5 Hot Tips for a Clean Email List

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5 Hot Tips for a Clean Email List

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5 Fashion-Inspired Color Palettes for Your Summer Email Marketing Campaigns

5 Fashion-Inspired Color Palettes for Your Summer Email Marketing Campaigns

Beyond • July 27, 2018

If you are anything like me, you have been following the summer fashion trends closely and taking copious notes. What is hot this summer and what are the biggest names in fashion wearing this season? It is an especially exciting time in the fashion industry, as there seems to be a constant disruption and turnover sweeping the industry. According to the Pantone Color Institute, a trend forecaster and consultancy, as color becomes increasingly important, designers are responding by featuring more shades in their collections. Vibrant and bold hues, but also new neutrals and more pastels, define the latest summer trends. At this point, you may be starting to wonder what fashion trends have to do with your email marketing campaign. Let me explain: as a marketer you should always look for ways to sustain and increase your competitive position. To do that, you need to stay on top of trends and what better place to look for what is trending than the runway. Fashion trends can always give you a clue as to what is popular at the moment, and this summer there has been some great inspiration coming from the runway. According to a 2015 study by Microsoft, the average consumer’s attention span has dropped to eight seconds. Considering that, on average, a reader spends about eight seconds on an email once opened. Given that small window of time, it is your job to capture your reader’s attention with all the tools at your disposal. Initially, what will capture your reader’s attention are visual elements such as design, imagery, and of course, color. More often than not, it is the color combination, in particular, that is the deciding factor of whether your reader will engage with your content or will lose interest and bounce. Understanding how colors affect one’s disposition towards your content is crucial to the success of your email marketing strategy. With the hot summer days upon us, warmer tones, brighter hues and the use of more colors are popular. This season can present a great opportunity to introduce some bold colors to your email designs, with a summer-inspired color palette. To make your brand more relevant and visible, I have prepared five fashion-inspired color palettes to bring summery vibes to your next email marketing campaign. Tropical Rhythms When I think summer, I think vacation, preferably on a bright sunny beach in an exotic location. Palm trees swaying to a light breeze and ocean waves dancing to a tropical rhythm. To capture this carefree ambiance, tropical hues and patterns have made their way onto the runway to become one of the hottest Spring/Summer 2018 print trends. Leading designers, including Fenty Puma, Michael Kors, Coach, and Gucci, artfully decorated their garments with tropical ornaments like palm leaves, pineapples, and hibiscus flowers. Inspired by this trend, I have created the ultimate tropical palette to bring a summer vibe to your next email campaign. The palette is bright and friendly, with an abundance of color variance and contrast. The most prominent hues include tangerine orange, palm green, dazzling pink, ocean blue and sunny yellow. To make sure the combination of bright and saturated hues is not too overpowering, pair this scheme with a deep tan or a neutral beige. This palette is ideal to add a fresh summery tone to your newsletter designs. Candy Sweet Pastels Anything with an ice cream hue is sweet for Spring/Summer 2018. A slew of delicate pastels came down Spring/Summer 2018 runways Victoria Beckham, Hermes, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace included. Challenging the increasing popularity of millennial pink, soft shades of lavender and mint have become the ‘it’ colors this summer. Pastel shades are the happier, lighter version of their original color and their simplicity will allow you to style them with other colors and prints. Pastel colors allow for other prominent elements such as text and action buttons to stand out in the foreground, while still providing a warm and cheery presence to the viewer. Choose from a variety of pastel pinks, yellows, mint, blue and lavender. One thing to keep in mind is, if not combined with the appropriate elements and colors, pastels can appear bland and unexciting. Be sure to accommodate a brighter accent color or an interesting font when opting for a pastel palette. Less is More Monochromatic Monochromatic is this season\'s most dominant color trend. This color scheme features one hue in a variety of tones. Even though this color palette may lack contrast, it provides a clean and polished design. From Victoria Beckham’s ice-cream pastels to Max Mara’s neutrals and Rihanna\'s Fenty x Puma eye-popping oranges, the Spring/Summer 2018 runways were a masterclass in how to work the look. For this color palette, I chose orange, to create a versatile spectrum with color options for every part of your design. Working with this single color palette will help you create a warm and exciting feeling. Bring the reader’s attention to your text by choosing an accent color; when in doubt, always turn to the classic black or white as your font color. And if you are feeling adventurous, you can try combining your monochromatic design with the previously mentioned color trends. Choose this color palette to bring cohesiveness and simplicity to a busy design. Bold Pigments & Neon Brights Summer is the season of bright shades, fluorescent colors, and saturated hues. From Tom Ford to Calvin Klein and Kenzo, designers are going all out with bright and bold designs. A rainbow of colors in their brightest varieties are sure to bring that warm summer style to your email designs as well. As we have seen so far, Summer 2018 is the season of experimenting with color. To stand out from your competitors, use bright and bold colors. Dare to use neons and bright pigments. You don’t need to rethink the entirety of your brand’s color palette to introduce some bold pigments to your design. Instead, pick a few colors as your ‘unofficial brand colors’ and use them for all your summer email campaigns. This will help you bring some excitement and novelty to your newsletter while adhering to your brand’s core identity. For this color palette, I have selected vibrant pinks, blues, ultraviolets, and yellows artfully spiced together! What’s Old is New Again 90\'s Eye-popping colors such as coral, hot pink, neon, are the highlights of the 90s. Nostalgic retro design is having a comeback this summer more than ever before. Designer brands like Versace, Tommy Hilfiger and Fila, are paying homage to the popular retro 90s trend. In incorporating retro elements into their designs, designers have brought seemingly outdated colors back into the public eye, inspiring an unusual and exciting color palette. This summer opt for bolder colors in unusual combinations. Vibrant colors communicate energy, excitement, and optimism, which make up the perfect ingredients to set the right mood and grab your reader’s attention. This color scheme features bright purple, opposite shades of blues, neon green, pink and yellow. Integrating this colorful palette with funky patterns and black outlines is sure to invoke the classic 90s aesthetic. The primary force driving this season’s fashion trends is the rebellion of designers against the plain, basic color schemes. Today designers are daring to explore new combinations of hues and pigments, and the result is an innovative, beautiful explosion of colors! Some of the most successful companies know the compelling reasons to prioritize design, and color, in particular, to increase the odds of success. Choosing the right color palette can help you make a meaningful first impression, enhance brand awareness, and help you stand out from your competitors. However, don’t forget to align creativity and strategy. When selecting a color scheme for your next email campaign, always consider its association with your brand. Whether you integrate any of these trends should be based upon careful analysis and consideration.


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How Marketing Automation Helps SEO

How Marketing Automation Helps SEO

Beyond • July 26, 2018

It isn’t easy being a marketer. The economy is always shaky, the customers are fickle, and the technological landscape is always shifting and changing. That’s why we need every single tool we can get our hands on. It doesn’t matter what line of marketing you’re in, it doesn’t matter what product or service you’re promoting, and you need to be on top of your game, all the time. As we said, it ain\'t easy. The whole point of this blog post is to share with you guys one of the best SEO marketing tactics out there – automation. As you may already know, automated marketing is relatively new in the internet marketing world, especially when we compare it to the good old SEO. However, that’s what makes it exciting. Its purpose and design is to automate all those tedious and repetitive aspects of internet marketing, things like email listings, social media posting… Essentially, things that are quite essential, but that are also simple and take up a lot of your time. Marketing automation is here to take on some of the work and help you out. So What Does This Mean To Me? What makes marketing automation great is the fact that it does all the heavy annoying lifting for you, leaving you free to be creative and focus on more challenging tasks. If integrated and connected properly, automated marketing is amazing with SEO. With the latter you can get good lead generation, it will create a foundation, while the former can help you maintain and nurture it. Automated marketing gives you the freedom to focus and to develop your marketing or SEO skills. Many people focus too much on getting leads (which is awesome) but don’t think long and hard about what to do with them once they get them. And while we all know that that is the hardest part of the job, maintenance is still required. Especially if you grow too big to quickly, you may end up collapsing under your weight. Marketing automation can help your SEO efforts directly, or by creating room and time for you to focus on SEO yourself. Helps You Distribute Content You will notice that when you automate everything that the greatest resource you will receive is time. The first place where you will save up some time is in distributing content. When you set up an email list, you will lose a couple of hours (or more). However, if you automate properly, you can avoid any of the annoying stuff by using proper data points. The automation process also relies on and utilizes people’s website behavior. This will then send out the content these people would be interested in. Assists with Link Building Any proper marketer will tell you that link building is one of the major parts of any internet marketing effort. Link building takes up a large portion of any SEO work, and while it is very effective and useful, it’s also quite tedious. Not only is it boring, but it will also take up a huge chunk of your time, and let’s not even mention how annoying it is to get rid of all the spam you can end up with. Just to give you an example, you may have backlinks and connections with a website that was once very effective and professional. However, for whatever reason, this website suffered a significant drop in quality and devolved into a spam-filled hellhole. Now your connection with them just lowers your Google ranking and fills up your inbox with spam. With marketing automation, you can scan and get rid of these easily. A proper tool will notify you immediately if there is some damaging or unhealthy inbound link. As the good folks at Green Web Marketing will tell you, these kinds of websites are pure poison. Any digital marketing company worth its salt will tell you that it takes ages to acquire good, high-quality links and that a poisonous website can ruin all your hard work if left unchecked. More Efficiency, Fewer Mistakes Mistakes happen. We\'re all only human, trying to follow our dreams (and make some money doing it). When you’re trying to make it, when you’re overwhelmed with work and with clients, you will lose focus and will make mistakes, in the name of efficiency and speed. Marketing is not an easy job, and you need to be as efficient as possible. Too few keywords and you’re not as effective as you could be, too many, and you’re oversaturating a post, and Google’s algorithms will punish you accordingly. Knowing what elements you need to employ, knowing what keywords are cool and which are not, is necessary for any successful marketer. Using software that can detect the health and density of your keywords, knowing how many you need, how many is too much, is a godsend. Having to count all that manually will waste a lot of time, but if you get some automated software to do it, you will have more room to focus on other things. We all know how boring and time consuming some of the work can be, and we also know that this kind of work can lead to mistakes. Automated marketing will help you avoid that. Remember that good adage: a job can be excellent, cheap and fast – but you can only choose two? Well, most clients tend to forget this. Automated marketing can help you move closer to this ideal of providing all three, without going crazy or broke. Makes Reputation Management Easier Nothing beats a good reputation. It is a badge of honor, a sign you do what you do well. Reputation is above all cultivated by doing your job well, but it also needs to be maintained. Furthermore, since we are all online, we create our reputation online – word of mouth is almost impossible. This is why reviews and referrals are important. You need to know how to get and how to keep Google reviews. Now, there are many ways to get reviews, but the best possible way is to contact happy customers – and the more influential and powerful they are, the more they build your reputation. Here is also where a stumbling block shows up – how to choose. Namely, if you’ve been in business for a while, you have probably accumulated a lot of happy clients. And the easiest way to get reviews is to ask them. Now, this may have sounded pushy at the beginning, but just remember – if you were happy with some kind of product or service, wouldn’t you want the whole world to know and to give them some traffic? But, contacting them all is impossible. Sifting through your client list and choosing the most important people there is also not the most efficient way of utilizing your time. This is where automation steps in. With proper tools and apps, you can set up a way in which you can have software identify and contact automatically all the people that matter the most. Now, every client is important, but not all of them are influencers. Furthermore, you can also set it up to detect a negative review, giving you an opportunity to respond and fix the issue as soon as possible, before it does any serious damage Gets You More High-Quality Leads All men are created equal – leads, not so much. With proper SEO utilization, you can get a ton of leads to your website. However, this may not lead to any useful or ideal clients. Good SEO attract a lot of people, but it doesn’t filter out all the noise. You will lose time and money on leads that will get you nowhere – and you don’t even need to speak with them at all. The very act of separating the wheat from the chaff consumes money and time that could be invested elsewhere. Proper automated marketing will utilize all the data you feed it and will help you avoid this type of work. It will enhance your SEO strategy by helping you create better and targeted content that gets you only the leads that you want to get, nothing more, nothing less. By doing this separation process, it will free up more time for you to contact these people and set up a deal and helps you do the work you’re passionate about. Conclusion We truly hope this has been useful and informative, and that it will help you along on your journey. Marketing is a harsh environment, but with enough dedication and patience, you will make it. If you have a story or a piece of advice, please feel free to share it and to join the conversation below. Any feedback is welcome, no matter how long you’ve been in this business. Remember, we\'re all in this together!


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Really Good Episode with Really Good Emails’ Matt Helbig

Really Good Episode with Really Good Emails’ Matt Helbig

Beyond • July 20, 2018

Spoiler alert: Your hosts of the Heart of Business podcast are really big email nerds. Not surprised? That makes sense. That’s why it was inevitable that we’d invite the folks behind Really Good Emails to join us on the podcast. Matt Helbig did not disappoint us. We talk about what the site is and how it came to be. Matt also offered some intel on the advantages of having a passion project. If you ever wanted to know what email marketing professionals consider to be really good emails and which one makes them cringe, this episode is for you. The number one thing that rings true when we look for emails that we always come back to is that the content serves a customer more than the company. That always kind of holds true with all the different emails. We also looked to the future and discuss what email marketers have to look forward to. 1:12 - What is Really Good Emails and how did it begin? 6:28 - Tips on managing a side hustle 9:14 - How to communicate when your whole team is remote 11:52 - What makes a really good email? 16:20 - What in an email campaign makes them cringe? 21:55 - Matt’s hopes for email marketers 26:21 - Where Matt got started with email marketing


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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 • July 11, 2018

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. 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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Introducing Benchmark CRM Director of Product Development Paul Rijnders

Introducing Benchmark CRM Director of Product Development Paul Rijnders

Beyond • July 6, 2018

My office is across the hall from the Director of Product Development for CRM, Paul Rijnders. We talk almost daily and have at least one meeting together every week. However, I still hadn’t had a chance to talk to him about the entire development process for Benchmark CRM. Sure, we heard bits and pieces along the way, but this was a unique opportunity for Daniel and me. You see, Paul is a bit of a unicorn here at Benchmark (except that we feel like we’ve got a few of them). His work ethic, determination and round-the-clock schedule are often marveled at by all of us. So, we had to try and figure out what magic elixir he has that lets him do it all. If you’re curious about CRM, what goes into the development of a new product or how to work with an international team, this episode is for you. A short pencil is better than a long memory any day. That’s where I see CRM coming into play. You may have 100 customers, you may have 10 customers, you may have 1,000 customers. Invariably, you’re going to talk to them and that data that makes up those previous conversations and previous touchpoints all your interactions, your customers are going to expect you to remember that. Even as a person, human to human, they’re going to want you to remember various facts about your life. Or even if they don’t want you to remember that, the fact that you do is going to help your relationship, because they’re going to think, ‘Oh wow. This person cares about me. They know me.’ 2:02 - What is CRM? 7:22 - The importance of good organization of data 10:30 - Going back to the beginning of the development process of Benchmark CRM 15:42 - Keeping around the clock hours with an international development team while having infant twins and another kid at home 21:28 - Communication lessons from working with a remote international team 24:40 - Overcoming challenges in the development process


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Opportunities For Improvements in Marketing Automation

Opportunities For Improvements in Marketing Automation

Practical Marketer • July 5, 2018

Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. We also strive for continuous improvement. It’s a universal truth. And sure, part of the allure of marketing automation is its “set it and forget it” nature. However, letting an automation run without looking for opportunities to improve is a mistake. So, what should you be looking out for? Here are three places where you can strive for the continuous improvement of marketing automation: Fix Mistakes It’s a horrible feeling when you’ve sent out an email campaign only to notice a typo in it later. You quickly fly through the five stages of grief when it happens: Denial. Rubbing your eyes and hoping you’re not seeing what you’re seeing. Anger. You beat yourself up. Tell yourself you should have proofread it one more time. Blame a coworker you sent a test email to. Bargaining. Sitting there wishing a feature existed to unsend an email. Depression. We’ve all been there. Hiding in our office or cubicle. Deciding it’s the worst thing we could have done. Acceptance. It is what it is. You can’t change it. You’ll be better next time. That’s all in the past with marketing automation. Thankfully, you can update any email in your sequence, without interrupting the customer experience. You won’t be able to change the ones who have already hit the inbox. We’ll pour one out for those fallen homies. However, you don’t have to create a whole new automation or risk losing the customers who are already further into the sequence of emails. With Benchmark Email\'s Automation Pro, you can create a duplicate version of an email with any necessary updates to fix typos, broken links or other errors and do your marketing automation with confidence. Get Better Open Rates It’s important to track the success of your marketing automation. If you look at your reports and see that the open rate isn’t what you’d hoped it would be, you’ve found yourself another opportunity for improvement. Adjusting your subject line can help you see better open rates for the emails in your automation. Here’s what makes up a great subject line: It feels urgent. It won’t work if you do it with every subject line, but making your subscribers feel like they have to act now is a helpful tactic to get your emails opened. It makes you want to know more. Craft the perfect teaser that leaves your subscriber wanting to know more. The allure will get them to open the email. It delivers value. Make an offer in your subject line that cannot be refused by your subscribers. If they see the benefit right in their inbox, then they’ll surely open the email. It’s personal. Feeling like you’re being marketed to is not a pleasant experience for anyone. If you can make your subscriber feel like you’ve reached out to just them, rather than sending something that feels like a blast to a large number of people, they’ll be far more likely to engage. It tells a story. We’re all told stories from an early age. It’s wired into us. If you begin your “once upon a time” in the subject line, your subscribers will open your email to discover the happy ending. It’s one thing to know what is considered a good subject line. It’s another to be able to write one. Here are some tips on crafting great subject lines: Quick and to the point. You only get 50-60 characters in a mobile device. Make the most of it. Tell them what to expect. Let them know what they’ll find when they open your email. Use action-oriented verbs. After all, a subject line really is just a Call To Action (CTA) to open your email. Inspire your subscribers to take action by using the right action verbs. Use flattery. Make your subscribers feel special by offering a “private invite” to an exclusive event or an “offer just for you.” Numbers help. If it’s a list of resources for them or tips for success, tell your subscriber how many tips there are. It helps to set expectations. Questions work. Ask something that your subscribers will want to seek out the answer to. It goes back to leave them wanting to know more. Don’t use ALL CAPS or too much punctuation. Your subscribers don’t want to feel like you’re yelling at them. A subject line in all caps and with a whole bunch of exclamation points will do just that. Don’t do it. If you’re still looking for a bit of help with your subject lines, you can try great resources like Kopywriting Kourse’s Subject Line Generator or CoSchedule’s Subject Line Tester. Aside from improving your subject line to increase your open rate, you may also want to consider your From Name. It’s important to have a From Name that is familiar and recognizable to your subscribers. If there is a sales team or support member they’ve been working with the entire time, it might help to have “Their Name from Your Business” as the From Name. Improve Your Click-Through Rate (CTR) Say you’ve solved the issue with your open rates, but your subscribers aren’t clicking on the links in your emails. That’s your next opportunity to improve. After all, you’re not selling anything directly in your emails. You need them to click-through to your site. There are a few factors that may come into play: Content Is what you’re sending relevant to your subscribers? If they’re not clicking-through to your website, the answer to that question is very likely a resounding “no.” They’re simply not going to engage with an email that is of no interest to them. How can you know what they want? The links that are being clicked on are one clue. However, you don’t need to play a guessing game to determine the rest. Create a survey and send it to your subscribers. Let them tell you what they want to hear about from you. Is your customer support team receiving the same questions over and over again? Use that to inspire your email content. If you’re more proactive about answering customer questions, you’ll both be providing relevant content and maybe even relieving your support team a bit. Design Even if the content of your email campaigns is high quality, it’s possible the design is what’s keeping your subscribers from clicking. Here are a few things you can do to optimize the design of your email campaigns to help improve CTR: Consider your image to text ratio. Your emails should contain 80% text and 20% images. Image heavy emails that don’t go to the spam folder will be slow to load or turned off. That won’t bode well for creating engagement with your emails. Include captions with your images. Some subscribers may have images turned off. A caption will help them get the gist of the email even without seeing the image. Add a clear CTA. Don’t make it hard for your subscribers to click-through to your site. Your design should not distract from the CTA. Some email marketers see success with both having a text link and a button. That way, you increase your chances of getting a click and cover your bases with how subscribers interact with your emails. Also, make sure any buttons or links you use are mobile friendly and easily clicked on from any device. The design of your email when it comes to CTAs is important. It’s not the only part of creating effective CTAs. CTAs The ability to write a great CTA is just as important as the design of it. The way to do it is very similar to crafting a subject line. After all, I did tell you your subject line acts as a CTA to open your email. So, I’ll reiterate some points and add some new ones: Begin with a command verb. Words like “buy,” “shop” or “order.” It can also be “download” or “subscribe. Elicit emotion. If you can make your subscribers feel something, they’re far more likely to engage. Include your value proposition. Tell them why taking action will be worth their time. Something like “Schedule a time for your free demo” tells a subscriber what action you want them to take and why. The FOMO is real. Create a sense of urgency where your subscribers will fear missing out if they don’t act. Now that you know where you look for opportunities to improve your marketing automation and how to improve them, I want to take a moment to discuss how you can do this with Benchmark Email. Update An Active Automation in Automation Pro If you’re already a Benchmark Email user and you’re ready to improve automation, you can log in and get started. Any thoughts or suggestions on opportunities for improvement in marketing automation? Please share them in the comments below!


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Time-Based Email Marketing: A Smarter Approach to Boost Customer Engagement

Time-Based Email Marketing: A Smarter Approach to Boost Customer Engagement

Beyond • July 3, 2018

The latest statistics shared by Statista suggest that in 2017, there are around 3.7 billion email users worldwide, and the population is likely to grow into a massive number of 4.1 billion by 2021. That explains why businesses are investing so much in their email marketing campaigns, even though a considerable portion of the population claims that email is dead. Interestingly, the US has invested around 2.07 billion USD in email marketing in 2014, which is expected to grow by another billion dollars by 2019, as reported by Statista. And now that the average ROI for email marketing is ticking at astonishing 3800 percent ($38 return for each dollar invested), the business owners require no other excuse to invest in email marketing campaigns. Challenges in the Field of Email Marketing Despite all those enticing details, one cannot deny the fact that it is getting harder with time to engage more customers using the traditional way of email marketing. Just think about it. An average person receives over 100 emails a day, and most of them check their inboxes only 4-5 times in the entire day. Feeding your customers with multiple emails isn\'t going to help if your emails get buried under the other emails. There are several elements that you need to consider in order to improve the open rates of your email, and the timing of the email remains at the top of that list. Personalized emails are useful` But if they are not delivered at the right time, their purpose is lost. Time-based email marketing is not only going to improve open-rates, but they will also ensure a fewer number of unsubscribes. What is GDPR and How is it Going To Change Everything? According to Hubspot, 78 percent of the users unsubscribe an email because the brand was sending them too many emails. And now that the regulations like GDPR are being introduced, businesses can no longer afford to lose their subscribers. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has made it mandatory for the email marketers in the EU countries to collect freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous consent (Article 32) from the consumers, with effect from May 25, 2018. It simply means, the companies now can engage with only those customers who have given their explicit permission to be engaged in marketing strategies. Also, the companies now need to present “legitimate reasons” why they need consumer data. The marketers in the EU countries have already started to make significant changes in their strategies to adapt to these new regulations, and they are trying their best to avoid unsubscribes since fetching data from the new customers have become way difficult than earlier. If your business is not based in any of the EU countries, you may not have to deal with that issue, but since everyone has become sensitive about personal data, soon other countries will also follow the same. So it is better if you start focusing on the time-based approach for your email marketing campaigns, instead of relying on the conventional way of email marketing. How To Adopt Time-Based Email Marketing To Improve Customer Engagement? If you are wondering how time-based email marketing can improve your customer engagement or how you can adopt this new approach, you don’t need to look any further. Here is your answer: Act When the Time is Right If you want to increase your customer engagement, you need to acknowledge the right time to approach them. A recent study, which analyzed more than 1.4 billion marketing emails, has shown that consumers are more likely to engage in marketing communications at the beginning of the week. As per the study, Tuesday evening is the best time to engage customers with email marketing. During the time 5 PM to 6:30 PM, customers are more receptive, and the number of unsubscribes are also less. However, you may need to work on the composition of the email to ensure the effort does not go in vain. If you send the email right on time, but it fails to impress the recipient, the chances of unsubscriptions may increase. Here’s what you should do: Use Short and Catchy Subject Lines The subject and the first few words of the mail are crucial for attracting the reader. Keep the Email Content Short and To the Point The readers usually skip the emails that are too long. Here’s an example: These little tricks are already known to most of the email marketers. However, now you need to focus on your timing as well. Acknowledge the Demographics The concept of personalized content has proven itself useful in maintaining customer engagement, but a marketer needs to consider certain elements like the age, gender and geographical location of the audience, as well as how these elements affect the engagement rate of consumers with the particular brand. A study conducted by SmartFocus suggests that the email engagement of men is more immediate compared to women, receiving the message. For male audiences, the best time to engage is between 4 PM and 5:30 PM, while women typically engage between 8 PM and 9:30 PM. Pro tip: You can segment your email list based on the factors like demographics, geographical locations as well as website browsing behavior. Sending the targeted emails on the perfect time improves the chances of customer engagement. Create Different Strategies for Each Age Groups As per the study by SmartFocus, young adults (18 to 30 years old) who are working, prefer to engage in email communications during the morning and late afternoons. On the other hand, the older people prefer the time 11 AM to 12 PM and 2 PM to 3 PM. While sending the emails, make sure the content compatible for mobile use. Most of the people access their emails on the phone. Not just the millennials, but the generation X and even the baby boomers are using smartphones to access the emails. So optimizing the email for mobile can be useful in engaging the consumers of all age-group. Know Your Consumers With the introduction of GDPR, the power is shifting towards the consumers, and now to keep them engaged through email marketing, you need to consider their email habits while working on the personalized content. As an email marketer, you need to focus your marketing efforts based on the preferences of your consumers. In the wake of GDPR, this may be the best way to reduce the risk of unsubscribes while keeping the existing customers engaged. As mentioned previously, personalization has given the businesses positive results, but now they need to focus on the timing as well. Perhaps, learning the emailing habits of your subscribers as well as their preferences may help you strategize a better email marketing strategy. Most experts are suggesting that customized content sent at the right time can be the key to success for the brands, and if an organization truly understands its audiences, the regulations like the GDPR will provide more opportunity than setbacks.


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Energized By Grid Modernization Engineer Tirthak Saha

Energized By Grid Modernization Engineer Tirthak Saha

Beyond • June 22, 2018

When preparing to interview Tirthak Saha, we saw him say in an interview that he’d once been called “tictac.” However, by the end of the interview with us, he admitted he hoped his work would make him the household name that Elon Musk is today. I gotta say after talking to him for a while, I believe him. Besides being so good at his job as a Grid Modernization Engineer that he was recognized on the Forbes 30 under 30, he proved more than adept at breaking down the jargon-y barriers to entry for understanding what he does. We could have peppered him with questions all day long. At 26, he’s already worked with NASA on satellites inspired by origami, and he is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Innovation Advocacy Network for American Electric Power. Not all heroes wear capes, but if Tirthak did, he would probably pull it off. I’m just very arrogant, right. You have to turn that self-arrogance into something positive. Into what people call drive. My biggest fear, to date actually, is to die without having left a positive legacy. I don’t care if it’s three people or three hundred people talking about me after I die, but I want them to say he left the planet better than he found it. If it is significantly better, that’s even better. It doesn’t matter what the magnitude of the thing I do in my life is. It matters that it’s in the right direction. And when you have that sort of a mindset, you never stop pushing, right? Because you’re always unsure. Have I done enough to be on the right side of the books? 1:50 - What it means to be a Grid Modernization Engineer 6:11 - Innovation through partnerships and cooperation versus competition 14:58 - On how to dream big enough 32:15 - Whether working in his space has left him hopeful or fearful for the future  


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How & Why To Use Emojis In Your Subject Lines

How & Why To Use Emojis In Your Subject Lines

Practical Marketer • June 18, 2018

It can be hard to express ourselves when words limit us. Sometimes a feeling we’re experiencing just doesn’t seem fit for the box a given word puts it in. Sometimes, an emoji communicates what we can’t put into words. Using emojis is also an opportunity to deliver a little bit of joy and delight. As of June 2018, there are 2,823 emojis in the Unicode Standard. In case you’re wondering what we’re all trying to express with emojis, these were the most popular emojis in 2017: 🤷 Person Shrugging 😂 Face With Tears of Joy ❤️ Red Heart 😍 Smiling Face With Heart-Eyes 🤔 Thinking Face 🔥 Fire 😊 Smiling Face With Smiling Eyes 😘 Face Blowing a Kiss 👍 Thumbs Up Emoji usage is growing in our everyday lives. By the middle of 2015, 50% of all Instagram comments featured an emoji. It was inevitable that emojis would find their way into the world of email marketing. Email Marketing and Emojis are Fast Friends The inbox of the average consumer is a crowded one. Brands need to find a way to stand out. Using an emoji in your email’s subject line can be a great way to make your email campaigns stand apart from the crowd. In fact, 56% of brands including emojis in their subject lines had a higher open rate, according to a report by Experian. Businesses are taking note of the success of emojis in subject lines. From 2015 to 2016, emoji use in email increased 7100%. A small business app developer, Swiftpage, conducted tests on emoji use in subject lines. The emails with subject lines that included emojis saw impressive results: 29% increase in unique opens 28% increase in unique Click-Through Rate (CTR) 93% overall increase in CTR Certainly, the individuals that make up your audience will factor into the success of your emoji use. However, there are other factors that may come into play in regards to why emoji use is effective. Why Emojis Are Effective The numbers support the fact that emojis work. Let’s look at a few reasons why that’s the case: Emojis Help with Brevity Depending on the inbox client, there are only so many characters displayed from the subject line. You can say more in less space by using an emoji. The cliche of “a picture is worth 1,000 words” rings very true in this case. Emojis Convey Emotion As I mentioned before, sometimes it’s hard to put emotions into words. Emojis do that for you. However, they can also trigger an emotional response from your subscribers. When they see your subject line smiling at them, chances are they’re going to smile right back. Emojis Are Easy-To-Use In today’s mobile-first world, emojis are supported on practically every device and in every inbox client. Adding an emoji to your subject line could be as easy as copy and pasting. However, Benchmark Email just made it ever easier… Introducing the Benchmark Email Emoji Picker Our product team has just rolled out an emoji picker directly in the email creation process. Now, as you’re writing your subject line in Step 1: Details, you can easily pick out an emoji to include. This feature is available to you in our Drag & Drop Editor, HTML Code Editor and Plain Text Editor as well and can be used in the creation of regular emails, RSS emails and a simple automation via Automation Lite. Various devices will display the same emoji differently. Our emoji picker will display the emojis the way your native device defaults. However, the way your subscriber experiences the emoji will be dependant on their own device, operating system or inbox client and how they display emojis. If you’re curious to find out how emojis may display in various elements, you can check out Emojipedia to see how they’ll look on different devices or operating systems. We’re currently offering Emoji 1.0 from the Unicode Standard. They’re currently on 5.0. This is to ensure that the most possible emojis display properly for the most amount of people. However, if you have your heart set on using a newer emoji, you can always copy and paste one into your subject line. Examples of Using Emoji in Subject Lines If you’re ever not sure where to get started with a new strategy in email marketing, it can always help to see what others have done. This will let you take gain some inspiration and help you to consider what you liked and think you can improve upon. Email Marketing Tipps put together a long list of examples of emoji in subject lines from reputable businesses across the globe. Here are some favorites: A New Twist on M♥M’s Day Gifts + More Great Savings In Stores & Online ☀ sun’s out, sale’s on! ❄ A Winter Advisory you NEED to check out → ✈ Fabulous Flight-Inclusive Offers from £269! | Your Sunshine & Golf Await…✈ Score Pizza With A FREE Kick! Factors To Consider When Using Emoji In a perfect world, we could all use emoji in our subject lines willy-nilly. That’s not the case. There are some things to take into consideration when using emoji in your subject lines. Much like with fonts, there are better emoji to use than others. Some may not yet be compatible on certain devices. One example of that is skin tone variations. Also like fonts, emoji display differently based on the device they’re on. Don’t forget to send test emails or use Inbox Checker to see how they’ll appear. Just as you want to be careful about using excessive punctuation, you shouldn’t overdo emoji use either. You still have to keep character limits in consideration. Those aren’t the only reasons to be careful with your emoji use. You might be very excited to tell your subscribers about the new Farmer’s Market you’ll be peddling your wares out, but as 93% of emoji users aren’t using 🍑 to represent a fruit...but rather as a posterior. Share Your Tips Have you successfully employed emoji in your subject lines? Share examples or some tips on what has or hasn’t worked for your business. We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments!


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A Content Strategist’s Guide to Creating Engaging Email Content

A Content Strategist’s Guide to Creating Engaging Email Content

Beyond • June 15, 2018

Your email marketing campaign is a crucial component of your overall content strategy and the best email marketing strategies will help you to reach and engage with your target audience. A survey conducted by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Demand Metric showed that email had a median ROI of 122%, more than four times that of other marketing formats also looked at, such as social media, direct mail and paid search. Email is your direct line of communication to your audience, but all too often it\'s treated as an afterthought in the content strategist\'s plan. This is a mistake, because an email content plan deserves to be a key part of your wider strategy. Here\'s our guide to creating engaging email content that will keep your audience engaged. Know Your Audience If you\'re taking a scattergun approach to your email marketing, then you\'re not focusing your resources effectively. The idea that in keeping your email content as broad as possible you\'ve a better chance of appealing to a wider range of people simply isn\'t true. You\'ll only alienate more of your audience because they\'re far less likely to gain any connection or relevance from what you\'re saying. The extra time you spend getting to know and understand your target audience will be well worth it in the end, so find out who they are and what it is they want. That way you can tailor your content more effectively to your audience. If they feel a personal connection with your brand, they\'re more likely to engage with it. Segment Your Email Lists Research shows that marketers have seen an increase of 760% in email revenue from segmented campaigns. Segmenting your email lists allows you to take a personalised approach to your email content, ensuring the content in your emails is actually relevant to your subscribers. Personalising emails by addressing them to the recipient is a given, but an email with personalised content will be far more likely to be opened and read by a subscriber. To do this, firstly, identify your target audience and break them down into customer personas, which may include considerations like age, gender, profession, interests and so on. Secondly, allow subscribers to choose the kinds of content they receive – this not only ensures the content they get is relevant to them, but also offers useful data and insights. With this information you can then create segmented email lists based on demographics and other metrics and tailor your email content accordingly. Sign-up forms are a great way to gather information from subscribers, such as geographical location, gender, marital status and hobbies. This means, for example, that subscribers won\'t be getting emails about a sale at a store that\'s nowhere near them, or information about products that they\'ve shown no interest in. Spend Some Time On Your Subject Line It seems simple enough, the email subject line – after all it\'s only got to be a few words long – but a lot more thought needs to go into it than you might think. Most of us get sales emails on a daily basis and if we\'re honest, most of those get marked for the trash without having ever been opened. The subject line needs to grab the attention and should typically be short, descriptive and engaging. The tone you opt for, humorous or informative for example, will to some extent depend on your brand of course, but there are plenty of tips you can use to get your email subject line just right for your audience. Cult beauty brand Glossier is just one example of a company that has perfected the email subject line. Glossier products typically appeal to a younger audience, and with just one permanent New York showroom, the vast majority of customers only connect with the brand online. As such, email subject lines are kept short, punchy and intriguing – helping them to stand out in an inbox filled with sales and promotions alerts. Create Content that Appeals So, your audience want to hear what you have to say, they\'ve clicked on the email and are eager to know more, but your actual content fails to grab them and they\'re soon clicking away. If your content is unable to inspire the subscriber to read on, then all your efforts up until that point have been for nothing. Structure your content in a way that easy is to skim by breaking it up into bitesize segments and using headings, subheadings and bullet points. Bold and italicise the most important pieces of information. Long, wordy emails won\'t encourage the subscriber to read on, and there\'s a good chance they\'ll never open another one of your emails again if they\'re expecting much of the same. For example, take a look at the email below: [caption id=\"attachment_9664\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"400\"] Image: Bruce Mayhew[/caption] Finally, use audience-centered wording that focuses on their needs, wants and interests before moving on to any call-to-action. Otherwise it\'s likely to feel forced, which your audience will probably pick up on. Create Content with Value Every one of your email campaigns should contain content that offers value to the subscriber. They need to know you\'re interested in providing them with content that they\'ll find useful or that will entertain them, so think carefully about the kind of content your audience wants. It could be product news, vouchers, tips, funny videos or just some fun facts about your company or industry. Restaurant chain Giraffe fulfil this brief effortlessly, with bright, eye-catching email campaigns that clearly demonstrate what’s in it for the user. Your email shouldn\'t be a sales pitch, its aim should be to create a personal connection between brand and audience. This way you have a better chance of converting them into actual customers. Be Honest Developing trust is key to any relationship and for brands and their customers it\'s no different. Make it clear on your sign-up form what kind of emails you\'ll be sending and how often. Don\'t send them information on topics they specifically didn\'t subscribe to, and if they have been promised a certain type of content, make sure that\'s what they receive. You want your subscribers to become customers, and this is most likely to happen if they feel valued and respected rather than just a sales opportunity. An email marketing strategy is first and foremost about building a relationship with your potential customer, and you\'re unlikely to be able to do that without good quality content that is engaging and useful to them. By following the suggestions in this article, you\'ll be moving closer to creating that relationship with your audience, ultimately leading to higher conversion rates.


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The Importance of Having A Strong Brand in Email Marketing Campaigns

The Importance of Having A Strong Brand in Email Marketing Campaigns

Beyond • June 15, 2018

Imagine: you wake up tomorrow morning ready to start a new great day. You check the email and see two new letters: a letter from Apple, Pepsi or, well, let us say Nike, and a letter from a company you’ve never heard of. Which letter you’re more likely to open? The “branded” or a “no-name” one? The answer is obvious. The letters from well-known brands have a significant advantage when it comes to grabbing the customers’ attention. That’s how the magic of a strong brand works. Luckily for entrepreneurs, the customers’ behavior is predictable and controllable. And a strong band can become a powerful tool helping business people to increase the profits. This post is aimed to show you several ways of turning the brand into an email marketing booster. How Brand Identity Influences Your Email Marketing Campaigns 1. Increases credibility People tend to base their decisions on trust. Only the company that managed to earn the audience’s trust dominates the market. So the greater number of customers knows you, your products, and services the higher efficiency your e-marketing campaigns will have. The trick is that people you send emails to don’t necessarily have to be your customers. They just have to be aware of your company. The power of the brand and the word of the mouth will do the rest. It works like this: “Oh, a letter from Benchmark Email. Hmmm… Sally told me it helped her create an outstanding custom email template for the recent campaign. Let’s see, maybe it can do something for me as well.” If you’re a burgeoning entrepreneur and your company doesn’t have an established brand yet be ready to see lower open rates. But the numbers will grow as your brand becomes more popular and credible. 2. Improves the ROI If your band is strong enough the brand name itself becomes the greatest attraction. A new product from a famous brand always provokes a market insanity. Remember what happens when the new iPhone or the new Yeezys come out? People may not even need the new phone or another pair of shoes but they will buy the product because of a brand loyalty. Of course, not many companies out there have a brand as strong as Apple or Adidas but that’s totally fine! As long as you keep investing time and efforts in your brand the e-marketing campaigns will become more and more effective.  As they say, branding is the reason you buy something and marketing is the reason you think of buying something. So use the benefits the brand loyalty can bring to your email marketing campaigns. The stronger your brand becomes, the more people are aware of it, the higher number of potential customers will not only open your marketing emails but will also accept your offer. Sure, at first you may have to attract the audience with something alluring like “2 for 1 special” or time-sensitive discount coupons but as time goes by the brand will do the same work increasing your open rates and ROI. 3. Helps you stand out One of the main problems the modern marketers confront is that the great number of the offerings from the rival companies have a similar set of features and roughly the same level of quality. Even the e-marketing templates the competitors use may be identical (as they appeal to the same audience). In this case, only the brand values your company stands on will help you stick out. For example, the cosmetics brand Lush has numerous competitors offering hair and body care products. Many of them use natural ingredients and try to be as customer-friendly as possible. But only Lush is well-known as a “green brand”. This company has spent years building up unique eco-friendly practices and now the word “Lush” is a synonym for “cruelty-free brand”, “all-natural brand”, and “eco-conscious brand”. Every little detail from products’ packaging to shops’ interiors are well thought. No Lush’s competitor has an image like that. A post shared by Lush Cosmetics North America (@lushcosmetics) on Apr 1, 2018 at 1:42pm PDT Be like Lush. Stay true to the chosen brand values and they will make your products, services, and marketing campaigns noticeable and appreciated. 4. Enhances the reputation Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools ever invented. It can get you sales and leads, it can get you basic recognition. But only branding can reinforce your business reputation and win you the audience’s hearts. Let’s say you’ve created your first startup and started promoting your product using e-marketing. It worked and you got a bunch of customers. But unfortunately the product wasn’t good enough and the clients didn’t really enjoy it. There are two ways to deal with the situation: either launch another marketing campaign and sell some more crappy products or fix the product and rebrand it. Sure, the first option will bring you some money. But it will also bury your reputation. On the other hand, rebranding is something that can turn a failure into a future success. Basically, your brand = your reputation. And a solid reputation has always been the greatest asset in any e-marketing campaign. The history knows many examples of successful rebranding. If even the well-known brands like Old Spice that have a reputation to put on stake could do it, the virgin entrepreneurs can do it too. Remember, just a decade ago, in the mid-2000s, Old Spice was an “old school” and “dad” brand. No young people particularly wanted to use it. Then a series of fun ads came out (who can forget a horse on the beach?!) and the brand’s sales went up. 5. Creates meaning Nowadays the business success is no longer about money. It’s not enough to offer the best quality-price ratio. The customers lean towards the companies and products that have a meaning, create a connection and actually make a difference. Only the strong brand can turn all of your marketing efforts into the meaningful ones. Then again, the meaning you’ll put in the marketing campaigns totally depends on your brand values and the message you’d like to convey. The great example of a meaningful marketing campaign is Nike’s “No excuses” featuring an athlete with disabilities. This commercial isn’t really selling anything. It inspires and makes you think. That’s how the brand creates a meaning. And it definitely works for any marketing channel possible (including email marketing). At this point you may think something like: “Well, that’s all great. But I’m a first-time entrepreneur with no experience in the brand establishment. The e-marketing campaigns I launch look nothing like Apple’s or Starbucks’. Should I give up on even trying?” Not at all! Just keep reading! How To Turn A “No Name” Email Into A “Branded” One Here are just a few most simple yet efficient recommended practices that will help you make your emails and e-marketing campaigns better. 1. Turn a milk-and-water template into your canvas Customizing an email template isn’t as hard as it seems. Start with adding your logo plus corporate colors and fonts. If you still haven’t worked on a brand identity fix that immediately. There are plenty of modern design tools that can help you out. Logo design is as important as any other business steps you take. The logo is your company’s face. This tiny picture will be everywhere: on your website, your products, ads, your emails, of course! The right combination of a logo design, corporate colors and fonts is the perfect basis for a strong brand identity (and that’s exactly what every entrepreneur needs). So make sure you have some “colors” to throw on your email template “canvas”. Remember, this step is vital. No business email without a company logo will look professional. 2. Keep the balance of text and images The “all text” emails not only look outdated they harm your marketing efficiency and kill the customers’ engagement. Don’t be afraid to add some visuals that will support your brand message. Choose the images that will make the audience feel good and secure, that will help to get to know your company or product and like it. On the other hand, the excessive use of “all pictures” emails isn’t good either. The high-resolution images may be hard to load on some smartphones. Plus the poor choice of visuals can make your emails look childish, empty, and unprofessional. Stick to a mix of text and images to keep the email trustworthy and good-looking. 3. Stay in touch All of the business emails (whether they’re marketing something or not) should always include the relevant contact info. And it’s not only “name + position + phone” combo in the bottom of a template. Add the website link, the clickable icons that will lead to your corporate social media profiles, a Skype ID to get in touch with you or your support team. The more options the customer has the more credible your email looks. 4. Choose the right tone The tone of your emails becomes even more important when it comes to e-marketing. When composing an email make sure the tone you’ve chosen fits the brand identity. The brand tone sets up the way you communicate with your audience. Is it fun and flirty? Strict and formal? Kind and approachable? Think about it before launching a marketing campaign and stay to true to the chosen tone during the whole communication process. 5. Get a professional-looking address The last but not least is your email address and a visible name. This might seem like a Sunday school truth but no email will look trustworthy if the address is something like secrethunter@yahoo.com and the sender’s name is John Doe. Just make sure this section of your email looks right. A Short and Not Boring Final Word The email marketing and banding will always go hand in hand. The stronger the one the better is another. Just don’t forget that building a brand is a process that you can start once but never can actually end. Experiment, stay positive and who knows, maybe in the nearest future you’ll see your company’s name as an example of “the greatest brand ever created.”


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Email Marketing that Gets Results … And Conversions

Email Marketing that Gets Results … And Conversions

Beyond • June 13, 2018

“What no one is telling you about hair loss.” “Hair loss products.” Which email subject line would motivate a hair loss sufferer to open? But how many opens can you expect with a subject line that sparks curiosity? You might be surprised. The Dinosaur is Not Extinct Email marketing is a dinosaur. At least that’s a common belief of business owners who prefer to spend their marketing dollars in other places. The reasons for the belief that email marketing is “dead” are as follows: People’s inboxes are stuffed. They scan through them and only open those that are from friends. Everything else they discard. Their mobile devices now segment emails based upon “priorities” and “promotions,” and the “promotions” are just not opened. Many now have two email accounts (or more)- one for work, one for personal communications, and one that they provide whenever they order something online. The last one is the one they never check, except to receive order or shipping confirmation. The reality is email is not “dead.” And it can be an amazing marketing tool, if it is done right. And therein lies the key: doing it right. But first, a few statistics that may surprise you, based upon a survey conducted by Kissmetrics: 66% of those surveyed stated they have made a purchase based upon an email offer 91% of respondents stated they check their email at least once a day 33+% stated that they opened the email based upon the subject line These stats paint a very different picture of email marketing, and it means that content marketers need to re-think their campaigns, if they have been reducing their email marketing. It can still be a powerful tool. The stats are only one part of the story, though. The question is, how do you craft emails so that you land in that segment that is opened and then acted upon. Here are 5 strategies and tips for doing it right: 1. Getting Recipients to Open Them This is 50% of the battle for marketers. Nothing happens until an email is opened by a target. There are two proven strategies, and they may work for you. The “From” Line: Rather than the company name, perhaps using your first name along with the company name may motivate and open. It makes it more personal and not like it was generated by some automated system. This is especially important if targets have subscribed to your emails/newsletter. That Critical Subject Line: Here is where you must be engaging. And certainly not spammy or like an aggressive salesperson. Promising to solve a problem or issue or answer a question will usually pique interest or curiosity. Consider using what are known as “power words” too. These are usually     adjectives (e.g., hysterical, hilarious, mind-blowing, etc.) There is a list published by Smart Blogger you should take a look at. Intrigue the reader by promising something really important or useful. You     know your target audience. What will they find important? Sometimes a “how to…” works well. “How to craft an amazing blog post in 30 minutes or less” would be a good subject line for a content marketer. Another good tactic is to ask the reader for help. A simple, “I need your help, please” or “I need your opinion.” This is a psychological strategy, because most people genuinely want to help others. The Opening Line: Here’s the thing about opening lines. At least a part of them usually show up in the subject line. (depending on the length of your subject title and browser). So, you have to consider these just as important, and you need to use the same tactics that you do for the subject title. And most mobile devices show part of that opening line. Here’s an example that demonstrates everything covered so far: Note: Matt did not put the name of his company in the “from” position – just his name. That’s probably because the recipient has subscribed to his newsletter or blog, and knows him by now. The subject title is engaging and intriguing, and the first line addresses an issue common with service providers – winning more clients. Don’t be afraid to be a little weird and funny in the title and opening line, as Matt Inglot was. You know your audience and their sense of humor. The only time you have to be a bit careful is when your emails are being translated into other languages for foreign targets. Marketers are increasingly targeting foreign-language speaking audiences, and it will be important that visuals and language are well-received and appropriate. 2. The Email Body One of the things we know about today’s consumer and Internet user. He likes to browse and “snack” on stuff, and that includes emails. He doesn’t want to spend a lot of time reading. And you don’t have a lot of time to garner his attention either. So, get to the point quickly. You may want some type of greeting, but don’t use the old “Hi there…my name is...” – boring. Address the recipient by name, and open with something to bring the reader “closer” to you personally. “If you’re like me, you…” Now they are identifying with you – always a good thing. Then get on with the point of the email. Are you running a sale? Are you giving some valuable “how to” information? Your goal is to provide value to the reader – how will what you are offering improve their lives in some way? Example: Look at this email from Pizza Hut: It’s primarily visual – always a good thing, especially for mobile users. And the text speaks to the “value” of what is being offered, as well as a problem solved – easy way to take care of a Saturday night get together with friends. Enough said! Keep it simple. Don’t overload with any irrelevant stuff. You can also refer them to a blog post or website page with a link for more detail. Use very short paragraphs, with the point of that paragraph in the first line. Sometimes asking a question as an opening sentence is effective, because it motivates them to find the answer in the sentences that follow. “Do you know what really causes bag under your eyes?” Doing this helps keep you on track too. Example: FreshBooks offers a solution for professionals who bill by the hour and need to keep track of that billing on the go. Note, the first paragraph explains the whole point simply in one short paragraph. There is a link for the reader to learn more about the product. And the additional value of having a support team on call is an added benefit. 3. The Closing – You Need to “Nail It” This is the part of the email with your CTA and where the reader makes a decision – to move to the next step toward a purchase; to access a page on your site with product details, to download something, or to subscribe to your newsletter. And speaking of newsletters, they can be a big part of email campaigns, if they are done right. If you struggle with how to create a newsletter, subscribe to some yourself and see how those marketers engage readers. You will find many of the same tactics that you are reading here. Example: Here’s a holiday email newsletter from Apple. It provides gift ideas and CTA’s to “shop now,” “Reserve a gift,” and “Learn More.” The main point in the closing is to be clear about what you want them to do and tell them exactly how to do that. “Click here to get all of the product details.” “Click here to register for the workshop.” Urgency is Important: From a psychological standpoint, it’s a good idea to create some urgency in your closing. Fear of missing out (FOMO) tends to make people act. “Click here to register for the workshop – there are 7 spaces left.” If you are offering a special, set a deadline for its expiration. Example: Look at the FOMO CTA from Disney World on Ice promoters. The CAT is to “book Now” with a promo code to use. And this is the recipients “last chance to secure seats…for less.” 4. When to Send Emails Hubspot did a study on the best open rates based on day of the week and time of day. Here is what the study found: Tuesday is the best day of the week to send emails. This makes sense. People’s Mondays tend to be busy and they tend to ignore or delete if their inboxes are too full. The best time of the day to send emails is the two hours between 10:00 a.m. and 12 noon, with a slight peak at 11:00 a.m. 5. Follow-Up So, someone has opened your email. Now, what can you do to move them along? If you are using the right tools, and of course you are, you know who is opening and when they are doing that. Here are the tactics that work well: Send out targeted emails to the “opens.” If you have a phone number, call instead. Ask if they have any questions about your product/service Provide more value regularly. If you have created an e-book, for example, send an email with a free download link; offer special pricing on a product they have been looking at; send an article that was written by news media about your product or service. The point is to keep the door open always. If a target has opened one of your emails, that person is a definite lead. Following up fast and then at spaced intervals after that will keep the relationship going. The target may not be ready to buy yet, but when he is, your brand will be foremost in his mind. 6. A/B Testing This goes without saying. Try several different subject titles for the same email and track the open rates. Use this information as you craft subject titles going forward. Conclusion Email marketing does still matter. What’s more, it is one of the most cost-effective marketing campaign strategies, especially given all of the free tools out there to target, segment, and track. If you have abandoned email marketing for other strategies, keep those other strategies, but use these tactics to initiate an email campaign. What do you have to lose?


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Heart Of Business: Kicking Off with Kickbox’s Jack Wrigley

Heart Of Business: Kicking Off with Kickbox’s Jack Wrigley

Beyond • June 8, 2018

Back when the return of the Heart of Business was just a seed of an idea, Jack Wrigley was due for a trip Benchmark HQ for some email list verification training with Kickbox, and I knew we had to ask him to be a guest. I mention it in the podcast, but I first became aware of Jack via the Only Influencers community. The Cubs fan in me naturally gravitated to the fact that he shares his surname with my favorite place to watch a baseball game. Since then, all of us at Benchmark Email have enjoyed a professional relationship with Jack and Kickbox. We’ve co-hosted webinars, guest blogged for one another and just enjoyed getting to know that whole team as people. It was a treat to talk to Jack, not just about Kickbox and email list verification, but the lessons he learned as an entrepreneur, working with startups and more. There will come a point that even if you think you have the coolest thing since sliced bread, and you leave that desk job, there will come a point when stuff isn’t working. There will come a point when the income isn’t coming in and you’re trying to figure out how to pay your rent. There will come a point when your kids want to, you know, go to soccer camp and you’re like, ‘how do I pay for that?’ Right? There will come a point. And the difference between someone that has that DNA versus someone who doesn’t...the difference is at that critical moment it’s whether you give up, because you can’t handle it ... or you persevere and you punch through it. This was recorded back in November, and you may hear some of that in the episode. We had to wait to put together a content schedule for the Heart Of Business. 3:07 - How he adjusted to joining a new industry and how to use what you already know 5:20 - All about Kickbox and email list verification 8:36 - On lessons learned about startups 15:00 - Talking about how email marketing has evolved 19:20 - The entrepreneurial spirit


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5 Issues That Hurt Your Email Deliverability and How To Correct Them

5 Issues That Hurt Your Email Deliverability and How To Correct Them

Practical Marketer • June 6, 2018

Email deliverability has been a challenge that even the most seasoned marketers combat on a regular basis. There’s probably nothing more painful than realizing that the email you had carefully written and designed never reached the subscriber’s inbox - it was likely pushed into the Junk or Spam folder where it won’t be ever read. Email deliverability - the ability to place emails into your subscribers\' inbox as intended - is the key metrics that marketers try to get right. If your email is not placed where it can be read, everything else is useless. The Spam Filter Despite everything you do from your end to get an email placed in the inbox of the recipient, it’s the mailbox provider that takes the final decision on where your email should be placed: the Inbox or the Junk folder. That means if you’re focusing on improving email deliverability, you should understand emails from the point of view of the mailbox provider. All mailbox providers have a spam filter - a mechanism that blocks incoming spam. Every single inbound email has got to pass through the spam filter of the mailbox provider, so avoiding the spam filter, by whatever means, is impossible. However, by following email marketing best practices, you can convince the spam filter that the email it has received from you is not spam. Factors Impacting Email Deliverability A ReturnPath study suggests an average of 13.5 percent of all incoming email is placed in the Spam folder. You don’t want your email to be one of them. Different spam filters use different standards to keep unwanted emails from reaching the inbox of the recipients. However, there are some common practices that all spam filters follow. Below is the list of issues that impact email deliverability and ways by which you can work on each to significantly increase your deliverability rates. IP address reputation Sender Reputation Email subject line and contents Email Service Provider - your automation partner Email list quality IP Address Reputation An IP address is a numerical label unique to each device that’s connected to any computer network using the Internet Protocol (IP) to communicate over a network. IP address reputation is the extent to which the IP address (actually the sender using the IP address) has acted responsibly while sending emails. Spam filters judge incoming emails on the basis of, among other characteristics, the IP address reputation of the sender. While sending email campaigns, you can either use a shared IP or a dedicated IP. A shared IP is where multiple senders use the same IP address as you do, to send their emails from. The reputation of a shared IP address is the aggregate of the reputation of all those who’ve used the IP before you do. So sharing an IP also means sharing the reputation of everyone else using the same IP. Poor practices of any of the previous sender will negatively influence your email deliverability. A dedicated IP, on the other hand, is one where you are the only user of the IP address. Hence the reputation of a dedicated IP is influenced only by your own practices, since you are the only user of that IP. That gives you absolute control over the IP reputation. How You Can Get Your IP Address Reputation Right If your volumes are small, using shared IPs helps you control costs. But as your sending volume grows, you’ll need to move to dedicated IPs. When you begin using a dedicated IP it has no previous history. So it has no reputation, good or bad. Your task will be to build the IP reputation by following email marketing best practices. You can’t immediately send a large number of emails the moment you get a dedicated IP; you’ll have to gradually increase the number of emails you send (a practice called throttling), as mailboxes slowly start recognizing you as a responsible sender. Begin by sending to your most engaged subscribers. That way, you get a much better open rates and a zero bounce rate. This sends positive signals to the mailbox provider regarding your reputation. 2. Sender Reputation Sender reputation is a composite result of the IP address you send emails from, your domain reputation, SPF (Sender Policy Framework) authentication, the bounce rate of your campaigns till date, subscriber complaints, engagement, whether (and how many) spam traps sit on your subscriber list and other factors. Email engagement - what subscribers do when they receive your email - is key. Subscriber actions that suggest they are willing to interact further with you, like opening the email, reading the email, clicking on a link, following a call to action, forwarding the email and so on is considered ‘good engagement’. Actions like not opening the email or deleting the email without reading it is considered ‘poor engagement’. How You Can Improve Your Sender Reputation Keep new subscribers in a separate list. Add them to the regular list only after new subscribers respond to your double opt-in. Or add them to the regular list only if the welcome email doesn’t show a hard bounce. Maintain the right frequency of emailing to subscribers. Long gaps between emails raise the chances of valid email addresses being converted into spam traps. If you email to your subscribers at irregular intervals, they might forget you and are more likely to mark your incoming email as Spam. Have a plan of action to handle inactive subscribers. Give it your best shot to win them back. But once their inactivity crosses a certain threshold, stop sending them emails. Finally, never use purchased lists. 3. Email Subject Line and Content Nearly 60% of the email traffic worldwide is spam. That suggests spammers are getting aggressive, so spam filters need to stay a step ahead. One way spam filters identify spam is the email content. Poor grammar and high-risk words like “Free” and “Easily make $$$ online” are some of the first things that make your email look suspicious. Other content that looks suspicious to spam filters includes weight reduction, body enhancement and related pharmacy products. An all-caps subject-line is almost a guarantee your email won’t get past the spam filter. Moreover, subject-lines with too many exclamation marks is another indicator the mail is spam. Earlier, emails with shortened URLs in the content were commonly red-flagged; today instances of a shortened URL being red-flagged are a lot less frequent, thanks to its heavy use in social media platforms like Twitter. Messages that contain only a link or only an image are widely treated as spam. How You Can Get This Right Run your email draft through the Spam Check feature Benchmark provides. It gives you an excellent feedback on whether you need to improve your content. Build a compelling Subject Line. If the subscriber doesn’t like the Subject Line, she’ll likely delete your email without opening it. Mailbox providers, especially Gmail, believe that when recipients delete your emails without opening them, recipients are not interested in your email - a sign you’re sending spam! Over time, your subsequent emails to the same recipient may be pushed into the Spam folder. It’s best to use clickable keywords in place of lengthy URLs. Make sure the Unsubscribe link is clearly visible. This may sound a bit counter-intuitive but it works. When recipients can’t find the unsubscribe option easily, they tend to mark the email as Spam! 4. Email Service Provider (ESP) - Your Automation Partner Select your ESP on the basis of their experience and technical competence, and not some tall claims. For instance, claims by ESPs about overnight improvement in your deliverability rates when you switch to their service from elsewhere are mostly too good to be true. Actually, something opposite is equally likely to happen! Remember, when you switch ESPs, you are also switching IP addresses. So when the recipient mailbox providers notice you’re suddenly sending from a new range of IPs, they will, rightfully, turn cautious and may place fewer emails in the inbox than they did with the older IP address. If your new ESP doesn’t understand the importance of throttling, the recipient email box provider might actually push more of your emails into the Spam folder. How the Right ESP Matters Choosing the right email marketing partner is more than half the job done. The right partner will have most things figured out for you. To begin with, they have the right technology in place that can handle hundreds of thousands of emails. They can, for instance, help you maintain segmented email addresses lists, based on the engagement patterns or interests of the subscribers. You can also set a variety of subscription options. For instance, instead of losing your subscriber entirely, you can let her choose the frequency of her subscription: a weekly newsletter, a fortnightly compilation or may be a monthly digest. Finally, a good ESP will have strong measures in place that will have you covered. For example, even if you’ve opted for shared IPs, you can be sure the IP reputation has been maintained at optimum levels by your ESP. 5. Email List Quality One of the factors influencing the deliverability rates of your emails is also the one you can swiftly act upon: bad email addresses. Maybe there was a typo when the subscriber keyed in the email address while signing up, maybe the subscriber knowingly entered a wrong address, maybe the subscriber is using a disposable address…Reasons like this lead to your list containing a number of email addresses that are not safe to send emails to. Sending campaigns to these addresses lead to bounces, poor or no engagement (if the address is role-based or disposable), or complaints. For instance, BenchMark notes sending emails to role-based addresses results in high complaints. Poor list hygiene, therefore, influences email deliverability. How You Can Deal with Bad Email Addresses Consider double opt-in. After the subscriber signs up, send them a confirmation email, asking them to click upon a link to activate their subscription. Subscribers who do not follow this action do not receive further emails. Next, improve your list-building practices. When collecting email addresses manually, e.g. when your team is writing down addresses, spelling errors are most likely to creep in. While collecting email addresses online, use an email verification API service to validate the email address at the entry point, such as signup forms or applications, before the address gets added into your subscriber list. Use an email verification service to verify email addresses of all your subscribers. It is strongly advised that you validate email addresses at least once a year. These, by no means, are the only steps you can take to improve email deliverability, but these are some of the most significant ones. Wish you great success in your email marketing!


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