Leading CRM and Email Marketing SaaS Providers, Hatchbuck, Benchmark, Merge

Product & Design - Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Leading CRM and Email Marketing SaaS Providers, Hatchbuck, Benchmark, Merge

Read More

Latest Posts

7 Ways to Spice Up Your Email Newsletters

7 Ways to Spice Up Your Email Newsletters

Practical Marketer • January 16, 2020

Email newsletters are one of the best tools that you have for providing prospects with valuable resources and staying top of mind with them. And with more than half of U.S. consumers checking their email accounts over ten times a day, brands have plenty of opportunities to connect with interested leads. But it’s not enough to just check-in — you have to be sending newsletters that are worthy of your subscribers’ attention and inspire them to keep the connection going. What’s more, newsletters can get stale fast, so continuously brainstorming ideas to keep your newsletters fresh is necessary. It’s your job as a marketer to ensure that the messages you’re sending out are always providing interest and value to your audience. If you don’t keep them engaging and fun to read, you run a significant risk of losing subscribers, which can be bad news for your inbound marketing strategy. With so much riding on keeping your email newsletters from ending up straight in the trash folder, we thought we’d share some of our best ideas for keeping your prospects’ interest. Here are seven of them. 1. Play Around With Tone Why so serious? Instilling brand authority doesn’t have to mean avoiding all colloquial language. I don’t know about you, but I love it when brands’ messaging is less buttoned up. Speaking to your audience as if you personally know them is one of the best ways to break down that wall and let them in. Prospects want to engage with brands in a more open and laid back manner.  When it comes to your email newsletters, work on finding a friendly, fun, and maybe even comical tone that will make readers feel more connected to you — and more excited to open your emails. Don’t be afraid to reference newsworthy events or things that are currently trending. All of this shows your readers that a real person is behind your messaging.  2. Pay Attention to the Subject Line First impressions matter a lot when it comes to your email newsletters. In fact, 47% of email recipients open emails based solely on the subject line. It’s the first thing they see when your email hits their inbox, so it makes sense that it’s a high priority.  Get creative. Try using emojis in your subject lines, new greetings, or puns. Make sure to keep them short and sweet, as well as relevant to what the newsletter is about. Avoid known subject line spam trigger words like “free,” “act now,” and “don’t delete,” as those will just leave a bad taste in your subscribers’ mouths. If you’re really in need of inspiration, try some subject line templates to help you out.  3. Include GIFs and Videos Incorporating video in your newsletters, as well as other animated content, is almost guaranteed to increase engagement. That’s because 20% of people will read text on a page, but 80% of people will watch a video. Videos and moving visual content is hard to resist because it takes very little effort to consume.  GIFs and videos allow you to break up your content and make it more exciting. To get started, create your own behind the scene videos that look at your office. Or, try interviewing a few employees so they can share what it is they do for the company, which can pull back the curtain a bit and show how you add value for your clients. Another idea is to create a video or GIF of your product in action. This can be used on your website as well as your email marketing.  4. Go For a Slow Reveal Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it. If you have a new resource that you’re making available, roll it out with flair by incorporating a slow reveal in your email newsletters. Maybe hint at it four weeks out and add a bit of information. Build on it from there with additional hints and a relative stat thrown in three weeks out, and a vague but interesting video the next week.  By incorporating a slow reveal strategy for a special promotion or release, you build anticipation, which can inspire action once you reveal. This anticipation is not just for the new product, service, or resource that you’re going to be offering, but in your email newsletters and how you’re choosing to go about the slow reveal.  5. Swap Out Links for Buttons and Icons There are a lot of email design tricks you can do in your newsletters that will add some life, but first, start with the obvious. Instead of going the easy route and hyperlinking your text, try adding more visual appeal with clickable elements like buttons and icons. These tend to help break up the monotony of emails and get more attention to your call to action. They’re also much more eye-grabbing for those subscribers who are just doing a cursory scan of your newsletter. If you’re going the button route, make them a color that stands out and keep them consistent across your emails. If you’d rather go the icon route, then make sure the icon accurately represents the piece of content it’s linking to.  6. Get Your Audience Involved Everyone loves a great mention. Incorporate user-generated content like reviews, and social media posts you’re company is tagged in. Your audience won’t just engage with your newsletter more — they’ll also engage with you on those channels more.  Peer-to-peer recommendations are a solid form of third-party credibility and one of the strongest drivers of consumer trust. Sharing them in your newsletters can be fairly easy, and it’s also a quick way to gain trust with your subscribers and thank your current customers with a friendly shout out. 7. Focus on Just One Call to Action Ideally, it would be great if your email newsletters could lead to multiple conversions. But putting too many CTA irons in the fire can muddle your message, confuse your subscribers, and ultimately leave you burned. As an alternative, set your sights on just one call to action, with content that’s geared toward a singular (and thereby less confusing) purpose. This will allow you to focus all your effort on driving one key conversion, which, if all goes well, should be more beneficial.  Successful email newsletters have higher open rates, higher click-through rates, and higher rates of satisfaction among their recipients. Make it your goal to incorporate some, or all, of the tips above into your email marketing strategy. Your newsletters aren’t just getting where they need to be but making an impact once they get there. Not only will you avoid the spam box, but you’ll also start to see more prospects turning into customers. 


Read More
How to Build an Effective Email Drip Campaign

How to Build an Effective Email Drip Campaign

Practical Marketer • January 15, 2020

Drip campaigns are crucial in educating, nurturing, and converting your prospects. They’re the star player in your overall marketing and sales game, so assembling them must be done with a lot of thought, care, and strategy. You also need a firm grasp on what makes your prospects tick so you can fill your campaigns with targeted content and the right message, which will move them through the funnel more seamlessly.  Drip campaigns have this annoying habit of seeming like a very confusing strategy, one with a lot of moving parts and factors that ultimately determine their success. While it’s true that a lot goes into them, they’re actually a huge time-saver, and putting them together doesn’t have to be such a headache.  We’ll cover all of the basics that you need to know about drip campaigns, including the benefits that they offer your marketing strategy and how to put them together effectively. So don’t grab the Excedrin just yet. The Benefits of an Email Drip Campaign When it comes to marketing, every minute matters, and every strategy has to deliver. So let’s get into the weeds a bit on the beneficial reasons to invest time and resources into drip campaigns.  1. Personalized Content Personalized emails result in transaction rates that are 6x higher than non-personalized emails. The whole point of drip campaigns is to offer your audience a consistent stream of touchpoints, filled with personalized content based on what they need and where they are in the buyer’s journey. Each email within a drip campaign works off of each other, offering a little bit of content each time that is meant to help solve a problem your prospect is having.  2. Steady Progress Drip campaigns aren’t designed to push leads through the funnel faster than usual. Instead, they guide them at an even pace, gradually helping them become more informed and moving them closer to a decision. As I mentioned in the previous point, each email is meant to work off the one sent prior. They’re designed to assist you with creating a steady progression for your prospects, informing them more and more with each email, hence moving them through the funnel at a controlled pace they’re comfortable with.  3. Smarter Leads An educated prospect is a better prospect. With drip campaigns, you’re providing ongoing education for your leads, proving your worth, and building trust. The result is a well-informed lead, and we all know that a knowledgable lead makes for a strong, long-lasting customer relationship.  Okay, now it’s time to get started. Enter: email automation software, of course. When paired with an effective CRM, the right automation platform can help you track and analyze your prospects to figure out where they are in the buyer’s journey and segment your lists for your drip campaign. It will also allow you to put together the drip campaign and automate it for marketing ease. How to Build an Email Drip Campaign Putting together a drip campaign is a lot easier than you might think, once you have the right tools. Follow the steps below and create a campaign driven to convert. Step One: Tier Your Prospects To make sure the right content is sent to the right people, you need to segment your prospects based on where they are in their journey. Here’s a quick breakdown of what that might look like. Leads — Awareness phase. Leads are anyone who visits your site. Their level of knowledge regarding what you do is most likely low.  Prospects — Awareness and consideration phase. Prospects are anyone who downloads something on your site and subscribes to your email marketing campaign. They may know a little bit more about what you do, but they’re still learning more about you. This is where your email drip campaigns come in to play.  Opportunity — Consideration phase. When a prospect becomes an opportunity, it’s because they’ve asked for a demo of your service or product. They are now seriously considering working with your company.  Customer — Decision phase. Customers are obviously anyone who decides to partner with you and use your service or product. You’ve done it! You converted a lead to a customer!  Closed/Lost — Anyone who qualifies as an opportunity but then decides against moving forward, for whatever reason. Womp, womp.  MIA — Unresponsive opportunities who go dormant after requesting a demo. Super womp, womp.  There’s an opportunity within each of these classifications to engage (and re-engage) in a way that moves the relationship forward. To do it, move on to step two. Step Two: Create Content for Each Stage Collaborate with your sales team and your account team to gather insights on the pain points of people in each of the classifications mentioned in step one. What do they want to know? What don’t they know already but should? What might they be confused about at this stage? Once you’ve workshopped a bit and built audience personas for each group, get to work creating content that addresses their unique wants and needs, or start assembling your existing content that fits within these areas. Think broadly, focusing on general content that can be useful for each type of lead/prospect, including gated resources, manuals, webinars, and blog posts. Having this content on hand will give you a good base of educational materials that you can then put to use in your drip campaigns. Step Three: Segment Your Lists You’ve tiered your prospects already, so now it’s time to create your actual email lists. Create a list for each tier, and make sure to automatically enroll new prospects into the most appropriate list for their current stage.  How you do this depends on how your marketing automation software helps you qualify your prospects. Some allow you to take into consideration a lot of factors, like actions they’ve taken on your site, the industry they’re in, and the size of their company. But at the end of the day, you should have segmented contact lists that you can easily connect throughout each campaign. Step Four: Craft Your Emails Once you’ve got your lists segmented, start putting together the actual email series for your drip campaigns. To make it easy on yourself and your team, you may want to tackle just one prospect tier at once. Start small while you get your footing and see what works, and then adjust accordingly.   Make sure you create engaging email content that will delight your prospects. You want them to enjoy reading your emails and look forward to opening them. Don’t forget to add links to your existing content so that you can make these more personalized and helpful.   Step Five: Check In to Measure Success Let your drip campaigns run their course for a few months, then check to see how well they’re performing. Focus on how well they’re able to move prospects through the funnel and see if your sales team is getting any feedback for improvement. Also, look at click-through-rates, open rates, and conversion rates to help determine overall success. Sometimes, something a simple as swapping in updated and/or otherwise enhanced content will be enough to overcome hurdles. Remember: drip campaigns are ongoing strategies. Tweak your practices and your content as needed, and always use any associated data to help evolve your campaigns. Soon, you’ll have a drip campaign that operates — and excels.


Read More
3 Reasons Your Marketing Plan Isn’t Working

3 Reasons Your Marketing Plan Isn’t Working

Practical Marketer • January 9, 2020

Tons of hard work goes into implementing a marketing plan. From planning to execution, your team has to invest a lot of hours and a lot of effort into putting together a strategy that will succeed — which is why it’s such a bummer when it doesn’t. A failed marketing strategy is usually the result of three common mistakes, and by identifying what they are, you’ll be able to avoid making them. We’ll go over what those three mistakes are so you can craft a strategy that avoids them, and see real success out of your marketing efforts. 1. You Didn’t Clearly Identify Your Goals Marketing is an end to a mean. But if you’re not really sure what you’re trying to achieve, how are you going to optimize your efforts to get there? The goals that you choose for your marketing efforts should be specific, measurable, and attainable. Instead of focusing on something overly broad like “increase revenue,” break down your bigger goals into smaller goals that will serve as stepping stones toward that more ambitious undertaking. Some of the most common marketing goals include: Broadening exposure and increasing brand awareness among new customers Generating new leads Converting more prospects into sales  Increasing SEO and page rankings Enhancing customer relations Each of these goals is tied to specific marketing practices that make them achievable for teams of all sizes. The key is to know exactly what you’re trying to achieve in the first place so that you can target your efforts in the right direction. 2. You Didn’t Look at the Right Metrics If you didn’t clearly outline your goals, then chances are you’re also using the wrong metrics to measure success. And even if you did clearly outline your goals, you might still be looking at the wrong markers of performance. Evaluating the correct metrics is crucial to a successful marketing plan. If you’re looking at the wrong data, or just aren’t quite sure what to make of the data that you’ve got, then you’re going to end up missing out on key insights that will tell you if you’re on or off track. So what metrics should you look at? Here is what you should be measuring based on some of the common goals mentioned above: Brand awareness and generating new leads — Look at referral traffic, organic traffic, and the number of new leads being generated from your gated content and enrolling in your email marketing.  More sales — Look at your conversion rates, average lead score, and your sales team’s close rate. SEO — Look at search visibility, keyword rankings, and organic search traffic. Customer relations — Look at referrals, client reviews, and your average client lifespan.   When you hone in on the right metrics, you ensure that you’re paying attention where it really counts. You also give yourself the best opportunity to see where and how you need to tweak your marketing plan. 3. You Lacked Consistency A marketing plan isn’t a one and done kind of thing. Truly effective marketing comes down to consistency — with your paid advertising, your content marketing, your email marketing, and so on. If you just jump from strategy to strategy, you’re not giving your team a chance to see what’s working and what’s not. You’re also running the risk of confusing your customers. At its core, marketing is about controlling the conversation around your brand. You want to set the dialogue in terms of your identity and your values, and to make those ideas and values a central part of how current and potential customers perceive you. If you’re not consistent with your marketing, you’re not strengthening your brand messaging. This opens the doors for others to set it for you, and can also cloud the perceptions that others have of you. When you’re forming your marketing plan, always keep consistency in mind. What are the common threads that are tying all of your individual pieces of content together? What is the overall message you are sending about your company? What is your unique voice, and is it coming through in all variables of your campaigns? Consistency builds trust, authority, and awareness. And in turn, these factors help get you closer to your major goals. Aim to be consistent in everything you do related to marketing, and your message will be a lot more impactful. There’s a difference between hard work and difficult work. If you go into your marketing plan with clear direction and a strategy for measuring your success, then you’ll take out a lot of the hurdles that can stand in the way of productive marketing. Ultimately, every single tactic and every single step of your marketing plan should be driven toward promoting your brand identity and furthering your established goals. And if you approach your plan with these factors in mind, you’ve already got a serious leg up on everyone who doesn’t.


Read More
The Anatomy of an Effective Email

The Anatomy of an Effective Email

Practical Marketer • January 8, 2020

For every dollar spent on email marketing, you get $38 in return. That’s a lot of ROI for one strategy. But, before you hit send, there are various things you have to keep in mind that ensure your email is built effectively.  A successful email is much like the human body. It has various parts that all need to work together for it to function and operate smoothly as a whole. The anatomy of every effective email includes at least seven specific components that should be present, all of which will encourage people to open it, engage with the content, and eventually convert. So to get it right and see that sweet ROI, here are the necessary components that comprise the anatomy of an effective email:  1. “From” Field The “from” space is an essential piece of real estate because it can immediately initiate trust. Never set up your emails to be sent from a generic address. Instead, have the “from” contain the name of someone within your organization, preferably someone from your sales or marketing team. Next to the subject line, the “from” field is where most people look at before opening the email. And the easier it is to identify the source of an email, the more likely it will be opened. 2. Subject Line As we alluded to in the previous point, your subject line is the second opportunity to make a good first impression. 35% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone. If you don’t engage here, people will not be opening your email, which means you have zero opportunity to convert them. The body of your email can contain the best information in the world, but if the subject line is boring, they’ll never see it. A few tips to remember when creating subject lines: Don’t overuse punctuation (ie. !!!! or ????). Keep it short. No longer than 40-50 characters. Don’t use all caps. Don’t repeat the “from” label. 3. Content Content is the meat of the email. It’s everything, and it starts with your preview text. The preview text is like the sidekick of your subject line because it’s meant to provide more context and further compel readers to open the email. It should grab attention and get people engaged.  The body of your email is where you provide the primary messaging and information for your readers. It must create value for the consumer and cause them to take action (we’ll get to that specific part later). Make sure that whatever you’re promoting has your brand voice tied to it, is concise, and is presented in an easily digestible way. Make sure this content is personalized by addressing specific pain points and provides aid based on where the recipient is in the customer journey.  Commit to quality and send content that people actually want to read. It’s just as easy to fail an email campaign if your content is boring, or worse, rife with errors.  The content should also vary. Don’t send out the same campaign over and over. A/B test subject lines and content to see what people respond to. Then create more of it. A company newsletter is usually the best place to start if you’re scratching your head on content.  4. Call to Action One of the most important parts of your email is where you ask people to “do something.” This is your call-to-action (CTA) and is what leads to conversion. Whether you want people to make a purchase or simply fill out a survey, you need to request it somewhere in the email.  When writing the content, ask yourself, “what do I want people to do after they receive this?” It doesn’t have to be a purchase. If it’s a survey, don’t forget to include a link where they can fill it out.  The idea is always to make the CTA clear and concise, so people aren’t wondering what to do next. One of the most engaging ways to do this is to include an easily clickable button that redirects people to your exact destination. 5. Visuals/Design We have all heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but it’s no different when it comes to email marketing. Using an image in an email appeals to the recipient’s visual nature. It makes it easier for them to receive information, it gives character to your emails, and it can break up the written content.  Don’t neglect visual components like color blocks or graphics. And make sure you give thought to the overall design and layout of your emails. Visuals play a big part in branding, and having them be consistent with the look and feel of your other digital assets and collateral is a must.   6. Mobile-Optimized At this point, there’s no excuse for not having mobile-optimized emails. We already know that people are glued their phones, and with recent studies showing that up to 77% of emails are opened on mobile devices, the deal is sealed. You must be optimizing your emails for mobile. If someone receives an email they can’t read on their phone, they’re not only going to neglect reading it, but they may even unsubscribe from all your future email messages.  7. Analytics Any email campaign you send out must always be measurable. Evaluating the performance of your email marketing strategies is critical to understanding what works and what is failing.  An effective email will have a high open-rate and click-rate, and if you measure a campaign and both of these metrics are failing, it’s time to make some changes. When reviewing your email benchmarks and making adjustments, make sure you play around with A/B testing, the day and time you’re sending your emails, and frequency. These can all play a part in the overall effectiveness, and that’s what matters most.  So, when putting together your next email newsletter or campaign, make sure you pay mind to the seven pieces of the email anatomy mentioned above. Don’t neglect one over the other, as all are needed for well-functioning, successful email. 


Read More
The California Consumer Privacy Act and What You Need to Know

The California Consumer Privacy Act and What You Need to Know

Practical Marketer • December 23, 2019

Maintaining compliance is a daily necessity for marketers. With the amount of information that is now accessible, it’s crucial that consumers feel protected and in the know. With the GDPR somewhat recently released, we’ve all become accustomed to making sure our consumers are fully aware of what we do with their information, should they choose to offer it up to us.  Transparency is the key to trust, and now that California released a new policy, it’s time we get up to speed on what it means, how it will affect our marketing, and what we need to disclose to our consumers to maintain transparency with them.  Here are a few basics of the CCPA to help you better understand how this Act affects the way you market to your customers.  What is the CCPA, and When Will it Go Into Effect?  The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a new data privacy law that applies to businesses that collect personal information from California residents. This law reinforces the privacy of California residents and maintains full transparency over what their information will be used for when collected. The act goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.  What Do You Mean By “Information”? Information can be anything from your consumers’ names and email addresses to their IP address and financial information. Basically, it’s anything that can be traced back to or related to a consumer.  What Does the CCPA Mean for Consumers? The CCPA protects California consumers (anyone living in California or anyone that is a resident but traveling out of the state). It gives them the right to be informed on which of their personal information is being collected and what will be done with their information once it is collected. This includes where it was sourced from and whether or not it will be sold.  This Act also gives them the ability to opt-out of the sale of their information, gain access to their information, and request the deletion of their information at any time.  How Does the CCPA Effect Businesses?  Businesses must comply with the CCPA by not selling consumers information should they make that request. Selling includes making it available in any way in exchange for monetary or other benefits.  If a business sells any information at all, it must provide a link that states “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” or “Do Not Sell My Info” on your company’s website’s homepage, as well as within your privacy notice. If a consumer opts-out, it must be honored and communicated to the third party that you sell their information to.  Businesses must notify their consumers of their full rights under this Act. This can be done in many ways, including disclosure on their privacy policy, a dedicated email notice, or when the data is being collected.  Also, businesses must have a process in place to respond to opt-out requests and make at least two methods for submitting these requests available. These methods include, at minimum, a toll-free telephone number and a website address if the business has one. Businesses must respond to these requests within the time limits outlined by the CCPA. Is Benchmark Email Compliant?  Yes. Every email you create with Benchmark will be compliant with this Act. We’ll also offer support for CCPA related requests from your contacts. Learn more in our Privacy Policy.  For more information, and to gain a full understanding of the entire requirements under this new Act, please visit the CCPA website. 


Read More
Overcoming Our Fears: Getting Started with Email Marketing

Overcoming Our Fears: Getting Started with Email Marketing

Practical Marketer • December 19, 2019

For a lot of us, doing something new is scary. It could be that we fear the unknown, a fear of failing or that we fear we won’t know how to do something. Regardless of the source, many of us won’t ever try a new thing as we succumb to our fears. When it comes to email marketing, several fears or impediments may come into play. So, let’s address them. But first, let’s take a look at why you should even be doing email marketing in the first place. If you made it this far, you’re at least curious. The Case For Email Marketing It’s projected that there will be 2.9 billion email users worldwide by 2019. That’s quite the large audience. Additionally, 105 billion emails are sent daily, with that number expected to increase to 246 billion by 2020. If the numbers aren’t convincing enough, here are several more reasons you need to be doing email marketing: It’s Affordable. Hands down, email marketing is one of the most, if not the most, cost-effective marketing solutions available to businesses today. It\'s Fast. You can create and send your first email in under thirty minutes. You can reach thousands (or more!) of customers and leads in less time than it takes to watch an episode of Game of Thrones. Sending the right message will even inspire your subscribers to quickly engage with your campaign and act upon your call to action. It’s Focused. Few people enjoy feeling like they’re being marketing to. Email marketing allows you to segment your lists into targeted opportunities which allows you to address the needs and wants of your subscribers and provide them with value. That makes for a happy, engaged audience. It’s Simple. Anyone can succeed with email marketing, no matter their experience. Thanks to email templates and drag and drop email builders, as well as other easy-to-implement tools such as A/B Testing and List Segmentation, the learning curve for email marketing is lower than ever before. Plus, real-time reporting shows you your successes and areas for improvement. When your strategy is properly executed, your campaigns will contribute to managing themselves while freeing you up to plan the next move. It Works. A well-planned email campaign will work to drive traffic to your website, increase sales and create ongoing engagement that leads to loyal customers. In fact, for every $1 spent on email marketing, the Return on Investment is $42 earned. Other marketing opportunities simply don’t see those results, all while creating and building brand reputation. So, now you know why you should be doing email marketing. Now, what’s stopping you? Fear of Not Knowing Where to Get Started In the almost decade that I have been working in the email marketing industry, there is one statement that I hear all too frequently from business owners: “We’re not ready for email marketing yet.” However, the real reason they’re not doing email marketing yet is that they don’t know what to do or afraid they’ll do the wrong thing. The truth is, any business, even before they have officially opened their doors (either at a brick and mortar physical location or on the web), should have an email marketing account. Why? It All Starts with a List An email list is the single most important marketing asset to any business. It’s more important than social media followers and a presence on those sites. After all, those sites could go away one day, and all your hard work would be erased along with your followers on that site. Your list of contacts endures. Plus, you can start growing your list even before you company officially launches. It’s a good idea to place a signup form on your website and Facebook page. Tell people to signup to get updates from the company to begin growing excitement. That reason for that is twofold. On the one hand, it helps you build hype leading up to your launch date. It also helps you hit the ground running once you’re open for business. Upload Your List Many companies have a list of contacts, even if they are new to email marketing. For some, it’s the list of customers with whom you’ve already established a relationship. For others, it’s the leads you’re already nurturing with one-off basic emails or phone calls. It could even be just the friends and family members who you can test your early strategies on. Take what you have to work with and upload it to your email marketing account. Based on the amount of data you have on your list, you may even be able to begin some segmentation. At the very least, it’ll give you your start to email marketing. You have to start somewhere, and even sending to a small audience will help you learn what works. Create a Signup Form After uploading any existing contacts you may have already had, a signup form is going to be your new best friend. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, when asked to opt-in to receive updates for a company, 90% chose to receive an email newsletter. Only 10% elected to get updates via Facebook. This is how your list will grow. From there, you expand your reach, follow-up with leads and build your brand--all while doing nothing more than placing a lead capturing form in the places that people interested in your business may visit. So what goes into a great signup form? Keep It Simple, Stupid. You don’t want anything on your list that will give someone pause before signing up. That means keep it short by not asking for too much information. Do you need more than the email address? Can you get that information or qualify your leads in another way? In most cases, the answer is yes. Set clear expectations for the subscriber. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, it helps convince people to sign up. If they know they’re going to get deals from you or helpful information once a month, they won’t be worried about getting their inboxes bombarded. It also helps you attract the kind of subscribers you want and ones who won’t quickly unsubscribe. Create a strong CTA. It should make your site visitors or social followers feel like they simply have to sign up to hear from you and that they have to act now. Make sure the button is large enough to be easily noticed Again, the button must stand out. Traditionally, red buttons work best, and green is the second most effective. Your CTA copy should not be longer than 40 characters. Use first-person language such as “me” or “my” to help potential subscribers relate better. Now that you know what makes up a great signup form, it’s also important to understand where you should put them. Your homepage is the obvious place to start. Some will place it right smack dab above the fold, as the hero image at the top of their page. These are people whose business relies on capturing email addresses. You can’t miss this signup form on the homepage for by Regina. It helps that they’re offering something for signing up. Any incentive is always helpful. Others may relegate their signup form to a sidebar or footer on the page. Make sure it’s on the top of your sidebar. The further down the page it gets, the fewer subscribers you’ll receive. Yes, the footer is all the way at the bottom of your page. However, if someone gets that far, they’re interested in what you’re doing. That makes for better quality subscribers in most cases. A company like Casper knows you’re not on their website to sign up for their emails. That’s why it makes sense for them to reserve their signup form for their footer. The “Free bedtime reading” copy is very on brand for them. If you want to demand attention, use a pop-up signup form. A website visitor will not be able to miss your signup form when it pops directly into their sightlines. You can’t ignore these savings from TOMS when their signup form pops up in front of your face. Saying “Join Us” is another nice touch. It sounds like you have less on the line to sign up. It sounds more like your helping them in their cause of donating shoes to those in need. Aside from your homepage, here are a few other places you should put a signup form: Your blog. It can even be a separate list from your main list. These people may just want to subscribe to receive email updates when you post new content on the blog. Facebook page. Your social media followers aren’t always your email subscribers or website visitors. Change that. About Us page. For many businesses, the About Us page is among the most visited on their website. Take advantage of the eyeballs on the page! That little bar across the top of your site. You’ve probably seen it on some sites you frequent. There are tools that make it easy. Try Hello Bar or ViperBar. SPF Records and DKIM The phrase SPF Records sounds like it means I have to show proof to my overbearing mother that I wore sunscreen at the beach yesterday. DKIM sounds intimidating as well. They don’t need to be! While these two steps in getting started with email marketing are on the technical side, there are easy to follow instructions on how to do them. But first, let’s understand them. SPF Records SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework. If you’re like me, that doesn’t mean anything. In fact, it makes it more confusing. Simply put, SPF Records allow ISPs and inbox clients to trust the authenticity of your emails. Still lost? Say someone knocks on your door. You look through the peephole to see who it is. SPF Records are the peephole of your email campaigns. One of the most common tricks that spammers run is a phishing scam. They design an email to look like it’s from your bank and use it to gain access to your passwords or other sensitive data. Establishing your SPF Records means the ISP can identify the email campaigns you’re sending. It ensures the best chance of delivery of your email campaigns. To establish your SPF records, you’ll do so with your DNS Manager. If you’re unsure of what a DNS Manager is, you’re not alone. If you’ve purchased a domain name and hosting, you\'ll have access to a DNS manager. If you don’t, whoever runs your website does. Ask them for help. The SPF record for yourwebdomain.com should go in your DNS manager something like this: yourwebdomain.com IN TXT “v=spf1 a mx ip4:1.2.3.4 include:thirdpartyespdomain.com -all” In this example, 1.2.3.4 = the IP Address of your mail server or 3rd party ESP, like Benchmark Email. Also, thirdpartyespdomain.com = the domain of the 3rd party ESP, such as Benchmark Email, or their relay mail server’s domain name. Your ESP will give you this information. Here’s a very helpful FAQ that will help you establish SPF Records with various domain hosts. Additionally, you can get help with your SPF Records on these sites: http://www.openspf.org/SPF_Record_Syntax http://www.openspf.org/FAQ Once you’ve finished establishing your SPF Records, it’s time to test it. You can do so with either of these sites: http://www.mxtoolbox.com/spf.aspx http://www.kitterman.com/spf/validate.html If you’re still lost or confused, you can reach out to the support with your domain host or your ESP. Both will have plenty of resources to help you out. We cannot emphasize enough how important this step is to getting started with email marketing on the right foot. If you need help, just ask! DKIM DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is another intimidating sounding phrase, but one which is another easy step in setting yourself up for good email delivery from the start. What DKIM does, is grants an organization the responsibility for an email being delivered, which may pertain to your own business or the ESP you’re using … or both! Any ESP will automatically authenticate your emails with DKIM. That’s good news! However, you can take it up a notch and enable a DKIM CName, which gives you double authentication. That means your emails are authenticated as coming from your business, sent through your ESP. This lets the ISPs identify you as the sender and builds your sender reputation with the help of your ESP as your co-signer. This is what you’ll need: CNAME RECORD FOR DKIM: bmdeda._domainkey.yourdomain.net VALUE: bmdeda._domainkey.bmsend.com Here is a very helpful FAQ to assist you with DKIM and various domain hosting companies. For even more on what you can do to improve your email deliverability, check out our guide The Deliverability Formula: 5 Steps to Reach the Inbox.


Read More
5 Ways to Kickstart Your Email Marketing This Year

5 Ways to Kickstart Your Email Marketing This Year

Practical Marketer • December 19, 2019

There’s no doubt that consumers prefer emails when it comes to brand updates and marketing. More than half of consumers check their personal email accounts more than ten times a day, and 99% of consumers are checking their email accounts at least one time per day. That\'s a lot of chances to connect with tons of people, as well as one of the reasons emails are the most effective ways to engage with consumers. With more than 59% of marketers reporting email marketing as their number one source of ROI, it makes sense to put extra effort into your campaigns. So why not make sure that your 2020 email marketing strategy is off to a great start from the get-go? Here are five of our top tips for breathing new life into your emails and maximizing their performance and returns. 1. Start With Great Content Content is always going to be king in the marketing world. After all, the whole point of content is to communicate a specific message — right? Putting content at the top of your priority list makes a ton of sense when it comes to optimizing your email marketing efforts, and it’s one of the biggest things you can do to boost engagement across the buying journey. High-performing email marketing content has a couple of critical features. To start, it’s well-written and original (this is a biggie). Poorly edited copy, overly wordy copy, and boring copy are all going to turn off your subscribers. Great content is also personalized to specific prospects based on where they are in the sales cycle. This helps you improve the utility of your outreach and better appeal to the right customers at the right time. Also, make sure you have a clear and specific CTA so your emails can convert.  2. Automate Wherever You Can Email marketing involves a lot of rote tasks. It also consists of a lot of highly specific tasks that the human brain isn’t always ideally fit to undertake, such as data-driven segmentation. Enter artificial intelligence, which has become an increasingly integral part of effective brand-to-consumer messaging. With a marketing automation tool, your business can create emails more efficiently and put data to use for more conversion-friendly marketing. Use it to do everything from pinpointing the optimal days and times to send your emails to creating customized contact lists for better targeting and segmentation. And don’t forget to use an email autoresponder, which can engage with consumers at important stages in their journey to move them along the path to purchase.  3. Know Your Metrics Every business is different. The email marketing metrics that a business tracks for success may be relatively standard from brand to brand (think open rates, click-through rates, and so on). However, it’s your individual goals that inform these metrics and help you best determine where you need to go and how you’re going to get there. Ultimately, you need to understand your own metrics — not just the general ones the inform successful email marketing — in order to determine how well you’re performing. You may be doing this already, but as we enter a new year, go back in, and audit your protocols to account for your most recent analytics. Not only will you have more accurate metrics to go on, but you’ll also be able to refresh your team on what your big goals and intentions are. 4. Go Big Create campaigns, not just individual emails. There’s a tendency with email marketing to silo messages and let whatever topic, product, or service you’re trying to cover at the moment be the overarching theme you’re getting at. But for truly effective email marketing, you want to think big picture. We’re going for the whole puzzle here, not just the individual pieces. The beginning of a new year is an excellent time to restrategize. As you go to the drawing board, focus not just on what topics and ideas you want your subscribers to engage with but how they all fit together. See if you can work in more cohesive, campaign-driven practices, too, like creating more drip campaigns. Your audience might not notice the difference, but you will. 5. Be More Accessible If you’re not already designing emails with accessibility in mind, now is the time to start. This broadens your pool of potential leads and is also part of fair and inclusive communications. Some easy places to start: go for bigger fonts and cleaner backgrounds, and work on maintaining a clear and identifiable structure to how you arrange the content within your emails. Another tip is if you’re using video in your emails, make sure they’re captioned so hearing-impaired subscribers can still engage with the video and pull information from it.  There’s always something that you can do to improve your email marketing efforts. Take advantage of this transition to a new year (and a new decade!) to spur your strategy and encourage your team to find innovative ways to do more and do better. A simple kickstart might be all that you need to start exceeding your goals.


Read More
8 Email Marketing Mistakes That Are Killing Your Results

8 Email Marketing Mistakes That Are Killing Your Results

Practical Marketer • December 18, 2019

All brands have the best intentions with their emails, but there are a lot of little things that can hurt your email marketing performance — and many of them you might not even be aware that you’re doing. Some email marketing mistakes annoy consumers. Others make it so that the message never gets in front of them in the first place. And all email marketing mistakes can lead to major missed opportunities when it comes to open rates, click-throughs, and other forms of engagement. All-in-all, making mistakes with your email marketing can make you lose trust with your subscribers, and possibly lose them altogether.  The best way to avoid these pitfalls is to know what they are in the first place. Take a look at this list of eight common email mistakes that brands make to determine which, if any, your messages — and your metrics — might be falling victim to. 1. Poorly Edited Copy Nobody is expecting an email marketing message to read like The Atlantic, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with typos, grammatical errors, and other writing mistakes. Poorly edited copy hurts the integrity of your brand and suggests to your subscribers that you don’t have quite as much authority as you’re trying to project. Hire a professional editor to do damage control on all your pieces of content, including your email copy. If there isn’t room for that in your budget, then check out free online editing tools, like Grammarly, that can spot errors that you may not see.  2. Lack of Personalization Personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates, and yet 70% of brands are failing to personalize their messages. That’s a huge missed opportunity. Today’s consumers are turned off by broad, impersonal marketing, and they don’t have much time for messaging that doesn’t, at the very least, acknowledge who they are. If you’re not taking the time to personalize, you’re almost certainly missing out on a huge chunk of potential conversions. The best thing about personalization is that marketing automation tools can tell you so much about your subscribers, making it super easy to speak to them. Make sure you’re using an automation tool that gives you insight into where your prospects are in their buyer journey, and what their current pain points and issues may be so you can easily personalize your outreach.  3. Bait-Driven Subject Lines You need to be delivering on what you promise in your subject lines. So while a clickbait-y subject line might get more people to open your message, misleading recipients on what they’ll find when they open your message is going to affect their trust in your brand. And considering just how vital trust is in consumer marketing, that’s not a risk you can take. No one likes seeing a subject line that looks really interesting, only to open up the email and see that what’s inside has nothing to do with the subject line. You feel duped, bamboozled, bested. Don’t do that to your subscribers; it’s just not good marketing.  4. Lengthy, Boring Content Don’t bore your subscribers with lengthy, unnecessary copy. Content that is overly wordy, needlessly convoluted, or just plain uninteresting is not the kind of content that is going to get people to stick around. If you want to run a longer piece, tease it with a sentence or short paragraph and then link it to the larger piece of content on your site. Also, most people are reading their emails on their phones, so they may be in the middle of doing something else or don’t have a lot of time to consume the content. Be respectful of that by keeping your emails short and sweet and to the point, which will also yield better results for you.  5. ALL-CAPS SUBJECT LINES If it looks like we’re yelling at you in that subhead, then how do you think your subscribers feel when they see all-caps in subject lines? Aside from just looking like you’re shouting, capital letters in the subject line connote spam — both to your email recipients and to the email platforms filtering their messages. So if you think use all-caps in your subject lines will be the attention-grabbing method your email strategy needs, think again.  Instead of using all caps, try using emojis in email subject lines. We’ve found that emojis do a great job of catching our subscribers’ attention and also encourages them to open the email. It’s a win-win!  6. Not Sending on the Right Day and Time There’s been a lot of research done on the optimal days and times to send marketing emails, so there’s really no excuse to be scheduling your emails for random times. And just as important as the research is your own data. It’s a huge mistake not to let the information you have around your conversion rates dictate what day, and what times of day, you hit send. We recommend reading up on the data that’s out there on this and have that inform your email marketing schedule. Make sure to measure results and keep track of your open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate month over month. If you think those numbers could be improved, try different days and times, track, and then re-evaluate. 7. Neglecting Mobile Not making your emails mobile-friendly is a big no-no, and honestly, every marketer out there should know this. As we mentioned earlier, more than half of email recipients are reading email on their phones, compared to just 15% reading email on their desktops. Mobile email growth is more than just a trend — it’s the new normal. If you neglect to optimize your message design and content for the small screen, then you’re pretty much nullifying the impact of your email for a large swath of its recipients. There’s an easy solution to this. Most marketing automation platforms automatically optimize your emails for mobile. Make sure you are using a platform that does this for you so you can eliminate a step in the process while also reaching a larger number of people.  8. Not Performing A/B Testing Industry-wide statistics can tell you a lot about best practices when it comes to email marketing, and they are, without a doubt, one of the most valuable resources you have for guiding your strategy. But even more important than that is your own statistics, which is why regular A/B testing is so important. There’s no one-size-fits-all email marketing approach; there’s only the one that works for you. A/B testing your emails ensures that you make the most of your experience and put data-driven insights to use for the betterment of your campaigns. So if you’re not doing it, you’re not sending optimized emails. Put together two emails with the same copy, but each with a different CTA or a different subject line. Send each email to a segment of your audience at the same time and day, and then track the results. See which one has a higher open-rate and click-through rate. That will help you determine which CTA and subject line resonated with them.   Mistakes are part of marketing. It’s whether you learn from them that makes the big difference. By taking care to avoid the email marketing mistakes outlined above, you avoid falling into the traps that so often lead to poor results on emails that otherwise likely would have performed quite well. You can’t be perfect (and nobody is expecting you to be), but if you know it’s a misstep, then make it part of your strategy not to let it happen.


Read More
6 Email Marketing Trends for 2020

6 Email Marketing Trends for 2020

Practical Marketer • December 12, 2019

We get pretty excited about email marketing and for good reason. Some of the most ambitious advancements in digital tech have made their way into emails, and many more are just around the corner — which is big news for any company that is using emails to engage with their audience (so, pretty much everyone). With 2020 fast approaching, we thought we\'d take a look at some of the email trends that are expected to make a significant impact in the coming year. In addition to helping inform your email marketing strategy in the year to come, these trends also give some insight into evolving consumer expectations and how you can modify even current best practices to provide your subscribers more of what they want.  Without further ado, here are six of the 2020 email marketing trends to look forward to — and work into your marketing strategy — as we enter the new year. 1. Design Over Copy As the saying goes, an image is worth a thousand words. But good email design is worth even more — especially when it comes to lending authority to your brand. Today\'s consumers are increasingly familiar with the tenets of good design, and even small taboos like unsophisticated fonts or non-complementary colors are going to have an impact on your perceived levels of trustworthiness and authenticity. What you say in your emails is always going to matter, but as we move into 2020, put an even higher priority on design than you already are. The big winners are going to be those brands that stand out not only for the substance of their emails but for the innovative design features that serve as their foundation. 2. Accessibility for Readers with Disabilities We often think of inclusive design in terms of web pages, but emails have a lot of room for growth when it comes to accessibility. Making emails more accessible for individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities requires a multi-faceted approach, generally with third party input. But there are things you can do right now to create emails that can be enjoyed by a broader pool of readers — for example, using larger fonts and taking care to arrange your content in a logical order. Also, when using videos, it\'s important to have captions included for any hearing-impaired audience members. You\'ll be getting ahead of the game when it comes to accessibility, and that\'s a good thing for everyone.  3. Bring On the Videos Using videos in emails isn\'t a  new concept. But what is new is our increased awareness of how much more successful they can make your outreach. In fact, adding videos to your emails can increase click rates by an astounding 300 percent, which is a convincing reason to start working them in more often. The key to making videos work in email marketing: keep them short and keep them to the point. And while your videos should be entertaining, they should also be informative, so instead of just making videos for the heck of it, be sure to include some real value for your email recipients. From there, you can decide to embed your video or to tease it with a link to the video on your site. Better yet, try both methods and see which one results in better conversions. 4. User-Generated Content Peer-to-peer experiences are some of the best marketing tools around, so why not use them to your advantage? In 2020, try to work more user-generated content into your emails — things like positive reviews, social media posts, customer photos, and testimonials, all with credit given, of course. This sort of authentic feedback lends more legitimacy to what you\'re selling. It also encourages others to share their own experiences in the hopes of getting the same exposure and is equally (if not more so) influential in touting your product or service. 5. Gamification and Interactivity Having recipients simply read your emails is so last decade. Technology has shown us that there are a lot of other ways that people can interact with your content and that interactivity can stimulate a whole lot more interest than reading alone. Gamification and interactivity can mean a few different things in this context. They can refer to interactive content in the email itself, such as quizzes and puzzles, as well as interactive content that lends itself to actions off the page, such as site or social-hosted competitions and sweepstakes. What it all has in common is more engagement, plus some type of reward (even if that reward is just a bit of fun). With 93 percent of marketers already saying that interactive content is a useful tool, there’s clearly a lot to be gained by bringing this same concept to your emails. 6. Artificial Intelligence AI and email marketing go hand-in-hand, and that shows no signs of changing. AI can help you create better-targeted emails with higher rates of conversion, and it can help gather and make use of the data that supports the efforts of its human teammates. In 2020, look for more ways that you can use AI to augment your existing processes and free up more time for other things on this list (you know, like filming those entertaining and informative videos). Big things are happening in email marketing. And we don\'t know about you, but we can\'t wait to see where it takes us. Let us know what trends you\'re most excited about in 2020, and keep checking back as we cover these various concepts in more detail. 


Read More
4 Unique Ways to Get More Opt-In Subscribers

4 Unique Ways to Get More Opt-In Subscribers

Practical Marketer • December 11, 2019

More than 59 percent of marketers count email marketing as their biggest source of ROI. This proves that investing in email marketing is one of the most lucrative marketing strategies you could use, so your lists must be filled with high-quality prospects that are interested in what your company offers. Enter: opt-in subscribers. Opt-in subscribers are a cornerstone of successful email marketing. More than just proof that people are out there who want to hear from you, opt-in subscribers are crucial for ensuring your emails make it to the inbox (and stay out of the spam folder). The lengthier your contact list, the more substantial amount of prospects you have to nurture and — hopefully — convert to customers. Now, if only it were easy to get all those opt-in subscribers in the first place. Getting people to opt into your emails, like most things in digital marketing, requires a creative approach to see success. Unlike building a contact base off of purchased lists and site skimming, there are no shortcuts when it comes to growing your opt-in email subscribers. To win more subscribers, you\'ve got to put work and time into it. Below are some of the creative ways you can encourage more people to opt-in to your emails for a stronger, more successful email marketing strategy. 1. Website Pop-Ups We’ve all seen them: pop-ups that appear right in the middle of the page (or perhaps less overtly, off in the corner), encouraging us to \"subscribe to our newsletter.\" Pop-ups are a good, sustainable way to get more subscribers via opt-in. The average conversion rate for a pop-up is 3.09 percent. It might not sound like much, but if you\'re getting 1,000 visitors a month to your site, that\'s 31 new opt-in subscribers — all with very little work required on your end. Prioritize pop-ups on the pages where people are most likely to end up, such as your homepage and your most viewed blog post pages. And to make it really \"pop,\" aim for bold colors and clean, concise text. Better yet, offer something of value for signing up, like a free asset or a discount code. 2. Tradeshows and Conferences You\'re probably going to at least one or two tradeshows or conferences a year, but are you using them as opportunities to get more email opt-ins? These kinds of events are great for building your network of potential leads, but you can also be using them to increase your email subscriber list. If a potential customer is already engaging with you person-to-person, there\'s a strong chance they\'re open to hearing more from you later on. And if they aren\'t ready to become a customer right away, enrolling them in your email, outreach is a great way to keep tabs on them without inundating or coming on too strong.  To maximize the potential of building your opt-in list at tradeshows or conferences, add it to your talking points when you start engaging with a potential prospect. Ask people if they\'d like to receive your emails and have a sheet ready where they can write down their email address and check off permission to receive your marketing. Or, bring a tablet or laptop that has an email opt-in page already pulled up that they can quickly enter their information into. At the end of the day, you should have a nice long list to work off of. 3. Re-Engagements Getting more opt-ins doesn\'t always require reaching out to new people. Sometimes, you have to reach out to people who have previously subscribed to your emails but who aren\'t currently engaging with them to see if they still want to keep their opt-in status. Re-engaging cold prospects serves two purposes: one, it can reanimate the relationship and spark more engagement moving forward. Two, it helps you remain compliant and avoid wasting time by emailing people who aren\'t interested in what you\'re selling. If you use an email autoresponder, set it up to send out re-engagement emails after a certain period of inactivity. Otherwise, take it on as part of your routine. You\'ll get a cleaner, more active opt-in list, and you\'ll also build more trust with your recipients. 4. Add A Checkbox To Your Forms Include an option for people to opt-in to your email marketing when they\'re engaging with other content on your site, such as downloading gated assets, entering contests and giveaways, and registering for webinars. They\'re already choosing to provide you with their contact information, so checking a box to enroll in your email marketing won\'t seem too lofty. Just make it clear and visible so that people don\'t miss it when they\'re filling out those forms. The methods that you use to get more people to opt-in to your emails should be implemented alongside your various other efforts, which makes it super easy to tackle. Focus on methods that build trust with your audience and never try to trick anyone into permitting further contact - that\'s no way to build trust with your prospects and begin a meaningful partnership. Likewise, diversify your efforts so that you\'re reaching as many people as possible. Everything from having a social presence to creating high-quality content is going to bring more eyes to what you\'re doing — and as a result, more opportunities for opt-ins.


Read More
The 10 Best Free Email Marketing Tools

The 10 Best Free Email Marketing Tools

Practical Marketer • December 5, 2019

It’s no secret: email marketing is an extremely powerful way to reach your customer base. All it takes is knowing your audience, peppering in some personality and a bit of help from a robust email marketing toolkit arsenal. There\'s no way to do practical, consistent email marketing alone. The complex task of managing your lists, personalizing each email based on selected criteria, and creating templates that will quickly render on any device is best left in the capable hands of a computer. There are so many email marketing tools out there, though. Where do you even start? Let\'s examine 10 of the best free email marketing tools to make your email campaigns soar. 1. Benchmark Email We don\'t mean to be vain, but our email tools are pretty darn great. Our free email service allows you to send up to 14,000 emails per month to up to 2,000 clients. We offer an excellent starter in drip campaigns, easy-to-understand reporting, eCommerce integrations, and beautiful responsive templates. 2. Sender Sender has some cool features that aren\'t seen in some of the other email marketing tools. It is optimized for use with eCommerce solutions and offers easy-to-use plug-ins for all the major content management systems on the market. One cool feature that Sender has is the ability to turn videos into animated GIFs inside of your emails, adding an element of interactivity that gets your message noticed. 3. Omnisend OmniSend is the email marketing toolkit of choice for eCommerce. It is completely optimized for online stores. It offers some advantageous features like fun newsletter sign-up forms, product integrations, and automated emails for notable triggers on eCommerce sites like cart abandonment. 4. Groupmail GroupMail is perfect for email newsletters and automated messages. This free service is geared more towards smaller lists that don\'t require a lot of customization or segmentation. Their service offers basic personalization options and can send to small lists—it maxes out at 100 recipients per send. Groupmail is a great service to dip your toes into email marketing or newsletters and is a nice stepping stone to more significant marketing or mailing lists efforts. 5. Pabbly Email Marketing Pabbly Email Marketing offers its free plan as more of a trial than a permanent solution, but their pricing is still some of the lowest in the business. They offer a dizzying array of features, including unlimited emails starting at the Rookie package. Their service also offers standard features like email tracking, list management, email personalization, and list segmentation. 6. SendInBlue SendInBlue\'s free tool offers some extra features not seen in some of its competitors. Of course, they provide the standard fare like an email template library, list customization, and email personalization. Where they shine is their additional features available on their free plan. SendInBlue offers A/B testing and SMS messaging to enhance your customer outreach efforts. 7. MailChimp MailChimp is one of the most well-known email marketing platforms out there. Their free plan has acted as a gateway for email marketing efforts to small businesses for years now. While the list size and recipients are limited, MailChimp makes up for this with an easy-to-use interface that is beginner-friendly. 8. Campayn Campayn is a simple and light solution for companies that don\'t require a lot of features out of their free plan. Their offering allows you to send 12,500 emails to up to 500 contacts and use your choice from their expertly designed templates. Their free service also offers a single auto-responder. 9. Mailjet Mailjet is a little more advanced in their free offerings than others. They allow the standard fare, like up 6,000 emails sent per month, using nicely designed templates and advanced statistics. However, their claim to fame is more technical. They offer a robust set of APIs, webhooks, and SMTP relay to enhance your email integrations with your website. While these take some effort from your IT team, the customized email triggers can be extremely worthwhile. 10. Moosend Moosend doesn\'t limit the number of email campaigns that you send per month, even on their free version. Instead, this sleek and clean platform only limits your total number of subscribers. If your list is under 1,000 recipients, Moosend is a perfect fit. Their product is perfectly tailored to non-profits and start-up companies, with discounts and incentives to attract those industries to their service. So, there you have it—some of the best movers and shakers into the email marketing tools industry. Whether you\'re a small business who is just getting started in email marketing or a start-up that is trying to build an audience, email marketing can an expensive and daunting undertaking. At least with these free services, though some of their offerings may be limited, you can spend more time figuring out what works for your organization without the burden of additional costs.


Read More
4 Ways Deliverability-Based List Pruning Can Increase Your Email ROI

4 Ways Deliverability-Based List Pruning Can Increase Your Email ROI

Practical Marketer • December 4, 2019

Email list cleanup can be a scary thing.  As marketers, we understand that our contacts are our currency, and we work hard to grow and maintain our database. But over time, especially with a database that is older or managed across multiple teams or departments, data quality issues can take a chunk out of our bottom line if sender reputation and deliverability begin to dip. So we\'re left to figure out the best solution, faced with the challenge of cleaning up our email lists without missing out on opportunities for future engagement. We know we should prune our list, but we can\'t go lopping off vast segments indiscriminately. For example, when tasked to shape up an email database before a more massive send or when preparing for data migration. But no pressure, though. An industry \"best practice\" is to prune your email list based on how long it has been since the subscriber has interacted with your email. However, the timeframe used as criteria for determining whether a subscriber is active or inactive can be arbitrary, leave opportunities on the table, and can be debatable among marketers in an organization. After all, there is data to suggest that sending emails to a deliverable subscriber can still have a positive effect without an open or click.  Instead, a better place to start is by using the deliverability-based method to begin the pruning process. What Is Deliverability-Based Pruning, Exactly? For those looking for a more concrete way to identify and prune low-quality subscribers beyond historical opens and clicks, deliverability-based pruning can be a good starting point for increasing email ROI. It involves three necessary steps: Identify what your organization considers a quality address based on your goals and the context in which the emails are collected. For example, some companies will only accept company emails while others are perfectly fine with collecting emails from free services such as Google or Yahoo. Verify the quality of your email addresses by determining deliverability. This can give insight into how likely you are to reach the recipient\'s inbox.  Part ways with the undeliverable email addresses on your list, as well as any,  addresses your company considers to be low-quality. And while not always the most exciting, jump-for-joy project to take on, deliverability-based pruning is one of the simplest ways to see your email ROI climb after it\'s implemented. Particularly in four ways: 1. It Can Uncover Risky Data That’s Muddling Your Marketing Database If you\'re going to roll up your sleeves and start cleaning your marketing database, the first thing to do is to separate the junk from the valuable stuff. Easier said than done, though, if you\'re facing off with a heap of emails that are aren\'t verified or validated. Verification services like Kickbox give you insight into your marketing database health by classifying email addresses and uncovering information about an email address\' deliverability and overall quality. Data champions can use these categories as \"bins\" to help with decision making on what to keep and what to prune. The categories uncovered by Kickbox are: Deliverable - Safer to send. The recipient\'s mail server stated the recipient exists. Accept-all - Risky. The domain accepts all email you to send to it, even if the email address is not valid Disposable - Risky. One-time email addresses often used to receive initial communications from a service (such as an activation email) and then are discarded. Role - Risky. An email address that is associated with a team or job function instead of an individual.  Free - Potentially risky. Free email such as Yahoo or Gmail, in specific contexts, businesses can receive better open/response rates when only sending to non-free email addresses. Undeliverable - Low-quality. The email address does not exist or is syntactically incorrect. Once you have your email addresses organized by quality and deliverability, any low-quality candidates for list pruning are now in plain sight, and deciding which segments to pare down becomes a lot easier. 2. It Can Boost Your Sender Reputation and Trustworthiness With Your ESP A strong sender reputation will help you reach more subscribers and ultimately make your email marketing more effective over the long-term, so it\'s safe to say that it\'s in a marketer\'s best interest to protect it by maintaining quality data. Not to mention, Email Service Providers and messaging platforms don\'t want poor data entering their pool and potentially damaging their IPs. Poor sender reputation not only decreases your ability to reach the inbox but in more severe cases, can lead to blacklisting (yikes). While deliverability and reputation are multifaceted issues, one of the most fundamental ways to maintain a strong sender reputation is to ensure that only quality, opt-in email addresses are making their way into your marketing stack. No purchased lists or scraped data! Whether it be through integrations, point of capture API, or manual list upload, monitoring the health of the email addresses coming into your database is a surefire way to build on your relationship with subscribers and email providers alike. 3. It Can Feed Better Data Into Your Marketing Stack You can\'t employ even the most well-built campaign on a foundation of questionable data and expect it to work. Put bluntly; if you put crap in, you\'ll get crap out. That\'s why keeping tabs on the quality of both legacy new email addresses in your database is essential. Letting go of bad emails and sending only to a list of verified, real email addresses can have a \"halo\" effect on higher-level marketing automation and email subscriber journeys. Strategically paring out contacts from your email database can increase the percentage of delivery receipts and reduce hard bounces. Reducing hard bounces can increase your sender reputation. Increasing your sender reputation can improve your inbox placement, creating a virtuous cycle of better engagement rates and, eventually, ROI. To get the most out of this \"halo\" effect, we recommend employing two methods of email verification for a one-two-punch: List verification - verifying via manual list uploads (ideal for legacy contacts) Real-time API verification at the point-of-capture 4. It Can Help To Recapture Lost Value We spend a lot of precious time and money on building and deploying our marketing, but often those efforts go into the ether of wrong email addresses, which is sad. Cue the violins. On the front-end, it\'s possible to cut down bad data at the point of capture. Every fat-fingered email address is a missed opportunity to connect with a new potential new customer when all that was needed was a simple error message or \"did you mean\" suggestion to prompt the user to correct the email address. And if you are gathering higher volumes of email addresses every month through your signup forms, calculating ROI for real-time verification is easy once you know the lifetime value of your email addresses.  On the back-end, verifying lists like unengaged subscribers or other deliverability-unknown lists can prevent wasted marketing dollars. For example, some marketers would assume that all bounces should be removed; however, some of those soft-bounced addresses may now be entirely deliverable and, therefore, potentially profitable. We recently verified a list of bounces from a sub-list of our users and found that nearly one-third of the email addresses were now deliverable. The only profitable email address is a deliverable one, so covering your bases by verifying at different stages in the customer lifecycle journey is an excellent way to get the most out of your marketing efforts. Cleaning email data and calculating email ROI aren\'t always the sexiest topics to address with the marketing team, nor are they the simplest to analyze. But by being equipped with the correct deliverability data, the pruning process can be a lot simpler, helping you to maximize your marketing dollars and making you a database hero within your organization.


Read More
Top 10 Email Marketing Blogs You Should Follow

Top 10 Email Marketing Blogs You Should Follow

Practical Marketer • November 27, 2019

It’s easy to fall into a routine with your email marketing. You find that special blend of herbs and spices that kicks your emails into success and you coast along. No shame here—we all get complacent sometimes. But, with an industry like email marketing, you have to stay sharp to keep ahead of the curve. Email is always changing. The way emails render on different devices and services, what is considered accessible design, new developments in interactivity, and innovations in copy or design happen at lightning speed.  Many of us combat this by subscribing to our competitor’s newsletters and watching our analytics like a hawk. That is a great first step, but one of the best ways to keep your fingers on the pulse of the industry is to pick the minds of the great movers and shakers of the field. Luckily, in the age of blogs, you have a wealth of excellent sources to choose from. Let’s look at a curated list of excellent email marketing blogs to follow that will keep you on-trend with both technological advances and creative inspiration. Benchmark We’re not ones to brag, but we work tirelessly to create and curate content that drives both email inspiration and success. We cover a lot of topics in our articles, with everything from the psychology of marketing to what causes a spam filter to trigger. We are forward thinkers in the email marketing game and are always striving to find new and innovative ways to drive our customers’ success. So, whether you’re looking for some technical words of wisdom, design inspiration, or want to dive into email marketing for the first time, we have to say that we’ve built a pretty great resource. Must-read: We’re particularly proud of the article, “Why Email Marketing is Your Most Valuable Brand Touchpoint,” as it really shows just how important email marketing is to your business. Hatchbuck Hatchbuck is a CRM that also features an excellent email marketing toolkit. Their blog is a bit more general and covers all aspects of digital marketing. The thing is, even if you’re looking for email marketing solutions, almost all aspects of digital marketing are interconnected. If you want to gain a deeper understanding of how all of your advertising efforts in the online world work together, the Hatchbuck blog is a great place to build your knowledge. Must-read: The article, “5 Vital Deliverability Tips for 2019” will help your emails land into more inboxes than ever before. Litmus  Litmus is an email marketing enhancement service that provides excellent tools for creating emails that stay away from the SPAM filter and render well on any platform. They do this through excellent analytics, builders, and email proofing. Their services veer to more of the technical side of email marketing, so it’s safe to say their blog does as well. What is excellent about Litmus’ blog is it’s more than just articles. Their blog is a wealth of information in the form of articles, ebooks, and training webinars. They are the king of technical email knowledge. Must-read: “The Secrets to Ready Good Emails” webinar is absolutely fantastic for creating beautiful emails that deliver well. It’s a collaboration between Litmus and the email design inspiration site Really Good Emails. It’s a total must-watch. AdWeek AdWeek is one of the leaders in the space for everything related to design, traditional advertising, marketing, and digital marketing, so chances are you’ve heard of them before. You can expect to see the latest from the marketing and advertising world. AdWeek’s blog has various sections, including digital, creative-focused, branding, and they highlight articles from their print issues as well. Must-read: “7 Ways Brands Can Win on Amazon This Holiday Season” is an excellent read for those in the eCommerce industry. Everyone and their moms use Amazon for a quick and easy shopping experience. With the holidays approaching, Amazon is the first line of relief for those avoiding the overcrowded shops and malls. Make sure you check out this article to get retail-ready.  Content Marketing Institute CMI is a leader in the marketing industry. Every year they have a huge conference that attracts all the industry movers and shakers, and not to mention they regularly release amazing data-backed reports about the state of the industry and what’s just on the horizon that marketers should be preparing for.  So, it’s no wonder that CMI has one of the best marketing blogs out there. I always know I’m going to read something of quality and substance and come away with some brand new knowledge that inspires my content creation and evaluation process. Must-read: “Analyze 6 Elements to Land Better Conversion Rates” is an article that breaks down consumer performance and how you can influence that to see better conversion rates from your offerings. This article is pretty much a dream for any marketer, as achieving conversions is the whole point behind what we do.  Email on Acid  Email on Acid is a service that allows you to test how your email will render on just about every email client, browser, and operating system imaginable. Their blog offers a decent amount of information on email marketing, but where they really shine is their articles about email development. Many of us develop emails through builders, but some features can only be achieved by hand-coding. If you want to create emails that innovate and are at the forefront of trends, Email on Acid can show you how. Must-read: “How to Code Search Bars in Emails” is an excellent article to create an extra layer of interactivity in your emails. A search bar directly into your email will drive engagement and lead to an increased ROI with only a little effort. This tutorial is well-written and easy to understand, with only a little bit of technical knowledge. A must-read for sure. Moz Through Moz’s software, you’re able to track your site’s SEO more effectively and zero in on how specific articles and pages are ranking online. Using one of Moz’s free SEO tools is a game-changer for your strategy, so if you aren’t using it currently, definitely do so asap.  With its focus on SEO and marketing specifically, The Moz blog offers tons of comprehensive insight from industry thought leaders. But that’s not all. They also regularly post tips for branding, blogging, keyword research, link building, and social media, to name a few. The quality is great, too. No fluffy, filler content in sight. Only comprehensive tips and education that can benefit any modern marketer. You should go ahead and bookmark it or subscribe to their email updates.  Must-read: “10 Link Building Lies You Must Ignore” cuts right to the chase. There are so many misconceptions around link building, and this article is all about debunking them so you can know exactly what to expect.  Emma Emma is an email marketing service that focuses beautifully branded, highly personalized emails. So, their blog naturally serves as a place to inspire and spark creativity within their readers. The Emma blog is lovely to look at, with beautifully designed illustrations that accompany each article. Their articles also feature lovely examples and data charts that help drive their ideas home in a visually compelling way. Must-read: “3 Creative ideas to kickstart your 2019 holiday email marketing” gives great advice on how to start your marketing rounds for the big holiday shopping season, using sound data and lovely examples to back up their claims. Unbounce What marketer doesn’t want to improve their conversion rates? The answer is none. None marketers. Unbounce offers a landing page analyzer (it’s free!) to assist you with creating landing pages that actually convert. When it comes to their blog, Unbounce covers everything related to landing pages and conversions (obviously). But they don’t stop there. They also offer tips on content marketing, SaaS, conferences, branding, and more.  Must-read: “2019 Ecommerce Landing Page Best Practices (with 27 Examples)” is loaded with tips for a successful eCommerce landing page and examples to help you connect the dots more quickly.  Intercom Intercom is a SaaS company that offers a customizable messaging suite aimed at capitalizing on customer touchpoints at every stage of the buyer’s journey.  I could write a full page on their visuals alone, but that aside, their blog is a wonderful place to go for insightful reads on various topics and areas within marketing. We’re talking design, storage, understanding your customers, and sales tips. Intercom nails it when it comes to a robust content calendar, which makes it an essential blog for various marketing professionals to read.  Must-read: “Who’s who: Understanding your business with customer segmentation” dissects what segmentation is and why doing so will help you truly understand your audience and therefore reach them and speak to them better.  So, what are you waiting for? Get to reading! These email marketing blogs will fill you with so much knowledge. You’ll feel unstoppable. From marketing tips to design, copy, and technical code, there’s a blog for you to learn every aspect of the digital marketing world.


Read More
The Email Marketing Benchmarks You Should be Measuring

The Email Marketing Benchmarks You Should be Measuring

Practical Marketer • November 19, 2019

Technology is like the ocean. It ebbs and flows and can change on a dime. Take, for instance, email. When electronic mail first came on the scene, the idea of quickly sending a correspondence instead of waiting a couple of days for snail mail felt like magic. The tide was in, and the possibilities were endless. Pretty soon, email marketing became one of the best ways to reach and nurture your audience.  But like all periods of greatness, there comes a time when the light fades a bit. And in an instant, the tide went out, leaving tin cans of spam in its wake. Email became inundated with clutter and junk, and people began to dread checking their inbox. Eventually, it became an unpopular form of digital marketing.  But, with 60% of marketers claiming email is the biggest source of ROI, the tide is coming back in again.  By the year 2022, the number of active email users is forecasted to reach 4.3 billion people. The rise of intelligent email service providers and securely encrypted firewall technology has gained the trust of consumers once more, leading to the development of automated sales and marketing technologies that streamline email strategies. These programs produce a lot of data that a brand should know how to measure and put to work. But the key is in knowing what metrics to look at. Email Marketing Metrics to Measure Every business has different objectives they want to reach. That means there is no set standard for what you must measure in an email campaign. Your particular business goals should drive the metrics you use to measure success. With that said, there are a few go-to benchmarks to note when formulating a plan, benchmarks that make sense for most marketers to look at and consider. 1. Open Rate The top priority when sending an email is to have it opened. This is the first sign of interest that can spark a variety of campaigns. It\'s also the best way to tell whether your subject lines are engaging enough to encourage people to read the email. The benchmark figure for an acceptable open rate varies by industry. The average for all industries is approximately 20%. Anything lower means you probably need to reconfigure the campaign. Total vs. unique opens is also something to compare. Did the prospect open the email once, or did they go back and read it a few times? This data can be very telling and can be used to better position leads in the marketing funnel.  2. Mobile Open Rate Every marketer knows that mobile optimization is key to reaching your consumers. We’re always on our phones, and that includes when we’re consuming email content.  Keeping that in mind, the rate at which your prospects open emails on their mobile devices can say a lot about their behavior. If you find the open rate is higher through mobile channels, make sure your campaigns are optimized on mobile, your site is responsive, fonts are larger, your emails aren’t too text-heavy, and the call-to-action isn’t hidden.  3. Click-through Rate (CTR) The goal of most email campaigns is to get subscribers to convert on a webpage from an email you send. This is usually presented in the text of the email as a call-to-action (as mentioned in the previous point). It can be a button or link that redirects the consumer to a promotional item or branded offering. The CTR signifies the percentage of people who clicked the link in your email vs. the number of people who opened it. It’s a metric that indicates a willingness to convert. When people click the link, it means you’ve successfully compelled them to the next step. Half the battle is won.  A benchmark for a healthy email CTR is 7.77% (add an extra 14% if you personalize the subject line).  The CTR is essential because it’s the gateway metric to conversions. The more people that “click-through,” your email directly relates to the success of the email you’re sending. It can help you determine that the subject and content are engaging, drawing people in, and guiding them through the inbound funnel.  4. Reply Rate This is the most vital metric to track, and yet it is often ignored. Yes, you need your email opened before you can even see a reply, but even if you have an open rate of 50%, it’s not a metric that is directly connected to revenue. The reply rate is. This figure will always be on the lower side. That’s because some leads may simply click the link without ever replying. However, a reply leapfrogs leads into the hot part of the funnel. The business standard for a reply rate is typically between 5-6%.  Additional Email Marketing Metrics to Consider Don’t stop there! Here are a few more metrics to consider measuring for email marketing success:  Bounce rate Spam score Time spent viewing email Purchase rate Unsubscribes These are all pretty self-explanatory. But, these additional five metrics can ultimately help you upgrade your email marketing. Determining if people are disengaging from your emails, if you’re being marked as spam, or if your emails are encouraging buying behavior are important indicators of success. Ongoing Analysis  A/B testing is a great way to measure the success of an email marketing campaign, and it starts with the subject line. If you find you have a low open rate, try using the same content but with a different subject line, and then see which subject line has a higher open rate.  Improving your email marketing metrics starts with personalization. Studies show that a subject line with the recipient’s first name is 26% more likely to be opened. Know your audience and establish email benchmarks accordingly, so once you have the right information, you can use it to drive successful campaigns that generate revenue.


Read More
 
1 2 3 4 230