Category Archives: Sales & Marketing

Measure, then market: Marrying statistics to content in your email strategy

Measure, then market: Marrying statistics to content in your email strategy

Email marketing requires a combination of hard and soft skills. Depending on the size and scope of your email marketing list, you have to know how to process large amounts of data about who your recipients are and how they're interacting with your messages. At the same time, it's essential to have the sales and writing savvy to craft email content that will appeal to your customers based on what your statistics tell you.

Email list segmentation based on contacts' basic information – geographic location, age, gender and other factors – and their purchasing behaviors is a well-known strategy. Other data points have more to do with your emails themselves, tracking their performance and how customers respond to them. 

Software firm ConnectWise recently announced that it would be extending its platform, which was previously geared toward IT and other service providers, to email marketers by integrating it with a new cloud-powered analytics tool, Nex.to. The solution generates real-time analytics with every email send, telling marketers which of their contacts are opening the message, as well as which external links are creating the highest click-through rates, the firm said.

Data can also be analyzed from another point of view: how emails benefit the company. In a post for ClickZ, online marketing strategist Jeanne Jennings noted that she had used revenue per email (RPE) as a key indicator of success for many of her clients' email marketing campaigns. In the case of one client, Jennings was able to use increases in this figure to prove the effectiveness of sending fewer, higher quality emails.

"The key to success here isn't sending more email; it's being smarter about the email you send," Jennings wrote.

Content is key
Knowing how to deliver content that communicates your brand and draws new business is a kind of intelligence equally as essential to email success as data analysis. 

In a column for Econsultancy, Tink Taylor recently pointed out that many email marketers aren't branding enough. She suggested that confirmation emails sent after a customer makes a purchase are just as opportune a time to reinforce and articulate your brand as the email that may have initially led to the sale, and that failing to do so can leave a negative impression.

"To a customer, this can feel a bit like you're saying, 'Right, we've got your money, now we don't care.' It's important to remember that this is your customer, and the purchase confirmation is a fantastic opportunity to drive loyalty while they're feeling good about your brand," Taylor wrote.

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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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Top 2 email marketing tips to live by

Top 2 email marketing tips to live by

Businesses are using email lists for marketing purposes more often than ever before as the digital landscape evolves and becomes more integrated into day-to-day activities. However, companies cannot simply build an email database and hope for the best. Instead, decision-makers must be proactive to establish a targeted list that is reliable and will continue to be relevant in the long run.

The simple truth is that there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to email marketing. This was highlighted in a recent Business 2 Community report, which noted that consumers will typically hold some organizations in higher esteem than others. In other words, there will inevitably be a multi-tier level for brands and being too aggressive may cause prospective customers to drop companies a few levels.

At the same time, there are some general email marketing tips that organizations can follow to build the most effective strategy for them.

Become the consumer
In many cases, organizations build a great divide between themselves and consumers. While this may be good practice for a broad range of business tasks, creating a chasm in marketing can be dangerous. Business 2 Community noted that decision-makers should assess whether they would feel comfortable receiving the amount or quality of content that is being produced by marketers. If not, initiatives should be adjusted.

Enterprises also need to evaluate the niches of their targeted email lists to determine whether contacting certain recipients is appropriate.

Build strong content
Engaging content is one of the most fundamental aspects of any marketing initiative, as failing to capture the audience's attention or awareness will result in less effective promotional campaigns. Experts often say that every email sent as part of a marketing project should have a call to action that enables prospective clients to immediately communicate with service representatives.

A Global Industry Analysts report revealed that companies have no intention of giving up on email marketing initiatives, as the market is forecast to generate nearly $17 billion in revenue by 2017. While establishing email mailing lists and databases can be an effective way to improve these types of marketing efforts, it is important that decision-makers recognize not all clients are created equal. As a result, enterprises need to take the time to develop customized initiatives that cater to the various needs of their specific customers, not necessarily the consumer landscape in general.

Ecommerce retailers need to bring a 'singular focus' to email messages.

Optimizing ecommerce emails to make the most of contact lists

Writing the perfect business email can be difficult, especially for ecommerce companies. Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar stores, online shops can't hope to grab revenue from passersby, so in many ways, email is the prime way they bring in business. How can you create a dynamic ecommerce email?

Finding your message                                          
A big mistake many online stores make is  trying to cram too much information into one email. Considering the fact that ecommerce operations are likely to send out more than one communication ever, there's no need to fill individual messages to the brim. Instead, Practical Ecommerce suggested that marketers find a "singular focus" for every message, which is especially important during the holiday season when inboxes become slammed with offers, discounts and news from across the Internet.

According to the news source, emails that showcase a "singular focus" tend to feature one call to action, one category or one item per email rather than advertising many different sales at once.

These messages can be aided by the use of images and graphics, which Practical Ecommerce claimed can perhaps communicate brand or product information better than words. 

"Notice that leading online retailers – from Amazon and Walmart to the Gap and Zappos – all use large and attractive graphics in their email marketing campaigns," the news provider wrote. "These are companies that spend a significant amount of time and money optimizing, and they all use great graphics."

Knowing your customers                                   
That said, seeing success with narrowly focused messages means really understanding the members of your email marketing list. If you don't take their needs and desires into account, you could end up promoting an item or sale that is virtually meaningless to them. Accurate targeting can reduce bounce rates, spam reports and unsubscribes, Practical Ecommerce writes.

Targeting customers isn't all about content – it also requires ecommerce marketers to meet consumers where they shop, which increasingly is on their mobile devices. In fact, a recent article from Forbes asserted that instead of first creating an email marketing campaign for desktop devices and then optimizing it for smartphones and tablets, retailers should put mobile first. Giving consumers the opportunity to shop from wherever they happen to be offers ecommerce players an opportunity to increase revenue over the long term, especially as this trend appears to be a new normal.

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Salespersons should remember they're writing an email - not a pitch.

Write a sales email – not a sales pitch

Email distribution lists often represent the first chance for sales teams to increase their metrics and monthly bottom lines. But how can they take targeted email lists and leverage them to even greater value?

When writing a sales email, sometimes it's easier and more illustrative to pinpoint what not to do. In a recent article for Inc. magazine, Geoffrey James outlined a few key pitfalls all marketers  should avoid if they hope to be successful.

For one, many companies believe their subject lines are getting them caught by the spam filter. However, James explained that it can just as often be the paragraphs of "densely worded gobbledygook" that ensure firms' emails are never seen.

Emails often end up looking this way when they attempt to accomplish and communicate too much. Rather than educating a prospect about a product or service, heading off any objections and then requesting to set up a meeting to learn more, James suggested businesses keep it simple and undemanding.

"Your initial email doesn't have to convince the prospect to take any action other than just hit REPLY and thereby indicate an interest in learning a bit more," James advised. "You can (and should) wait until subsequent emails to explain details or request a meeting."

The beauty of email, James added, is that it can be a conversation. If individuals have questions, they can very easily contact a company. They do not need to be sold something – consumers want to open up a conversation.

Especially as email continues to prove itself to be a successful marketing tool, businesses will need to ensure their content is as fresh and captivating as possible. One strategy marketers are turning to in order to reach consumers is personalized content.