Monthly Archives: November 2013

How bloggers can embrace email marketing

How bloggers can embrace email marketing

As the popularity of blogs continues to grow and readers rely on highly regarded Web writers for cutting-edge industry news and insights, bloggers may be looking to expand their customer bases so that they can more effectively monetize their sites. An email marketing list can be an excellent tool for online writers who want to take a multi-platform approach to getting exposure for their content.

Involve readers
Turning your blog's reader base into a set of email contacts can be very effective. Visitors already trust the blogs they frequent for high-quality content, so it should be comparatively easy to encourage them to subscribe to your email campaigns or newsletters.

In a post for Social Barrel, social media and mobile technology writer Francis Ray Balolong suggested that bloggers take advantage of user-generated content in their efforts to gain email subscribers. Writers who curate a company blog, in particular, can promote contests and promotions through their Web pages as a way of getting readers to provide their email addresses.

Stay consistent
Veteran bloggers are already well acquainted with the necessity of updating their sites with a steady stream of content, so that readers view their blogs as a consistent, reliable source of information and a center of energy and excitement they can take part in.

"Offering engaging, informative news and interaction enables you to stay relevant and top of mind," Vin Turk, senior vice president for audience development at Madison Logic, wrote in a column for Marketing Profs.

As such, bloggers venturing into the world of email campaigns should take care to create a schedule of email sends that they can keep to consistently.

Think creatively
Since writers' bread-and-butter is the creative framing of their material, adapting that skill to crafting effective, engaging marketing emails should prove a very manageable feat. Bloggers who want to grow and engage a readership and customer base through email campaigns should be sure to apply the same care and thoughtfulness to their promotional messages and newsletters as they do to their blog content.

However, it's important to keep email copy clear and concise. While readers come to your blog of their own volition, their inboxes are inundated with promotional messages, and as such, attention spans for email content can be shorter. In a post for Practical ECommerce, USAData Email Marketing Manager Carolyn Nye pointed out that only 20 percent of revenue from marketing emails comes from their creative components.

Avoid clutter
Keeping that principle in mind, it's important that your email layouts stay clean and easy to read. Balolong warned against overuse of images in email templates, pointing out that visuals have to be effectively placed in order to get readers to click through or convert.

Furthermore, Nye pointed out that taking too much time to design a complex layout can damage the cost-effectiveness of email marketing.

"I've seen marketing departments agonize over images or debate the perfect font color. I've seen them drag out the process so long that the offer actually lost revenue because it wasn't deployed on time. Make sure your creative is effective," she wrote.

Consider optimal frequency
Finding the perfect number of emails to send per week is key for all marketers, and it can be especially important for bloggers, because their sites also serve as a source of content. Too-frequent email sends can result in readers feeling overwhelmed by a particular blog or company.

"Increasing frequency just to capture additional sales can … be detrimental if you sacrifice your customers' expectations and tolerance levels," Nye pointed out.

Consider coordinating the your email sends and blog posts together. For example, if you publish to your blog on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, you might send emails on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That way, followers will be reading and expecting your different content platforms on different days.

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For retailers, email branding is key

For retailers, email branding is key

As Black Friday nears, it's a race to the finish line among retailers who are trying to beat out the competition and generate as much profit as possible from their email marketing lists. As such, marketers in the retail space must take extra care that their emails communicate the identity of their companies in a meaningful, engaging way that will draw in customers.

In a recent column for Forbes, marketing expert Steve Olenski highlighted the central role email marketing plays in establishing brand awareness. In particular, he insisted that it's essential for firms to market to moms, as they are tasked with 80 to 90 percent of decision-making in regards to household purchases.

Olenski spoke to Kim Finnerty, senior vice president of research and insights at the Ryan Partnership, who pointed out that the mom demographic uses emails to help them shop at consistently higher rates than the average consumer. What's more, the relevance of email hasn't diminished.

"While it seems like an old-school tool compared to things like shopping apps and mobile payments, marketers have had years to perfect it so it achieves objectives," Finnerty told Olenski.

Given the importance of email to the shopping habits of retailers' key demographic, it's essential that marketers make the platform central to their strategies.

Fashion emails still not mobile-ready
Not all retail firms, however, are optimizing their email campaigns. In a post for EConsultancy, David Moth recently pointed out that many fashion companies' emails still don't look good on mobile screens.

After signing up for over a dozen fashion retailers' newsletters, Moth found that only four translated in an attractive way to the popular Android smartphone operating system. Furthermore, in the case of firms that did optimize for smartphones and tablets, he discovered uneven deployment of mobile readiness. The emails of retailer ASOS, for example, suffered from clumsy layouts with crowded images and large empty spaces in the design. Meanwhile, Moth noted that American Apparel's emails looked relatively attractive on an Android – except that their text was small and difficult to read and the copy lacked any clear calls to action.

Because smartphones are so easy to slip into a purse or coat pocket, they represent a helpful tool for shoppers who rely on marketing emails to guide them through their shopping. Neglecting to build mobile-friendly designs can be a huge oversight: It's easy to see how a mom overwhelmed with shopping duties, for instance, might make her choice of retailer based on whose promotions are easy to access on mobile.

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How to grow your email marketing list

How to grow your email marketing list

Your email marketing list is one the most effective business tools you have at your disposal. However, acquiring that list is not just a one-time investment, but rather a moving proposition, as your number of contacts should grow along with your company and its needs.

In your efforts to collect new subscribers and retain existing ones, stick to these four principles, and you won't find yourself running out of ways to maintain a dynamic, ever-expanding email list.

In-store registrations
Retailers of any size shouldn't ignore the opportunities for growing their email contact lists within the four walls of their physical locations. 

A recent study by ExactTarget found that 20 percent of retailers have sales personnel ask for customer email addresses at the register. The tactic was found to be effective by 57 percent of companies who used it.

The popularity of this practice makes it a highly useful asset: With requests for an email address now a common part of making an in-store purchase, most customers won't be put off or annoyed by it.

You might also opt to ask customers at checkout if they'd like to provide their email addresses in order to sign up for a loyalty program or card. While only 18 percent of retailers are using this method, 67 percent found it to be an effective technique, the study showed. Meanwhile, 13 percent of companies are giving customers the option to have their receipts emailed to them, and 55 percent of those retailers said the practice had been successful.

Mobile and social media
Social content is one of the most popular strategies for growing an email list. ExactTarget found that 45 percent of marketers were collecting contacts via Facebook, while 39 percent promoted company materials via social media that required viewers to enter their email addresses for access.

With social media being widely used on smartphones, it only stands to reason that marketers should have a mobile email contact generation strategy, too. According to the survey, 13 percent of firms required email addresses for company mobile app registrations, while 12 percent provided the option for customers to sign up to the email list within the app itself.

While mobile email capture techniques aren't as widespread as social media and on-site methods, trying them out could give your company an advantage as the smartphone and tablet trend continues to grow.

Optimize your website
Designing your company's Web page so that it gives visitors plenty of opportunities to enter their email addresses is an indispensable strategy. And while mobile email registrations may put your company on the cutting edge, failing to optimize your website for email captures will set you behind the competition.

Websites are by far the most popular platform on which companies grow their email lists. The ExactTarget study revealed that 74 percent of marketers had embedded an email sign-up form on their companies' sites, and 52 percent made certain features of the site accessible only to users who provided their email addresses.

Keep your emails creative and engaging
Even though word of mouth is the oldest marketing strategy, it remains an important tool to utilize. The best and only sure-fire way to get your email contacts talking about your campaigns is to send them the most well crafted, engaging messages possible.

In a post for HubSpot, Ginny Soskey recently highlighted a series of highly effective email campaigns. She pointed to social content site BuzzFeed as a prime example of tight, punchy email copy. Meanwhile, athletic app producer RunKeeper perfected the art of the newsletter with an attractive, dynamic layout perfectly suited for both Web and mobile browsers.

Ultimately, communicating your brand in a memorable way is the best method for attracting subscribers.

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email marketing campaign

How to Create A Successful E-Mail Marketing Campaign

If you’re following my blog – and I hope you are – you’re seeing a pretty obvious pattern. I’m an expert in marketing and I’ve been writing a lot about email marketing and social networking. You already know the reason why. Marketing for any-sized business has changed drastically over the last decade, and if you don’t have an online presence, you aren’t competitive. What might surprise you, however, is having a Facebook page still isn’t as effective as a successful email marketing campaign, despite all the fuss over Zuckerberg and his multi-billion dollar empire. So, how do you harness the magic of this marketing dynamo ? Don’t worry, I’m about to tell you!

Perform Your Demographic Research

Many businesses make the mistake of simply sending generic emails out to everyone on their address list. It doesn’t matter who the people are or what their interest in the business might be; this is a major boo-boo that you must avoid. Email is not a marketing “easy way out.” You can’t avoid performing your demographic research just because you’re emailing people and not using some other marketing strategy. You need to determine who your customer is – even when emailing – and then email them. If you simply bombard 1,000 generic inboxes, you’ll probably get tagged as a spammer and, worse, you’ll probably email a ton of people who could care less about your business. They aren’t even going to read your subject line. They’re going to hit the “Spam” button or “Unsubscribe” link immediately. Do your demographic research and determine who is best suited and who wants to hear from you.

Understand Your Email Audience

Once you’ve done your homework and you know you are emailing to people best suited to receive your solicitation, take a moment to “get to know” them personally. Who are you emailing to and how did you get their email address in the first place? These are important questions that you want to ask before you even think about writing your email. Customers who have opted in to receiving your emails as they checked out of your online store are going to be interested in sales solicitations. Customers who signed up on the paper list you have at your brick-and-mortar checkout counter also want to know what you have on sale. Customers who signed up to receive emails from your trade show booth, or who subscribe to your blog or social media pages, want to know about your business. Make the distinction before crafting your solicitation. Oh, and one more thing, don’t send a sassy email filled with instant messaging slang to an email list of 55-plussers… SO NOT going to make a good impression! Understand who your audience is and be playful where appropriate and professional where appropriate .

Write the Email Toward the Audience

Let’s talk about that last point a little bit further. Sometimes it’s okay to be fun, playful, a bit unprofessional – a LITTLE BIT – other times it’s definitely not. You should never be completely unprofessional – ever – but as you’ve seen in some my blog posts, it’s okay to have a little fun. But, overall, you do need to remain professional while still writing your email toward the audience you just familiarized yourself with. Aside from just knowing what they want to hear about, think about the best way to present it. Speak your audience’s language when writing the email. If you are a skateboard retailer, there is a specific slang you must know; if you are a fine china distributor, you’re going to be very formal. Make certain the tone and verbiage of your email speaks directly to your intended audience .

Don’t Forget the Email Marketing Basics

I’ve written about this stuff in the past, so check out my previous blogs for more detail, but keep in mind the following after you’ve come to a complete understanding of who you are marketing to. Remember to:

  • Write a subject line that will get your recipient’s attention.
  • Keep your email concise and to the point – don’t waste people’s time with a long-winded correspondence.
  • Make sure everything is spelled correctly and grammatically correct – don’t give a bad impression.
  • Use graphics and photos to enhance your email’s impact.
  • Include links and buttons that call your recipients to take action, especially links to any sales pages, your website, and social networking pages.
  • Include coupons or other incentives to spur customer action, as well.
  • Make your customer feel as if you are speaking directly to him or her and as if they are a king or queen.

This is not as hard as it may seem, so don’t avoid using this extremely important and effective marketing tool. And, hey, if after all of this you still feel like a duck out of water, do the one thing that will be sure to get you results: Ask your customers what they want. Ask them what they want you to email them about and how often they want to receive emails from you. If you do that, you’re sure to create email marketing campaigns that return profits instead of “Unsubscribe” hits.
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Email marketing remains essential for small businesses

Email marketing remains essential for small businesses

Small businesses are well acquainted with the need to make sure their marketing efforts are reaching their intended audiences. Without the vast financial resources and large customer bases of corporations, highly effective targeting and exceptional return on investment are essential for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Email marketing offers benefits of precisely this kind, and its popularity hasn't diminished among SMB marketing teams. The Small and Midsize Business Email Marketing Survey 2013 by iContact revealed that email marketing lists are a vital tool for smaller firms.

Confidence in email marketing remains strong among SMBs, the study found. The overwhelming majority – 78 percent – of respondents said they felt positive about what email could achieve, while 32 percent expressed high confidence in the marketing channel.

Email is the primary tool for SMBs when it comes to sharing information. According to the study, 92 percent of firms go to email as their preferred channel for showcasing product releases, while 90 percent use the platform to make announcements about important changes, events and developments within their companies.

Furthermore, SMBs aren't planning to halt or slow down their email marketing efforts. The iContact study discovered that 56 percent of small firms planned to increase the monetary and other resources they devote to sending promotional email campaigns this year.

Connecting email and social media
Many SMBs are opting for a multi-channel approach to digital marketing. Social media is the most popular platform with which marketers are integrating their email campaigns, with 64 percent linking their messages to sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Social media isn't effective exclusively among business to consumer (B2C) firms, either. Business to business (B2B) companies can use social platforms in combination with email to more fully engage the contacts on their business email lists

In a post for BtoB Magazine, Pedowitz Group Associate Revenue Engineer Caitlin Culbert highlighted the various ways in which B2B firms can employ social networking to their advantage. One of the channel's primary benefits is its ability to increase the reach of small business marketing emails and content.

"People share your emails, so your brand gets more exposure and becomes more well-known, which then creates a higher likelihood for email opens, clicks and conversions," Culbert wrote.

Social sites are also an excellent way for small firms to connect with potential customers in the business sphere and create a network of contacts, Culbert noted. As such, she recommended B2B marketers make sure they include links to company social media pages in their email templates, so that recipients will be able to easily find the business and see what it's up to.

Optimizing email sends
Near-perfect optimization is key for SMB marketers, and while there's no universally applicable set of principles for when and how to send emails most effectively, knowing the habits of your customer base will help you create the right strategy.

Nevertheless, statistics suggest that if you're going to place your bets on the best time of day for email sends, your money should be on mid-afternoon. A study by MailChimp showed that most email opens occur between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

In terms of what days of the week to send marketing emails, Box Free IT recently suggested that this decision for SMBs largely depends on their customer base.

"If you're a B2C marketer, your email sweet spot might be the evenings or weekends, when your email recipients won't be distracted by work emails. B2B marketers, on the other hand, want to avoid nights and weekends like the plague," the source wrote.

Meanwhile, the old adage "less is more" remains highly relevant to email send frequency. The iContact study found that only 6 percent of SMBs email their entire lists everyday, but a more substantial 24 percent email certain list segments more than once a week.

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When marketing for the hospitality sector, choose email

When marketing for the hospitality sector, choose email

Hotels and businesses in the hospitality sector often have fewer marketing resources and personnel than those in other industries. This means that the marketing efforts that firms in this field put forth need to be highly effective and well-targeted, as limited budgets mean a reduced number of channels for exposure.

Hoteliers for whom the main decision point is whether to market via email or another platform shouldn't put away their email contact lists just yet, as direct promotional messages remain highly relevant to the sector and can generate considerable return on investment.

The email vs. social media debate
Given that social media marketing is virtually free, it's easy to see why hotels with small marketing budgets might opt to devote their efforts to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Social networking platforms, however, still aren't offering the results that email is. According to a recent report by Web hosting provider Host Papa, email is still the preferred online marketing channel for 75 percent of adult consumers. Furthermore, the time users spend engaging with promotional messages is growing. In 2007, consumers spent 17 percent of their email time looking at commercial messages, while that figure stood at 30 percent in 2011.

Perhaps most noteworthy is that email marketing yielded a 4000 percent overall return on investment across all industries in 2012, according to Host Papa. 

Meanwhile, just 61 percent of Web users login to social media sites, but 94 percent check email, the report showed. Email is more popular on mobile, too: 55 percent of smartphone and tablet users read emails on their devices, while only 36 percent access social media.

Strategizing for hospitality
In a recent post for Hotel News Resource, marketing strategist Madigan Pratt insisted that while social media can't simply be ignored, email marketing remains essential for the hospitality sector. Rather than choose one or the other, marketers in the field should know the strengths of each channel so that they can reap their full benefits.

"Email can be a powerful tool for driving revenue, but only when database marketing best practices are applied. Consequently when developing next year's marketing plans a good place to start is by auditing your email program to see if you are maximizing its impact on your bottom line," wrote Pratt.

Businesses can optimize email by obtaining rich data about their contacts and creating segmented email marketing lists to offer promotions tailored to recipients' interests. A contact who travels internationally on a regular basis can receive promotions on hotel rooms overseas, for instance.

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email marketing secrets

The 10 Best Kept Email Marketing Secrets

One of the biggest mistakes most business owners make is not placing enough emphasis on email marketing. I would venture to guess that the primary reason people are reticent to dive into an email marketing campaign is the “spam” stigma attached to it. I’m not going to talk about spam in this post; we’ve gone over it extensively in posts past. I am going to give you some best-kept email marketing secrets, however, because you really do need to include emailing in your marketing repertoire. Customers prefer email to any other channel when it comes to giving you permission to market to them.

Sign-up Logistics

Ah! But that is the key. You need to have your customers’ permission to send them email-marketing material, so make sure you get it – easily. It doesn’t matter if you have an online business, a brick-and-mortar store, or both, you need to ensure your email mailing list sign-up process is a piece of cake; otherwise your customers aren’t going to bother. Have a mailing list sign-up sheet with plenty of pens at your store checkouts, and train your staff to ask customers if they’d like to receive “special deals” via email – see how I just enticed your customer to sign up? Special deals! Make sure your website also offers easy access to sign up for your emailing list; a non-intrusive pop-up sign-up form is a good idea.

Your Sign-up Form

So, let’s talk about this non-intrusive sign-up form for just a second. One thing I’ve been preaching from blog post number one is to keep things basic – a little goes a long way, and this is true with your electronic email sign-up form, too. Save your sales pitch for your emails; don’t clutter your sign-up form with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo your customer doesn’t need to read to simply sign up for your emailing list. Keep it simple by asking for your customer’s name – only insist upon the first name, many people don’t like to include their last name – email address, and include links to your social networking pages so your customer can sign up for those at the same time.

Get Excited About Them Signing Up

I’ve written a blog post on this but it bears repeating. If your customers sign up for your emailing list and you don’t send them a new subscriber thank you email within 24 hours, you’ve just lost their interest… and it’s just plain rude. The power of common courtesy has not fallen by the wayside, contrary to popular belief, and you need to thank your customers for their interest in your business. While you’re at it, give them a bonus in your thank you email to get them shopping right away.

Once They’ve Signed Up… Think Mobile!

I’ve given a few secret tips to get your customer’s to sign up for your email marketing campaigns and now that they’ve signed up you need to think mobile. Recent studies confirm that most people read their emails on their mobile devices; I know I have my nose in front of mine 24/7, much to my wife’s dismay. So, when you begin formatting your marketing emails, you need to keep mobile devices in mind. A couple of things to help you out are to keep your email margins left aligned and use links instead of buttons. Both show up better on smartphones and tablets.

Get Personal

While you’re personalizing your emails to your customer’s devices, personalize the actual emails too. Take a moment to learn more about your customers and what they purchase from you, and then make certain your marketing campaign addresses that… directly… to them. For example, if you’re running a pet supply business, you definitely do not want to send dog supply coupons to cat owners and vice versa. Customize your marketing emails to each customer and you’ll get better results.

Make Certain Your Emails Get Opened

Picture this, in today’s world of cyber-insecurity you get an email in your inbox that doesn’t identify who it’s from. It just says “do-not-reply@CompanyName.com.” What would you do with that email if it hit your inbox (changes are it’ll be spammed)? You’d delete it without opening it. I would too. This is why you need to get personal in the sender’s address also. If your customers know you by name, have your name as the sender’s name, i.e., JohnDoe@CompanyName.com. If they are assigned to specific sales reps, have their name. Whatever you do, have a name! Otherwise, your marketing email won’t be opened at all.

Time Your Solicitations

Don’t overlook the importance of timing in your email marketing campaigns. Sit down with your employees and hash out some ideas as to the best time to send out your emails; talk to your customers, too, and ask them how often they really want to hear from you. Keep in mind your business. If you own a restaurant, for example, sometimes the best time to send a marketing email is in the afternoon, because your customer just might be at work listening to his or her growling stomach and thinking about dinner. You send them a coupon and, voila! Dinner plans are set!

Keep Track!

I know I’ve said this a million times but email marketing campaigns are no different from any other marketing campaign, and you need to track their success. Make sure you set up your marketing campaigns to track click-through, printed coupons, and resulting sales progress. That way, you can find out which email campaigns are working the best and run your future campaigns based on their logistics. If you see the afternoon emailed dinner special coupon is bringing tons of customers through your door, keep it up! That’s the point of email marketing.

Be Unique in Getting New Email Signees

The Internet is an amazing tool, and we are all learning the numerous ways to use it to build businesses, so here’s a suggestion: Use this Internet to build your emailing list by hosting free webinars about your business. It really doesn’t matter what you do. You can still host a webinar to teach people about you, why you went into your own business, and why they should become your customers. Send an email to your current list encouraging them to attend and to forward the email to their family and friends to attend. Advertise your webinar on your website and using local advertising resources. Get people to sign up for your email list by teaching them about your business.

Keep an Open Mind

Whatever you do to increase the success of your email marketing campaigns, keep your mind open. Yes, there are some hard-fast rules to email marketing, and if you break them, you might have to answer to the federal government! But, this doesn’t mean that everything about email marketing is cut and dry. Things that don’t work for other businesses might just work for you. And your customers might not mind if you break some commonly understood email-marketing dos and don’ts. Maybe your customers want their email font in hot pink, who knows? Okay… maybe not hot pink. But, my point is to use different approaches, test them, ask your customers for feedback, and then stick with what works. That’s the best kept email marketing secret of all!

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How email marketers can weather rocky results

How email marketers can weather rocky results

Finding that your email campaigns haven't been yielding the return on investment you'd hoped for can be a disheartening experience. While the stakes of email marketing are too high for marketers to let that feeling overcome them for very long, the struggles of reaching their firms' email contact list in a way that produces results are certainly real.

The difficulties marketers face aren't bound by national borders, either. Biz Community reported that in the United Kingdom, marketing emails sent by small to medium-sized business have just a 54 percent rate of successful delivery. Meanwhile, open rates stood at 21.47 percent, but the average conversion rate was just 3 percent.

Marketers experiencing poor results like these in the UK, United States or any other country where email marketing is widespread have tools at their disposal to reintroduce some energy into their campaigns and hopefully get their numbers headed in the right direction.

Prioritize by customer value
Knowing how, when and what kinds of customers make the most valuable purchases based on your email campaigns can help you focus your marketing efforts so that they'll produce the highest possible ROI.

For instance, while it's uncommon for a customer visiting your website for the first time will make a purchase, that likelihood is much higher among visitors who are already familiar with your brand.

"When looking at conversions, the difference between a new visitor coming to your site and a returning visitor is insane. We typically see anywhere from a 500 percent to 1600 percent greater purchase value from returning visitors," noted Rob Walling, founder of email marketing startup Drip.

Drip is an analytics and campaign automation platform that can help marketers target returning customers, and there are numerous other software products on the market that provide the data you need to market more effectively.

Learn how to target mobile
The statistics on the mobile email trend continue to confirm its spread. A recent study by Movable Ink showed that 63 percent of email opens in the third quarter of 2013 happened on a smartphone or tablet, while desktop computers accounted for just 39 percent of opens.

While iOS email is much more popular than Android – 78.7 percent of smartphone opens happened on an iPhone – Movable Ink Vice President of Marketing Jordan Cohen thinks that's no reason to ignore the Google operating system.

"If almost one in 10 of your emails is being opened on an Android, I would certainly want to design for that platform and cater to your audience on that platform," Cohen told Digital Marketing News.

Indeed, faced with the difficulties of raising email ROI, marketers cannot afford to leave any stone unturned.

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welcome email

That’s It? What’s Missing From Your Welcome Email

“Welcome” says so much to your customers.

That’s It? What’s Missing From Your Welcome Email?

One of the biggest marketing mistakes businesses make is failing to send a welcome email to the people who subscribe to their electronic mailing list. One of the second biggest marketing mistakes is sending a crappy one. Forgive the language, but if your new email subscribers open your welcome email and think or say out loud “That’s it?”, you’ve just lost them to the unsubscribe button. Considering welcome emails increase customer loyalty by 33 percent, you can’t afford to miss anything when it comes to welcoming your customers to your email subscription list.

Common Courtesy Beyond the Opt-In

You are probably already sending one email to any new customer who subscribes to your email list, so it’s ridiculous to skip the courtesy of letting your customers know that you are thrilled that they want to hear from you regularly. If your email system is set up to send an opt-in subscription confirmation – you know, the ones with the links that the customers click to confirm they want to be added to your email list – including a welcome message is a no-brainer. Bada bing, bada boom, done! If you don’t send an opt-in confirmation email, send the welcome email anyway.

The reason why this extra step is necessary to your business is simple: Your customer opens a welcome email more than any other email, except order and shipping confirmation notifications. You know your customers are going to open those emails, but did you also know that 50 to 60 percent of customers open welcome emails? That’s pretty impressive, considering most marketing emails hit the cyber trash quickly without being opened at all.

Nope. The facts remind us of something that has been tried and true for centuries: Your customer wants to feel important and wanted, as if they are your ONLY customer, and you need to use good old-fashioned customer service and courtesy to ensure that they are feeling the love. Make it worth their while to opt-in to your email list and remain your customer, and do that by:

  1. Genuinely welcoming your customers to your business. Thank them, and make sure they know that you appreciate their interest in your business, and that you are excited that they have opted-in to receive news and information about your company.
  2. Review the benefits your customers will receive by being an email subscriber. If you aren’t offering additional perks, do so! Include coupons and click-throughs to your website so they can use them. Entice them to shop right way. Customers make purchases from welcome emails nine times more than other types of correspondence. Take advantage of that.
  3. Include links to a preferences page and your privacy policy. This gives your customers the opportunity to tell you more about themselves right away, so you know exactly how to approach them with your business services. It also assures them that you will keep their information confidential.
  4. Link to your social networking pages so your customers can “Like” you immediately and subscribe to your Tweets and Pinterest page. No matter what it is, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, make sure you’ve got the social networking links for your customers to click.
  5. Encourage your customers to add you to their address book so your emails don’t end up in the trash. Also, tell them how often you’ll be sending them an email, and give them the option to choose how often they want to hear from you, if possible.
  6. Include an unsubscribe link – it’s the law – and here’s the real tricky part, wrap all of this into a concise, graphically pleasant email and send it to your new subscribers as soon as humanly (or electronically) possible. I’m talking within 10 to 15 minutes of their subscription, no longer than an hour, and definitely no longer than 24 hours.

This is a lot to cram into one little email, and that may be why so many companies don’t actually send welcome emails. They’re missing out big time, and so will you if you avoid this crucial marketing step. If you can’t do it yourself, hire someone who can. If you can do it yourself, do it, do it, do it! Why lose 33 percent more customer loyalty and nine times more sales just because you don’t want to let your customers know how important they really are. Come on! Your customers are the MOST important thing to you, so tell them that by welcoming them into your email subscription group appropriately. Spread the love! It’ll pay off.
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Essential email marketing tools for the holidays

Essential email marketing tools for the holidays

With the major shopping seasons of late November and December just around the corner, your holiday emails campaigns are probably well underway by this point. It's not too late, however, to take stock of your strategy and make sure you have in place the tools that will allow you to use your email marketing list in the most effective way possible.

There's a variety of tools available in these three cutting-edge categories that can help you provide your contacts with a better email experience than the competition and keep you informed about how recipients are reacting to your campaigns.

Analytics
You've probably heard the word analytics tossed around before, and most likely, you know that Google is one firm that provides them. The term covers a wide range of tools that help people make sense of data. As an email marketer, there are many benefits that an analytics platform can offer, and the vital holiday season is as good a time as any to acquaint yourself with them.

Marketing solutions provider Mailgen, for instance, integrates with Google Analytics to tell marketers when recipients open emails, click on embedded links and make purchases, Business News Daily reported. In the case of emails read on mobile devices, the tool also tells you what kind of smartphone or tablet each contact was using, so that you can optimize your email layouts for your recipients' preferred operating systems.

Contact management 
Large email lists need a lot of care and attention, and even the best analytics won't do the work of building segmentation lists based on pertinent data for you. As such, some marketers make use of contact management tools to help bear some of the burden.

ZDNet recently reported that Constant Contact had announced an update to its service that enables users to create a variety of email list segments based on enriched data, including how contacts are interacting with one another through email and other platforms.

Business News Daily noted that Constant Contact also has an automatic unsubscribe feature, so when users opt not to receive your emails any longer, you won't have to worry about manually removing them from your database.

A more stripped-down form of content management is offered by Canadian firm CakeMail, whose service comes preloaded with personalized campaign templates to help you speak more relevantly to your contacts, according to ZDNet.

Certain types of automation can help you manage your campaigns, too. GetResponse's Autoresponders 2.0, for example, helps marketers create an automated email send calendar so that messages will be delivered when they're most relevant, Business News Daily wrote.

Design
Great layouts can be an excellent way to ensure that your holiday emails aren't overshadowed by the numerous other messages that are appearing in your contacts' inboxes.

In fact, failing to design attractive emails can turn customers away from your brand, especially if they're reading on a mobile device. A study by Yesmail Interactive showed that 44 percent of the public found emails that require users to perform excessive scrolling on their smartphones were difficult to read. Meanwhile, 29 percent said that the emails they received were simply laid out incorrectly for mobile, and 27 percent thought there was too much content in the messages.

If you're a layman when it comes to coding and the prospect of laying out email designs seems intimidating, iContact's Message Builder may prove helpful. Business News Daily noted that the tool, which requires no coding skills, has hundreds of attractive, flexible templates you can tweak to your vision by dragging and dropping elements into the design.

Equipped with your chosen set of tools, you'll be able to market in ways the customers in your email database are sure to remember, even in the midst of the holiday promotion mania.

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