Generate 320% More Revenue With Welcome Emails: Strategies That Don’t Require Luck

Practical Marketer - Reading Time: 9 Minutes

Generate 320% More Revenue With Welcome Emails: Strategies That Don’t Require Luck

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The Art of Philanthropy in a Digital Email: Challenges & Solutions

The Art of Philanthropy in a Digital Email: Challenges & Solutions

Beyond • August 24, 2016

Non-profits have the hardest job of all: they have to get people to care and act altruistically. In an era of instant gratification and self-glorification, this seems almost impossible. Yet, this is where non-profits have an edge over other industries. A non-profit’s life blood is on brand and message building, which is where email campaigns are gold. While other industries struggle with getting an opportunity to really communicate with their audience, your entire industry is built on communication. The question is, are you communicating effectively and are you leveraging the best asset you have to your advantage? The best asset you have is email campaigns because ultimately to get people to pay attention you need one-on-one time free from distractions. That is exactly what an email is all about: one-on-one time. Challenge: Connecting with Next Generation Donors Even though your job is communication, remember that this doesn’t mean boring people with long lectures and data. No one has time for that. If you’ve got an older crowd you’re catering to, keep the content short and sweet. But if you’re dealing with Millennials or the next generation of donors, then you’ve got to keep it even briefer. Younger crowds prefer punctuated data, visuals, illustrations, video. For your email campaigns, that means fewer words, more action. Make it beautiful, make it engaging, and make it clear to them on how they should act. Remember that next generation donors are heavy social media users, so make it easy for them to social share as well. This is another reason multimedia works well for them; it makes it easier to share than just copy alone. Challenge: No One’s Listens to a Panhandler The kiss of death for a non-profit is to ask for money. Nobody wants to be around a panhandler. This is an important – very important – thing to know. Nonprofits that are most successful are those who make it easy for patrons to stay informed and stay social through that cause. A philanthropy group that treats itself like an exclusive club (that anyone can be a part of) is going to be far more successful than one that is always asking for money. This means that when you ask for money, those moments become events to rally around. It also means that when you do get around to asking for money, you’re not working in a state of negative attention – having lost everyone’s attention through frequent begs. A great way to go about creating moments of generosity is to have a Giving Day or to have a year-end campaign strategy that employs a few strategies leading up to a holiday season of giving. Keep in mind that though these are punctuated events, the planning is anything but punctuated. Planning for a giving day (and especially a year-end campaign) needs to happen months in advance. This includes creating a schedule, getting assets ready to go. However, all these ideas are only as good as the number of people who’ve subscribed to your email list. So make sure you’ve given people every opportunity to subscribe to your list. This means getting a sign-up widget up on social media, a pop-up on your website, clear calls to action on your website, and even using social media posts to regularly encourage signing up.


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How Can I Create Successful Promotional Emails?

How Can I Create Successful Promotional Emails?

Practical Marketer • August 22, 2016

A promotional email is intended to get your audience excited about something. You may have a new service or product to announce or you may just have excess inventory to get rid of. The bottom line is you’re looking to promote something that will bring traffic to your store and accomplish awareness or overall sales increase. Below, I have outlined a few tips of advice to keep your subscribers engaged and to stay clear of the spam folder. Promotion and Strategy: 1. What are the benefits? Not for you, for your customer. Line up the reasons as to why your product or service exists. What problem(s) are you solving? When doing this, make sure your customer is at the center of it all. Explain what they can achieve with your product then include the how. Often times companies will get caught up in the features, bells and whistles. These are great and will help you stand out from your competition later, but will mean nothing to your audience at first unless it is tied to a solution to a problem they may have. Starting off with what is important to them (solving their problem) will catch their attention and keep them engaged to continue learning about how you will help them. 2. Be focused and consistent. The other day I received an email that was promoting a special to travel to Hawaii for 10 days in the subject line. When I opened the email, they were promoting 8 different travel packs. At first, this may seem like a great idea because the company used a catchy subject line to get me into an email to then just show me everything they have. The problem with this is that I have too many options to choose from. I opened the email because of a trip to Hawaii. If I can’t quickly go on to see the details of this trip, I will abandon the email. Use the email as the doorway to your landing page. Doing this, you are able to create a build up to a sale. The subject line catches my eye, the email provides important details that should motivate me to click on the call to action to buy on the website. Once on the website, you have much more real estate to complete the sale for the trip to Hawaii or even show similar travel options at strategic milestones of your sales path. These milestones can be divided based on location, number of days or even price. Make sure to set up your sales path in such a way that it allows you to identify these moments. Overall, be sure to stay focused on what you are trying to sell first. There is a reason you made the promotion in the first place right? As you do this, keep consistency from your subject line to the “Thank you” page. 3. Keep a smooth flow. You want to make sure your message is quick to read and has easy steps to follow. Too many clicks, page loads, waiting time or any other hurdle will reduce your promotion success rate. A few things to keep in mind for this: Make sure your email is scannable. People skim before they read. Titles are your best friend here. The steps to follow after the email should be extremely visible and easy to follow. If your subscriber thinks the process will take too long, they will abandon. If you need a longer process, think about how you can break it up into bite size pieces Taking this last point of bite size pieces, what are your side orders? Any restaurant will always ask, “Do you want a side salad with your steak?” / “Do you want fries with that?” Make sure this is setup as a side option and not part of the main sell. Separating this can easily generate more revenue for your business, just make sure to not distract from the main course. “Thank you for your purchase! Other customers who purchased this item also bought…\" Anything that isn\'t relevant to the promotion should be eliminated. If they opened your email, clicked on your website and are ready to buy, the last thing you want to do is distract them with “shiny red balls”. Let them purchase what they were interested in first and use follow-up emails to offer add-ons or other services later. 4. Calls to action. These should be to the point, actionable and directed to a landing page, not your homepage. If you are going to take the time and effort to do a promotion, don’t leave it halfway. Creating a landing page allows you to stay focused and gives a constant flow. Interrupting this flow will massively reduce your conversion rate. Think of it as if you were telling a story. You want to make sure the punch line aligns with the previous parts of the story. When it comes to placing calls to action on your email, it’s best to have one visible as soon as the email is opened and another one towards the bottom if you have a longer email. 5. Create Urgency. The other day I saw my girlfriend on her phone for over 40 min straight looking through this online store. I tried to catch her attention a few times and failed. As dinner was getting cold, I asked her what was so interesting on her phone? She had received an email from a local store that was offering all of their items at a 60% discount for the next hour. As she clicked on the call to action in the email, she was sent to a landing page with a giant timer on it. You can create urgency in many ways, the bottom line is to get their attention now because later ... they will be distracted by the next promotion. Tips to stay out of the spam folder: Subject Line Guidelines. Catch the eye but don’t stand out like a sore thumb. Writing IN ALL CAPS or with a too many exclamation points will only push your email into the spam folder. Emojis and symbols are trending, but should be used sparingly. Content in your Email. Avoid a lot of bright colors, too much bold font and make sure your emails are responsive. Less is more here. When adding images, be sure to respect the inbox and avoid large images. You want your email to load as fast as possible. Also, be sure to include image descriptions in case your subscriber has images turned off in their email client. Sending Your Email. This is a big one! Make sure to send your emails using your private domain (e.g. @yourcompany.com) Free email clients like Gmail, Yahoo, etc are used for personal use. Sending a promotional email from a personal email address will increase the chances of your email to land in the spam folder.


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How Do I Make Sure My Emails Are Mobile Friendly?

How Do I Make Sure My Emails Are Mobile Friendly?

Practical Marketer • August 19, 2016

How many of you start the day by waking up and then instantly start reaching for your phone (by reaching I mean if it’s not already under your pillow)? I know I do. Certainly the fact that our smartphones are such a huge part of our lives explains the data that shows that 56% of the email opens come from mobile devices according to Litmus. So yes, mobile opens are at an impressive 56% overall, with webmail taking 2nd place (22%) and desktop placing 3rd (17%). If you’re already thinking of ways to make your email be spotlight ready and most importantly results ready for mobile, here’s some advice you should follow. Before we start, I’d like to add a note here, as with everything: Data should be your ultimate decision-making aid before you go all out with these awesome improvements. You should check your email reports to study your subscribers and learn which device they are using the most to open your emails. Now let’s get started! Look Great Everywhere, Always Responsive design is such a trending topic and rightfully so. In short, what a responsive design does is display your content properly no matter how someone views it or the device that’s used to access it. Benchmark Email offers an Email Designer that automatically makes your emails responsive for you, so you don’t have to worry about more complex approaches like fluid or scalable design (apologies if that comes off as sales-y but I had to mention we’ve already done all the legwork for you). [caption id=\"attachment_2310\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1400\"] An example of a single email design being displayed correctly on multiple devices.[/caption] Short Subject Lines The length of your subject line should be optimized for mobile no doubt, however, you should know that there’s a slight variation between email clients (iOS mail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc.) and how much of your subject line they display. A common desktop inbox displays about 60 characters of a subject line while mobile applications show around 25 to 30 characters, So 40 characters or less would be a good rule of thumb for your subject lines. Make sure that the most important sentence in your subject like is placed first. [caption id=\"attachment_2311\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1400\"] Subject lines well-crafted for mobile.[/caption] Visible Call To Action (CTA) Your CTAs should be visible enough for your subscribers to find and to act on them. Buttons are a bulletproof industry tactic that lets your subscribers engage with your campaigns easily. To make them mobile friendly place them near the top. Make sure that you convey why any subscriber should follow that link and use verbs that describe what they will do when they click it. [caption id=\"attachment_2312\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1400\"] A simple and easy-to-click CTA.[/caption] No Tiny Fonts Reading a piece of text with a font under 12 pixels is already hard on a desktop for some people. A good rule of thumb would be to keep all your paragraphs and CTAs above that mark, making your content more readable on the smaller screens. Images Images and email are a vast subject and one you should review in order to obtain the best results. For mobile, you should be making sure that your images stay small in size (anything above 100kb will start adding uploading time). However, there are other factors to consider to start painting a picture: some email clients only display images from verified sending addresses and others just don’t display images automatically until permission to display them has been granted. Here’s a simple checklist to have images optimized for mobile devices: To work around the aforementioned image display situation include alt text (alternative text) for all images. You can do so through Benchmark’s Email Designer in the image option panel. This text should be a short description of  what the image is about. Even with alt text in place, don’t include CTAs or important messages in images. Instead, make your images a visual support for your text and the overall message of your campaign. Make sure your images don’t go over 600px wide. That width will make your email display correctly on mobile even if it isn\'t responsive. [caption id=\"attachment_2313\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1400\"] Using images while keeping mobile in mind.[/caption] That’s All, For Now These 5 points should help you get started pretty easily on your newfound mobile strategy. However, if you have more questions or tips you think are important to share please add them below in the comments section.


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What Tests Are Good To Run On My Campaigns Before I Hit Send?

What Tests Are Good To Run On My Campaigns Before I Hit Send?

Practical Marketer • August 18, 2016

Tests like A/B testing can be invaluable to email marketers. However, A/B test is an umbrella term for when you are testing different elements within your email to compare and see which works better. But there are many things that you can test for in an email. Here are some good tests to perform before sending your email campaign: Subject Lines Time of Day Inbox Tests Subject Lines Subject lines are very important. Not only do filters look at subject lines for possible spam, but it describes what the email is about and entices the subscriber to open the email. So coming up with that perfect sounding subject line can be difficult. By performing an A/B test to test the different subject lines you come up with, the winning subject line will be sent to the majority of your list for an optimum open rate. So what would you open, a subject line like, “Benchmark Email Monthly Updates” or would you open, “Benchmark Email New Feature and Patch Notes?” Time of Day A common question we\'re often asked is when to send your email? Well, this largely depends on your contacts and their preference, useful information may be their occupation and their company location. Depending on the content of your email, you may want to send an email early in the morning as people are checking their work/business related emails. Or you may want to send catalogs during lunch or afternoon for a quick look at deals and some quick shopping. Since finding that good time largely depends on the type of email and content, again testing sending different times of the day, or even different days of the week. However, it’s very important to note before we start testing wildly. Best practice dictates that if you promise to send daily, weekly, or annual, you should always stick to that regimen. Trying to find a good time of day or week should not impede that promise. Inbox Tests This is a common test being done today but I thought I should bring it up because there are many ways to go about doing so. Some of us are aware that all the different browsers and software used to view emails can alter the email so that it can be displayed nicely on their end. However this sometimes causes problems, especially in the case of Microsoft Outlook, which uses the Word processing engine to render the email. It’s very important to invest time to testing what your emails would look like in at the very least the most common services like: Gmail Yahoo AOL Hotmail Outlook These 5 are the most commonly used public email services. By having an account for each of these services, you’ll be able to cover at the very least public domains. Another method to testing how emails would look is by using Benchmark Email’s Inbox Checker tool. This tool will allow the user to test the email on any computer operating system, browser, and service. Users can also test the email in a pass or fail type of test. The underlying theme to these tests how can we as the sender, better engage or get better visibility with the client. Subject lines are to catch the attention of the subscriber. Then there’s time of day so that we at least know they are awake when they receive the email!. Lastly, we need to make sure that the email looks good for that person, for whatever inbox they are using. It’s impossible to test and guarantee all emails, we definitely try our best.


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How Do I Know If I’m Sending Too Many Emails?

How Do I Know If I’m Sending Too Many Emails?

Practical Marketer • August 15, 2016

The answer to this question is a matter of actions speaking louder than words, but you may get some subscribers that tell you to, “stop sending so many  emails!” It makes it easier when they say that, but it won’t happen often. The far more likely scenario is that unhappy contacts in your list will hit the unsubscribe button and you’ll never hear from them again. So how do you know? A subscriber opting out of your email campaigns is not solely an indicator that you’re sending too often. Perhaps the content no longer resonates with them. Maybe they’re just trying to receive fewer emails. Or, if you haven’t been sending frequently enough, they may have forgotten they subscribed with you in the first place. Finding out how often you can send, and if it’s becoming too often, is a matter of trial and error. Test your sending frequency. As you increase the frequency of sending, eventually you’ll see an uptick in unsubscribes. That’s your subscribers speaking to you through their actions. Pay attention, and eventually, you’ll find the frequency sweet spot. That’s not the end of the story, though. Some subscribers may not mind hearing from you more often. However, once you start increasing the frequency and subscribers start heading for the exit, it’s possible to catch them on their way out the proverbial door. With the use of a preference center, those that were about to opt-out may decide that once per month is an acceptable amount to hear from you. Or maybe it’s once per quarter, weekly or any other amount of time that works for you and your subscribers. Giving them the option to dictate the sending frequency will save you some subscribers … and perhaps better inform you on how often you should be sending in general.


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How Can I Improve Click Through Rates In My Emails?

How Can I Improve Click Through Rates In My Emails?

Practical Marketer • August 12, 2016

The first step in trying to increase the Click Through Rate (CTR) of your emails is to properly segment your list(s). As mentioned in my previous blog post, on how to increase your expected ROI for email marketing, sending to the right people can really help you solidify your numbers and gain more accurate stats on your subscribers. Once you know you\'re sending to the interested crowd, here are six tips to help you get the highest Click Rate. 1. Straight To The Point - One Call To Action (CTA) Be sure to be clear and to the point in your emails. When a subscriber opens your email, the faster they understand it, the more likely they will be to engage with it. This means, don’t try to write a 12-page email and be sure to focus on one product or at least lean on a specific theme. You will overload the subscriber if you try to sell multiple products at once in an email. For example, if you have a shoe store, and you have different types of shoes to put on sale (eg. sport, dress, casual, etc.), you can create a focused email for each and send this to a segment of your list that would be more inclined to buy that type of shoe. Offering fewer options allows your subscriber to easily make quick decisions. Marketers that have done this have seen their CTR double. Don’t be afraid to be specific. By doing this, you will learn much more about your subscribers. If they don’t click on a focused email, you will learn more than if they don’t click on an email that offers all of your products. If you offer all of your products, they may not click simply because the email was too busy. 2. Visible CTA As soon as I open your email I should see the offer and the CTA. This means, test your email on desktops and mobile devices to ensure these areas are above the fold. As your subscriber skims through their emails, they need to see something that will catch their eye. I also recommend having multiple CTAs throughout your email, and again, make sure they are visible. Use our Button Feature to really make your CTA stand out! I highly recommend having at least one CTA above the fold and another one towards the bottom of your email. Imagine if you were selling backpacks and you had a special offer for one of your new models. This email could highlight the backpack at the top with a call to action. As you scroll down the email, you can point out specific features with a CTA right next to each feature. This will increase the chance of a click because as soon as a feature peeks your subscribers\' interest, they will have an easy button to click on to buy. Also, this will help you gain insights as to what your subscribers love most about your new product by seeing the feature that received the most clicks. 3. Make Your Emails Social This is something I think we are all aware of, but just in case, make sure you have social sharing options in your emails! Your subscribers are on various social channels, let them share your content on them. Even if it’s just the “Like” button, if they click on that, their friends will see that then they get curious and start sharing and before you know it, you are out of stock! OK, that may be an exaggeration or edge case, but look at how well social sharing worked for companies like Dollar Shave Club or Poo-Pourri. You won’t know until you try. 4. Local Offers Companies should keep in mind that, if given the choice, a customer is more likely to buy from a local store (even if it’s done online) because it gives the customer a sense of reach. If anything goes wrong, they feel as if a local store will be much more apt to correct it. If you have many stores, have them send to their subscribers locally and make sure they share that local pride! This will increase engagement and will also increase your brand loyalty. 5. Urgency When it comes to clicks, urgency works great! If a subscriber has a full month to click on your special, they are likely to forget about it. Time sensitive emails really separate the shoppers from the buyers. As a side note for this one, I sometimes see companies that send time sensitive emails with discounts. If the first one fails, another email is sent with a  more aggressive discount. Be careful doing this, since you don’t want to create a habit for your subscriber to always wait for the “next email” with the bigger discount. 6. For Bloggers, Don’t Give It All Up On The First Date Email is very much like dating. You need to test the waters before you go all the way. And trust me, your subscriber feels the same way. For this case, be sure to set a clear path as to why you are sending emails to your subscribers. The main idea is to get them on your page, right? If you offer all of your blog content in your email, there will be no reason to go to your website. Create an email with briefings of your posts for the week/month and add calls to action to continue reading. Just like for selling products, this will also give you a better idea as to what are the most common blogs your subscribers are interested in. It will also keep your emails clean and easy to read. I hope these 6 tips help you with your click through rate! Please feel free to post questions or comments below on experiences you have had in regards to your click rate.  


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Go Lean or Go Home

Go Lean or Go Home

Lean Journey • August 11, 2016

About 4 months ago, I was doing my morning workout at the gym on the treadmill- something I absolutely loathe. Unlike my husband Curt, who is athletic, fit and competitive, I am none of the above and see exercise as a necessary evil (I hope one day to be in good enough shape to celebrate my 90th birthday as we just did for my dad). [caption id=\"\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1199\"] Our family traveled from near and far to celebrate my dad, Frank, for his 90th birthday.[/caption] The only way I can make it through the 45 minutes of agony is to have an interesting diversion, so I watch a variety of business and personal development videos while speed walking at level 5 incline. On this morning four months ago, I watched a video presentation from the Growth Institute by Paul Akers called 2-Second Lean. I was absolutely blown away by the simplicity of what he had to say. Lean, which was pioneered by Toyota, is all about the elimination of waste and the focus on continuous improvement. 2-Second Lean, an even simpler concept, requires every person on the team to makes a 2-second improvement every day. As Paul says: Just give me a single 2-second improvement a day. That’s it. That’s all I ask for. A 2 second improvement. There is not a person on earth that can’t figure out how to improve something by 2 seconds. On the way home, I told Curt that I just watched the most awesome video and he needed to watch it too. After some serious pestering, I got him to watch it with me during lunch. He was hooked- and believe me, he does not jump on board very easily. Our next step was to share the video at our weekly Leadership meeting. The Leadership Team also loved what Paul had to say and believed Benchmark could benefit greatly from implementing Lean. However, we still had to get buy in from one more very important group and that was our international managers. We had to be sure that the Lean concept would work across our nine languages, nine offices and diverse cultures. We shared the 2-Second Lean video at our semi-annual international sales meeting held at our Los Alamitos headquarters and got an overwhelming thumbs up from the international managers. [embed]https://youtu.be/hlYvmkYvA8A[/embed] I read Paul\'s book, 2-Second Lean, and also shared that with the Leadership team. The more we talked about it, the more certain we were that we were ready to embark on a Lean journey at Benchmark. This blog post is the first in a new series that chronicles that process. I will share the victories and the challenges. It is intended to help any organization that is interested in implementing Lean, no matter if they are a SaaS company like us, a non-profit or a one person start up. A friend once referred to my personal motto as, “Go Big or Go Home.” Looks like it’s time for a new slogan!  


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How to Stay Goal-Focused with Your Summer Email Campaigns

How to Stay Goal-Focused with Your Summer Email Campaigns

Beyond • August 11, 2016

Whoever said “you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” obviously wasn’t a marketer. Marketing teams know that just about anything is possible when you’ve got the right team. That’s 50% creative and 50% administrative. So when it comes to creative summer email campaigns that I’ve now inspired you to take on, no one says you have to throw your goals to the wind in the pursuit of creativity. You can have both. In one of the lasts posts, we did mention that you’re not going to see exact metrics right away. It will take time. People are away on holiday and summer campaigns are typically a little slower to yield results. That is unless in you’re in season-friendly commerce, which is a more favorable industry since customers are looking to spend on summer essentials and must-haves. For the rest of us, we need to have a little more patience to see exactly how our campaigns play out. The most common marketing goals have to do with traffic and revenue. If your goal is to “get more traffic” and “make more money,” then let’s start by setting more measurable goals. What does “more traffic” look like? Does it mean you want 10 more visitors a day or 100 more visitors a week? Do you want more visitors to a specific landing page or to your overall website? Or perhaps your goal is to get people to your social media pages, which is something email marketing can still help you with. What do you mean by “make more money?” Ask yourself the same question and set more measurable objectives that give you some sort of baseline with which to work. Do you want more sales, more specific item sales or more overall transactions? Whatever goal you set, be realistic by setting incremental goals. For example, you’re setting yourself up for failure by expecting a newly launched summer email campaign to increase profits by 500% in the first month. Set smaller more reasonable goals that incrementally go up based on the prior week or month’s results. It always helps to chart these points out so that you’re approaching your email campaigns with a lean mindset that helps you stay on track. So, if your goal is to increase more social media engagement on Facebook, then start there. How will this be achieved? What sort of posts will you generate? What contests will you have? What conversations will you stimulate on your social media page using both graphics and content? The answer to this will depend on how you want to define your page. During the summer, it’s best to focus on more light-hearted content with the occasional focused piece delving into a bigger issue (if your industry allows for it). Always, always use big, beautiful and bright images. It makes a world of difference. That said, you’re now going to create email campaigns using those images and teaser info to lead your audience to your Facebook page. A quick and simple way to execute what is essentially one branch of your summer email marketing goal is to create a weekly “Facebook Digest” email campaign of posts that were shared exclusively on that platform from your site versus also being shared in your campaigns. So the reader does eventually land on your website, but they’d first be directed to your Facebook page. A “digest” or whatever much cooler thing you choose to call it, is essential in creating FOMO: Fear of Missing Out.


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

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

Practical Marketer • August 8, 2016

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


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How to Keep Your Email Campaigns Focused During Summer Holidays

How to Keep Your Email Campaigns Focused During Summer Holidays

Beyond • August 8, 2016

Perhaps you’ve taken inspiration from the last post on reinventing your email campaigns during the summer and have decided to pursue a new campaign strategy this summer. If so, congratulations on a bold move. And welcome to the reality of even the most fun, light-hearted email marketing campaigns: they still need to be focused on a message. One such example is an infographic I recently designed to help relate really boring information about a group of people politically, in a fun new way to a group of another people who have no interest in politics and can’t hold the attention span. I used pop culture. Using characters from HBO’s Game of Thrones – a show with legions of dedicated fans who are invested in every plot and politics of the show – I showed how some key players are exactly like figures and groups in real life. I didn’t have to write a thesis or get into heavy data. It was fun, easy to understand and visually stunning. And I gave the whole infographic a bit of edge by throwing in character art work from a local artists who had done some really gorgeous paintings of some of the characters I was using. This way, the infographic has a creative and artistic vibe as well that makes it more visually stunning…and shareable. The artist also has a pretty steady following of his own which I was able to tap into, because he’s now sharing this infographic with everyone he knows. It was an immense source of pride for him that gathered me a much wider audience that I typically have to beg for … because these people typically aren’t interested in real life political drama. So, what’s the moral of the story you ask? The moral of the story is that no matter which way you flip it, this infographic is highly message focused. The emphasis on messaging: I want group A to know about group B. The execution was fun and inventive but the end product is still message focused: Group A, please understand Group B. The goal with any summer holiday campaign is to make it fun, interesting to you because you also would rather go out and enjoy summer, and to make it still message focused. These things are a lot easier than you’d imagine. In my case, I just let myself be creative. However, if I was working in an agency this simple process would have taken 3 meetings and 5 extra hours of planning and review. It would have become a chore along with wasting valuable time. If you’re with a marketing team, don’t let your creatives become burdened by process. Task each person to come up with a fun campaign with zero supervision or review until it’s time to use the idea. This gives your team members a wide freedom and trust to do what they feel is best. Of course some people will fail; that’s to be expected. But I imagine that even in those who fail, there’s going to be a lesson learned that will motivate them to step it up. And for those who don’t fail, you’ve just spotted the hidden gems you didn’t know existed in your group.


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Introducing Our New Email Engagement Automation

Introducing Our New Email Engagement Automation

Product & Design • August 4, 2016

We are excited to present to you the newest feature of our application! As a Benchmark user, you may already be familiar with our current autoresponder feature. This feature allows you to send out a sequence of emails based on three different triggers: When a customer subscribes to a list A recurring date related to a subscriber such as their birthday or anniversary A specific date related to a subscriber If you haven’t tried the feature yet, using the \"When a customer subscribes to a list” trigger from the list above is one of the most basic, yet most powerful automations. It automatically sends a stream of emails that go out to new subscribers after they sign up. The autoresponder is a crucial and powerful type of automation that will remain in the quiver for our users with a new name - “List Based Automation.” This feature has always been and will continue to be free. Understanding the New Feature In an effort to provide users with more options for email automation, we have now moved autoresponders under the umbrella of “Automations.” As you explore the new automation section, you will notice that the first addition is based on email engagement and consists of three triggers: A subscriber opens an email A subscriber clicks any link in an email A subscriber clicks a specific URL in an email Let’s take a look at how we could use some of these triggers to segment subscribers. For example, if I owned a boat company, I might set up an automation to segment my subscribers into two groups for me: One that is interested in wind-powered vessels, and another that is interested in motor-powered vessels. After the feature segments them into the two groups, they can automatically receive curated content based on their interests. To do this, I would first send an email that contains content that includes information related to both types of boats. This could include things such as user manuals, a featured article, some stats based on research, or a discount on a product. Each type of content in the email would be connected to a URL for my subscribers to click. I would use the “A subscriber clicks a specific URL in an email” trigger, to create two automations - one to send emails to the wind vessel subscribers, and another to send emails to the motor powered subscribers. To begin sending tailored content to each of the two groups, I would select the original email that I sent and the URL that pertains to the appropriate group. The feature would then automatically send the curated content to each of the two lists. What about something more simple? Here is another example using the “a subscriber opens an email” trigger. Let’s say I have a customer base and want our highest engaged subscribers to purchase from a promotion. In the dropdown menu, I could select a recent campaign I sent to all of my subscribers. The selected trigger above will then only send the emails I set up to go to subscribers who had opened the previous campaign. It is helpful to note that our Targeted Emailing tool also has the power of segmenting subscribers. The difference is that you save them to lists instead of adding them to an email automation. We are pretty giddy about our other upcoming automations features and can’t wait to share them with you all later this year! Until then, we hope you enjoy our latest addition and look forward to seeing how you all use it.


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New Integrations for Wufoo, CRM & eCommerce

New Integrations for Wufoo, CRM & eCommerce

Beyond • August 4, 2016

As marketers, we have a lot of bases to cover. The touchpoints that make up your complete marketing plan are often numerous. That’s why it’s so incredibly important to make sure that as many of those channels are working together to maximize your time and effort. Enter Benchmark Email Integrations. We understand you’re using many other tools to support your business and its marketing initiatives. That’s why we’re constantly working to add to the list of integrations that allow you to boost your other marketing efforts with the power of email marketing. This month, we’re excited to announce new integrations with Wufoo, as well as several CRM and eCommerce tools, which includes BigCommerce, 3DCart, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Lemonstand, SugarCRM and Volusion. Let’s take a look at how each of these integrations can be used to achieve greater marketing efficiency. Wufoo With Wufoo, you’ve likely already installed forms on your website or social media pages, sent online surveys or created event registration pages. Use the data you’re already collecting and build your email lists by pulling the data from your forms with this integration. CRM: Microsoft Dynamics CRM & Sugar CRM Using a CRM tool allows you to paint the picture of who are your customers. Doing so allows you to send the most relevant and targeted marketing campaigns possible. The new integrations with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Sugar CRM allow you to import your customer management data to your email account. Securely connect your CRM and email marketing to maintain engagement with your customers and prospects. eCommerce: BigCommerce, 3DCart, Lemonstand & Volusion In many cases, your hottest leads are your current customers. Email marketing remains one of the best channels to stay top of mind with your customers and keep them engaged. The new integrations with BigCommerce, 3DCart, Lemonstand and Volusion allow you to automatically add customers to your email marketing list when they purchase through your eCommerce store. Use these integrations to keep customers in the purchase cycle, loyal and engaged.


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Three Ways to Go Back and Segment Your Email Lists

Three Ways to Go Back and Segment Your Email Lists

Beyond • August 3, 2016

One of the top five reasons people unsubscribe to your email campaigns is due to lack of relevance. Unsubscribes are triggered by lack of targeted content, leading once-happy and hopeful subscribers resentful and feeling spammed with content that doesn’t understand them. The best way to avoid a disgruntled subscriber is to anticipate what matters to them. The way to do this is by segmenting your email list. Ideally, you do this at the time your subscriber on boards by asking questions that create a segment-friendly profile. Chief questions to ask at this time should factor in the following points: Age Gender Geography Industry Organization Interests [check boxes on areas that apply to your business or organization] Education level If you’ve been unable to ask these questions at the offset, then there’s always a way to go back and create custom segmented lists, especially if you’re still in the early into the email marketing game. There are a few ways to do this. The first way (1) is to outright ask your subscribers in an email campaign to fill out a form with key questions. Preface that email with why you’re doing this now (so you can create custom content and keep things more relevant to them). Mix in that email campaign with others over the course of a couple months so you increase the frequency that email is seen. This is one of those administrative emails, which asks someone to take action – so you’re going to need to do a little gentle nudging here. You can also link to this segment questionnaire in your social media platforms, pinning the link to the top of the page on Facebook and Twitter. And you can factor it into your website as well, through an existing landing page, a separate pop-up and with banners running across your website. But since most people are busy and aren’t inclined to fill out a form just because you’ve asked, it’s important to have more than just one approach to doing things. The second way (2) is looking at the data you already have to start segmenting at least by gender or any other info you’ve got on hand. This is the simplest step that starts getting you thinking in terms of group types. And this step also needs to include going back to alter your current subscription form so it starts collecting this data with all new subscribers. The third way (3) is looking to see what you can do with the data you already have. If your email list is small enough or you have some help, send out a personal email to each subscriber with the same info that’s on the campaign you just sent out. You’re much more likely to get some direct feedback here because you’ve personally reached out to strike a connection. The third option is my favorite because it gets you engaged with your audience and thinking in terms of overlapping Venn diagrams. In other words, what similarities are you seeing? What are you noticing that you didn’t know before? How the reality of what your subscribers want different from what you’re currently doing? As fun as this third way is, it’s also the most time-intensive. In order to be lean, break up the three steps into action items based on what can get you the quickest results. In my view, that means working backwards from 3, 2 and then 1 The reason number 1 should be last is because it is likely to be least effective even though it’s the quickest to set up and launch. This is where lean matters. Lean isn’t just about saving time, it’s about maximizing the reward for your efforts. You can take five minutes to set up the first option but if it gets you zero results and you’re not carrying this campaign across months, then you’ve wasted five minutes. However, generating a dialogue and creating pathways for new subscribers might take a little longer, but it gets you what you need.


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How Should I Segment My Email List(s)?

How Should I Segment My Email List(s)?

Practical Marketer • August 1, 2016

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


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