Category Archives: Marketing/Communications

Attract millennials with a few key email marketing tactics.

Millennials pose challenges for holiday emails

A growing number of companies are using their business email lists to target millennials. This group of young consumers and professionals has grabbed media attention, and many businesses are trying to attract what's in their pocketbooks.

Because of millennials' level of tech-savvy – they did grow up with computers and the Internet at their fingertips – firms are constantly needing to evolve how they speak to young professionals through targeted email content and a range of devices to see the biggest benefits from this shopping group come the holiday months.

Recent research from Campaigner outlined the three hurdles email marketers will face with this demographic come November and December, ClickZ reported. These include getting them to open email, ensuring they engage with communications and sharing information via social media networks. So, what can organizations do?

Especially as millennials are unlikely to share discounts, coupons or other email deals on their Facebook pages or Twitter accounts, the study urged businesses to get creative. For example, many members of this age group will be directed to a website and fill up a proverbial shopping cart with items they would like to purchase, but then leave it at the last minute.

"An easy win from first timers is shopping cart abandonment emails," Seamas Egan, corporate sales manager for Campaigner, told Click Z. "They are simple to set up and have an excellent [return on investment]. Also, if you have yet to invest in developing responsive design emails for your marketing campaigns, you should [do it] ASAP."

And don't put this off until the beginning of November. According to Marketing Pilgrim, despite still being weeks out from Halloween, retailers and other organizations are already ramping up their holiday deals, discounts and marketing strategies.

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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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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.


The Most Important Leadership Skills You’ll Ever Learn

Leaders must encourage their employees much like coaches must encourage their players.

The Most Important Leadership Skills You’ll Ever Learn

I’m a Boston Red Sox fan living in New York City, and that’s a tricky thing to navigate! I bleed Boston red amongst Yankee blue. Oh, yeah! I live on the edge! Even though I live in “enemy territory” (and actually love it), there are few things more challenging than leadership. A business relies upon its leader, and more often than not, the leader is the one who makes or breaks the company. Successful leaders encourage successful employees, and there are some leadership skills that every businessperson should learn that create a positive and profitable business environment.

One of the most important leadership skills that all leaders should embrace is communication. Now you’re probably saying “Thank you, Captain Obvious,” but bear with me for just a second. I don’t simply mean communication as in talking to your employees and being clear with respect to what’s expected of them. I mean communication as in encouragement, honesty, and inspiration, all mixed in with a little bit of engaging humor. “Good morning, Fred. Get me those accounting reports by 10 a.m.” is not what I’m talking about!

Dull, dry, demanding communication discourages your employees and disables them instead of empowering them; yet you don’t need to be all sickly-sweet either. You need to be honest. Fred is going to be more inclined to do as you request if you let him know exactly why you need the numbers by 10. You’re not being a power-hungry jerk and making demands before he’s had his first cup of coffee for kicks. You have a board meeting at 11, the shareholders want to see the quarterly figures, and you want to review them first so you know what you’re talking about if they have questions. Fred will get it, and most likely happily comply.

That kind of honesty goes a long way because your employees will feel more on your level, something that is important to everyone. Infusing that honest communication with a smile on your face, some encouraging words, and even a bit of humor is even better. “Morning Fred. I have the board meeting at 11 and I need you to work your magic, please. The shareholders want to see the quarterly figures and I need to know what the heck I’m talking about when they quiz me. If you could please get me quarterly reports by 10, I’d be indebted. Thanks!”… or something like that. Fred’s going to be a lot happier with this request than “get me the bleeping numbers!”

Let’s infuse some attitude while we’re talking communication. Your attitude as the leader of your organization or group of employees is critical to everyone’s success. You, as the leader, must always possess a positive attitude that motivates your employees to excel, even when things look grim. It doesn’t matter that you just received teeth marks in your behind from your boss first thing in the morning. It doesn’t matter that the quarterly figures Fred got you look really, really bad – I mean REALLY bad. You have to exude confidence in everyone and their commitment to the overall goals and keep your crew up instead of down. Positive attitude, confidence in your team, and commitment to your goals through thick or thin goes a very long way with employees.

Finally, there are times when leaders have to do things they’d rather not, such as disciplining employees or delegating work to ensure the job gets done. Nobody wants to discipline or fire anybody, unless you’re a sadist! And leadership tasks such as delegating assignments can be such a pain because they are often met with resistance and resentment. You’re the boss, and sometimes you have to do what the boss has to do. How you perform these leadership tasks says a tremendous amount about your leadership skills. Communicating honestly with troubled employees and fully explaining why delegating work is necessary will instill a sense of confidence and camaraderie in your staff, and that’s the best thing a leader can ask for.


Tailor email communications with real-time personalization.

Personalize email distribution list communications to boost success

While business emails are no longer considered a "pioneer" in the marketing and communications field, they are still one of the most effective ways for businesses to reach new and old customers, especially when partnered with targeted email lists.

However, one technique more marketers have deployed or are in the process of implementing is real-time content personalization.

A singular communication    
In fact, a recent survey from the Direct Marketing Association found that 77 percent of marketers in the U.S. believe enabling real-time personalization in email messages is a high priority, Business 2 Community reported. But what exactly does this do?

The news source explained that this technique partners demographic information and constructed audience types with custom content. Furthermore, it is precisely timed to reach consumers at moments when they are most likely to open and click. 

"Capitalize on niche emails – less general and more overtly sales-oriented – in order to increase open rates, click-throughs and revenue," Business 2 Community explained. "This includes the development and testing of email headlines, content, design and call-to-actions."

Not an easy accomplishment                 
While this is a high priority for many marketers, it also extremely difficult. Research from MarketingProfs found that 60 percent of marketers said personalizing messages is their top challenge. Marketing effectiveness and responsiveness followed closely behind (57 percent), with improving customer retention (43 percent), harnessing big data (41 percent) and driving revenue through cross- and up-selling (38 percent).

However, the effort may pay off. Of all the real-time marketing channels, email was ranked the highest, with 80 percent of respondents saying the channel is "very important." With such sentiments in mind, it should be no surprise then that 55 percent of marketers already use this strategy, and another 32 percent plan to do so in the near future, according to the study.

BtoB Online highlighted that one of the key benefits of a real-time marketing campaign is that it can strengthen customer relationship management (CRM) and email analytics, thereby making the job of the salesperson that much easier.

"You want to integrate analytics with CRM so the salesperson can see the whole picture – what kind of content they have been looking at – so you can build a better digital profile about your prospects and customers," Tawheed Kader, CEO of ToutApp, told the news source.

By integrating personalization into their marketing efforts, companies can ensure their email distribution lists are that much more tailored.