Series Posts: Practical Marketer

Why Is The Welcome Email An Important Time To Say Thanks?

Why Is The Welcome Email An Important Time To Say Thanks?

Practical Marketer • November 4, 2016

The very first email campaign should never be the very first impression you give a subscriber. After all, for it to be opt-in email marketing and not spam, they need to have signed up to receive your campaign either via a form or in person. However, it is the first time they’ll get to engage and interact with any of your emails. The most popular first campaign is a Welcome Email, a campaign that can be easily executed with automations. Subscribers are the lifeline to your email marketing efforts and it’s important to make them feel appreciated. So, say thank you. Here’s how: Say It Your welcome email is likely to be one of the most opened email campaigns you send. It’s when your company will be freshest in the minds of your new subscribers. The subject of this email can even be: Thank You For Subscribing. Say it early and often. Then say it once more. Mean It Building a list is a quality over quantity mission. You need subscribers who want to hear from you. When they opt-in, you need to use actions, more than words, to show them you appreciate it. This can be done with a coupon or special offer for new subscribers. Give them value for subscribing from the start. Keep Showing It Tell your subscribers what they should expect from future email campaigns in your welcome email. That way, they can feel valued from the start and will continue to look forward to receiving emails from you. It will pay off with each future open of your email campaigns. You will set yourself up for success moving forward, just being saying and showing how thankful you are from the start with your welcome email.


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How Can I Overcome Email Marketing Horrors?

How Can I Overcome Email Marketing Horrors?

Practical Marketer • October 31, 2016

You won’t hear it as much, but there are days in email marketing where it may seem like a Final Destination and everywhere you turn, there is some hair-raising event that might be the end of you. Things like sending an email in error or sending to the wrong list, large numbers of spam and unsubscribe complaints, or disappearing emails or lists. You might be thinking, “that will never happen to me,”  the characters in Final Destination didn’t either! After spending some time in support, taking calls and helping email marketing software users handling tough situations, receiving a call that a sender had sent an email in error, or that the email has errors is quite common. We’re all human so we make mistakes, but this can be a nightmare if people notice the problem, especially if it\'s big like missing an entire section. So what can you do to avoid accidentally sending an email? There are a couple of ways to prevent this nightmare. Don’t link or associate your list to the email when you create the email. This will prevent you from accidentally sending to the wrong people. Some services may require you to select a list before continuing creating the campaign, if that is the case, create a test list with your colleagues so if you accidentally send the email, it is to someone you know. Some services may be able to stop an email from sending but it is not recommended. Regardless of the infrastructure that the email is sent with, one an email is sent and received in the subscriber’s inbox, there is no way to reach in there to take it back. All the service may be able to do then is stop the remaining subscribers from receiving the incorrect email. Then when you are done and the email is good to go, then associate the campaign with your list. Now you’re sending your email to your subscribers, but murphy’s law applies. The next horrific ordeal you’ll have to go through is a bunch of people unsubscribing and clicking spam. Unfortunately, the damage is done. You can recover by cleaning your list and definitely getting rid of those unsubscribes and complainants. You can also prevent this ordeal from happening by using a tactic called Double Opt-in. Double opt-in is that email a subscriber receives after signing up to a list. It’s a little annoying, but it plays an important part. This double opt-in email will filter the contacts who just want a little nibble of what you got, from the ones who want to be your subscriber and not cause you problems. Without it, who knows what kind of people will sign up to your list. Another common panic-inducing nightmare that does happen, are lists and email drafts disappearing. It happens to the best of us, but that feeling of panic that sets in when you see, or rather, don’t see that item where it’s supposed to be. Hopefully, you have a backup of the email or the of the list, right? It’s a good idea to have a backup but what can you do when you’re just not that lucky. There is a silver lining just like any horror movie and it although it doesn’t apply to every situation, it’s a chance of survival. It’s ideal to have a separate backup of your list in another system, or as it’s own backup file. If your list is missing, you wouldn’t have to start over, but you may not be able to get back all missing contacts by going back to your previous email reports. If your system allows, you might be able to view your contacts and restore them that way. For email drafts that have gone missing, it might be trickier. Much like recovering your missing list, it won’t be perfect and it might be a version that was being worked on, better than starting all over. If you have sent yourself a test email or a sample email to a colleague for review, that is your backup. Without getting too technical, the HTML code of that email is what you want to get and use, essential as a template. Sometimes there is a message at the bottom saying the email is a sample, that can still be removed in the HTML code.


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Why Are Email Marketing And Surveys A Freaky Good Combo?

Why Are Email Marketing And Surveys A Freaky Good Combo?

Practical Marketer • October 25, 2016

It’s been said many times on this blog, in our webinars and other discussions about the benefits of email marketing, but we’ll say it once more: the expected ROI for email marketing is $40 for every $1 spent. A big reason for that is how connected to email your subscribers already are in the first place. For that same reason, surveys serve as a powerful tool when combined with your email marketing efforts. Connect In A Space Engagement Already Exists If you’re using best practices for email marketing and maintaining a clean list, then you should have a list full of individuals who regularly open your email campaigns, click on links and, in general, look forward to receiving communications from you. So, sending a survey via email isn’t exactly a cold call. You’re reaching out in a space where they’re already opted-in to hearing from you. Surveys are just one more approach in the long list of ways you can do great, effective email marketing and maximize that ROI. Gain Valuable Feedback Surveys give a voice to your subscribers. They let you know if you’re delivering on the promises you’ve made and if your customers are happy. Use surveys to gauge the successes and failures of your marketing initiatives, branding and more. They must be used sparingly, as you don’t want to overwhelm your customers, but when sent at the proper times can be highly effective. Learn Your Net Promoter Score You’ve probably been sent a survey in the last year or so by a company looking to determine their Net Promoter Score without even realizing it. The brand likely asked how likely you were to recommend their goods or services to a friend, on a scale of 1-10. They would then subtract the percentage of Detractors (score of 0-6) from the percentage of promoters (9-10) to determine their NPS on a range of -100 to 100. This gives you a read on your customer’s experience and predicts business growth.


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Why Is A Re-engagement Campaign Not A Monster To Be Afraid Of?

Why Is A Re-engagement Campaign Not A Monster To Be Afraid Of?

Practical Marketer • October 24, 2016

There is a monster that grows when you have subscribers just sitting there in a list not doing anything. It’s also there when you have a large number of subscribers, not opening your emails. This monster grows until there comes a time where you’ll have to come face to face with a Frankenstein-like monster. That monster is the re-engagement email you may be considering to send, but it’s frightening what might happen when you send that type of email. When a person subscribes to your emails, this signifies that they are interested in your company, and would like to stay up to date with you. However, time is a monster itself, and over time people can lose interest for any reason and stop opening emails, or their life cycle can end and are just sitting there. Many fear to even think about sending a re-engagement email because it may lead to a lot of unsubscribes as if it’s like releasing a monster onto a village. Much like some stories of Frankenstein though, it’s wrongfully feared. With these conditions, it is the perfect time to at least try to re-engage your contacts. The reason subscribers put their name on the list is because they were excited about your company and your services, so it’s time to get them excited again. So how do you re-engage your contacts? It is as simple as sending an email, but it’s what is in the email is what matters, especially when re-engaging contacts. A question to ask yourself before you send the email is why this person or group of people subscribed to your list in the first place. This would be easy to ascertain if the list has been segmented. It can be harder if you haven’t and that’s okay, it’s definitely not too late to start now. Yes, even un-engaged and inactive contacts you’ll need to split into teams, because it’s usually good to split into teams to tackle a monster, just maybe not in scary movies. Now what you put into the email really depends on your segments and why you want to re-engage these contacts. For example, if you know that your contacts have subscribed because of the Halloween costumes, what you’ll want is to send an email with new Halloween costumes. In this scenario, you’re re-engaging contacts with the goal of having a lot of them remain to keep opening your emails. Otherwise, the other tactic is to clean your list Cleaning your list is a best practice in the email marketing industry. Yes, this does mean getting rid of some contacts and possibly shortening your list, but that’s a good thing! You never want contacts who are disinterested in your emails and do nothing. They only cause problems, especially with deliverability in the end. You always want to send to contacts that you believe will open your email. Hopefully, now that the monster has come to light that now you see it as a gentle giant. Re-engaging your contacts is something not to be afraid of, rather a tactic to be used to either regain contacts or to clean your list.


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What Are Some Tricks I Can Use To Deliver A Treat To My Subscribers For Halloween?

What Are Some Tricks I Can Use To Deliver A Treat To My Subscribers For Halloween?

Practical Marketer • October 18, 2016

The horror genre owns some real estate in the land of Halloween. However, it’s also about fun. Most of us remember dressing up in costumes we were tremendously excited about and dragging a sack full of candy (and our parents) around the neighborhood. If you can capture just a modicum of that fun in your Halloween email marketing campaigns, it will be a success. So, what can you do to achieve that? Surprise Them With A Treat Offer some mystery savings to your subscribers. I’ve seen several businesses in the past execute this strategy to success. You segment your list into three groups. Each receives a different promo code. When they go to checkout and enter the promo code, they discover the amount of savings. One group may get 10%, another 20% and the last 30%. That’s up to you. The fun is in the reveal. Put A Costume On Your Email Template We already talked about ways in which you can Halloween-ize your email marketing template. So, I’ll just touch on why it’s a fun treat for your subscribers. Seeing the same-looking email month after month will get boring. Spicing up your template once in a while for the holidays is a great way to keep things fresh. Put A Costume On Your CEO If it’s early enough in the month, you can offer a poll to your subscribers and let them vote on the costume your CEO will wear. Then you can post the winning option on your social media channels or in another email campaign. CEO is often viewed as a stuffy position. Sending out a photo of your CEO in a funny costume will go a long way towards humanizing the CEO and your brand.


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What Can I Do To Dress Up My Email Marketing Templates For Halloween?

What Can I Do To Dress Up My Email Marketing Templates For Halloween?

Practical Marketer • October 14, 2016

It’s that time of year. Pumpkins aren’t just spicing our lattes anymore. No. They’re everywhere. In the Facebook’s feeds of my friends with kids at the pumpkin patch and they’re carved with the faces of the candidates from the current Presidential election. Halloween is here and it’s everywhere you turn. Does that include your email marketing templates? Try A Pre-Made Template Benchmark Email and all ESPs offer a set of pre-made email templates for every occasion. Pick one of the several available to you and then get to work making sure it still stays true to your brand. Add your logo and anything else you can to maintain a consistency in your branding. This is the store-bought costume route. Adjust Your Current Template The DIY costume option is to put a Halloween spin on your current template. Tweak the color scheme to fit a Halloween vibe. Bring out the orange! You can also add in some extra Halloween graphics to spruce up the template. Drop in a couple pumpkins, a witch or a ghost. Just like when using a pre-made template, it’s imperative not to lose the integrity of your brand within the holiday fun.  


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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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Why is it a bad idea to send from a public domain email address?

Why is it a bad idea to send from a public domain email address?

Practical Marketer • October 7, 2016

I recently heard a simple concept from Michael Drew. He said that he wouldn’t do anything in a marketing campaign that he wouldn’t do in real life. When I got my driver’s license in Illinois, I had to bring two pieces of mail (think bills) with me to prove I lived where I said I lived and that I was a resident. Well, IRL (as the kids say these days), there are occasions where we must prove our identification. It is also imperative to do the same with your email marketing campaigns. DMARC DMARC, which stands for “Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance,” is an email authentication protocol. Your inbox client(s) attempt to authenticate the sender. This is made easier by using an email address from your own domain, versus one from Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc. Translation? It’s best to send an email campaign from your business’ domain For example: yourname@yourbusiness.com. Most importantly, it’s because it will help you with your deliverability. However, as our Director of Marketing, Daniel Miller, mentions in the video below, it’s also an issue of branding. You don’t want to have the idea that you’re too cheap or can’t afford your own domain name, rather than just having a business Gmail account. For more on this subject, watch our quick pre-recorded Facebook Live video:


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My Last Campaign Had A Scary Bounce Rate? What Should I Do?

My Last Campaign Had A Scary Bounce Rate? What Should I Do?

Practical Marketer • October 5, 2016

Having a high bounce rate in your email campaign is very scary. It’s an indication that there is something seriously wrong with that last campaign and many people aren’t getting their timely emails. It’s like that scene in the movie where a person suddenly disappears and nobody knows why. The fear comes from not knowing exactly what happened to cause the issue. In this case, a high bounce rate. Like all scary movies, what we should do is investigate and find out what happened. It might turn out scarier than you think. Check Your Contacts The first thing to do is to look at all the bounces to see if there is a pattern to the email addresses that didn’t receive the email. Is it all from one domain? Is it all hard bounces? Hard bounces are email addresses that a sender has tried to mail to the recipient, but the inbox is not there anymore. The other type, soft bounce, is the opposite and that the inbox exists and is there, however, either the inbox is full or some type of technical reason that it was undeliverable. If there is a pattern then it will point us in the right direction to look. Sometimes there is no pattern but it doesn’t hurt to check, at least not yet. Bounce Logs With every email that is sent to an email address, there is a log that is generated and sent back to the sender. Known as a bounce log, or SMTP log, it tells the sender if the email was successfully sent or if it had bounced. It won’t tell us if it is a hard bounce or a soft bounce. Instead, it gives us a code. From that code, we determine if it is either. If checking your contacts for a pattern is a clue, then bounce logs are in a way evidence. Evidence can be conclusive and actionable, or we may need more supporting evidence to get a clearer picture of what is happening. Check Blacklists Searching for your own name is these lists that are meant for spammers is unnerving. Web sites like MXtoolbox.com or MultiRBL, search through an index of domains and IP addresses to search for yours. If you are on any of these lists, you may not be able to get your email to people who use those lists. The silver lining is that most blacklists are not forever. Normally there is a form or some type of procedure that will allow you to request to be removed. If you get removed from the list, it’s like turning on the lights in a dark and scary room. Slow Down! Often times, email marketers may think that sending as fast as you can is the best thing you can do. Well, speeding in a car going 120 mph isn’t exactly safe, it’s scary in a different sense. Well, sending to as many people as you can, as fast as you can, could be a problem. Service providers like Gmail and Yahoo, have a threshold on how many emails they’ll accept in a certain amount of time. By sending too much, your emails will get deferred. Remember those bounce logs I was talking about? This status is so special it doesn’t even have a code, the log would simply tell us deferred. It means that you are sending too fast and it was no longer accepting emails at that time. Here comes the anti-hero to save the day, throttling. Throttling your emails may be the best way of reducing your bounces and getting into the inbox. Yes, it slows down your email but that’s not a bad thing. Hopefully, you won’t find yourself in a situation like this. All you have to do is follow the best path road and don’t take any shortcuts. Taking the shortcut could land you in a nightmare that will be hard to get out of, but not impossible. If you do find yourself in a nightmarish situation with high bounce rates, these tips should help you survive and send an email another day.


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What Should I Do With My Nightmarish Open Rate?

What Should I Do With My Nightmarish Open Rate?

Practical Marketer • October 4, 2016

Perhaps you sent an email campaign recently, reviewed your reports and did a double take. No! It can’t be. That open rate can’t be right! Let me refresh the page and see if it changes. Shoot! It’s true. That open rate may be the thing of nightmares, making you shoot up in the middle of the night with a cold sweat on your brow. So, what can you do to fix it? Clean Your List Perhaps your open rate is low due to a large number of inactive subscribers filling up your list. It is important to maintain good list hygiene. Look to see who hasn’t opened your last several campaigns. You can remove them outright, or at least attempt a re-engagement campaign to see if you can bring some inactive subscribers back into the fold. Work On Your Subject Lines The subject line is your foot in the door of your subscribers’ inbox. It’s the first impression each campaign makes and the best chance at enticing them to open your email campaign. Remember, the subject line needs to show them the value in your email campaign. It’s not about you! If you’re writing subject lines that service your needs, that may be the cause of your nightmarish open rates. Make it about the subscriber and make sure your campaigns deliver on the promise of your subject lines. Adjust The From Name People don’t like feeling that they’re being marketing to. Sometimes, sending from just your brand name does just that. Try using the name of your CEO, your email marketing manager or an account manager with which your subscribers may have some familiarity. Or combine the two. For example, if you were receiving an email from me it may say “Andy from Benchmark Email.” Run An A/B Test Enough with the guessing games. A/B Testing is one of the most important things you can do with your email campaigns. It tells you how your subscribers are most likely to react to your email campaigns. You can test subject lines as well as From Names against one another to see which are most likely to get your campaigned opened. The A/B Test will send a small portion to a percentage of your list and then send the winning email to the remainder of your list.


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