Category Archives: Email Marketing Tips

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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Begin to build more effective email communications by putting the patient first.

Healthcare marketing is all about the personal touch

Healthcare marketing is a difficult field with an exceedingly large amount of important information to be communicated, which, if done incorrectly, can have legal and even medical repercussions. For this reason, many in the sector choose to utilize business email to reach potential patients and leads, as it can offers a space in which medical instructions and full explanations can be offered and consumed at the leisure of the recipient.

Make it personal – and informative      
As healthcare providers know, their field is a deeply personal one. Their products and services can help ease pain, allow people to live fuller lives and sometimes even be the difference between life and death. But how can professionals in the sector communicate this to targeted email lists?

A recent article from Modern Healthcare urged marketers in the field to make an emotional connection, such as including links to videos and social media where patients are telling their stories and connecting with other people. This not only gets a healthcare organization's name out there, it shows potential patients how much a provider really cares about each and every person who walks through its doors. 

"Invite conversation and respond to it," Kim Fox, vice president of healthcare marketing firm Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, explained to the news source. "It's word-of-mouth marketing in a brand new way, using a different kind of tool, and a tool that you can monitor and engage in."

Investment in the channel is increasing          
For the past few years, healthcare organizations have been shifting where they invest their marketing dollars, moving away from traditional media and into new online sources. In fact, citing data from Kantar Media, the news source reports that spending on television ads in the sector fell by 7 percent from $395.3 million to $369.3 million, whereas investments in online media rose by 20 percent to $57.2 million between 2008 and 2009.

However, there is still a lot of room to grow. Recent research from MarketingProfs identified three ways healthcare marketing professionals can begin to revamp their engagement approaches, and they're quite easy: listen, participate and learn. The three steps are about breaking out of a traditional consumer-mindset to begin to build a more personal relationship with patients. Using these three very simple ideas, the source asserted that healthcare organizations can begin to tailor their messages to their patien​ts.

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Is there really a best time to send emails?

Is there really a best day or time to send business emails?

A number of recent studies have attempted to discern the best days and times for businesses to leverage their targeted email lists and send out communications. For example, Mail Chimp analyzed more than a billion emails to conclude that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 2 and 5 p.m. are the optimal times to send business email to promote opens. Similarly, a study from Get Response examined 21 million emails, and identified Thursday to again be the top day for open and click-through rates.

However, is there such a thing as a “best” time or day? A recent article in Business 2 Community contended that these studies miss the point and over generalize, outlining a number of reasons why they are just wrong.

The average isn’t good enough for any business    
The source pointed out that the term “best” is misleading, as these studies don’t necessarily pinpoint the best, they discern the average.

“If you’re lucky, and we seldom are, the research might confine the sample set to a single industry or geography, which would create a more meaningful result set,” the article noted. “So the sample set data is muddy at best because it casts too wide of a net, which the statistics can’t overcome.”

Secondly, the studies assume a level of knowledge and expertise that may not actually be in evidence among these email marketers, Business 2 Community asserted. Likely, the results are a grab bag across all levels, a quality which these studies’ analytics may not be able to take into account.

This feeds into the last reason listed  for taking these reports with a grain of salt. By only looking at send time and date, the research fails to isolate cause and effect.

“To truly understand if one variable is causing a specific outcome (increases in opens/clicks/sales) you have to isolate every other variable. Again, because these studies are simply rollups of email click/open/conversion activity pulled from a broad grouping of email campaigns, this level of rigor simply isn’t possible,” the news source explained.

So when is the best time, then?  
The answer may be for marketers to figure it out on their own. Direct Marketing News suggested with any type of campaign, business should trial messages across days and times. Different segments of consumers will respond accordingly. Whereas one group of recipients may open mail the most on Tuesday afternoons, some companies may actually find greater success with a Saturday morning email blast.

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Brand email marketing messages to gain more clicks.

Boost email marketing list open rates by crafting a story

Email continues to be the digital channel of choice through which businesses of all sizes communicate with their customers. While savvy marketers know the first step to success is acquiring a targeted email distribution list, there are a number of factors in play that influence whether companies make the most of their business emails.

Sharing is caring    
Online messages are a critical channel for allowing consumers to stay informed and up-to-date with what is happening at a company. Be it special events, new developments or even surprise sales, businesses want to subtly persuade readers to learn more about or even purchase a specific item.

One of the key ways to accomplish this is through “clicks,” which occur when a recipient follows a link provided in an email that takes them to the company’s website or another targeted external location. Business​ 2 Community wrote, “Email marketers love clicks,” citing a survey by iContact that found clicks are the top metric used to determine a campaign’s overall success, as it can increase website traffic, produce leads from each visit and result in sales.

Make your recipients fans   
Another tactic often suggested to email marketers is to make sure their communications tell a story. According to ClickZ, this can even be done over time – just consider the example of clothing ecommerce site Bluefly, which used a multi-story arc to improve clicks.

To increase engagement, Bluefly produced a series called “The Traveling Handbag,” which asked for recipients to look through photos of fashion bloggers showing off the same bag and vote for their favorite one, thereby getting a chance to win the product for themselves, the news source explained.

“Because the galleries were rolled out over time, users had added incentive for making repeat visits to Bluefly.com,” ClickZ wrote. “This approach also provided the brand with enough content and creative to justify multiple mailings.”

Consistency is key
Companies will also want to make sure their messaging is in the same tone across marketing platforms. They shouldn’t present a casual, fun tone on social media and then switch to a very dry, professional style for their email communications. This might not only confuse recipients, but it will also disrupt a business’ attempts at creating a unique identity that is easily recognizable for patrons and also helps the brand to stand out from their competitors.

By applying these strategies, firms can help make sure their email contact lists make the right impression.

Even hotels depend on email marketing to fill rooms.

Business emails help hotels reach new guests

The hospitality industry is particularly dependent on the fluctuations of the economy, as tighter pocketbooks can restrict individuals' spending on treats such as trips or nice dinners. While the global marketplace is experiencing noted growth, hotels and restaurants are still relying on timed-tested marketing strategies such business emails to offer new and existing customers deals and information.

Email marketing messages are here to stay     
Targeted email lists have proven to be viable methods for acquiring new customers, as well as turning them into repeat visitors. EyeforTravel's recent report, "Social Media and Mobile in Travel Distribution 2013," found that email is not only still an effective channel for reaching travelers, but is actually growing in popularity.

However, this growth hasn't been spurred solely by a belief in the efficacy of the medium - rather​, the growth in mobile device use for every task from shopping to opening and responding to emails is boosting open and click rates, the research asserts. In fact, it revealed that 38 percent of emails are accessed via mobile devices, while 33 percent are opened using a desktop computer.

"Unless you are booking.com or Expedia … email consistently remains the best way to drive traffic to your site," Tom Valentine, managing director of flash sales site Secret Escapes, told Hospitality Net. "We are very excited by the notifications you can get for mobile apps and the majority of emails are opened on mobile."

Transforming an email list into a targeted system      
Once an initial communication has been sent out to an email distribution list and recipients have signed up to get future messages, hotels and others in the hospitality sector can start tracking their clicks to create even more tailored advertisements and offers, Hospitality Net wrote.

For example, Valentine explained to the source that when Secret Escapes notices a customer is largely looking at weekend travel, it will send emails advertising nearby getaways that are both interesting to the consumer as well as consistent with the company's overall business goals, the news source reported. And as recipients interact more with marketing emails, the easier this will become for firms.

To get to this point, though, marketers need to send an initial email that hooks first-time recipients, rather than annoying them. One strategy some companies employ is delivering a first communication asking individuals to sign up to continue getting special offers, discounts and information.

Segment consumers to better connect with them.

How can customer life cycle drive email messages?

Regardless of the industry, monitoring email marketing lists is critical to spurring product engagement and maintaining – if not improving – revenues. Yet as technologies continue to change and consumers’ expectations and desires develop alongside them, organizations may start to feel as if they’re continually trying to keep pace with the Joneses.

Fortunately, email as a marketing channel has remained one of the most effective ways of interacting with customers and strengthening relationships. While Facebook and Twitter may be comparatively new and popular, they have yet to demonstrate the same effectiveness as the inbox. That being said, some emails are inherently more successful than others, and to get the most out of their email distribution lists, companies may want to take note of these best practices.

Engage current customers with dynamic content and offers   
One mistake companies often make is taking their shoppers for granted, especially if consumers have a long purchasing history with the business. Writing off customers or just assuming they will continue patronizing a particular firm regardless of receiving updates, information or savings is a foolish and costly mistake, especially when there are so many options for email communications.

Many companies use business email as a way to keep active customers in the loop of industry trends and news, Marketing Profs explained in a recent article. While these messages allow recipients to feel engaged with firms, they can also serve the double purpose of positioning companies at the head of their fields in terms of innovation, price or quality.

Additionally, businesses can target specific emails to their VIPs. “Segment out VIPs that fit the 80/20 rule (the 20 percent that drive 80 percent of revenue) and provide them with personalized email offers,” the news source explained. This allows those customers who are most loyal to know that their business is noticed and valued.

Attract prospects to transform them into clients   
However, as important as existing customers are, companies are continually focused on growing their consumer base to fuel business expansion and protect against possible losses.

The news source characterizes prospects as “pre-customers.” These are individuals who need to be persuaded to learn more about an enterprise and its offerings by opting in to an email list. But once they begin receiving business emails, how can companies transition them from readers to shoppers?

Many firms begin not by sending information on their products, but instead offering newsletters about relevant items or activities. Marketing Profs offered the example of an individual who may be interested in golfing – while he or she may not be prepared to buy a full set golf clubs, he or she may like to learn about courses or events in their community. Sign-ups for such communications can be offered on a company’s website or other media, such as Facebook or Twitter.

“Provide information that is useful and engaging while unobtrusively offering your product’s value proposition,” Marketing Profs explained. “You need to stand in the customer’s shoes and truthfully judge whether you would read your own newsletter content.”

Adopting these tips can help businesses approach their email marketing databases in a more holistic and customer-centric fashion, which is especially critical when considering that the effectiveness of the marketing medium is only continuing to grow.

According to the Q1 2013 Email Trends and Benchmarks Report from Epsilon and the Email Institute, the average email open rate across sectors is 31.1 percent, which is a significant increase from Q4 2012, when messages were read 27.4 percent of the time. The Q1 2013 open rate was the highest since Q3 2006, ClickZ reported.

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LinkedIn

15 Things That Make Your Business Look Bad on LinkedIn

Social networking is such a phenomenon that some businesses are bypassing an actual company website and only advertising via networking sites. I cannot say that I support this approach 100 percent – customers like to see an actual company Web page – but social networking is certainly a critical component in your business’s overall marketing strategy. LinkedIn was designed strictly for business users, and it is a wonderful resource to promote your business when used properly. If your LinkedIn page is not used properly, however, you might be spelling D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R by inadvertently making your business look bad.

  1. Your Mug – Everybody loves a good party now and then, but LinkedIn is not the place to advertise your party-going tendencies. Your business’s LinkedIn photo should be professional, not a shot of you and your employees doing shots at last year’s holiday party. Your photo should be a head shot, with you properly dressed and neatly coiffed. If you prefer, you can also use your company logo as your LinkedIn photo. Keep in mind, however, that people identify better with other people, so a photo of a person is best.
  2. Photo Quality – While we’re talking about photos, let’s talk quality. Aside from avoiding using an informal snapshot of yourself, don’t use a photo that’s the wrong size, either. LinkedIn photo specifications are a square image of 200 by 200 pixels up to 500 by 500 pixels. Don’t try to squeeze a 500 by 700-pixel image of yourself. You’ll end up looking warped and distorted. And while your friends might describe you as such occasionally, it’s not the image you want portrayed on your professional social networking page.
  3. Logo Quality – You’ve got size restrictions when adding your company’s logo to your LinkedIn page, as well. You company logo must be sized to 100 by 60 pixels in order fit properly. If you try and make something fit, your logo won’t look right, and this screams “unprofessional” to the potential clients viewing your page. Along with the size restrictions, your logo must also be saved as a .PNG, .JPEG, or .GIF file and no more than 2MB in size.
  4. Web Page Links – LinkedIn means more than just “linking” with other professionals on the social networking website. LinkedIn pages are designed to give users easy access to the professional they are viewing. You have the opportunity to link your viewers to your company’s Web page, so make sure the link works. Otherwise, when potential clients click the link to your company page and end up in limbo land, they will lose faith in your company and move on.
  5. Social Networking Links – The same holds true for any other links you add to your LinkedIn profile. If you’ve got it all, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on, and you’ve get them interlinked, make sure those links are working at all times. You don’t want a potential client to click from your LinkedIn page to your Google+ page and end up in the tangles of a broken URL that doesn’t work.
  6. Speaking of Links – I promise I’m not beating a dead horse here, but while I’m talking about links, it’s important to make sure that you have the links to your company website and other social networking pages in the appropriate fields. For example, should you accidentally link your Google+ in the company website field, it will be very confusing to your potential clients to end up on Google+ when they were expecting to land on your company’s website. Make sure all fields are filled in with the proper URL – no linking Twitter in the Facebook field!
  7. Email Addresses – Aside from links to your company’s website and social network presence, LinkedIn also gives you the opportunity to include contact information in your profile that anyone can access, including non-LinkedIn members. Make sure you have your correct email address – and other information for that matter – in the contact fields. Once your potential client clicks on the email link to send you an email, you need it to come to you.
  8. Utilize Everything – Make sure you set up and use LinkedIn’s company page dynamics instead of just setting up a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn’s company page gives you the option to outline your business’s product and services, giving potential clients information about your company right away, instead of having to click over to your company’s website. This opens the door to greater interest in your company and what it has to offer.
  9. Don’t Be a Bore – While you are setting up your LinkedIn company page, don’t be boring about it. Engage your reader when you set up your company’s information and products and services. No potential client wants to read, “I am a Marketing Manager who blogs to help people maximize their sales and marketing strategies…” Yeah, me and how many others? Rather, get some attention by having fun when describing what you do. Just make sure to keep it professional, or you risk offending your future clients as well as boring them.
  10. Keep it Real – There’s a fine line, however, to making things interesting and embellishing the details too much. Be honest about you and what your company does. Don’t get carried away and represent yourself as a Fortune 500 company if you aren’t. Honesty goes a long way, and clients will not hire you if they think you are full of – well – you know.
  11. Keep it Client Focused – Your LinkedIn presence is there to present you to potential clientele, but it isn’t necessarily ALL about YOU. You need to think about your client when you are setting up your LinkedIn profiles. Your future clients want to learn what you can do for them, and while they will be interested in your credentials, graduating Cum Laude from university should not be the primary focus of your profile. Think about the questions your client is asking when they looked you up and make sure you’re answering them.
  12. Be Proactive – LinkedIn, much like other social networking pages, is meant to link you to others, so make sure you connect with as many people as possible. Your LinkedIn pages show your connections, and a client is going to be far more impressed with a proactive business connected to hundreds of other professionals, than a business with five whopping connections.
  13. Get Recommended – LinkedIn allows other professionals in the LinkedIn network to recommend you, and the more recommendations the better. Ask your colleagues to recommend your services, and offer to do the same in return. Again, you need to make a positive impression on your LinkedIn pages, and if you’re highly recommended by other professionals, potential clients will take notice. If you’re not recommended at all, they’ll note of that, too!
  14. Get Feedback – LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to include customer testimonials on your pages and you’d be foolish to ignore that. Written and video testimonials go a long way when earning the trust of new clientele, so go get ‘em! Don’t wait for your customer to send you the appreciative email. Follow up with your customers and get as many written and video kudos as you can to place on your LinkedIn page.
  15. Keep it Updated – You’ve gone to all this trouble to make sure you’ve addressed everything I’ve discussed in this blog post. Your picture is professional, your logo looks sharp, every URL link is perfect, and you’ve got more connections and testimonials than you can count. None of this will do you any good if you don’t keep your LinkedIn pages fresh and updated. Keep active on your profiles. Potential clients can see if your pages are stagnant and will assume that your business is stagnant, too!

Whether your business is small or large, looking for B2B or B2C clientele, social networking is a crucial piece of your overall marketing pie. Other websites might be more popular in the social networking “food chain,” but LinkedIn should never be ignored. This social networking site was designed specifically for professionals, and offers networking opportunities far beyond personal networking websites. Get those LinkedIn pages up and running, and make sure they make your business look good, not bad.

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Tailored-email-subject-lines-can-take-an-email-list-to-the-next-level-of-success_1294_489465_0_14086928_600

Boost email marketing list efficacy with targeted subject lines

The channels through which companies and marketers can reach consumers are rapidly expanding. However, despite the current focus on social media tools, business email remains one of the more effective mediums through which companies can speak to customers and advocate for their products and services.

First impressions matter
As many email marketing tips will acknowledge, there are specific components of any online mailing strategy that will boost the chances of a company’s message being opened and acted upon.

In fact, a recent report from MailerMailer highlighted the importance of engaging subject lines and personalization. Personalization of email subject lines spurred an 8.8 percent increase in open rates over last year, while short subject lines also garnered high open and click rates, with those communicating special offers or time sensitivity found to be the most successful. These included words like “free,” “sale” and “coupon,” alongside “tonight,” “weekend” and “today.”

“Subject lines are not the means by which you will sell your product. Instead, a subject line’s purpose is to engage your customer,” Peter Geisheker explained in a piece for Business2Community. “You want them to become interested in what the rest of your email will say on the subject you present. Your subject line should not be too obvious in its goal or too obscure that it generates little to no interest.”

As the study’s figures demonstrate, it’s important to also create a sense of urgency in subject lines. This psychological trigger will help firms get more clicks by making consumers feel they have no choice but to read the message immediately or miss out.

However, if marketers are running into problems developing quick and catchy subject lines that appeal to their customers, they may want to revisit the messages and identify how they can be better tailored for consumers. This may involve taking a step back and conducting market research to answer who a firm’s main customers are, how to please them, how to attract new consumers and how they use their email inboxes.

“People go to their email’s inbox to get rid of things they do not need, and sort through their email leaving only what is either interesting or important,” Geisheker asserted. “If you give your subject line a monetary or emotional value … your email has a far greater chance of being kept as being important and read.”

By applying these tips, companies can help make their targeted email lists even more effective in spurring business.

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