Author Archives: Alec Wilcox

Send Better Content to Your Email Lists

The name of the game in email marketing over the last 2-3 years has changed from sending out mass emails to huge lists to focus primarily on useful content targeted at specific users. Even though you may be trying to sell your prospects on your product, you can still appeal to their sense of utility by trying to present helpful information or informative content alongside your call to action and sales pitch.


Many email marketing specialists place great emphasis on effective subject line writing (since this is the first line of communication between you and your customer). In addition, your marketing emails should have a strong, personal voice. This is the first step in maintaining utility for your recipients. Try to include some recent news or factoids about your industry in each email. If you can insinuate that your customers may need your product due to a change in the field or a recent development. This is a great way to boost your conversions.

Finally, the mantra of internet marketing: see what works for you. Your customers may not respond to the same marketing as someone else’s customers. See what type of content your leads are responding to and cater to this content.  

By Alec Wilcox

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What’s a Good Conversion Rate for Your Email List?

We talk a lot on this blog about conversion rates, but the question then comes up, “what does having a good conversion rate mean, exactly?” The short answer is that email marketing experts and gurus tend to agree that 1% to 5% is a realistic conversion rate or goal to have. The long answer, however, is that a “good” conversion rate is very subjective.


Really, in judging the efficacy of an email marketing list, the only metric that really matters is whether or not your customers are responding your call to action. Conversion rates can vary quite a bit between fields and industries. In addition, if you have two different promotional offers, and one is converting at 1–1.5%, and the other is converting at 2.5%, you shouldn’t assume that the higher-converting figure is more successful: if the lower conversion rate offer results in fewer clicks, but has a high margin, the lower conversion rate is a better investment. The only way to find out exactly what a good conversion rate is for your campaign is to continue to try new promotions, and adjust your goals based on your own historic data.

By Alec Wilcox

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Targeted Email Lists Make for Higher Response Rates

It may make sense in theory to cast a broad net with email marketing and try to cater to the largest audience possible. However, studies have shown that the opposite is actually true: targeted email lists are far more effective. In most cases, the type of product you are marketing will dictate exactly what email list or database you should purchase, rent or segment.
For example, if you are marketing to a specific region, buying a national or international database would not be as effective as purchasing one targeted toward that specific region. Similarly, marketing a product such as medical equipment to non-doctors or healthcare practitioners is more likely to raise red flags in terms of spam than to actually convert to sales. Make sure that you know your audience while you prepare your marketing campaign.
While many marketing firms nowadays cater to social media presence, it has been consistently proven that a large properly targeted email list can result in a much higher CTR (click-through rate). Research also seems to indicate that coordinating your email marketing with your social marketing is an even better solution. Be sure to include social media links in the footer of your marketing emails. Since you are already aiming your emails at people in the industry or region you are catering to, let them know that your site might have more content that they might be interested in. Maybe they aren’t ready for your marketing promotion but they want to check out your blog. This is a great way to increase the open rate and conversion rate of your mailing lists.

 

By Alec Wilcox

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Email Subject Line Types that Work

As I’ve mentioned previously, email subject lines are often the most important quality in a successful email marketing campaign. The effectiveness of email marketing can be greatly diminished if your subject lines land you in your recipients’ spam folders. To maintain success in email marketing, see what works for your industry or product. You can track the effectiveness of different subject lines by using Google Analytics or a similar tool. In order to find which email lists work best for your mailing lists, test out the “urgent”, “informative” and “conversational” type subject lines explained below.
Oftentimes, using “urgent” words gives you the best chance at increasing your open rate. Try subject lines like “This is your last chance to get 20% off…” or “Final week of our annual promotion.” If your subscriber has any familiarity with your product or service, these types of email subjects can be all it takes for them to make a purchase they were thinking about already.
In addition to using urgent keywords, test informative subject lines too. Many email marketer find success with subject lines like “Have you heard about X?” or “Did you know that X?” These types of subject lines don’t generally imply the nature of the email (a marketing message) and can lead to the second glance you need for a sale.
A conversational tone is great to drum up interest for your product, especially for repeat customers. Many marketing campaigns leverage repeat business by “checking in” or providing updates on your business. Keeping at the front of the minds of your customers is an important step in running a successful campaign.  
By Alec Wilcox

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Using A/B Testing for Your Email Lists

A/B testing, or split testing, is the process of testing two different emails (or style of email) to see which will produce the best results on a mass-scale. Typically, the system for A/B testing consists of designing two marketing emails and sending each one to a small subset of your email list. The CTR (click-through-rate) can be tracked via Google Analytics, then the results are tallied and whichever campaign was more successful is used for the remainder of the email list. Google even includes an A/B testing tool in their GA suite.
Be sure to compose each email carefully before starting the test. If you decide you want to change something about one of the emails or need to correct a mistake, keep in mind that this will skew the results and will likely throw off your numbers and the data will not be as useful.
You can use A/B testing to evaluate different subject lines, test visual design, the use of images in emails, different promotions including sales vs. coupons or HTML vs. text emails. Just about any factor of a marketing email can be tweaked for better results by using A/B testing. Using A/B testing, you can even test different “from” email addresses to check about whether a particular persona or address results in a higher CTR.
As with all marketing, email marketing benefits from more testing data and a more precise marketing strategy. GIve A/B testing a shot and let me know about your results!

 

By Alec Wilcox

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5 Ways You Are Killing Your Mailing List

A lot of people who get started with email marketing quickly tire of the work that goes into running a successful campaign when they don’t see the results they were hoping for right off the bat. The fact of the matter is that maintaining an email marketing campaign is a lot of work. Once you kick off your email campaign you will continually have to create quality content that is targeted to your mailing lists. You will also need to do lots of testing. in order to see what works best. The good news is that a lot of times the amount of mailing list maintenance can be minimized by taking into account the following factors that are proven to reduce response rate.

1. Are you sending emails too frequently? Try experimenting with bi-weekly instead of weekly, or even longer depending on changing response rates.
2. Don’t have something new to say about your business or product? Maybe now is not the best time for a marketing email. If you don’t have something new to promote, oftentimes your email list recipients might see your email as unwelcome or spam. This is the last thing you want.
3. Experiment with fewer or more images in the body of the email. Too many images are a good way to be relegated to the spam folder, but too few is also a problem. You don’t want your recipients staring at a wall of text. See what works.
4. Make sure you’re tracking the success of your mailing lists with Google Analytics. You can see how to do so in some of my earlier blogs.

5. Make sure that your subject lines are clear and not spammy. If your subject lines aren’t streamlined, it is likely that you are hurting your email marketing campaign.

By Alec Wilcox
 

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How to Ask For Permission for Your Email Lists

When you are getting started with email marketing and an email marketing list, it is important to gauge customer interest in the product or service that you are selling. When you get permission from your subscribers to send them emails, your conversion rates will increase. If people are ok with receiving your message, then they won’t mark it as spam and they will be more apt to open them. In most cases, using a targeted email list will allow you to aim your marketing emails at a very select and specific person or industry. In many cases, it’s a good idea to verify that the recipient is interested in your product. The best way to do so is to include a link at the bottom of the email to your website where the user can:

1)      Respond directly to confirm or deny interest
2)      Go to your website and fill out a contact form to the same effect
3)      Fill out a survey to give your more information on why they are or are not interested in your marketing emails
 

Don’t forget that because of the CAN-SPAM act you must include an unsubscribe choice for anyone you send emails too, except transactional ones. Within the body of your email, you should make it clear that you will cease marketing emails upon request (an opt out or unsubscribe link at the bottom of your email is often the best way). It’s also a good idea to include instructions to “Whitelist” your email address to make sure that your marketing emails are being received as they should be and not caught in spam filters. It is always good to reaffirm permission at least once a year and don’t be afraid to include a specific message in periodic emails clarifying the method you choose to verify interest.
 
If you follow these steps you can be sure that your emails will only continue to be sent to those that are interested and in return you will see your sales and audience grow!

By Alec Wilcox

 
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How to Stay off Blacklists

In order to stay off of spam blacklists, there are a few guidelines that are important to follow. First, the ratio of emails sent to complaints received must be kept low. A good rule of thumb throughout the email marketing industry is one out of 1000 emails can be a reported as a spam complaint in order to remain compliant. Many sources recommend using opt-in/out links at the bottom of your emails to make sure that the recipients can choose whether or not to receive your marketing emails, but remember it’s also the law. As long as people have an easy option to opt out, you will be able to keep your spam complaints low. If email subscribers can’t opt out, then their complaint method goes straight to your ISP or hosting provider.

 
Keep an eye on spam complaints against your ISP or hosting provider. If you wind up with the same IP address as a known spammer, the problem can compound and wind up with your marketing addresses on a blacklist. If you are using an ISP or host that is known for spam complaints, consider switching. Sometimes you may not even know if your IP has been spoofed or piggy-backed. By keeping a close eye on any issues, you can quickly resolve them by getting a new IP address or moving to a new server on your host.
 
Make sure that your email service is not vulnerable to malware. If you send an email to a recipient with an infected device, it’s possible that a return email could result in spreading this malware to other recipients. Make sure your email server or service is locked down tight! Also, keep an eye on the comment section of your blog or website. This is a prime location for spam and malicious links, so make sure that comments are not emailed to your marketing account or server. This is a good way to spread malware.
 
If you do wind up on a blacklist, for example SpamCop or SpamHaus, you may be able to get yourself removed by a simple phone call. In many cases, a spammer would just create a new email address or use a different proxy to get around these lists. By proving that you’re a real person, you are adding legitimacy to your marketing addresses.
 
Keep your email lists clean and your messages genuine and you will see good results from email marketing.

By Alec Wilcox

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How to Quickly Build Your Email List

In the field of email marketing, it is usually very helpful and advantageous to have a curated, precompiled list of valid recipient email addresses. But if you are just starting out with email marketing, it can be difficult to quickly build an email list. So the question arises: where do I get one of these lists? In years past, renting an email list was the preferred method of acquiring one, but many think that this way is outdated and purchasing a list is a much more popular option.

Renting a list means that you will only be able to use the contact information once (and only see the contact information of respondents). You will also likely never actually see the list; in this type of situation it is common to email the list owner and have the message broadcasted to the list.

Purchasing a list is widely considered the best option for many reasons. For one, you will have permanent access to the addresses included therein and databases can be purchased based on criteria (such as location or industry). Purchased lists are a great way to expand the profile of your company in an efficient way, and a really great way to build up your marketing profile quickly. It is far more cost-effective to purchase a list once instead of repeatedly renting the same names every time a new marketing is ready.

 
When you don’t have the luxury of developing your email list, take advantage of some of the email list databases you can buy instead of paying the price for renting the same lists over and over.

By Alec Wilcox

 
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Top 10 Worst Email Subject Lines

Since subject lines are the first (and in many cases only) aspect of your marketing emails that many possible leads will see, it’s impossible to oversell the importance of a good subject line. In many cases the “right” subject is very specific to you and your industry, but you will only know what truly works after lots of testing. But this isn’t about the best subject lines, it’s about the ones that don’t perform for business emails. Here are some examples of what not to do:

1. “Join us for a Free Event on June 7th!” – This subject line is vague. Nobody knows what event you are promoting, and in most cases, they might not even know what your company does. Try to be more specific.
2.  “Post-Seminar Follow-Up Meeting: Are You Making the Right Decision for Your Business’s Toner Needs?” – This is just an example, but far, far too long. Get to the point, if your potential customer’s mail client is truncating the subject lines, it’s too long!

3. “Last Minute Gift? Come See Us!” – Once again, too vague. Repetitive emails without too much content are going to get sent straight to the spam bin after the first or second time. Are you promoting something specific? Now would be a good time to send a marketing email.
4. “St. Paddy’s Day Sale: Shop Early and Save!” – Vague, vague, vague. Beware of promoting holiday sales: everybody else does it. You want your email to stand out!
5. “Gift Certificates: 10% Off With Coupon!” –  This type of email has historically low open rates unless paired with some verbiage to get the reader’s attention.
6. Now Offering (x) Services!” – What were you offering before? Why does this person care? Try to convey why x service is even more value.
7. “Win an iPad! Guaranteed!” – Like Viagra and iPods before it, mentioning free or cheap electronics (like iPads) is a good way to get sent to the spam folder. If this is the gist of your marketing, consider changing the focus if you want to see results.”
8. “Psst, (x company) is Offering Huge Savings!” – This smells like a used-car commercial. You should be respectful of your readership and be cognizant that people historically don’t respond to this type of marketing. It reads as very patronizing.
9. “Beautiful Lakefront Property” – Try to be broader. This may exclude the portion of your readership that doesn’t live near a lake. Why would an email having to do with lakefront property come to them?
10. “(your company) Announces New Business Partnership With (another company)” – Who cares? What does this mean for the customer or prospective customer?


As for subject lines from spam emails, I’m partial to these:

1. Buy Rolex Designer Watches Now
2. NEWSFLASH: Order your meds online

3. From the desk of barrister hollingsworth
4. Claim your $20m prize now!
5. Swell your P*^@%! (thanks @twopens2)
6. Open this now!
7. Improve Your Credit Score for Cheap
8. 5 Forbidden Foods to Tighten Your Belly
9. Buy Cialis Now
and one that I just got today:
10. Deal
That’s my list. What’s yours? Tweet me or message me with the best of your worst!

By Alec Wilcox

 
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