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How to Create and Execute Your Email Marketing Plan in 2019: A Template for Success

How to Create and Execute Your Email Marketing Plan in 2019: A Template for Success

Practical Marketer • January 21, 2019

For many, the New Year brings a renewed energy towards the pursuit of one’s passions or success. For more than a few businesses, email marketing is a part of that equation. Email marketing is an incredible opportunity for businesses to nurture meaningful relationships with their customers and leads. After all, better relationships is often a New Year’s resolution many of us have as well. It’s a new year and with that comes a new list of reasons that email marketing isn’t dead yet. Aside from the aforementioned relationship building reason, here are a few stats that demonstrate why email marketing is still the king in 2019: Can you believe that more than half of the people on planet Earth used email in 2018? Well, they did. A whopping 3.8 billion people used email last year. I’m sure some of the younger generations will be surprised it’s not higher. Additionally, there are projections that show that email will hit 4.2B users as 2022 comes to a close. All those people using email and they’re checking it too. In fact, research has shown that 91% of the consumers in the US check their inboxes each day. Checking emails is actually the first thing that 58% of adults say they do in the morning. Not only is email being widely used, but email marketing is effective. Consumers who have received emails from a brand spend on average 138% more than those who don’t get any emails. So, now that we can see why email still reigns supreme in 2019, let’s take a look at creating your email marketing plan for the New Year. Why is it important to have an email marketing plan? We’re not all Google or Apple or another tech giant with seemingly endless resources. Most of us only have a limited amount of time and resources to dedicate to each area of our businesses and marketing efforts. When you can plan out an email marketing plan for the quarter or even your whole year, you allow yourselves the ability to see what’s coming next and plan accordingly. You’re able to budget the time and resources enough in advance that you can ensure a consistent email marketing schedule throughout the year. Additionally, when you establish goals for your email marketing efforts, you can track your progress and report back to the team, as well as make improvements when necessary to ensure you’re hitting your marks. With the end goal in mind, it’s easier to see what you need to be monitoring in your reports and then make adjustments to move closer to those goals. That might be improving your subject lines or using a more recognizable From Name as shown by your open rates. It could also mean doing a better job of segmenting your lists to send more relevant content that boosts your click-through rates and ultimately conversions. Part of the time and resources dedicated to your email marketing plan must involve a focus on growing your list. That way you can choose tactics that fit your schedule and create a plan that you can execute accordingly. Choose Your Email Marketing Tools Jordie van Rijn knows a thing or two about helping businesses choose the best email marketing tool for their needs. He’s an email marketing consultant and the founder of Email Vendor Selection. Here are his thoughts on this subject: With every year comes evaluation and planning. One way to gain more insights into your internal and external vendors is to create a vendor evaluation dashboard as Kevin Hillstrom talks about. I like the idea because it allows you to share your goals with your (internal and external) vendors and keep them awake. Suddenly vendor partners can start to care (more) about your business. If you are looking for a new email marketing software this year, one consideration I’d like to highlight is to not look at the price or even the email marketing ROI if the solutions are in the same range, but take into account the ROTI: Return on Time Investment. Once you have found the different solutions that seems to fit the bill and you are comparing. ROTI  means the time it takes to create emails, set up campaigns, do reporting, handle data and whathaveyou in the day-to-day processes. But also the time in training, collaboration and internal processes. Time might be the ultimate measurement for ease of use. You can easily find more money, but it is hard to find more time. Jordie van Rijn – Identify Your Target Audience Knowing to plan for list growth tactics and where to focus your energy to do so begins with identifying your core customer. Understanding who your customer is will help you in all aspects of your marketing efforts. It’s what will let you do a customer-centric approach to your email marketing. It also helps guide each decision you make, because you can do so with your core customer in mind. Who is your core customer? The first step is the gain an understanding of who is your primary customer. Consider what that person wants and even more important than that, what they truly need. What problem are you solving for them?  What value are you delivering to them? Give that person a name. Consider what that person drives and where they shop. Ask yourself what restaurants they dine at, what publications they read and where they spend their time online. This information will help you understand where you should be spending your time for list growth. The second step for identifying your core customer is to consider who is the supporting customer. Aside from your primary customer detailed above, there will be a group of people who make the purchasing decisions. They may not be the one that has to use your products or services, but they are the one approving the budgets for your primary customer. You need to know where and how to connect with that group as well. What do you need to offer your core customer to get them to opt-in to your list? You need a very good understanding of what is the uncommon offering your core customer seeks from you. It’s what they cannot find anywhere else (at least as good as you do it). The customers you already have are likely telling you what it is that they love about your business. What you’re offering your core customer also extends to the copy you place in the signup forms at all the various touchpoints you deem necessary to focus on. What incentive do they have to give you their email address? Going beyond the products or services you offer what value do you plan to deliver with your email campaigns? You’re likely casting a wide net in terms of driving traffic to your website, social media and any other place where you interact with your subscribers. You need to find the right words to connect with your core customer in those places. You can break this down into three steps: Voice The head coach of the Chicago Bears keeps a note on his play call sheet for every game that says “BE YOU” in bold font. It’s his simple reminder to stay true to who he is and his personality when managing a game for the team. Similarly, your voice for your signup form copy should be true to your brand. Infuse the personality of your company into that copy so that it’s not too vanilla, but stick to who you are. Be you. Here is an example of a signup form from a vocal coach named Felicia Ricci who does a good job of finding a voice that matches her brand. Just the simple “Let’s Belt, Baby!” help you to understand what the experience of working with such a coach might entail. It’s fun and makes you want to be a part of it. Incentive Once you’ve translated your personality across all your signup forms, it’s time to work on the incentive. Why should your core customer subscribe to your email list? You need to let them know you’ll be delivering value to their inbox. Gaining an understanding of your core customer will let you know what they need. That’s where incentive comes in. Aside from the goods or services you offer, what value you can you deliver? It can be information, savings or resources. It could even be entertainment. Something that aligns with your brand ideals and will attract the kind of signups who are core customers. This signup form for a writing course from Enchanting Marketing does a good job of outlining the incentives for signup up: You don’t want to hide the incentive. Make it clear and easy for your core customer to understand the benefits of signing up. CTA A strong Call To Action (CTA) is the last step in creating an effective signup form. Now that you’ve infused your personality into the signup form and demonstrated the benefits it’s time to inspire that signup with a compelling CTA. Your CTA should be easy to find first and foremost. While you can test out various button placements and colors, the primary focus when writing a CTA should be on using action-oriented words. You should also create an urgency by using words like “today” or “now.” Here is a signup form from Treehouse. Notice all the action words they use: “Change,” “make,” “get started today,” and “claim” all action-oriented words to get those signups. These three steps cover “how” to get your core customer to opt-in to your list. Now, let’s take a look at some of the places you should be focusing your efforts. Cover All Your Potential Touchpoints for List Growth You and your brand interact with customers in so many places. Perhaps you’ve never considered there is an opportunity for a signup form at some of them. No matter the location, you need to make sure that a customer or lead is finding the signup form at each place. Take a few minutes and jot down all the potential places a core customer may interact with your business. Go beyond online. There are likely offline opportunities as well, such as in-store, at events and more. Next, you’ll want to consider how those visitors to each touchpoint are interacting with you. How can you seamlessly integrate a signup form into each location? There are some of the common touchpoints you should be focusing on for your business: Homepage Many times, your homepage is the first impression you make on an individual. It’s also always the most trafficked page on your website almost always. You want a way to keep all those site visitors coming back for more. For the greatest odds at growing your email list, place your signup form above the fold (which is just jargon for “before an individual would have to scroll down to find it”). That way, it’s right in their field of vision, and if you’ve done the steps above, you’ll be most likely to capture visitors email addresses. Slack’s entire homepage is built around an above the fold signup form: This signup form also does a good job of demonstrating some of the lessons discussed above. It clearly explains what Slack offers and has a clear CTA. Plus, there’s no way a site visitor can miss this signup form. If you don’t have room above the fold, there are two other places on your homepage that you can place your signup form. In fact, years of the Internet have even trained site visitors to look for a signup form in these two places. The first one is your sidebar. If you use a sidebar for your navigation, advertising or to promote additional goods or services, a signup form can fit right in. Additionally, you can place a signup form in your footer. There are a few benefits to this. One, is that if they make it all the way to the bottom of your page, they’re likely fairly interested in what you’re offering. Second, is that it’s another spot we’ve been trained to look for a signup form. Lastly, it’s also a benefit because if it’s in the footer it will live at the bottom of all of the pages on your site. Blog Your blog is a great source of organic traffic to your website. The content your create is a natural lead generator. Are you capturing that traffic with a signup form? You’ve already got their attention. Keep it by getting their email address. Again, the sidebar can work here, as many blog designs have a sidebar already in place and they’ll encounter it as they’re reading your blog posts. However, a pop-up can also be effective here. Just be sure not to have it pop-up too soon, as you want to give them time to enjoy your content and want more. We put this strategy to action on the Benchmark Email Blog, giving blog visitors a chance to subscribe to get updates whenever we add a new post to each category: The pop-up appears as the readers scrolls through to post, so to give them enough time to fall in love with our content and want more (we hope). Other Website Pages Your homepage and blog are probably the two most familiar places to put a signup form, but in reality, any highly trafficked page on your site should have a signup form. You can check your Google Analytics, or wherever else you’re monitoring your website traffic, and come up with a strategy for each page that gets a lot of visitors. Contact and About Us pages are usually on that list. Same with key feature pages or resources. Think about where a site visitor is in their user experience with your brand and what might be helpful to them in that moment and then promise to deliver it if they opt-in. Social Media For many business, social media is where they’re creating engagement with their audience. It’s important to remember that your social followers are not always your subscribers or customers. Use your social media channels to grow your email list. After all, your marketing efforts will be most powerful when you using all channels together. On Facebook, you can use their CTA button to link to a signup form or place one in a tab, you can also link to a signup form on Twitter or Instagram. One other strategy to promote list growth on social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram is to run “gated content” offers, which require an email address to unlock the piece of valuable content. Share a link which brings them to a signup landing page that will allow them to opt-in to receive the desired content. Phone Do you have customers or leads calling in via phone for customer support or any other reason? It’s another opportunity to grow your list. It’s not rocket science, either. All you have to do is ask! Train the individuals who are speaking on the phone to explaining the benefits of being on your email list and ask them if they want to be signed up. In-Store/On-Location If you have a brick and mortar location that customers can visit, you should also prepare some offline solutions for list growth. You can go as low-tech as a signup sheet next to the register, or as high-tech as using a tablet or computer with a station for signing up. You can even display signage that has a QR code which makes it easier for in-store visitors to sign up. If your signup opportunity is near your register, you get the added benefit of a salesperson being able to explain the benefits of subscribing to your list. Don’t underestimate the power of personal interaction! Tell those customers exactly what to expect for signing up, whether it be new products, coupons or other discounts, special offers or anything else that will entice them to subscribe. Some stores even make email acquisition a seamless part of the in-store process for checking out. Other bring and mortar locations, such as coffee shops, offer free wifi in exchange of an email address. Events Does your business host events or do members of your team attend expos, conferences or the like? Use that as an opportunity to grow your list! It’s hard to make your mark when an event attendee is encountering dozens of other businesses. However, if you can get them to give you an email address, you can follow-up with them after the event. It could even be an online event, like a webinar. If they register with an email address, you can do pre-event promotion and follow-up after the fact. Print Ads Even as print media seems to be fading away, they’re not gone and print ads can help you to grow your email list. If you’ve got ads in newspapers or magazines or if you’re printing flyers, brochures, postcards or standees, you can place QR codes on them to make signup quick and easy for everyone. Benchmark Email Tip: Any signup form you create comes with a corresponding QR code. Place them on any of your print marketing materials or on your displays and signage at your brick and mortar locations. As with all your touchpoints, remember to make it easy to find, include a compelling CTA and simple instructions on how to opt-in. Segment Your Email List(s) for Targeted Campaigns With all those touchpoints you’ve covered, you’re sure to attract different sorts of folks. Sure, if you’ve got a clear idea of your core customer, they all likely have something in common. However, they may like different goods or services that you offer or have different needs at different times. Say, for example, that you’re in the business of skincare. Some customers may suffer from acne. Others dry or oily skin. If you sent a one-size-fits-all email campaign, some topics may not be of interest to portions of your list. However, if you’re able to know your subscribers individual needs, you could sent targeted campaigns based on that information and ensure that everyone is receiving the more relevant emails possible. That’s why list segmentation is so important. Here are some tips on effectively segmenting your email lists to nurture better relationships: Begin at the Signup Form Data Sorting your subscribers can begin at the signup form. That way, the work is being done for you from the start. If you’re collecting that data from the beginning, it makes it very easy to create list segments when you’re ready to incorporate that strategy into your email marketing plan. Here are a few of the ways you can segment your list based on signup form data: Gender Sure, nowadays gender lines are being blurred and what is created for men and women matters less and less. However, there are still plenty of people out there who will tell you they want content intended for men and women. Below, you can see how shoe company Clarks creates separate email campaigns gearned towards men and women: The goal of the email is the same, but the content is varied for a targeted audience. Each intended audience will have no problem finding the footwear they need. Location This form of segmentation is especially important for businesses who have multiple locations, but it can be an effective form of targeted marketing for any brand. It’s also helpful if you host events at your brick and mortar locations. If you want to send out an email to advertise a promotion at a specific location or event that’s only being held in one place, it won’t apply to a large audience, only those within the area. You can avoid inundating your whole list with promotions that don’t apply to them by using simple location-based list segmentation. This is also helpful for businesses like local real estate, car dealerships, etc. Here is a signup form from a real estate firm, Robert Paul Properties, based in Massachusetts. You can see how they do their segmenting right there in the form: By asking your subscribers to let you know where they live, or what areas are of interest to them, they segment themselves into the proper list. Then they can be updated on new property listings in the area, like the above example, or any other promotion in their area for other businesses. Industry Another common field on signup forms is industry. If your client-base is comprised of multiple industries, it is a helpful one for you to include in your signup forms. That way you can populate each email campaign with relevant content to that industry. For a company like LiveChat, it’s an important step in their signup process. That way, they can follow-up with onboarding materials that may be helpful to that specific industry: LiveChat has years of experience and knows how to service many industries. This step of their process let’s them hone the messaging to be as relevant as possible to each industry. Job Role Are you mainly focused on B2B? Knowing who your audience is within a business can also be valuable. You may want to use different language or provide different content whether you’re sending to developers, consultants, sales, marketing, etc. Job role is another fairly common signup form field in the B2B sector. Each job role has its own pain points and you likely offer solutions to them. That’s why they subscribed! Cater your content to each segmented audience. Segment Based on Interests Not all list segmentation can, or should, be done from the signup form. However, that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to do. Aside from the above demographics, you can also segment your list based on preferences. Every purchase, click and email open is your subscribers telling you what they like. Use that information to better segment your email list(s). Here are a couple examples for how you can do that: Purchase History A review of your customers purchase history will tell you exactly what they are interested in. That information is invaluable to your business. When it comes to email marketing, relevance is key. If you continually send emails that aren’t of interest to your subscribers, they’re going to tune out. Eventually, they’ll unsubscribe. You can use purchase history data to send various types of campaigns. One way you can put that data to use is by offering a discount to encourage them to reorder or re-up on your products or services. You can also send an email with complimentary or related products to their purchase. After all, it’s five times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to sell to an existing one. You can also follow-up with customer testimonials and videos that show your subscribers how the products and services they have purchased to reinforce their decision. Let’s take a look at how Sephora uses its customer’s purchase history to send more targeted email campaigns: What better way to make your customers feel seen than an email campaign like this?! Website Activity The only thing you can sell in an email is a click. That’s why it’s to your advantage to track your subscribers engagement with your website as well. If a subscriber has looked at a specific product page, you can send follow-ups to help convince them to make a purchase. Benchmark Email Tip: With Automation Pro, you can track and automate follow-ups with ease. Setup automated follow-ups that are triggered by subscribers when they visit specific pages on your website to tell a complete marketing story from website to email and back again. Maintenance is a Part of a Good List Management Plan Great email marketing means you’re sending to people who want to hear from you. That means removing the inactive subscribers or maybe the ones who have abandoned that address or never entered it correctly in the first place. That’s why email list validation is an important part of any successful email marketing plan. We asked Jessica Martinez, Marketing Director of Kickbox, to share some thoughts on why it’s integral to thriving with email marketing: For many email marketers, the New Year is like the first day of school. A fresh start. Time to shed any bad email marketing bad habits and incorporate new strategies to address challenges you may have encountered the previous year. Or to discover new tactics, like email verification, to help you achieve your email marketing goals. One of my favorite things about starting a new school year was always shopping for new clothes because no one wants to go back to school in the same clothes as they wore the previous year. You want to put your best foot forward in new kicks and fresh fits. Similarly, you don’t want to start out the New Year with the same old email list. The New Year is the perfect time to freshen up your list and to create a strategy to keep it clean throughout the year. List hygiene is an email marketing best practice and an easy-win if you want to see an increase in email performance and deliverability. By using an email verification service you can easily identify data quality issues within your lists such as invalid and/or poor-quality email addresses. Removing invalid email addresses is a no-brainer because they provide no value to you as an email marketer since they are guaranteed to result in a bounce. Disposable email addresses can be just as bad because the subscriber has no intention of engaging with your company, which means every email message you send not only costs you money but your message is unopened or unclicked. A high number of unengaged emails can negatively impact deliverability. Additionally, high volumes of invalid or disposable email addresses can also be indicative of a larger problem. People may be trying to abuse free trials, sneak past gated content, or simply making typos. A more robust email verification system is needed, like verification at point-of-capture. Verifying email addresses before they enter your database is becoming more commonplace and can easily be achieved using the Kickbox Real Time API. This combined with periodic email list verification is the most effective way to ensure the best inbox placement. Verification provides you with deliverability information (deliverable, undeliverable,risky, disposable, accept-all, free domain) and a quality score for each email address on your list. Why should you verify your email list? The answer is simple. A healthy, clean list of opt-in subscribers is the foundation for any high-performing email campaign. All the strategizing in the world won’t help your email marketing plans if you have a poor quality list. Oftentimes marketers don’t realize they have quality issues until they start seeing deliverability problems: bounces, landing in the spam/junk folder, or their ESP stopping the campaign. And we all know deliverability issues can be a bear to fix. Time to develop an email list hygiene strategy 2019 is your fresh start. Start it with a clean email list. From there maintenance is easy. B2B email lists often degrade at a higher rate than B2C lists in part because of the frequency in which people change jobs. Your list is constantly degrading and, unfortunately, when you add an email address to your database it doesn’t come with an expiration date. That’s why verification is so helpful and can alert you to quality issues before they become deliverability issues. How often should you clean your list? A good rule of thumb: if you have a list of primarily business email addresses (B2B), you should verify your list every 3 months. If your list consists of mostly consumer email addresses (B2C) once every 6 months is usually sufficient. Or you can take the seasonal approach. Thankfully, verification is affordable and valuable enough that more and more companies choose to verify their lists seasonally before their big holiday campaigns. This is an easy way to ensure your list is always in tip-top shape and sets your campaigns up for success throughout the year. Define Your Email Marketing Goals Setting a goal puts your entire email marketing plan into focus. If you know what the finish line should look like, you can work backwards from there to determine how you can achieve your goals. Every business is different. Sure, at the end of the day everybody wants to sell more. However, there is a set of goals that every email marketer should have. Let’s take a look at what those goals are: Nurture Relationships with Your Email List 75% of Americans say they use their smartphones most frequently to check email. Think about it. For many of us, the first thing we do in the morning is grab our smartphone and check our email, whether it be from bed or in the bathroom. This on-the-go ability to connect with your audience gives you a great opportunity to nurture a relationship with your customers and leads. To earn those relationships that will lead to sales, you need to take a customer-first approach to your email marketing. What does it mean to do customer-centric marketing? Focus on the customer experience. It should be simple, pleasant and convenient. Appreciate loyalty. Offer rewards for your returning customers and let them know how much you value them. Develop strong communication. Know how to talk to your audience, how often and what they need to hear. Variety is the spice of life. If you’re sending the same thing to your audience repeatedly, they’re going to tune you out. Deliver value. Know what you need to offer to your core customer and deliver it consistently. The already talked about knowing what problems your core customer has. The value comes in the solution(s) you offers. Listen to feedback. Give your subscribers a chance to let you know what they need or want. Make them feel heard. Goals for Measurable Improvements in Your Customer Relationships It’s all well and good to say you want to nurture better relationships with your subscribers, but what does that look like? As we mentioned before, nurturing better relationships is the end goal. There are wins you need along the way to achieve that. Like we said, see the finish line and then reverse engineer the path. So what are those objectives that will get you to your ultimate goal? Reduce List Churn List churn is an inevitable part of email marketing. In fact, nearly on average nearly half, 46 percent, of new subscribers churn within the first year of opting into a list. What can you do to lessen the churn in your email list? Here are some tactics to reduce list churn: Decreasing the churn of your email list begins at the signup form. Use double opt-in to ensure you’re growing your list with subscribers who want to hear from you. A Welcome Email is your first impression and best shot to get a subscriber hooked on your emails from the get go. Welcome Emails have the highest open rates, so be sure you’re making the most of the opportunity and set the tone for your emails to come. Keep your subscribers educated on everything they’ll need to successfully solve their problems with your goods and services. It could be video tutorials, DIY tips, customer testimonials that show how others are putting your solutions to use. You may be sick up us saying it by now, but to reduce list churn (and any other goal you’re trying to achieve) you need to deliver value to your subscribers. If they’re happy with the content you’re sending, they’re going to remain on your list. You can also create an exit poll that asks subscribers why they are opting out of your list. This feedback will provide invaluable information on where you can improve your email campaigns to reduce list churn. A re-engagement campaign can also help to keep inactive subscribers in the fold by getting them to remember why they opted into your list in the first place. It can be as simple as telling subscribers you’re going to remove them unless they opt back in or you can try something out of left field, as they’re not engaging with what you’re currently trying. Use your purchase history and click-through data to create targeted campaigns for your subscribers. If you cater to their interests, they’re going to stick around. At last, but certainly not least, be grateful. Make sure you show your appreciation for the space you get in your subscribers’ inbox and say thanks. Say it in words, say it by delivering value and say it often. Improve your Open Rate and Click-Through Rate If you can accomplish even a few of the points detailed above, your open rate and click-through rate (CTR) should improve. There are also a few strategies you can put into place specifically targeted at improving your open rates and CTR. Use a familiar From Name. Make sure that it’s something your subscribers will recognize. Your company name is the most common From Name, but if there is a specific person that your subscribers have been interacting with, you can use their name as well (or a combination of the two). Companies who have a very public CEO or celebrity involvement can bank on those household names as well. Crafting compelling Subject Lines will also go a long way towards improving your open rates. Great subject lines create interest about what’s inside, have a sense of urgency and use action words. You need great CTAs in your emails to improve your CTR. You can use a combination of links and buttons and use the lessons you learned on CTAs from your subject lines to entice subscribers to click-through to your website. Increase Conversion Rate If you’re following the tips for the previous two goals, you’ll likely already see an increase in your conversion rate. To focus on this improvement, you need to do a couple important things: Hone Your Conversion Funnel Just like there are wins that you can aim for on the way to your ultimate goal, there is a series of microwins that businesses need to hit before getting a conversion. The first microwin is getting the opt-in, then it’s each step you need to take to get the conversion. Increase trust, reduce anxiety, build excitement about your products and services. This can be done by sending follow-up emails with testimonials, sharing updates on awards you’ve received or other newsworthy stories. Automation can help you do a lot of this work. Chris Drucker created an awesome infographic to show a very simple:   Improve Your Landing Pages As we mentioned above, the only thing you can sell in an email is a click. The conversion happens on your landing page, whether it be a product page, eCommerce store, registration page or anything else. You must tell one cohesive story from your email to the landing page and make sure that the landing page is set up to seal the deal. Create Repeat Business Again, each of the previous goals will help you improve your repeated business (just as the other goals were served by the goals that preceded them). Repeat business is important. Remember, it’s far easier to sell to your current customers, than to attract new ones. Again, this is where your purchase history data comes in handy. Use it to upsell with related products and accessories to promote a better customer experience for a premium product. Strava promotes their Premium service with an upsell email that paints the picture of what a subscriber’s life will look like if they upgrade: You can also use it when it would be time to order more or when you need to renew a plan early for a SaaS product, like Carbonite does in this email: By targeting their existing customers with a renew email, Carbonite is delivering value by offering two free months, creating urgency with a CTA of “Renew now” and ensuring consistent repeat business. Create an Email Sending Schedule So far we’ve talked a lot about the work that goes into your email marketing efforts even before you even hit send on a campaign. We’ve also discussed the goals you should have for those efforts. There has also been some of talk of different types of emails you can send to achieve those goals. However, no email marketing plan is complete without a schedule of all the types of campaigns you’ll be sending throughout the year. Of course, email marketing affords to ability to riff a bit during the year and send more spontaneous campaigns that will also service your goals. You don’t have to do them all, but these are the types of emails you should work into your email marketing schedule: Newsletters When it comes to email marketing, newsletters are often the first thing people think about. The purpose of a newsletter is to ensure that your brand is never far from the minds of your subscribers. Many subscribers expect to receive a newsletter from your business. It could be monthly, weekly or even daily, as long as the content can consistently deliver on value. Your subscribers will stick around and even look forward to your newsletters if you’re consistently sending great content. Use your newsletters to share your latest blog posts, company news, product launches, promotions and more. These are the things that well help nurture that relationship with your customers as long as they’re focused on your subscribers’ needs. This daily newsletter from Apartment Therapy hits the inbox every morning with tips for better apartment living. There are tips on saving space, decorating and more each day: Holiday Emails The holidays are also great opportunities for email marketing, because consumers have learned to expect them and even look forward to them. Plus, there are holidays spread throughout the whole year that give you excuses to pop into your subscribers’ inbox year-round. Doing holiday email marketing is easy too, as there is no shortage of free holiday email templates available to you. Here are some of the common holidays where subscribers expect to see an influx of holiday email marketing campaigns: New Year’s Day Valentine’s Day Presidents Day Memorial Day Mother’s Day Father’s Day Independence Day Labor Day Halloween Thanksgiving Black Friday Cyber Monday Christmas and Hanukkah New Year’s Eve Inboxes will also be most crowded during these times. If you look hard enough, there is some sort of holiday every day. Have some fun with it and celebrate things like National Pet Day with your subscribers, in addition to the ones listed above. You can find a pretty good list in this holiday marketing calendar from Real Thread. Automation There are so many emails that are recurring, but unlike a newsletter, they can be handled with marketing automation. Emails like your Welcome Email can be automated to send when a new subscriber opts into your list. That way every single new subscriber gets a unified experience. If your goods or services require some onboarding, you can automate that series of emails as well. As mentioned earlier, you can also automate based on your subscribers’ engagement with your email campaigns and your website. If an email goes opened or unopened, you can follow-up with appropriate messages or if they’ve clicked on specific links or visited a particular product page you can automate additional messages to move a subscriber towards a conversion. Additionally, as we’ve discussed, you can also use your purchase history data to automate a sequence of emails to keep customers in the purchase cycle. Decide Which Types of Emails to Send While it’d be nice to cover all of your bases and send newsletters, holiday emails on every occasion and several automations, it’s not feasible for every business given their resources. That’s OK! Just pick one or a few emails to start sending. You can grow your efforts from there. If a newsletter is too much to commit to, given that you have to come up with content each month, start with a simple Welcome Email automation. That way, you’ve got a warm welcome covered for all new subscribers that sets the table for all the rest of your email marketing efforts. You also don’t have to send emails every single holiday, just pick a few that you can manage. Do you have a sale or another promotion during a holiday weekend or maybe for Black Friday? Focus on that first. Regardless of the type of emails you decide to send, they should all be aimed at your goals. Each campaign you sit down to create needs to be in service of the goals you’ve set for yourself. Ask yourself why you want to send each campaign and what you expect the outcome to be. Newsletters are great for getting consumers to buy into your brand story. Holiday emails deliver great value and bring some cheer to the inbox. Automation brings a subscriber into the fold and helds to send targeted campaigns and generate loyalty. All of these are important for relationship building, so pick the ones you can execute within your resources. Trends to Plan for in 2019 As you’re putting together your plan for the year, it’s important to look ahead to what trends you may want to incorporate into your email marketing efforts. We asked our friend Kevin George at Email Monks to share some of the trends he thought email marketers should prepare for in 2019. Innovation with Interactivity As more and more email clients have started supporting CSS-based interactivity, 2019 will be an opportune time for more and more brands to join the bandwagon. With the provision to replicate the interactivity, which was once only possible on websites using JavaScript, brands can send engaging interactive emails, especially during the holidays or special occasion. Moreover, since the message can be customized to be only visible when the subscriber interacts with the email, interactivity can greatly increase the engagement rates and in turn the chances of them converting. Once, AMP for Gmail is implemented well, emails can soon be nicknamed as Mailable Microsites. Check out these emails featuring awesome interactivity of hover for the holiday season: Adestra and BrightWave Gamification By incorporating game mechanics into non-gaming realms, you can encourage your subscribers to take the desired action. The design and functionality of gamification delight the subscribers and significantly enhance their user experience. You can know more about your subscriber through the playful interaction in these emails. It has been in trend since 2016 but it will get more popular in 2019. Here’s an example of a maze game in email from EmailMonks. Artificial Intelligence Most email marketers are employing email automation for sending timely emails to their subscribers based on the pre-defined rules. Yet any scope of personalization is dependent on either including merge tags or adding dynamic content blocks (which are coding head-ache in itself). Just like Phrasee is employing artificial intelligence to personalize the subject lines, implementation of AI shall soon advance further to personalizing email content automatically based on the customer interaction. Improved Accessibility in Emails Move towards making marketing emails accessible has been going on for quite some time. In 2019, more and more brands will adopt industry-standards for making email accessible, which will not only widen the customer base for all brands but also improve the user experience for all your subscribers regardless of any health limitations. Plan for Continuous Improvement You don’t need to be a pro from day one. You only need to be willing to get better as you go and learn from your successes and misses. Reviewing your Reports also shows you what is or isn’t working and where the areas to improve exist. You need to monitor your results to know if you’re on your way to achieving your goals. These are some areas you can focus on in your reports: Open Rate Your open rate is how many of the individuals on the list you sent a campaign to opened that email. It’s a simple metric to follow, and it shows if you’re clearing your first hurdle on the path towards ROI from your email marketing efforts. It’s how you know if you’ve separated yourself from the rest of the noise in your subscribers’ inbox. No additional engagement, much less a conversion, can take place if your email isn’t being opened. Your open rate tells you if two specific things are working right for you: your Subject Line and the From Name you’re using. Does your subject line entice your subscribers to open it? Does it tease enough value? Is your From Name familiar to your subscribers? Do they recognize it? These are the factors that determine whether or not a subscriber is opening your email. To boost your open rates, test and improve your Subject Line and From Name. Click-Through Rate This is the metric in your reports which helps you with the next level of your email marketing efforts. It shows if the content and CTAs are working well enough to get a subscriber to click-through to your website or landing page. As we’ve mentioned, the only thing you can sell in your email is click and this is the metric that tells you if you’re getting exactly that. This is the next micro-win you need to achieve when reaching for your goals. To improve your click-through rates, review your reports to see what type of content is getting you clicks. Focus your emails around that. You can also survey or poll your subscribers to ask what type of content they want to receive. Better segmentation of your lists and targeting of your campaigns should also work to improve your CTR. Additionally, you can test button placement, using links and buttons combined and improve your CTAs to increase your CTR. Opens By Hour This metric shows you when people are opening your email campaigns. Opens By Hour is helpful for asking the old question: when is the best time to send my emails?” Every audience is different and the honest answer to that question is “it depends.” That is, at least, until you review your opens by hour reports. If you’re doing true customer-centric marketing, you’ll be paying close attention to when they’re opening their emails and imagining what’s going on in their day when that happens. Then you can not only know when to send, but what might be helpful content to them in that moment. Unsubscribes and Abuse These two metrics are obviously not the fun part, but they’re an important aspect of your reports nonetheless. If you haven’t done a good job of focusing on your customers’ needs and delivering value, unsubscribers or, worse yet, abuse complaints occur. An unsubscribe or abuse complaint can be the result of sending too often or even not sending often enough to the point that your subscribers forget they subscribed in the first place. It can also mean that your content is no longer relevant. Some subscribers will hit junk or report abuse, because it’s easier for them to find than your Unsubscribe link. That’s why it’s important to have a clear and easy-to-find link for your subscribers to opt out. Following the tips and advice detailed above and focusing on customer-centric should help you to reduce your unsubscribe and abuse rates. Working on your goals from the signup form on will help you to keep these numbers low. Paying attention to what’s in your reports will help you continue to improve and reduce those numbers. A/B Testing Going beyond your reports and learning what is and isn’t working in your email marketing and identifying areas of improvement is one part of the process. Testing is the other. A/B testing is like having a crystal ball, which lets you know how your subscribers are most likely to react to your email campaigns. If you’re wondering which of two subject lines you wrote would be more effective, what design elements would work better, what CTA would be more likely to get a click or anything else in your email, A/B Testing will give you the answers you seek. You can even test entire campaigns against one another. With A/B testing, you can send your variants to small sections of your list to see how each variant works in terms of opens and clicks. Then, the winner is sent to the remainder of your list. With A/B testing, you’re doing continuous improvements as you send campaigns. Here are the types of A/B Tests you can put to use: Subject Line. This is the most popular type of A/B Test. It’s your first impression and will help to boost your open rates. See if a longer or shorter subject works, test with personalization, emojis or any other tactic that you think might increase engagement with your emails. From Name. It’s important to make sure this name is familiar to your subscribers. You can try a name of an individual in your company, if they have a lot of contact with your subscribers, or use your business name. Getting it right will increase your open rate. Entire Campaign. Not sure if an email focused on one product or another would be more effective? Maybe it’s two entirely different designs that you want to test. Just make sure you don’t introduce too many variables, so you know which elements that you’re changing are working. Delivery Time. As we mentioned, the best time to send an email changes with every audience. Test to find out what is best for yours. Wrapping Up For any beginning, all of this might seem like a lot. It doesn’t have to be! Take this article in small pieces and attack one tip or strategy at a time. If every email you send is aimed at improving your relationships with your subscribers and customers, you’re already on the right path. Start with how you’re growing your list and see if there are easy wins you can achieve for adding new subscribers. Just having an understanding of your core customer will help direct the rest of your email marketing planning. Then, take the time to learn a bit about the individuals in your list. Consider the people behind the email addresses and see if you can sort them into segments that let you send more targeted, relevant content. After that, consider your goals for your email marketing efforts. It’s an important step for creating an effective email marketing plan. From there, you can pick and choose the types of email campaigns you want to send. Start with whatever you’re most comfortable with and add more from there. Lastly, review your reports and test different strategies to continuously improve your email marketing efforts. That way you can achieve even more of the goals you set out for your business.


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How to Use Your Email List to Create a Facebook Audience

How to Use Your Email List to Create a Facebook Audience

Practical Marketer • December 21, 2018

You’ve probably heard us say it many times before, but your email list is your most valuable marketing asset. But did you know its value extends beyond the inbox? You can use your email list to create an Audience to promote ads to on Facebook. After all, it’d be silly to limit your marketing to one platform when it takes 5-7 times for a person to recognize your logo. A strong marketing strategy comes from using all the channels available to you in combination with one another. There’s no denying the audience that Facebook provides. It’s massive. As of the third quarter of 2018, Facebook had 2.27 billion monthly active users. That’s a lot of eyeballs in one place! A lot of businesses are taking advantage of this massive audience. 93% of marketers, which is around three million businesses, use Facebook advertising with regularity. Additionally, showing off its prowess as a global force, 70% of those businesses are based outside of the US. The ability to target those ads by creating a Facebook Audience from your email list will help you to stand out from the crowd with more relevant ads. What is a Facebook Audience? Facebook allows you to upload an email list of customers and leads to its platform and compares your data with theirs to formulate an audience that you can target with ads. How to Use Your Email List to Create a Facebook Audience Let’s say your business has a special sale coming up. Perhaps it’s for something around the holidays such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s. It can also be for a new product launch or just because! Whatever the occasion, you can use Facebook Audience to help promote your sale. First, you’ll want to create your custom Facebook Audience by uploading your list of existing subscribers. If you’re using Benchmark Email, you can now use Automation Pro to create an automation that will automatically upload new subscribers you add as you grow your email list to your Facebook Audience. You can also do this from your Contacts dashboard. We’ve put together a helpful FAQ to help you create a Facebook Audience with Automation Pro. A 360° Marketing Approach to Your Facebook Audience This is an email marketing blog, so first we’ll discuss using Facebook Ads in conjunction with your email marketing efforts. However, we will share some tips for Facebook Ads below. As mentioned above, your marketing efforts will be most powerful when you combine your channels. You should create a sequence of automated emails that match the messages in your Facebook Ads. That way, they’re reminded of your special sale at multiple touchpoints. It makes it all the more likely that you’ll convert those sales. Here are a few tips for combining email marketing automation and Facebook Ads: Try to sync the messages. Think about when a subscriber might see the Facebook Ad or an email in the sequence. Make it feel like one complete story. Additionally, you need to make sure your branding is consistent down to the colors, font styles and voice in your copy. Don’t repeat yourself on both channels. Add some variety and give your subscribers a reason to follow you in each place. Offer a different perspective, make a new joke, anything that is going to add additional value for your customers and give them a reason to tune in. When a conversion happens, you may want to remove the buyer from your Facebook Audience list for that campaign. You don’t want to annoy them with ads after they’ve already made a purchase. Alternatively, you can add them to a new Facebook Audience with upsell ads. Facebook has an audience minimum of 10,000. If by uploading your subscribers, your audience isn\'t large enough at first, feel free to add in more people by selecting from their audience settings. You can choose audience lookalikes and Facebook will find people on their network that share similar interests and profiles as your existing subscribers. Following these tips will help you stay top of mind with your subscribers, grow stronger relationships with them faster and can even get your message in front of more eyes by using lookalike audiences on Facebook. Tips for Facebook Ads We’re obviously excited about the new Facebook Audience features available in Benchmark Email. However, we also took some time to compile some stats for you on Facebook Ads. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but when it comes to Facebook Ads, images account for 75 to 90 percent of an ads effectivity and performance. Keep it short and simple. An ad title is most effective at just four words and it only grows to 15 words when it comes to your link description. When it comes to using video in a Facebook Ad, you have to get to your point quickly. According to Facebook, 47 percent of the value from your video comes from the first three seconds. Wordstream conducted research to determine the average Cost Per Click (CPC) and Click-Through Rate (CTR) for Facebook Ads. They determined that the CPC was $1.72 on average for Facebook Ads and that the CTR was 0.9%. These numbers are important when it comes to knowing how effective your own Facebook Ads are in comparison to other businesses. However, their importance really only factors into your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) for a new customer. You can use a Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics to track your entire conversion funnel. This will tell you what your CPA is for your Facebook Ads. If your Customer Lifetime Value is high, a higher CPC or CTR will be more acceptable for your business. Wrapping Up Like Captain Planet, your marketing efforts are most effective “by your powers combined” from all your marketing channels. Facebook Audiences let you easily combine your email marketing and Facebook Advertising efforts. It’s an incredibly effective strategy to better nurture relationships with your customers and subscribers. That’s why we’re all here, right? We\'ve put all this info into a helpful infographic as well. Share it up! Do you have tips for Facebook Ads? Share them in the comments below!


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The 4 Ways Your Email List Becomes Your Most Valuable Marketing Asset

The 4 Ways Your Email List Becomes Your Most Valuable Marketing Asset

Practical Marketer • December 19, 2018

Your email list is your most valuable marketing asset. There are a few reasons behind it. You’re not relying on a third party platform. Your business has been given permission by each individual to send them communications. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to nurture and grow a relationship with your customers and subscribers. You’re going to hear us say that a lot in 2019 and beyond. It is Benchmark Email’s mission in 2019 to further your understanding of how to make the most of your email list. To learn to love your list and the people on it. After all, it’s all about those relationships. What makes a great relationship? Trust and Respect. As a business, you understand that it’s a privilege to be allowed into a subscriber’s inbox. Don’t take advantage of it and your subscribers won’t be marking you as spam any time soon. Honesty and Forgiveness. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. That’s OK as long as you’re transparent about it. Share yourselves with your customers and they’ll buy into your brand story, warts and all. Thoughtfulness and Appreciation. You need to be doing customer-centric email marketing at all times. Understanding what problems you solve for your customers and what value you’re delivering to your subscribers’ inbox. Commitment and Appreciation. You need to send consistently and stick to what you promised on your signup forms. It’s also imperative to demonstrate how much you appreciate your subscribers for opting-in to receive your emails. Send them targeted, relevant content that will help them get the most out of your emails. When it comes to making the most of your most valuable marketing asset, your email list, we’ve identified four topics we’ll be focusing on: 1. Growing a List When it comes to growing your email list, it’s important to focus on covering all the potential touchpoints you have with customers and leads. You also want to make sure you’re attracting individuals who want to hear from your brand to your email list. Growing your list is also about timing. It’s about knowing where to put a signup form on a page and which pages to put them on and even what offline opportunities could lead to list growth. Here are many of the touchpoints you should be considering for list growth: Your homepage Your blog The other highly trafficked pages on your website Social Media Over the phone In-store At events Print ads It’s also about knowing what to promise your subscribers. Give them an incentive to signup. 2. Managing a List Learning how to properly sort and segment your list to make sure you’re sending targeted, relevant campaigns will be a difference maker for your business. Not ever subscriber is the same. They have different needs and interests. Being able to meet them on their level and provide the specific information that each subscriber desires will help your business thrive. Here are some of the ways in which you can segment your email lists to provide more relevant content: Gender Location Industry Job role Purchase history Website activity Email engagememt 3. Securing a List In 2019 and beyond, data security is going to be important. We’ll help you make sure your list is safe. That means that you can require anyone who attempts to export a list from your account to enter a PIN. It also means that your data is stored in our top-of-the line secure servers and that we abide by all data protection regulations such as GDPR. 4. Monetizing a List While we believe you should be doing customer-centric marketing versus constant selling, we understand that everyone’s goal at the end of the day is to make money. We’ll show you how. Using tools such as automation, you can help deliver more personal, relevant content to each subscriber. Benchmark Email also makes it easy for you to test your emails with A/B testing and by reviewing your reports. See what is and isn’t working in your email campaigns. This lets you focus on continuous improvement for your email campaigns. Wrapping Up To learn more about how you can grow, manage, secure and monetize your list, check out our book, Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer. It’s full of tips and examples for how you can achieve those four goals for your business. Do you have tips on any of these aspects of your email list? Share them in the comments below!


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eCommerce Email Marketing Integrations Perfect for Black Friday & Cyber Monday

eCommerce Email Marketing Integrations Perfect for Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Practical Marketer • November 21, 2018

You’re leaving a lot of money on the table if your business isn’t engaging in Black Friday or Cyber Monday promotions. In 2017, U.S. retailers saw a record $7.9 billion spent on Black Friday. They added another $6.6 billion in online sales on Cyber Monday, which was a new record high for online shopping in a single day. Sales aside, the number of people participating in Black Friday, 133.7 Million, is more than those who attend Disneyland (20.4 million). So, we can see that the opportunity is there for sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The Case for Integrating eCommerce and Email Marketing First, let’s look at why email marketing can be one of your most effective tools during Black Friday and Cyber Monday: There’s an 106 percent increase in customer reactivation on Black Friday when compared to every other day of the year. On Black Friday, open rates (309 percent increase) and click-through rates (455 percent boost) explode in comparison to standard bulk email sends. Using email automation and a sequence of three emails can lead to an increase in orders to the tune of 90 percent. Email marketing led to the highest conversion rate (4.29 percent) on Black Friday in comparison to other marketing channels: search (3.04 percent), direct mail (2.39 percent) and social media (1.81 percent). It’s hard to argue with the numbers in favor of sending email marketing campaigns for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Let’s take it a step further and talk about why integrating your eCommerce tool can be even more effective this holiday season. Integrating with any third-party tool or app is a great way to grow your email list. However, when you can sync your email marketing and eCommerce, you’ll be able to get more data on your subscribers. This will lead to a better relationship with the contacts on your email list. After all, the ability to send targeted, relevant content has a major impact on the success of email marketing. That comes from properly segmented lists, which is best achieved when you have sufficient data on your subscribers. How much more effective are segmented email campaigns? Open rates for segmented email campaigns are 14.32 percent higher than their counterparts. Additionally, segmented email campaigns see an increase in click-throughs of 100.95 percent in comparison to non-segmented email campaigns. Your email list is your most valuable marketing asset. Especially when you can segment it in a way that allows you to send the best possible content to each and every subscriber. That’s how long-standing, meaningful customer relationships are nurtured. eCommerce Data You Can Use to Segment Your Black Friday & Cyber Monday Email Campaigns There is a ton of data that you can use to segment your Black Friday and Cyber Monday email marketing campaigns, when you integrate your eCommerce Store. First Time Customers If a subscriber is a new customer, they may not have had much of an interaction with your brand before. So, this is your chance to make a first impression and greet them with a warm welcome. A Welcome Email campaign should be standard for any email marketer. It sets the tone for your email marketing and let’s new subscribers know what to expect. This can be automated so that every single new subscriber to your list gets the same greeting. This welcome email from Ancestry.com does a great job of greeting new customers. It eases anxiety by informing them that it’s simple to get started and backing that up by showing them clearly what the steps are to do so. It also does a good job at maintaining their branding. For the holiday season, you can get your Welcome Emails into the holiday spirit with some simple design or template tweaks. You can even offer a discount for all purchases made before or during the holiday season! Repeat Customers Did you know that it costs fives times more to acquire a new customer than to get repeat business? If you know that you have recurring customers, you can create an email sequence that supports their repeat business. For example, Amazon and other retailers often offer a subscription plan for products you consistently use. Things like toilet paper and paper towels, bottles of water or anything else you always use. Those retailers offer a small discount when you create a subscription for those products. By being able to sync your eCommerce data with your email marketing tool, you have easy access to your repeat customers and can create campaigns dedicated to them. Top Purchasers or VIP Customers based on Milestone Sales or Order Numbers For Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can reward your loyal customers. First, segment your email list from your eCommerce customers to discover your top purchasers. Then, you can create a loyalty reward campaign and send it to that list! What can you reward them with? Maybe it’s early access to your holiday sale or an exclusive sale just for them! It could even be a special discount just for your loyal customers. This Cyber Monday email from Wigs.com offers a discount to the members of their Loyalty Program. It even denotes their current status in their program and the points available to them. Make your loyal customers feel special and they will reward you with their continued business. Location Sometimes, you want to use a few fields as possible on your signup forms. That means you don’t always get location data from the get go. However, if you integrate your eCommerce data with your email marketing account, you can get location data in that manner. If you’re a restaurant with multiple locations or any other business with several brick and mortar locations, you can use your location data to send targeted email campaigns this Black Friday or Cyber Monday. This email from Kate Spade promotes their new line of bags and let’s their subscribers know the closest location to them. For your Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns, you can promote your sales for the day and let your subscribers know where they can go to take advantage of the promo. It’s especially an effective strategy if you’re offering an exclusive giveaway to the first 100 customers through the door on Black Friday. Inactive Customers Subscribers go inactive sometimes and so do your customers. Email marketing affords you an opportunity to re-engage those customers who haven’t come back for more in a while. There are a few tactics you can try to re-engage an inactive customer: Tell them you’re going to remove them from your list. Remind them that being on the list gives them access to sales and promotions and other great information. They can choose to opt back into your email campaigns and not miss out on your Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. Incentivize re-engagement. Tell your customers that they’re missed and offer a small incentive to make a new purchase. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday on the horizon, you can give them an offer for Free Shipping or a percentage off their next order to bring that customer back into the fold. Send a poll or survey. If a customer hasn’t returned in a while, you can ask them why. You can even get creative with it. Tell them you’re putting together a gift giving guide for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and ask questions about how they’re purchasing for and various interests. This will give you great data and feedback for your holiday campaigns. Shopping Cart Abandonment It’s reported that between 50 and 80 percent of consumers leave items in their online shopping cart. That’s a lot of potential sales! Perhaps some of your subscribers didn’t convert after your Black Friday sales. It happens. It’s OK. You have a chance to complete the conversion on Cyber Monday. If you segment your eCommerce data by the abandoned shopping cart list, you can send a cart abandonment email to them for Cyber Monday. First Time, Last Time and Item (Last Time) Email marketing helps stimulate repeat business and you can keep customers in the purchase cycle with well-timed emails. One way to do this is by keeping purchase history data. With an eCommerce integration, you can see the first time or last time a customer made a purchase and send campaigns based on that information. This data can help show you when it might be time for a customer to come back for more. After all, a well-timed email with the right message is when email marketing is working at its best. How to Integrate Your Benchmark Email Account with WooCommerce Benchmark has many eCommerce integrations, perhaps none more powerful than our WooCommerce integration. All of the data points detailed above can be synced with your email marketing account to guarantee real-time, up-to-date data. You can learn more about our WooCommerce eCommerce integration in this helpful FAQ. Wrapping Up For Black Friday and Cyber Monday and holidays throughout the year, you can use your eCommerce data to send better, more targeted email marketing campaigns. Now that you know that strategies that you can put into action, we’ve also got free holiday email templates to help you along the way. Do you have any tips on integrating eCommerce and email marketing or for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Share them in the comments below!


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Free Holiday Email Templates

Free Holiday Email Templates

Practical Marketer • November 7, 2018

The season to be jolly is right around the corner! That’s right! Holiday cups are back at Starbucks, Christmas music is already playing in every store you walk into. Decorations are right around the corner. It always feels too early to start celebrating the holidays, but it’s never too early to plan your holiday email marketing. After all, email marketing accounts for 20 percent of holiday sales, according to Mailcharts. Holiday Email Templates Who doesn’t enjoy spreading some holiday cheer? Benchmark Email helps you get your email marketing in the holiday spirit with dozens of festive holiday email templates. Here are some things to keep in mind when using a holiday email template: Stay true to your branding. Don’t make your logo a color your subscribers have never seen it before, just to match the holiday motif. Same goes for buttons and other colors that are consistent across your email campaigns. Dress it up for the holidays, but don’t become something unrecognizable to your subscribers. Keep it simple. Don’t overdo it. You don’t want to be the house on the block with lights covering every square inch of the exterior and lawn with lights. You can’t look at that house without sunglasses. Don’t limit it to the template. Extend the holiday cheer to your subject line as well. That way it won’t be a surprise when your subscribers open your holiday email. Don’t just promote your sales. Promote your products too. A common mistake many businesses make is to only inform their subscribers of their promotions. That assumes they know everything you offer. Be sure to highlight your products too. The promo and the product together are the knockout combo you want. Templates To Automate Aside from the great holiday email templates available to you, we’ve also created strategy templates to let you automate your holiday email marketing. You can send a promotion and follow-up with your subscribers based on if they opened the email, clicked a link or visited a specific page on your website. Don’t wait for 2018 to take your email marketing to the next level. Get a head start on your New Year’s resolution and close out 2017 strong. We also put together some tips and ideas for your Christmas and Chanukah marketing campaigns to be automated. Holiday Email Marketing Tips Now that you know how to pick the right template and what to do with it, let’s look at some strategies and suggestions for your holiday email marketing campaigns. Make A Plan Everything will go smoother for your holiday email marketing if you start with a good plan. Holiday emails campaigns sent in the first half of November tend to get the best open rates, according to GoDaddy. The first step in creating a holiday email marketing plan is to know which holidays you should be creating campaigns for. These are the big ones: Thanksgiving, November 22 Black Friday, November 23 Small Business Saturday, November 24 Cyber Monday, November 26 Giving Tuesday, November 27 Hanukkah, December 2-10 Christmas, December 25 Figure out which of those holidays make sense for your business. Don’t contort to uncomfortable, Stretch Armstrong-esque lengths to make all of these holidays work for your brand. You may also not have the time or resources to do campaigns for all of them. Be reasonable and focus on the ones that will work best for your goals. What emails should you be sending for any (or all) of these holidays? A sequence of three emails is your best bet for successful holiday email marketing: First, you should send an email to announce your holiday promotion. You can send this up to two weeks prior to your sale. Next, you’ll want to send a reminder for your holiday promotion. If you sent the first one two weeks out, the follow-up email should go out a week later (one week before your sale). Lastly, you should send an email the day off the promotion. This one should really create some urgency and get your subscribers to act now. Segment Your List(s) Relevance is key with any emails you send, but especially so with your holiday email marketing. Most inboxes are even more crowded during the holiday season making it all the more important to stand out. Email list segmentation or targeted emailing are your best bets for sending targeted, relevant content to your subscribers. You can use purchase history, click history, demographic or location data to sort your list in order to send the best possible content to each subscriber. Holiday Email Marketing Content Ideas Giving gifts to our loved ones can be difficult. We want to give them something that will feel personal and picked out just for them. But where to start? Many businesses create gift guides to help their subscribers choose the right gift for everyone on their list. One way to create a gift guide is to sort it by price. Here’s a holiday email campaign from Bed, Bath & Beyond that sorts their campaign into sections by cost. It makes it easy to find the right item for everything from office holiday parties to something for your loved ones. Another way to organize your gift guide is by who the gift is for. It can be gifts for him or her, your kids, parents, etc. If you sell products for kids big and small, you can even create a gift guide sorted by age groups, from newborns to those of us with an inner child that still burns strong. This holiday email from Target shows how you can make it easy to find gifts for all your nieces, nephews, sons and daughters. Outside of gift guides, there are plenty of other holiday sales you can use email marketing to promote. Some companies offer a special gift to the first group of customers through the door in the morning. For some businesses, this results in customers camping out to receive the free giveaway! What better social media buzz than a line of anxious customers braving the elements to come to your store. This Black Friday from Chan Luu executes this strategy well: Other than giving customers a percentage off their total, you can also offer free shipping for your online shoppers. That’s what J Crew did with a recent Cyber Monday campaign: J Crew also creates a sense of urgency by telling their subscribers that free shipping deal is for that day only. One additional way to boost your holiday email marketing efforts is to include a charitable component with your promotions. If all of the proceeds from certain items or total sales are donated to charity, it increases the likelihood that a subscriber will make a purchase. PayPal itself wanted to inspire everyone to donate to charities during the holiday season. They announced that PayPal would add 1% to any donation made to a charity during the month of December. In 2017, more than $8.5 billion was donated through PayPal, in part due to this holiday promotion. Share Your Tips Have you run a successful holiday email marketing campaign in the past? Or maybe a favorite one you’ve received? Share your tips in the comments. We love to hear them!


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Marketers Share Why Benchmark is the One

Marketers Share Why Benchmark is the One

Beyond • October 30, 2018

We appreciate the marketers who use Benchmark Email for many reasons. Helping businesses grow is an honor we do not take lightly. That sometimes business owners and marketers take the time to sing our praises and let us know how they\'re thriving with email marketing swells our hearts with joy. We\'ve said it before and we\'ll say it a million more times: thank you for choosing Benchmark Email. Speaking of picking us... :) Here is why some of our favorite businesses in the Philippines chose Benchmark Email: Mansmith & Fielders Customer Support is Superb. Benchmark has a local team that we can depend on for any of our concerns. Though Benchmark has 24/7 chat and email support, having local representatives that we can talk to and serves as our account manager is what we love most. We are very happy that they always join our quarterly planning sessions. Who would do that extended support? Functional Features.  The first thing that you will look for any tool is its features, right? The good thing is it has useful features that you can use for your email marketing. We are very happy to see the analytics in the email reports which helps our marketing team improve our contents. Easy, and fun to use. Of course, we don\'t want to have a boring job and imagine making hundreds, or thousands of emails, we all get bored with that. With this platform making templates is easier. There comes the time that your brain can\'t function well, but don\'t worry because we got you on that. Benchmark has their ready-made templates for all occasions. You can do everything to make your email to look more interesting than before. Flexible Payment Terms. As for the pricing, for us, it’s no brainer that it\'s the least we think of because we are getting way more than what we are paying for. When it comes to email marketing, we can proudly say that Benchmark is like our soul mate, our perfect partner for our business. Benchmark indeed delivers its promise, which is to connect with our customers regularly. We could come up with a longer list on what we love about Benchmark, but we would rather encourage you to experience it yourselves. Mae Naval - Marketing Manager One of the most important tasks in a business is finding and dealing with increasing customers. This is just one task that I am talking about. There\'s a lot more so you need to plan carefully and manage your time effectively. And most marketers technique is to use email marketing software. Email marketing will be an easy task if you know the ins and outs of the tool or software that you are using and for me, that will be Benchmark. Yes, BENCHMARK. I love the mission of Benchmark which focuses on customer engagement. If you own a business, this should be your priority because, without this, your business will not have any potential to grow and move forward. Let me tell you three reasons why I like Benchmark. 1.) Easy Navigation. Benchmark provides a clear analytics interface.  Admit it! Not everyone is tech savvy and has mastered everything that goes on on the internet. You need something that you can easily understand and navigate. 2.) Well-designed templates. If you are looking to attract your prospective clients, you should be able to deliver your message in a professional way. Templates help us to make that easier and since it is well-designed, it turns out to be effective especially for sending newsletters. 3.) Support. Who doesn\'t like a knowledgeable and responsive customer service? At one point, there will still be questions that will pop out of your mind and you need somebody who can answer you. That is what you will get with Benchmark. In addition to that, having someone that recognizes and answers your reviews about their service is also a good thing about Benchmark. And the biggest advantage Benchmark has in the Philippines is that they are the only US-based email software who has a local presence. Having a local expert in email marketing is way so helpful and they even conduct a free weekly workshop. How cool is that? Another one reason why I like Benchmark is they\'re free (another free, huh!) to create your account and gather up to 2000 subscribers. Who doesn\'t love free stuff? I mentioned that I will tell you only three reasons to like Benchmark but I guess there’s so much more because their local representatives are very forthcoming in educating marketers. And very patient for beginners. They really walk you through each step of the way to becoming a pro. Cathy Sipoy - NPS Realty Most, if not all businesses, use email marketing in one form or another nowadays. It is making yourself aware that \"hey, I am here, and I am willing to do business with you\". The potential in email marketing is so huge since the email itself is already a publicity. As they say, negative publicity is still publicity. There will be some who will be encouraged to read a part or your whole email and the primary goal of email marketing is to create awareness. A lot of companies nowadays get the help of marketing firms to ensure this way of advertisement is tapped and maximized. Benchmark, an email tool can help businesses in a lot of ways from enhancing repeat sales, promotional emails, customer engagement and increasing your subscription base. Don\'t get me wrong, these features are also available with other providers, so what sets Benchmark apart? Not all businesses, especially start-ups, are willing to spend an additional amount for something that is very hard to measure until they get to test the waters. That is one risk in email marketing, the results are difficult to quantify especially for first-timers. This is where Benchmark helps your business grow. They offer a free plan for a maximum of 2,000 subscribers per month, yes, you read that right first-timer, two thousand emails without leaving a single penny on the table. Challenge with free plans though are, it is very limited, so what do you get with Benchmark’s $0.00 subscription? Not much actually. You will just get access to their email editor (insanely simple and easy to use as they say); signup forms; drip campaigns; RSS email campaigns; Email Delivery Management; Google Analytics Tracking; List Management and Segments; and, List Hygiene. I do not think you will get that elsewhere. Let me share why the features of Benchmark’s free plan is very useful from start-ups to mid-size businesses. For new businesses, hiring an expert to do email marketing and design will prove costly. Just knowing that anyone with basic computer skills can do it using Benchmark’s tools, is a sigh of relief while you’re busy making your mark in the business world. That is aside from the fact that the email templates don’t need tinkering even if it is seen thru a desktop, laptop or other mobile devices. One of the many great features is the drag and drop email designer. Who says you need expertise in coding to create an email design? With this feature you will be able to customize your email newsletter as easy as 1 2 3. On top of that, it comes with a photo editor, so you don’t have to purchase expensive software or hire a professional to do it for you. If you’re too busy to create your own email designs, you can always use Benchmark’s email templates which comes in different styles and formats to suit your business needs. If you are knowledgeable in HTML, the free plan also has a Code Editor. You can build your own email template or edit an existing one with the help of this. So much for just one system, right? You can integrate Benchmark with your CRM, CMS, Email accounts, social media and other customer-sourcing channels. Integrating Benchmark with other apps and systems will help maximize your email marketing campaign and boost audience engagement. You can create surveys and polls in the free plan. This will enable you to gather insights from your customers which will help in your product research and development. It also gives you the chance to retain customers who voiced out their frustration with your products and services. That is customer service 101! Signup forms is another feature from the free plan as it enables you to embed forms or pop-ups for customers to fill from your website to your Facebook page. You can save images and videos too! Benchmark enables you to store your files which makes it easy for you to access and use it anytime. Very convenient, right? One of the most important features you get is their built-in analytics tracking. You will be able to get the success rate of your email campaigns. Benchmark provide reports that will help you recognize which of your campaign works and which doesn’t. This also helps you identify areas and campaigns that need improvement. These are just a few of the features you get from it. There are a lot more from it that will definitely help your business thrive. Benchmark is one of the best email marketing platforms for me as it is a tailor-fit for my business needs; cost-effective; helps me make the most out of my email marketing campaign and absolutely user-friendly. Deljane Querijero - Freelance Marketer Benchmark, one of the slickest-looking email marketing platform with very user-friendly features,  is hitting all the industry benchmarks and more. Benchmark is an automation pro. It allows you to send automated emails according to “triggers” set by the user. Follow-ups are customized based on engagement so you never lose that “human touch.” Their email designer is one of the most user-friendly and intuitive email editors ever. It’s all drag and drop, coupled with some live editing. Let’s not forget that your email will always be optimized, regardless of what device the user is viewing it in. They make good on their promise to dress your emails for success! Benchmarks can be your CRM so you don’t have to purchase a separate CRM. They make growing and nurturing your audience and leads easy with their list building, custom sign-up forms and list management tool. They also add the ability to run beautifully composed polls and surveys, so you don’t have to invest in a separate survey tool. Analytics ensure that you, as a marketing professional, always makes informed decisions. It takes out the guesswork and having to rely on gut feel. Benchmark offers AB Testing, an Inbox Checker and Reporting features to track your campaign’s progress in real time. Benchmark can be integrated with more than 300 apps! Migrating can be a pain when you switch platforms but Benchmark makes it easy for you. Finally, let’s talk about pricing. First, the free plan offers 50% of what the paid plan does. 50%?! I know right! The last time I saw a free plan that offered that much features was ...never? Second, the price range for the paid plan from $14/mo to $28/mo. Those are prices that definitely play nice with freelancers, sole entrepreneurs and small business owners. Benchmark is easily one of the best email marketing platforms in the market today. It’s user-friendly, offers a host of features in its free plan and has a very nice looking interface. Email marketing, when done right, can renew your faith in modern marketing. And in case you have no idea how to do it the right way, let me give you a great tip - let Benchmark show you how. The Benchmark Email review at emailvendorselection.com echos that exactly. These guys know a lot about different systems – and even side by side they were very surprised by the onboarding support and step by step guide to getting started. And the chat support. Even after just starting with the tool got it up and running so quickly. (the first email created from scratch in 5 minutes).

What the email review liked: 24/7 real user support. Chat phone and email, even for free users. The image editor is amazing fun One of the cheapest email autoresponders Free small business CRM functions The Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) The Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), Inc. is a non-stock and non-profit organization of tour operators and allied members who actively involved in the advocacy of responsible tourism. PHILTOA was founded on 12 June 1986 and with almost 400 members which includes travel agencies, hotels, resorts, transportation companies, handicraft stores, and other tourism-oriented establishments and associations. PHILTOA is the largest organization accredited enterprise by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and they are the organizer of the annual Philippine Travel Mart (PTM), the biggest and longest-running travel trade exhibition in the Philippines. PTM aims to get more Filipinos to engage in local tourism by promoting ways to enjoy the beautiful, scenic, and exciting Philippines. PHILTOA also provides all their members educational workshops and events through their 4P Seminar program. PHILTOA: Partnering for Professionalism and Progress In cooperation with Benchmark Email, one of the partners of PHILTOA, the members are entitled with a series of workshops on how to effectively engage with their customers. The workshop covers the following: The Complete Guide To Email Marketing For Customer Engagement? How To Build and Grow Your Database? How To Create An Email Marketing Plan? As a prime example, PHILTOA sends a monthly newsletter campaign to their members to disseminate circulars and important announcements. PHILTOA likewise post archive newsletters sent through Benchmark in their website so that members can easily access. As delightedly shared by Mr. Ryan Meimban, the Marketing Head of PHILTOA, “using Benchmark has been beneficial for our organization as it serves as a bridge in tracking that all our members have received and read our circulars and announcements. It may sound funny but sometimes, our members claim that they did not receive anything from us but we can easily track it through the report in our Benchmark account. Most of our members take a traditional approach in reaching their customers, they just want to send their promo packages through regular email and no tracking. That’s why whenever they attend our quarterly workshops, it’s always a new learning for them.  As such, Benchmark is indeed a very important part of our organization. We are very thankful that they have an office and representatives here in the Philippines which assist not just us but also to all our members who use Benchmark.”


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We Wrote a Book! Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer

We Wrote a Book! Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer

Beyond • October 23, 2018

We spend a lot of time on the Benchmark Blog, in our emails, on chat, the phones and email helping businesses do their email marketing. You’d think we’d be pretty good about practicing what we preach, right? Well, full transparency here. When going through our new book, Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer, we had to admit that even we could be a bit clueless from time to time. It happens to the best of us. You see, we’re all clueless once in a while. After all, you have to start somewhere. We’re not born knowing everything, as much as some of us would like to think otherwise (just me?!). The book contains seven quick and easy strategies for nurturing relationships with your email list. After all, it’s your most valuable marketing asset! Here’s what you have to look forward to when you download Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer: Grow Your Email List This chapter talks about how to grow your most valuable marketing asset: your email list. The first step in doing growing your email list is understanding all the off touchpoints where you have an opportunity to do so. Here are all the touchpoints we discuss how you can go about growing your list: Homepage Blog Other high trafficked pages Social Media Over the phone In-store/on-location Events Print Ads The next step in growing your list is getting your timing right. Timing comes down to where you place your signup forms on your page and whether you use things like pop-up signup forms or exit-intent signup forms. The last step for growing your list is the words you use in your signup forms. It’s important to know what voice to use, what incentive to offer and how to craft a compelling Call To Action (CTA). Learn how to grow your email list when you download Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer. Know Your Subscribers Once you’ve done all the work to bring in as many subscribers as possible, it’s time to gain an understanding of them. After all, it’s important to remember that there’s a person behind every email address. Even some of the more clueless email marketers have at least heard of list segmentation. This chapter focuses on the ways you can do that both from the start using signup form data and then after signup using their engagement history. Opportunities for segmentation during signup: Gender Location Industry Job Role More! How you can segment based on interests: Purchase history Website activity Clicking habits More! You can also create a preference center to allow your subscribers to segment themselves and choose what types of communications they want to receive from you. This chapter also discusses proper email list hygiene. That includes actions like list verification and creating a re-engagement campaign and then ultimately removing inactive subscribers. Learn what it takes to deliver relevant content to your subscribers when you download Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer. Use New Tools and Technology Growing your list and caring for it is important. As we already mentioned, your list is your most valuable marketing asset. After that, it’s time to expand your horizons beyond the basics with email marketing. Some tools and features we believe you need to be taking advantage of: Marketing automation Targeted Emailing A/B Testing Integrations These are features that will save you time, foster better relationships with your contacts, improve your sales and make you a better email marketer overall. Learn how to take advantage of every aspect of email marketing when you download Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer. Create Better Content If you’re not ready to try the more advanced features, though we believe Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer makes it possible to do so, you can focus on improving the content of the emails you are already sending. Or at least try sending some new types of email marketing campaigns. Here are some of the types of email campaigns you should be sending: Welcome Emails Promo Emails Follow-up Emails Newsletters Value Emails Product Education Emails Survey Emails Testimonial Emails Special Occasion and Holiday Emails Aside from the types of emails, you can create to better your email marketing, you can also work to improve the content of those emails. Focus on writing better subject lines and on including better topics within the email itself. You can also work on kicking the design of your emails up a notch. Learn how to send more quality emails when you download Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer. Get Better Information from Subscribers Hopefully, by now, you’re starting to understand how important it is to nurture your relationships with the contacts on your email list. The best way to do that is by doing customer-centric email marketing. To achieve customer-centric email marketing, you need to learn as much as possible about the subscribers on your list. One great way to get some more intel on your subscribers is to simply ask them. Groundbreaking, we know. Sending polls and surveys is an excellent way to gain some insight into your contacts. Here are some additional free resources where you can seek out information on your subscribers: Social media Niche blogs Discussion forums Q&A sites Amazon reviews Video sharing communities Newsletters Search engines eBooks, manuals and guides Case studies Support documentation Learn how to effectively gain important data on your subscribers via polls, surveys and free resources when you download Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer. Understand Your Reports By this point, we’ve discussed how effectively nurture relationships with your email list by growing it, learning from it and sending better content to it. Is it working? That’s where your reports come in. Your reports are the clues you need to become a better email marketer. You can look at these elements of your reports to see what is (or isn’t) working for your email marketing: Open rate Click-through rate Opens by hour Unsubscribe and abuse Use this information to see areas that need improvement and what tactics you should be doing more of. Learn how to turn your report data into a better email marketing strategy when you download Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer. Seize Opportunities Carpe diem! Sometimes, it’s possible to tap into the zeitgeist with a timely email and it will get more attention from your subscribers. Holiday email marketing campaigns are one way to do this because everyone is focused on that day (and may even expect deals or sales around that holiday). Don’t be afraid to think big! Sometimes, the only limits to what we can achieve with email marketing are what we believe is possible. Give yourself some lofty goals and reverse engineer them to figure out the steps to work towards it. Learn how to take advantage of the right moment with the right message when you download Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer. Wrapping Up The ROI for email marketing is about $42 for every $1 spent. The value of email marketing cannot be understated. Trying something new can be intimidating. We get that and have been there. Nobody likes to feel like they’re clueless. That’s why we wrote the book, Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer. Everyone, even all of us here at Benchmark, had to start somewhere. That’s why we’re here to clue you in. Learn how you can quickly and easily turn your most valuable marketing asset, your email list, into relationships and sales when you download Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer.


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Discover the Value of Each Subscriber in Your List

Discover the Value of Each Subscriber in Your List

Beyond • October 22, 2018

Not all email marketing subscribers are created equal. Contact A: Has come to your website after visiting several other competitors. They see your popup signup form that boasts a 20% off discount for new subscribers. They signup just in case, but they haven’t made a decision yet about your business or any other one. After opt-in, they aren’t really paying much attention to your emails. Contact B: Has already done their research. They even have a recommendation or referral about your business. They’re confident you’re the solution for what they seek. They might just be waiting to save some more money, for a holiday bonus or any other number of reasons. They signup, because they want to hear more from you. Emails from you are almost always opened. Do you think it pays to communicate to those two subscribers in the same manner? It’s not rhetorical. The answer is no. If you were to continue on sending to Contact A, the same way you were sending to Contact B, it would eventually affect your deliverability. Inbox clients pay attention to when you’re continually sending to inactive subscribers and will act accordingly. For that reason alone, knowing how important each individual subscriber is to your business has incredible value. Enter Benchmark Email’s brand new Contact Rating system. What is the Contact Ratings System? Contact Rating is a way of telling how engaged your subscribers are with your email campaigns. Aside from seeing who is interacting with the emails you send, contact rating is also beneficial because it allows you to segment your emails based on the subscriber’s rating. Ratings can go from 0 stars, meaning they’re a new subscriber who you haven’t sent to yet, to one star, meaning they’ve received an email, but haven’t clicked or opened, and 2-5, which show how engaged that contact is with your emails. The rating is based off of your previous 90 days of sending. You can improve your email’s deliverability (and do some awesome strategies we’ll get into shortly), with the Contact Rating system. You can segment your emails on the fly using the rating system and separate the low rated contacts (0-2) from the highly rated ones (3-5). To learn more about Contact Rating, you can check out our helpful FAQ. Now that you know how to segment based on Contact Rating, let’s look at how you can put it to use: Create a Loyalty Program for Your Highest Rated Subscribers On average, it costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep the ones you already have. That’s why a customer loyalty program is a good strategy for any business. Knowing how important customer retention is, making your subscribers feel special with a loyalty program is an essential part of nurturing positive customer relationships with email marketing. How can you do it? Create Special Sales or Events Exclusive to Your Highest Rated Contacts To make your loyal subscribers feel special, creating an heir of exclusivity can go a long ways. It can be a single day or a week-long affair, but the idea is to generate some excitement and to make your loyal contacts feel appreciated. Think about how Amazon handles Prime Day. It’s 24+ hours of new deals occurring throughout the day. It incentives Prime members to return all day and night to see the new deals that have opened up. This Amazon Prime Day email lets you know only a select group gets to enjoy the benefits and it creates a sense of urgency. It’s sure to result in plenty of repeat business. Give Loyal Customers a Say Aside from showing your customers that you appreciate them by giving them discounts and access to special sales, asking for their feedback is another way to show your contacts that they’re valued. I play fantasy football with my friends. I’m in a handful of leagues. Recently, Yahoo emailed me to tell me that as one of their more active users for fantasy football, they wanted to know if I’d be interested in participating in a survey about their services. Of course I was. I wanted to feel like I had a say in what was happening. They even sweetened the deal by offering a gift card as a token of their gratitude. They remind me that it’s only for me, which gives it that level of exclusivity as well. It’s a simple, plain text email. It doesn’t look great. However, it did get me to complete the survey as they requested. Re-engage Your Lowest Rated Contacts Inactive subscribers happen. There are various reasons a subscribe doesn’t engage with your emails. Perhaps they’re traveling or they’re busy. Maybe they already made a purchase and don’t need your emails any more. Or it could be that they just don’t see the value in what you’re sending. It could be any of those reasons or none of them. Why it happens is a topic for another blog. For now, we’ll focus on what you can to to re-engage them when it happens. Tell Them You’re Going to Remove Them Everyone wants what they can’t have. Telling your subscribers that you’re going to remove them from your list, unless they opt back into your list is a good way to re-engage your inactive subscribers. It may make them realize they do want to hear from you, or let you know that they’ve just been too busy to engage. If you do this, it’s important to toe the line of desperation and creepiness and just let them know that you’ll stop dropping by their inbox unless they say otherwise. This re-engagement email from Sidekick, now known as HubSpot Sales Tools, does a really great job of being friendly and understanding, while staying on brand and not over-stepping. Incentivize Re-engagement Sometimes, it just takes a friendly nudge to re-engage an inactive subscriber. Say something like “we miss you” and offer a small discount to get them in the door. There is a lot of competition in most industries these days. If you’re not staying top of mind, you’re going to be forgetting. Giving a little reminder can help you bring back lost business. Pinkberry does a nice job with this re-engagement email for their loyal customers with a Pinkcard who haven’t been around in a while. That they put an expiration on it, creates a sense of urgency and ensures the customer comes back soon. Additional Re-engagement Strategies Much like rewarding your engaged contacts by listening to them, you can ask for feedback from your inactive ones. Give them a chance to tell you what they’d have liked to be receiving from you, rather than the content they’ve been ignoring. Their passion for what they don’t like can be a lesson to you as well. You can also try to throw a hail mary. After all, they’re already inactive. If they decide to unsubscribe at that point, it will make little difference. Has there been an idea for an email campaign you’ve always wanted to do, but have been too nervous to try? Use it as a re-engagement campaign. Do something bold (yet appropriate) to catch their attention and you may even learn a new tactic you can use with your engaged customers. Wrapping Up Whether you have two or two million subscribers, it’s important to know what not all contacts have the same value to your business. Thankfully, the new Contact Rating System from Benchmark makes it easy for you to see which contacts are engaged (and which ones aren’t).


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The Do’s and Don’ts of Engagement Tracking

The Do’s and Don’ts of Engagement Tracking

Practical Marketer • October 12, 2018

You’ve probably been the beneficiary of engagement tracking before and didn’t even realize it. Have you ever been doing some late night online shopping, but avoid the impulse purchase and go to bed only to wake up the next morning with an email for a discount on the product you were viewing the night before? That’s engagement tracking at work! Email marketing is all about nurturing relationships with your most valuable marketing asset: your contact list. For many of those contacts on your email list, that relationship began at the moment they opted-in through one of your signup forms on your website, social media pages, in-store or at events. It’s important to remember that while you may have a one-size-fits-all signup form on your homepage or elsewhere, that not all subscribers are created equal. There are real people on the other side of those email addresses. Those individuals have their own wants and needs. The problems they seek your products or services to solve will also vary. When it comes to email marketing, relevance is the key to your success. The ability to follow-up with subscribers based on their interests and engagements with your email campaigns and website is how you can achieve relevance and it will help you nurture better relationships. Engagement tracking, that begins at the signup form, will help you follow-up with the right subscriber at the right time, with the right message. When done correctly, engagement tracking will help your subscribers feel seen by you. Their needs will be met. The emails they read will be relevant. Value delivered. However, there are some engagement tracking don’t to add to the mix. Here are the Do’s and Don’ts of engagement tracking, as well as how you can do engagement tracking with Benchmark Email: The Do’s of Engagement Tracking Engagement tracking can help you nurture relationships with your customers when done properly. There are some very simple “do’s” that you can put into action that will help those relationships flourish. Do: Be Transparent Transparency begins directly on the signup form. Tell your subscribers what they can expect from your emails right there on the form. This includes the type of content they should expect and how often they should expect to hear it. Let them know that you’re going to send them information related to their interests. Granted, this example from the New York Times is likely for several different lists, but the points still stand. They tell you what kind of content to expect to receive and how often they will receive it. If that’s too much copy to put on your signup form, which it very well might be, you can continue to set expectations in your Welcome Email. If you’re crystal clear about what you’ll be sending your subscribers from the get-go, they won’t be surprised when they receive an email that speaks to their interests thanks to successful engagement tracking. Do: Send with Consistent Frequency It’s an email marketing best practice to send with enough frequency to stay top of mind with your subscribers. You want your company to be the first thing a subscriber thinks about when they’re in need of the types of goods or services you offer. Additionally, if your subscribers haven’t heard from you in a while, it may be odd if they visit a page and an automated communication is triggered. That’s when engagement tracking can start to feel like Big Brother. Here is a graph from databox that shows how often marketers are sending to their list: Do: Consider Your Subscriber’s Experience It’s important, when doing email marketing, to see things from your subscribers perspective. It’s easy to lose sight of things like the number of emails you’re sending and how having more than one automation created can result in an overflow of emails in your subscribers’ inbox. Sometimes, you’re too close to it to see you’re doing it. That’s why it’s helpful to have a friend or coworker who hasn’t helped create all your emails to signup to receive your emails as if they were new subscribers. Ask them questions to see what kind of experience they had with your emails. A potential email overload isn’t the only thing you should look out for on behalf of your customers. You should also create subscriber personas, to get to know who your subscribers are. Consider things like what their needs and wants are, where else they may be spending time online, the car they drive, etc. This will inform you of how to talk to your subscribers and what type of content you should be sending them. With all this information, you can do successful engagement tracking, because you know that you’re servicing your subscribers’ needs and not just your businesses’ desire to sell more. Do: Tell a Story Storytelling is one of the most effective marketing tactics around. The experience from your signup forms, welcome email, newsletters, website and other email communications to work together to tell one complete story. If the signup form is the “once upon a time” each subsequent email is another breadcrumb that leads your subscribe to their “happily ever after.” Let’s take a look at what that fairytale might look like for your business: A website visitor encounters your signup form. They see your promise to send relevant product updates and offers as well as a 10% off discount in exchange for signing up. They enter their information. An automated Welcome Email hits their inbox shortly thereafter. It should provide a warm greeting to them and continue to set expectations for what email communication from your business will be like. The Welcome Email should also include some resources to help them find their way. Information on various products, tutorials, etc. This is what brings them into the rest of the story. If they clicked through to your website and wound up checking out a specific product, you can follow up a few days later with another email sharing a few customer testimonials. Another chapter in the story you’re telling. If they open that email but have not yet made a purchase, you can follow up again with an email with a video showing how others have put that product to use. It continues to paint the picture of what they’re life will look like with that product. If that email gets opened, but it still didn’t do the trick to get the conversion, you can try sending another email reminding them that they have a 10% off discount to put to use. If they finally make a purchase, it’s the happily ever after you’re seeking. The Don’ts of Engagement Tracking Engagement tracking helps you create a one-to-one feel for your marketing. With engagement tracking, you can ensure you’re always sending timely and relevant communications that help to nurture your relationships with your subscribers. However, there are some “don’ts” that come with engagement tracking. Failure to avoid them will have your subscribers feeling like Big Brother is watching. Don’t: Do One-Size-Fits-All Emailing If you’re simply blasting out the same exact promos to your entire list, you’re not sending relevant emails. That one-size-fits-all approach will net you some sales because there is part of your list that message would be relevant to. However, the rest of your list won’t open, or click, on that email. They’ll go inactive, and if left on your list, will result in bounces and ultimately poor email delivery. According to the DMA, more than half of your subscribers will hit unsubscribe due to irrelevant emails: The good news is that you didn’t even need to let those subscribers become inactive in the first place. Follow the do’s listed above to use engagement tracking to send relevant emails to your subscribers. Don’t: Be Creepy When engagement tracking goes wrong, it can feel a bit creepy. Don’t be creepy. Here are a few things you can do to avoid the creep factor with engagement tracking: Don’t say things like “I noticed you…” and “since you click on…” That goes a little too far. You can send the follow-ups that were triggered by what you noticed or know that they clicked on, but don’t tell them that’s why you’re doing it. Use a send delay. Don’t send the follow-up email based on subscriber engagements immediately. They may start to look for the hidden cameras. Send a day or two later, so that they’ve had time to act without your next email, but not too far away that they’ve lost interest or moved on. Avoid leaving an automation running for too long unchecked. It’s important to check in with any engagement tracking-based automation you create. If it’s running for too long, chances for errors creep in. Your user experience may change on your website, or you may create an email at a different step in the journey that covers a similar topic. Things can go wrong or feel creepy when an automation isn’t working as planned. How to do Engagement Tracking with Benchmark Email With Automation Pro, you can do engagement tracking with ease. The first step is to ensure engagement tracking begins at your signup forms. Here’s a helpful FAQ on how to do it. Next, there is a strategy template waiting for you in Automation Pro called “Promote and Target Opens, Clicks and Website Engagement. This template helps you automate the follow-ups to your subscribers based on whether or not they’re interacting with your emails and what pages they’re viewing on your website. Putting this template to use will help you do engagement tracking with ease. If you have any questions, chat, call or email us!


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Illustrating the Career of His Dreams with Armando Veve

Illustrating the Career of His Dreams with Armando Veve

Beyond • October 5, 2018

You don\'t wind up on Forbes 30 Under 30 list by accident. It takes hard work, determination and talent. All three of which Armando Veve has in spades. Armando is a Philadelphia-based artist and illustrator. His work has been featured in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Wired and many more publications. He\'s also been awarded two gold medals from the Society of Illustrators, which is extra special given that it\'s voted on by his peers. It involves a lot of storytelling. It\'s kind of like I\'m writing. I\'m a writer, but I do it through pictures. We discussed how Armando got his start as an Illustrator, some projects he\'s had along the way and advice he has for wannabe illustrators. We also talked about the opportunities he has for his work to come off the page and into art galleries, which creates a new experience for the viewer. Lastly, Aramando clues us in as to what his future might hold. 2:37 - On what it means to be an illustrator 5:16 - Talking about beginning his career as an illustrator 13:24 - The purpose that print publications still serve 21:30 - When he knew his passion was a viable career option and advice for others looking to do it 27:10 - The New York Times cover story he said no to


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