Series Posts: Beyond

Internal Newsletters: The Underdog of Email Marketing

Internal Newsletters: The Underdog of Email Marketing

Beyond • July 27, 2015

The internal newsletter: let’s be honest, do you think of this as an essential business tool? Or rather something that arrives every so often and is undertaken by someone, you’re not sure who, in the marketing department? This latter outlook on internal emails is all too common. So, how can we transition from a away from wasting of everyone\'s time and treat the internal newsletter what it is: a huge opportunity. Writing awesome internal newsletters Let’s start with asking a key question: what is the ultimate aim of your internal newsletters? For many this may be motivational, for others, it may be informative - regardless of the specific goals your internal newsletters should be considered as a tool for effective companywide communications, and as such, given the time that is deserves. 1. Keep it Simple Email marketing principals aren’t merely restricted to customer email shots, internal emails face the same challenges such as improving open rates, engagement and reader conversions, which should all should act as key metrics in assessing the effectiveness of your internal emails. As a starting point you should focus upon simplicity, maintain content that focuses on being concise, rather than long winded, and writing with a natural tone that flows from one paragraph to the next. A particular area to review in many a company newsletter is that of the CEO intro; these currently serve as a section that generically suffers from being too long and generally boring full of corporate speak, which can mean that readers fail to make it past even this initial section. 2. Engage, empower, enlighten Internal newsletters shouldn’t be regarded as just something that is sent every week or month. Instead they should aim to engage, empower and enlighten. Your readers should genuinely find your content valuable to them and their job role, rather than reader because the boss told them to. So provide colleagues with a reason to read, be useful and create copy that is catchy, engaging and a possibly even a genuine joy read. So, how do you make what may be otherwise relatively standard content engaging? As a starting point you could introduce a little humor, testament to which are amusing email chains that not only engage readers, but that experience super high levels of conversions by way of a forward. Humour is far more flexible a tactic than you may think, and even industry or company news can be enhanced with a few humorous comments or well-placed candid photos. Some self-depreciation can work especially defusing. Be careful to keep it tasteful and respectful - if any internal newsletter would end up on the front page of the newspaper – it should not harm company reputation. A further way in which to engage upon a personal level (as well as instilling motivation and recognition to boot) is to include a regular team or individual staff member commendation section. This section would then include a brief report on what it is the team or individual has achieved. 3. Talking about tone In order to be engaging it’s generally advisable that newsletters employ a tone that is fairly relaxed and casual. Opting for too formal a tone can feel monotone and even appear authoritarian. Given that newsletters benefit from fewer restrictions as compared to official companywide communications, writers have the freedom necessary to use a tone they find effective and content that they deem to be useful and valuable for their readership. 4. Responding to emails increasingly opened via mobile The way in which people read email has changed irrevocably over the past decade and today an increasing number of users access email from an array of devices, from smartphones through to tablets. This change in readership must be responded to through using a responsive email design that adapts to the screen upon which it is accessed. To illustrate just how important this is 82% of people use their mobile phone to check their email and consider that 42% of email subscribers delete emails that fail to display in a mobile friendly manner, and when this is coupled with the traditional open and engagement challenges that you already face your internal emails could be seeing all together rather lowly readership rate.


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How to Plan Your Campaign Newsletter

How to Plan Your Campaign Newsletter

Beyond • July 24, 2015

Now that you know about why campaign-driven newsletters are a marketing win, it’s time to put pen to paper and plan how you’re going to execute your next newsletter campaign. In the last post, we talked a bit about drip campaigns but we didn’t get into how to actually plan out your drip email marketing campaign. A drip campaign was a series of sales emails that are spaced out in their delivery and their message, but which all serve a common goal. Newsletter Planning: Drip Campaigns You might have seen drip campaigns with organizations that are looking to fundraise or draw attention to an event. You’ll see the same focused message – with the goal of getting a donation or selling a ticket – sent several times in a few different. So, say one email campaign might be announcing an event. A second newsletter in that campaign might feature the host or a speaker with some background on who they are. The goal is still selling that ticket or getting a donation, so you’ll see a couple calls to action. The same calls to action will pop up again in a third newsletter around the same campaign. This time we’re talking about some VIP attendees, or the caterer and the venue. Before an event actually occurs, you might have 5 email campaigns going out about the event, trying to generate both buzz and attendance. Newsletter Planning: Curated Newsletters You may not always have an event going on to center your drip campaigns around. For those of you scrambling to come up with new creative ideas around newsletters, consider curated newsletters. Curated newsletters gives you an automated approach to newsletters. In the middle of all the other amazing things you do that you could be talking about in a newsletter, a curated newsletter lets you think about one less thing while still meeting your marketing goals – which might be to get out some sort of newsletter series or one newsletter a day. The curated newsletter is also about really showing your industry knowledge while also catering completely to the subscriber. These types of creative newsletters aggregate interesting or trending findings on the web. It’s popular or niche content that your subscriber may not have found or had time to find, but which you’re not presenting to them. That ability to cater to your audience needs makes your company or organization that much more worth it to your subscriber. A curated newsletter is a lot like Paper.li, for example. However, in my opinion, it’s better than Paper.li because you’re rewarding your subscribers directly where they are with great content. They don’t need to subscribe to anything else, click anywhere else; they’re getting what they opted in for right where they are…which will also help stimulate them to read the other amazing newsletters you’re going to send in-between your weekly or monthly curated email campaign. Newsletter Planning: Promotional Campaigns Along the same lines of curated email campaigns, promotional campaigns allow you to approach email marketing with a necessary level of automation. Promotional campaigns work best with product related industries, like retail, where businesses can really dig into the product. So rather than sending out another boring self-interested email campaign that pushes a product and rattles an exclusive coupon, the promotional campaign takes one product and tells it story. You can look into how the product is made, where it is sourced from, and really speak to the heart of the product your selling and the business you’ve established. It’s a great way to build a heart-led business, which your business-led mind knows does very well when it comes to sales.


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Why Campaign-Driven Newsletters Are a Win

Why Campaign-Driven Newsletters Are a Win

Beyond • July 23, 2015

The nature of digital is changing, and this has been evident first and foremost in advertising. In advertising, you notice that people are no longer just selling a product … they’re telling a story. That approach has trickled down into content, social media and even within the hashtag of a given campaign. The best approaches to marketing are those that integrate every effort under the campaign model. So, what is the campaign model? The campaign model isn’t about the one-off piece of content like most newsletters end up being. It’s about a long-term strategy to communicate a goal. Whether that goal is to drive sales or deepen engagement and customer loyalty, a email marketing strategy that takes the campaign approach will be far more effective than any other strategy that stands alone. Campaign-driven newsletters don’t need to be complicated. A standard email campaign will be a link in a chain. The various parts that make up that chain could include perhaps an initial email, a follow-up, additional information, and so on. Campaign-driven newsletters could also take the form of a drip campaign. A drip campaign is a series of emails received by the subscriber over time. It’s a perfect strategy for those businesses and organizations that are looking to communicate a lot of information with a client or member, but who don’t want to burden them with too much info at once. Keeping needs and capacity in mind, a drip campaign will over digestible pieces of broken up content over time – perhaps one a week to even one a day if needed. Typically, it might be a good idea to have these emails spaced about by a day or two so that a subscriber might receive one on a Tuesday and another on a Thursday. These types of segmented campaigns work best when they’re enveloped as part of a sales cycle, which means that each link in the chain will be customized to the stage of the relationship the subscriber is in. This is really where campaigns separate between the routine set of emails a business might push out, versus email marketing campaigns that are driven by a content marketing strategy. Information streams of that do (and should) vary based on where the client is also an email campaign strategy that should be carried over to social driven campaigns. Here, the idea is that you utilize social channels to drive people to email marketing content. This works best with long pieces of content rather than promotional items or quick stunted content. When you’ve got great lengthier content to share, you can pull a pivotal issue from your copy and pose that as a trigger question that evokes a strong response or opinion. When all else fails, you can always ask a question that gets people curious. In order to satisfy that curiosity, they would need to click on your resourceful link. This way, you’re successfully utilizing social media as bait that’s driving people to your standalone email campaign URL. It also sets the social share apart from the other instance when you’re directly sharing the campaign URL. As any social media marketer knows, you want to post key shares multiple times. Typically, you would stagger the same share across a span of weeks or months. However, depending on the rate at which you’re posting content on social, you can get creative about how you’re sharing. In this case, rather than just recycling a post, you can change the graphic and post copy. Now, you have a brand new post and are likely drawing in clickers that may not have been otherwise interested in the original self-serving social share. When it comes to email marketing campaigns, you can take either the drip campaign route or the social route. Either way, remember that people have signed up for a reason. Now your job is to nurture those connections with targeted marketing.


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Benchmark Email at RISE

Benchmark Email at RISE

Beyond • July 22, 2015

Benchmark Email is thrilled to announce that we will have a booth at RISE, a new tech conference aiming to give leaders of enterprise a place to gather and display the ways in which their companies are changing the way we live. This very special event is hosted by the team behind Web Summit and we are excited to be a part of it. Rise takes place July 31st-August 1st 2015 and will be held at the Hong Kong Convention Centre. There will be speakers from Amazon and Google at the event as well as dozens of other CEOs and founders of many incredible companies. Benchmark will be holding court at our booth talking email marketing both days. We\'re looking forward to meeting so many amazing individuals and companies.


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Rocking with Crunchyroll’s Miles Thomas

Rocking with Crunchyroll’s Miles Thomas

Beyond • July 21, 2015

Miles Thomas was a fan of anime long before joining the team at Crunchyroll. One of the biggest streaming services around, rivaling Netflix, Crunchyroll has a robust roster of anime shows available. Miles had some advice for others looking to pursue their passions and it was a treat to talk with him.


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Rounding up the Best Email Designs for Retail, Business & Organizations

Rounding up the Best Email Designs for Retail, Business & Organizations

Beyond • July 20, 2015

Now that we’ve gotten a solid understand the basics of what your email campaigns should look like in order to be conversion-friendly, the next step is how to go one step further and create email designs for your unique industry. The top three tiers of industries include retail, business and organizations. Here, we break down how to approach email marketing designs for each one. Best Email Template Designs for Retail How you design your retail email marketing campaigns will depend heavily on your demographic. Millennials will want out of the box thinking, while anything before Generation X will prefer a more traditional approach. For example, consider two national shoe retailers: Naturalizer and TOMS. While a younger demographic that is frequently on their feet may rely on a Naturalizer shoe, the brand is really catered toward a more mature audience. What bridges their mature demographic with their 20 something year old that will purchase their product, is a need to opt for a practical shoe. Naturalizer’s email marketing reflects that clean lines, categorized info and easy calls to action that are still youthful in design. The layout gives you quick access points for shopping, and is in fact design to replicate a website shopping experience. You enter their email and you’ve entered their story. And like any good email marketing campaign from a retailer, there’s an incentive to act: the $10 coupon plus free shipping offer. There’s a good chance the coupon code is also tied to that specific email marketing campaign to help track conversions. Equally as practical, our other example here is TOMS. TOMS are comfortable but that’s not why you buy them. The demographic is completely different, which is why this is a great example. With each TOMS purchase, you’re buying into a piece of their culture. In an MTV Insights conversation with TOMS’ cofounder, Blake Mycoskie, revealed the “DIY collaborative mindset of the millennial generation … [and] how the entire brand is playing upon the millennial currency of the experience.” TOMS’ email campaigns reflect that experience. They take a more creative approach that looks like more like an Instagram photo than a traditional email marketing campaign. Again, their audience is not just looking to buy a product; they’re looking to buy an experience. The email campaign does just that by tapping into your imagination and showing you how to pair their products with one of the busiest seasons of the year – wedding season. Best Email Template Designs for Business Businesses should approach their email marketing in a slightly different way. Rather than featuring a product, their task is to prove value and create multiple points for calls to action. The most stunning business newsletter I’ve seen is from marketing agency in San Diego called Tribus Media. Their email marketing format is also designed to read like a website, but includes a very strong content marketing strategy design to guide prospective customers to key areas of information that help with the sales cycle. After two key points of conversation designed to pique curiosity and sell, their template funnels down to reaffirm authority and then encourage a conversation. Best Email Template Designs for Organizations The one thing organizations tend to do is be content heavy. That’s a mistake. Organizations need to be even more creative, exciting and methodical in who they communicate their messages – especially because of the lack immediate gratification their work tends to offer. So with an organization, you’re not setting a product or a service – you’re selling an experience, or an association. In that regards, organizations can learn the most from millennial marketing in terms of cultivating experience through multimedia messaging. Here are some gorgeous examples that do just that: Doltone House and Four Pillars Gin. Though the industries are different, the takeaway is the same. Be breathtaking. Even though were speaking here in terms of templates, as a marketer you should never think in terms of templates. A template isn’t supposed to be mold. Rather, it’s designed to act as a framework for your ideas, to help your team organize and present content in a meaningful way. A template design can take or either a very creative look or it can have more structure. Whichever route you decide to take for your emails, a great rule of thumb is to have several templates ready to go. You’re going to want a template for standard weekly newsletters, one for quick memos or announcements, another for quarterly emails, holiday campaigns and one for events or highly conversion-oriented campaigns. And, every once in a while, shake it all up and try something totally new to keep your audience interested and on their toes.


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Benchmark Email at the Seattle Small Business Expo + Tips & Tweets

Benchmark Email at the Seattle Small Business Expo + Tips & Tweets

Beyond • July 15, 2015

On Thursday, July 16th Benchmark Email will be at the Seattle Small Business Expo. If you\'re in the area, we\'d love it if you came and said hello! We\'re booth #316. Plus, Daniel Miller will be delivery a workshop at 11:15 AM called \"Generate the Highest ROI with Email Marketing.\" If you cannot make it there in the morning, at 3:30 he\'ll be back with a How-To Demo called \"How to Effectively Market Through Email.\" In anticipation of the Seattle Small Business Expo, we reached out to some of our favorite small businesses in the area. We sought to find out what makes Seattle unique and the tips to succeed in that market. We got some great responses. Check them out! @BenchmarkEmail For us, it\'s been all about transparency with our supply chain, farmers, and partners — Homegrown (@homegrownian) July 10, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail ah, you flatter + thank-you. We\'re for sustainable + original style.We resell #secondhand goods w/ focus on #amercianmade — Citizen Rosebud (@citizenrosebudz) July 10, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail High Quality, 100% Handcrafted, Raw Earthy Bohemian Gypsy Jewelry and Amazing Customer Focus and Service Makes Me Stand Out! — Mamie Stubbs (@MadeByMame) July 9, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail Hey there! We have a very strict company policy of sleeping at night. :) — HighYa (@HighYaReviews) July 6, 2015


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The Holy Grail of Designing Your Email Templates for Conversion

Beyond • July 15, 2015

The ultimate goal of any email marketing campaign is to drive conversion, which is why your email templates are critical to achieving this goal. Consider the following 10 fail-proof tips the Holy Grail of email templates design. Dump the Links. Go for the Buttons The mistake a lot of people make is to stick with the old tired trends. For digital media, websites used to have links guiding people to points of interest. Now it’s buttons. However, email marketing hasn’t quite caught on and the same old strategies are still being employed in email templates. So instead of a link, try having a button instead. It’s more visually appealing and it’s more engaging. When designing your template, some people will prefer designing in Photoshop while others will prefer code. Whenever possible, go for code. HTML buttons will download even if the image doesn’t, which happens more often than not since not all users allow for auto image downloads. Squint Test Last but not least, there’s the squint test. It’s just about as simple as it sounds: squint your eyes to see which parts of the email template stand out the most. Your call to actions should be the most noticeable when you’re squinting. Squinting allows for the same “quick glance” view that most users have when they’re scanning through emails. Think of the seven second rule that websites live by: you have 7 seconds to entice your reader. If you can’t manage to rope them in within seven seconds, then you’ve lost them. The audience is a little more discerning for email marketing campaigns. You’re lucky if you have about half that time, particularly in light of the many emails users still need to get through to reach inbox zero. Follow the Picture You may have heard of logos that have subliminal designs in them design to get you to associate their brand with a direction or a message. Think of the “happy face” that’s created in Amazon’s logo, which also guides you from “A to Z,” which is just about what they cover – everything from A to Z. A picture is more than just a thousand words. A picture, whether in your logo or in your email marketing campaign, can direct a user to what you want them to see. It can act as an arrow. Take the example here by Alex White, who shows you how the picture of a baby in a retail campaign, is actually serving a dual purpose. Even in a squint test, you can clearly see what the baby is looking at –which is what you’re going to be looking at too. The face that images can be used in such a strategic way also underscores a point we’ve made several times here: images are a crucial component of your marketing strategy. The image you select can empower or deflate your campaign long before anyone gets to the content. On that note, the layout and design and equally as important. A great image with a poor design is a defeating move. However, great imagery with a powerful design (and compelling content), is going to get you that conversion.


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Indiegogo Day & NightDrive Eyewear

Indiegogo Day & NightDrive Eyewear

Beyond • July 14, 2015

John Galley may refer to himself as a technology turkey and doesn\'t fancy himself an inventor, but he saw a problem and figured out the best possible way to solve it. In realizing he could use some assistance to drive at night, he researched the best possible product to help him. Not finding a satisfying solution, he created his own in NightDrive Eyewear. He took his project to Indiegogo and succeeded in getting his night driving glasses with interchangeable lenses crowdfunded. Galley had a ton of amazing advice to offer people looking to go the Indiegogo route or with crowdfunding in general. There tips are not to be missed. Listen and enjoy!


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Zoho Integration for Benchmark Email

Zoho Integration for Benchmark Email

Beyond • July 13, 2015

Every company has several departments: sales, content, design, etc. It’s not just for organization sake that a company is separated in this way, but it is because each department has a specific role and that they have in the company. Despite the different roles that they play, each department still has to connect with one another in order to have the company run smoothly and thrive. Imagine the same situation for all of your company’s online data. Before, you probably had various different apps that you bought separately, each from different brands and for different departments, and then you had to take so much time to configure each one to allow it to work with other apps. That doesn’t sound like an easy process and that’s because it isn’t!Sometimes each department just prefers using specific apps, but unfortunately, not every app will get along. The only solution to this would be one project management system that will contain all the apps that your office needs. Call it the company mother ship. In other words, it is the web-based online suite that contains the vitals tools for your business including: word processing, spreadsheets, note-taking, CRM, invoicing, etc. Way more convenient and way more functional to use. Take for example, Raw Engineering, a web and mobile application development firm. With up to 30 users working on 10 projects, they were in dire need of a one-stop-shop program. As CEO Nishant Patel puts it, “Other products are good in specific areas, but they didn\'t integrate as well with third-party apps like Gmail. And they weren\'t providing us with an end-to-end solution. From an admin perspective, it created a nightmare that had us managing three or four different web apps. Zoho Projects brought it all together for us in one solution that\'s really simple, fast, and responsive – easy to use and easy to administer.” Along with Raw Engineering, tons of other companies have experienced the huge advantages of Zoho, not to mention less headaches, misplaced data, and other fumbles. If you want your internal office to run seamlessly and each department to work in harmony, then it will only make sense to use a software that will do the same thing. Plus seamlessly integrate Zoho with your email marketing, thanks to the Benchmark Email Zoho integration.


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