We Wrote a Book! Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer

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We Wrote a Book! Clues for the Clueless Email Marketer

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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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Why We Needed an Email Design System

Why We Needed an Email Design System

Product & Design • August 1, 2016

Up until recently, we have had one design team doing everything at Benchmark. What this means, is that the same design team that was creating the products and the development of new features was also in charge of design for marketing and creating and maintaining branding. I remember one time that our team was designing an email to promote a new feature  we were about to release. With no email design system in place and a desire to have some form of consistency, we spent over an hour scouring through past email headlines trying to find the correct hex value for the gray we had used in the past. It was apparent that we had a problem. However, working toward a solution didn’t feel pressing until six months ago when Benchmark decided to split the responsibilities of our single design team with a newly formed marketing design team. In the past as the single design team, creating email templates for our company departments was difficult. With each specific purpose or departmental need, our team would come up with something from scratch. If the marketing department wanted an email last minute, there wouldn’t be enough time to create one for them of any quality. As you can imagine, we wasted time trying to maintain some consistency in our designs without a standardized system in place and found ourselves often frustrated and confused. These same design inconsistencies were multiplied across our international offices with emails sent out in nine different languages from Benchmark offices worldwide. With the move to have a fully dedicated marketing design team that would take ownership of the email design templates, we recognized that a system needed to be put in place. Otherwise our experience of frustrations, lack of timeliness, unclear brand voice and having to return to old emails to find some form of consistent stylization not only would continue but would be amplified. From these problems, we wanted to create a modular design system that would help to solve our problems of inconsistencies and lack of timeliness. We took an inventory of all of the emails that went out this past year from our Benchmark teams, including those from our international offices and organized them all by language and purpose to see what particular needs each office had to account for and what type of emails each region was sending. Some regions were focusing more on education, while others focused more on events and partners. Marketing needs will be different in each region. It\'s important to create solutions that are inclusive to all of our offices and not assume that marketing needs in one region will be the same as elsewhere. We took note of all of the emails that we saw repeating to get an idea of the modular pieces we might need i.e. monthly/weekly newsletters, promotion, webinar invites, product announcements, automated system emails, even personal emails from the company owners. Then, we documented the structure of each of these emails by the content sections that made them up. We then documented all of the styles for each of the sections. We found that we had numerous different styles being used for headers, content blocks, typography, social media buttons, contact info and image styles just to name a few. After we had everything documented, we were able to create unified styles for each use case. Things that we were considering as we did this were our current branding, of course being aware of the other languages and what was applicable for them, mobile styles, readability, aesthetic. It required us to sift through everything we have had before and create a standard for the aesthetic and appeal for our clients. Another thing we had to do was to create and find an image strategy and what we should do for images since they can dramatically change the look of an email. In order to keep consistency, we created a guidebook that we passed on to our other international design teams and to our marketing team. We also collaborated with the marketing team to make sure our goals were aligned and everything meshed. Our final challenge was setting everyone up to be able to use the new system. We accomplished this easily with our email platform. We set up our design system as a master account and made each office a sub account of the master account. Using the ability to send email designs to sub accounts, we were easily able to get everyone up to speed. We used to have everyone doing their own thing in separate accounts. Now being under one account, everyone has access to email design templates and it helps to maintain the consistency that we are looking for while allowing ease of use and maintaining a standard. I learned that it is easier to think of everything as a whole and create and manage a system rather than designing for each individual problem. The key, however, is to not create something and forget about it, but instead using it and revisiting it in order to make adjustments, followed by updating documentation to continue to maintain our standards and consistency. This is not something we have figured out completely yet, but it is a contined process of learning and growing. We used our own email editor to design all of our emails. We did this so that it is easier for local and regional content managers. Ideally. we would have done it all in code to have more control and to update standards more quickly. For now, using our own email designer was simpler and gave us an opportunity to feature our own product and being inclusive of ease of use. This information is helpful and I wish that I had a detailed solution to reference prior to embarking on this journey. It has made such a difference for us. It was a pain point and took a significant amount of time to find a solution. So, if there is a way that this could be of use to our users, it felt important to share our process.


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How To Reach Out to Unsubscribers Without Sounding Like A Sad Ex

How To Reach Out to Unsubscribers Without Sounding Like A Sad Ex

Beyond • July 29, 2016

Hands down the saddest feeling on earth is the notice that someone left your email subscription. Before I started personalizing email campaigns, this would happen to me with almost every single email campaign. The first step is understanding the obvious. The thing that should be obvious is not waiting for months to have passed after a new subscriber comes on board before you actually send them anything. At that point, they don’t even remember you. The key is to hook a new subscriber off the bat and get them interested in what you have to say. The second step is to make the effort and reach out to them. Here’s what I did: The last time I got an unsubscribe, I messaged the guy (I already had his email) and just shot him a quick note saying I was sorry to see him go and was it because the content wasn’t what he thought it was going to be? Here’s why this is a brilliant and simple approach: It takes just a second to do. It creates a personal connection that allows me to step out from behind the curtain of email marketing – making me more real to him and maybe even feeling a little called out for unsubscribing. And I get valuable information. This fellow hadn’t even realized he unsubscribed (which got me to thinking how many other people are doing the same thing and is there an issue with where the unsubscribe button is located, making it maybe too easy?) These are important constantly churning questions that will help keep your email game sharp. The second piece of valuable info I got was how he felt about the brand. And why he loved it. We ended up having a small chat about why he’s drawn to the brand and how he finds value in it – and I’m thinking awesome. It gives me immense perspective and helps me gauge what I’m doing right so I keep it that way. The key to reaching out to unsubscribers is not sounding like a sad and desperate ex. You just want to shoot a quick friendly note – a nudge really and leave it at that. Maybe they respond, maybe they don’t. Either way, you did your part and you move on. You want to be casual, light-hearted and maybe even funny. You want to give people a chance to see why they’re going to miss out if they leave – and that means not clutching onto them. Of course, you also want to give people the opportunity within that first email to loop back in. So offer a hyperlink in that original nudge because they might loop back in without necessarily wanted to start a dialogue with you. But in most cases, since I started doing this, people do shoot back a message or two, which also helps you better get to know your audience. At an enterprise level, this is the kind of work best suited for a dialogue coordinator who might be doing some social media work as well.


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Why Are My Emails Going Into The Promotions Tab?

Why Are My Emails Going Into The Promotions Tab?

Practical Marketer • July 28, 2016

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


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Why You Shouldn’t Fear Your Email Campaigns Going To The Promotions Filter

Why You Shouldn’t Fear Your Email Campaigns Going To The Promotions Filter

Beyond • July 27, 2016

When Gmail launched a new tab feature to filter email types, it sent marketers into a panic. Hailed as “Email Apocalypse,” the new system created a lot of panic and confusion. That confusion is still there today for marketers who’ve been unable to get their email campaigns out of what they see as the “no man’s land” of email marketing. There are a couple of ways around this. One you can guide users how to move your email campaigns from one tab into a primary inbox. You can offer a little instruction blog post and video and keep hoping that users are catching on. Or you can embrace Gmail’s genius. Here’s why. Worldwide there are about 205 billion email messages sent every day. That’s a lot of emails. To be able to understand this from a marketing perspective, you’ve got to first understand your user. Chances are they’re a Gmail user and they’re not in their email as much as you are. It is also not their job (as it might be yours) to get to inbox zero every day. As a frequent email user who is constantly swamped and  uses email for work, here’s a small insight into what’s really going on. Most emails can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour to respond to, depending on the level of follow-up work I’m required to do, including  researching what the sender is talking about. This takes time. And while I’m trying to get to an email, I’ve got other priorities and I’ve got distractions. This means that on any given day I’m nowhere near email zero and my email messages are now another task I need to cross off. Having a promotions tab is a life saver because it keeps apart the information I want from the information I need to respond to. Because of the promos tab in my Gmail, I’m not drowning in a sea of mixed emails that don’t differentiate between priorities or data types. From a marketing perspective, you’re going to be disappointed because your open rates will suffer. Since you don’t have primary real estate anymore, you’re not getting the same click-open rates you did before. But, when people do get to your email you’re much more likely to have them stay on your page longer and increase your conversions, because now I’m focused on what you have to say – because I’ve come to it at my own time rather than having you compete with work emails through the day. That said, you also don’t want your emails to be seen as promotions, which is the problem I have with (not the tab itself, but) the name of the tab. You want your email campaigns to stand apart from sales oriented promotions that are just about pushing something onto the reader. You can do this by starting to personalize your email campaigns. Take the example of magazine editors who start of each new issue with a “letter from the editor.” It personalizes the message and it leads into what’s next. There’s no reason why your campaigns can’t be personalized. Even if it’s a strict pushing of the coupon, you can still have something personal at the bottom banner of the email. Ultimately, this invokes a cultural change that makes email campaigns more intimate. If you can create a connection with your reader, your reader will come looking for you or at the very least spot your email campaigns. This strategy also helps reduce unsubscribe rates. I have about one unsubscribe per email campaign until I started leading with a “Message from Shireen Qudosi” at the start of each campaign. It completely squashed the unsubscribes because now it’s personal and being personal means being – and getting others – invested.


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How Many Emails Should I Send To My Subscribers?

How Many Emails Should I Send To My Subscribers?

Practical Marketer • July 22, 2016

Anytime I do a workshop or seminar, this is probably one of the number one questions I get. “How often should I send emails?” Well, it depends. How often do your subscribers want to hear from you? It is very important to send as often as your subscribers want to hear from you and not as often as you want to talk to them. Think of it as the person who follows you around in the clothing store asking 10 times within 5 min, “Do you need help?” You don’t want to be that person in email form. I signed up to an email list the other day and before I could take my phone out of my pocket, I had already received 5 emails from them! Here are the 5 emails I received: Opt-in Confirmation Email Welcome Email Re-confirm Opt-in Confirmation Email First Steps Intro Personal Account Manager I can totally picture their marketing team talking about the drip campaign for their first-time customers and for these 5 emails making sense, in theory… “An opt-in email to confirm their subscription is a no-brainer!” “We need an introduction email that talks about us and why they need us” “Oh! Lets also send a re-confirmation email, in case the subscriber doesn’t get the first one!” “The subscriber needs to know where to start! Let\'s also send a first steps intro!” “Lets WOW the new signup with a personal account manager as well!” As you can see, it’s easy to get excited with emails. They are quick, easy and show results immediately. So fast that I got a call right after I unsubscribed. Automation is great and can do wonders if it’s used properly. Many times, I see companies create long drip campaigns without really testing them. In theory, the campaign could make sense and even look good! Then when you actually go through the process, you realize you are just burying your subscribers with emails and scaring your customers away! I say this all the time, Email Marketing is not a numbers game. It is important to include a strategy and truly test your paths. For the case mentioned above, they could have given me the same amount of information in fewer emails and spread it out over more time. The idea is to create a constant flow and to make it effortless to the subscriber. If you send me too much at once, I probably won’t read half of it, therefore, missing valuable information and wasting your efforts overall. Make smart drip campaigns. If you don’t already know this, try to understand your customers\' behavior. How they navigate on your site or how they use your product or service. This isn’t rocket science. It can be as easy as just observing and asking your customers key questions or as complex as analyzing piles of data. Either way, your subscribers and customers are what keep your business moving, so it’s important you get to know them and their habits. Let’s take an example of well-timed email marketing. My friend was at a pet store buying some food for his dog and as he paid at the cash register, they asked for his email address. He hesitated for a second because he doesn’t like receiving a lot of emails but this time, he did it for his dog! The person at the cash register promised great deals and that they don’t annoy their subscribers (Yeah right, they all say that!). But here is what happened next: nothing! Or at least it seemed like nothing was happening. Funny enough, right when his gorgeous Husky was almost out of food my friend received an email from the pet shop. The email included a 10% off his next purchase of dog food. This company understood timing with email. I will guarantee this wasn\'t the first bag of food they sold and they know well about how long the bag will last. As my friend gave his email at the point of sale, they can easily time the next email to be sent with an offer to entice my friend to come back. Did it work? Of course, it did! It is extremely important to properly segment your lists and send emails that make sense! Often times companies try to send emails just to be in front of their subscribers. Although this can be great for branding, make sure the email is relevant first! If it isn’t, it’s probably going to waste your time and your subscribers. With Benchmark, we offer integrations with eCommerce platforms that allow you to create this type of automation. With our new Automations by engagement triggers, that allow you to send emails based on previous opens and clicks of other emails, you can push this to the next level! If that 10% didn’t work, the next email can be a “bring a friend” type email and so forth. You can continue this path until the right email lands in your subscribers inbox to get them back in your store. What are the takeaways from this? Be creative, test and get to know your subscribers. Always, Always! Test your own drip campaigns first. Go to your inbox, see what it looks like from the inbox view, read the emails in detail and try to read your own story. What is the story and path you are trying to take your customers down? What are the questions your customers may have and when? If you get bored reading your own emails or they seem too long, if you aren’t answering questions that interest your subscriber you’re probably losing their attention.


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

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

Practical Marketer • July 20, 2016

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


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

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

Practical Marketer • July 18, 2016

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


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

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

Practical Marketer • July 15, 2016

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


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