Category Archives: Sales & Marketing

One great email newsletter can bring big results

One great email newsletter can bring big results

The world of online marketing takes into account factors such as contact list segmentation, social media integration, SPAM filters and many more. However, too many marketing strategists overlook the meat and potatoes of an effective campaign: the classic email newsletter. AllBusiness Experts recently explored the ways that well-crafted email newsletters can educate readers, spark their interest in upcoming products and drive sales to new heights.

Marketers enjoy the benefits of instantaneous feedback
Long gone are the days that marketers launched an email campaign and waited around to see if people were buying a product or not. AllBusiness Experts stated that data can help marketers master the art of the promotional email. Today's technology allows for strategists to track the number of people that open messages, click specific links, sign up for calls-to-action and make purchases. This information is then used to create a more effective marketing campaign the next time around.

Modern innovations have also made it easy for anyone to launch a killer marketing initiative with a substantial email distribution list. According to AllBusiness Experts, good newsletters require very little tech savvy, are generally cheap to create and can deliver huge returns on investment. For small business owners looking to expand their market, an email campaign is thus a no-brainer. 

Making the best newsletter possible
Most decision-makers know that email marketing is a key component to any successful business, but how can marketers be sure that email newsletters are reaching their full potential? A recent blog from Amsterdam Printing provided marketers with tips that help create memorable, powerful newsletters

First impressions are key when it comes to perfecting the email newsletter. A short and exciting subject line will encourage users to click, while a diverse range of images will help keep things interesting. Amsterdam Printing also stated that marketers must keep an urgent, personal tone to get their points across.  

Businesses always look for ways to grow their email contact lists

Businesses always look for ways to grow their email contact lists

The science of email marketing has come along way since its conception at the beginning of the digital era, but one thing has remained the same: When it comes to contact lists, having access to more names in an email database increases marketers' chances for a successful campaign. While a lot of time and energy is devoted to crafting perfect subject lines and engaging newsletter content, there is no replacement for having an expansive set of email addresses flood customer inboxes.

Thankfully for marketers, a recent article from Josic provided a number of methods to turn a meager contact list into an abundant supply of receptive readers. For many strategists this means returning to the basics of email marketing. Far too many marketers fail to make their intent clear when they offer the opportunity for individuals to sign up for an email newsletter. Simply asking online readers to "sign up today" will not convince anyone to type in their contact information.

Exclusivity and clarity are essential for growing an email contact list
Email marketers can never be too transparent when it comes to giving consumers the information they need to make a decision. Because the customer has already expressed interest in a brand by exploring a site or social media page, strategists should feel confident in what they have to offer. Josic suggested that every blog post on a company website should offer a call-to-action for interested readers to sign up for newsletters and additional content. 

While some individuals will subscribe to an email chain out of genuine curiosity, many skeptical readers will want a better reason to provide a business with their email addresses. Business 2 Community urged businesses to create incentives that will make it difficult for visitors to resist signing up. Examples included free ebooks and reports, but the best incentives offer access to exclusive content that can only be viewed in a user inbox. Who needs to be emailed information that's already online to view at any time? Marketers providing exclusive email content are likely to see their contact lists expand rapidly.

The digital whims of the modern Internet user are impossible to predict. That is why Josic emphasized the importance of including opt-in boxes no matter where a reader clicks on a site. This will give readers the opportunity to subscribe whenever the feeling strikes. Smart marketers will also place the occasional pop-up box in longer articles and give first-time buyers the chance to subscribe after they make their initial purchase. Strategists will also take advantage of social media platforms to drive traffic back to company websites and let users opt-in from there.

The logistics of successfully managing an expanding contact list
Businesses that find their email database overflowing with names and information may have difficulties utilizing their resources effectively, according to Business 2 Community. Marketers need to specify the kind of data they require and find ways to sort new addresses using tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) software. Once this data has been sorted, companies should keep track of which recipients open emails, click back to the website and eventually make a purchase. 

Setting realistic goals is a big part of any successful business. That is why Business 2 Community urged email marketers to set list-building targets for their teams to pursue on a given time horizon. When the desired number is reached, companies should examine their data to determine which opt-in methods were more effective than others in driving site traffic and sales. This information will be key when launching the next campaign. 

Email marketers seek to create winning subject lines

Email marketers seek to create winning subject lines

Compelling subject lines are crucial to crafting an effective campaign. As 2014 begins, marketers will continue trying to master the science of messages that recipients can't resist clicking on. Through years of trial and error, experts are beginning to pinpoint which kinds of lines lead to more clicks and sales. BizJournals recently laid down the ground rules for writing subject lines that will catch the eye of every name on a business' email contact list.

Customers respond to concise email subject lines
Nobody wants to spend extra time sifting through their inbox to find updates from their favorite brands. BizJournals urged email marketers to capture customers' attention by sending emails with short subject lines that get the point across in only a few words. While marketers might be tempted to give a detailed rundown of the enclosed newsletter or discount notification, readers are most intrigued by a brief preview and will likely click through out of natural curiosity. In addition, popular email clients such as Gmail and Microsoft Outlook tend to display only a small portion of a subject line, especially on smaller platforms like tablets and smartphones.

So how long does an email marketer have to convey their message within a subject line? BizJournals suggested less than 50 characters as the best range for businesses to spark the interest of their recipients. Keeping subject lines short will not only save customers the hassle of trudging through excess language but will pay off in the long run when marketers find that more people are clicking on emails and following through with online purchases.

The best email subject lines are more exciting than informative
Emails with urgent subject lines are bound to stand out against a sea of bland notifications and unwanted spam. By giving messages the tone of a pressing issue, marketers can make customers think that they might miss out on an offer if they don't open the email immediately. BizJournals emphasized the importance of numbers in creating the pressure of a short timeframe.The eye is drawn to numbers on a screen cluttered with letters, so subject lines that include digits will more likely convince readers that the email is worth opening.

While including specific information in emails is critical to educate customers about upcoming sales, events and discounts, email marketers can't forget that subject lines are meant to prioritize excitement over everything else. BizJournals noted that the best subject lines include a minimal amount of product information while emphasizing newness and exclusivity. Businesses were also urged to test a wide range of possibilities to see what lines draw the most attention from readers. Common methods include A/B tests and running individual pilot campaigns that can target a specific audience or demographic.

Where email marketers go wrong when creating subject lines
Sadly, there are some emails that rarely ever get clicked on. To help email marketers avoid sending out ineffective messages, Business 2 Community compiled a list of the most common mistakes businesses make when creating their newsletter subject lines. Excessive use of caps lock turns out to be one of the main offenders for inbox browsers. An email should be intriguing, not make customers feel like they are being yelled at. Businesses can capitalize the first letter of each word in a sentence to convey importance but should avoid steer clear of using capitals in every email.

Business 2 Community also cited unusual punctuation as something that can annoy email recipients. Including too many question marks or exclamation points is a waste of characters and can make a subject line appear unprofessional. To find success in email marketing, businesses need clever, exciting lines to hook their customer base.

Businesses can sink or swim based on email marketing strategies

Businesses can sink or swim based on email marketing strategies

Email marketing is not a new phenomenon, but it is still one of the best ways to reach out to an audience and educate them about new products, discounts and sales. In fact, an email distribution list can be one of the most valuable weapons in the repertoire of the modern marketing team. 

New internet marketing trends such as social media might appear to threaten email as the predominant strategy, but according to Business2Community, smart companies will not abandon this old standby for years to come.

Not only is email marketing sticking around, it has shown to lead to increased sales over the past few years. While Business2Community did not disregard social media and marketing apps as sound strategies, they emphasized email as the primary tool businesses should use in their efforts. So why should marketers continue to utilize this method?

Who doesn't love to hear their name?
The primary benefit of email marketing is that it allows for an enhanced relationship between businesses and customers. This is because people love the feeling of being called by name, regardless of who does the addressing. Customers tend to be more responsive the second they recognize their name on the subject line. 

Business2Community drew the parallel of direct mail marketing to emphasize this point. Even when consumers receive a letter in the mailbox addressed directly to them, they experience a rush of anticipation that cannot be replicated by other forms of marketing. Campaigns that include details like customer location and buying preferences are much more effective as well. 

Creating this personal bond is exactly where email marketing excels over its social media competition. While platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer the excitement of a collaborative atmosphere, they can make people feel like they are just another name in a sea of customers. 

Business2Community said that companies would be wise to mix the best of both worlds by getting customers excited about trends through social media and then sending emails to emphasize their focus on personal treatment.

Email keeps things personal and professional
While there have been some pushes for companies to transition to using social media and text to reach customers on a personal level, Business2Community reminded marketers that most people prefer email as the platform on which they want to be reached by brands. 

Even though personal communication via email has declined 21 percent, compared to a 10 percent increase in social media and 20 percent increase in text message, consumers appear to prefer commercial email messages rather than through these other channels. Most people appear to not like mixing business and pleasure.

This preference has increased 5 percent since 2008 and represents consumer comfort with being reached by businesses over email compared to other methods of communication typically reserved for social interactions. Perhaps email has already asserted its dominance over these other outlets through years of connecting customers to businesses, according to Business2Community. 

Drive sales without slipping up
Email marketing is clearly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to customer engagement via the web, but it is still possible for companies to alienate their audiences through this platform, according to Entrepreneur magazine. Common email marketing mistakes include using poorly chosen stock photos or distracting layouts, sending messages too often or missing their target demographic.

To avoid these mishaps, Entrepreneur suggested that companies spend time segmenting their email marketing campaigns to create sets of messages specifically designed for particular groups of customers. This can be as easy as matching up the proper names of the recipients with their emails, including their locations or recognizing their age-bracket.

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.

Email marketing is a necessary tool for holiday business

Email marketing is a necessary tool for holiday business

As the holidays grow closer, people of all ages are starting to wonder what they want to give their loved ones as gifts. Fortunately for retailers, this is a large market that can be easily attracted from the safety of their own inbox. A well-planned business email marketing campaign could mean the difference between a holiday sales rush or a fiscal flop.

According to a recent report from Internet Retailer, many email marketers have doubled their output from November to December in an effort to draw more buyers to their stores online and at the mall. After signing up for the email lists from 843 of the top 1,000 online merchants with available newsletter registration, Internet Retailer saw 3,559 emails in the first 12 days of the month. Despite not providing any shopping history or unique customer information, the news source saw an average of 6.88 messages from each business.

"Open rates have increased by about 20% from the norm," Melina Ash, co-founder and chief merchandising officer of NoMoreRack.com told the news source. "We've seen a particular increase in traction when we release door busters." The holiday season is a busy time for retailers around the globe, but this applies especially to the world of ecommerce."

How email marketers can get more from their efforts
While the Internet Retailer study showed that many online vendors are opting for heavy volumes of advertising to reach more customers, a recent report from MediaPost suggested that email marketing needs support from other aspects of business in order to reach its highest potential. The advantages of using email as a marketing tool are undeniable – by including brand names in confirmation emails retailers saw a 7 percent sales increase this past quarter – but businesses cannot overlook other important factors such as well-managed inventory and fully-prepared IT.

MediaPost referenced an Experian Marketing services Q3 benchmark survey that found consistent increases in the volume of email marketing rose by 12.7 percent from last year. Despite the spike in marketing efforts, click rates on ecommerce channels fell 57 percent, a figure that has businesses scratching their heads. MediaPost pointed to a lack of preparation on the part of retailers who do not have enough extra inventory for their online stores or IT departments who can't keep up with the increase in web traffic.

Before barraging customers with email offers and updates, retailers need to make sure they have their business fundamentals in place.

jimjoseph

An Interview with Marketing Guru Jim Joseph

One of my favorite parts about being in the marketing industry is how many great people you get to meet. Although I haven’t had the pleasure to meet Jim Joseph, I have been following his career, blog, tweets and articles on Entrepreneur.com for a while now. He is one of those people you think you have known for years. He is knowledgeable, relatable and one of the hardest workers I know. It was honor to have him answer some of my questions!

How do you balance your career as an NYU Professor, contributor for Entrepreneur, author of an award-winning book series and President of Cohn & Wolfe?

I actually get asked this all the time! For me, it all works together. Writing and teaching keeps me on the pulse of what’s going on in the marketplace which only makes me better at my day job. It’s also super helpful with recruiting and new business to have a voice in the industry so it all feeds upon each other. Plus I get up insanely early every morning and write like the devil before I go to the gym!

What brand do you think takes marketing to the next level?

I constantly highlight Starbucks as a brand that takes it to the next level both in terms of its product marketing as well as its brand marketing, which are two distinct streams for them. You can consume the brand in entirely distinct ways from the products which from an industry standpoint is inspiring. The brand has risen to an emotional space in people’s minds, becoming a beacon in communities and tackling social issues. Whether you drink coffee or not.

Your recent blog post on prank-vertising and viral videos was very interesting. Do you think some brands are pushing the envelope too far?

The only way to know if a brand has pushed too far is to read consumer reaction and measure results. Many are offended by putting consumers in precarious positions and then filming it, which I understand. It gets people talking though, which isn’t so bad as long as it results in sales; although, honestly, I’ve always tried not to offend in the process.

What made you want to enter the world of marketing?

I knew as a kid that I wanted to be in marketing, although clearly it took some time to figure out what it meant. I’ve always been more fascinated by the TV spots than the actual programming and the print ads more so than the articles. I always wanted to know how they knew to put it all together. I guess it all started when Farrah Fawcett did the “and I told two friends” commercial….

How do you think social media has changed the world of marketing for brands?

Social media made marketing a multidimensional relationship. Suddenly on a mass scale we hear what our consumers are thinking and that influences other consumers. Consumers can take control of a brand and brands are embracing that. It’s made it all so much more engaging as the lines of marketing disciplines have completely blurred. And from a personal perspective, I feel like social media has connected those of us in the industry beyond what an occasional conference could do back in the day.

Thank you, Jim Joseph for answering my questions and sharing your knowledge with our blog. It has been a pleasure!
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How email marketers can weather rocky results

How email marketers can weather rocky results

Finding that your email campaigns haven't been yielding the return on investment you'd hoped for can be a disheartening experience. While the stakes of email marketing are too high for marketers to let that feeling overcome them for very long, the struggles of reaching their firms' email contact list in a way that produces results are certainly real.

The difficulties marketers face aren't bound by national borders, either. Biz Community reported that in the United Kingdom, marketing emails sent by small to medium-sized business have just a 54 percent rate of successful delivery. Meanwhile, open rates stood at 21.47 percent, but the average conversion rate was just 3 percent.

Marketers experiencing poor results like these in the UK, United States or any other country where email marketing is widespread have tools at their disposal to reintroduce some energy into their campaigns and hopefully get their numbers headed in the right direction.

Prioritize by customer value
Knowing how, when and what kinds of customers make the most valuable purchases based on your email campaigns can help you focus your marketing efforts so that they'll produce the highest possible ROI.

For instance, while it's uncommon for a customer visiting your website for the first time will make a purchase, that likelihood is much higher among visitors who are already familiar with your brand.

"When looking at conversions, the difference between a new visitor coming to your site and a returning visitor is insane. We typically see anywhere from a 500 percent to 1600 percent greater purchase value from returning visitors," noted Rob Walling, founder of email marketing startup Drip.

Drip is an analytics and campaign automation platform that can help marketers target returning customers, and there are numerous other software products on the market that provide the data you need to market more effectively.

Learn how to target mobile
The statistics on the mobile email trend continue to confirm its spread. A recent study by Movable Ink showed that 63 percent of email opens in the third quarter of 2013 happened on a smartphone or tablet, while desktop computers accounted for just 39 percent of opens.

While iOS email is much more popular than Android – 78.7 percent of smartphone opens happened on an iPhone – Movable Ink Vice President of Marketing Jordan Cohen thinks that's no reason to ignore the Google operating system.

"If almost one in 10 of your emails is being opened on an Android, I would certainly want to design for that platform and cater to your audience on that platform," Cohen told Digital Marketing News.

Indeed, faced with the difficulties of raising email ROI, marketers cannot afford to leave any stone unturned.

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This holiday season, mobile marketing is key

This holiday season, mobile marketing is key

The holidays are a particularly tough but vital time for marketers to set their promotional messages apart from the crowd. This year more than ever, mobile-friendly email marketing campaigns are poised to offer exceptional returns on investment by adapting to the habits of the contacts in your email database.

Email marketing firm Campaigner recently announced the results of a survey that revealed millennials, in particular, are going to their mobile devices to make purchases. According to the study, 85.7 percent of individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 who own smartphones or tablets are using them to read marketing emails and follow up on promotions.

What firms stand to gain from emails that cater to mobile is considerable, but marketers' efforts will have to be strenuous, as the attention of millennials appears to be uniquely difficult to earn. The Campaigner survey showed that 70 percent of the demographic is unengaged with holiday marketing emails, and 21 percent say they are inundated by promotions and therefore ignore them. Just under 50 percent said they weren't sure how the emails they receive this holiday season will impact where and how they spend their money.

However, the email malaise of millennials is no reason to leave the potential rewards of marketing to them unreaped, according to Campaigner's General Manger E.J. McGowan.

"This generation is a game-changer for retailers, and they will need to approach targeting this valuable demographic from all angles – mobile design, personalization, social and content that engages. It will be an exercise utilizing the best mobile email marketing practices, and Campaigner is here to help lead them to success," McGowan said.

How will your emails look on mobile?
In order to truly craft an effective, mobile-friendly email campaign, you'll need to consider how your messages will appear on a smartphone or tablet screen.

The virtues of designing for mobile are different than they are for the Web. Entrepreneur noted that writing a catchy preheader – the first content after the email topic, just above the header image, also known as the snippet text – is just as important as a solid subject line. In fact, the preheader is the first piece of content your recipients see on a smartphone. Rather than something commonplace – instructions on how to view the email in a Web browser, for example – intriguing, memorable text should appear in that space, the news source suggested.

Entrepreneur also pointed out the benefits of responsive design for emails. A Web design concept that has recently begun to be applied to email layout, responsive design helps ensure pages are coded so as to appear differently on respective users' browsers and optimizing systems, taking into account the parameters of each platform to optimize attractiveness.

Don't get left behind
Putting these mobile optimization tips into practice sooner rather than later may be essential for marketers who want to stay ahead of the trend, as mobile commerce is growing at an impressive rate.

Emarketer recently released a study that predicted mobile commerce in the United States would total $41.68 billion – 16 percent of total ecommerce revenue – in 2013 and grow to $113.57 billion in 2017, accounting for 26 percent of retail digital sales.

Large firms aren't the only ones who can embrace mobile, either. A recent survey by Manta showed that small businesses are catching on, too. According to the report, 13 percent of independent retailers expected mobile offers to boost in-store sales, while 20 percent said their total mobile purchases would increase this year. 

"With the changing demographics and mobile habits of millennials coming to the forefront, these trends will continue to accelerate and gain importance," said Manta's Director of Marketing Kristy Campbell.

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Mastering the art of the email landing page

Mastering the art of the email landing page

A compelling, attractive landing page is a key asset for email marketing. It can help convince potential customers to add their addresses to your email contact list, and it's also a vital tool for generating sales through promotional messages. If you're crafting a landing page for either purpose – to gain followers or convert contacts into revenue – these guiding principles can help you ensure you achieve the results you're looking for.

Go for clarity
Most marketers are well aware that concise, easy-to-understand content is key in email messages. Similarly, the design of your landing page should make it crystal clear how viewers can take advantage of what you're offering them.

This means that if your landing page is designed to attract subscribers, they should know exactly how to sign up.  This might seem an obvious principle, but Chris Hexton recently pointed out in a post for Marketing Land that there are many ways to ensure customers know how to get what you're offering. Hexton noted the example of Unbounce – a landing page conversion tool, as it turns out – who added to its own landing page a strategically placed arrow pointing toward the box where viewers can enter their email addresses, as well as a large, red button that users were sure not to miss when submitting their info.

Perfect your copy
The principle of clarity extends to your page's written content, too. In a post for Business 2 Community, Juan Pablo Castro noted the damaging effects of a landing page with inexpertly written copy.

"If your content (the actual words you use, the way they are arranged, the way they interact with your design elements) is confusing to your reader, chances are he will give up," Castro wrote.

A key aspect of clarity is specificity. Castro suggested marketers never offer consumers more than one promotion on a single landing page or in one email. He also noted the right length for content depends on what it's offering: A purchase constitutes more commitment than an email marketing list sign-up and thus requires more content.

Consider mobile
If you're already designing your emails to look good on smartphones and tablets, consider doing the same for your landing page.

A recent survey by Marketing Sherpa found that while 75 percent of firms integrate links to their websites into their emails, 58 percent aren't optimizing their email layouts for mobile screens. That means not enough marketers are responding to the mobile trend, and thus, designing mobile-ready emails and landing pages can be a great way to set your brand apart.

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