Category Archives: Marketing/Communications

How email marketers can best address tabbed inboxes

How email marketers can best address tabbed inboxes

When Gmail introduced multiple tabs for user inboxes, email marketers shared their anxieties about how the change would effect their marketing campaigns. Would recipients fail to see promotional emails because the messages would not arrive in their main boxes? Would online conversions decline now that consumers had the option to avoid emails from brands altogether? While these concerns are indeed legitimate, marketers should not toss their business email lists quite yet. Consumers are still looking for promotional emails and there are ways to keep campaigns from fizzling out. Here is what email marketers need to know about the tabbed inbox and how best to handle it. 

How recipients responded initially
There is no doubt that tabbed inboxes have changed the way that consumers find and open promotional emails from businesses. Just as email marketers feared, fewer and fewer of their messages made it to primary inboxes after Google implemented the tabbed system with a dedicated 'promotions' box, according to a study from Return Path. Of the commercial messages tracked in the report, 90 percent went directly to the promotions box while only 0.3 percent found their way into the Primary tab. Nine percent of these emails landed in the social inbox and the remaining 0.7 percent were delivered to other, customized tabs.

Gmail was undoubtedly successful in its efforts to channel commercial emails into tabs other than the primary inbox, but what did this mean for marketing efforts? At first, strategists actively resisted the change with "move-me" campaigns encouraging consumers to move their promotional messages back to the Primary tab. Return Path noted that these efforts were largely ignored, failing to make an impact on Google and quickly forgotten. Of the 65,507 emails sent with the purpose of being sent to the Primary inbox, only 61 actually made it there. At less than 0.1 percent, it was clear that consumers had made the choice to accept this change – marketers would simply have to adjust accordingly. 

Where does this leave marketers?
While the primary inbox was effectively rendered a no-fly zone for commercial messages, this shift actually benefited email marketing campaigns in a way that many strategists did not expect. Return Path explained that consumers are now clicking on their promotions tab with the sole intention of looking for offers from their favorite brands. This kind of deliberate search puts recipients in a more receptive position in which they are actively seeking the benefits of marketing campaigns rather than trying to avoid them in their normal inboxes. In addition, the rate of This is Spam (TIS) reports dropped significantly in the Promotions tab as only 0.12 percent of those emails resulted in a complaint. Primary inbox messages saw TIS reports at a rate of 0.26 percent while the Social tab had the most with 0.87 percent.

Spam filters were also less discerning when it came to the Promotional inbox, according to Return Path. An impressive 93 percent of commercial messages managed to avoid the spam folder on their way to recipients while only 77 percent of messages headed for the Primary inbox made it to their destinations. This means that email marketers are actually more likely to reach their intended audiences with the help of the Promotional inbox as it allows more emails to make it through unscathed. Of course, campaigns will meet more competition when they arrive, which is why Business Day reminded strategists to keep messages engaging, interesting and relevant to user preferences. Social media should also play a major role in beefing up email marketing lists.

Optimizing email marketing campaigns for recipients on the go

Optimizing email marketing campaigns for recipients on the go

Smartphones have changed how people interact with one another in many ways, and email remains one of the most powerful features on mobile devices today. Not only are individuals better able to communicate with one another for personal and business-related matters, but brands are seeing much more success with their email marketing campaigns now that people are more likely to open their inboxes anywhere and at any time. An email database is now more powerful than ever due to more responsive and available consumers. This trend has made it imperative for email marketers to make their campaigns more mobile-friendly, what are the best ways to go about doing this?

Short yet specific messages are best
Part of the appeal of checking email on mobile devices is that consumers can check their messages constantly and without delay. However, this presents a challenge for marketers, who need to create emails that are concise and to the point if they want to capture the attention of an easily distracted readership. PowerSports Business recently explained that keeping messages short is one of the best strategies that businesses can employ to make their emails stand out among lengthy newsletters and updates. Because mobile devices have much smaller screens than their desktop counterparts, recipients prefer when they can scroll once or twice and finish a message without getting bored. 

Calls-to-action are also main features of the best email marketing campaigns, especially ones that present a clear path for the reader to follow. On a mobile device, readers need to be compelled before they open up an Internet window and are led away from their inbox. A recent article from ClickZ also reminded marketing strategists that not all smartphones are created equal. The best calls-to-action work well across all of the major devices on the market and must have a large enough click box for people with touch-screen phones to easily press. This will require a bit more research on the part of marketers when they craft their campaigns but the results will be well worth it when they see conversion rates spike. 

Subject lines must adapt to mobile platforms
One of the most important elements of an email marketing campaign is engineering a subject line that will make recipients want to click instantly without a second thought. When using a mobile device, readers are much more likely to be distracted by the world around them, as well as the many applications and features of their smartphones. ClickZ urged companies to make their intentions clear from the start by making subject lines direct and brief, ensuring that recipients know what they're getting into before they click. Companies that give their subject lines an exclusive, exciting tone are more likely to get a better response from readers on the go, especially if the line is fewer than 60 characters. 

Optimizing email subject lines to coincide with seasons and holidays will also keep customers intrigued and make recipients feel that they need to act now so they don't miss an important update. Marketers should create a calendar to follow throughout the year so that they can prepare the best subject lines for a given occasion. ClickZ also recommended that marketers will see more success when they target their readership based on location and shopping history. Consumers appreciate when their favorite brands remind them that their preferred products are on sale or are about to see an update. Providing these inside tips can keep a buyer loyal to a company for years to come. 

Driving customer engagement through email marketing

Driving customer engagement through email marketing

Optimizing marketing strategies to drive customer engagement is one of the greatest challenges facing businesses today. While decision-makers cannot deny the effectiveness of online marketing as a key tool in exposing customers to new products and keeping them updated on industry news, the digital age has also overwhelmed companies with options. Instead of being frozen in place by the sheer variety of methods used to engage buyers, business leaders need to look to the experts to find which techniques work best to keep customers happy and inspire them to continue remaining loyal to their preferred brands.

Why is email still so effective?
Many digital platforms are dedicated to social networking, personal messaging and other matters that individuals want to keep separate from their engagement with businesses. This trend was reflected in a recent ExactTarget report examining the direction of digital marketing for the coming year. Among the top priorities for businesses across the board were driving conversion rates, increasing and improving brand awareness and collecting user-based data to analyze and measure customer behavior with regard to marketing campaigns. These initiatives were then linked to the fact that 98 percent of marketers are planning to increase or maintain their level of spending in 2014.

Marketers know that they have limitless options when it comes to allocating their funds for marketing efforts, so where is all of this money going over the next 12 months? ExactTarget revealed that behind data, analytics and marketing automation, 58 percent of the companies they analyzed were set on increasing spending on email marketing. This area was prioritized over both social media and content management, which were each set to see more expenditure from 57 percent of surveyed marketers. Although these trends are becoming increasingly important in the arena of digital marketing, email will certainly not be going anywhere according to the data from this report.

Most people check their email several times a day, which is why it is not surprising that ExactTarget said 68 percent of marketers believe that email is core to their businesses as a whole. Social media on the other hand was revealed to be essential to only 46 percent of businesses. This reflects today's mindset that social media is a better supplementary method of engagement than email in the hierarchy of digital marketing initiatives. In fact, one of the main ways that companies utilize social media platforms is to pique the interest of consumers enough to get them to sign up for email newsletter subscriptions. Mastering this transition from social to email is going to be a defining marker of success in 2014 as companies try to best blend these two powerful tools.

Avoiding the dreaded spam box
After months of content creation, building email marketing lists and A/B testing over a variety of different segments, it can be crushing for email marketers to discover that most of the messages they sent out ended up scrapped by spam filters in consumer inboxes. According to Business 2 Community, billions of emails are sent out per year from companies hoping to reach their customer bases, but some industry analysts estimate only 20 percent of these messages make it to their intended destinations. The source recommended that simplicity on both desktop and mobile devices is key to ensuring that emails get to where they are supposed to be.

Besides making emails clear and easy to read, marketers need to also remember to make the content is relevant they want to make an impact on their subscriber base. This means that messages need calls-to-action, industry news that may affect customers and even a bit of humor to keep the mood light.  

Mobile email marketing can help to bolster brand identity

Mobile email marketing can help to bolster brand identity

Creating a strong, lasting brand is essential to the long-term success of any business venture. When it comes to marketing strategies meant to cultivate a specific brand image, email marketing remains one of the most effective tools in a company's arsenal. A recent report from Econsultancy revealed that of 1,000 businesses, 24 percent stated that more than half of their emails are opened on mobile devices by recipients. Around 42 percent of those companies believed that mobile email was important to their digital marketing strategies.

Why aren't more businesses implementing mobile email marketing techniques
With so many recent cultural obsessions revolving around mobile innovations in social media and applications, it would appear that businesses need to adapt as quickly as they can to reach the mobile market. Still, Econsultancy's survey showed that only 41 percent of respondents were actively implementing mobile email marketing strategies during the past year. Businesses that want to stay ahead of their competition will shift their marketing focus to mobile in an effort to reach the increasing number of consumers who make their decisions on the go.

The world of marketing is also requiring strategists to be more concise and aggressive when it comes to email marketing campaigns. A recent Business 2 Community article cited an ExactTarget report showing that 77 percent of consumers prefer email contact over any other channel of communication with regard to marketing efforts. While many companies are balancing their budgets between social media and text messages, customers have made it clear that they want to hear from their favorite brands via email rather than by these more personal platforms.

Companies should not overlook the importance of social in the broader context of digital marketing, but they should continue to prioritize email marketing in the years to come.

Businesses increase budgets for email marketing campaigns

Businesses increase budgets for email marketing campaigns

It is no secret that email marketing is still one of the best ways to stay in touch with customers and promote new products. When crafting the perfect campaign, marketing strategists do whatever they can to keep customers interested and engaged. This means that marketers analyze the elements of successful past campaigns down to every detail, determining which emails resulted in clicks back to landing pages, which opt-ins were most effective to get new subscribers and which messages ultimately led to the most converted customers. 

Where is the increased expenditure going?
Taking all of this data into account can be a tedious process requiring time and resources, which is why more companies are beefing up digital marketing budgets for the new year. According to Marketing Profs, an ExactTarget study recently revealed that 98 percent of marketers intend to increase or maintain their online expenditure in an effort to build larger email marketing lists and convert more visitors into paying customers. With more money going into these initiatives, what will strategists be doing to get the most out of their marketing dollar?

Among the top digital marketing priorities the report detailed for 2014 were data and analytics, marketing automation, social media marketing and content management. In addition, 58 percent of decision-makers said that they would be increasing their email marketing budgets. Marketing Profs also noted that close to half of strategists will seek to drive increased conversion rates and increase brand awareness among new site visitors. With well-timed, personal messages, email is without a doubt a great way to do both of these things.

Email marketing remains a top priority for strategists
With most marketers putting more resources into email marketing this year, business leaders are feeling confident that the method brings real results. Marketing Profs mentioned that 68 percent of marketers stated that email is a core element of their business while 88 percent believed that it produces returns on investment. Despite a great deal of industry focus on social media platforms, the survey revealed that only 34 percent of marketers using social tools have seen significant ROI for their efforts.

While Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are crucial elements in any successful digital marketing campaign, businesses need to remember that social media platforms should not be a primary focus in light of data regarding email marketing. Campaigns that lean too heavy on social are prone to missing opportunities to segment their audiences and provide personal details in messages that will drive traffic back to company websites. Social media can get people excited about brands but do not convert as many visitors as email. 

Understanding where, when and how people are using email
Marketers know that nearly everybody has an email address, but uncovering more information about the details of consumer email use can be the difference between a successful campaign and a flop. Marketing Profs revealed that mobile platforms are quickly becoming the standard way that people check email. 41 percent of survey respondents said that 31 to 50 percent of their email subscribers use mobile devices to open their messages, which should convince marketers that formatting for smartphones and tablets is a key part of any strategy.

Mobile Marketing Watch recently provided an infographic exploring the details of consumer email habits. Unsurprisingly, 61 percent of email users open their messages on mobile devices such as iPhones, Android-based phones and tablets. Desktop and web browser platforms seem to be fading away as consumers use them at rates of 17 and 22 percent respectively. Smart marketing strategists will make efforts to optimize their email campaigns for mobile in the years to come. 

Email marketers get personal to ensure successful campaigns

Email marketers get personal to ensure successful campaigns

Internet trends come and go, technologies appear and fade , but what stays the same when it comes to effective email marketing? Determining strategies that stand the test of time is a challenge that business leaders tackle year in and year out. Clickz recently revealed what they believe to be the ultimate in email marketing wisdom, but will these tips remain relevant as the years pass by?

Smart marketers keep the customer's situation in mind
Email marketing has changed with the times, but the customer's desire to be acknowledged as an individual will always be there. Too many businesses opt for an impersonal, mass-distributed newsletter or promotional email that fails to make anyone feel like they are unique. Customer service is all about making the consumer feel respected, and this absolutely applies in the context of email marketing. Clickz reminded strategists to use every bit of personal information they gather in their email database to address customers as distinct members of the brand community. 

The key term here is relevancy. According to Clickz, this translates into understanding the customer. A well-crafted message will take into account a number of specific factors that will separate one client from the next, including purchase history, browsing preferences and other personal touches that will inspire a sense of urgency for the consumer. When promotional offers and product information are framed in a way that directly applies to the customer's situation, they are much more likely to respond in a positive way.

Other ways of making email marketing campaigns relevant for specific customers is to take advantage of any extra knowledge a business might have about a buyer. These bits of information could include age, geographic location, education or family and relationship status. Smart email marketers also shift the message of their campaigns based on world context such as weather, political circumstances or current economic situation. Clickz pointed out to strategists that there is such thing as too much personal information, however. Including details about how businesses gathered buyer preferences (such as observing internet history) can come across as creepy and intrusive.

Business strategically leverage channels according to audience
Clickz urged marketers to never underestimate the power of email marketing, especially in light of hype surrounding social media platforms as the next big trend. Simply because new channels of communication are available, businesses should not abandon their traditional methods by virtue of their being older. The article mentioned a client that still saw most of its business come from direct mail catalogs. Of course it would be unwise for them to get rid of this marketing strategy. The same goes for email as social media becomes more prevalent. 

With this in mind, social media platforms can be an excellent way to supplement email marketing campaigns, according to a recent article from Business2Community. The piece referenced a report from researchers ExactTarget that showed 77 percent of consumers preferring to receive sales and marketing messages via email. Regardless, social media can be an excellent way to get new consumers interested in a brand and sign up for an email contact list. 

Marketers can pique the curiosity of consumers by letting social community members know what is available for them when they sign up as email recipients. This can be as simple as posting a Facebook status that mentions an interesting exclusive available to members of the list. Business2Community also recommended that strategists experiment with offering different kinds of content based on the kind of campaign they're running. Video, slideshows and live webinars are just some ways to get online communities eager to opt-in on an email list. 

SPAM filtering continues to plague email marketing efforts

SPAM filtering continues to plague email marketing efforts

Few things can be more infuriating for an email marketer than to find that their messages are ending up in SPAM folders rather than customer inboxes. As consumers have grown more aware of cyber security, SPAM filters have become more impenetrable and are causing headaches for email marketing campaigns everywhere. However, there are ways for marketers to improve their chances of reaching the coveted inbox without being tossed aside as SPAM, according to Business 2 Community.

Before the days of SPAM filtering, marketing campaigns functioned by blindly sending messages to any name on an email contact list in the hope that consumers will see them. These days, things are different, Business 2 Community explained. Marketers now need to constantly update their contact lists with new names in order to avoid sending message to inactive subscribers and developing a bad reputation with internet service providers (ISPs). It also is ineffective to send emails to accounts that are either rarely used or de-registered.

Testing message deliverability is essential
Once marketers have ensured they are sending to active accounts and are verified in the eyes of the ISP, Business 2 Community recommended that the next best option is to test whether an email will make it past SPAM filters. Before launching a major campaign, businesses should try a variety of platforms to ensure that their message gets through. Without adequate testing, countless resources could go to waste as thousands of emails never reach their destinations.

Business 2 Community suggested that avoiding major SPAM trigger words is another way for businesses to maximize the deliverability of their messages. Eye-catching words such as "billion" and "solution" were just some of the many triggers that sent otherwise innocuous messages into the SPAM bin. By making some minor adjustments to subject lines and email content, marketers could see a lot more of their emails reaching their desired destinations.

Tabbed inboxes create a new set of challenges for marketers
With the recent addition of Google's tabbed inbox, promotional emails are instantly lumped together in a secondary folder, which gets read much less frequently than the main page. According to KissMetrics, gaining access to the primary inbox is one of the most sought-after privileges in today's email marketing landscape. Most campaigns try to implement keywords such as "SMS" and "attachment" to reach the main box, while others try to get users to change their Gmail settings to circumvent the promotional tab.

Why segmenting email lists is necessary to drive business

Why segmenting email lists is necessary to drive business

While email marketing campaigns were once one-size-fits-all, times have changed and strategies need to be adjusted if businesses want to maximize the effectiveness of their efforts. According to Marketing Land, the main way marketers are doing this is by segmenting the subscribers on their email distribution list. Many companies are catching on to this trend and changing the way they approach email marketing accordingly. 

Marketing Land advised strategists to first focus on determining their best customers. This should be the segment that strategists put the most time and effort into. Loyalty should be rewarded, and the best customers need to made aware of their exclusive status. A friends and family offer is a great way for marketers to deliver that message. By giving privileged customers the option of extending their discounts and perks to their loved ones, businesses increase their chances of boosting brand loyalty.

Increase volume for those well-deserved buyers
All customers like to know that they are receiving special treatment. When businesses send their most valued buyers the option to sign up for an exclusive email chain, they open the opportunity to send more messages more frequently. Because these top clients have chosen to sign up, they are much less likely to become irritated by the increased amount of emails coming their way. 

When businesses offer exclusivity, they need to follow up on their word. Marketing Land reminded marketers that these customers expect to be rewarded when they commit to taking on more emails in their inboxes. By delivering on their promises with exclusive promotions, discounts and deals, businesses are more likely to satisfy their favorite customers and retain them as their most reliable buyers. 

Targeting seasonal and inactive customers
Although businesses would ideally maintain their holiday customer base year-round, Marketing Land explained that they cannot deny the effectiveness of honing in on the seasonal crowds to get the best marketing results. Companies should time their email marketing campaigns with upcoming seasonal events and tie together offers that would appeal to customers during a specific time of year. This will bring in more seasonal business and likely remind once-a-year customers to come back during the off-season. 

If marketers still have the addresses of old customers on their email contact list, it is a great idea to reach out to them and try to spark interest once again. Customers might be pleasantly surprised by a campaign reminding them of their positive shopping experiences with that company. While some customers have made up their mind not to shop with a brand again, it can never hurt to try, pointed out Marketing Land. 

Other benefits of segmenting an email marketing campaign
A common complaint about email marketing methods is that they don't appeal to people personally. By segmenting campaigns, marketers are in a much better position to develop customized content to consumers based on their experiences with the brand. According to Business2Community, sending tailored emails to every customer is out of the question, but segmenting is the next best choice.

Recipients of email with a personal touch are much less likely to unsubscribe. Business2Community asserted that these details can be as small as including a zip code with nearby branches. This will keep customers engaged and attentive to any new emails sent their way. Segmenting campaigns doesn't need to be complex, and the benefits can really pay off in the long run. 

Too many businesses develop an email database only to have it wither away as customers continue to unsubscribe and file complaints. Marketers who segment their campaigns can expect to hold on to their hard-earned email addresses. 

Is email marketing still a relevant strategy?

Is email marketing still a relevant strategy?

Email marketing is one of the oldest techniques on the Internet to reach out to customers. As technology has progressed leaps and bounds since the invention of the Web, new strategies have emerged. Are methods such as search and social media taking the throne as the main way for businesses to market their products? According to a recent article from Digital Journal, nothing has changed quite yet. Email marketing is still the top choice for strategists trying to maximize the exposure of their company's products and services. 

For consistent, effective customer engagement and communication, Digital Journal stated that the best choice for marketers is still email. In fact, one of the main uses for social media pages is for companies to gather email contact lists and focus on marketing campaigns with those databases.While social is a great way for businesses to get their names out there, email is where customers receive the necessary information, exclusive offers and discounts that will convert them into return buyers. 

How has the email marketing game changed?
Whereas email marketing was once a cut-and-dry business choice, strategists nowadays treat it like a science. Digital Journal cited market segmentation as the factor that brought email marketing to the next level of precision. Collecting data and targeting specific demographics with tailored messages lifted email marketing out of the dark ages and allowed recipients to feel that they were personally addressed by their favorite brands and updated about their preferred products. 

Marketing strategists have also made an effort to cut down on the total amount of content that their target audience receives in an average email. This quality over quantity approach has allowed businesses to maintain the relevancy of each message and has been shown to keep customers interested in receiving more mail in the future. Mobile viewing was another element that Digital Journal emphasized will be a critical point moving forward in email marketing. Because over 50 percent of email viewing occurred on mobile platforms last year, businesses cannot overlook the importance of optimizing their messages for this format.

It's about the little touches
Personal details are separating successful email marketing campaigns from failures. In a recent article from Business2Community, contributor Lisa Gulasy examined the differences between two order confirmation emails that helped her decide which brand she preferred. Unsurprisingly, the businesses that crafted a fun holiday message became her top choice.

Email marketers seek a new year's plan

Email marketers seek a new year’s plan

The holidays are without a doubt the easiest time for email marketers to get their messages across to customers, but all good things come to an end. Even though sales across industries slump as the new year plods along, there are ways that marketing strategists can continue to use email as a method to attract new customers and make conversions. According to a recent Clickz article, marketers need to use their beefed up holiday email contact lists wisely and make sure that they can turn seasonal shoppers into loyal customers year-round. 

A sure way for businesses to set their emails apart from the slew of discounts customers receive is by taking the opportunity to educate consumers on new products or services. Customers who know more about products are more likely to buy them, Clickz noted. Offering plenty of information without being directly promotional will encourage consumers to read up without feeling pressured to buy. When they finally get offered that discount, they will know everything they need to go ahead and make the purchase. 

One way to educate customers is to provide information about products that they just bought, highlighting features and benefits that they might not have known about at the time of their purchase. Keeping a steady 'drip' of informational emails will keep the customer engaged without drowning their inbox with content, causing them to ignore future emails. Clickz reminded businesses that this will also make the customer feel like they are constantly getting more out of their purchase and associate a great deal of value with that particular brand.

Cross-promotional emails can be effective
Once a customer begins to receive their drip of emails, businesses should start incorporating information about products that supplement or enhance the customer's purchase to start guiding them toward their next buy. This can be especially useful after the holiday season when people get acquainted with new and unfamiliar products. Testimonials can also be an asset to companies that have a wealth of user support from social media or feedback forums. The subtle promotional value of reading another customer's positive account of a product can be a major factor in getting someone to make a purchase.

This is the time of year that people receive new hardware platforms that need many accessories and corollary products. This goes for computers, tablets, smartphones, game systems, home theater equipment and everything in between. When a customer buys one of these core items, smart email marketers will take advantage of their desire to get the most out of their user experience by offering them the latest additional gadgets or downloadable features. Clickz encouraged companies with these business models to be persistent in their email marketing to keep customers interested. 

The state of email marketing today
Although email is one of the classic staples of Web use, it is still a prominent way that companies reach out to their new customers and keep old ones coming back. A recent Mobile Marketing Watch article featured an infographic from analysts Monetate that explored why email marketing is still a viable and profitable marketing strategy. In the typically slow months of April to June of last year, email marketing was shown to have higher averages of add-to-cart rates, conversion rates and page views per session than both search and social media channels. Customers still respond to these newer methods, but not as much as industry hype would suggest.

With an 18 percent increase in retail email volume from 2011 to 2012 and a predicted $2.5 billion spent on email marketing campaigns by 2016, the practice shows no sign of slowing down. Businesses will likely always be able to rely on going straight to the customer's inbox.