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Email marketers craft new ways to quickly convert customers

Email marketers craft new ways to quickly convert customers

If there is one thing marketers have learned since the rise of the Internet, it's that email is one of the best ways to reach out to a customer base. Even decades after the first email was sent, marketing strategies have not changed drastically. Many businesses have chosen to keep the same tactics in place for years without an issue. However, according to Business2Community, there are a number of methods email marketers can use to optimize their efforts

For many email marketers, offering unique content for customers to enjoy in their inboxes is a way to gain support and make conversions. This is a broad category that can include anything from a guest blog to a free video series. Providing something that will engage customers' interests is often the best way to encourage brand loyalty. Instead of customers seeing promotional emails and quickly deleting them, sharing fun and interesting content will have people looking forward to receiving emails from a business. 

Related to the topic of original content is the rise of the free ebook as a way to keep customers excited about getting emails from a particular business. Not only will customers feel like they are receiving something more special and of higher value than a typical blog or slideshow, but they will also devote much more time and attention to an ebook, absorbing plenty of information about an industry or product. Writing a free ebook is a small investment for a marketing campaign that will make customers feel valued while providing them with lots of quality information. 

Always giving customers the option to opt-in
Smart email marketers never miss an opportunity to provide customers with the choice of signing up for a bulk email contact list. While opt-in email boxes typically appear in hard-to-find corners of a company webpage, Business2Community reminded strategists that it never hurts to always have the option available in every email. This will give customers a chance to sign up for different email chains, receiving new offers and instantly doubling the amount of exposure from your company.

Although they might appear bothersome, having a pop-in box in a newsletter can be a great way to convert customers on the spot, especially if the box pops up 30 to 40 seconds after the user first clicks onto the page. This will give the reader some time to read through some of the material and educate themselves on a product or service. Chances are high that if they are still reading the same page after 40 seconds that they have more than a passing interest in whatever a business has to offer. 

Webinars and SlideShares are two additional options that Business2Community advised email marketers to utilize in their newsletters. Webinars allow customers to gain a personal connection with a marketing representative as well as virtually meet with fellow brand enthusiasts from around the world. This can be an invaluable tool to create customer loyalty, especially when email marketing can seem so impersonal. SlideShare can also provide an interactive experience for customers that would rather not scroll through a long newsletter that looks the same throughout.

The classic format should not be overlooked
While gimmicks and tricks saturate email marketing discussions, strategists cannot underestimate the power of a well-crafted newsletter, according to a recent LifeHealthPro report. Contributor Josh Mellberg reminded marketing specialists that an effective newsletter will have a clearly identified readership, concise content and honest, poignant subject lines. Marketers should also actively promote their newsletters instead of letting them sit in customer inboxes. The new content should also be featured on company websites and offer plenty of links to other promotions. 

How to properly time email marketing efforts

How to properly time email marketing efforts

Many factors play into the success or failure of an email marketing campaign, and timing is certainly one of them. Merely having an email contact list is not enough for businesses that want to optimize the effectiveness of their marketing strategies, and according to a recent report from iContact, creating a detailed timeline for when to send out promotional emails is one of the best ways to increase customer conversions and improve sales.

IContact emphasized the importance of sending emails to customers at a particular time of day to evoke the best response. When it comes to recipients who work 9 to 5, a midday email can receive the most exposure as employees are typically past their morning rush and transitioning into the afternoon. For a general audience, however, the 5 p.m. to 8‚Äč p.m. slot has been shown to be the most effective, as people get home and check emails one last time before shutting down the computer for the night.

While daily emails might seem like the best option to maximize visibility in customer inboxes, iContact reminded email marketers not to overdo it. Sending emails every day at the same time can become bothersome for many customers and can appear overly automated. Instead of sending a daily email, marketing specialists should try to limit their distribution to Tuesday through Thursday, which are considered to be the most productive days of the week. With too much work piled up from the weekend on Monday morning and a mad dash for the door on Friday afternoon, few inboxes will remain open for very long on these days. 

Marketers can't afford to anger customers
Although it may seem harmless to send promotional emails at any time of the week, mistiming distribution can result in bad news for a business trying to retain loyal customers. According to a recent KissMetrics infographic, both bounce rates and abuse reports tend to skyrocket on weekends and in the early mornings. However, these times were also shown to see increased click-through rates and open rates than other slots.

Where businesses tend to lose customers is by oversaturating customer inboxes with too many emails. KissMetrics found that between one and  four emails per month is the optimal range for companies to send out promotions. More than this and customers become more likely to ignore emails completely or even unsubscribe from a newsletter. 

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 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.

Do's and don'ts for email marketers this holiday season

Do’s and don’ts for email marketers this holiday season

Competition in the email marketing realm is as stiff as ever this holiday season, especially with the new Gmail layout's separate tab for promotional messages making it harder for marketers to win a prominent place in their contacts' inboxes.

As such, it's important for marketers to keep themselves on-message and on-target for achieving the desired returns on investment this November and December. These six email marketing tips can help you create campaigns that will have your email list engaged and responsive as they make their important purchases.

Don't over-send
Finding the right frequency for email sends can be a long-term challenge. If you're still struggling to optimize the timing of your promotional messages, consider opting for fewer sends rather than overwhelming your customers with too many emails in too short a timespan.

Mobile email marketing firm Elite Email recently affirmed the validity of this principle.

"Over sending emails annoys your audience and causes people to unsubscribe. Don't become spam," the company told marketers.

Write a great subject line
Of course, if you cut down your send volume, you'll need to make sure that your emails grab your contacts' attention and stick out from the crowd. One of the most effective ways to optimize your emails for engagement is to craft perfect subject lines, and there are a few proven techniques you can take advantage of.

Business2Community pointed out the psychological effectiveness of phrasing subject lines as questions. By asking the contacts in your email database whether they've chosen the perfect gift for their loved ones, for instance, you can engage your contacts' individual needs and concerns without knowing very much about them.

However, more forceful subject lines can also be effective, the source noted. Commands – "Don't wait," or "Reserve your spot today," for example – avoid pushiness while still being direct, offering customers some welcome clarity amid the sea of promotions flooding their inboxes.

Don't forget to segment
No two consumers are exactly alike, which is why it's key for marketers to use the richest data available on their contacts and tailor the messages they send to their customers' interests and habits.

Segmentation lists based on demographic and purchase habit data help ensure that your customers will find your promotions relevant and engaging: It's easy to see why a woman who received one too many emails advertising men's products would unsubscribe. Furthermore, Elite Email suggested that marketers take the December shopping season to discover which holidays their contacts celebrate and temporarily segmenting their lists based on that criterion.

Keep it simple
While sophistication is the name of the game in email list segmentation – the more complex data marketers have, the better they can target consumers – simplicity is vital when it comes to the written copy and visual layout of your emails. Especially given the sheer volume of competition your emails are facing, it needs to be immediately clear to a reader what the promotion is offering.

"Some businesses try to say too much in one email, meanwhile nothing gets the focus. Multiple emails with more focus on individual products to customized lists perform much better," Elite Email noted.

Marketers should also be sure to create streamlined, uncluttered layouts that look good on mobile screens.

Don't be impersonal
CAN Spam compliance isn't the only way marketers can win the trust of their email contact lists. Elite Email suggested that promotional message have a person's name in the subject line, assuming that it will be clear to customers that the sender is a representative of the brand.

Marketers can also make sure they are personalizing content by sending promotions based on products contacts have already expressed interest in – an item saved but not purchased in an online shopping cart, for instance.

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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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Email myths? Throw them out!

Beware these marketing myths!

It seems that everyone has advice for organizations and businesses looking to turn their email contact lists into revenue-driving, engagement-boosting workhorses. However, not all of these Internet marketing suggestions should be followed – or even believed. 

In a recent article for the Nashville Ledger, Lori Turner-Wilson of Guerilla Marketing identified a number of digital marketing myths to help businesses avoid making bad decisions and boost their email marketing list success.

  1. Older doesn't mean less tech-savvy.  While millennials have been characterized as the individuals who understand new digital channels while Baby Boomers aren't as up to speed, this is not always true. According to Turner-Wilson, the average age of active social media users is over 40. For email marketers, this should be the green light for adding social buttons to their communications.
  2. Be targeted. Generating high rates of opens, clickthroughs and other traffic is, of course, a goal of marketers. However, these numbers don't always tell the whole story. All traffic, Turner-Wilson pointed out, is not good traffic. Some of it is just a waste of time and money, ultimately slowing down progress.
  3. Mobile, mobile, mobile. Whether businesses want to accept it or not, smartphones are increasingly being treated like miniature computers, allowing current and potential consumers to look up directions, find contact information and check out products. If organizations' emails aren't optimized for their eyes and mobile screens, a large opportunity could be missed.

One of the biggest myths, however, may also be one of the most hyped business strategies in recent year.

Big data equals big success?            
The term "big data" refers to the use of large swaths of customer information to identify useable insights and trends. Sounds perfect for email marketing, right?

In a recent article for ClickZ, Stephanie Miller explained that big data does not mean "big marketing."

"Often the most effective uses of big data are not bigger marketing, but leaner, more efficient marketing," Miller wrote. "The biggest challenge now is to wrestle big data down into actionable insights. Understanding the full experience means managing data from many sources, in many formats …  and often in real time."

For email marketers and organizations, this may mean wrestling a bit with current strategies to excise the fat and find a way to send out messages that are highly tailored toward customers, rather than industry myths.

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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.