Author Archives: Alec Wilcox

Boost email open and clickthrough rates with dynamic calls to action.

Improve business email efficacy with clear calls to action

What's the good of a targeted email list if no one clicks on your links or follows through? Many organizations may be tempted to blame low response rates on their email distribution lists, but more likely than not, it's their content strategy to blame. So, how do they right these wrongs to get recipients and clicking engaged?

State your purpose loudly and clearly                                          
When sending out an email, organizations will need to communicate exactly what they want recipients to do with the information provided in the communication. This requires crafting a single, clear call to action (CTA). FIrms may be tempted to overload their business emails with multiple messages, such as encouraging readers to look into creating an account, taking an advantage of a discount or purchasing a specific product. However, this may only serve to hide the most important message firms are trying to get across, Marketing Profs wrote.

"Avoid CTAs that state the obvious," explained Marketing Profs. "The internet has been around long enough even for the biggest technophobes to understand that they have to click on a hyperlink to make it work. In other words, don't use 'click here.'"

However, just because businesses need to avoid the obvious, this does not mean they can fail to address certain critical items. According to the news source, there are a number of key components that all CTAs should include, as well as a few questions they must answer, including what's expected of recipients, where a linked CTA will take them and why they should want to click in the first place. The key phrases Marketing Profs identified as needing to be part of CTAs are short and to the point, such as "contact us," "apply now," "sign up now" and "create an account."

Subject lines are an art                                                  
Before recipients can even get to the CTA, though, they must actually open the email, and a compelling subject line plays a major role in accomplishing this task.

According to research from Eloqua, top-performing emails include custom personalization, Business 2 Community reported. The study found that including the recipient's name and additional information, such as location, are winning strategies for boosting open rates. Additionally, crafting subject lines that target customers' interests, similar to how Amazon creates its daily deals, can help organizations forge connections with customers as well as boost open and click-through rates.

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Recipients can help spur greater success with email marketing lists.

Recipients can help improve targeted mailing lists

Targeted email lists help businesses find new customers and maintain relationships with existing ones. However, merely acquiring a list isn't enough to boost engagement and purchases. Rather, lists require constant tweaks and updates to ensure each one is performing to its potential.

Email list maintenance: Where do you start?                    
A recent article from Business 2 Community explained that one strategy companies and organizations can implement to better manage and tailor their email marketing lists involves handing over some degree of control to recipients. 

For example, the news source said marketers could establish email subscription centers. All communications going to a customer's inbox must include the option to opt- out of receiving the messages, but why not offer exiting recipients a few options that could get them to stay, including choosing the frequency with which they receive messages or contacting them directly to deliver a personal touch?

One action firms can take is including a button that recipients may click, called "Manage my Preferences." Business 2 Community highlighted how men's clothing line Bonobos accomplished this successfully.

"Through the use of appealing language and humor, Bonobos is savvy about offering options that decrease a subscriber's likelihood of unsubscribing," Business 2 Community wrote. "As a result, Bonobos retains 25 [percent] of those who would have otherwise opted out."

Sometimes the problem may be your content                                            
If businesses are seeing an exodus of recipients, establishing a subscription center may not be enough. Companies facing this issue could be targeting recipients incorrectly, failing to segment them by interest and demographics or simply not providing content that grabs ahold of their attention.

Folio magazine suggested breaking a few​ of the tried-and-true rules to see if anything sticks. For one, many businesses are advised to avoid the term "free," as it often has the effect of shuffling messages straight to spam. However, the news source asserted that in some cases, using this word can work.

Additionally, test out both HTML and text versions of the same email. "Text may but ugly, but ugliness did not stop Frankenstein's monster from getting a bride," Folio noted.

Winning over an email marketing list is just as much about industry best practices as it is knowing your customers. A targeted, dynamic message is always more likely to win over consumers than a generic blast.

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Top 2 email marketing tips to live by

Top 2 email marketing tips to live by

Businesses are using email lists for marketing purposes more often than ever before as the digital landscape evolves and becomes more integrated into day-to-day activities. However, companies cannot simply build an email database and hope for the best. Instead, decision-makers must be proactive to establish a targeted list that is reliable and will continue to be relevant in the long run.

The simple truth is that there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to email marketing. This was highlighted in a recent Business 2 Community report, which noted that consumers will typically hold some organizations in higher esteem than others. In other words, there will inevitably be a multi-tier level for brands and being too aggressive may cause prospective customers to drop companies a few levels.

At the same time, there are some general email marketing tips that organizations can follow to build the most effective strategy for them.

Become the consumer
In many cases, organizations build a great divide between themselves and consumers. While this may be good practice for a broad range of business tasks, creating a chasm in marketing can be dangerous. Business 2 Community noted that decision-makers should assess whether they would feel comfortable receiving the amount or quality of content that is being produced by marketers. If not, initiatives should be adjusted.

Enterprises also need to evaluate the niches of their targeted email lists to determine whether contacting certain recipients is appropriate.

Build strong content
Engaging content is one of the most fundamental aspects of any marketing initiative, as failing to capture the audience's attention or awareness will result in less effective promotional campaigns. Experts often say that every email sent as part of a marketing project should have a call to action that enables prospective clients to immediately communicate with service representatives.

A Global Industry Analysts report revealed that companies have no intention of giving up on email marketing initiatives, as the market is forecast to generate nearly $17 billion in revenue by 2017. While establishing email mailing lists and databases can be an effective way to improve these types of marketing efforts, it is important that decision-makers recognize not all clients are created equal. As a result, enterprises need to take the time to develop customized initiatives that cater to the various needs of their specific customers, not necessarily the consumer landscape in general.

Ecommerce retailers need to bring a 'singular focus' to email messages.

Optimizing ecommerce emails to make the most of contact lists

Writing the perfect business email can be difficult, especially for ecommerce companies. Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar stores, online shops can't hope to grab revenue from passersby, so in many ways, email is the prime way they bring in business. How can you create a dynamic ecommerce email?

Finding your message                                          
A big mistake many online stores make is  trying to cram too much information into one email. Considering the fact that ecommerce operations are likely to send out more than one communication ever, there's no need to fill individual messages to the brim. Instead, Practical Ecommerce suggested that marketers find a "singular focus" for every message, which is especially important during the holiday season when inboxes become slammed with offers, discounts and news from across the Internet.

According to the news source, emails that showcase a "singular focus" tend to feature one call to action, one category or one item per email rather than advertising many different sales at once.

These messages can be aided by the use of images and graphics, which Practical Ecommerce claimed can perhaps communicate brand or product information better than words. 

"Notice that leading online retailers – from Amazon and Walmart to the Gap and Zappos – all use large and attractive graphics in their email marketing campaigns," the news provider wrote. "These are companies that spend a significant amount of time and money optimizing, and they all use great graphics."

Knowing your customers                                   
That said, seeing success with narrowly focused messages means really understanding the members of your email marketing list. If you don't take their needs and desires into account, you could end up promoting an item or sale that is virtually meaningless to them. Accurate targeting can reduce bounce rates, spam reports and unsubscribes, Practical Ecommerce writes.

Targeting customers isn't all about content – it also requires ecommerce marketers to meet consumers where they shop, which increasingly is on their mobile devices. In fact, a recent article from Forbes asserted that instead of first creating an email marketing campaign for desktop devices and then optimizing it for smartphones and tablets, retailers should put mobile first. Giving consumers the opportunity to shop from wherever they happen to be offers ecommerce players an opportunity to increase revenue over the long term, especially as this trend appears to be a new normal.

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Email myths? Throw them out!

Beware these marketing myths!

It seems that everyone has advice for organizations and businesses looking to turn their email contact lists into revenue-driving, engagement-boosting workhorses. However, not all of these Internet marketing suggestions should be followed – or even believed. 

In a recent article for the Nashville Ledger, Lori Turner-Wilson of Guerilla Marketing identified a number of digital marketing myths to help businesses avoid making bad decisions and boost their email marketing list success.

  1. Older doesn't mean less tech-savvy.  While millennials have been characterized as the individuals who understand new digital channels while Baby Boomers aren't as up to speed, this is not always true. According to Turner-Wilson, the average age of active social media users is over 40. For email marketers, this should be the green light for adding social buttons to their communications.
  2. Be targeted. Generating high rates of opens, clickthroughs and other traffic is, of course, a goal of marketers. However, these numbers don't always tell the whole story. All traffic, Turner-Wilson pointed out, is not good traffic. Some of it is just a waste of time and money, ultimately slowing down progress.
  3. Mobile, mobile, mobile. Whether businesses want to accept it or not, smartphones are increasingly being treated like miniature computers, allowing current and potential consumers to look up directions, find contact information and check out products. If organizations' emails aren't optimized for their eyes and mobile screens, a large opportunity could be missed.

One of the biggest myths, however, may also be one of the most hyped business strategies in recent year.

Big data equals big success?            
The term "big data" refers to the use of large swaths of customer information to identify useable insights and trends. Sounds perfect for email marketing, right?

In a recent article for ClickZ, Stephanie Miller explained that big data does not mean "big marketing."

"Often the most effective uses of big data are not bigger marketing, but leaner, more efficient marketing," Miller wrote. "The biggest challenge now is to wrestle big data down into actionable insights. Understanding the full experience means managing data from many sources, in many formats …  and often in real time."

For email marketers and organizations, this may mean wrestling a bit with current strategies to excise the fat and find a way to send out messages that are highly tailored toward customers, rather than industry myths.

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Data can be leveraged to help drive email efficacy.

Optimize email databases with consumer-driven strategies

Email marketing lists have been helping businesses and organizations reach out to new customers and connect with existing ones for years now. While it may be tempting for experts to predict its replacement – and many have tried, pointing to social media – the marketing channel has proved not only resilient but a workhorse, producing results and driving revenue.

That being said, not all business emails are created equal. Some drive click- and open-rates higher, while others spur customer attrition as recipients abandon the email distribution list. So, in this atmosphere of uncertainty and high stakes, what strategies can marketers adopt?

Who are you sharing the inbox with?                       
New technologies have enabled advertisers and businesses to accumulate an increasing amount of data on existing customers and target markets, which allows them to segment and speak to specific groups' needs and desires. This has proven successful, yet a recent article from MediaPost asserted there is more data to be leveraged that could give firms a critical competitive edge.

According to the news source, marketers are now examining head-to-head engagement, which refers to how recipients behave when multiple promotional emails share the inbox. These don't have to be from direct competitors - marketers are focusing on anyone clamoring for shoppers' attention. These comparisons can help businesses discover what tactics work with consumers and which are more successful versus those used in other emails. MediaPost used the example of a "winback" campaign to demonstrate the effectiveness of this strategy. 

"Just look at the winback messages your subscribers are getting, avoid the elements that aren't engaging them, include the ones that are, and hone your winback campaign from there," MediaPost explained. "By starting from a proven concept, you'll generate more revenue sooner, but you'll also learn things about your subscribers that can apply beyond the email channel." 

Be creative with how content is delivered                     
Just because marketers are using email to deliver messages, that doesn't mean those communications need to be solely in text. Images and videos are effective and increasingly popular ways to connect with consumers. 

In fact, a recent study by The Relevancy Group found that embedding video in email messages increased clickthrough rates by 55 percent and the amount of time subscribers spend reading an email by 44 percent, daze info reported.

To optimize email marketing lists, businesses and organizations may want to seek out experienced marketers and data specialists to take their content to the next level.

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Improve your email lists to boost customer happiness and higher clicks.

Create engaged customers with dynamic email mailing lists

There are many components to creating an effective business email marketing campaign that both improves client engagement and benefits companies' bottom lines. One of the most important of which is a high-quality email distribution list. These lists depend on elevated customer relationship management (CRM) strategies to maintain effectiveness. So, how can firms go about supporting their targeted email lists?

Analyze each lead for content clues             
According to a recent article from MediaPost, exercising good CRM practices when it comes to email marketing lists requires businesses to evaluate individual lead sources. In addition to partnering with qualified and reputable email list providers, firms should investigate where additional leads are coming from. For example, where do they have links to their list sign-ups posted? Are these only on company-controlled spaces such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn? Or are they also featured on affiliated websites?

"So if you perform this evaluation, you will automatically identify the sources of any risky leads and eliminate those sources, as well as identifying your best-performing lead sources and subsequently increasing budget to those sources," the news source explained.

Customize content                            
While marketers may craft content strategies for their email marketing lists' preferences and needs, the article posited that companies can become even more hyper-tailored to consumers' desires. One tactic that can be used involves contouring sign-ups or initial emails to allow recipients to indicate the types of messages they would like to receive, such as promotions, discounts, special events and industry news.

In this way, businesses can boost the effectiveness of their communications as well as the likelihood that specific messages will be opened and acted on. Because the messages being sent to specific inboxes are dependent on recipient feedback, customers will start to keep an eye out for missives from a company, the news source wrote.

"That's the kind of email that stands out in the inbox. That's the kind of email that wins on the email-marketing battlefield," asserted Media Post. "Don't you want to score a victory? You can do it as long as the customer experience is at the core of every engagement, from acquisition through customer lifetime. Because good lists make for happy customers."

You have the leads, you have the list – what's next?
While email marketers are unlikely to succeed without quality lists of leads and customers, they similarly will find it hard to get ahead without finding a way to creatively engage with those addresses.

There's a danger for email marketing messages to become stale. In order to prevent list attrition, firms need to identify methords in order to keep content fresh and new. Business 2 Community recently offered several suggestions for marketers to change up their communications.

One strategy to power creativity is to subscribe to other businesses' list. In this way, firms can see what industry leaders and competitors are doing to figure out what tactics customers like and which are likely to leave shoppers cold. Furthermore, marketers shouldn't limit themselves to lists that are specific to their industry. As the news source explained, "There is no reason why a travel agent cannot learn a trick or two from a restaurant chain or an insurance broker. We are all in the business of selling, after all."

Consumers are and should be businesses' greatest source of inspiration. With that in mind, when asking recipients which communications they would like delivered to their inboxes, companies can also solicit feedback on topics and products. Tailoring content and structure to what they want, like and need will help any company spur greater customer loyalty and thus improve bottom lines.

Avoid over-regulating email communications.

Avoid getting lost in the process of creating business emails

Not all business emails are created equal. Depending on the talent and insight of marketers, as well as the sophistication of their email distribution lists, companies may either find success or watch their communications fall flat.

However, for firms just beginning to engage with the highly effective marketing medium or those that just can't seem to get their messaging right, there are a number of commonly made errors for which they should keep a look out.

Getting too lost in the process                
It's easy for marketers or businesses to get wrapped up in the process of writing the so-called perfect copy for email communications with consumers. There are numerous details, including subject lines, calls to action and general messaging, that can trip up any firm and have staff members laboring for days.

A recent article from MediaPost offered some remedies to help workers avoid these traps and navigate around problems. For example, the news source asserted that the continuous tweaking of subject lines isn't going to move operations to a new level of success. Instead, companies should focus on the foundational pieces of the message before playing with small linguistic items.

Furthermore, it seems that new trends are cropping up every week, promising to transform already successful email marketing lists into gold mines of data and sales. But MediaPost warned businesses to avoid getting swept up in the hype.

"Flavor-of-the-month issues like symbols in subject lines and Gmail Tabs can pull your attention away from the core activities that drive your success," the news source explained. "Stay focused on the work that keeps your doors open. Let others rush in and make the early responder mistakes. Then, act on what they have learned."

Over-regulation of communications
While it is helpful for businesses be consistent with their email messages, this doesn't mean that they must stick to the calendar without deviation. In fact, sending customers surprise emails can actually help boost open and click rates, as unexpected messaging can create an air of mystery.

However, this doesn't mean firms should completely turn their backs on normative practices. Business 2 Community explained that certain etiquette remains highly valued by recipients, including stating a clear purpose, brevity, short sentences, proper tones and perfect grammar. By starting with the basics, companies can build  foundations that serve customers and help them succeed.

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How can marketers avoid being labeled as "spam" and a "promotion?"

Spam vs. promotions: Can both labels be avoided?

While laws such as the 2003 CAN SPAM Act define what spam is as well as the rules and regulations businesses must follow when sending messages to their email distribution lists, consumers have an even less forgiving idea of what constitutes such communication. This requires companies to use a highly critical eye when determining which business emails make the cut and get sent out.

What do consumers not want to see?              
Sometimes understanding what irritates recipients, causes them to consider a communication spam or turns them off from reading a message can be more helpful than looking at the best example of what they do like. In a recent article on ClickZ, the source cites two of the worst content tactics, "batch-and-blast" and "spray-and-pray." While the terms are different, the underlying problem is the same: The email is not personalized; it doesn't engage with recipients and it certainly doesn't seem to understand anything about the audience.

This is an especially large problem in a society where personalization is becoming the norm. Analytics are enabling companies to track consumers shopping preferences and target ads to them directly. However, by choosing to mass-email potential shoppers, businesses not only risk damaging their reputations, but also hurting their bottom lines and having their attempts at communication marked as spam.

Avoiding the "spam" label is complex       
If it weren't complicated enough for marketers and organizations to avoid violating regulations or being tossed out by recipients, Google's recent changes to its messaging provider Gmail have thrown an even bigger wrench into the process. While Gmail is only one email provider, a report from AYTM Market Research revealed that 60 percent of individuals use the host as their primary email account.

Google's three tabs – Primary, Social and Promotions – seek to make it easier for account holders to access those emails they most want to see. But where is the line between "promotions" and "spam?" And how can businesses return to the "primary" folder?

Legally, any email message that is properly formatted and offers recipients the ability to unsubscribe is not in violation of the CAN SPAM Act. Under the new Gmail system, any communication that offers an unsubscribe button will go to the Promotions folder, creating another problem.

Will anyone see marketing emails?
One of the worries marketers have espoused following the changes is whether people will even bother to look under the promotions tab.

"The short answer is 'who knows,'" The Business Journals wrote. "The changes are so new that studies have not yet been conducted; however, it will be surprising if this new layout does not decrease the number of people who see and therefore open marketing emails. One thing is certain: it looks like there is no getting away from the promotions tab."

Companies such as Groupon and Gilt Groupe offer one unique example of how marketers can avoid the "black hole" of the promotions tab, Businessweek wrote. The two businesses are simply asking their email marketing lists to prevent them from being lumped in with other ads by dragging their communications from the promotions tab to the primary tab, ensuring this is where their messages go from thenceforward.

Regardless of the manner in which marketers and organizations decide to best appeal to consumers in light of these new changes, they should always prioritize the "opt-out" feature. The last thing businesses want to do is build ill-will among recipients by continuing to send them unwanted messages. This is a sure way to be sent straight to the spam folder in people's inboxes.

Email marketing is still tops for reaching consumers.

Business email still tops the marketing list

Over the past few years, numerous new technologies and digital innovations have been introduced, purportedly to revolutionize the marketing sector. However, despite the growing use of social media, in terms of effectiveness and longevity, business emails have remained king. But why?

A recent article from Business 2 Community seeks to answer this question, offering a number of reasons why organizations and businesses that leverage targeted email lists to communicate with consumers are making a savvy decision.

For one, email has become nearly ubiquitous across demographics and regions, whereas Twitter, Facebook and other social networks can be considered more niche, the news source explained. Whether it's a business or personal address, everyone seems to have a location to which digital communications can be sent.

Additionally, email is a fairly low-cost marketing solution, making it easier for small businesses and nonprofits to leverage.

"When you think about how many people you can get onto your email list and only have to pay around $100 a month to send out a million messages, that is quite amazing and offers a very nice return on investment," Business 2 Community asserted.

Email marketing is also a channel built for crafting relationships. First, smart marketers will understand the importance of ensuring that recipients can opt out of receiving messages at anytime. This way, businesses can build goodwill among customers as well as ensure they are only sending communications to the top leads.

However, to ensure that their email messages are seeing the highest click-through rates, organizations will need to optimize their communications for mobile devices. A recent survey from YesMail found that approximately 48 percent of retail emails are opened on mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets.

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