Author Archives: Alec Wilcox

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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Use a trade show to test out automated emails and expand targeted lists.

Automate email contact lists for stronger leads

The power of a strong email distribution list in producing quality leads, signups and, eventually, even sales cannot be played up enough. Imagine it as similar to being a realtor and approaching a roomful of individuals actively looking to buy a house versus throwing business cards at everyone on the street. The first scenario is much more likely to be successful.

Creating the content that appeals to members of a targeted email list can be a time-consuming and effort intense project, however. As a result, many marketers are investigating how automation can help them ensure their business communications make the biggest impact possible.

Automation allows marketers to choose the correct messages      
One task automation can make easier is determining which messages are most effective with a particular audience, Business 2 Community explained. Marketers can send a series of targeted messages, and using analytics can determine which ones were the most effective by looking at click and open rates. Additionally, this can help them clear out any bounced emails and see which messages spurred the least amount of traffic to a website.

Furthermore, by seeing which users clicked, companies have a much stronger set of leads with which to continue on to the next step – sales calls, according to the source.

This is demonstrated in an article from Marketing Magazine that recounts how automation can be used by sales teams and marketers to prepare for trade shows. According to the source, many professionals fail to even alert clients and prospects to their attendance at such events.

However, an automated email blast can do this for marketers, as well as let them know who's been clicking and, thus, whom they may expect to see, according to the magazine..

"Send out an email blast to a list of prospects who live near the site of the trade show so that they know that your company will be in the area," the news source explained. "Position the email as a friendly reminder that you're stopping by, and include a note that you'd love to see them at the conference."

Sales teams and marketers can't leave it here, though. Trade shows are key places to add to targeted email lists or learn tactics to better win over individuals through first-time emails.

Mobile devices are becoming a common email channel.

Boost business email success with mobile optimization

While email marketing lists continue to be critical tools for businesses looking to reach new clients and customers, the way in which these communications are being accessed is changing alongside technology.

More than ever, research is underscoring the importance of optimizing email marketing messages for mobile devices, including smartphones and tablet computers.

Mobile is a key touchpoint for consumers        
According to a new study from Yesmail Interactive, nearly half of all marketing emails are opened and read via mobile devices, despite a marked preference for using laptops and PCs to read promotional messages.

This lack of active engagement with mobile manifests itself through click rates. On a mobile device, 11 percent of recipients click on a message after opening it, compared to 23 percent when using a desktop computer, the study revealed.

However, these rates do fluctuate by industry, with consumer services – those businesses that provide a service but not a good, such as Groupon or OpenTable - seeing the highest mobile click-to-open rate at 19 percent, while financial services brought up the rear with 2 percent.

"The discrepancy between click-to-open rates means many consumers are disregarding mobile emails," said Michael Fisher, president of Yesmail Interactive. "Brands need to implement mobile-first strategies that rely on responsive design, customized content and easily clickable calls to action. Otherwise, their messages will be deleted or go unread."

These findings cannot be ignored, despite the devices showing lower engagement. The number of consumers exclusively reading their emails via mobile device stands at 30 percent, while 61 percent of consumers consider these communications on their mobiles at least some of the time.

It's a very small screen    
When marketers begin to investigate how to optimize dynamic email communications for mobile devices, one of the most important considerations they will need to keep in mind is the size of the screen, which allows for less content and more dynamic calls to action.

Research from Constant Contact and Chadwick Martin Bailey found 75 percent of consumers said they are "highly likely" to delete business emails if they don't load correctly on their smartphones, tablets or other mobile devices.

For companies that cater to a younger target audience, leveraging mobile devices will be key, especially as the study found 88 percent of millen​nials open email via mobile devices.

Email newsletters can help healthcare professionals communicate a friendly, trusted identity.

Business emails help healthcare professionals keep their message consistent

A targeted email list is a requisite for marketers hoping to reach specific consumer groups, and this is especially true within the healthcare industry. Now, marketing among physicians and providers may seem unnecessary, with many assuming that professionals in the field, including those in the bio-tech, pharma and nutraceutical industries, are just magically found by those in need. 

However, they rely on email communications as much as any industry to find customers and maintain loyalty.

Email newsletters are information centers    
As a marketing channel, email messages are extremely valuable, especially due to their flexibility – they can essentially become a medium for anything individuals hope to impart.

"It is easy to implement and extremely cost-effective – allowing you to communicate with your customers as much as you (and they) want," wrote MaryEllen Tribby, founder and CEO of WorkingMomsOnly.com, in the Huffington Post. "It also gives you the ability to test, see what's working, and quickly react to generate more sales. It allows you to make your message as timely and relevant as possible."

For those in the medical industry, email newsletters offer a special benefit due to the sector's highly competitive and visible nature, Media Post explained. Using opt-in emails allows healthcare professionals to control the conversation about themselves and their products, while providing recipients with consistent messaging and news.

The opportunity to have a space in which to offer consumers information and news about products and events, as well as responses to market developments, is critical in an industry so tied to consumers' well-being. As a result, healthcare marketers face a number of challenges other industries don't have to bat an eyelash at. For example, the volumes of legal medical warnings can often disrupt pharma professionals messaging attempts, while regulatory compliance is a constant concern. 

"For this reason, the responsible sharing of information via product messaging that is both accurate – and also broken down into communications that can be easily digested by varied audience groups – is absolutely critical," the new source asserted.

Investing in business email distribution lists can help members of the healthcare industry reach those consumers who most need certain services and products. This contact information is tailored to help companies and marketing professionals communicate with individuals who are in need of their offerings and thus more likely to result in opens, clicks and even purchases.