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Marketing Automation: Promote and Follow-up

Marketing Automation: Promote and Follow-up

Practical Marketer • April 27, 2018

If you are using an email marketing service, you are promoting something. It could be a newsletter, your latest blog post, updates on your non-profit, business and product updates or new services you offer. Email Marketing is the perfect tool to announce, promote and keep your circle up to date with everything. The trick is, to send the right email, to the right person and at the right time. With Marketing Automation and Automation Pro, you can do just that! Let’s say you are involved with a local non-profit, and you’re asked to create a campaign for an upcoming fundraiser. It would be awesome if you could just send one email and have donations flowing to the extent that you never needed to do another fundraiser again, right? Well, while anything is possible … it is unlikely for just one email to do the job. When running a fundraiser or any promotion, you need to cast a wide net through as many channels as possible and with multiple messages. It’s not because your subscribers and followers don’t care about your cause or promotion, its because you may catch them at a bad time or the way the message was presented didn’t relate to them. This is why it is important to reach your audience through as many channels as possible and with different messages. Create a list of compelling reasons your subscribers can relate to and promote it through various channels following a cohesive storyline. Let\'s take a look at one of the most successful fundraiser campaigns: the Obama Campaigns. Over his two terms, the Obama administration was able to raise $1.4 Billion with Email and Social Media as their main channels for promotion. This was no accident or lucky viral stunt. This was the result of hard work and planning. From personalized landing pages to intriguing action based subject lines, they created a recipe for success by testing everything they did and by finding ways to relate to their donors. Email Marketing Strategy Focusing on just email for a moment, Marketing Sherpa interviewed Toby Fallsgraff, Director of Email, for the \"Obama for America” campaign. Toby and his team helped raise $690 million for the 2012 campaign alone. With more than 4.5 million people donating an average of $53. A lot of these donors gifted more than once. The Obama administration had four main segments: Previous Donors, these were donors who had already donated in 2012. Quick Donors, these were the donors who donated and saved their payment information. Non-Donors, these were subscribers who have not yet donated Lapsed Donors, these were donors who donated in 2008 but haven’t yet donated in 2012. By keeping a simple four category segment, they were able to send clear, direct messages and stay focused. As soon as they would see patterns, it’s as easy as automating. An example of email automation they used was the \"quick donors\" link. Quick donors were people who saved their payment information at the moment of donating. Toby and his team incentivized this behavior by sending free bumper stickers and other gifts. This allowed them to leveraged this opportunity by simply adding a “quick donate” link to their “Thank You” emails after a person donated. Since the donor would save their payment information, Toby’s team would include the option to donate again with a simple click. No forms to fill out, no time wasted, just one click away. By doing this, they saw a 300% increase in conversions. In this case, they used the power of email automation to ensure the “Thank You\" email was sent right away with the correct followup links to earn more donations. They chose these main segments because, from their studies and tests, they saw that behavior based followups were the most successful strategy and the way to go. Landing Pages When it comes to the landing pages, Kissmetrics did a study on how these related to the messages. What they found was a whole lot of personalization! From custom landing pages related to their campaigns (Obama held an “Ask me anything” session on Reddit for 30 min):   To including the website visitors state at the moment of signup: These small details can go a log way! The Obama administration did hundreds of tests to ensure the right strategy and what they found out is that personalization and behavior based follow-ups are key to a successful promotional campaign. The good news is that all of this goes hand in hand with marketing automation. Email Marketing Automation can sound intimidating or time-consuming, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t have to be that way. The Obama for America campaign was able to raise over $690 million in less than six months with four main list segments. Nothing too crazy or super complicated, they just made sure to send the right messages, to the right people and at the right time. So, what does this mean for you? Will you beat those numbers? I sure hope so! To get you going, we encourage you to use Automation Pro with our new templates. With Automation Pro, you can easily create behavior-based follow-ups from engagement on previous emails and your website, allowing you to automate messages based on certain pages your subscribers visit or based on opening an email or not. To promote something, we created four main templates in Automation Pro. Promote and Target Opens. This template is focused on promoting something and targeting your opened/unopened for followups. Notice how after the email is sent, we have a condition to check for opens. We then push the opened and unopened subscribers into separate lists for a future follow-up. Promote and Target Clicks. Allows you to promote something and target your clicks/non-clicks for followups. It looks the same as the Opens template but will focus on click-through engagement instead. In this template after the email is sent, we have a condition to check for clicks. We then push the clicked and non-clicked subscribers into separate lists for a future follow-up. Promote and Target Opens, Clicks and Website Engagement. Allows you to promote something and target all of the milestones. Follow-up with opened/unopened, clicks/non-clicks and website visits/non-website visits. Here, after the email is sent, we have a condition to check for opens, clicks and website engagement. We then push each group of subscribers into separate lists for a future follow-ups. Follow-up Series. This template is used to automatically follow-up with each of the targeted groups. (eg. Opened vs. Unopened or Visited Website vs. Didn’t Visit Website, etc.) Since an automation can be triggered from someone being added to a list, once you send a promotion, and separate the engaged with non-engaged subscribers into different lists, you can use this template to create a new automation and follow-up with these subscribers as they get added to their list. For more information on how to combine automations, check out our blog on Goal Based Lists.  We created these four templates to allow you to start where you feel most comfortable. If you are new to automation, start with just the Promote and Target Opens template. Once you get the hang of it, you will quickly roll over to the next one. (Be careful, it can get very addicting!) Here are the takeaways I would love for everyone to walk away with: Identify what works, AKA your “proven process”. You do this by creating somewhat of a plan, brainstorming ideas and then testing. Test as much as you can and start automating what works as you see patterns. Start small. Make sure to start with simple automation you feel comfortable with. Create a Welcome Series or create a promotion that has a simple follow-up to the unopened emails. Keep your automation short. It is ok to have a full sales process automated, but don’t do it all under one automation. Set milestones and have each automation work with the next. As an example, the Obama campaign could have an automation sending once a week to those who haven’t donated. Once they donate once, they may try to get them to save their payment information to promote the “Quick Donate” automated email after that. Learn to listen to your subscribers and create engaging campaigns that your followers can relate to. Embrace behavior based follow-ups! Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this blog and that you found it useful! If you have automation ideas or success stories to share, we would love to hear them! Comment below and tell us how you automate your promotions.


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Marketing Automation: Welcome Series

Marketing Automation: Welcome Series

Practical Marketer • December 10, 2017

Marketing Automation is not a buzzword. It’s an industry standard at this point. If you have signup forms on your website, blog, social channels or anywhere else, you should have an automation to at least welcome those new subscribers. Time is of the essence here, and when someone is showing interest in your company, it’s extremely important to engage with them ASAP. Some of you may say, “I know, I know. I need to set up Automation… but I just don’t have time! It’s too complicated” or whatever excuse you want to use. The Case for Marketing Automation The bottom line here is that creating an automation will save you time and when it comes to the idea of it being too complicated well, that’s why I am writing this blog. To demonstrate how any business can create simple automations to at least welcome new subscribers, leads, contacts, etc. The days of sending an email once a week/month to your newly added subscribers for that time are over. People want your information as soon as they sign up. If they don’t get it from you promptly … they will find someone else. Marketing Automation has proven to drive excellent ROI and experience to businesses and subscribers. A study by Nucleus Research shows that businesses who use marketing automation see an increase in sales by 14.5% and a reduction in marketing overhead of about 12.2%. A quick calculation of email ROI makes that a… well… at least +15% increase in ROI by only starting with marketing automation. Start with \"Welcome\" On top of saving you time and money while increasing sales you are also providing an excellent experience to your subscribers. Having a welcome series automation allows you to set a standard for the user experience. This means that every time a new visitor goes to your website and subscribes, you know exactly what they receive and when. This sets a clear standard and will help you identify issues when optimizing your marketing efforts. If you see your open rates are low, you can work on adjusting the send time or Subject line and From name of your automation. If you see low engagement rate, you can work on adjusting the content of the email and CTAs. Sending welcome emails manually opens up a huge issue when trying to identify where to optimize since each email is sent at a different time from the moment your subscriber signs up and may even include different text. I don’t want to hear, “I have a reminder that notifies me every day at 9:00 AM to send my welcome emails…” What if you are sick? On holiday? Or snooze the reminder to “do it later?” Save yourself time and stress, and get rid of unnecessary reminders and create a welcome email series. You have no excuse to avoid this. Marketing Automation Made Easy We have heard it all! We made sure to make your experience creating a welcome series extremely easy. With Marketing Automation Pro tool, we created a few templates to get you started right away. I clocked myself using the Welcome Series template, and I was able to create a full welcome series automation (with tips and tricks) in under 15 min. Your first time around may take a little longer than that, but trust me, you will be so proud and happy once it’s done! Get Started with Marketing Automation If you are reading this blog, you are already a step closer to getting on board with Automation. The next step is to login to your Benchmark Email account (click here if you don’t have an account) and get to work! We even created a downloadable PDF that explains our Welcome Series Template and how to use it: Welcome Your New Subscribers Final tips and thoughts on the Welcome Series Automation: Keep it simple. If you are just getting started with marketing automation, one email is enough to welcome your subscribers. You can edit your automation later on as you gain experience. Warm Welcome. Remember the purpose of the email. It’s to welcome your new subscribers. Unless you state it at the point of signup, avoid selling in a welcome email. Think of building a long-lasting relationship. The welcome email is intended to give a warm welcome and to connect with your subscribers. Calls to Action. As most, if not all emails, avoid too many calls to action but most definitely include at least one! To help build a long-lasting relationship it is important to do this from day one. Include a link to your website, social channels or a really interesting blog. This will help your subscriber get used to clicking on your emails so when you start sending promotional emails in the future, your subscriber is already familiar with engaging with your messages. It also tells your subscribers email provider (Gmail, Outlook, etc.) that they like to engage with your emails, resulting in a higher priority to ensure your emails always land in the inbox. Reporting. Once you create the welcome series, set yourself a timeframe to review the results. If it is your first automation, a 30-day window is great. That doesn’t mean you have to change anything. It’s just a time to review the automation and think of improvements. You may find that it’s working great and no changes need to be made! If that is the case, check back around in another 60 - 90 days. Don’t forget about Holidays and other events within your company. You may want to make a special welcome series depending on the time of the year. Welcome Series Per Channel or Signup Method. Start with your most influential channel or signup method. If most of your subscribers come from your blog or website, start there for your first welcome series. As you nail down the most important one, you can go on to the next one. This may be your social channels or other avenues you may have. Can you have just one welcome series for all of your channels? Sure! But I recommend giving somewhat of a custom experience based on where the subscriber came from. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, just play with the wording or message to match the place they came from. BONUS: List Management. This is optional, but I highly recommend keeping your “New Subscribers” separate from your “Existing Subscribers.” This may not apply to your single email welcome automation, but it makes much more sense when you have a longer welcome series with multiple emails. Doing this allows you to separate new subscribers from the rest. Why is this important? Two main reasons: Filter freebie signups. If you are giving something away in exchange of the signup, (e.g. A free report, pdf, infographic, etc.) you will get a lot of signups looking for that free asset. But when it comes to potential buyers… you will want to filter the freebie chasers out. Having a longer welcome series can help you identify quality subscribers who may show interest in your product or service by tracking the engagement with your emails. Towards the end of the welcome automation series, you can add conditions to check who your most engaged subscribers were and automatically add these to your “Main Subscriber” list for more aggressive sales follow-ups later on. It’s a good way to weed out “junk” signups and focus on real interested signups. Promotions. Imagine it is your slow seasons and you want to send a special promotion to try to boost sales for that month. Keeping your lists separated allows you to target new subscribers with specials to earn their business and avoid sending to subscribers that may have already purchased at the full price. You can learn more about using goal-based lists for marketing automation in a post we recently published. As mentioned, marketing automation can seem intimidating, and many times you give up because you just don’t know where to start. Take it with bite-size pieces and start to automate what already works for your business. This is why we highly recommend to start your automation experience with a welcome series. Its simple, has value and its an excellent way to get your feet wet and see the power of automation. Join Us For Automation Fridays If you have a welcome series to share with us, or a success story after implementing automation for your business, please post it below in the comments or join us for Automation Friday! We meet every week to discuss automation tips, strategies and examples.


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Using Goal Based Lists For Marketing Automation

Using Goal Based Lists For Marketing Automation

Practical Marketer • October 20, 2017

Marketing automation is all about organization. As you dive into Marketing Automation with email, you will find yourself with some automations that work together and connect with one another and some automations that work as stand-alone or that are parallel to the rest of your marketing efforts. The bottom line is that you don’t want to mix things up. Keep a fluid experience for your subscribers in mind. In this blog, we will give you some tips on how to properly organize your lists by creating “Goal-Based Lists” and “Established Lists” to keep your automations under control and to have the ability to connect one with another. Avoid Spaghetti Automation We have so many channels of communication and so many layers of leads, subscribers, potentials, customers, etc. You don’t want to mix things up and confuse yourself with your own automations. As I’ve helped build automations for Benchmark and some of our customers, I have found two important things to keep in mind at all times: Keep your automations short and to the point Learn to connect multiple automations by moving subscribers from one list to another. These two tips are the starting points of email and Marketing Automation and will help you understand how to build out your automation strategy. Simple Automation is in Your Lists With Automation Pro, you can start an automation based on someone being added to a list. For example, when a website visitor completes your signup form and becomes a new subscriber, they are added to your “Leads List” and you can trigger a welcome series automation to welcome those new subscribers. When organizing your subscribers, contacts, leads, etc. in your Benchmark Email account, we recommend focussing on two kinds of lists: Established Lists Goal Based Lists Established Lists are your main lists. These lists are the heartbeat of your email marketing efforts. Some examples of Established Lists are: Subscribers Leads Prospects Contacts/Customers Lost Customers Goal-Based Lists are lists focused on subscribers achieving a goal throughout your automations. For example, if you send an email to your prospects, you may want to create two separate lists: 1) EmailNameOpens 2) EmailNameUnopens. Based on the opens and unopens of the email, both lists will automatically populate with the appropriate subscribes. Other examples of Goal-Based lists: HasClicked/HasNotClicked HasVisitedWebsite/HasNotVisitedWebsite Completed Transaction Abandoned Cart Goal-based lists will help you stay organized by separating your subscribers based on the actions and behaviors throughout your automations. Let\'s take a look at a live example where we use Established Lists and Goal-Based Lists. Say you own a clothing store. You just got a new shipment with all of the new clothes for the upcoming season. You’ll want to create a special sale focused on your old inventory to make room for your new clothes. One of the channels you may use is email! Let’s see how marketing automation can help you. Targeting the Established List For this example, let’s say the clothing store has an Established list called: “VIP - Customers.\" The people in this list are customers who have spent more than X amount of dollars with the store. They want to give these customers a priority on the sale so they target this list as the trigger to the automation. Sending A Promotional Email Now that we have our targeted Established List, we want to send an email to promote the sale. The email will include the sale details along with a link to the online store. The next step will be to track who click on the link in the email vs. those who didn’t. (REMINDER: Don’t forget to add a delay before your condition) Setting a Click Condition (Click vs. Did Not Click) Once the email is delivered and you’ve given enough time for your subscriber to engage with the email (That’s why they previously mentioned delay is so important), it\'s time to check who performed the desired action: “CLICK.” When we set up this condition in Automation Pro, you will see two paths on your automation: Has Clicked Has Not Clicked Now, is when the Goal-Based Lists come into play for proper organization. Goal-Based Lists In Action From this example, we see that after the email is delivered, Automation Pro will wait 24 hours before checking to see who clicked on the email or not. Once the 24 hours us up, the condition will check for this action and will split up the people who clicked vs. the ones who didn’t down their respective paths. What to do next? You could continue each path on the same automation and send another email… but from experience, this can get out of hand. You may find yourself creating an automation that looks something like this: The example from above may be exaggerated, but it is a real example from a real user that decided to continue the whole sequence on one automation. Instead of creating a confusing mess, we highly recommend to end this automation after the condition by creating two Goal Based lists, one for each path (Has Clicked / Has Not Clicked). Name your Goal Based Lists something like this: “EmailNameHasClicked” & EmailNameHasNotClicked.” Doing this will allow you to then create a separate automation that is focused on each Goal Based List. This may sound like extra work at first… but trust me! It is extremely helpful to organize your automations and if you ever need to modify something in the future, you can just modify one piece of the automation instead of having to deactivate the whole thing to make a small change. In Conclusion Getting used to the idea of Goal-Based List will really help you stay organized. Especially as you create tons of automations that work with each other. Start by using Goal Based Lists in simple automations like in the example in this blog post. As you become more familiar with your automation strategy, you’ll have the practice to create mind-bending automations with simple list movements. Feedback We hope this blog helps you understand how to better organize your lists and subscribers for best practices related to your marketing automation. We came up with this list idea from helping our customers and building our own automations as well. Please share with us in the comments examples of how you organize your automations and lists so we can try to share these ideas with the rest of our users as well.


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How Often Should I Revise My Email Marketing Strategy?

How Often Should I Revise My Email Marketing Strategy?

Beyond • November 23, 2016

Many businesses check their marketing efforts monthly, quarterly, bi-annually or even annually. This is a normal practice, and you may even have meetings scheduled around these time frames, but there are many other scenarios that could push you to revise your email marketing strategies. Below, I will point out a few reasons as to why and when you may want to check up on email marketing. The Season Calls For It If you are a retail store or your business is affected by holidays or seasons, it is important to check your marketing efforts around these dates. I suggest making opening and closing dates for each season. These dates mark the start and finish of each marketing cycle. During a cycle, your marketing is executing on all cylinders. Rarely should you change things within these dates. The idea is to create a plan, execute it and then review the results to make improvements. If you try to make changes while your plan is being executed, it could be difficult to pinpoint what made your plan actually work. Be patient and try to create plans you can execute from start to finish. If you are new to email marketing, start with small campaigns of just 1 - 2 emails and then branch out to more as you get the hang of it. When planning out a season, I suggest planning at least 1 - 3 months before it starts (Depending on the size of your company and people involved) larger companies will need more time. I don’t suggest to plan too far ahead, though, since you want your strategies to be as relevant as possible. When reviewing your campaigns after the close of a season, it is extremely important you look for improvements to use when that season comes back around or improvements to make on your next season campaign. Important Changes Within Your Company Let’s say you just added a new product or service. This is a perfect time to revise your marketing efforts. You want to make sure this new product or service is getting its well-deserved spotlight. If you are in the middle of an existing cycle that is being executed, you can maybe just include a one-off email to announce your latest addition and later plan on how to incorporate this new product or service in your ongoing marketing strategy. Important Changes Outside Of Your Company Based on your industry, what has changed outside of your company? It is important to quickly adapt to these changes to always stay ahead of your competition. Some changes may not affect your marketing strategies directly, but if they do, you can get a huge advantage over your competitors. For example, if you are a web consultant and you know Google is making changes to their algorithms, you could prepare an introductory email to inform your subscribers of potential updates they may need on their website for best practices & performance. Making sure you always inform and stay ahead of the curve with industry standards will give your subscribers a piece of mind that they made the right decision on choosing you for their needed service. End Of Marketing Cycle If you don’t have seasons or holidays to follow, make your own! You can create short and long term marketing cycles to check up on. This is common for service providers, consultants or freelancers. Let’s say you just hosted a Webinar. You will be sending emails before and after that webinar, right? Well, before starting up your next webinar, be sure to check the stats and overall strategy to ensure you improve as much as you can. I once signed up to a few webinars hosted by the same company. At the end of each webinar, they had a sequence of emails scheduled to be sent to the attendees. To save time, I saw they used the same sequence, which is ok … but they could have fixed the typos and spelling errors if they had thoroughly checked the campaigns before and after each webinar. Instead, they just made one campaign and copied it for all of their webinar series. It is important to check for overall improvements in your message and calls to action but most important, make sure your copy and grammar are correct. We can all make mistakes, but if you make the same mistake multiple times in a row, you are showing a lack of attention towards your subscribers. When creating your email marketing strategy, no matter how long your marketing cycle is, you want to plan, execute, learn and update. It is important to set a strategy and be patience to review the results. If you have a longer campaign, try to divide it into sections by setting milestones and goals. This way, you won’t have to wait until the end of the entire cycle to update or make changes to your emails. I\'ve outlined a few main areas you can look into when revising your email marketing efforts: Onboarding process How do people sign up to start receiving your emails? Is the signup process clear and easy to find? If you have a long page, try to have signup options in several areas instead of just the top or bottom. Can the subscriber quickly understand what they are signing up for? Eg. Signup to our Monthly Blog Updates. Let your subscribers know what you will be sending them, “Blog Updates”. And how frequent, “Monthly”. Is the signup process easy to follow? No complicated steps, only the necessary steps. Are you asking for enough information? What is the information you NEED from your subscriber to better segment and organize your list(s)? Too much information? Asking for too much could scare potential subscribers away. Ask yourself, what information do you need to get them in the proper list or segment? Remember, you can also learn from your subscriber based on their behavior, later on, to further segment their preferences. Effectiveness of each email and step What is your open rate? This will relate closely to your subject lines. If you notice a low open rate, try changing some of your subject lines. For emails that have issues, try creating A/B tests to try multiple subject lines to include the best. What is your engagement or click rate? Make sure your email delivers the message it promised and ensure your calls to action are well visible. Avoid having too many different calls to action but feel free to have various buttons referencing the same call to action. What do the analytic stats look like on your page? Once someone clicks on the call to action from the email, are they sent to the correct page? Does this page align with the message in the email and can the subscriber easily understand and navigate to the next step? Integration with other marketing strategies How does email marketing fit in with your other marketing channels? Email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing channels out there but if you are using other channels in parallel, it is important to sync them all up to avoid sending the exact same message on all channels at once. It is common that you will have an overlap of people who subscribe to your emails and follow you on other channels as well. Choose highlights and perspectives by channel and imagine if you were to receive all of your messages … does it make sense? Or does it feel like redundant blasting? Do you have an easy flow? As briefly mentioned in the point above, make sure your other marketing channels work with each other. Sign yourself up to your own flow and put yourself in various scenarios. What if you were just an email subscriber? Do you get enough information? What if you are subscribed to everything? Is it too much? If you haven’t already properly segmented your lists, doing this exercise will also help you better organize in the future I hope this information helps you identify how often you should check your email marketing strategies. If you have any other suggestions, we would love to hear them in the comments below!


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How To Increase The Expected ROI For Email Marketing?

How To Increase The Expected ROI For Email Marketing?

Practical Marketer • October 10, 2016

Many talk about the expected Return on Investment for email marketing being $40 per $1 spent. Although I love this stat and I believe that many can achieve even more than this, it’s important to understand how your email marketing is being used before setting expectations. Below are a few examples as to how email marketing can be used for your business and what to look at when trying to increase the ROI of your email marketing efforts. For Sales When it comes to creating sales or promotional emails the numbers are pretty straightforward, right? How much did it cost to create and send the email vs. how much money did it generate? If you were a daily deal company, it may be that easy. However, when it comes to the habits of today\'s consumers, this black and white view may need a few shades of grey … no leathers needed here (unless that is what you are selling). Here are a few things to pay attention to when trying to increase the expected ROI for your next promotion: Are you sending to the right people? Many companies lack segmentation in their email marketing strategies. If you try to send to everyone you may be discouraged by the results, since it’s important to know that not all of your subscribers are buyers (YET). What I mean by this is that some people may not have the need for your product at that time or they may have just subscribed to you emails because you have an excellent blog and they would like to get updates of your posts. It is important to try to segment your subscribers based on behaviours and sign up purpose. For example, for people who signup from your blog pages, you may want to have these in a separate list from people who signed up on your pricing page. I think this is step one of setting up your next promotional email: Segment your lists. This isn’t cheating! For the people who aren’t in your buying category, you can send them more of a “warm up” email to entice them to move into that category. What are the selling points? The other day I was speaking with a friend that had issues with a product they were trying to promote. They had segmented their list and had a series of 3 emails to promote their new product. All of the emails had the same information and were pointing to the same landing page. The issue with this is redundancy. If you have an idea to set up a series of emails, I sure hope you have a reason for this. People receive a lot of emails. Sending too many emails with the same info will only disappoint your subscribers. When trying to promote a product if you want to have a series of emails, make sure to find reasons to send that series. Are you focusing on different selling points? Is time of the essences? If that first email didn’t get the result you were looking for what improvements can you make with the next one? This is also a perfect opportunity to learn more about your subscribers. Having different selling points will give you insights as to what your subscribers are more interested in. For example: If you are selling computers, you may have 3 different emails that focus on computers for Gaming, School or Work. This will help you create more in-depth segments on your subscribers to increase your engagement rate later on. Do you have a fluid buying process? Is it easy for your subscriber to understand and buy the product or service you are promoting? I have seen cases where companies have complicated rules or just don’t have an easy and fluid process to buy. For this last case, the most common mistake I see is an email that promotes something but the call to action just dumps the subscriber on their home page. It’s important to use landing pages to keep the flow of the sale. Using landing pages allows you to focus on the promotion and get specific feedback to better your next promotion. If you just dump subscribers onto your homepage, they may get distracted with other areas of your site and totally miss the reason they came to your site in the first place. In regards to providing easy to follow steps to redeem this promotion, be sure to use your channels properly. Often times companies try to include everything in the email. Remember, you have less than a 3-second likability opportunity with email. The promotion needs to WOW me and intrigue me to click on the call to action. Once you have me on the landing page, you have more real estate to explain the steps or rules to qualify. Think of your email as the doorway to the promotion, not the promotion itself. Measure. What is the goal? For this last point, I want to remind every marketer to measure what they do. It’s easy to get lost in the idea of just sending emails and pushing people to landing pages. If your results are just focused on looking at the sales numbers, you won’t know why your sales are going up or down… If your marketing efforts include multichannel strategies, be sure to set specific milestones and overall goals to reach that pertain to your email efforts exclusively, and, of course, do the same for the other channels involved but be sure to keep them separate. Doing this will help you understand the true value of email marketing. If the goal isn’t reached, the milestones should help you understand how to improve your next campaign. Key takeaways? Divide and conquer. These are suggestions that any marketer can follow and implement with their own strategies. Today, customers are crossing and subscribing to many of your channels: Your website, emails, social, etc. Be sure to set clear paths for each, measure by stages and stay focused! Jumbling it all together will only drive you crazy and discourage you and your team.


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What Should My Expected Bounce Rate Be?

What Should My Expected Bounce Rate Be?

Practical Marketer • September 6, 2016

Your list of subscribers, customers and leads are worth their numbers of spreadsheet cells in gold. They are important and it’s important you value them in that way. On the other side, it’s also important to understand the lifecycle of your subscribers as well as list hygiene. The average email address can go stale after two years. You may think this is a short lifecycle, but many of your subscribers change their email because of a job or overall position changes and this can affect your delivery rate. It’s important to have a bounce rate under 5%. Accomplishing this helps ISPs understand that you’re paying close attention to your email list and its cleanliness. At Benchmark, we determine 3 types of bounces: Soft Bounce. This type of bounce refers to when an email is sent to an address we know exists but is unavailable at the time. This can happen for a series of reasons (inbox is full, the recipient server timed out or is just temporarily unavailable). Hard Bounce. In this case, you may have sent an email to an address that doesn\'t exist or has expired. This is common for subscribers who have typos or invalid email addresses as they subscriber to your emails. For this reason, it’s a great idea to ensure a double opt-in method for your subscribers. Confirmed Bounce. Once an email address hard bounces 3 or more times, our system will automatically consider this email address as an expired or invalid email address. This will ensure that no future email will be sent to your hard bounces. In order to keep a low bounce rate, it’s important to clean your lists every six months or annually. This will weed out expired and invalid email addresses. By doing this, you will keep a good reputation with the ISPs and see a better open rate. You can also pay close attention to your reports and try to re-engagement subscribers who may have lost interested by re-sending confirmation emails to ensure their subscription is still valid. Keeping a clean list will show your attention to detail with ISPs and will help to achieve a higher open rate. By weeding out invalid email addresses you will also keep a more focused list that will result in more valid data in regards to your open and overall click rate. If you have questions on list hygiene, please contact our customer service team via chat, phone or email!


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How can I use email marketing to build brand awareness?

How can I use email marketing to build brand awareness?

Practical Marketer • August 24, 2016

Once you have a product or service you are proud of and want to share with the world, you want to build a brand to attract like minded people. People who agree on your values, direction or morals and people who see their problems solved by your business. There are many ways to attract these people … but how do you keep them on board? Email Marketing is an excellent channel to build and maintain brand awareness within your space. An email address is an easy exchange but in many cases not valued to its potential. When businesses ask for email addresses they tend to use the “carrot on the stick” idea to attract as many people as possible. “Signup now and get this FREE ______.” This is good, but make sure the “free” item is related to what you do. Too often, I see businesses offering freebies with their signup that have nothing to do with their business and then complain that their open and click rate is too low. They don’t get the engagement they hoped for and abandon email marketing entirely. Email marketing is not a numbers game. If you treat it like one, you will fail in the long run. When offering freebies, it’s important to offer something that YOUR audience would like. For example, we, as an email marketing company, would love to give you this mobile email marketing study done by our friends at Edisonda, that will help you understand how people read your emails on mobile devices. A freebie like this may not attract millions of people like the latest album from Kanye could… but it will attract the right people. As you attract the right people to subscribe to your emails, there are 2 basic strategies to keep them engaged and interested with your emails. Consistency Consistency You must be consistent with your brand, vision, morals and you must be consistent with what you promise from the signup. If you promised a monthly newsletter that talks about cats in hats, please don’t send me a newsletter that talks about dogs in boots. I know these examples are ridiculous, but I’m just trying to point out the obvious here. Send what you promise to your subscriber and send it as often as you promised as well. Keeping a consistent schedule will engage your subscribers and create a sense of habit. If you promise a monthly newsletter, send an email about every 30 days, or choose something like the last Thursday of every month. Doing this will keep your subscribers engaged and will create a habit. When creating your emails, you should also be consistent with the format and colors of the email. You know how you read your own emails. The 3-second likability rule turns into a 0.5s likability chance. If your subscriber can’t identify your email as he or she skims their inbox, they won’t open it. Also, by keeping your emails consistent and not changing much save for the content, you will be able to get your emails done in no time! All you’ll have to do is add in your new content and schedule the email. Marketers who are at this point can normally get their emails done in under and hour. Takeaways from this? Attract the right people to your newsletter. Be consistent with your email format and style. Be consistent with your promise. Vision and frequency. By following these basic tips, you will see a higher open and click rate and your emails will be easier to make.  


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How Can I Create Successful Promotional Emails?

How Can I Create Successful Promotional Emails?

Practical Marketer • August 22, 2016

A promotional email is intended to get your audience excited about something. You may have a new service or product to announce or you may just have excess inventory to get rid of. The bottom line is you’re looking to promote something that will bring traffic to your store and accomplish awareness or overall sales increase. Below, I have outlined a few tips of advice to keep your subscribers engaged and to stay clear of the spam folder. Promotion and Strategy: 1. What are the benefits? Not for you, for your customer. Line up the reasons as to why your product or service exists. What problem(s) are you solving? When doing this, make sure your customer is at the center of it all. Explain what they can achieve with your product then include the how. Often times companies will get caught up in the features, bells and whistles. These are great and will help you stand out from your competition later, but will mean nothing to your audience at first unless it is tied to a solution to a problem they may have. Starting off with what is important to them (solving their problem) will catch their attention and keep them engaged to continue learning about how you will help them. 2. Be focused and consistent. The other day I received an email that was promoting a special to travel to Hawaii for 10 days in the subject line. When I opened the email, they were promoting 8 different travel packs. At first, this may seem like a great idea because the company used a catchy subject line to get me into an email to then just show me everything they have. The problem with this is that I have too many options to choose from. I opened the email because of a trip to Hawaii. If I can’t quickly go on to see the details of this trip, I will abandon the email. Use the email as the doorway to your landing page. Doing this, you are able to create a build up to a sale. The subject line catches my eye, the email provides important details that should motivate me to click on the call to action to buy on the website. Once on the website, you have much more real estate to complete the sale for the trip to Hawaii or even show similar travel options at strategic milestones of your sales path. These milestones can be divided based on location, number of days or even price. Make sure to set up your sales path in such a way that it allows you to identify these moments. Overall, be sure to stay focused on what you are trying to sell first. There is a reason you made the promotion in the first place right? As you do this, keep consistency from your subject line to the “Thank you” page. 3. Keep a smooth flow. You want to make sure your message is quick to read and has easy steps to follow. Too many clicks, page loads, waiting time or any other hurdle will reduce your promotion success rate. A few things to keep in mind for this: Make sure your email is scannable. People skim before they read. Titles are your best friend here. The steps to follow after the email should be extremely visible and easy to follow. If your subscriber thinks the process will take too long, they will abandon. If you need a longer process, think about how you can break it up into bite size pieces Taking this last point of bite size pieces, what are your side orders? Any restaurant will always ask, “Do you want a side salad with your steak?” / “Do you want fries with that?” Make sure this is setup as a side option and not part of the main sell. Separating this can easily generate more revenue for your business, just make sure to not distract from the main course. “Thank you for your purchase! Other customers who purchased this item also bought…\" Anything that isn\'t relevant to the promotion should be eliminated. If they opened your email, clicked on your website and are ready to buy, the last thing you want to do is distract them with “shiny red balls”. Let them purchase what they were interested in first and use follow-up emails to offer add-ons or other services later. 4. Calls to action. These should be to the point, actionable and directed to a landing page, not your homepage. If you are going to take the time and effort to do a promotion, don’t leave it halfway. Creating a landing page allows you to stay focused and gives a constant flow. Interrupting this flow will massively reduce your conversion rate. Think of it as if you were telling a story. You want to make sure the punch line aligns with the previous parts of the story. When it comes to placing calls to action on your email, it’s best to have one visible as soon as the email is opened and another one towards the bottom if you have a longer email. 5. Create Urgency. The other day I saw my girlfriend on her phone for over 40 min straight looking through this online store. I tried to catch her attention a few times and failed. As dinner was getting cold, I asked her what was so interesting on her phone? She had received an email from a local store that was offering all of their items at a 60% discount for the next hour. As she clicked on the call to action in the email, she was sent to a landing page with a giant timer on it. You can create urgency in many ways, the bottom line is to get their attention now because later ... they will be distracted by the next promotion. Tips to stay out of the spam folder: Subject Line Guidelines. Catch the eye but don’t stand out like a sore thumb. Writing IN ALL CAPS or with a too many exclamation points will only push your email into the spam folder. Emojis and symbols are trending, but should be used sparingly. Content in your Email. Avoid a lot of bright colors, too much bold font and make sure your emails are responsive. Less is more here. When adding images, be sure to respect the inbox and avoid large images. You want your email to load as fast as possible. Also, be sure to include image descriptions in case your subscriber has images turned off in their email client. Sending Your Email. This is a big one! Make sure to send your emails using your private domain (e.g. @yourcompany.com) Free email clients like Gmail, Yahoo, etc are used for personal use. Sending a promotional email from a personal email address will increase the chances of your email to land in the spam folder.


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How Can I Improve Click Through Rates In My Emails?

How Can I Improve Click Through Rates In My Emails?

Practical Marketer • August 12, 2016

The first step in trying to increase the Click Through Rate (CTR) of your emails is to properly segment your list(s). As mentioned in my previous blog post, on how to increase your expected ROI for email marketing, sending to the right people can really help you solidify your numbers and gain more accurate stats on your subscribers. Once you know you\'re sending to the interested crowd, here are six tips to help you get the highest Click Rate. 1. Straight To The Point - One Call To Action (CTA) Be sure to be clear and to the point in your emails. When a subscriber opens your email, the faster they understand it, the more likely they will be to engage with it. This means, don’t try to write a 12-page email and be sure to focus on one product or at least lean on a specific theme. You will overload the subscriber if you try to sell multiple products at once in an email. For example, if you have a shoe store, and you have different types of shoes to put on sale (eg. sport, dress, casual, etc.), you can create a focused email for each and send this to a segment of your list that would be more inclined to buy that type of shoe. Offering fewer options allows your subscriber to easily make quick decisions. Marketers that have done this have seen their CTR double. Don’t be afraid to be specific. By doing this, you will learn much more about your subscribers. If they don’t click on a focused email, you will learn more than if they don’t click on an email that offers all of your products. If you offer all of your products, they may not click simply because the email was too busy. 2. Visible CTA As soon as I open your email I should see the offer and the CTA. This means, test your email on desktops and mobile devices to ensure these areas are above the fold. As your subscriber skims through their emails, they need to see something that will catch their eye. I also recommend having multiple CTAs throughout your email, and again, make sure they are visible. Use our Button Feature to really make your CTA stand out! I highly recommend having at least one CTA above the fold and another one towards the bottom of your email. Imagine if you were selling backpacks and you had a special offer for one of your new models. This email could highlight the backpack at the top with a call to action. As you scroll down the email, you can point out specific features with a CTA right next to each feature. This will increase the chance of a click because as soon as a feature peeks your subscribers\' interest, they will have an easy button to click on to buy. Also, this will help you gain insights as to what your subscribers love most about your new product by seeing the feature that received the most clicks. 3. Make Your Emails Social This is something I think we are all aware of, but just in case, make sure you have social sharing options in your emails! Your subscribers are on various social channels, let them share your content on them. Even if it’s just the “Like” button, if they click on that, their friends will see that then they get curious and start sharing and before you know it, you are out of stock! OK, that may be an exaggeration or edge case, but look at how well social sharing worked for companies like Dollar Shave Club or Poo-Pourri. You won’t know until you try. 4. Local Offers Companies should keep in mind that, if given the choice, a customer is more likely to buy from a local store (even if it’s done online) because it gives the customer a sense of reach. If anything goes wrong, they feel as if a local store will be much more apt to correct it. If you have many stores, have them send to their subscribers locally and make sure they share that local pride! This will increase engagement and will also increase your brand loyalty. 5. Urgency When it comes to clicks, urgency works great! If a subscriber has a full month to click on your special, they are likely to forget about it. Time sensitive emails really separate the shoppers from the buyers. As a side note for this one, I sometimes see companies that send time sensitive emails with discounts. If the first one fails, another email is sent with a  more aggressive discount. Be careful doing this, since you don’t want to create a habit for your subscriber to always wait for the “next email” with the bigger discount. 6. For Bloggers, Don’t Give It All Up On The First Date Email is very much like dating. You need to test the waters before you go all the way. And trust me, your subscriber feels the same way. For this case, be sure to set a clear path as to why you are sending emails to your subscribers. The main idea is to get them on your page, right? If you offer all of your blog content in your email, there will be no reason to go to your website. Create an email with briefings of your posts for the week/month and add calls to action to continue reading. Just like for selling products, this will also give you a better idea as to what are the most common blogs your subscribers are interested in. It will also keep your emails clean and easy to read. I hope these 6 tips help you with your click through rate! Please feel free to post questions or comments below on experiences you have had in regards to your click rate.  


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How Many Emails Should I Send To My Subscribers?

How Many Emails Should I Send To My Subscribers?

Practical Marketer • July 22, 2016

Anytime I do a workshop or seminar, this is probably one of the number one questions I get. “How often should I send emails?” Well, it depends. How often do your subscribers want to hear from you? It is very important to send as often as your subscribers want to hear from you and not as often as you want to talk to them. Think of it as the person who follows you around in the clothing store asking 10 times within 5 min, “Do you need help?” You don’t want to be that person in email form. I signed up to an email list the other day and before I could take my phone out of my pocket, I had already received 5 emails from them! Here are the 5 emails I received: Opt-in Confirmation Email Welcome Email Re-confirm Opt-in Confirmation Email First Steps Intro Personal Account Manager I can totally picture their marketing team talking about the drip campaign for their first-time customers and for these 5 emails making sense, in theory… “An opt-in email to confirm their subscription is a no-brainer!” “We need an introduction email that talks about us and why they need us” “Oh! Lets also send a re-confirmation email, in case the subscriber doesn’t get the first one!” “The subscriber needs to know where to start! Let\'s also send a first steps intro!” “Lets WOW the new signup with a personal account manager as well!” As you can see, it’s easy to get excited with emails. They are quick, easy and show results immediately. So fast that I got a call right after I unsubscribed. Automation is great and can do wonders if it’s used properly. Many times, I see companies create long drip campaigns without really testing them. In theory, the campaign could make sense and even look good! Then when you actually go through the process, you realize you are just burying your subscribers with emails and scaring your customers away! I say this all the time, Email Marketing is not a numbers game. It is important to include a strategy and truly test your paths. For the case mentioned above, they could have given me the same amount of information in fewer emails and spread it out over more time. The idea is to create a constant flow and to make it effortless to the subscriber. If you send me too much at once, I probably won’t read half of it, therefore, missing valuable information and wasting your efforts overall. Make smart drip campaigns. If you don’t already know this, try to understand your customers\' behavior. How they navigate on your site or how they use your product or service. This isn’t rocket science. It can be as easy as just observing and asking your customers key questions or as complex as analyzing piles of data. Either way, your subscribers and customers are what keep your business moving, so it’s important you get to know them and their habits. Let’s take an example of well-timed email marketing. My friend was at a pet store buying some food for his dog and as he paid at the cash register, they asked for his email address. He hesitated for a second because he doesn’t like receiving a lot of emails but this time, he did it for his dog! The person at the cash register promised great deals and that they don’t annoy their subscribers (Yeah right, they all say that!). But here is what happened next: nothing! Or at least it seemed like nothing was happening. Funny enough, right when his gorgeous Husky was almost out of food my friend received an email from the pet shop. The email included a 10% off his next purchase of dog food. This company understood timing with email. I will guarantee this wasn\'t the first bag of food they sold and they know well about how long the bag will last. As my friend gave his email at the point of sale, they can easily time the next email to be sent with an offer to entice my friend to come back. Did it work? Of course, it did! It is extremely important to properly segment your lists and send emails that make sense! Often times companies try to send emails just to be in front of their subscribers. Although this can be great for branding, make sure the email is relevant first! If it isn’t, it’s probably going to waste your time and your subscribers. With Benchmark, we offer integrations with eCommerce platforms that allow you to create this type of automation. With our new Automations by engagement triggers, that allow you to send emails based on previous opens and clicks of other emails, you can push this to the next level! If that 10% didn’t work, the next email can be a “bring a friend” type email and so forth. You can continue this path until the right email lands in your subscribers inbox to get them back in your store. What are the takeaways from this? Be creative, test and get to know your subscribers. Always, Always! Test your own drip campaigns first. Go to your inbox, see what it looks like from the inbox view, read the emails in detail and try to read your own story. What is the story and path you are trying to take your customers down? What are the questions your customers may have and when? If you get bored reading your own emails or they seem too long, if you aren’t answering questions that interest your subscriber you’re probably losing their attention.


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