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Email Newsletter Awards: Best Contest Promotion

Email Newsletter Awards: Best Contest Promotion

Beyond • March 16, 2011

Here at Benchmark, we love contests like we love chocolate ice cream late at night. If a contest is promoted by email in an effective yet simple way, it\'s even better. Thanks to a short, straightforward subject line, a smart email design and a very easy way to enter their contest, Complections Makeup Academy wins our award for Best Contest Promotion. The Complections contest was created to celebrate the school\'s nearly 3,000 Facebook Likes. Details were featured in an email with the short subject line “Complections Newsletter: Facebook Contest!”, which immediately narrowed down the target audience to contest lovers who had (or planned to create) accounts with the social network. Inside the email, the prize, a small makeup kit, was showcased in bright, bold colors and a short, clean paragraph gave the 5 W\'s to readers. At the end of the copy was a Facebook-linked button, that warped subscribers over to the Complection Facebook page featuring the Like button. One button, one click, one entry. It doesn\'t get easier than that. If you\'ve ever entered a high-profile contest, you\'ve probably seen the rules page: a sea of tiny print featuring complex legal jargon. But the creative team behind Complection has proven that when it comes to promoting a chance to win, look to simplicity to really succeed. Check out the winner’s full email campaign in the Benchmark Email Community!


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Email Newsletter Awards: Best Blog Promotion

Email Newsletter Awards: Best Blog Promotion

Beyond • March 1, 2011

Ever since blogging jumped from hobby to business essential, marketers have wondered how to effectively promote posts via email. The issue? Many thought email delivers in spades to promote goods, services and events, but when it came to blogging, few could see an email newsletter as more than a simple alternative to an RSS alert. Enter the MacRo Report. The team behind the company’s real estate blog understood that email could be used to list out the post of the day, but it could do far better to promote what readers missed in the last week. For this reason, MacRo Report Blog wins our Best Blog Promotion Award. Each week, MacRo Report readers get an email in their inbox promoting three MacRo Report blog posts written in the past seven days. These teasers can range from info on hot properties to educational graphs to essential reports on the state of the real estate market. Instead of giving away everything, however, the team uses a paragraph with a link that sends people back to each post in full. The key to MacRo Report’s emails is simple choice. If a subscriber is interested in one of the teased blog posts, a link sends them immediately back to exactly what they want to read, without them having to scroll through other blog posts that simply don’t interest them. If readers aren’t interested in any of the three stories, they simply go about their business until the next blog-related email from MacRo shows up. The team behind MacRo understands that many people love to read blogs but they don’t always have time to visit their favorites on a regular basis. The weekly blog tease reminds readers that the blog is alive and kicking, but it also invites them to stop in for compelling weekly content. Check out the winner\'s full email campaign in the Benchmark Community!


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5 Things I Learned from Declaring Email Bankruptcy

Beyond • February 24, 2011

Back in the late 1990s I signed up for an email account with the expectation that my inbox would only be filled with important communiqués. Being the naïf that I was, this plan quickly dissolved and I went on a bender, signing up for nearly every free offer, contest and newsletter known to man. As the years passed, I’ll admit it: I lost control of this inbox. It grew from a fount of great info to a bloated, Frankensteinian Golem that was part 419 scam, part product hard-sell and part too-good-to-be-true contest offer (does anyone ever win those things?). Last week I poked my head in and this inbox had 20,000 emails. 20,000. After much hand-wringing, I decided I still wanted the email address because it was pure. It had no numbers and no extra letters, just a very common name and domain (a rarity these days). So I did something one might call semi-email bankruptcy: I dumped everything but a hundred or so emails that were so far in the rear-view mirror some of the senders are now deceased. After what I call “The Great Email Purge of 2011,” I began to rebuild. Here are some of the things I learned while channeling your typical email subscriber: A good design and template will save many a subscription. When people say things like, “Oh, your template doesn’t really matter. Even a fair one will work,” don’t believe them. A good template is not unlike being tight with a friend who just happens to be a master chef. I was more than happy to ogle Lorac’s 3D Liquid Luster eyeliner even though it would completely be age-inappropriate for me to sport it. A clean, sleek template saved lots of emails from getting voted off the island. Familiarity is a very powerful thing. As an email marketing company, we constantly talk about building familiarity, but I never realized how powerful this was until I was scrolling through my slimmed-down email inbox. Even if I got infrequent emails from some senders, I could visualize in my head how good their emails looked and read time and again, and I was far more likely to open them. This is like a semi-reverse on the old military adage that if your superior knows you by name (or sight), you’re pretty much screwed. You want your subscribers to know who you are on sight and good content, a cracking good template and great deals will get you many more eyeballs. Today’s legit senders are much better with unsubscribes. Yes, I know, this might be Captain Obvious. In a span of just a few minutes after I emptied my inbox, a trickle of emails started coming in, from major retailers, co-registration companies, and a smattering of multi-lingual spammers. After an unsubscribe-athon, I found that very few legitimate email companies sent even one email after I asked to be taken off their list. The ones that continued sending, even for a few days, fell out of my good graces. Instant unsubscribe is now the norm. Period. Very few senders tell you where (or why) you signed up. This was a big disappointment. For some of the emails I was completely sure where I signed up and why. For others, I was clueless. Xbox Live? 100% probable. Pep Boys? Dubious at best. Even a little bit of info might have stopped me from dropping the axe on many of these messages. Good tips sheets make great attention grabbers. Of the dozens of emails that I pored through, good tips sheets were almost certain to get an open. For instance, Web MD sent an email with the subject line \"5 Unusual Ways to Prevent Heart Disease.\" The purpose of the email was to get me to link back to a blog by one of Web MD’s writer/doctors. Not only did it work, but it made me realize how much this email stood out amongst a sea of messages boasting 50% off tank tops and free gift cards. Although each customer is different, I believe this very unscientific study delivers a reliable barometer of where many customers stand with their inboxes. If you’re not sure how to improve your email campaigns, these observations and tips are certainly a good place to start.


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Email Newsletter Awards: Best Use of Video

Email Newsletter Awards: Best Use of Video

Beyond • February 11, 2011

If you had to count the number of email campaigns promoting live theater with very un-live still photos, you\'d probably run out of numbers. Despite its promotional power, plenty of email marketers refuse to use video in their campaigns, even though many things - the performing arts included - demand the use of this active medium. Fortunately for us, Kerry Records wasn\'t afraid to add an exciting, spirited video in their email campaign. This not only paves the road for other email marketers, but earns Kerry our Best Use of Video award. On the evening of Saint Patrick\'s Day next month, Kerry Records will hold the theatrical version of an Irish Hooley, a dazzling, energetic dance and music party. In promoting the event, the staff at Kerry understood that to sell tickets and get the crowd excited about the show, they needed to give a preview of what to expect that night. The result is an Irish-themed layout framing a video of step-dancing, music playing, and a song that quickens pace for an exciting, toe-tapping finale. The rest of the layout uses text to describe the event and give the details, but make no mistake: the video is the ticket-selling closer. We understand that not every video will have the momentum of a down-home, Irish shindig, but if you\'re on the fence about using video in your campaigns, you should look to Kerry Records as an example. Remember that the same people who skim emails before virtually dumping them in the trash bin will often watch a brief, well-crafted video, and this may give you the chance to re-engage an unenthused group of subscribers. Check out the winner\'s video email campaign in the Benchmark Community!


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Creating an Email Marketing Plan – Design and Content

Beyond • February 11, 2011

Some say email marketing is a lot like getting free tickets to a movie. Your subject line convinces people to go inside, but your email and layout keep them from walking right back out. In other words, if you can\'t immediately dazzle with your words and design, you\'ll never sell your goods, promote your event, or show your subscribers why you\'re sending to them in the first place. Fortunately, creating an email campaign that bears a decent response and click-through rate can be done by following some easy to remember, similar rules for both layouts and verbiage. Use the tips below to cut the clutter and clean up your campaigns and you\'ll send more subscribers back to your website, landing page or other preferred location. Streamline Your Email Copy If you have to come up with a phrase that perfectly describes the nature of email copy, \"less is more,\" though cliché, is 100% accurate. Most subscribers are ruthless, spending just a few seconds reading emails before moving on, so email copy has to be active, light and skim-able. Here\'s how to create crisp copy that keeps recipients engaged: Be a heavy handed editor. Unnecessary words can bloat your emails into a blocky, cluttered mess. Write all your copy and go back – more than once, if necessary – to cut out the excess. By ditching phrases like \"in order to,\" \"in regards to,\" or \"to enable you to\" in your campaigns, you will improve your copy flow, engage your readers and make your emails easier to digest all around. Bust up your paragraphs. The days of droning on in five-sentence paragraphs are over. Thanks to everything from smartphones to social media, humans are more pressed for time than ever before. When you present a large-yet-well-written paragraph to your subscribers, prepare to be ignored. To combat reading fatigue, use no more than two streamlined sentences in a paragraph, and use links to send people to the director\'s cut. Speak directly to your audience. Are you speaking directly to your subscribers or speaking about something and letting them listen in? Your readers want to know that you understand their needs, so write like you\'re speaking directly to them. Instead of writing \"it is easy to understand problems retailers face regarding inventory management,\" write something like, \"we understand your inventory management challenges.\" Show readers that you\'ve walked in their shoes and you\'ll see more action on the response front. Focus Your Email Layouts Packing your email with tons of images, dozens of links and a tumult of info will not only confuse your readers but chase them off in no time flat. Instead, you want your email template to convey your message as efficiently and elegantly as possible. Here are three ways to focus your email layouts for easier consumption: Use a liberal amount of white space. The best way to showcase graphics, text and video in your emails is to add plenty of breathing room. This can mean adding more free space between images, paragraphs and graphics, but not so much that your layout looks unfinished. If you\'ve done your job right, your readers will quickly and easily absorb your images and copy when they open your emails, but not feel like they\'re missing part of the meal. Be disciplined with images. The vast majority of email layouts need images to both present a product and break up text content. But while eye-popping images can captivate your subscribers, too many will turn them off. Instead of cramming your layout with eight or ten images, use five, four or three solid ones instead. Think quality - not quantity - when you choose your email images. Focus on the essentials. Are you dying to talk about the fifteen new products in your catalog, or the dozen or more services you\'ve just started offering? Before you sit down and work on your layout, list the items that will take top billing in your email newsletter. Remember: too much choice is a bad thing. If you create a great email layout that gives three to five things their proper due rather than twelve that have to share that small space, you\'ll see more click-throughs, sales and attention from your valued subscribers. Finding a right balance between too much and too little is an ongoing challenge for even the most experienced email marketers, but the tiny screens of smartphones, tablets and netbooks make sleek layouts with tight, snappy text more important than ever. If you use the tips above to cut your campaigns down to size, you\'ll easily see the fruits of hard work in your reports, response rates and sales. The Email Marketing Plan Series: Creating an Email Marketing Plan - Who Is Your Audience? Creating an Email Marketing Plan - Reaching Your Customers Creating an Email Marketing Plan - Who Is the Competition? Creating an Email Marketing Plan - What is the Ultimate Goal? Creating an Email Marketing Plan - Go Viral with Social Networking


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Email Newsletter Awards: Best Use of Newsletter Testimonial

Email Newsletter Awards: Best Use of Newsletter Testimonial

Beyond • January 14, 2011

Color us skeptical, but while metal detectors seem like a great idea, we\'ve pretty much heard that all you end up with are soda can tabs and rusty bolts. That\'s why we were shocked to find ourselves dazzled by Kellyco\'s newsletter testimonial claiming that one of the metal detector supplier\'s customers found a $4500 platinum and diamond ring. Congratulations, Kellyco, you\'ve made us believe. For this reason alone, we\'re giving you the award for best use of newsletter testimonial. If you click on the photo of the bling on the finder\'s finger, which sits smack dab in the middle of the newsletter, you\'re sent back to Kellyco\'s website where you can read the lucky treasure hunter\'s own account of how they found that precious item. This testimonial, told in first person account and featuring a full photo of the finder, is more than enough to humanize the story and really make it, well, real. Kellyco serves as a great example of how to make a newsletter template personal and enticing. Interspersed in the website you\'ll find exciting stories of customers finding gold nuggets, rare coins, and even an 18-pound bar of silver. If that\'s not enough to make us spring for a Teknetics T2 with audio 200 headphones, we don\'t know what will. Check out the award-winner\'s email campaign in the Benchmark Community.


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Email Newsletter Awards: Most Interesting Content

Email Newsletter Awards: Most Interesting Content

Beyond • December 12, 2010

At some point, every email marketer worries that their newsletter topic will go over like a five- hour seminar on dialysis equipment. If you don\'t have your own focus group to mull over every idea, it\'s simply too easy to pick topics that fall flat. For iPrints.com, our Newsletter Awards winner for Most Interesting Content, finding an intriguing topic was a matter of creatively asking and answering a very common question: How does one (effectively) photograph fireworks? In reality, most people with cameras have at some point tried – and failed – to take great snaps of fireworks, only to end up with dark images framing smudgy, barely there explosions. But iPrints.com not only breaks down what adjustments need to be made, but also when to take the best shots and where to stand to get them. This iPrints.com email does more than pique the interest of readers, it takes a typical-yet-compelling issue and addresses it with crisp, easy to digest text. Thanks to this breezy content, readers learned something new and put iPrints.com\'s emails on their must-open list. Check out the full-size version of the Most Interesting Content winner\'s email campaign in the Benchmark Community.


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Email Newsletter Awards: Best Design

Email Newsletter Awards: Best Design

Beyond • December 2, 2010

In the film Gosford Park, Maggie Smith\'s snobby Countess puts down a frumpy woman\'s evening gown by snarking, \"Difficult color, green\". She wasn\'t kidding. Email marketing campaigns by the truckload have tried and failed with the color, but every once in a while, someone gets it right. And when it happens, we celebrate. Introducing our Best Design Award winner, Echostore, a shop that sells all-natural products for sustainable, earth-conscious living. Instead of overwhelming customers with a brash palette of gauche greens, Echostore instinctively went the subdued route, and the result is nothing less than marvelous. The very theme of this award-winning template is clean, and we\'re not just talking about Lemongrass-scented cleansers. From the sleek-yet-readable font to the modern interior in the background, Echostore\'s email campaign is a perfect blend of style, simplicity, and a serious eye for what will wow subscribers. You can see the web-version of this Best Design Award winner\'s email campaign in the Benchmark Community.


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