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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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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An Introduction to Going Global with Benchmark

An Introduction to Going Global with Benchmark

Going Global • July 14, 2016

I have decided to write a monthly blog about our company history and the benefits and challenges of having international offices. This came as an outgrowth of our leadership meetings. Other team members of the group were sharing how they have learned things which have helped them do their job better by reading blogs of other companies and how they had overcome their challenges. We can improve by understanding new concepts and utilizing tools that we might never have heard of except by reading those blogs. I hope that the reader of my posts can glean some insights that can help them in their business success, especially as they think about growing internationally. How did Benchmark start? In 2003-2004 I had just come out of the financial services industry and was looking for a new challenge. In the previous 10 years leading up to Benchmark, I had started a couple different companies mostly focused on desktop publishing and printing. I was moderately successful in those industries, but I was quickly losing interest and wanted to embrace the new online opportunities and technologies that were developing at that time. After a few months of reviewing, dreaming and tinkering I decided upon the email marketing space and registered the name benchmarkemail.com. I liked the name Benchmark for obvious reasons. I dreamed of the product being the standard in the industry. The rock, or benchmark, by which our clients would evaluate email marketing. Plus, I am very competitive so the name was a good fit for my psyche … and hence decided upon benchmarkemail.com. Now came the challenge of building this service (back then I did not even call it a service ... we looked at it more as a website that had cool features and tools) of email marketing. Where would I hire the designers and programmers? Where would the money come from? Should I get my family and friends involved or an angel investor maybe? I decided to bootstrap the entire operation. I opted out of an angel investor as I wanted to grow at my own pace and not be pressured. Both my wife, Denise, and I did not want to ever have to explain to our family and friends why things did not go well. Failure meant a loss of our time and money only! First order of business was to look overseas for my team, as I knew the cost would be high in the US. I decided upon India as the location to look for talent. There were a couple of reasons for this. One was the high tech level that developers had achieved in that country the other had more to do with the integrity and trust factor of the Hindu culture. I think somehow subconsciously, in my younger days, I was influenced by the movie Gandhi, starring the incredible actor Ben Kingsley. India just felt right. [caption id=\"attachment_1820\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1024\"] The original sign that hung outside our office in Gurgaon, India.[/caption] [caption id=\"attachment_1822\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1024\"] On our first trip as a family to India. What better way to see how far we\'ve come as a company than to see how young my son looks in this photo?![/caption] I was helping my wife at that time with a small printing business and we had some desktop publishing products that we were selling online. This allowed us to have some income while we gave Benchmark a chance to grow. We were located in a small medical building (our first office was a room within an office, maybe 400 sq. ft.) next to dentists, optometrists and podiatrists, but the rent was cheap and it allowed us to spend money on the product. In the first year of operation, we had one support person out of India (Delhi), four developers (Mumbai) and myself. I would sketch out a design and list some logic on graph paper, scan it and send to our team in Mumbai. That’s it! Very barbaric by today\'s standards, but very effective back then. My working hours were quite long. Full day at the office ,then usually at least 3-5 nights of 2-3 hours on India daytime hours. Back then I was a bit younger :) and loved the challenge of this new idea. As you can see Benchmark was born as an international company. In my next post, I will talk more about these early five years and the specific challenges and triumphs we encountered.


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Drive Change: Social Justice is a Dish Best Served … Literally

Drive Change: Social Justice is a Dish Best Served … Literally

Beyond • July 12, 2016

It seems more important than ever to tell a story like that of Drive Change. A force for good in our society aimed at improving the lives of its employees, maintaining a conversation on social justice and serving delicious food. Drive Change brings its cause straight to the people taking it\'s food truck, Snowday, on the move with a message. We use our food truck as this living, breathing classroom but also as an advocacy tool. You see, the food truck employs formerly incarcerated young adults and gives them support, on the job training and assistance in achieving the future they desire. Did I mention the food is amazing? I don\'t have to because the awards are piling up ... as are the mentions in every \"Best of NY\" list on food trucks. Drive Change co-founder Roy Waterman and his team deserve all the accolades their food has received and more. In a world of hashtag activism, it seems as important as ever to give a platform to the individuals taking action to work for a better tomorrow. Key Takeaways: Support. Support. Support. Providing support to formerly incarcerated individuals is essential. Harnessing an untapped market in formerly incarcerated individuals and providing them with on the job training has helped them achieve the futures they desire. Turning a negative into a positive is an excellent way to engage an audience. Think outside the box to every possible customer touch point that could help deliver your message.


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What’s The Expected Open Rate For My Industry?

What’s The Expected Open Rate For My Industry?

Practical Marketer • July 11, 2016

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


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How to keep my branding consistent in my email marketing?

How to keep my branding consistent in my email marketing?

Practical Marketer • July 8, 2016

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


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

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

Practical Marketer • July 5, 2016

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


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HBO Sits Atop the Iron Throne with its Game Of Thrones Audience Retention Emails

Beyond • July 1, 2016

If you’re anything like me, you’re very much looking forward to the three-day holiday weekend. However, if you’re really like me you’re slightly dreading the prospect of a Sunday night without Game of Thrones … and at least a year’s wait until the new season airs. Summertime is already a slow time for TV. What am I going to watch?! Am I going to have to talk to my friends and family? And what are we even going to talk about if not for a new episode of Thrones? Well, thankfully for me, HBO’s email marketing team apparently owns some real estate in my brain. Knowing some of their viewers may be sharing many of the same thoughts, the email marketing team at HBO fired off a pair of emails as a sort of Doomsday survival kit … if your personal end of days is not being able to watch new episodes of Game of Thrones for a while (don’t judge me). There are a couple of lessons to be learned from this duo of email campaigns courtesy of HBO Now. The first lesson is timing. The initial thought may be to send these emails Sunday night, shortly after the season finale aired. However, HBO understands the current climate. In the DVR culture of today, everyone isn’t watching episodes as soon as they air (no matter how silly I think it would be to wait to watch that show). Plus, it gives the audience a few days to really start missing Game of Thrones as they realize there isn’t another incredible episode on the way. The second goal of these emails is customer retention. For those of us feeling the loss of Game of Thrones in our lives, HBO announced some of its new offerings to fill the void. Between the two emails, I learned about a new mini-series called The Night Of that seemed like it may hit me in my crime drama sweet spot and I got excited all over again about Vice Principals, the latter of which I’ve already laughed at the trailer for numerous times. Also, in case their Game of Thrones audience wasn’t already watching other series the network offers such as Ballers, they made sure I knew I had a chance to catch up before the new season airs next month. They also reminded me of other series like Silicon Valley and even an older offering in Deadwood, for which I may just be due a rewatch binge. Why is this important? According to HubSpot, email marketing was credited as the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention in the United States in 2014. Think about these emails from HBO as you’re sitting around with your marketing team pondering ways to build your brand and increase customer loyalty. Remember this lesson on timing and striking when the iron is hot (a phrase which has possibly never been more aptly used than in reference to Game of Thrones). Plus, by understanding the headspace of their audience, HBO capitalized on an opportunity to remind its audience of its other programming options. Not only can that serve to grow the audience for other shows, but it is a chance to delight viewers suffering from post-Games of Thrones grief. How are you using email marketing to boost customer retention? Share your ideas with us in the comments below!


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Get Inspired: A Super-Hot Summer Email Campaign Design

Get Inspired: A Super-Hot Summer Email Campaign Design

Beyond • June 29, 2016

In the last several posts (on how to use summer to reinvent email campaigns and about how to keep email campaigns focused during the summer), we talked at length about kicking up the creative factor of your summer email campaigns, but some of you might be wondering how to do that exactly. If you’re scratching your head when it comes to creating cool email marketing content, then sit down, grab a lemonade and let me guide you through some killer examples. Of course, everyone knows summer is all about the beach, the sun, BBQs, etc. What you don’t want to do is be boring and stick with those cliché images. Take this example of a summer email campaign designed to promote a vacation package. It’s uninspiring, especially when compared to what UGG produced (below). The popular shoe company took their product, got inspired by summer destinations and put their product in play in a stunning summer email campaign set in Greece. The visuals are stunning, thematic and balanced with complimentary colors and three big bold images with clear, crisp text. Your eye isn’t having to hunt for the text like it had to with the first example. UGG, known for their winter footwear of slouchy furry boots, took a dramatic new direction and promoted sandals and a higher end vacation destination. You can be sure that their campaign goal here was to reach a more elevated audience. In other words, UGGs are classy, but still relaxed. What that first hum-drum and relatively uninteresting travel campaign did get right was the mobile-friendly feature. Invoking images of travel is always a good idea. I love what Icon did with their Parisian hot-air balloon email campaign: Each of the pictures in the four quadrants is too similar. The eye sort of glazes over the campaign. It’s a great concept, and is very fairytale like if your audience favors that tone, but there should have been fewer patterns and more pop of colors in at least two of the boxes. Running on the idea of summer BBQs, you can be inspired by summer food favorites to promote your own summer sale. One shop in the UK does it brilliantly by using chunky watermelon cubes to spell out “SALE.” Seeing some visually stunning examples of awesome summer email campaigns always helps get your own creative juices flowing. If you’re still in brainstorm mode, then check out what your industry thought leaders have been doing and see if you can pull inspiration from there. The goal isn’t to copy what someone else is doing or to even have that same campaign focus. The goal is to invest 10 minutes in learning about to what else your consumers are exposed. If you’re anything like me, you can be driven to analysis paralysis with too much data – or you can get lost in a rabbit hole of visuals. So keep it Lean and stay focused. Create quick brainstorms, a Venn diagram, or family tree inspired outline of what your key messaging goals are, what the industry conversation is and where you see the gap. Have a structured and focused messaging funnel will help streamline the process. After all, you should be inspired by design – not consumed by it. The same goes for your audience. Great design should inspire your audience and support the message or product. It should take over or dominate your messaging.


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