Author Archives: Alec Wilcox

Use a "permission pass" message to make sure marketing emails don't negatively affect company reputation.

So you have an email marketing list – now what?

Despite being one of the oldest digital marketing channels, email is still one of the most effective ways to reach new and existing customers online. However, when starting out with a business email campaign for the first time, it can be difficult to figure out how to use a targeted email list in a way that appeals to consumers and doesn't overstep privacy bounds.

Is it really better to ask for forgiveness than for permission?  
As individuals continue to feel inundated by marketing messages, sending a communication to an unknown quantity of consumers for the first time can spur anxiety among businesses. Will recipients find the message interesting? Will they be annoyed? In what way will it reflect on the company? Fortunately, there are strategies for an organization to successfully utilize its email distribution list while avoiding costly errors.

According to MarketingProfs, the "seek forgiveness later" approach is a fool's errand. Instead, companies should consider using what the news source called a "permission-pass campaign." 

"Metaphorically, you're giving those who may no longer (be) interested in your email (or who can't remember whether they ever were) a chance to get off the train before it leaves the station," MarketingProfs explained.

A "permission-pass" message contains a series of elements that not only act as a vehicle for asking individuals to stay on an email mailing list, but also attempt to persuade them of the value in becoming "active" recipients, i.e. those who spur higher open and click rates.

As such, one of the most important things a company will communicate in these messages is the business' relative value. This can be done by outlining the benefits of being part of an email list, including special discounts or savings, insider information, exclusive content and other perks.

However, firms will want to avoid allowing expectations to become unmanageable. 

"If they are going to stay on your list, let subscribers know what kind of communications and especially what sort of frequency they can expect," explained MarketingProfs. "Better yet, if you're launching a rich and diverse email program with many choices, direct subscribers to a sign-up or email preferences center to help them make their decisions."

Email marketing continues to prove itself time and again to be a dynamic way to attract and maintain business. In fact, a recent study from MailerMailer called it the "workhorse tactic" of digital marketing.

Figuring out the right days and times for email marketing messages can boost overall list success.

Keep it short and sweet with email marketing

As any company or marketer crafting a business email marketing strategy knows, not all communications are created equal. Ineffective content and poor structure can prevent a firm from getting the most from its email distribution list, leading to missed opportunities to attract new customers and raise revenues. 

Avoid lengthy lines   
According to MailerMailer's annual Email Marketing Metrics Report, email newsletters that experienced the highest average open rates kept subject lines short - between 4 and 15 characters - MarketingProfs reported, with open rates decreasing as subject lines lengths increased. The same was true of click rates. The shortest subject lines had the highest click rates (2.6 percent), and subject lines over 51 characters had the lowest (1.6 percent).

Timing also matters, as the open rate peaks within the first hour of delivery and a little more than half (51.7 percent) of all opens occur within the first six hours. For email marketers and businesses, this will require them to choose their days and times wisely, with weekdays, early mornings and evenings provoking high open rates. In fact, Tuesday and Wednesday proved to be the best times to send marketing messages, with a 10.7 percent average open rate, the study found, as reported by the news source.

"Among many other factors, message scheduling affects your email open and click rates," the report stated. "Adjusting your sending schedule in response to our findings may improve your stats. However, since every list differs, be sure to track your results and fine-tune."

Know your audience  
However, there is more to experiencing marketing success with an email contact list than just nailing delivery logistics such as data and time. Recipients like to believe messages are tailored for them, and companies that can deliver on this are likely to see higher open rates.

Personalizing the subject line increased the average open rate to 12.9 percent, while doing the same for the content of the communication boosted the rate to 13.2 percent. Yet, perhaps shockingly, when both pieces of content were tailored to recipients, open rates dropped lower than those with no personalization at all – 5.3 percent compared to 9.8 percent, respectively.

However, if recipients did open doubly-personalized messages, they were more likely to click compared to any other combination.

The take-away from this studies seems to be one overarching trend: The more firms understand who their recipients are, the more likely they'll be able to boost revenues and success with their email distribution lists. 

Event planners consider email to be the "workhorse tactic" of their marketing efforts.

Events industry sees utility of email marketing

The events industry is no novice when it comes to marketing. Professionals understand the importance of targeted email lists for reaching individuals and convincing them of the value of attending.

This was underscored by a recent report, "Digital Playbook," which outlines how digital marketing strategies such as business emails help event enterprises save money while furthering their strategic growth plans, BtoB Online reported. In fact, of 480 events organizers and marketers, more than two-thirds indicated that they maintain a digital strategy, attributing a greater share of their revenue to digital tactics than those who did said they do not utilize a digital plan.

"You can't cut your way to growth," David Rich, senior vice president of strategy and planning at George P. Johnson Experience Marketing (GPJ), said. "It's great to use digital to contain costs, but on top of that we have to ensure that we're using digital to reach more people, to stay connected and engage more deeply, to provoke people to speak positively and become advocates."

Furthermore, the success experienced by those who implemented a digital strategy has underscored the importance and utility of digital marketing channels. Approximately 56 percent of respondents said they are shifting from traditional, paper-based tactics to a more digital focus.

Email marketing, in particular, was pointed out in the survey for its "workhorse tactic." Around 70 percent of brand marketers and event organizers cited it as a top revenue generator, especially when used in combination with other channels.

For event marketers who invest in quality email databases, they may be able to make email work even harder for them, using a strategic, big-picture approach to ensure their event listings and information reach the correct respondents and sponsors to guarantee a successful event.

Email newsletters key to real estate agents looking to sell properties.

Real estate agencies tout importance of targeted emails

Like firms in many industries, real estate agencies depend on attracting new customers and maintaining relationships with loyal ones to not only stay afloat but also reach higher levels of success. Part of this involves employing a marketing strategy, such as sending business emails, that’s convenient and engaging for individuals searching to expand their property holdings or simply purchase a new home.

Property Observer recently pointed out the importance of email newsletters to boosting relationships with consumers and communicating news, trends, upcoming events and listings. However, this medium is an ongoing communicative effort – often requiring much more work than traditional media.

For example, agents need to know the best days and times to send their email communications to reach shoppers. According to the news source, these days tend to be Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, with Saturday and Sunday generally registering low open and click rates.

“Tuesday has long been seen as one of the best days for email marketing to your database and that appears to be sound thinking, there’s lots of research to support this,” Property Observer explained. “With weekends a prime time to visit properties it also comes as no surprise that Fridays are popular – it’s common sense.”

Realtors would be well-advised to ensure their emails are also mobile-optimized. This not only allows potential clients to receive updates anywhere and even potentially swing by a showing on their way home from work, but recent research revealed mobile devices are the prime channel for reading emails.

Movable Ink’s “U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report: Q2 2013″ found that the largest consumer brands saw 62 percent of their marketing emails being opened via mobile devices, compared to 38 percent being read on traditional desktops.

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Will promotions tab reduce click rates?

Is Gmail ‘promotions’ tab really just a demotion for email marketing?

This summer, Google implemented changes to Gmail, stirring worries among many companies about how their business email initiatives would be affected.

The multi-tabbed system introduced includes three sections – “primary,” “social” and “promotions” – effectively screening emails and sending them to the correct locations. For businesses, this spurred many concerns about how successful their online newsletters, updates and discounts could be if they were no longer occupying a place of prominence in recipients’ inboxes​, and instead were relegated to “promotions.”

Small businesses aren’t the only entities that could be hurt by the changes. Nonprofits, which often rely on direct email campaigns to boost funding or collect signatures, would also be funneled into “promotions,” International Business Times explained. Yet will the new tabs really hurt companies’ bottom lines or open rates?

Studies from MailChimp and Constant Contact have only found slight decreases in open rates since the changes went into effect, with the former noting that the percentage of recipients reading marketing messages dropped from 13 percent to 12 percent. However, both firms emphasized that it’s still too soon in the system’s deployment to truly gauge how it will affect the number of people on their targeted email lists reading their communications.

“Don’t overreact to a change like this,” Julie Niehoff, director of field education and development for Constant Contact, told the news source. “This is not the time to change your marketing strategy. It’s too early to tell.”

However, other industry insiders offered an even more pragmatic outlook on the development. Lyris CMO Alex Lustberg told Marketing Land that consumers have always filtered their emails, so the new system isn’t really that different at all. Instead, Google just does the work for them.

A deep understanding of how the “promotions” tab affects business will require at least a year of observation. Until then, the general advice seems to be, “stay calm and keep emailing.”

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