Series Posts: Practical Marketer

What Are The Email Metrics I Should Be Paying Attention To?

What Are The Email Metrics I Should Be Paying Attention To?

Practical Marketer • August 8, 2016

There are a lot of metrics to look at when sending an email campaign to your contacts. The metrics you should pay close attention to are: Return on Investment (ROI) Conversion rate Click Through Rate (CTR) Unsubscribes Unopens A metric that is missing from this list that everyone focuses on is opens. Although opens are important, in that it tells us who had opened this email that we just sent, but that’s essentially all that it tells us. It doesn’t necessarily tell us if the campaign has been successful. It really just tells us who opened the email. The metrics that we’ll talk about have a different meaning than the opens. When you analyze these metrics they will not just give us more information, but will give us an idea of what to do next. Return on Investment Many ESPs do not report ROI, but it is one important metric that should be looked at. Time and time again, the channel that proves to be the highest return for every dollar invested remains to be email marketing. In Litmus’ State of Email Report, the ROI for email marketing in 2015 is 38-1. However, just having a high ROI doesn’t mean you are successful in your email campaign. What you want to see in your ROI Metric is that return growing or increasing from campaign to campaign. If you invest the same number, and your return is increasing, that is when you know you have a very successful campaign and strategy. At the sign of decreasing ROI, you know there is something wrong and that you’ll need to make an adjustment. Conversion Rate What is considered a conversion? Well, according to Marketing Sherpa’s Ultimate Email Glossary, it means the email recipient performing the desired action we the sender wanted them to perform. This ranges from just opening the email, clicking a link to visit your website or even making a purchase on your website. Whatever you consider is the conversion action, this conversion rate metric illustrates how strong your list is. Unlike ROI, which measures how successful an email campaign/strategy is, Conversion Rate shows us as a business how loyal and engaged your customers in the list are. Remember to not be fixated on opens and adjust your conversion metrics to show meaningful actions from your subscribers. Click Through Rate I personally mention Click Through Rate when talking with email marketers, because I believe it to be very important ... especially if you are in the retail business. Click rate or click through rate is immensely valuable when it comes to seeing the level of interest in a product. As a retail business, it is most likely you’ll have multiple products in an email that you are showcasing hoping for the conversion of clients looking at the product in the email to making a purchase on your website. Well, you can gauge the level of interest in each product you list in your email. Since effectively each link is a product, we can tell how interested people are by how many times they click on that single link. The technology is available for service providers to tell how many times a link has been clicked on. When you have a high click-through rate and an especially high rate of repeated clicks from a single person, you can safely assume that person either likes the product or has a big interest in it. Unsubscribes Unsubscribed contacts are not something a marketer wants to see. Especially in email marketing, when all of your contacts should be clean and want to receive your emails. However, humans are the finicky type and people do things for various reasons. It is expected to get a couple of unsubscribes here and there. So what should you be looking for in unsubscribes? When your contacts sign up to your list, a big question is why the have signed up in the first place. Were you running a promotion for signing people up? Were these signups from your website? When a person unsubscribes from your email, it’s because they lost that reason for staying. So when you start seeing more and more unsubscribes, you may want to stop and take a look at your emails to see what may be causing a high unsubscribe rate. So unsubscribes let us see cause and effect. Unopens This may seem like a hipster thing and instead of looking at the opens, looking at the unopens is even better. It’s better because when looking at the unopens, you can take direct action to improving your deliverability and make your list stronger. Unopens are unengaged contacts and they basically just take up space and cost you, the email marketer, money. So if you are consistently sending email campaigns that go unopened, you should definitely clean them from your list! Cleaning them does not mean deleting them off of your list, but at the very least you may want to place them on an inactive list. Legitimate unopened emails that sit in the inbox for a very long time are starting to become a bit of a problem, but not as bad as spam back in the day. However, they are cluttering the inbox and is becoming an issue in the eyes of some providers. It’s becoming such a problem that it even has a name, called Grey Mail. Grey Mail can lower your deliverability if you send too much of it. So if you start seeing a lot of unopens should trigger a process of cleaning out your list!


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How Should I Segment My Email List(s)?

How Should I Segment My Email List(s)?

Practical Marketer • August 1, 2016

List segmentation is a must in order to deliver the most relevant content to your subscribers’ inbox. It’s the best way to create a one-to-one feel for your marketing campaigns. So, how can you accomplish successful list segmentation? There are many ways to do it, but we’ll break it down into the ways in which you can achieve good list segmentation before and after the signup. Before Signup Segmenting your list from the start is the best way to go. That way, your subscribers are receiving targeted content from the very first email they receive. You can segment your lists using signup forms in two very effective ways. The first way is to use the data fields in your signup form. This could be by industry, location, gender or many other options. This information will help sort out new subscribers and will allow you to send great, relevant content to each segment. If you’re a clothing company, you can send the new men’s and women’s lines to the right gender. When segmenting by location, you can even time your campaigns to send at the time you’d like, such as 9AM, in each time zone. The other way to segment pre-signup is to allow individuals to select which list they’d like to join. The easiest way to explain this is with a Weekly or Monthly newsletter. Some subscribers may only want to hear from you once per month. Others would be excited to hear from you on a weekly basis. Your superfans may even select both! After Signup We don’t always get it right the first time (as in before the signup). Some may be so excited to get going with their email marketing, they don’t plan it all the way through in terms of list segmentation. That’s OK too. For this group, reports are especially important. Your reports will speak wonders in regards to the preferences of your subscribers. By paying attention to the types of links your subscribers are clicking on, you can get an idea of the types of articles or other content that grabs their attention. You can then segment your lists based on that information. Using your reports, you can also segment by levels of engagement. You can break it down to the individuals who are opening all of your email campaigns, some of your email campaigns and none of your email campaigns. By doing this, you can vary the strategy for each group. You can try a hail mary campaign to re-engage the ones who aren’t opening your emails. The best way to do this is simply by telling those subscribers you’re going to stop sending to them. Everyone wants what they can’t have. Bonus: Unsubscribes When someone decides to unsubscribe from your email campaigns, they already have one foot out the door. Before it shuts, you can direct them to a preference center. There, they can unsubscribe if that’s what they’re determined to do. However, like on the signup form, you can allow these individuals to change the frequency with which they are sent to or the types of lists they are a part of. You may save some unsubscribes and even turn unhappy subscribers into delighted ones.


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Why Are My Emails Going Into The Promotions Tab?

Why Are My Emails Going Into The Promotions Tab?

Practical Marketer • July 28, 2016

Since Gmail’s smart labels or smart filters were released to its users in 2013, a big question for email marketers has been, “what makes my email go into the promotions tab?” Google being as complex as they are, it’s an algorithm that determines where your emails are sent. There are a variety of factors that determine to which tab your emails are sent. Since Google does not publicly release this information, we can only make observations based on the emails sent and received with each tab. Focusing on the Promotions tab, the emails received there are surprisingly very accurate in terms of being promotional emails. Google’s algorithm is adjusted based on personal preferences and the email recipient’s actions. A subject line like, “$10 Off Your First Item,” is a dead giveaway. Why isn’t this in my spam folder though? I do have a membership to this website, which goes to show how extensive and complex the algorithm is. Your domain and sending reputation undoubtedly are a part of what Google looks at. Google, being one of the biggest online search indexes, might have some sense of who you are based on your domain online. Everyone knows who Amazon and Uber are, but just because your name is big does not mean you’ll get the coveted Primary tab. Amazon mainly sends transactional emails, so those go into my primary tab no problem. Unless I subscribe to their newsletters, those go to the Promotions tab. Uber sends me 50% deals (thank you), but those I’ll only see in my Promotions tab. There are some things we can change, others we can’t. A way to describe the algorithm is that it’s like a very shallow person that puts the emails it doesn’t like, promotional emails, into a special tab, so it can kinda get ignored. Although you can’t change Google’s algorithm, you probably don’t want to change your domain. So what can you do? Well, because the algorithm is complex we can try to influence Google to consider it as a primary email. Here are some tips: Personalization. Using the subscriber\'s name can prove to be influential. However, don’t make it sound too spammy! Images. Promotional emails usually have lots of pictures for their items. Try to reduce images and increase text. Hyperlinks. This is the same concept as images above. Lots of promotional emails have links leading to products. Reducing the number of hyperlinks going to websites can influence the algorithm.


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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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How much time should I spend on my email marketing campaigns?

How much time should I spend on my email marketing campaigns?

Practical Marketer • July 20, 2016

When you first signup for Benchmark Email, the header on the form says you can send your first email in 30 minutes. That’s true. However, that’s not necessarily how much time you can spend on every campaign. True to form with most marketing questions, the real answer is that it depends. It can range from 30 minutes to several hours and maybe more. Let’s look at what factors play into it. If you did want to fire off a quick campaign, it’s perfectly acceptable to select a pre-made template, drop in some quick text and an image or two and send it on its way. This is an incredibly simple thing to do that works great if you don’t have much design expertise or want to send a campaign from a live event. Adding your logo and using a From Name which your subscribers will recognize will go a long way for branding, even with a ready-made template. Creating your first campaign and your own custom template would obviously take a bit longer. However, with a drag-and-drop editor, it shouldn’t be too time-consuming. As you get more experience, the time will shorten too. However, that first time it could take you a few hours to get it just right. Be sure to send a few test emails to make sure it’s what you expected and get opinions from a friend or coworker … or both. Once you’ve created a custom template just to your liking, you can copy it for future campaigns and just replace the copy and images. This may get you back into that 30-minute range, but likely will be about an hour or so. You don’t want to rush it, plus you’ll want time to review previous campaign reports to see what worked and didn’t and how you can improve. If you want to send a design-heavy email campaign, perhaps one that includes an infographic, GIF or something else fun, it could take a day or two to collect all the design elements needed. You’ll want to do some extra testing for these types of campaigns too so that you can be sure all the graphics display properly. So, how much time should you spend on your email marketing campaigns? Say it with me everybody… IT DEPENDS! How much time do you typically spend on your email campaigns? Let us know in the comments!


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What’s the Best Time & Day To Send a Newsletter v. Promo Email?

What’s the Best Time & Day To Send a Newsletter v. Promo Email?

Practical Marketer • July 18, 2016

This question, just like pretty much any question about marketing, has a very simple answer: it depends. It’s the honest answer to everything in marketing. Why? Because there are so many variables that come into play with any marketing campaign. There may be best practices to go off of or even some more methods that seem to be tried and true, but you still won’t know the answers you seek until you answer the next question: what does it depend on? To get those definitive answers, the only way is to test and pay close attention to the data in your reports. However, you have to start somewhere. To start off on the right foot, there are two factors to consider when beginning an email campaign. Those two factors will help you discover the best day and time to send a newsletter campaign or a promo email … and help you with several other things when it comes to email marketing. Here’s what you need to consider: Understand your goals You must know what you hope to accomplish with each and every email you send out. For newsletters, it’s often providing company updates, sharing some choice posts from your blog or giving your subscribers a slice of life for your company and its employees. For promotion emails, it’s to inspire customers and leads to purchase. Sometimes, the best time and day to accomplish this are one and the same. However, a newsletter that is helpful for a subscriber to read at their desk at work may not be the time that the same subscriber would want to be online shopping. So, know what you want to accomplish is the first step. Step two is what will help you decide the best time to schedule that next newsletter or promotional email. Understand your audience Knowing who the individuals are that comprise your audience is imperative to successful email marketing. As is reaching them at the time that is most convenient to them. Like I mentioned above, sometimes it will be the employee opening up your email at their desk. The old standard of Tuesday through Thursday at 9:00AM would still work for them. However, a work-from-home parent may have different priorities for when emails are read. For them, it could be after the kiddos have gone to school or headed off to bed. Perhaps a business selling vacation packages would want to hit their subscribers\' inboxes on the weekends when they’d be more likely to be planning such a trip. Gaining an understanding of your audience and creating a persona for their email consumption behaviors will go a long way in answering the question of when is the best time to send a newsletter or promotional email. So, I’m sorry I can’t tell you to send newsletters on X day at Y time, or promotional emails on A day at B time, but I’ve given you the steps to take to fill in those blanks for you and your business. Why? Because it depends.


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What’s the Expected Click-Through Rate for Email Campaigns?

What’s the Expected Click-Through Rate for Email Campaigns?

Practical Marketer • July 15, 2016

Click-through rates are not the same as open rates, and it can mean different things to different businesses. For example, retail businesses promoting products via email, a good click-through rate can mean purchases or conversions. But what is a good click-through rate? According to Hubspot, by sending 16-30 campaigns a month, they were able to achieve a maximum of 6.5%, with an excellent open rate of 32.4%. Their strategy was at what frequency of email sending, can they get the best open and click rates. How does this relate to me? Well, the study also shows that the size of your company, the frequency of your email sent to your contacts should reflect the same: Smaller businesses with 1 - 10 employees benefit by sending steadily, 16-30 campaigns a month yielding a click rate of 6.3% Medium businesses with 11 - 25 employees benefit by sending frequently, 31+ campaigns a month with a result of 6.7% Large businesses, however, benefit by sending steadily. This means 6-15 campaigns a month with a click rate of 7.0% From this, we can definitely say that bigger doesn\'t always mean more. It just means that you’ll need to send smarter. Smarter means segmenting your list to make sure that you’re sending the appropriate content to your subscribers. To increase your click through rate, you may want to consider these tips: Test your emails. Performing A/B tests with your emails to see which graphic, button, or any email element will perform better. Segment your list. True with open rates as well, segmenting your list and targeting your subscribers with specific content is always best. Send consistently. Make sure you send on a schedule so that your subscribers can expect your emails at the same time and date so they can regularly open your email.


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What’s The Expected Open Rate For My Industry?

What’s The Expected Open Rate For My Industry?

Practical Marketer • July 11, 2016

An open rate depends on a variety of things when it comes to email marketing. Not everyone will open your email, so you shouldn’t expect a 100% open rate when you send out a campaign. It’s not impossible to get 100%, but you’ll need to be somewhat psychic. So what is the expected open rate of an email campaign? Some would be surprised to see that on average, across all industries, it’s 15% - 20%. Since that is across all industries, let’s break it down by a couple industries, measured during the course of one year as learned from Smart Insights: Automobile: 24.9% Computer Software: 22.1% Food Service: 22% Insurance: 29.7% School: 27.9% We can see that the average, when broken down into different industries, is improved. Don’t worry if you aren’t getting these numbers! There are certain tools and tips that you can put to use in order to increase your open rate ... even if it’s just a little bit. Segment your list. Creating a segmented, more targeted list will improve your opens rates. In retail, you may try to track what products your subscribers are interested in and promote similar products. List Hygiene. When people hear list hygiene they think, “Deleting contacts, NO!” However, deleting contacts that don’t read or open your email is beneficial when you really look at it. You reduce the total emails you send, saving you money. You’ll also reduce the greymail and possible abuse complaints, increasing your deliverability. Preview Text. This is an advanced tool for some which allows users to control what subscribers see before even opening the email, enticing users to open the email beyond the subject line. Remember not to lie or be deceptive about that either.


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How to keep my branding consistent in my email marketing?

How to keep my branding consistent in my email marketing?

Practical Marketer • July 8, 2016

How to keep your branding consistent in your email marketing is a matter of simply being consistent in everything that you do across all customer touchpoints for marketing and all other aspects of your business. Is that it? Problem solved, next question? Yes and no. There are three key aspects that you can focus on in order to execute consistently on your branding. Deliver On Your Promise This means first and foremost staying true to the mission statement of your company in each and every thing that you do. That’s how a customer is treated when they walk in the door of your brick-and-mortar location and it’s what you communicate to them with your email marketing … and many things in between. Delivering on your promise also applies to what you told subscribers to expect when they opted-in to receiving email communications from you. This includes the frequency with which you send your email campaigns and the content they asked to receive. Design The next aspect of being consistent with your branding is design. The user experience should remain the same whether it is in your email campaigns, website, social media posts, in your brick-and-mortar location and everywhere else a customer can interact with your business. In email marketing, this includes the color schemes of your email templates and even consistency with the colors of your buttons to match the ones on your website and landing pages. It can also include building a navigation at the top of your emails so that your template experience is similar to what customers view on your website. Even for special events such as holidays, there should still be consistent aspects of your brand that carry through, so that a subscriber will never doubt from who they are receiving an email campaign. Voice No, the latest email marketing feature isn’t celebrity voices reading your email campaigns (even though some may argue it should be … me included). This is how you’re communicating your message, who is delivering it and more. Voice means the personality that you infuse into your email campaigns. Some businesses are funny, some are informative. Regardless of what it is, it needs to be consistent … and authentically you. Who it is that is delivering your messages should also be the same as often as possible. This starts in the From Name subscribers will see in your inbox and ends in the email signature when applicable. Whether it says your business’ name or something such as Andy from Benchmark, your subscribers should know from who to expect your email communications.


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How Can I Avoid Harming My Brand With My Email Marketing?

How Can I Avoid Harming My Brand With My Email Marketing?

Practical Marketer • July 5, 2016

To avoid harming your brand, you need to avoid consistently sending unwanted emails. Not just once or twice, but consistently sending time after time will be the factor in harming your brand. It’s like a bully at school knocking your books down every time an email is sent. A little extreme, but you get the picture. What you should avoid doing, before you harm your brand: Using A Public Domain Irregular Sending Sending Grey Mail Using A Public Domain Using a public domain such as Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL can harm your brand when sending emails. The reason being is that anybody can sign up for these services and create an email. That doesn’t make your brand any different than the 6 billion individuals in the world. What makes you different? Having a private domain for your email address will not only improve your branding, but also your deliverability. Irregular Sending Sending irregularly is a problem as well. It’s hard to determine when to send a campaign to your subscribers. Should it be daily? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Yearly? The answer is any of the above! Pay attention to your reports to know the frequency with which your subscribers want you to send. You can also employ different strategies for a daily email campaign and then a monthly email campaign as well. This could be a type of segment! The point is to make sure you have enough content and enough time to stay on a regular schedule. If a person is expecting an email from you subscription at 1pm every week, keep that schedule! You’ll lose interest and subscribers if your schedule bounces around everywhere during the year. Grey Mail Grey Mail is a term not widely known or used in email marketing. Grey Mail is the email that subscribers receive, but do not open. They don’t open the email often because the subscriber knows what the email is about. It could be a transactional email, notification email or even a promotional email that they don’t care to open. It’s not a usually bad thing to send to these contacts, but nowadays there is so much Grey Mail that it’s starting to look like spam from the 90s and early millennium. What should you do with Grey Mail? It’s the same question as, “what can I do to improve my deliverability?” The answer is keeping up with your list hygiene. Cleaning your list of bounces and unopens regularly can improve your deliverability, brand and ultimately your ROI. Cleaning your list doesn’t mean deleting your contacts or subscribers, but maybe setting them aside for a different strategy. Allow them a chance to unsubscribe. You don’t want to be emailing anyone that doesn’t want it! That will only hurt your brand.


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