A recently released study by Epsilon demonstrates that email is continuing to lead among all other online marketing channels to the point that last year\'s marketing budgets of many brands had up to 20% allocated to email marketing alone, and this figure is expected to increase by another 10% for 2014. This news comes along with the latest statistics on Return On Investment (ROI) that email marketers benefit from, with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reporting a $40 ROI for every $1! In an online universe where almost half of all promotional emails sent in 2013 have resulted in a conversion, can you afford to not be relying on email as the heart of your online marketing campaigns? 3 critical megaoptimization tips Follow these three critical tips to help you megaoptimize your campaign for smartphones: 1. Use short and concise subject lines - The subject line shown in a notification title can be pretty short on most devices. Even if the users have a mail client open, the subject space is very brief unless the device is in landscape mode. Limit your subject to about 55 characters or less to make sure your subscribers get the full message instead of trying to guess what that truncated line is all about. 2. Have a good place for subscribers to visit - Get rid of any Flash landing pages and make sure your website loads and renders fast on mobile phones. Rely on CSS3 and HTML5 to create a modern and fully responsive design. Getting a visitor to bounce off your website is same like not getting a visit at all 3. Avoid clumping up clickable links – Your subscribers are irritated by being forced to zoom in just to be able to click the correct link or button. Instead of plain text links, include actual buttons in your email message that are at least 44 x 44 pixels in size and also make sure to put more than enough space in between them if you have multiple buttons. This will make opening any link easy, even with fat thumbs. Social share = 115% CTR increase! One of the biggest trends in email marketing last year was integrating the share buttons from the brand’s social media presences into the missives. With the ability to share the content with friends and followers easily, the email\'s CTR has been determined to skyrocket up to a staggering 115%. This technique also opened the doors to another type of extremely lucrative marketing: the viral kind. With Facebook alone boasting over one billion active monthly users, each with an average of about 100 friends it only takes one of those to share your content for it to spread across the globe in a rapidfire manner. Let’s not even mention what can happen when you add other social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ into that mix! LinkedIn boasts a CTR more than double that of Facebook’s An astonishing 91% of all social emails during 2013 incorporated a Facebook share button in them, making the use pretty well universal. However, quantity doesn\'t always translate to quality, as the study’s statistics show that even though Facebook was used more than any other, it was LinkedIn that had the class-leading CTR at a remarkable 9.6%, more than double that of Facebook. This stat shows that including LinkedIn share buttons in your emails when appropriate might just be the next big thing in 2014 for any online marketing that even remotely includes B2B content. Due to the professional nature of LinkedIn, promotional emails which focus on strictly B2C content such as special offers and sales aren\'t really suited for it and would do better on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. With the amazing ROI which only email marketing can provide you certainly owe it to yourself and your brand to implement each and every possible technique you can in order to megaoptimize your entire campaign. Remember that the DMA’s 40 x ROI is an average so that you can bet that there are email marketers out there regularly achieving 50 x, 60 x, or even more. You can be one of them!
Thought leadership is about having a refined approach to scanning the landscape for new ideas, inspirations, and thoughts that flex the mind’s capacity to think and create. One of the most dramatic methods of flexing that thought muscle is through fiction, which offers immense cognitive benefits, including increased imagination, creativity, a widening perception of the world, and an improved ability of reading the thoughts and feelings of others. These skills are so imperative to a successful business leader, and so effortless to achieve, that it’s a wonder why it wasn’t discussed before as a means of priming ourselves and our staff for leadership. Imagination is the Best Brain Booster - Perhaps the most clear-cut benefit of great fiction is exposure to the realm of imagination where the mind is introduced to new ways of thinking. A blog post at The Art of Manliness by Brett and Kate McKay, titled “Why Men Should Read More Fiction,” notes how “fiction not only activates, but also improves the cognitive functions that allow us to thrive socially.” The only other comparable brain booster is exercise, which is proven to boost neural activity and increase cognition. Fiction as a Doorway to Creativity - But reading fiction has an added benefit that exercise alone can’t offer – and that’s increasing creativity. This is done in a couple of ways as outlined in the McKay post. The first is through play. Cognitive scientists believe fiction originates in play, and reading make-believe is simply another sort of play. And “just as an open-ended play develops a child’s ability to conceive and evaluate alternatives, a well-written piece of fiction does the same for grown-ups.” In a real world business application, the value we find in fiction is best summarized by the post’s reference to literary critic Viktor Shklovsky, who believes the purpose of fiction is to “make the familiar strange so that we look at things in a new light.” He adds that through comparisons between fiction and non-fiction, we can “begin to think about ideas in a profoundly different way.” Raise Emotional IQ and Refine “People Skills” - Dr. Keith Oatley, in his book Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction, argues that fiction helps us better understand our social world. He adds that “just as your understanding of history and finance is improved by reading lots of books on those subjects, reading fiction improves your understanding of social relationships – your thinking about what other people are thinking.” Touching on the idea of relationships, Brett and Kate McKay also point out how reading fiction strengthens your theory of mind. According to them, “studies show that when we read fiction, the parts of our brain responsible for theory of mind light up and are heavily engaged.” Professor Robert Seyfarth describes the theory as a process where we attributed mental states to other people. It’s an ability children lack until they’re six years old; prior to that, they’re unable to understand the thoughts, desires, and knowledge of others. They exist predominantly in a state of self, with self-knowledge and only self-awareness. By age 6, they develop the theory of the mind, “called a theory because there’s nothing about the other person that show’s they’re thinking. Thoughts are hidden…and the only way we know they’re there is if we have a theory.” Professor Seyfarth continues, adding how the theory of mind pervades human life. He says, “We’re forever making a distinction between what people do and what we think they do. These things can get incredibly baroque and done in daily life all the time, but it’s not something we’re born with. You’ve got to learn it.” Brett and Kate McKay recognize how fiction requires us to “guess at hidden motives of characters, figure out what their enemies or lovers may or may not be thinking…as well as keep track of all the social interactions between characters.” All traits required in the emotional intelligent business leader.
Let me share with you one thing that’s slightly ironic about the non-profit world(Honestly, I’ll keep it to just one thing. I promise.). In this business, our success often comes from remembering two small (but very important) words. Many times, they’re the same words we often forget to say. Or write. I’m talking about the words: thank you. Two little words (eight letters!) with the power to do so much. In many development offices, especially small shops, acknowledging donors is often a woebegone task. Thank you letters are automated (ever receive a form letter for a donation?), sent out in an untimely fashion (if at all), and fund-raisers and executive directors and board chairs are left wondering why the organization is having such a tough time keeping donors when Charity ABC across town is raking in the dough. Sound familiar? Know any organizations like this? Hopefully I’m preaching to the proverbial choir, but thanking donors and supporters should be the linchpin of your entire development organization. If you’re not singing off of this song-sheet (as a former boss of mine was all-too fond of saying), then National Volunteer Week offers the perfect chance to start tuning-up your thank you repertoire (Show of hands: do you have National Volunteer Week marked on your calendar or did you have to Google the date?). It’s okay if you fall into the latter camp; I’ve been there and done that too. Many years ago when I worked as a one-woman development director with a grassroots organization, National Volunteer Week caught us unprepared. Our efforts to recognize our supporters were not what they should have been. This year, National Volunteer Week is April 21-27, 2013. Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan, CEO of Sweet Tooth Communications and author of Thanks! 100 Wonderful Ways to Appreciate Volunteers, says that the key to acknowledging volunteers is knowing what will be meaningful to them. “A key aspect to showing appreciation is understanding and respecting volunteers’ personal style and preferences,” writes Pagel-Hogan. “Some love a public display while others prefer the quiet word without fanfare. While it’s not always possible to cater to each individual, doing so when you can is ideal.” This can – and does – vary from person to person. Whereas one volunteer will be delighted with attending a recognition brunch or lunch, another may prefer a public shout-out via Facebook. Indeed, says Pagel-Hogan, social media offers an unlimited array of opportunities to show appreciation to those who are doing some of the most essential work in your organization. You just need to make sure they approve with being acknowledged in such a public forum. A handwritten card signed from your board chair and/or your CEO is always a nice touch for volunteers, says Pagel-Hogan. Almost everyone will appreciate a personal note in the midst of all the junk mail. If you’re not already engaging your volunteers and supporters with a personalized way of acknowledging their efforts, National Volunteer Week offers a perfect opportunity to start. As always, I thank you for reading. For more information about Thanks! 100 Wonderful Ways to Appreciate Volunteers, visit Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan’s website.