marketing trends are emphasizing quality over quantity, and as part of that endeavor, marketers have to target their promotional messages more effectively.

"The market doesn't see email volume as where the value is anymore," Sarner told the news source. "They're sending less email, but starting to take advantage of things like predictive analytics, segmentation and offer management to email the right campaign to the right recipients."

Luckily, providers of email marketing solutions are already adapting their offerings to this trend. Internet Retailer also spoke with Matt Belkin, vice president of customer strategy and business development at Adobe. The firm recently altered its pricing strategy for Adobe Campaign to allow marketers to create more customized messages. Now, users won't be charged extra if they want to coordinate across multiple marketing channels, Belkin told the news source.

Get personal
Given these factors, email marketers only stand to gain from finding ways to make their customers feel important, as though they're being spoken to directly by the brand. In a post for Business 2 Community, Kevin Lindsay, the director of conversion product marketing for Adobe's Marketing Cloud products, noted that basic customization can go a long way.

"Many brands have found staggering results from some­thing as simple as adding the recipient's name to the subject line call to action," Lindsay wrote.

The Adobe marketer also recommended that firms consider using dynamic content – that is, tailored marketing copy based on customers' previous behavior – as a way of increasing customer engagement. Strategies like this help recipients feel like the brand emailing them knows and understands their habits and preferences.

Targeted marketing for the holidays
Marketers who are just getting started with personalization and segmentation may be wondering how they can quickly incorporate these techniques into their email campaigns. Luckily, the holiday shopping season is an ideal time for retail marketers, in particular, to employ new, more targeted tactics.

In a post for Marketing Land, Cara Olson, a marketing executive at digital consultancy DEG, outlined a series of ways in which firms can segment their email contact lists to boost holiday sales. One segment should contain the brand's best customers, she suggested. For this group, which should only be about 10 percent of the total email list, marketers can send promotions that reward brand loyalty. Meanwhile, marketers should create other segments based on contacts' past activity – whether they made a purchase last year, two years ago or have yet to do so – and market differently to each group.

By playing to the culture of the personal, you can create email campaigns that may prove more likely to boost holiday revenue.

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Make email the center of a multichannel marketing strategy

Make email the center of a multichannel marketing strategy

Although many have predicted that the surge in the popularity of social media would spell the death of email marketing, that's been far from the case. Studies have only reaffirmed the value of email marketing lists over social networks when it comes to converting contacts into customers. 

That doesn't mean, however, that it's advisable – or even possible – to simply focus on email and ignore all other Web and mobile platforms. Rather, an effective email marketing strategy will take social media, blogs and other types of sites into account, making use of them to create customers and increase engagement while still keeping email as the centerpiece of the firm's promotional campaigns.

Why email remains indispensable
The central position email must hold for marketers is based on its ability to create dynamic customer relationships that benefit companies in the long term. For instance, while the customer lifetime value of those who make purchases based on email promotions is considerably higher than the overall average, Twitter customers prove to be less valuable than most.

Firms who attempt to do their marketing on social media and put email aside quickly learn these principles. David Ball, internet marketing director for the Harlem Globetrotters, recently told MarketingWeek that his efforts to draw more sales for the sports club by increasing its social media presence proved largely ineffective. Fans on sites like Twitter and Facebook did not seem receptive when encouraged to make ecommerce purchases. Email, however, continues to be the club's most reliable marketing channel.

"We find email is the best marketing platform for direct marketing, we see great conversion because people are used to it," Ball told the news source.

The Globetrotters' marketer has adapted his strategy based on the results. Instead of relying heavily on social sites for marketing, he's opting to use data derived from the platforms to create engaging messages customized for certain segments of his email contact list.

"This year I want to get to know our customer better and segment and target the right messages at them, whether it's a discount, tickets or our summer schools," Ball said as quoted by the news source.

Integrating email with social, blogs
Ball's strategy – using social media to enhance email marketing – is one that many marketers are adopting. In a column for Florida Trend, FastPath Marketing President Ron Stein discussed how tweets, blog posts and other online content can help a company communicate its brand and reinforce the value customers receive when they sign up for its email list.

"It's a fair exchange – your prospect gives you their email address and you deliver value in return," Stein wrote.

Marketers can ensure that they continue to hold up their end of the deal by providing customers with high-quality content in every email, as well as by offering downloads of valuable information in the form of eBooks, whitepapers or other reports, Stein suggested. He also recommended that companies design their websites so that their email list signup forms are even more conspicuous than the icons that link to their social media pages.

Sony broadens its platforms
Electronics titan Sony recently integrated email and social media in a unique way that proved highly effective. According to EConsultancy, the firm sent out a series of emails that highlighted its activity on the social site Pinterest. This effort resulted in an email open rate 67 percent higher than expected and a click-through rate that was 16 percent above Sony's goal. Not only did the company gain followers on Pinterest – it also increased awareness of its brand and created greater engagement with its emails.

There are many ways to integrate email with social and other platforms in a multichannel approach. Marketers simply need to find the combination that works for their brands

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pinterest

How To Grow Your Business with Pinterest

Of all the social networking tools on the Web businesses can use , I think Pinterest is the most fascinating. Pinterest is a sharing website where you can build an interest in your business by “pinning” things to a virtual board. Pinterest boards allow for all sorts of media, including video and photos. Pinterest also allows those following your boards to “repin” your stuff elsewhere, increasing your business’s following with zero effort. Many businesses are wary of using Pinterest, as it is sometimes construed as too informal of a social media resource for professionals. Kick that thought out of your head, and let’s talk about how you can use Pinterest to grow your business.

Use Pinterest to Educate Your Followers

Because of its formatting and media capabilities, Pinterest is a great tool to educate your audience. People are taking an interest in your business if they’ve landed on your Pinterest board, so pin educational videos, posts, or other Pinterest boards to your board to give the viewer important information about who you are and what you do. For example, if you own a landscaping business, pinning gardening tips and the plant-life best suited for your area’s hardiness zone is a great way to show your followers that you have the best green thumb in the county. Build some “how to” boards, and tell your readers things about your business they would not know. Share other helpful pins from people in your industry. Show off a little without being arrogant; it’ll get you positive attention, rave reviews, and shared pins.

Sharing and Caring

Speaking of sharing pins, another important tool Pinterest allows for is sharing website content amongst followers. Much like re-tweeting in Twitter, people can link other people to your Web page and Pinterest boards by joining group boards and pinning your information there. This is beneficial to both parties, as you get more followers by default and so does the person pinning your information – kind of like a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” arrangement. The only downside to group boards is you do want to make certain the person pinning your company information is legitimate and qualified. If he or she is a teenager who has a Pinterest board on “how to throw the ultimate party without your parents finding out,” you’ve just lost a ton of credibility with your potential customers.

Use Pinterest to Get People on Your Web Page

According to social media expert Beth Hayden, more people end up on a company’s website from Pinterest, than from Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined. This does not mean you shouldn’t utilize those social networking tools as well, you should, but you shouldn’t ignore the power of Pinterest in your overall marketing strategy either. If you create some swanky, informative boards, complete with photos and educational information to boot, people are going to repin them to their Pinterest boards and, voila! Instant marketing! Just add something worth repining and wait! Potential customers will click through to your website from the Pinterest board.

Build Interesting Boards

And this, my friends, is the key to growing your business by using Pinterest . You need to build boards that grab people’s attention, tell them something they didn’t know, and include photos and videos sure to go viral. The nice thing about Pinterest is you can get a little more personal with this social media tool without telling everyone your life story – something you never want to do in business. Using the landscaping example, hire a photographer to take amazing photos of your favorite projects; hire a videographer to tape you working. Get personal, without getting too personal. Give your followers imagery along with words to create an interesting board worth repining. Every time somebody repins your board, it is one more person putting your company name, website, and information out there. And, if that person has millions of followers, you just got millions of potential customers!

As you can see, Pinterest is a powerful social networking tool . Don’t make the mistake many other businesses are making by ignoring this unique website. Build boards that tell potential customers you know your stuff, and make them exciting enough that people will repin them to their boards. An old Faberge shampoo commercial comes to mind as I wrap up this blog post: “I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on…”
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Do's and don'ts for email marketers this holiday season

Do’s and don’ts for email marketers this holiday season

Competition in the email marketing realm is as stiff as ever this holiday season, especially with the new Gmail layout's separate tab for promotional messages making it harder for marketers to win a prominent place in their contacts' inboxes.

As such, it's important for marketers to keep themselves on-message and on-target for achieving the desired returns on investment this November and December. These six email marketing tips can help you create campaigns that will have your email list engaged and responsive as they make their important purchases.

Don't over-send
Finding the right frequency for email sends can be a long-term challenge. If you're still struggling to optimize the timing of your promotional messages, consider opting for fewer sends rather than overwhelming your customers with too many emails in too short a timespan.

Mobile email marketing firm Elite Email recently affirmed the validity of this principle.

"Over sending emails annoys your audience and causes people to unsubscribe. Don't become spam," the company told marketers.

Write a great subject line
Of course, if you cut down your send volume, you'll need to make sure that your emails grab your contacts' attention and stick out from the crowd. One of the most effective ways to optimize your emails for engagement is to craft perfect subject lines, and there are a few proven techniques you can take advantage of.

Business2Community pointed out the psychological effectiveness of phrasing subject lines as questions. By asking the contacts in your email database whether they've chosen the perfect gift for their loved ones, for instance, you can engage your contacts' individual needs and concerns without knowing very much about them.

However, more forceful subject lines can also be effective, the source noted. Commands – "Don't wait," or "Reserve your spot today," for example – avoid pushiness while still being direct, offering customers some welcome clarity amid the sea of promotions flooding their inboxes.

Don't forget to segment
No two consumers are exactly alike, which is why it's key for marketers to use the richest data available on their contacts and tailor the messages they send to their customers' interests and habits.

Segmentation lists based on demographic and purchase habit data help ensure that your customers will find your promotions relevant and engaging: It's easy to see why a woman who received one too many emails advertising men's products would unsubscribe. Furthermore, Elite Email suggested that marketers take the December shopping season to discover which holidays their contacts celebrate and temporarily segmenting their lists based on that criterion.

Keep it simple
While sophistication is the name of the game in email list segmentation – the more complex data marketers have, the better they can target consumers – simplicity is vital when it comes to the written copy and visual layout of your emails. Especially given the sheer volume of competition your emails are facing, it needs to be immediately clear to a reader what the promotion is offering.

"Some businesses try to say too much in one email, meanwhile nothing gets the focus. Multiple emails with more focus on individual products to customized lists perform much better," Elite Email noted.

Marketers should also be sure to create streamlined, uncluttered layouts that look good on mobile screens.

Don't be impersonal
CAN Spam compliance isn't the only way marketers can win the trust of their email contact lists. Elite Email suggested that promotional message have a person's name in the subject line, assuming that it will be clear to customers that the sender is a representative of the brand.

Marketers can also make sure they are personalizing content by sending promotions based on products contacts have already expressed interest in – an item saved but not purchased in an online shopping cart, for instance.

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