Monthly Archives: September 2013

Responsive email could boost click and open rates.

Responsive design – essential to email marketers?

As smartphones grow nearly ubiquitous, the ability to use them for virtually every task is increasing. No longer are these devices merely conduits through which to call your mom or boyfriend. Instead, they now enable owners to check their social networks, shop for gifts and check the weather.

It should come as no surprise, then, that mobile devices are treading on desktop computers' stronghold over email. In fact, recent research from YesMail found that nearly half of all emails are opened on mobile gadgets. With their smaller screens and lack of mouse, smartphones present a challenge for companies, requiring them to adopt new content strategies, - such as responsive email - for their email marketing lists.

What, precisely, is responsive email?                                                     
According to a recent article from The Next Web, responsive email is designed to boost engagement between businesses and customers through the use of questions, fluid layouts and images, and personalized copy, depending on the types of device being used by recipients. For example, the news source pointed out, while a firm may include numerous paragraphs of information and photos in an email meant to be opened on a computer, responsive design enables a much shorter message and call to action to be presented on a mobile device.

"While traditional emails generally feature fixed-width frameworks, multiple images and paragraphs of text, responsive emails adapt to the device viewport size and display content accordingly, often skipping elements like blocks of text to allow touchscreen users to read and respond calls to action quickly," The Next Web wrote. "Responsive techniques allow designers to hide, stack, expand/collapse or modify content to optimize content display in emails on smaller screens."

Additionally, responsive design incorporates more functional aspects, such as larger buttons to allow for easier clicks with the touch of a finger and content that works without image displays. 

Surpass other marketing channels                               
Email being already one of the top marketing mediums for companies and organizations as well as one of the most effective could surpass anything currently available if techniques such as responsive email were employed, Dan Smith, vice president of product at Outsell, told 1to1 Media.

While the strategy will require marketers to educate themselves on the ins and outs of a more complex marketing tool, it could spur higher opens, more clicks and greater revenue.

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Promote clicks with personalized email communications.

Ecommerce retailers: Personalize messages for greater success

Email distribution lists have helped ecommerce retailers reach shoppers more effectively than is possible with other channels. However, new research suggests it may be time for online sellers to update their business email strategies.

According to the latest Ecommerce Quarterly from Monetate, email marketing referral traffic and conversions rates leading to ecommerce sites have declined since last year. Specifically, while Q2 2012 experienced a referral rate of 3.75 percent, this figure dropped to 2.36 percent for Q2 2013. Additionally, conversion rates fell from 3.56 percent to 3.34 percent year over year.

However, ecommerce outlets that use email marketing shouldn't despair. The channel still remains the most effective in terms of conversion and referral, with only social improving year over year. Furthermore, Monetate suggested personalizing emails.

Amazon already does this, sending out marketing messages to consumers based on past purchases and browsing behaviors. Monetate termed this "open-time personalization," as it requires online businesses to behave more intelligently and responsively. For example, if a blizzard is in the forecast, this may be a perfect time for sporting goods retailers to mail missives advertising coats, boots and other weather-related gear.

Personalization may grow increasingly important, as the number of retailers opening up shop on the Internet only grows and begins to push into shoppers' inboxes. In fact, another study from Daily Deal Media reported that 71 percent of merchants tout email as their most effective marketing channel. However, only 17 percent are satisfied with their online marketing strategies.

A good place for ecommerce businesses to begin is with a comprehensive and targeted email marketing list. With this resource, online sellers can make sure their efforts to create personalized content aren't going to waste, and their messaging is being delivered to those most likely to open and click.

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Doctors can help email marketing campaigns succeed.

Doctor involvement can spur greater success with healthcare email marketing lists

For members of the healthcare industry, email contact lists present both a golden opportunity and a challenge. While the marketing medium allows doctors and hospitals to stay in closer contact with patients and build deeper relationships, who recipients actually want to hear from within this sector is limited.

Cross-channel marketing can better connect doctors with patients          
In a recent article for Med City News, Deanna Pogoreic contended that patients do now want to build relationships with hospitals or provider networks. What they desire is greater communication with their physicians, i.e. the individual directly providing them health services. Yet doctors are not eager to involve themselves in institutions' marketing and email campaigns.

So what can marketers do to integrate doctors' voice into cross-channel marketing efforts? According to Dr. Russell Faust, a strategy healthcare consultant for Annica Media, the first thing to do is understand physicians' hesitations, the news source explained. A survey the company did last year found that doctors' biggest fears of utilizing such marketing campaigns are related to committing unknown violations or spurring negative reputations.

There are a few simple ways institutions can help assuage these worries, Faust explained to Med City News. For example, enabling physicians to create educational content for patients allows them to tap into a vocational urge to teach. Doctors can shape email content around commonly-asked questions or illnesses they are seeing more frequently.

Additionally, since physicians maintain very busy schedules with many stressful, competing demands, the easier it is for them to write up a message and send it out, the more likely they will engage with these marketing tools to great effect. Marketing departments can help doctors by setting up the simple things, such as writing bios and creating templates.

Finally, doctors like to see results. Tracking click-rates and open-rates can engage them.

"Physicians aren't afraid of data," Faust told the news source. "Show them your analytics."

Doctor-curated content can cut costs                    
As many healthcare organizations are reporting budget constraints, homegrown marketing can help them cut costs and save money, Healthcare Marketing Matters explained. Content created by doctors allows institutions to have a continuous conversation with healthcare consumers to collect more data on their preferences, choices and desires, which can ultimately help shape content and serv​ice moving forward. 

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Marketers devise new ways to stay relevant among Gmail changes.

Marketers strategize how to overcome Gmail tabs challenge

When Gmail introduced its new tabbed interface, relegating most business emails and marketing messages to a location called "Promotions" rather than "Primary," marketing professionals were up in arms. The advertising industry was convinced that with the change, marketing messages would never be seen by consumers, who would be more likely to dismiss the Promotions tab as a folder of spam.

Fortunately, recent studies have shown that the situation may not be as dire as marketers and organizations initially feared. An analysis by Return Path found that the most engaged users read nearly 59 percent of email promotions before the switch, and following the change, the percentage of marketing emails being read actually increased by nearly 2 percent. However, this didn't keep those in the industry from taking action against the tabbed interface.

Major organizations, marketers aren't waiting around                       
While studies such as ReturnPath's offer the marketing industry some hope for one of the most effective advertising channels at its disposal, experts assert that the true test of how promotional messages will fare in the new Gmail structure will come during the holiday season. As a result, some companies are already laying the groundwork to move from "Promotions" to "Primary."

For example, DVD rental company Redbox sent emails to all of its members and customers informing them that the new setup could mean they miss time-sensitive offers and deals from the company, and to avoid this from happening, all they need to do is drag the firm's communications into the Primary tab, InformationWeek reported. This approach may backfire, though. 

"Sending an email instructing readers how to move an email from the Promotion tab could be more annoying than helpful at this point," Jill Bastian, community education and training manager at Vertical Response, told the news source in an email. "I'm a Gmail user and I can't tell you how many emails I've been sent on how to do this. At this point, they just annoy me."

As an alternative, Bastian suggested that email marketers monitor their Gmail open rates, and if there happens to be a drop-off, only then should they send requests out to their email distribution lists. In this way, organizations can avoid annoying recipients with potentially unnecessary messages and instead focus on developing custom, engaging content that will drive loyalty and benefit their bottom lines. 

Sales emails: You may be doing it wrong.

Avoid committing sales email sins

Writing a sales email and a marketing communication may seem to utilize the same components, yet the two forms of correspondence leverage email distribution lists in distinct ways. If sales associates fail to realize this when reaching out to leads, they could be greatly hampering their own efforts and those of their firms.

Fortunately, there are a few key strategies individuals can keep in mind when creating sales messages to avoid these missteps and realize success.

Depart from the prototype                   
According to a recent article from Business 2 Community, a vast majority of sales communications commit the same sins: They use a stereotypical introductory formula that has the individual state his or her name, the company he or she works for and the product being sold. However, nowhere within in this message is a personalized touch that shows the salesperson understands the prospect's problem or even how the product or service being sold can address this.

One of the first things a quality sales email will do is discuss the problem the lead is having, the news source explained. This will demonstrate expertise and encourage concerned individuals to continue reading. However, every problem needs a resolution. 

"In your second paragraph talk about how your service or product will solve the problem so that people understand you are the potential solution to their problem," Business 2 Community asserted. "Talk about your service or product in terms of the benefits rather than [its] features."

But this may not be enough to ensure recipients take the next step. With this in mind, sales associates should include instructions on what to do next. The news source suggested that firms avoid making this next step too complicated. All that needs to be provided is information on what happens next. If they call a certain phone number, will prospects receive more information? Will they be connected with a sales representative?

However, sales associates should avoid bombarding prospects with emails, according to Guru in a Bottle principal Ardi Kolah. According to Kolah, the over-use of this channel can create "cognitive overload," which inhibits decision-making capabilities by limiting the amount of information individuals can retain. Instead of reading through a message, recipients will skim the beginning and skip through the rest, diminishing the chances of succeeding with a sales email.

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