Series Posts: Practical Marketer

The 7 Best Email Marketing Tips For Small Businesses We’ve Ever Heard

The 7 Best Email Marketing Tips For Small Businesses We’ve Ever Heard

Practical Marketer • August 28, 2019

Email marketing looks a little bit different when you’re a small business. With fewer resources to work with, you can’t afford to just throw a scattered strategy at the wall and see what sticks.  Small business email marketing requires a coordinated, cohesive plan that optimizes your network, your budget, and your marketing mojo. And for that, you want to focus on the practices that are guaranteed to stretch your efforts as far as they can go.   You’ve got a few major goals when it comes to email marketing: Maximize your open rates Maximize your click-through rates Actually make it into your recipients’ email inboxes (this one is a biggie) So how do you do it? We’ve compiled seven of the very best small business email marketing tips we’ve found around the web to help you ace your inbound marketing strategy and get more bang for your email buck. Incorporate these tips into your own practices to start seeing results fast. 1. Never Buy Email Addresses “Unless your company is in the middle of a merger or acquisition, you\'re not going to come across a high-quality email list you can purchase. If it\'s for sale, it means the email addresses on it have already been deemed non-responsive or unqualified for marketing outreach.”  Source: Hubspot You know that feeling you get when you receive a promotional email from someone you didn’t ask to hear from? It’s not a feeling you want to replicate when it comes to your own business and your own potential customers. Purchased email lists may provide you with a lot of addresses, but that very rarely equates to high-quality leads. Plus, if any of the recipients are in Europe, you’ll be violating the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) by not having them opt-in first. Resist the urge to purchase email addresses and instead focus on cultivating your own list of opt-in contacts. 2. Take the Guesswork Out of Subscribing “This seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many small companies–from consulting businesses to corporations–have a regular email newsletter but do not have a place to subscribe for emails on their website.”  Source: Blue Corona Speaking of building that opt-in list, make it as easy as you can for people to sign up to receive emails from you. The more barriers you have in place, the less likely they are to follow through. Have an active “Subscribe” link in a clear and obvious place on your site, and don’t require too much information to sign up — just a name and email address is sufficient.  Equally important: make sure the “Unsubscribe” button is obvious on your website and in your emails, too. The CAN-SPAM act requires all of your recipients to be able to unsubscribe within your email. 3. Optimize For Mobile “According to Litmus, more emails are read on mobile devices than they are on PCs. In fact, statistics show 54% of emails are read on mobile devices. If you don’t optimize your email campaigns to be appealing and digestible across multiple devices, you stand to miss out on new sales, new customers, and new website visitors.”  Source: Pardot With more than half of emails read on mobile devices, it’s crucial that your messages are designed to have the same impact on small screens as they do on large ones. Everything from texts and images to links and ads should be formatted for both desktop and mobile, and you should test your emails on both devices before sending them out to make sure that nothing gets lost in translation. 4. Offer Something of Value “If you want to increase your user engagement metrics, your campaigns need to add value without creating work for your readers. Customers get waterboarded with promotional emails every day. They get distracted. And you lose them – even though they wanted to stick around.” Source: ActiveCampaign General company updates may be interesting, but they’re not enough to keep people opening your emails over and over again. For that, you need to provide tangible value, such as a coupon code, free asset download, personalized content, contest entry form, or some other benefit available only to subscribers. A free download or 5% off a future purchase is a small price to pay for a funnel-driving conversion. 5. Avoid Spam Filters “Spam filters use a long list of criteria to decide whether or not your campaign will be placed in a recipient’s spam folder. The list of spammy criteria is constantly growing and adapting.” Source: Mailchimp You’d think a quality email from a quality company would keep a message out of spam, but it’s not always the case. Pay close attention to the features and actions that help you avoid spam filters, including:       Clean and proper HTML coding       Good text to image ratio       Having an entirely opt-in subscriber list Always test your emails before sending to make sure they’re not going to spam, especially when you make changes to your template design. 6. Integrate Social “Increasing the number of people who see your link will increase the number of people who click on it. So, be sure to extend the life of your email by adding social sharing buttons.” Source: Hubspot Have your emails do double duty by driving traffic to other platforms — particularly your social channels. Add social share buttons, include a pre-written tweet that recipients can share, and make it easy to find and connect with your brand on all of your social pages. The more you can diversify where your marketing happens, the better chance you’ll have of turning new leads into new customers. 7. Keep an Eye on the Competition “If you want to make your email campaigns more successful, it could be helpful to see how your local competitors are handling their email marketing campaigns. Subscribe to their email lists and see what type of content they’re including, promotions they’re offering, what kind of emails they said, how often they send a newsletter, and what elements they included in their email template design.” Source: Blue Corona A little market research can go a long way. Subscribe to your competitors’ email lists to gather ideas and better optimize your content to beat theirs. Pay close attention not just to what they send, but when and how often. And while you shouldn’t be outright copying anyone else’s strategy, there’s no reason you can’t use their emails to inspire your own inbound marketing efforts. At the end of the day, your content should be all yours — different from your competitors’ content and designed to be more impactful. There’s no one secret that will make your small business email marketing more successful. The trick is to incorporate many different tips and strategies that are specifically designed for small business growth. The ones above are a great place to start, so if you’re not following these tips already, now is the time to put them into practice. 


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Using Marketing Automation to Improve the Customer Journey

Using Marketing Automation to Improve the Customer Journey

Practical Marketer • August 22, 2019

Today’s marketers wear a lot of hats. They’re content creators and data miners. Social media mavens and email experts. SEO researchers and influencer investors and anything else that they need to be in order to help their brands stand out in the right ways.  Just as the digital age has made the customer journey more robust (and frankly, a bit more complicated), it has also made the role of a good marketer that much harder to define. Effective marketing is no longer just about getting results — it’s about optimizing and capitalizing on every single customer behavior so that you can thrive in a hyper-competitive marketplace. And that’s where marketing automation can really help a marketer excel.  Marketing automation is becoming increasingly indispensable for both fueling and improving the customer journey. Through automation, brands can stay in touch with their customers more efficiently, and nurture them to the point of sale with targeted communications, promotions, and ads. It’s a good thing, too. With so much to do, the more marketers can automate, the better - especially when it leads to improved results.  So how can marketing automation enrich the customer journey and push prospects further down the sales funnel for your business? Let’s take a look. Awareness Stage The awareness stage is at the very top of the customer journey funnel. At this stage, you’re focused less on targeting individual customers and more on lead generation efforts. Marketing automation makes that process a whole lot easier, which is a major plus if you’ve ever had to sort through endless contact lists, pull out leads manually, and contact each one at a time.  What to try: Automated lead generation software that aggregates contacts for you, combined with email marketing. Automated lead generation software scans relevant platforms like your social media pages, PPC ad data, and inboxes to sort out relevant leads, append any missing contact information and deliver them to you in a more palatable format. From there, you can use email marketing automation to reach out and introduce your business. Try to target your outreach as much as possible by tailoring your message based on what you know about a lead’s demographic and geographic data. Lead generation tools we love: Datanyze, Lead Forensics, Prospect.io, Clearbit Consideration Stage This is when customers are just beginning to search for solutions to their problem, and when they are first considering your company’s product or service as a potential solution. The primary marketing objectives at this point are giving your lead all the information they need to proceed to the next stage of the journey and positioning yourself as a preferred alternative to your competitors. Quick but personalized communications can give you a competitive edge and instantly help you make a good impression. What to try: Automated workflows that spring into action the second a customer performs a certain action. An automated workflow can start at any behavior of your choice, such as when a lead signs up for more info or asks your on-screen chatbot a question. From there, workflows can be set up to perform key tasks that guide a customer further into their journey. For example, if a lead asks a chatbot a question and then disappears, the workflow can be automated to send them an email thanking them for their interest and asking if they need more assistance. It can also be triggered to send them a unique promotion for whatever product or service they were inquiring about. Most marketing automation tools feature the ability to build out workflows, sometimes referred to as automation campaigns, to prepare for a wide variety of contact engagement.  The key to making workflow automation work at this stage is to personalize all triggered communications so that customers get real, quantifiable value out of your follow ups. Chatbot and workflow tools we love: Drift, Intercom, Hubspot Decision Stage The decision stage is when you can turn a lead into a paying customer. Ramping up your marketing with automation enables you to cover your bases and make as strong of an impact as possible. Strike the right balance, and you’ll come off as actively engaging, not overly pushy. What to try: Drip campaigns that trickle out content to keep your product or service top of mind.  Drip campaigns fall under the umbrella of automated email marketing and function similarly to automated workflows. You send out an email, and depending on what action the recipient takes, a second email is automatically triggered. This goes on until a point of sale, or until the recipient stops engaging. You can use drip campaigns to do a lot of things that may lead someone to a purchase, including sending reminders about abandoned shopping carts, offering recommendations, and sending out promos and coupons. And because your drip emails are automated, you won’t have to write each of them out manually. Create your email templates, choose your triggers and your frequency, and you’re good to go. Automation tools we love: Benchmark, ActiveCampaign, Hatchbuck No two customers are the same, and neither are two customer journeys. Marketing automation can take your leads down a personalized path that shortens the road to conversion. Ready to get started with marketing automation? Benchmark can help.


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60% Say Email Marketing is Biggest Source of ROI: Going Back to School To Hit Your Benchmarks

60% Say Email Marketing is Biggest Source of ROI: Going Back to School To Hit Your Benchmarks

Practical Marketer • August 14, 2019

Nearly 60 percent of businesses say that email marketing is their top source of Return On Investment (ROI), according to HubSpot. We’ve got your back if you don’t feel like you’re hitting that benchmark. See what we did there?! Thankfully, Back to School season is here! This time of year can bring a rush of feelings to people of all ages. To the kids: dread. To the parents: relief (though they may not admit it). While many of us long for the downright luxurious schedule of being in school -- with summers off and a winter and spring break, for starters -- we grown-ups can still use this back-to-school period to go back to the basics and make sure we have a good foundation of the essentials for our work. Just like Billy Madison went back to school to prove he knew everything he’d need to make it in the real world -- all of us could use a refresher on how to thrive with our email marketing. And so, we present the ABCs (and beyond) of how to make magic with your email marketing strategy. But first, you may ask: Is email marketing really that important? Is it really such an essential, high-priority marketing tool, like everyone says? Back to Basics: Here’s Why Email Marketing is So Essential Email marketing may seem like just another tedious task on your to-do list, making you ask: “Why? What’s the point of it all?” An understandable impulse, but as it turns out -- email marketing serves a massively important purpose both for your customers and for your business. For your customers, email marketing has the benefit of solving problems. It’s a key part of your brand storytelling, as it demonstrates how your products and services fill a need. Email marketing also delivers significant value for your customers. Email messages can be used to deliver savings (think promo codes, discount alerts, flash sale announcements and more), information (think new product announcements, alerts about changes to your product or policies, etc.) and entertainment (think holiday-themed messages, birthday or anniversary greetings and beyond). Now, notice anything in particular about all those functions that email marketing serves for your customers? Bueller? That’s right … email marketing is particularly useful for your customers when you, as a marketer, make the effort to personalize your messaging and segment your audience. Feel free to take a dive into our various “study guides” on those all-important topics elsewhere on this blog. (We promise there won’t be a pop quiz … but these topics are incredibly useful for turbo-charging your email marketing efforts. That means you can accomplish more and in a lot less time. Talk about extra credit!) For your business, email marketing serves an even more important role. As we’ve mentioned before, email marketing delivers the highest ROI. You can’t argue with the numbers: According to reliable sources, email marketing can deliver an absolutely astounding 3800% ROI -- banking your business a potential $38 for every $1 spent. In addition, email helps nourish your relationships with your most valuable marketing asset: the members of your email list. Why are those particular individuals so valuable to your business? Simply put: They’re vetted and they’re committed. Your email subscribers are a select few who have not only willingly opted into your emails, but they make the decision over and over to keep listening to what you have to say -- rather than smashing that “unsubscribe” link or even the horrid “mark as spam” button. Email marketing is so great for your business because it allows you to send targeted, personalized messages directly to each subscriber. As we mentioned just now, your email list subscribers are your VVIPs. And even though the messages you write for your email marketing campaigns go out to a bunch of people -- if they’re done right, they have a very intimate, valuable and personal feel. That’s a win-win for everyone. Without further ado, here are our Top 3 Email Marketing Basics That Are Worth Revisiting. Back to Basics Tip #1: Audit Your List Growth Practices OK, time to ask the hard questions, so let’s dive in: Are you doing everything you can to effectively grow your email list? … No? Well, don’t worry. There are a couple easy places to start. Step 1 to Grow Your Email List Quickly: Create Online Opportunities Surf on over to your brand’s website. Do you know what the most popular page of your site is? (It’s OK if you don’t, but if you have an idea, all the better.) What’s the most active, frequently updated part of your site? Make sure you have an email list signup forms active on all of the pages on your site where visitors are likely to linger or engage. We’re talking homepage (this is a big one, obviously), product pages, your blog, etc. EXAMPLES: From: BuzzFeed Why It’s Great: Talk about targeting! This sidebar email signup -- which doesn’t feel annoying or intrusive -- pops up after BuzzFeed visitors view content related to adorable animals. By creating a targeted email signup landing page that offers choice, transparency and the lure of a world of fun, BuzzFeed can capture highly engaged and interested email subscribers. Who could say no to fuzzy kitties videos in their inbox and daily pics of absolutely cuddle-worth good boys? From: Pure Kana CBD Why It’s Great: This email signup popup asks visitors an irresistible question while they’re scrolling the brand’s products page. (Curiosity and personalization are always a good combo for getting your customers interested!) Further, visitors are presented with the seemingly no-brainer deal of giving an email address to get both the answer to this burning question and a valuable 10% discount. From: Aimee Song, founder of fashion and lifestyle blog Song of Style Why It’s Great: This beautifully designed email list popup appears when a user stays on the homepage of blogger Aimee Song’s site for 30 seconds without clicking anything. The colors are inviting and eye-catching, and the theme of travel and old-school correspondence is subtly suggested. An email list popup like this promotes the powerful idea that if you don’t sign up, you’ll be missing out on a direct line to a powerful influencer -- and nobody wants that FOMO. Step 2 to Grow Your Email List Quickly: Create Offline Opportunities Just because everyone’s always online doesn’t mean that you should neglect the opportunity to maximize your offline signup opportunities, too. IRL signups -- versus their URL counterparts -- can add an extra layer of connection, because they’re likely to involve your customer actually talking to someone and possibly even doing a manual task like writing with pen and paper (gasp!). Great examples of this include the sign-in “interest list” that you might encounter at a realtor’s open house, an in-store physical signup mechanism -- sometimes promising a freebie or chance to win something (like those fish bowls of business cards that you see at restaurant counters and retail stores) or when a cashier asks for your email and tells you you could have your receipt sent to your inbox rather than printed. All of those offline methods represent great ways to capture the email addresses and other contact info of your most loyal and interested customers. But remember to follow the CAN-SPAM rules and associated best practices regarding email marketing so that your sender address doesn’t get blacklisted. (For example: Be very clear with your customers about what emails they’re signing up to receive, and honor any opt-out requests promptly.) Step 3 to Grow Your Email List Quickly: Take a Cold, Hard Look at the Facts Finally, it’s time to do some soul-searching. Be honest with yourself now: Is what you’re currently doing for email subscriber list growth working? To arrive at the answer to this probing question, consider the following two questions: How many signups do you get versus traffic to a page? Do you need to update your signup forms? If the answer to the first question is “not enough,” and/or the answer to the second question is “yes” -- here’s what you can do. Once again, surf over to the user side of your brand’s website, so that you can retrace the exact experience that your customers are getting when they visit you. How does the entire experience feel -- cohesive? Disjointed? Read over your copy and the CTA of your email signup forms and popups. Do those words feel like they are distinctly your brand’s, or do they feel generic? Don’t be afraid to declutter, too -- sometimes cutting down the number of fields on your signup or taking the proverbial red pen to some of your copy can do wonders for conversion rates and signup success. Back to Basics Tip #2: Make Your Email Template Design Functional Is your email template design working for you? In 2019, all email campaigns should be responsive and geared towards deliverability. The text-to-image ratio is critical -- you don’t want so many graphics and GIFs that your message won’t load for people (or that it takes too long to load, which is also a mortal sin). Mathematically speaking, the experts are divided. Some have recommended an 80:20 text-to-image ratio. SpamAssassin is a bit more aggressive, claiming that a 60:40 text-to-image ratio is OK. You’ll find a virtually 50/50 split for the 80:20 ratio and the 60:40 ratio among the experts. Which is just fine, in fact -- you’ll want to evaluate your brand’s individual needs and situation to determine how much is too much when it comes to incorporating images. No matter what your text-to-image ratio is, your messages need to be designed for user experience. Step 1 to Design for User Experience: Direct Your Reader Towards the Goal of the Email To borrow a cheesy and somewhat outdated phrase popularized by the Canadian rock band fronted by the guy who was once Mr. Avril Lavigne: “All Killer. No Filler.” That’s how your marketing emails should be. Sure you can have fun with the copy. You can use borders, graphics and even GIFs in your layout -- but every element you add to your email design needs to direct your customers towards a goal. Often, that goal is a click to your website. For certain brands -- such as gurus running consultancies -- the goal might be something more personal like a response. EXAMPLE: From: TJ Maxx Why It Works: Designer discount retailer TJ Maxx has an interesting email marketing strategy. While they technically have an ecommerce site, it’s not particularly robust or up-to-date with their latest offerings. (TJ Maxx draws customers in with the promise that it’s “never the same store twice” because of regular killer deals arriving and being snatched up. They’re more interested in getting traffic into their brick and mortar stores rather than having people sit online checking for new items.) That’s why TJ Maxx’s marketing email is relatively pared-down and graphically simple. Since it’s likely to be read a lot on mobile devices as people are out-and-about, the brand doesn’t want to jeopardize deliverability with clogged-up design, and they don’t want to lose people’s interest with a wall of text. Step 2 to Design for User Experience: Place Actionable Content Above the Fold In the days where people read physical newspapers, “above the fold” content could be seen before a customer even picked up the paper. It was the juicy stuff -- the wording, images and design could be enough to make a person either shell out for the product (the newspaper, that is) or walk away without another thought. In this era of smartphone screens, email marketers must make sure to place actionable content above the “fold” of a device -- meaning, it should be plainly visible and easy-to-understand without requiring scrolling or unnecessary clicking. EXAMPLE: From: Gap Factory Why It Works: This email features a live countdown just under the brand’s logo and nav bar, and before the massive clickable image that advertises a big discount. In fact, the countdown itself is clickable -- meaning that it’s super-easy for the customer to click through to find these big deals before they run out. Step 3 to Design for User Experience: Keep Color in Mind As we’ve covered elsewhere in the blog, color can make a huge impact on how your readers perceive your product and brand. Be sure to be consistent with the overall vibe and identity of your brand, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different hues and shades, especially across individual campaigns. EXAMPLE: FROM: Nordstrom Rack Why It Works: Check out this side-by-side of two different emails from retailer Nordstrom Rack. While both play off the same color palette -- muted pastel backgrounds and white text, with brand and navigation text in dark colors -- the shades chosen create an entirely different experience for each email. The one on the left creates urgency, starting with the sun-colored orange and yellow banner on top. Then, a beautiful product image with complementary colors encourages the customer to click through to the product page of the site. On the right, the email’s colors invite a little more lingering, which is appropriate -- the brand aims to have customers review six options in a poll and cast a vote for a favorite. Back to Basics Tip #3: Examine Your Email Marketing Goals OK, it’s report card time! As a twist -- you’ll be grading yourself here. Time for some brutal honesty and self-evaluation … Is your email content strategy effective? What are your reports telling you? If you’re not sure how to answer this question, consider whether you’re seeing the opens you want. If your opens are low, you may need better list segmentation. Segmentation is a beautiful thing that we love to talk about. It’s a powerful tool that allows you to send more relevant emails. It also allows you to do more personalization -- allowing your messages to go further for you. Another troubleshooting trick you can try to up your open rate is to A/B test your subject lines. There are so many trends with subject lines, which is why brands do well to mix things up based on what the situation calls for. Check out this inbox snapshot: You’ve got emojis. You’ve got conversational language. You’ve got straightforward announcements, irresistible come-ons and personalized offers. Don’t be afraid to try new and different things with your subject lines, and always watch your open rates to decide which new tricks are worth keeping and which are worth ditching. Your “from” sender name is another thing you can play with in your marketing emails. We know that you’d never make the rookie mistake of keeping your sender name as “noreply” -- how robotic! But the choice of whether you go with “[First Name] from [Brand],” “[Brand],” “[brand.com]” or something else … that’s a tough one. Now, check out another inbox snapshot: These are all marketing emails, from the “Promotions” tab of a Gmail inbox. Notice there’s a good mix of people’s names, full brand names, shortened brand names and even a combination of first name plus full brand name that got truncated. As you test different sender names for your emails, consider how they affect your campaigns. Do certain stylizations feel more formal? More intimate? Are some more likely to grab people’s eyes? Are some in danger of being shortened in a confusing way? Finally, as you assess your email marketing strategy in pursuit of the lofty goal of sky-high click-through rates, remember that the only rules are the ones you set for yourself. Don’t feel locked in to one format, style or type of content. A/B test like your business depends on it -- because it sort of does. Remember: Even small tweaks to your email marketing strategy can mean big chances. For instance, if you experiment with a text link versus a button CTA at the end of your messages, you could see a huge difference in click-through rates. So, class is dismissed on our little Email Marketing Basics 101 crash course. What new email marketing changes are you excited to try in your campaigns?


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Want to Build Your Email List Faster? 
Here is How to Choose the Right Lead Magnets

Want to Build Your Email List Faster? 
Here is How to Choose the Right Lead Magnets

Practical Marketer • August 12, 2019

Most people used to be thrilled to receive anything via email. Two decades ago. Today everybody’s inbox is so flooded with messages - both wanted and unwanted - that even being able to send your newsletter has become a privilege. So, if you are a business willing to build a list for email marketing, how do you earn this privilege? How do you encourage more of your website visitors to become loyal subscribers? Two words. Lead magnets. What are lead magnets, anyway? Lead magnet is a real buzzword these days, and you probably hear it a lot. That’s because using a lead magnet is known to be an excellent email opt-in conversion booster. A lead magnet is a specifically targeted item that you promise in exchange for a sign-up. Something that can be delivered within a few minutes. Something irresistible. An ethical bribe if you will. [caption id=\"attachment_11400\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"468\"] Crate&Barrel offers a 10% discount for a subscription[/caption] Adam Connell, the author of Blogging Wizard, states lead magnets can increase conversions by a factor of 7 and even more. Tim Soulo, the Head of Marketing at Ahrefs, shares a 300%-growth case study on his blog. If you’re still skeptical, read this post where Hubspot provides an impressive example of a 42% conversion rate achieved with the right lead magnet. Can you imagine that? Almost half of all page visitors chose to subscribe. [caption id=\"attachment_11401\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"468\"] Shane Barker, a digital marketer, offers a free 30-min consultation in exchange for a name and an email[/caption] When you think of options, almost anything can be a lead magnet: a tool, a guide, a cheat sheet, a discount, a demo version of your app, a webinar, a video course. And yes, even your time can become a lead magnet, should you be willing to provide consultations in exchange for an email. Chances are, along the way you will have various incentives for your audience to subscribe, so when choosing the very first lead magnet, you should probably pick something you’re able to produce relatively fast – ideally, between a few hours and a couple of days. How do you deliver a lead magnet? Remember, I said lead magnets must be delivered instantly because that’s one of their key values? So, technically, there are two ways to do it. #1. Use Benchmark Email autoresponder feature This one is quite obvious. If you use marketing automation to send welcome emails, simply place a link to your promised lead magnet in the email body and schedule it to be sent instantly. #2. Use a Success Page feature in your email list building tool If you collect subscribers using email, contact, or survey forms by GetSiteControl (or any other lead generation app), you can redirect them to any URL after they share their address. It can be a hidden post on your blog, a page to download a lead magnet from, or even a link to a closed Facebook community you invite your fans to. [caption id=\"attachment_11462\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"700\"] This is how you set up a success page to redirect your subscribers to in GetSiteControl[/caption] Tips for choosing a lead magnet So... since there are so many lead magnet ideas to choose from, does it mean you can just pick any of them to create an incentive to subscribe? Of course, not. The key to creating a good lead magnet is precise targeting. You want to make sure you’re offering something your audience wants. Something to solve their “pain” quickly and efficiently. And just like you take a serious approach to choose the right call to action, you should understand that not all the lead magnets might be equally effective. If you have an e-commerce store, the first lead magnet idea you probably have is a discount. Or free shipping. But should it end there? And is it the best lead magnet for just anyone landing on your website? Let’s talk about this in the next few paragraphs. Tip #1. Identify your audience pain points Regardless of what business you’re in, there must be few requests you repeatedly receive from your audience. Something that, if addressed, could make their life instantly easier, and something you are willing to give away. [caption id=\"attachment_11403\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"468\"] Jeff Goins, a best-selling author of 5 books, offers a free web masterclass for writers[/caption] If it’s not obvious to you, there are plenty of sources for inspiration: emails from customers, support tickets, comments on your posts, live chat conversations, discussions in the niche communities, or on even competitors’ websites. Write down 3-5 problems your target audience mentions most frequently and pick one you could easily provide a solution for. That’s your lead magnet. Tip #2. Avoid providing generic solutions to generic problems As banal as this may sound, using a wrong format for a lead magnet is one of the biggest traps beginners fall into. Remember, I asked you to find 3-5 “pain points” you could help your audience with? One mistake marketers make is combining solutions to several problems into one piece of content. That’s how a potentially perfect lead magnet loses its specificity and becomes inefficient. Compare the following incentives: “Get a list of free tools for beginning online entrepreneurs” “Get a list of 37 email templates for e-commerce I personally tested and recommend” The first one might sound exciting at first, but unlike the second one, it doesn’t look like a specific “here and now” solution to a specific “here and now” problem. There are dozens of pain points a beginning entrepreneur has – how do we know this list addresses exactly what they are struggling with at the moment? [caption id=\"attachment_11404\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"468\"] After a sign-up, Muscle&Fitness blog instantly shows a set of exercises for the muscle groups you choose[/caption] Bottom line: don’t try to squeeze in too much information just for the sake of it. Boil down your expertise into one piece of content that provides a clear way to solve one particular problem. Tip #3. Choose shorter formats over lengthy lead magnets Less is more. Yes, e-books used to be the most popular type of lead magnet. But are they still as efficient? Let’s see. Most e-books take forever to create, what’s more – they take forever to consume. At the same time, most people today anticipate immediate value and hate waiting. That’s why more often than not, bite-size pieces of information are more enticing than lengthy content or month-long courses. Ready for the most important piece of advice? Trade size for relevancy. Because the more precisely targeted your lead magnet is, the better it will convert. Here is how the lengthy “entrepreneur’s toolset” could be revised: “Accounting checklist for a beginning entrepreneur” – offered on a page where you talk about bookkeeping, taxes, and financial advice for entrepreneurs. “100 business blog ideas for the times you are out of ideas” – offered on a page where you talk about content marketing, blogging, and self-branding. “My 10 favorite sources for getting free traffic that converts” – offered on any page related to traffic, conversion optimization, and marketing in general. And if you doubt that creating a post-specific lead magnet is worth the effort, read how Brian Dean increased email opt-in conversion rate by 785% using exactly this method. A quick note here. Lead magnets do not always have to be content in the form of ebooks or PDFs. The magnets you create can also be tightly knit to the product or service you are offering. A free trial of the product (that captures the user\'s contact info in exchange for access to your tool) is perhaps the most popular form of lead magnet. If you run an online product or SaaS company, you can create bite-sized reports or documents from your tool and provide it as exclusive content for your leads. You can perhaps create a microsite on WordPress or other platforms and hide the content behind an email capture form. This way, interested users sign up with their email in order to access this exclusive piece of content. Tip #4. Ask your website visitors what they want Have you ever thought of that? Because there are quite a few tools and plugins available today for surveying your audience, asking them what they want, and validating your ideas. If you have a decent traffic volume on your website, that might be the easiest and the fastest way to choose a lead magnet. [caption id=\"attachment_11464\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"700\"] An example of a GetSiteControl survey form[/caption] You can use the Benchmark survey feature or one of the apps it integrates with, such as: GetSiteControl Survey Monkey Wufoo JotForms Tip #5. Vary lead magnets for different funnel stages Wait, aren’t lead magnets already part of the funnel converting website visitors into leads? Well, it depends on how you attract the audience and what your sales funnel looks like. But if you think about it, offering various lead magnets to people on different stages of their customer journey might be quite reasonable. Here is an example, explaining why a discount is not the ultimate lead magnet even for eCommerce stores. Imagine, you sell organic detox juices online. To get traffic to your website, you actively employ content marketing techniques, so there are many educational articles about detoxification, eating clean, and DIY recipes on your blog. Now, if you get this traffic organically, most people landing on these pages are probably on the awareness stage, right? Most probably, they don’t even know your brand yet, let alone thinking about making a purchase. So, will a discount for your product or free shipping be the best incentive for them to subscribe? Probably. But chances are, at this stage, they might be even more incentivized to sign up in exchange for a detox grocery shopping checklist or a printable detox calendar. [caption id=\"attachment_11406\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"468\"] LeadQuizzes offers early access to the new version in exchange for an email[/caption] Of course, you might want to test this assumption – and that brings us to the next chapter of this post. The key takeaway here is that thinking from a customer’s perspective might lead you to the conclusion, what they want is not always exactly what you initially wanted to offer. Tip #6. A/B test your lead magnets There is no way around it. At the end of the day, your lead magnet will either bring you new subscribers or it won’t. And when starting your email list building journey, you may want to fully rely on some expert’s opinion. You may be bold and copy your competitor’s strategy. Or you may trust your intuition and try to guess. The only legit way to find out what works and what doesn’t is to test it. Often, you’ll be surprised by the results as a lead magnet that took weeks to create might not perform as well as the one you created overnight. Besides, remember, it’s not just the lead magnet itself you can test, it’s the call to action, the creative, and – yeah – the button color too. After all, you’ve already invested time and energy into creating a compelling incentive. It would be neglectful not to try and optimize it properly. Do you use lead magnets to collect email subscribers? If not, what stops you? If yes, share your insights in the comments below.


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6 Top Email Marketing Design Tips to Keep Your Readers Engaged

6 Top Email Marketing Design Tips to Keep Your Readers Engaged

Practical Marketer • July 30, 2019

Email marketing is a practice that 82% of B2B and B2C companies are now incorporating into their marketing strategies. However, just because you are sending an email that reaches your consumers’ personal inbox, this does not simply guarantee the monetary results you’d expect. You’re going to have to provide your readers with quality content that will actually capture their attention, and you’re going to have to do this in a very quick and concise way. This is where a visually pleasing email marketing design can come to your advantage. What are the benefits of a stunning email marketing design? An email marketing visual design will be one of the key components that you will need to nail. If done right, this can encourage audience engagement and result in the conversions you were aiming for. The harsh reality is that people still care a lot about aesthetics. Many of consumers’ decisions are based on visible elements. With that being said, a wise selection of visuals in your email content will play an important role in helping you stand out, keeping readers interested in your message, and ultimately, growing as a business. Wonder how you can make the most out of email marketing and deliver optimal results for your business?  Here are the email marketing design tips and tricks on how you can keep your reader’s engaged. The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing Design For Higher Engagement 1) Choosing the Right Color(s) Color can make a huge impact on how your readers’ perceive your product and brand, and this will similarly apply to your email content. Whether or not your newsletter or promotional campaign will speak to your readers will depend on your selection of color for your email marketing design. Make sure that your color palette highly corresponds to the subject of your email. On most occasions, you should consider using your main brand color as this will be most representative of your brand, which can help your audience in terms of brand recognition. However, if you are promoting a festive campaign, it is possible to use colors outside of your brand for greater emphasis on the email subject. For example, you may use red, green, and white for a Christmas campaign, or red, pink, and white for Valentine’s. Whichever color you choose to use in your email marketing design, remember to be consistent with it. Avoid using too many colors as this will only set you back and give your audience a visual headache. In fact, color psychology reveals that different colors are  associated with different types of human emotions. Hence, it is recommended to tactically select a color that best corresponds to the type of attention to want to attract from your audiences. The following list shows the common colors used in marketing campaigns and their emotional effect on audiences: Red Evokes passion and excitement. Red has high visibility and helps bring a sense of urgency to your email content. Interestingly, it can also promote hunger! Recommended for: Food, travel, and sports-related email marketing content Yellow Associated with intellect, joy, and sunshine, hence the reason why it can make people feel good and happy. Similar to red, yellow also promotes hunger and can be used along with it. Recommended for: Vacation deals and food email marketing content Blue Represents stability, reliability, and calmness. Darker blue shades represent expertise and is used by many corporates. Remember to never use it for food or cooking-related newsletters or campaign as it suppresses appetite. Recommended for: Water, cleaning, and high-tech products Green Green is the color of nature that symbolizes growth and harmony. However, green can be a bit of a tricky color as different shades can have different effects on people. To be safe, try to aim for a brighter green. Recommended for: Fruit and vegetable produce, and sustainability marketing campaigns Orange An energetic color with high visibility. It stimulates appetite and is often associated with healthy food. Recommended for: Seasonal campaigns during Fall, food email marketing campaigns and non-corporate brands Purple Symbolizes royalty, luxury, power, and nobility. Purple also helps express wealth and extravagance. Recommended for: Feminine or children’s products Black Highly associated with professionalism, luxury, elegance, and mystery. Black help depict professionalism of your email marketing campaign and overall brand. Recommended for: Luxury brands’ email marketing campaigns 2) Have an Adequate Amount of White Space White is used as a background color for many types of designs and is even more important in an email marketing design. Leave some white or in other words, blank spaces, between each section of your email content for neatness and increased clarity. As white spaces will help make your email appear more organized, it can serve to help your audiences read your email in a digestible manner. Messy email marketing designs are never good. Before readers get the chance to read your text, they could easily be thrown off by the amount of clutter seen. 3) Choose the Appropriate Font Style and Size For email marketing, it is highly advised to limit the number of fonts you use. As with any other visual elements of your brand, you should keep the type of font consistent with the one on your logo, packaging, or website. Stick to one font if you can. Two is also possible, but do not add more than this. It is recommended that you use the main font and copy font of your brand within your email content in order to keep the cohesiveness of your brand’s visual identity. While the header font for your email should align with your brand’s main font, you should select a basic font for your body copy font. Avoid squiggly fonts as this will decrease the readability of your email content. Fonts that are commonly used as body copy fonts for email marketing include Arial, Times New Roman, Courier, Verdana, and Georgia. Ideally, your body copy font should be large enough for your readers to be able to read it, but not too large that it takes up too much space. A good rule of thumb for body copy fonts is about a 14-16 font size. 4) Only Add Images That Are Necessary The current design trend calls for the ‘less is more’ approach, so don’t overflow your email with images. Carefully choose and only include those that are necessary to communicate your main message. Focus on quality and not quantity. Having a few professional and high-quality images that add value and are  highly-related to your email content will be more impactful than including a load of images that have nothing to do with your subject. It is possible to even use animated images such as GIFs. If you feel that this would add to the visual appeal and communicative aspect of your email, feel free to use them. Just make sure that you format them correctly. 5) Have an Organized Email Marketing Template Although it would be great if you could professionally design your own email marketing template, getting a premade template is much easier to do. Plus, it can save you a lot of time. Downloading a premade template does not necessarily mean that your template design will no longer be original. You can tweak it to make it more personal and unique to your brand, and these modifications are always highly advised. For instance, you may rearrange each section by shifting the position of text boxes and images to make it fitting to your desired email marketing design. However, regardless of which template you choose, whether originally designed or premade, a good tip is to make sure that your template has a clear visual hierarchy. When it comes to email marketing, you will need to be extremely quick to communicate your message before you lose your readers’ attention. You should have a focal point, and your design should be able to easily create a sense of what is most important to read to your reader. To create this visual hierarchy, you may use different font and image sizes, color, contrast, shapes, and positions within your template. Your logo position should also remain consistent throughout all your emails. It does not have to take up a lot of space but make sure it is placed somewhere where your readers can clearly see it. A good idea would be to place your logo within your header so that your readers won’t have to scroll down to recognize your brand. 6) Keep Your Content As Simple As Possible When opening your email, it is likely that your readers may not take the time to read through its entirety. To keep it engaging and provoking curiosity out of your readers, you should keep your text as short and concise as possible. Simply, you must get straight to the point. Leave out the fluff, avoid large chunks of paragraphs, and use infographics whenever possible. As humans tend to process images faster than text and can surprisingly do it as quickly as 13 milliseconds, using symbols can be incredibly helpful in conveying your message more efficiently. For both campaigns and newsletters, strategically use keywords in the very first few sentences and remember to include a call for action. If you take too long to communicate your point, you will have a very good chance of losing your readers’ engagement as well as the desired results. Something that would be worth knowing is that some readers may have images turned off by default on their emails. Therefore, avoid having your text embed in an image. Add text separately within your email so your readers aren’t missing out on any important points. 7) Make Sure Your Design Is Mobile-friendly In this day and age, everyone checks their emails through their phones. Statistics have shown that 53% emails are opened on a mobile device. With this in mind, it is incredibly necessary that your email marketing design is mobile-friendly but also compatible with other technological devices. The template should work well and be as visually appealing on mobile devices, so remember to format your email content such as texts, images, and logos. Remember that your email marketing design template should also not be too wide so that your readers would not have to go through the hassle of scrolling side to side on their phones in order to read your content. All in all, email marketing services is still quite a relatively new strategy that companies have been using to drive sales in their business. Although it might seem a bit difficult to nail your email marketing design at first, applying the mentioned email marketing design tips and tricks will help grab and retain your readers’ engagement. More importantly, they can help you maximize monetary results from your email marketing campaign. However, if you are still unsure about how you can get started on your email marketing campaign design, be sure to give this Benchmark article a read for more explanation on this topic.


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Why Email Marketing Is Your Most Valuable Brand Touchpoint

Why Email Marketing Is Your Most Valuable Brand Touchpoint

Practical Marketer • July 18, 2019

In this increasingly-connected world, beset with digital infrastructure, there are countless ways in which a brand can reach its target audience. Each moment of interaction is known as a brand touchpoint — a fresh opportunity to leave an impression. You can make your brand look worse, raise some interest, or fail to do anything memorable whatsoever. And because no company — however enormous — has the creative or monetary resources to approach each possible touchpoint with the same care, it’s necessary to pick out the touchpoints that offer the most value in prospect. So what should you prioritize? Social media holds a lot of sway, of course, and is fairly versatile. A strong website with a live chat feature can be excellent for earning conversions. If going to put your effort towards getting the most from one particular touchpoint, it should be email marketing. On the whole, it’s by far the most reliably valuable. It’s relevant and viable for precise targeting When you’re trying to reach people totally unfamiliar with your business, a platform like Facebook Ads provides optimal targeting precision, but a touchpoint needs something a little more in-depth than someone simply glancing at one of your ads. What sets email marketing apart is that it relies on retargeting — marketing to people already interested in your brand. Once you’ve built up your email database, you can get very specific about how you send out your emails. You can send one version to everyone under a particular age or in a certain profession, and another version to everyone else, for instance. Getting that granular with your approach might seem unwarranted when reaching out to strangers, but when you know that you’re reaching an invested audience, it’s surely worth it. Since you can track when your emails are opened (and when they’re not), you can target with even greater precision the longer you email someone. In the above example, Framebridge created an email to go out in place of its regular marketing email — an email specifically for those who haven’t been opening Framebridge emails. If the email changes their mind, great. If it doesn’t, then they get removed from the mailing list, and the company gets to stop wasting money on sending them emails they don’t really want. Consider the old adage that you can’t miss someone if they never go away. It’s better for someone who’s become apathetic to be unsubscribed — that way, at least, there’s a chance that they’ll rediscover their interest down the line and choose to subscribe once more. Using this kind of awareness of the recipient’s situation and likely interests will significantly raise the value of your average email by making its message much more impactful. Don’t you naturally gravitate away from brands that send you generic messages? But it isn’t just targeting that you can nail with email marketing, as we’ll see next. It’s perfectly suited to personalization There’s the basic form of email personalization — including the recipient’s name in various places — but there’s so much more that can be achieved. I heard an interesting comparison when listening to email marketing guru Andrew Chaperon’s appearance on the Marketing Speak podcast. He likened advanced email marketing to writing a choose-your-own-adventure story, allowing recipients to take different paths: “Everyone starts off in the same adventure, in the same story, if they have come via a certain squeeze page, and then I will quickly try to figure out what they are about and I will create different pathways. I will allow people to self-select what interests them.” Instead of viewing each touchpoint as independent, you can focus on planning a series of touchpoints that steadily present your brand in a particular way (you can also look at this as broad lead nurturing). With each email recipient getting emails that reflect their preferences (mentioning new products relevant to them, and offering content that entertains and informs them), you can slowly, meticulously, and consistently improve your brand image. This is particularly easy to accomplish for any service that gathers rich use data, because it can periodically weigh in with insights that make the user’s activities feel more momentous. Uber’s yearly recap email layout (see above) is a great example, because each stat adds something: most usefully, reminding the recipient of how long they’ve been a member makes it feel even more like a core part of their routine. Using data in this way is incredibly potent for how easy it is. The recipient can easily feel understood, even though it’s automatically generated with no manual involvement outside of making the template and writing the set of comments. But you don’t have to stop there. Whenever you feel like it, you can take the time to add some user-specific comments — when you’re emailing your biggest clients, it can be worth it. It allows near-boundless creativity It’s entirely up to you what you do with an email, because you can make it as long, short, simple or complex as you like. Maybe you want to fill it with flashy animations and embedded videos, or leave it sparse and minimalistic — either way, you’re covered. Factor in the importance of having a unique brand style (both visually and otherwise), and it’s clearly a major advantage. Supposing you want to depict your brand as informal and comedic in tone. It’s a gambit, but some brands do this extremely well (see Old Spice, for instance, or Firebox). In an email, you can run through all the jokes you want, splurge on wild colors, and even add interactive elements to spice things up. You can make your emails indistinguishable from any others. For the aforementioned Firebox, the personality is both textual and visual (you can see the latter in the above example). Anyone who’s bought from the store is clearly comfortable with playful content, so the company leans into it as boldly as it can, and it really works. You’d never mistake a Firebox product description for one from another company (e.g. \"Go right off the grid, escape to the country, find that Snorlax\" for \"ROBOT HEAD PORTABLE CHARGERS\"). Imagine scrolling through your inbox, seeing plenty of off-white backgrounds with generic hero images, and happening upon a wall of neon yellow with a face embedded in it. That’s something that would get your attention, surely. Now imagine trying to convey personality of that magnitude through other formats. It’s fair to say you’d struggle to manage it. Through digital ads? Too many restrictions: not enough space, not enough characters. Offline ads? Too difficult to gauge performance. Social media posts and conversations? Definitely viable, but extremely risky (you never know when something might blow up in your face, as social media marketing can go very wrong), and also limited by formatting — longer-form content is generally better for showing personality. A small attached image of the above wouldn’t have the same effect as the lengthy column you can have in an email. It’s great for spurring further touchpoints Another thing that works in email marketing’s favor is how effective it can be as the cornerstone of a marketing strategy. What I mean by this is that it can consistently push recipients towards other touchpoints, such as social media discussions (through the inclusion of social function buttons), website visits (through strong CTAs), and even in-person meetings (through the detailed promotion and booking of brand events). Having the aforementioned room for creativity, and knowing that the reader is relatively likely to stick around when the email is suitably targeted and personalized, you can take your time to run through numerous points with the goal of bringing attention to those other touchpoints. In the same way that your homepage greets people before passing value to other pages, your emails can greet your biggest customers before passing value to other touchpoints. When people do move along to those touchpoints, you can feed that data back into your emails, as TunnelBear did, with the above retention email. Email a customer to encourage them to talk about you through social media, then email them once they do to reward them, creating a rewarding loop. Until your data starts to suggest that you’re sending too many emails, at least, you can make a significant effort to use emails as action prompts. If nothing else, that makes email marketing the most economical brand touchpoint, so even if it lacked potency, it would still be worth pursuing for its sheer ROI. But since it’s also a powerful tool for doing everything from announcing new products to keeping interested parties apprised of the latest company updates, it’s an irresistible package. Which of the various contenders could stack up against everything email marketing brings to the table? It’s superbly versatile and configurable. It can be deployed at scale through templating and triggering, all without incurring enormous costs. It can delight recipients with finely-targeted and personalized content, and smoothly pass traffic to other touchpoints. For these reasons, and more, it’s the inarguable champion.


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Email Subscriber Loyalty: 8 Video Ideas to Keep Them Engaged

Email Subscriber Loyalty: 8 Video Ideas to Keep Them Engaged

Practical Marketer • July 10, 2019

Video marketing is on the rise, and in the golden age of online content known as 2019, video isn’t going away anytime soon. Since email marketing is such a strong driver of sales, and video can drive all sorts of outcomes depending on when you use it along your sales funnel and what goal you’re trying to achieve, combining your video and email marketing efforts is a no-brainer. You see, video marketing isn’t just for raising brand awareness or funneling viewers to your website to get them to sign up for your email list. Video can actually be used to great effect over the entire course of your marketing funnel. As video can be used to attract new customers during the awareness stage, it can be used to engage web viewers on your homepage during the consideration stage, and then nurture prospects into becoming customers during the decision stage. That last stage is where video can be the most effective in your email marketing efforts. In your funnel, while you’re trying to build a relationship with your subscribers to get them to convert into sales, what you’re doing is providing them value to attempt to win them over. Sharing newsletters, tips, tricks, and discounts are all ways you can provide value to your subscribers, and video in your emails is a great way to combine all three while increasing click-through rates by 200-300 percent. Also, video not only increases a viewer’s decision to buy by up to 85 percent but 90 percent of customers self-reported that watching a video helped sway their decision, which is why you not only want to use video in your marketing emails but in your sales prospecting emails, as well. With that being said, here are a handful of video ideas you can add to your email marketing efforts in order to increase click-throughs, nurture more leads, and positively impact sales prospecting. 1. Share a customer spotlight video One of the first things you’re going to try to do when nurturing your email subscribers is proving your worth. You’ve done the leg work of proving your subscribers know who you are and are interested in what you have to offer, but they gave you their email because they weren’t ready to buy. Now, you need to warm them up to the idea of buying, and one of the best ways to do that is through social proof. By sharing someone else’s success with a customer spotlight video, which is a video that highlights one of your recent customers and a recent success story of theirs tied to your product or service, you’re providing credibility for yourself and awakening their imagination to the possibilities of what buying your product or service will look like. When viewers can visualize their future results, it becomes easier to accept the idea of buying. 2. Turn your frequently asked questions into an FAQ video A good deal of time spent nurturing leads in the decision stage also helps relieve your prospect’s fears and anxieties. They’re afraid of buying your product or service and losing money on something they’re unsure about. Answering frequently asked questions helps save your sales and customer support teams’ time, while also easing some of these fears and anxieties. To help the information land better, try turning those FAQs into an FAQ video, where you answer your prospective customers’ questions in a video format, either with a spokesperson talking directly to the camera or with voice-over or animated text. Because viewers retain up to 95 percent of a message after watching it, compared to only 10 percent retained after reading it, FAQ videos are not only more engaging to your subscribers but will help them hold on to the information you’re providing better. 3. Share third-party product review videos Along with answering customer questions, showing third-party validation is another way to help put aside your subscribers’ fears and doubts about your product. Your subscribers are going to be looking for reviews for your product or service anyway, whether it’s on Amazon, Yelp, or other places, so why not put their doubts aside by sharing product reviews yourself? You can find or commission a well-known reviewer to come to try your product himself or herself and film it as a product review video. You can even work with YouTube or Instagram influencers to create the video themselves and then share it in your email marketing once it’s complete. This will build more social proof, like a customer spotlight, while also answering viewer questions like an FAQ video. Call it a nurture two-for-one video! 4. Turn a recent event into an event video One smart way to continue to nurture leads in a subtle way is to film a recent or upcoming event and turn it into an event video. Whether it’s an event you hosted or an event you participated in, bring a camera crew and record the experience to show your company out and about and participating with the rest of the world. This creates outside validation that you’re a known brand offering a real product or service, and if you get positive reactions from the crowd at your event, what better way to use that than to share it with your subscribers who are on the fence? If others love it, by the law of attraction (or the unwritten laws of FOMO), your subscribers will start to lean toward jumping on the bandwagon, too. 5. Share popular social content videos in an end-of-the-week email If you’re already engaging in video marketing efforts, the bulk of your videos are probably showing up on your company’s social media channels. Your social media team might even share videos from around the web to engage your followers. In either case, you should track the response each video gets from your followers. One way to use that data is to re-share your top liked, most viewed, or most commented-on videos in a social content video email recap. By re-sharing social content, you get double the value from it, and you aren’t losing valuable videos with engaging content to the daily scroll. Since your social followers and email subscribers might make up different audiences, it’s good to have double the reach. Social content is so easy to miss - sharing a video both in social and in email means a higher chance that content is actually seen. This is especially true if you’re producing your own social content videos. Since video production can be expensive, it’s better to recycle and reuse videos, especially if they perform well. 6. Try a before and after compilation video to show results Another way to encourage those subscribers that are on the fence is to share the positive results of your product or service in action through a before and after the video. Like a customer spotlight or a product review video, this type of video helps your subscribers visualize their future after buying your product. Plus, by showing the before, you can remind customers of where they are now to encourage how much they can use a change. In particular, by rounding up a bunch of before and after footage and creating a before and after compilation of multiple success stories, you can show social proof and prove your product works for many customers, not just a select few. 7. Send personalized welcome, thank you, or customer support videos Personalized videos can be great for sales emails in particular. There are quite a few companies that offer these services, where you can customize the video to the name of the person reading the email, but even a personally recorded old-fashioned webcam or iPhone video from the individual sales rep can increase the positive results of your lead nurturing. As far as welcome, thank you, and customer support videos are concerned, these types of videos are more for delighting customers after they’ve made a purchase than nurturing leads, but by using the same tactics as a sales rep nurturing a prospect with a personalized video response, you can increase customer satisfaction that leads to further sales or referrals later down the line. 8. Any video in your email Videos in your email marketing increase positive results, whether it’s click-throughs, opens, or straight-up sales conversions. Even just including the word “video” in your email subject lines is guaranteed to increase open rates over those without it. If you aren’t currently producing your own marketing video content, find a video production partner to work with. If you’re leaving video content out of your email, you’re leaving more nurtured leads, more customers, and more money on the table.


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Earn 18x The Revenue with Automation: Tips to Help Find Your Independence This Summer

Earn 18x The Revenue with Automation: Tips to Help Find Your Independence This Summer

Practical Marketer • July 1, 2019

There’s a Chinese proverb that says: “Don’t remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with an ax.” Your friend might lose a nose and that pesky fly is likely to go free. Also, axes are heavy and you probably leave home without one most days. The root message behind that saying certainly holds true with email marketing. How do you say “Don’t use batch and blast email marketing when you want to increase efficiency, skyrocket your conversions and save loads of time” in Mandarin? Kidding aside, smart brands are discovering a fundamental marketing truth in this world of overstuffed inboxes. Sending out the same message at the same time to all of your customers (“batch and blast”) is not a wise strategy. The alternative -- email marketing automation, in which you tailor messages to your subscribers based on their needs, their history and their place in the customer journey  -- makes for stunning improvements in click-through rate and conversions. Email marketing automation helps increase efficiency and gives you back time to focus on other tasks. Or, you can use automation to take some well-deserved time off. Automation is not quite as simple as “set it and forget it,” as they say in the Ronco oven infomercials. But with these tricks we’re about to show you, you’ll see dramatic improvements from automation almost instantaneously. In honor of Independence Day, let’s talk about how to use email marketing automation to boost your revenue, free up your time and give you some much-needed independence from your computer and/or smartphone. Email Marketing Automation Basics: Here’s Exactly What It Will Do For You What’s the secret that explains why automation can supercharge your conversions? It starts with the open rate. According to data-driven marketing firm Epsilon, automated emails get 119% higher click rates than blast emails. That’s because they deliver the right message to the right people at the right time. Other sources agree: According to digital research firm eMarketer, B2C marketers see up to a 50% conversion rate with automated emails. And automated emails are 133% more likely to sync with a customer’s purchase cycle than broadcast (a.k.a. batch and blast) messages, according to the Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups. And, our title stat -- according to Jupiter Research, automated emails generate 18 times more revenue than blast emails. The Basics of Email Marketing Automation: Here’s An Easy Way to Get Started OK, you say. Eighteen times the revenue? Sign me up! … now what? If you’re not sure where to start with email marketing automation, don’t worry. It’s easy to dive in. A great place to start is to automate things you’re already doing. Let’s break down a couple of easy places to do this. Automate Your Welcome Email Series or Onboarding Messages Why does Wal-Mart employ greeters, whose sole purpose is to say hello to customers the moment they walk into the store? Why do savvy brands -- such as Disney or Uniqlo -- have specific welcome wording that gets repeated without variation every time a customer initiates contact? It’s because those megabrands know that good welcome messages -- that is, ones that feel totally friendly and natural, but which are carefully crafted to get the maximum impact -- can make a huge difference in conversions, sales and loyalty. Here’s a handy crib sheet of top tips to steal from the masters for your automated welcome emails and messages: TIP 1: Say “Thank You”  This one’s just basic manners. When people hand over their email address, that’s a big deal. Even if they’re doing it for a short-term goal -- say, because a pop-up promised a 10% off code for signing up -- they’ve still extended a measure of trust that needs to be met with genuine gratitude. To make the thank you feel organic, feel free to pair it with useful info for your customer about how to use your offering. EXAMPLES: FROM: Carbonite WHY IT’S GREAT: Simple. Straightforward. Visual enough with some icons and brand colors, yet not too busy to be a turnoff. The helpful content and clean aesthetics are a great fit for this online backup company. The text shows a focus on useful tips, yet the tone isn’t off-puttingly uptight. The beauty of an instant automated “Thank you and welcome” email is that it forms an excellent first impression. Sure, we hardened marketers understand that there’s not a person at a computer hitting send individually on a message thanking people every time they sign up for emails. But when a gratitude-focused message like this hits a new subscriber’s inbox right away, it lays a great foundation of solid goodwill. FROM: JO-ANN Fabrics WHY IT’S GREAT: This colorful, eye-pleasing message is short, sweet and memorable. It’s more designed than the Carbonite example -- which is appropriate for the arts & crafts crowd that JO-ANN caters to. Notice a commonality with the Carbonite message? That’s right, both use a color scheme where bright green and white are front and center. Green is a classic “go” or happy color, which subtly reinforces that joining these brands’ email lists was indeed a great decision. TIP 2: Reinforce Your Brand Whether you do it with your words, your graphics, your colors or something else, use the welcome email as an opportunity to reinforce your branding. This can mean a number of different things, so see what’s right for you. It could be about including a special offer, giving people a little chuckle with your offbeat word choices, driving new signups to a special section of your site, etc. EXAMPLE: FROM: Virgin America WHY IT’S GREAT: When do people sign up for an airline’s email list? Virgin knows that most signups come 1) when people are watching a fare and want alerts when the price drops, and 2) when they’ve pulled the trigger and purchased a ticket. With that in mind, Virgin uses this automated welcome email to reassure new subscribers of the value of their subscription. With that great header graphic -- which signifies either “I Love You” or “Rock on and Hail Satan,” depending whose grandmother you ask -- Virgin America establishes an easy rapport with its new email subscribers. The company also uses this prime opportunity to emphasize the useful information that will be coming through this channel, which is great for discouraging anyone who might feel a case of subscriber’s remorse coming on. TIP 3: Be Clear About What’s Next You can follow all the best practices for writing and designing a killer welcome email, but if you forego the opportunity to get people to use and love your offering -- well, that’s unfortunate. The beauty of automating your welcome messages is that you can send out emails that encourage engagement and conversions based on what point of the customer journey people are in. Make sure you take the time to encourage brand engagement through your welcome message. That can mean a variety of things -- you can have the goal of driving your subscriber back to your site to browse if you’re an eCommerce retailer; you can encourage your subscriber to engage with your social media channels, etc. Just don’t forget a Call to Action of some sort! EXAMPLE: FROM: Lyft WHY IT’S GREAT: Lyft knows that people often sign up for their email list 1) when chasing down a free ride promo, or 2) when signing up to use the service for the first time. That’s why this message is short and incredibly action-driven. In just about 13 words, Lyft does everything that our tips prescribe. Best of all, that enticingly bright call to action button (“Take a Ride”) gets people going to where Lyft wants them -- back to the rideshare app, to use the service. This is a great example of how to write a welcome email for an app-based service. It drives an outward click to the brand’s phone app, as that’s where Lyft wants its customers to spend their time engaging with the brand. Automate Your Promo Emails When you need to signal boost a particular product, service or offering, promo emails are hard to beat. This is a place where automation really shines -- using the data gleaned from your customers’ behavior, you can pinpoint exactly when each customer is likely to be most receptive to your promotion. For some inspiration -- consider automating a follow-up message for people who did or didn’t open your message, or try a follow-up email for those who did or didn’t click on your call to action. Both methods are great for getting more attention for your promotion. Check out these actionable tips for how to maximize your engagement by automating your promo emails and follow-ups. TIP 1: Target your promo Paired with audience segmentation, automation is a critical tool to share hyper-targeted offers to motivated audiences on exactly the right schedule. Time is limited, attention spans are short, and you want to get people enticed ASAP. This is the beauty of automating your promo emails -- you can bank on the fact that when your subscriber receives them, he or she will already be in the mindset to consider what you’re promoting. EXAMPLE: FROM: Code42 WHY IT’S GREAT: This promo email from data backup service Code42 was sent out around the holiday season. This one was targeted to people who had already signed up for the brand’s CrashPlan service, which protects data in the event of an unexpected loss event. The promo urged the subscriber to gift the service to a loved one while promising an incentive to the giver. Audience segmentation and automation were key here -- the promo wouldn’t have made sense if it were sent to subscribers who had not yet converted, or to those who weren’t open to the idea of purchasing the CrashPlan service. TIP 2: Establish urgency You have tracking and analytics set up for your email marketing, correct? (If not, stop what you’re doing and get on that!) Email marketing offers a treasure trove of information about your customers’ browsing habits, shopping preferences and engagement. By using the data provided by standard tracking and analytics, you can create priceless urgency in your automated promo emails by adding deadlines, expiration dates and “while supplies last” caveats. EXAMPLE: FROM: Target WHY IT’S GREAT: Just like Santa Claus on steroids, massive retailer Target knows if you’ve been sleeping and knows when you’re awake. They also know exactly what types of products you’ve been browsing and when -- which allows them to add this super-targeted email footer on their promo emails that display items that you’ve already shown interest in. While your brand may not have the data and programming power of Target (yet!), you can absolutely create a sense of personalization by infusing your automated emails with the insights from specific subscriber habits and patterns. Automate Your Cart Abandonment Messages Cart abandonment messages are one of the easiest and most useful places where you can set up automated messages. Emails like these -- which can give a little nudge about items placed into the online cart and not yet purchased -- are easy to set up and can yield great conversions. Here are a few tips on how to maximize: TIP 1: Consider what timing works best for your customer Something got in the way of your customer finalizing a purchase. Was it price? Was it an urgent phone call? Was it a random coffee spill that caused the computer to glitch out and crash, leaving his or her cart sadly abandoned? Remember: You can use tracking and analytics to determine (or at least make an educated guess about) what the hitch was. No matter what the reason, an automated cart abandonment email that’s triggered to go out at a time when your customer is likely to be in a purchasing mood can work wonders. Think about what that means to you -- are you an eCommerce shop that sells things people buy on impulse? If so, maybe evenings or weekends are the right time to send out your automated cart abandonment messages. Are you a commercial data backup service? Then maybe peak business hours -- say, Tuesday morning -- would be a good time to nudge your cart abandoners. EXAMPLE:   FROM: Chubbies WHY IT’S GREAT: This no-judgment email makes it dead simple to pick things up where the customer left off. Because Chubbies is a leisure/casual brand, this message is timed to go out based on what time of day the customer has been browsing on the site previously. Whether it arrives when the customer is at work or at home, this colorful, lighthearted message adds yet another facet to the customer’s brand experience. TIP 2: Use data to make it personal Why did your customer abandon his or her cart? What was happening at the moment the critical “Checkout” tab was closed, with purchase uncompleted? As stated previously, data and analytics can give you great insight into the answers to these questions. While you’re using that data, why not use a bit of it to jazz up your automated cart abandonment email to make it feel even more hand-sent? EXAMPLE: FROM: Beardbrand WHY IT’S GREAT: Check out that P.S. -- Beardbrand’s automated cart abandonment message is set up to populate this line with an actual product that the customer has purchased or considered. Talk about personal! This is a highly underused tactic in cart abandonment messages, which makes it stand out even more. With the conversational tone, straightforward text and formatting and that slam-dunk P.S., Beardbrand’s automated email feels incredibly not automated (but it gets all the benefits of automation -- namely, going to the right audience at the right time). Automate Your Repurchase/Purchase Cycle Program Messages Even if your product or service is not in the traditional “replenishables” category -- think prescription goods, perishables, seasonal items and more -- you might well benefit from an automated repurchase or purchase cycle email. Here are a few tips on how to maximize these often-overlooked messages. TIP 1: Make repurchase seem essential, not optional We all have those products that we’ve bought and lost interest in. Or products that we’ve pushed aside for an alternative. In order to combat this type of situation -- and to capitalize on a warm lead -- the best automated repurchase emails make the case that buying a product again is vital. EXAMPLE: FROM: Sephora WHY IT’S GREAT: Makeup is a high-margin replenishable, and retailer Sephora is a giant in the industry for a reason. This automated repurchase email is simple, visual and urgent. The language is strong but not over-the-top pushy, and this message goes out to customers in advance of when they might be expected to have finished the product in question. This helps the brand stay top-of-mind at the exact right moment. TIP 2: Automate messages based on season or purchase history -- or both When you set up automated repurchase messages based on season, you open up a whole additional opportunity to help previous purchasers of your product or service that it might be time to buy again. The great thing about doing this is that it comes off as helpful, thoughtful and tuned into the customer’s personal needs. While the ultimate goal may be to make another sale, the objective presented to the customer is to send a friendly reminder about something relevant. That action establishes trust and loyalty. EXAMPLE: FROM: Harrod Horticultural WHY IT’S GREAT: “Is it really that time of year again? The time to kill slugs?” This replenishment email from UK garden supply shop Harrod Horticultural may seem silly to the non-gardener, but to someone who’s purchased this particular garden defense product before, it serves as a helpful reminder coming at a very important time. That’s the beauty of automated messages, remember -- right message, right audience, right time. Envision Your Sales Funnel and Identify Touchpoints to Automate Perhaps you’re really on the ball and you’ve already automated the types of messages above. Perhaps you have a very specific business and not all of these types of emails make sense for you to send. If you’re looking for more guidance on what kind of emails to automate, try this. Envision your sales funnel. Walk through each step of the customer journey, and identify points where your customer might benefit from another touchpoint. You can also reverse engineer an automation strategy based on your goals. Whatever you choose, remember -- automation will help you reach more people with less work on your part in the long run. What could be better than that? What to Do if You’re Not Sure How to Use Email Marketing Automation OK, so you’ve gone through the different types of marketing emails that you can automate. You’ve visualized your sales funnel and brainstormed different points of the customer journey where a specific and useful message might be useful. Maybe you’re thinking: “Wait, back up! What if I don’t know how to use email marketing automation?” We won’t mince words: In order to get the most out of automation, you’re going to have to learn the basics of a new tool. But don’t worry -- much of the knowledge on what to automate lies within you already. For example -- Do you do follow-ups after events? You can automate it! Is your team making a ton of sales calls or sending individual emails to check in with leads? Automate it! If you have emails (or texts or calls) that you regularly send, ask yourself: Could I automate this to make these messages more efficient and engaging? Chances are the answer’s yes! Here are some tips and examples of how to make the most of your more individual email marketing automation campaigns. TIP 1: Get bang for your buck by automating with a date or trigger that applies to all your customers, but which is unique for each one Whether it’s a signup anniversary, a purchase milestone or a birthday -- you can get a tremendous bang for your buck by setting up an automated email message to go out to your customers on a day that’s specific to them. Take this opportunity to do all the things that a great marketing email does -- show gratitude, give a quick reminder of why your marketing emails have been useful to the customer and drive the relationship forward with a great call to action. EXAMPLES: FROM: BestSwimwear WHY IT’S GREAT: Who doesn’t love cake, colors and coupons? Being called “beautiful” on your birthday is pretty great, too. This message is bright and simple. The call to action comes with a compelling reason to click -- a generous 20% discount offer. FROM: ModCloth WHY IT’S GREAT: “I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow,” sang ‘60s pop band Spiral Staircase. ModCloth nails that sweetly appreciative sentiment with their anniversary email. As an added bonus, they send out messages like this for both the annual and semiannual anniversaries of their subscriber signups -- a great little touch that makes people feel extra special. TIP 2: Create well-crafted automated messages to re-engage your customers who are in danger of unsubscribing These types of messages are sometimes called “win-backs,” and they’re a great way to boost your overall engagement. Now, you have to walk a fine line with the crafting of these automated messages, of course. First, they shouldn’t feel automated at all. They should feel as genuine, useful and personal as possible. Also -- keep it brief. Lead with something straightforward and un-gimmicky. Approach this message like you’re writing to an old friend who has grown distant, and you’re trying to remind the friend of your good times without being sappy or pushy. EXAMPLE: FROM: Smart Blogger WHY IT’S GREAT: In the blogging world, gig work, hustling and “feast or famine” ebbs and flows are common. Smart Blogger, an affiliate network, caters to a customer base of content writers who often have a lot of passion but also a high risk of burnout. That’s why this simple and useful automated re-engagement message from the company is so effective -- it has a great, friendly “here’s what you missed” tone, and it goes out of its way to offer no judgment for why the subscriber hasn’t been engaging with the brand. TIP 3: Don’t neglect your evangelists We’ve been focusing on ways to use automated emails to close the elusive sale or to lock in loyalty among new subscribers. What about your loyalists? They deserve your automated love too, of course. That sentence may sound funny -- do you really give the people you love a “canned” message? That’s the beauty of the kind of automated email marketing we’re talking about. Because they’re so relevant and tailored, the best automated email marketing messages don’t feel canned or mass-sent at all. In order to identify your brand evangelists, check your analytics to identify thresholds such as frequency of using your app or website, the open rate for your emails or even engagement on your social channels. What are the pain points and goals of these types of hyper-engaged users? Remember, they’re your VIPs -- how can you make their experience even more special? Still feeling lost? There are plenty of resources available to help you learn. If you want to read more about how automated marketing messages work, check out this great catch-all guide by marketing genius Neil Patel. Digital guru Moz offers a similarly comprehensive compendium. And WordPress services startup WP Curve has another great overview of the category. If you’re looking for services to help -- tools such as Zapier and PieSync can help you automate as well. Still hesitant? There’s no reason why you can’t jump right into email marketing automation. Don’t believe us? Check out this rundown of great workarounds to traditional implementation hurdles. Don’t Have the Human Resources to do Email Marketing Automation? Here’s Why That’s Not a Problem  You have a tiny team. Your budgets make shoestrings look like eight-lane highways. “I don’t have the manpower to set up email marketing automation,” you say. That’s where you’re mistaken. Good news -- automation is specifically useful for you! Automation gives you the impression of more manpower, without actually having to have more manpower. That’s because it frees up time and is way more effective than the batch and blast strategy, or, heaven forbid, manual sending. Plus, automation is built into most email marketing tools, such as Automation Pro. That makes setting up your campaigns even more of a no-brainer. However, if you’re still in need of convincing, check out these time-saving tips and examples to make your automation strategies even more of a win. TIP 1: Segment your audience as if your life depends on it We’ve talked a lot about data, analytics and personalization. The underlying assumption, of course, is that you have some sort of tactic in place to capture critical information about your customers and their usage habits. It’s the fundamental building block of great automated marketing emails -- because specialization is what makes your campaigns feel fresh and applicable rather than stale, forced and generic. So, take every opportunity to filter, categorize and tag your customers based on their needs and behaviors. It’ll make things much easier when it’s time to design automation campaigns. TIP 2: Capitalize on seasonal occasions Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July and more -- have you set up your automated marketing to acknowledge these special dates and seasons? If not, you’re missing a massive opportunity to increase subscriber engagement with your brand. People love to open holiday-themed automated messages, partly because they feel so novel and fun. It’s also another opportunity to provide useful information or promote special occasion sales, offerings or discounts. EXAMPLE: FROM: Uber WHY IT’S GREAT: Useful, adorable and well-designed -- this Halloween themed automated message from Uber hits all the high notes. It tells customers what to expect on the upcoming holiday and makes the brand seem lighthearted and fun. TIP 3: Make it feel like a conversation We’ve established that excellent automated messages work like a finely tuned machine while giving the customer an experience that feels more like receiving a caring email from an old friend. In order to ensure that your automated marketing messages have that friendly vibe, keep things as conversational as possible. You can do that by asking questions, using slang (in moderation) and injecting personal bits (also in moderation). EXAMPLE: FROM: Groove WHY IT’S GREAT: The phrase “quick question” is like catnip to most email subscribers. It piques curiosity while also appealing to our human desire to offer our expertise and help. Groove makes great use of the conversational tone, starting with its use of that phrase in the subject line. Also, notice how the “From” address is “Alex at Groove” -- rather than simply the email address, firstname+lastname or, heaven forbid, “Do Not Reply” or “No Name.” Missing Key Customer Data That Would Help You Automate Your Email Marketing? Try This! We’ve mentioned the importance of gathering relevant customer information in order to tailor your automated messages to reach the right people at the right time. But what if you want to jump in now and you don’t seem to have any actionable customer data on hand yet? Great news -- automation can help you gather valuable customer data! It can also help bolster your data if you’re already in the practice of collecting it. For example, you can use your automation campaigns to capture info including: Customer names and contact info Customer and lead website activity, including website clicks and shopping cart abandonment Email opens Links clicked in an email Subscribers who open, but don’t click You can even automate the segmentation of your lists based on subscriber engagement. Or, you can automatically move subscribers from one list to another based on various engagement designations, such as: Most/Least Engaged Interested in specific products/services Free Trial/Paid Customers Tailor Your Automation Strategies to Unlock Profound Potential with Your Marketing As July 4 approaches, we hope that you’ll implement some of these tips and strategies to declare independence from the tediousness of manual marketing tasks and break away from the inefficiency of broadcast emails. The beauty of automated marketing is that you can use virtually any kind of information or trigger to tailor extremely engaging, useful and memorable messages for just the right audiences at exactly the right times. And you can start automating at any time, regardless of what your previous strategies have been. So try some of these tricks, learn to love automation -- and watch your revenue light up like fireworks!


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5 Tips for Successful Email Marketing Automation

5 Tips for Successful Email Marketing Automation

Practical Marketer • June 26, 2019

Even though social media platforms take the cake in terms of digital communication, email still remains a pivotal part of the equation. No matter the scale of your business or the industry you operate in, email marketing can still make a difference for your lead generation and revenue. According to 99 Firms, over 90% average consumers use email at least once a day, while 39% of marketers never personalize their marketing emails, with 21% also neglecting segmentation. Even though the communication channel is highly relevant, most marketers fail to utilize its potential. This is where email marketing automation comes in as it will allow your marketing department to focus on sales pitch development rather than sending emails by hand. With that in mind, let’s take a look at several tips and guidelines which can help transform your email marketing efforts through automation and careful planning for higher engagement and conversion rates. Advantages of Email Marketing Automation Before we discuss how to make email marketing automation viable for your business, it’s worth discussing “why” you would do so in the first place. Automation doesn’t mean less creative input or control over your marketing campaigns – quite the opposite in fact. Automation eliminates mechanical tasks and tedium from the advertisement process, instead of allowing marketing experts to focus on what matters the most – the end user. With that said the benefits of email marketing automation extend to but are not limited to: Higher Emphasis on Content Your email’s content will always be the decisive factor in whether or not a sale is successful. With automation, your marketing department can pour their resources into writing and if needed utilize writing services to craft intricate sales pitches. An emphasis on content over email optimization due to automation will bring much better conversion rates and revenue to your company over time. Faster Turnaround Time A lot of time is spent on manual targeting, email delivery, and subsequent follow-ups without any form of automation present in the process. Email marketing automation will allow your team to create content faster and deliver it in shorter timespans than ever before. This can lead to much better engagement rates and brand awareness due to your company’s activity on the market. Streamlined Lead Nurturing Once you convert individuals into subscribers or one-time customers they effectively become leads for future nurturing. However, splitting your resources between lead generation and nurturing can lead (pun intended) to lower the quality of content on both fronts. Automation eliminates unnecessary tedium from the process and allows for much better audience management whether they belong in potential or existing lead pools. Tracking & Analysis of Opportunities Lastly, email marketing automation generally relies on a professional email marketing platform to streamline manual tasks. These platforms offer tracking and analysis opportunities for your benefit. Since no marketing campaign exists in a vacuum, this data can be used to refine your sales pitches and attract even more customers in the future. Tips for Successful Email Marketing Automation Now that we have a clearer picture of why email marketing automation is a game-changing addition to email advertisement, let’s talk about how to make the most of it. As we’ve previously mentioned, “automation” won’t take away your control over what content to send and to which B2C or B2B stakeholders. What it can do for you is that it can make the marketing process easier to manage and to offer tangible data for you to learn from. With that said, let’s dive into the ways to make your email marketing more successful via automation. 1. Start with Audience Segmentation The best way to start an email marketing campaign off is to segment your audience into different categories. There are numerous ways to do so, from gender-based segmentation to specific professional backgrounds or lifestyle choices. Audience segmentation will allow you to take full advantage of email marketing segmentation by letting you target individual groups within your customer base directly. Tech-savvy millennials will react to certain types of email content differently than the elderly stay-at-home population would. This will allow you to create unique content based on who you target and with that intent. Once your audience is segmented, you will have an easier time delivering content to individual email lists, adjust your tone and wording, as well as to offer different purchase incentives to different people for better engagement results. 2. Written Content Over Multimedia Embedding multimedia content into email marketing is not a good idea. Many people still use limited bandwidth connections or rely on slow and unreliable (pun intended) ISPs. In order to reach as many people as possible and get positive results from your email marketing automation efforts, make the content as lightweight as possible. Third-party hosting services such as YouTube and ImageShack can be used to upload and link your multimedia content into emails indirectly. This will add a sense of freedom and choice to your email’s recipient, increasing your chances at converting them into customers. Short-form, direct and informative writing will always carry more weight than flashy images or animation embedded into email marketing content for no good reason. Written content should always be sufficient for potential customers to weigh whether or not they want to give your brand a chance. 3. Incentivize Fast Engagement Your goal as an email marketer should always be to incentivize conversion as quickly as possible. In order to do that, you can use numerous sales tactics in order to push your audience into conversion. Exclusive sales offers, discount coupons, limited-time offers and other marketing tactics can be implemented into scheduled, automated email marketing content. Giving your leads a sense of urgency in terms of making the purchase decision is bound to bring better engagement results to your email marketing campaign. However, you shouldn’t rely on invoking a sense of urgency too frequently. Make sure that enough time has passed between “exclusive” offers for your audience to grow expectant of another chance to save money on discounts. Integrating these engagement incentives will result in much faster conversion rates from the moment of sending the automated email marketing content to your mailing lists. 4. Calls to Action are a Must Creating email marketing content without a clear takeaway for the receiver is a wasted opportunity. Most people casually read through promotional emails without paying too much attention to minute details. Make sure that calls to action find their way into your email marketing automation efforts just as the sales offers do. Anything from “Contact Us Now” to “Subscribe to Receive Exclusive Offers” works wonders. Create calls to action which correspond with your industry and the tone of voice you adopted for email marketing. Calls to action are an important element of email marketing since they give the readers a clear direction to act on once they have read your content through and through. Never send passive email marketing content without a takeaway or a direction for potential customers to follow up on. 5. Track, Analyze & Reevaluate on the Fly Lastly, the best way to utilize email marketing automation is to extrapolate data from your campaigns on the fly. As soon as you notice a spike in engagement, ask yourself why it happened. The same goes for a lack of engagement or whenever you receive more follow-ups or subscriptions than anticipated. This can be done to ensure that your email marketing brings the best possible results to your brand for the duration of each campaign. Once each campaign is over, you can go over the data in greater detail to learn even more about what worked and didn’t work with that particular content. Professional email marketing automation platforms offer extensive tracking and report features for your benefit, so make sure to use them to your advantage. Email Marketing Automation Mistakes to Avoid Now that we have a better understanding of how to create an email marketing automation pipeline and make the most of it, it’s worth pointing out some mistakes worth avoiding. Remember that automation will only help you with technical activities which don’t involve creative writing, personalized sales and customer’s psychology. In that regard, here are some of the worst offenders in terms of email marketing automation and why you should keep them in mind going forward. Lack of Personalization Highly curated emails with clear sales pitches can make your company look professional and well-organized. They can also make your brand come off as robotic, uninspired and lacking any form of personalization. Address your recipients by their names, last names or (at the very least) proper gender to make the email more genuine. Lacking any form of personalization will quickly make your brand come off as spam and result in no engagement at all. High Sending Frequency Timing is everything with email marketing automation, so make the most out of scheduled email delivery. Think about when your target audience is most likely to check their email during the day and aim for those hours. Don’t send multiple emails containing the same ads or sales offers to the same addresses. This is also a great way for potential customers to label your brand as “spam” which is a very difficult label to take off down the line. Working with Outdated Data Trends change, and with them, audience expectations are bound to shift from time to time. It’s important for your marketing team to stay in touch with the latest customer expectations, industry trends, and innovations which may help you craft better email marketing content. There is nothing worse than to market your company as a modern industry competitor only to use outdated trends and content people have long forgotten about. Automation for the Sake of Automation Lastly, automation has to be used in a smart and deliberate way. Don’t involve email marketing automation platforms into your advertisement pipeline for the sake of keeping up with your industry. Instead, think about the ways in which you can benefit from automation platforms, what kind of content you can deliver to your audience and how you will grow as a business as a result of automation. Make the most of what automation has to offer and your leads and revenue stream will reflect those goals. In Conclusion When all is said and done, email marketing automation is all about streamlining your content production and delivery as much as possible to make room for creativity and innovation. Don’t strictly rely on automation to bring results to you – instead, look for ways to eliminate marketing bottlenecks and create the best content for your audience. What are some of your experiences with email marketing automation? Do you use it in your email marketing efforts and to what extent? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to use these tips to your advantage whenever you run into email marketing trouble down the line.


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How to Use Social Data to Launch a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

How to Use Social Data to Launch a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

Practical Marketer • June 21, 2019

Is email marketing dying? Last year, the Internet was full of articles and blog posts, where different experts expressed their concern about the effectiveness of email marketing. The main idea behind this claim is that email marketing is becoming obsolete due to the new (and arguably more effective) marketing strategies, like social media marketing. Yet, the death of email marketing is a rather bold claim. Email marketing is very much alive, which is proven by the recent stats by Optinmonster: 58% of people check email first thing in the morning Email marketing is still the most important content marketing distribution channel (according to the 91% of respondents); Reportedly, email marketing has 4400% ROI, which means that for every dollar you spend on your email marketing campaign, you’ll get $44 in return If we start comparing the effectiveness of social media marketing vs. email marketing, the latter one still gives a better and more even performance. Not only is it very hard to measure your ROI from a social media marketing campaign, but according to Optinmonster, consumers sign up for brand’s emails more often that its social media accounts. And, email has a higher open rate (22.8% across industries) and a higher CTR (3.71% across industries), compared to 0.58% overall engagement rate on social media. So, lesson learned – email marketing is alive and well, and does not perform worse than the popular social media marketing. Should Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing Be Separated? No. In this age of marketing, customer experience is the main target of any marketing campaign. And, with all the technology and resources available, achieving a complete customer experience cannot be put to practice without integrating various marketing channels. Thus, email marketing doesn’t exclude the use of social media, nor is it superior to what social networks can offer in terms of marketing. In fact, social media can help kick start your email marketing campaign by providing you with volumes of social data. Social…What? Simply put, social data is publicly shared information, which includes metadata that comes from social media users. Social data includes, but is not limited to the following: Time and location Language Biographical data Likes Shares Comments Shared links Clicks The main characteristic feature of social data is that it is dynamic, and it is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you’ll be receiving updated volumes of information all the time (to keep your marketing campaign closer to its goal). On the other hand, high dynamics of social data makes it hard to keep up with it. Yet, social data can help you find answers to many questions, including the ones that are concerned with the email marketing campaign. So, how can you use it? Let’s take a look. Applying Social Data to an Email Marketing Campaign 1. Analyzing and Growing Your Target Audience Social data can provide you with extensive knowledge of who your audience is, giving you a whole set of ideas on how you can apply it to your email marketing campaign. However, social data can do more than that. You can use social media channels to build email lists. And, vice versa, it allows you to take a closer look at who your email subscribers are to make your email marketing campaign more targeted. For instance, here’s how LinkedIn can help you with email subscriber analysis. If you go to LinkedIn, choose Connections, you’ll see a section where you can enter your email to add more people to follow. After you enter your email, you’ll see all the people that you have in your email subscriber list as LinkedIn users: Twitter has the same function, which allows you to take a better look at who your audience is, what their interests are, which eventually can be very helpful when creating content for your next email marketing campaign. You can also integrate social media platforms to redirect people to your email via a newsletter. For instance, Facebook call-to-action button can be designed in a way to help your Facebook followers contact you via email. How do companies benefit from it? Peter Jefferson, a marketing specialist at the international real estate company, says that switching from “Visit our website” to “Contact Us” via email helped the company boost their email marketing campaign. Doing so can help you redirect more potential subscribers to your email. However, you can draw even more benefits from it. All social media platforms have their own built-in analytics tools, which, among many other functions, allow you to track how many people used this CTA. You can also track their location, time zone, and other social data, which can be useful for your email marketing campaign. 2. Finding Content Ideas for Email Although social data mainly comes from likes, shares, and comments from across social media platforms, it can also be collected from various other sources. Marketers are in a constant hunt for email marketing ideas, especially when it comes to content. And, if you plan on sending marketing emails every day, your content should be really engaging. This has a lot to do with a positive customer experience, which is a goal of every marketing campaign. And who can tell you more about it than subscribers themselves? Surveying your target audience will provide you with social data which later can be used to generate content ideas for email. For instance, recently I participated in a poll from an interior design brand that I follow on Instagram: After a couple of weeks, I started receiving marketing emails from this brand, showing me the products, among which I could find those ones that the majority of people voted for. This is a smart move from a brand to see what their target audience on Instagram prefers, and then to offer them similar products via email. 3. Benefiting from Customer Support Your customer support service is another source of an ongoing flow of social data. As your customer support operates through various channels, including email and all your social media platforms, you can collect the data to help you launch your next email marketing campaign. Stats prove the effectiveness of customer support. According to Social Media Today, customers love communicating with brands via social media and the majority of them use social media mostly for this purpose. This not only contributes to the positive customer experience but also to the growth of your brand as those who have a good experience are 3x more likely to be a brand evangelist. In terms of email marketing, your customer support service can supply you with the data from tickets they receive via social media. This social data can help you find answers to some marketing-related questions, including how well your previous email marketing campaign was received. Let’s take a closer look at more benefits: Customer support has all the information on your previous email marketing campaign. Responses and feedbacks they get as replies to the emails is social data that can provide you with important clues as to what should be taken into consideration next time; Customer service also has to deal with customer portals (forums, discussion boards), which also offer social data that may play an important role in launching an email marketing campaign. In general, customer support receives a lot of feedback from customers, which can be converted into social data. Although the data that you receive from the customer service is raw and needs thorough analysis, it can potentially give you the answers and ideas you’re looking for. Try Social Data for Email Marketing Although marketers commonly use analytics tools to launch an email marketing campaign and measure its success, social data, obtained from social media and other channels for interacting with customers, can give answers to many confusing questions, including whom you want to target and what content you should put in your emails. Do you have experience applying social data to launching email marketing campaigns? What issues did it help you solve? Share your experience with us!


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