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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How to Harness the Power of Emails at Every Stage of Your Buyers’ Journey

How to Harness the Power of Emails at Every Stage of Your Buyers’ Journey

Practical Marketer • July 30, 2018

Understanding the buyers’ journey allows you to get the database sorted based on their lifecycle stages namely Awareness, Research, Comparison, Purchase, Relationship Building, Retention and Advocacy. You can move your leads down into the sales funnel by nurturing them and convincing them to convert. The most commonly used lead nurturing tool is EMAIL - as it is scalable and cost-effective. However, if you want your email marketing strategy to work, you should understand that every campaign should be tailor-made to match the buyer’s journey. Let’s understand how you can utilize the power of email marketing at every stage of the buyer’s journey. 1. Awareness The first step of any prospect is Awareness. As the name suggests, this is when people get to know about your brand and your offerings. You can help your subscribers evaluate the product in the awareness stage. Send out emails that let them know about the benefits of your product and explain to them how your product would troubleshoot their problems. It is important to understand that customers purchase the solutions to their problems and not just a product. Make sure you entice your subscribers right in the awareness stage so that it is easier to take them further in the sales. After all, well begun is half done. See the welcome email sent by Heyo and how they have included the various tutorials of their solution to help the new subscriber with the contest creation. 2. Research Your subscribers are trying to figure out which solution is the best to resolve their problem during the research stage. It’s in this phase where you can leverage content marketing to educate the subscribers and build credibility for your brand. Examples of emails to be sent in the research stage: Various types of content resources You can have your content published in various formats, namely webinars, white papers, instructional videos, ebooks, slide decks, etc. As your subscribers might have distinct tastes when it comes to consuming information online, you can even ask your subscribers to choose the format preferences for receiving information. Content sharing the challenges faced by the subscriber You can share relevant case studies to explain to the subscriber about the similar challenges faced by fellow customers and how your solution helped to address their concerns. Content sharing actionable tips Your subscribers look forward to getting some valuable advice and actionable tips through the email. If your emails cannot deliver value to them, the brutal truth is that they would not want to hear from you. Content that convinces the subscribers that you offer the best solution A subscriber who is almost at the end of the research stage would want to know why he or she should choose your solution over your competitors. Convey your brand promise in such a way that they are eager to know more about you and are keen on buying from you. The email by Tinder cleverly informs the subscriber about how to use the App and entices them to try it at least once. No wonder, it is so popular among the youngsters nowadays… 3. Comparison After the research stage, comes the comparison stage. Leads who are in the comparison stage demand a special treatment and exclusive emails tailor-made for them. This is the stage where you should send out customer-focused marketing emails. Talk about your USPs and how you STAND OUT from your competitors. You can involve your sales team and schedule a personalized demo or meeting with the prospect. Here are some email examples to be sent in the comparison stage: Wanna schedule a demo? Need help? Have a look at the buyer’s guide. 5 reasons why our solution is the best match for you. It is not always necessary to send a visually attractive email. There are occasions when a plain text email can work better than an HTML email. Check out the below example. That’s plain text emailing done right! 4. Purchase The entire sales process is very much like proposing someone. If you goof up, you are likely to lose the sale. Make sure you do not disappoint your interested subscriber and offer them the resources that would warrant a pleasant shopping experience. Take a look at the type of emails to be sent during the purchase stage: Address the probable objection of the customer proactively. Guide the customers to use the product correctly. Once they make the purchase, send out a follow-up email to tackle the issues, if any. Check out how Code Camp has included a subscriber’s feedback, to encourage the recipient to do the same. (Applauds for the idea!) 5. Relationship Building and Retention The stages of relationship building and retention go hand in hand. After a customer completes the purchase, you should consider building a long-lasting rapport by using an emotional appeal in your emails. Doing so can help you retain the customers and enhance your customer lifetime value and loyalty. A regular email newsletter talking about new products, updates in your services, promotional offers and discounts goes a long way in retaining the customers by keeping your brand at the top of the customer’s mind. Chewy sends out an engaging feedback email to make sure that they can retain the recent buyer. 6. Advocacy Advocacy is the stage where a prospect turns into an evangelist. This implies that your customer becomes the brand ambassador of your business and helps you drive more sales. Word-of-mouth marketing works wonders for any business. In fact, it brings the best ROI and maximizes conversions. Consider sending rewards to ‘patrons’ in your elite list of customers to encourage them to purchase again. You can even leverage referral email marketing, which works towards retention of existing customers as well as the acquisition of new ones. Saying “Thank you” without any marketing or sales pitch also helps in getting evangelists for your brand. Check out the type of emails you can send in the advocacy stage: Refer us and earn a referral bonus. Allow us to serve you better by providing feedback. Mind referring us to your friends and family? Here’s 50% ‘elite customer’ discount for you. Thank you for choosing us. Lyft offers rewards to their top customers in their email with a catchy CTA that would prompt the user to take action and ride with them. Wrapping Up According to the 2018 report by Econsultancy, email has once again maintained its position as the most effective channel for marketers, with 74% rating its ROI yield as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’… And to use this channel to its full potential, email marketers ought to respect the stages of the buyer’s journey. There’s no other way out.


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

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

Beyond • July 27, 2018

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


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How to Compose Marketing Emails to Get Replies

How to Compose Marketing Emails to Get Replies

Practical Marketer • July 26, 2018

Sending a sales email is one of the most common ways marketers use to promote any product or service. Using emails for sales is very versatile: you can play with the form and content to make it more attractive and appealing, include some polls or surveys to study public opinion on how to improve a product or a certain service you’re offering. Here’s the thing: there’s a growing tendency of people not replying to such emails. There are various reasons for not replying to marketing emails: people are either not interested in the product, or may consider such emails spam, or simply don’t care about it at all. It might sometimes seem rude and offensive, but for marketers, this has become a usual thing. They say that not replying to an email also sends a message that calls for further improvement of an email template, changes in content or makes you rethink the whole idea. After all, you don’t want to irritate your potential customers with loads of information about product or service you’re providing. This might cost you your whole business! But wait a minute: if emailing potential customers is still one of the most effective marketing strategies, but people often get irritated because of them, how can you do it in a more effective way? Let’s take a look at major dos and don’ts of writing marketing emails: 1. Do Personalize For sure, personalization in marketing is very important. With the focus on the content these days, it has become very hard to impress potential customers, it seems that they’ve seen it all. Personalization in advertising and marketing creates an atmosphere of exclusiveness for each person receiving a marketing email. In the age of globalization and total accessibility, people have started feeling that they’ve lost a sense of identity, that is why personalizing your content and adjusting it to the interests and needs of each particular person can make your marketing emails more successful. Here’s a good example of personalization. An online healthy food shop offers to complete a questionnaire to define what the user needs to know to improve their health. 2. Don’t Over-Personalize Don’t go overboard, however. While working on personalizing the content of the marketing emails, make sure that it matches the desired outcomes. Sometimes, personalizing a marketing email involves simple steps, something like: Asking the right questions: a wedding specialist website called Paper Style had a problem with people ignoring their emails. So, to increase sales, they’ve turned to personalization, and namely, asking the right questions (a method of customer behavior analysis). They’ve simply asked their customers what they were planning for: their wedding or their friend’s wedding. People answered, and then received an email containing offers and services they needed for the occasion they were preparing for. As a result, the website has got 244% increase in open rate, 161% increase in click-through and 330% increase revenue per mailing. The lesson is, ask questions that match both your interests and the interests of your target audience. Paying attention to location and time: Bustedtees, a company that sales customized T-shirts has made the common mistake by sending emails to all their potential and existing customers regardless of time and location. The location and time they used as default was Los Angeles, and the email suited only their American audience. The company soon recognized that this wasn’t working, as their customers from other parts of the world received their email late at night and missed it, thus resulting in low rates of email feedback. Segmenting their subscribers and dividing them into different locations and time zones helped Bustedtees increase email revenue by 8%. They’ve set the timer for sending an email according to each particular time zone so that their customers could get an email at an appropriate time. Using behavioral triggered emails: when you get an email from Facebook that you haven’t got any activity or haven’t logged on to your account for a week, that’s a perfect example of a triggered email marketing. What they did is analyzing your “behavior” of not being active on Facebook for a week and notifying you about it, thus reminding you of their service. Triggered emails are a perfect example of a balanced personalization, as they appeal to a particular person but don’t overload with unnecessary, redundant information. Such emails are very effective as they result in at least 71% increase in open rates and nearly 102% increase in click-through rates. By analyzing the behavior of your customers, you get a better idea of what they need. 3. Do Use Your Personal Templates There are millions of websites with marketing email templates, but the only good purpose they serve is being an example of an effective or a not-so-effective email marketing campaigns. Besides, they don’t always work. According to Upwork’s experience, email templates work better when you need to advertise a physical product. In this case, you can use a fancy headline and graphics. Regarding replies, personally written emails work better, as in this case your customers feel your attention fully paid to each of them. To write effective personal emails that will be replied, you can use some of the following tips: Greet your customers: seems like an obvious thing, but somehow people forget about it. This is just a polite way to turn your customer’s attention to your email. Address your customers by name: one of the reasons people pay more attention to emails that have their name in it is because a name is a unique identifier of each person, and using it immediately shows respect to this person. Also, using a person’s name in an email immediately turns it into a personal conversation, thus showing that you pay your full attention to this particular person. Personally, thank each of your customers: at the end of an email, you should thank each of your customers for their attention. It might seem difficult, as you might need to send emails to hundreds of people, but it’s not. “I think all businesses dread the process of sending personalized emails, as it seems to be a very time-consuming job,” says David Jones, a marketing specialist at A-writer, “There are so many mailing programs that can be adjusted to your needs and can turn your emails into more personalized messages.” 4. Don’t Overwhelm Your Customers As it has been mentioned before, one of the reasons you don’t get replies to your emails is because people mark it as spam. A website called TechnologyAdvice conducted a survey, during which they contacted over 1300 adult from the U.S. asking why they don’t reply to marketing emails, and results are pretty definitive: Over 40% of subscribers mark emails as spam because they were emailed too often. It gets even more overwhelming when emails contain the same or similar content, which gets customers even more bored and makes them smash that “Unsubscribe” button. How can you fix it? Try to make it as brief and logically structured as possible. The average number of emails you can send to your subscribers is about 6 to 8 emails per month. But to figure it out specifically for your company, let your subscribers decide how often they want to get marketing emails from you. This will help you figure out the needs of each of your subscribers. 5. Do Work on Original Content We live in the world where it has become very hard to create original content. Plagiarism is everywhere, and plagiarism in marketing is no exception. Companies steal images to use in their marketing campaigns without even crediting their authors, and which such services as Tumblr and Instagram where people share their personal images, stealing content has become easier. The thing is that today customers can easily differentiate original content from stolen content. There’s nothing in this world that any modern customer hasn’t seen, and people are well aware of how plagiarism works. If you state that all your products and services are original, then plagiarizing something in your marketing emails will contradict everything you say and undermine your reputation. If you plagiarize because you doubt the success of your marketing emails, you’re making a huge mistake. Remember that what your business offers is a very specific thing, which needs to be advertised in its way. So if you fail one time, next time you’ll learn from your mistakes. Wrapping Up To summarize what we’ve been talking about a little bit earlier, it is necessary to point out some more don’ts you need to take into account when composing a marketing email: Avoid using Caps throughout your email. This just makes your email look messy. Avoid using too many exclamation points. Avoid using Flash or Video content in your emails. This will only make them harder to upload. Avoid attachments for the same reason as Flash and Video content. For sure, it will take time for you to figure out how to compose marketing emails to get replies, as each product or service requires a customized approach. If you follow the tips mentioned above on what to do and what not to do when it comes to composing marketing emails, you’ll increase your chances to get more replies. If you’ve already incorporated some of these tips into your practice, let us know in the comments about your own experience!


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How Marketing Automation Helps SEO

How Marketing Automation Helps SEO

Beyond • July 26, 2018

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


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Really Good Episode with Really Good Emails’ Matt Helbig

Really Good Episode with Really Good Emails’ Matt Helbig

Beyond • July 20, 2018

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


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

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

Practical Marketer • July 11, 2018

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


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Introducing Benchmark CRM Director of Product Development Paul Rijnders

Introducing Benchmark CRM Director of Product Development Paul Rijnders

Beyond • July 6, 2018

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


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Opportunities For Improvements in Marketing Automation

Opportunities For Improvements in Marketing Automation

Practical Marketer • July 5, 2018

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


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

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

Beyond • July 3, 2018

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


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Energized By Grid Modernization Engineer Tirthak Saha

Energized By Grid Modernization Engineer Tirthak Saha

Beyond • June 22, 2018

When preparing to interview Tirthak Saha, we saw him say in an interview that he’d once been called “tictac.” However, by the end of the interview with us, he admitted he hoped his work would make him the household name that Elon Musk is today. I gotta say after talking to him for a while, I believe him. Besides being so good at his job as a Grid Modernization Engineer that he was recognized on the Forbes 30 under 30, he proved more than adept at breaking down the jargon-y barriers to entry for understanding what he does. We could have peppered him with questions all day long. At 26, he’s already worked with NASA on satellites inspired by origami, and he is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Innovation Advocacy Network for American Electric Power. Not all heroes wear capes, but if Tirthak did, he would probably pull it off. I’m just very arrogant, right. You have to turn that self-arrogance into something positive. Into what people call drive. My biggest fear, to date actually, is to die without having left a positive legacy. I don’t care if it’s three people or three hundred people talking about me after I die, but I want them to say he left the planet better than he found it. If it is significantly better, that’s even better. It doesn’t matter what the magnitude of the thing I do in my life is. It matters that it’s in the right direction. And when you have that sort of a mindset, you never stop pushing, right? Because you’re always unsure. Have I done enough to be on the right side of the books? 1:50 - What it means to be a Grid Modernization Engineer 6:11 - Innovation through partnerships and cooperation versus competition 14:58 - On how to dream big enough 32:15 - Whether working in his space has left him hopeful or fearful for the future Podcast Transcript 00:02 Andy Shore: Hey everybody! Welcome to the Heart of Business, brought to you by Benchmark. It\'s the business podcast that won\'t make you flatline, where we discuss what pumps life into your company. 00:14 AS: Hey everybody, welcome back to The Heart of Business Podcast. We have a truly impressive guest for you today. His name is Tirthak Saha. He is a grid modernization engineer, and he might just well, save all of us. So we tried not to take too much of his time even though Daniel and I could\'ve talked for hours and hours and picked his brain on all the awesome stuff he\'s working on. Before we get started, I wanna remind everyone about the Benchmark starter plan. For up to 2000 of your contacts, you can do your email marketing totally free. You get all the tools you need to get started, signup forms for your websites, social media, some simple automations to greet your new subscribers that come in through that signup forms and all sorts of great stuff. Check it out, benchmarkemail.com. Let\'s get rolling. 00:58 AS: So how you doing today Tirthak? 01:00 Tirthak Saha: I am doing well. As well as you can do [chuckle] when you\'re living in the Midwest. It’s raining, it\'s been harsh weather. It has been pretty hot and then cloudy and gray. But yeah, other than that, I\'m doing well. 01:13 AS: Yeah, I don\'t miss that life. I\'m Chicago born and raised and went to college at Indiana. So when I saw you\'re in Indiana, I was just like, man, to go from India to Indiana. It\'s just like you skipped over some awesome places here. [chuckle] 01:27 TS: Yeah, the phonetics worked out. You can\'t really ask much more than that. [laughter] 01:33 AS: Absolutely. And one of the things I saw on your website was that you\'re trying to cut through the jargon-y barriers to entry for what you\'re doing. So, you are a grid modernization engineer at American Electric Power. But can you tell us, in ways that we\'ll understand what exactly that means? 01:51 TS: Absolutely, so basically what I do is I get to play around with the latest technology from the electrical, smart grid universe. And I keep a track of what\'s coming up, the latest advances, the latest technologies, and basically I pull different threads and strings together and combine them into projects that will provide the ultimate bang for your buck in terms of making a 21st century electric grid that is more resilient, more reliable and more eco-friendly because the electric grid that you see out there today, most of it was built a century ago. And we really haven\'t seen much change in the energy industry in that regard, just because there was no need for it. It was a pretty good piece of engineering and it did what it was supposed to. There were no demands, so it worked pretty well. Well, up until recently because in the last 10 or 20 years, we have seen a slew of new technologies coming up that we really weren\'t expecting to be viable until let\'s say 2050. 03:12 TS: For example, energy storage, solar wind, all the renewables, electric vehicles are on our roads now. So the grid is failing to support all of this because it is aging, and it doesn\'t really have the capability to incorporate all these new things that people want. So most major utility companies are now looking towards the future and they\'re saying. \"Hey.\" Hey, also stop me if I\'m talking too much, by the way. 03:38 DM: Oh no, you are doing great. This is all incredibly interesting. 03:40 TS: Okay, so most of the utilities are now sitting down at the table and they\'re rolling up their sleeves and they\'re going, \"Well, things are changing, people want different things than what they desired in the last century. So how are we going to recreate the grid?\" And the problem with that is, it has to be done piecemeal. You can\'t really take down the grid for a couple of days, and then bring it back up. So that\'s some of the major challenges that we\'re dealing with, we\'re rethinking and reshaping the electric grid to be able to support the technologies that are coming up today and hopefully for the next century or so. 04:18 AS: Yes, that\'s really interesting. And one thing I think is pretty cool, is that you\'re doing it from within the industry, you see Kodak, all but disappear or see the music industry go through what they have and you\'re doing it from the inside to preempt that happening when someone else just comes in and turns the industry on its ear and you\'re left in the wake. 04:42 TS: Exactly, no, you\'re absolutely on point. I\'m glad that I have a job [chuckle] But beyond that, I have a job because the utility industry has realized, I think, well within time that things are changing and if they don\'t change with this, they are just gonna go down the path of like the cab companies when Uber came or the hotel industry when Airbnb came along. And these are some of the recent examples. So, yeah, it\'s a huge market, it\'s a trillion dollar market and utility companies are sitting up and taking notice of this thing, and they\'re employing people like me all across the country to look into, \"How To Be The Change leaders, rather than the followers?\" 05:27 DM: That\'s excellent. I love that you used a word \"I get to play with.\" It\'s not, \"I\'m working on, I am doing this.\" It\'s I get to play with this, this and that and try to figure that out. It\'s in way that you\'re being electrical engineer, scientist, and mixing this with that, to try to figure out what works. Do you see some of the big tech companies... I can see that from Google and Facebook and many of the other big companies, they\'re pushing part of how we connect online to a totally new level, and it seems like they\'re needing new technologies, themself. Do you guys tend to work together with some of those companies to try to innovate, or how does that work? 06:10 TS: So yeah, there\'s a lot of partnerships. So more relevant example would be the company Tesla, and there in-home energy storage units, and now well they\'ve also come up with the solar roofs. So that\'s a big disruption in our market. For all intents and purposes, if you have the money you put in an energy storage system in your basement, and you put up solar roofs. And voila! You don\'t need the utility anymore. I mean, that\'s what you would think. And there\'s finer points to that, but essentially that\'s the argument, and that\'s the way most of these corporate private entities who are coming into the market now, that\'s how they\'re playing, that\'s how they\'re marketing. 06:53 TS: So what the utility does is they say, \"You know what, why do we need to be competition? We can just join hands, and create something better.\" Some utilities do that better than others. Some utilities are a little behind the curve, and that\'s perfectly fine. But yes, there\'s a lot of partnerships going on, because we have to realize something that what is happening here is innovation. Whether that comes from the private sector, or the public sector, there is a lot of innovation going on. And innovation doesn\'t happen in isolation. Tesla might know something that we don\'t, and we might know something, or have the resources or something that they don\'t. They have the capacity for risk that we don\'t, but we also have the stability that they don\'t. So I think all the large players have identified and realized that we all have to sit down at the table, because we\'re all feeding off of each other, so we have to join hands. So there\'s multiple partnerships like that. 07:51 AS: Yeah, that\'s interesting talking about the need to work together and pool resources or information, but is there the other end of it, where you said, there\'s that competition. I guess the thought that came to mind was like the space race, when everyone was trying to be the first to do something, is there also that part... Do you feel pressure in that. Do you face that? 08:12 TS: Yes. Yes and no. So I\'ll cover the yes part first. Obviously, there\'s the short term competition like, okay, so we hold 10% of the market share for example, company X is coming in, and they\'re gonna take away 2%, that\'s these many dollars, yada, yada. So that\'s just how corporations function. And sure in the short term, we gotta be aware of that. But I think there\'s something very interesting happening in the energy industry, which sets it apart from the space race, or any of the other great innovations in other industries. And that difference is that the definitions of things are changing. 08:53 TS: So let me give you an example. I don\'t think, and this is me personally, talking not as an AEP employee or whatever, but I personally don\'t think that the utility of the future is gonna be a company that provides the electricity. It\'s gonna be almost like a lifestyle company where we manage all the electrical devices that you use. Electricity is becoming more and more distributed, generation is becoming more and more spread out, there\'s microgrids and stuff now. So the whole definition, that whole idea of, okay, here\'s a point, here\'s where the electrons are generated, here\'s how we transmit them over large distances, and here are the customers who get the electrons and then pay for them using money, standardized money, all of that is changing. There\'s so much to talk about, and just as I\'m answering this, I\'m thinking about it. And almost every aspect of the electrical industry is changing, the energy industry is changing. There\'s cryptocurrency coming in where your neighbor might be able to put up solar pounds on his roof and you might be able to get some extra energy off of him, and just pay him using a cryptocurrency transaction. So who is the buyer, who is the seller? What is the market? What exactly constitutes the boundaries of the energy industry? All that is dissolving. 10:18 TS: So, what utilities and bigger companies like Google, Tesla, whoever is in the market to play, what they\'re realizing is that even if there wasn\'t a niche for them in the old market, in the old market what would be competition in the new market, there\'s a lot more space to spread out. So yes, there\'s competition, but we\'re also working towards creating a new ecosystem and everyone\'s finding their own new places. 10:42 DM: That\'s a very interesting perspective. That was actually one of the questions that I had for you, as more and more people tend to put solar panels on, how is that gonna affect? It sounds like you pretty much answered that. But I had a follow up question as well, which is, I grew up in Spain, I spent a lot of years in Spain. And the cultural differences and the political differences are pretty big. And one thing that I noticed is when Tesla really started to grow and their stock just went through the roof, and pretty much almost, I think, one out of 10 people here in California own a Tesla. My friend in Spain is like, \"I really want to but I can\'t afford it.\" And I was like, \"Don\'t worry about it. I\'ll help you ship out, like gas. You don\'t have to worry about. He was like, \"No you don\'t understand. In Spain, they apply an additional tax if you have an electric car if you have solar panels.\" So my question to you, is how, \'cause in the US, it seems like we\'re going towards this green and sharing and helping each other out, but how is that different outside of the US? Are more countries going towards this sharing and caring? Or are more trying to profit from this? 11:55 TS: So that\'s a very interesting question. And there\'s a lot of facets to it. And I do not claim to be knowledgeable about the whole political side of it to the extent where I can make a cogent argument, but just from my experience working with regulatory bodies, just within the United States and back when I was in India. So in India, the energy industry is pretty much controlled by the government, it\'s centralized and over here it is decentralized and it is to a large extent privatized. So let\'s go off of those main differences. So in America, the state of legislation in terms of the new energy economy, has been very, very slow to catch up with it. There\'s a lot of regulations and legislations that are actually holding us back from doing as much solar as we would like to. And I\'m talking about the customer side of it, not necessarily the utilities. Because the utilities frankly, will go where the money is, any big company will. If you allow us to make a decent business case, we\'ll do it. But as far as the green economy and the healthy economy that you\'re talking about in the energy sub-sector the US really isn\'t at the forefront, it is kind of lagging. 13:17 TS: But there are other countries which are lagging much far behind. So by comparison, it looks really good here. Like India. But I will tell you this, this is just my prediction that there\'s a precipice coming, and it\'ll happen in the next 10 years maybe, where there will be a technological jump, where, let\'s say, renewable technology will drop below a certain dollar per kilowatt hour price point. And it will be foolish, it will be very hard to make the argument against it. So what companies are doing is they\'re basically waiting for that to happen, because once that happens, no one\'s gonna make a legislation that prohibits that technology. For example, Spain, the government in Spain, it\'ll be foolish for them to tax that. It\'ll be foolish for them to impose regulations on something that becomes so profitable, that they\'re gonna miss out if they\'re adverse to it. Does that sort of answer your question? 14:25 TS: It does, I just hope that the Spanish governments understand that. They\'ve done a few foolish things throughout the years, but knock on wood. 14:34 TS: Yeah, it\'s basically the technology has to lead the change in that regard, but after a certain point it will become so self evident that government and regulations and laws will catch up immediately. That part won\'t take too much time, is basically what I\'m trying to say. 14:51 DM: Sure, and Dan and I are both such naturally curious persons I think we can keep just peppering you with questions along these lines. But I do wanna circle back and go back in the timeline and I watched a couple of interviews with you and talking about getting started or coming from modest beginnings and I\'m just wondering how you from there or anyone in small-town USA goes from that beginning to doing the things you\'re doing. And how did you dream big enough, or where did that start to get you to this point? 15:22 TS: Again [chuckle] I\'m just very arrogant. I would be sitting at home and I\'m like, \"Man, I don\'t deserve to be here, I deserve to be in some fancy country in a fancy house driving a fancy car.\" But that\'s me as a kid. And I guess everyone has those dreams and things, but I guess at some point, it just turns... You have to turn that self arrogance if you will, into something positive, into what people call drive, maybe. But definitely my biggest fear to date actually, is to die without having left a positive legacy. I don\'t care if it\'s three people or 300 people talking about me after I die, but I want them to say, \"He left the planet better than he found it.\" Which is not something a lot of people can say about their lives you know. 16:25 TS: And yeah, if it is significantly better, that\'s even better. It doesn\'t matter what the magnitude of the thing I do in my life is, it matters that it\'s in the right direction. And when you have that a mindset, I think you never stop pushing, because you\'re always unsure [chuckle] \"Have I done enough to be on the right side of the books?\" I guess that\'s where it comes from. A little bit of arrogance on my end. And, \"Can you do this? Of course, I can do this.\" And a little bit of drive that comes from that. Like, \"Yeah, I have to do all these things before I die.\" 17:07 DM: That\'s very, what\'s the word I\'m looking for? I admire that. I could say, it\'s very impressive, from somebody of your background, taking it for that level to say, \"I deserve better, to then, The world deserve better. And I wanna make sure that I leave this place, I make it better than how I found it.\" That\'s awesome. One other question that I have... 17:29 TS: It\'s like... Sorry to interrupt. It\'s like how they say you need to put on your oxygen mask first, before you can help others in an airplane in those safety briefings. It\'s like that. I was just trying to put my own safety mask on first, and when I did, I realized that that same action can be used to put on oxygen mask on everyone else, so I just kept doing it. 17:54 DM: I think in part, you\'ve answered a little bit of this question, but they say that it takes you at least 10,000 hours to master something. At your young age, how in the world that were you able to find enough time to really master what you do? 18:08 TS: Well, see, that comes from the book Outliers. Is that what you\'re talking about? Okay, well in there, it says pretty clearly that you need 10,000 hours to become an expert, at a master of something. I definitely don\'t [chuckle] think that I\'m there yet, so I don\'t think I\'ve put in 10,000 hours of that. But I\'ve thought about it because I read that book and I found it really interesting. It\'s like, okay, so I have some modicum of success. And then you take away from that, the part that you owe to other people, your family, your friends, the people who have supported you, you take away the parts that are just dumb-luck being in the right place at the right time. Then what\'s left with is still what you build with your hands from the ground up. So how did I do that? I\'m very introspective of these things, so I was thinking about it, and I think what I did right was, in that book, when they\'re talking about 10,000 hours, they\'re talking about developing a specific skill or knowledge around a specific skill for 10,000 hours and then you become a master at it. My skill is not engineering though. So I\'ve identified that. My skill isn\'t engineering. I am definitely not the best engineer in the world. Far from it. I\'m probably in the bottom 20%. 19:31 TS: But what my specific skill set is, is the ability to draw from different sources, sources that... Sources of knowledge that apparently seem disconnected and unrelated, and make something new that adds much more value than what you would have found if you had gone the conventional, traditional way. For example, when I was in school, sorry, high school, I had gone to Japan, and I had seen an origami museum, and that kinda stuck with me. And then when I went to university, Drexel University in Philadelphia, I wrote a paper on how to apply origami mathematics to solar panels on small tiny satellites, so that they can fold and fit inside the satellite. So you would think that they\'re disconnected. But that\'s what I do best. I take disparate, disjoint ideas, and I put them together to create something better. So I have been doing that since childhood, and I think a lot of us do. That\'s what creativity is as a child. Parents watch their kids play and they\'re like, \"I don\'t know what the hell they\'re doing.\" But what they\'re doing is they\'re taking disjointed ideas and trying to put them together. I just never let that go, that\'s all I did, so I just built on that and that I think led to the 10,000 hours, so it wasn\'t 10,000 hours of electrical engineering. 21:02 AS: Sure. 21:03 TS: That\'s just my mode of expression of my skill. 21:07 DM: One of my favorite books is called Your Brain at Work, and in that book, they explain about how it is impossible to come up with something out of nothing, for your brain. Your brain is constantly trying to relate two things and make something out of that. So you\'ve taken that to the next level by trying to exercise that, on the data. That\'s incredible. 21:27 AS: Yeah. And Daniel, a year or so ago went to a leadership or management conference, to bring it back to the company and came back and was talking about, there are the different essential people of every team. And one of those people was the integrator and it\'s kinda not the natural leader, or the best or this or that, but the one that sees the big picture and connects all the dots and brings it all together. It sounds like that\'s kinda what you\'re talking about. 21:53 TS: Yeah, absolutely, that\'s exactly what I was talking about. Yeah. 21:56 AS: That\'s interesting. So you\'d mentioned a little bit about the origami satellite and solar panels that you\'re doing with NASA, and then you wound up at AEP and won their Spark Tank Innovation Challenge, and I saw that\'s a billion dollar investment. Is that a responsibility that weighs on your shoulders? \'cause I got nervous looking at that. 22:21 TS: [chuckle] Alright, so this is gonna be a little bit of a long answer. Are you guys that up for it? 22:24 AS: Yes. 22:25 DM: Okay. Always. 22:25 TS: First of all, let me clarify something. It wasn\'t a billion dollar investment. That was a billion dollar revenue stream, and the citation was... That was a typo or something on the part of Forbes. And I guess it never got changed, I did reach out to them. So anyway, the deed was done so it\'s like, \"Okay.\" So now the background is... When AEP hired me, they had just started thinking about grid modernizations, and what it entails and what the various things that they wanna do in that space. They had just started, right? And I had just gotten out of school, I had just graduated. This is like mid 2016. So then they started... AEP started looking for a grid modernization engineer, or an engineer to lead the charge on that program. So I was, again, dumb luck, I was in the right place at the right time, I interviewed; my boss who is also now a very good friend, he really liked what I had to say and I had, I guess, I had a \"can do\" attitude, because at that point, neither I nor the company really knew what direction we wanted to go in. What was required was a sense of adventure and innovation and... Just the mindset. And obviously, the basic skill set that you would require. 23:55 TS: So they hired me, for two states, Indiana and Michigan. I was, and until very recently was the only guy doing... Actively doing grid modernization and nothing else. So, my portfolio of projects that I built up since I got hired, let\'s say, November 2016, up until now, I\'ve built a five and 10-year plan looking forward up until 2028 for the company for two states, Indiana and Michigan. And it\'s almost 900 million dollars worth of projects if they come to... If they follow the plans that I set out. So I don\'t know the exact number, but it\'s somewhere in that range. So yes, it is a huge responsibility. And for about two years now, I\'ve been carrying it on my shoulders. But we recently, we had an intern who recently joined the team, full time. So, I\'m really happy to have her, someone to blame. [laughter] 25:01 DM: That\'s at the end of the world, right? That\'s funny. Something that... I guess I see energy as a consumer, I\'m not involved with that at all. I think I played with my first... Arduino? You called it, last week and I started to play with little resistors and stuff like that. But one thing I see that has really kinda got left behind was the whole aspect of batteries, from the usage of it, the storage of it and even the throwing away of it. Like, how do we properly dismantle and get rid of a battery without really contaminating? And with so many precipice, I mean those batteries have a pretty large life span, about five to 10 years, but what\'s gonna happen 10 years down the road when we have all of these batteries? Is that something that you influence, or... 26:00 TS: So that\'s a great question first of all. Not a lot of people focus on that rightly as you just said, that solid waste coming from energy resources, it\'s a big, big issue, it\'s not just battery, there\'s also transformers and etcetera. But transformers have the advantage that they\'re made of materials that can just be fully recycled or scrapped and made into something else. With batteries, like you said, it\'s Lithium-ion for the most part and yeah, the recycling isn\'t where it needs to be, so it is a problem. I do not actually work with that arena directly, but I can tell you that in that same Spark Tank competition, a colleague of mine actually brought forth a very good idea of recycling EV batteries and just general utility-grade batteries as well. So, there are people who are working on that problem actively. I\'m not one of them currently, so I can\'t speak to the technical details of that, but that is a big problem. And one of the ways people are trying to solve, it has to be two-part. One has to be to get the recycling methods up to par to prepare for that cliff that you were talking about, ten years from now, what\'s gonna happen to all the Tesla power-walls, for example? And the other part is to invent new kinds of energy storage. So, our idea of energy storage is fairly limited, our concept of energy storage is fairly limited. 27:33 TS: I\'ll give you an example. We hear a battery and we go \"Okay, a cell. With chemicals in it and two plates.\" But did you know that aluminum has the greatest energy density of any material on earth? Just the metal, you don\'t need to any chemicals or anything. So if you strip away the oxidized layer on top of the aluminum and basically you put in water, it releases hydrogen which can then be put into a fuel cell for electricity or you can just burn the hydrogen for fuel, and it\'s a totally green 100 percent renewable process. The only problem is, that stripping away of the barriers, the oxidized barriers very few people have been able to figure out how to do that in an economic way. So recently, I got put in... I was reached out to by a startup in California called Trolysis and they asked me to be kind of their guide, the voluntary advisor kind of position and they\'re doing this. So I was very interested, that\'s why I signed on. Because I really feel like... Like I said before, our definitions have to change of \"What is a battery?\" And, \"What is distributed energy resources? What is the electric grid? Does it have to be point-to-point? Does a battery has to be a single piece of chemicals and anodes and cathodes?\". So yeah, it\'s two-fold. 29:07 DM: That\'s good, it\'s exciting to see. And I like what you said there. We have to think of battery as not as we know it today, but how can we change it entirely? What\'s that new thing? Here is a question for you, is wireless charging going anywhere? [laughter] \'Cause I don\'t feel like... I have a friend that he got the new iPhone and he got a wireless charger to go with it and then he found out that because he has the case, it doesn\'t work and he just gave it to me, he said \"Look, I can\'t use this.\" And I charged and I was like, \"This isn\'t wireless at all, I\'m still connected to the wire.\" Is this an intermediate step to something bigger? 29:47 TS: It definitely is an intermediate step to something bigger and that\'s the case with any fringe technology that you see. So basically, this is a general rule of thumb that I use and it\'s worked out pretty well. Anything that you\'ve heard of in the last five years for the first time, that is obvious... That is always an intermediate step. So, if you hear of a new feature, like some dazzling new feature on a new phone, wait till the next one to buy it. [laughter] 30:19 TS: That\'s what I always say. So it\'s worked out pretty well. Right now I use a Google Pixel 2. That\'s why I didn\'t buy the Google Pixel 1, although I really wanted to. And yeah, it\'s kinda worked out. But anyway, my point being, yes, wireless charging is coming big time. There are certain problems with it that may... We may have to look for other definitions of what wireless charging could look like. There are certain physical limitations to making a wireless charger that is very effective, but it\'s also very small, just because of the physics of it. But there\'s been some research that\'s being carried out as we speak, where they send satellites up into the atmosphere, for example, and these satellites have huge solar panels on them. And up in space, the efficiency of solar panels is much greater because it\'s direct, without the interference from the atmosphere. So they capture all that energy, they convert it into... I forget it. I think it\'s microwave radiation, and they send down those microwave radiation beams down to earth, where they\'re collected by a plate and converted back into electricity. Now, imagine if those plates were put on every home, then, can you imagine a world without wires and poles? That\'s what that would look like... 31:44 AS: That is pretty cool. 31:44 TS: But my point is that to get to that satellite technology, that\'s being, R&Ded right now the first shitty phone charger had to be made. You know what I\'m saying? Like... [laughter] 31:54 DM: Yeah I know exactly what you\'re saying, I\'m experiencing it, I\'ll tell you that. 32:00 TS: Yeah exactly. So yeah, there\'s developments in that space that are being made. Again, I\'m not directly related with it, so I\'m not a subject matter expert, that\'s the limit of my knowledge in that space. But I know people who are working on it directly. 32:15 AS: That\'s interesting. We\'ve got a few more questions for you before we let you go back to saving the world, but just talking about... You obviously have a view of what\'s coming down the pipeline. Does all that make you hopeful or fearful for the future, knowing whatever environmental or resource issues we may be facing now? 32:33 TS: It makes me both, because, I\'ll tell you why. To use one of my favorite quotations, \"We are changing but not fast enough.\" And I hope that the pace picks up, and I hope that the opposition to trying out new things, and the resistance to change wears off a little faster than it is doing so now, but things are changing for the positive. That\'s the good part. They\'re not regressing as such, especially, at least in the technology world, it isn\'t. There\'s a lot of advances being made. In the renewable energy sector, for example, someone recently patented a spray-on solar panel. So that\'s pretty cool. You can apply it anywhere you want now, you don\'t have to be restricted by the shape or space of your roof. So technology is moving in the right direction, I\'m just fearful that it\'s not moving fast enough. And that we need some kind of big, big paradigm-shifting push. That precipice that I was talking about, I think it\'s coming, I hope it comes soon. 33:49 DM: Do you have an intuition as to what that is? Since this is a field that you\'re savvy in, is there something that you feel like is harming the growth or the speed, the most? Is it the political views around it, is it the security, what is it that you feel needs the biggest push? 34:13 TS: Oh man, I\'m gonna say something now, and then like 20, 30 years later, when I\'m on Fox News interviewing with someone, someone is gonna bring this up, and gonna be like, \"Look, you said this.\" But anyway, lemme try. It\'s a very tricky business, trying to predict the future, but... So there\'s two questions I heard in there, and correct me if I\'m wrong. The first question is, which one do I think requires the biggest push, and which part is going to make the biggest push in my opinion, right? 34:46 DM: Mm-hmm. 34:48 TS: Okay. So the one that requires the biggest push is undoubtedly legislation for renewables. There is no doubt in my mind that legislation right now is very regressive, very backwards, and yes there are advances being made, but we\'re still very fearful of change. And there are several reasons for that, some cogent, some not, but we need to make a big, big, big push. We need to have representation from the scientific community in the legislation, in the representatives of who are making the legislations, we need to have more people who know what they\'re doing, especially in the field of technology, to go out there and make their voices heard. We tend to be a very isolated society, the tech world. We talk big, but there\'s very few of us out there actually trying to make change in that political environment. So there\'s that. 35:52 TS: And the thing I think will make the biggest leap forward in terms of technology is storage, energy storage. Because it, by definition almost... Like if I had to bet money on it, by definition almost, the one piece that is holding back other stuff is energy storage. Like, why can\'t you use solar panels at night? Not because the sun isn\'t shining, but because your battery isn\'t large enough to hold all of it and isn\'t cheap enough for the average man to use. So the problem isn\'t the solar panel, the problem is that we don\'t have that battery technology. So I just think if I had to bet money on it, just by definition, I think energy storage needs to be the first one to make a massive shift forward. 36:38 DM: Awesome. Yeah, I was blown away, \'cause our house where I live, they have solar panels on it, and I turn on all the lights at night and my roommate is like, \"Well, man, you\'re just gonna waste... \" I was like, \"No, we got solar panels.\" He was like, \"It\'s night time. They don\'t work.\" I was like, \"Doesn\'t it store energy for the nighttime?\" He was like, \"No, it just uses it all up.\" It blew me away, I had no idea. So yeah, I see that. 37:00 AS: Yeah. That\'s interesting. I want to ask you a little bit about the Futurist Archives. With all this work you\'re doing, you needed another outlet to write? Or was that part of wanting a legacy and putting your name on something? 37:16 TS: Yeah. So I\'ll tell you guys the story of how it got started and... But basically, the motivation behind that is very non-scientific. I wanted to be a writer and an artist when I was growing up. And the arrogant side of me will tell you that I was pretty good at it, too, but don\'t listen to that side of me. [chuckle] So I started that, because I just wanted like a... I wrote things here and there, and I put them in diaries, and I lost them, but then I was having a conversation with my mom actually over Skype and she asked me, \"Hey, so what is this artificial intelligence that I keep hearing all about? What is it? Are they robots?\" I was like... Well... And then I tried explaining it to her and then I realized that I couldn\'t. It\'s a very hard concept to accurately and truthfully depict to someone without making it sound jargony. 38:19 TS: So then I said, \"You know what, mom... Wait till next week, I\'ll write something up and I\'ll send it to you.\" So I wrote something up and I sent it to her, and she got it. So I was like, \"Okay, so there is a need for this.\" I mean, it\'s not like a business idea because there\'s a lot of people doing it, but I just wanna do it, A, for fun because I like writing, it gives me a creative output. And B, if there\'s other people like my mom who want to come onto my site, and read stuff from my perspective that\'s all the much, all the better. But, yeah I essentially started writing it for my mom and then it kind of grew and people liked it, so I just kept writing. I haven\'t written in a while, though, \'cause I\'ve been so busy, so... 39:02 AS: Yeah. And painting too. I just saw some of your art online, it\'s awesome. You say you\'re not arrogant about that, but [chuckle] I think you can afford to be. I enjoyed your blog post and the art was pretty impressive as well. 39:15 TS: I appreciate that, thank you. 39:17 AS: So, we haven\'t talked too much about being on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. What kinda doors has that opened for you since that happened? 39:25 TS: So, like the energy industry is a pretty old one in terms of the average age of people who work inside it and I\'m trying to bring some paradigm shifts to it and to kind of change the way people look at things or change the way people do their jobs. And it\'s always a rough, uphill battle to do that in any industry, but especially in the energy industry, just because they\'ve done things the same way for over 100 years, it\'s all the more difficult. And me being like, what, I just turned 26, right? No one would have listened to me, even if I had all the right ideas. But what this does is, it lends a hell of a lot of credibility to my voice. So it\'s not about specific doors that it opened, it\'s not like you get a cash reward with that or you get access to some secret party, nothing like that. [laughter] It\'s just something to add to your calling card. Like, \"Hey, I\'m Tirthak Saha. I\'m a Forbes 30 Under 30.\" And then people start listening to you, like, \"Okay, he\'s been vetted by someone centrally, so he must know what he\'s talking about. Let\'s hear him out.\" I\'m not saying you have to agree with me, and I\'m not saying I\'m 100% right all the time, but it gives me the chance to talk, at least. 40:51 AS: Yeah, very cool. And you\'ve mentioned Tesla a bunch of times in the conversation. And I think it\'s kind of a natural fit in terms of energy and power and those things. But where does it go to from here? Is your name gonna be the next household name like Elon Musk or are you gonna be the one that does it and changes everything? 41:13 TS: Oh you bet... 41:14 AS: Is that the goal? [laughter] 41:15 TS: Oh you bet. Yeah, absolutely. [chuckle] No... So for personal goals, I tend to not make very long-term goals because life has a habit of kicking me in the shins pretty much every time I\'ve tried to do that. But yeah, yeah. But if in the next five years, I have been able to create a product or an idea or a project that really helps improve the quality of life of people, and at the same time, move our environmental consciousness, and decision-making towards the right direction. I feel like I would have been successful. I\'m not in it for the name or the fame, I don\'t think anyone is. I don\'t think Elon Musk did it to become Elon Musk. That\'s just a side-product of you doing your best work on any given day. The people who actually plan for that actually never make it, so I\'m not planning for it. 42:16 AS: Yeah, I agree, I listen to the You Made It Weird podcast with Pete Holmes all the time. And a recurring theme lately has been just like, if you do it to get into it for the money or the fame, you\'re never gonna last. Like, if you don\'t have that drive if you\'re not hungry, and that just has to be the entire fiber of your being, you\'re never gonna make it to that point anyways. 42:35 TS: Yep, absolutely. An actor doesn\'t become an actor to win the Oscar, he becomes an actor to act, and then if his acting is really good because that\'s what he loves doing, then he gets the Oscar. That\'s a byproduct, not the goal. 42:50 AS: Yes, I agree. 42:50 DM: There\'s the... I think a story that probably you may know about but they don\'t know about, is the Wright brothers. And that there was a competitor to the Wright brothers and his drive was money. And he had a ton of backing, a ton of publicity and when he failed, you would have thought that, when he wasn\'t first, you would have thought that he would have worked with the Wright brothers, he totally threw the whole project out \'cause he wasn\'t first, he didn\'t make the money, he didn\'t care anymore, and that was it. So you can really tell that passion and drive for the better, to change something that you really care about is always gonna go above and beyond what money can do for you. So yeah, that\'s really good. 43:31 TS: Right. Yeah, no, absolutely. You\'re talking about Samuel Langley, right? 43:35 DM: I don\'t even remember his name, that\'s shows how... [laughter] 43:39 TS: Yeah, I think he was like a government paid project. Yeah, you\'re right, his story\'s the one I remember. So I\'m pretty sure it\'s Sam Langley, but yeah, absolutely, you\'re right, you\'re on point. Yeah. 43:52 AS: Well Tirthak, I wanna really thank you for joining us. This has been an incredibly eye-opening and enjoyable conversation and we really liked talking with you and could probably go on for hours if you let us, but we\'ll let you go. Before we say goodbye, I wanna give you a chance to let everyone know where they can find out more about you. 44:10 TS: Yeah, so I really appreciated the chance to be on this podcast, so thank you guys for inviting me. I had a great time actually. And you can find out more about me or my work on tirthaksaha.com. That\'s just my personal website, I do update it once every 50 years. So, be on the lookout for that. But other than that, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I\'m pretty active there. A lot of people reach out to me if they just wanna have a chat or discuss something that they have rolling around in their head, so I\'d be more than happy to do that. 44:48 AS: Awesome, very cool. I wanna thank you again, and before I ask you to help me generate 1.21 gigawatts to get a time machine so I can make 30 before 32... Well, thank you again, thanks everyone for listening and we\'ll catch you next time.  


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How & Why To Use Emojis In Your Subject Lines

How & Why To Use Emojis In Your Subject Lines

Practical Marketer • June 18, 2018

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


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A Content Strategist’s Guide to Creating Engaging Email Content

A Content Strategist’s Guide to Creating Engaging Email Content

Beyond • June 15, 2018

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


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The Importance of Having A Strong Brand in Email Marketing Campaigns

The Importance of Having A Strong Brand in Email Marketing Campaigns

Beyond • June 15, 2018

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


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Email Marketing that Gets Results … And Conversions

Email Marketing that Gets Results … And Conversions

Beyond • June 13, 2018

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


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