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

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

Beyond • June 8, 2018

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


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

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

Practical Marketer • June 6, 2018

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


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Benchmark Email is Swiss-US Privacy Shield Certified

Benchmark Email is Swiss-US Privacy Shield Certified

Going Global • May 27, 2018

At the start of the year, the U.S and Switzerland governments agreed to the Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield. This is important for understanding how you should be handling your data. After all, you may not think you have any customers in Switzerland. However, the internet makes almost every business open to the world. It’s better to be safe. That’s why it’s important to use business tools who are certified for the Swiss-US Privacy Shield. Benchmark Email is Swiss-US Privacy Shield certified. What is the Swiss-US Privacy Shield? It’s an agreed upon framework between the governments of the United States and Switzerland that allows certified companies to handle data between both countries. It was modeled after the regulations in the rest of the European Union with a focus on consistency in the region. The Swiss-US Privacy Shield Offers Improved Protection This Framework, which replaces the previous Safe Harbor Framework, offers better protection than its predecessor. Here’s how: Companies who are Swiss-US Privacy Shield certified have a greater obligation to protect data as well as offer specific information to data subjects The U.S. Commerce Department and the Swiss data protection regulator will more together more Free and accessible dispute-resolution processes must be provided by certified companies, which includes the ability for data subjects to complain directly to a company or to submit them to a binding arbitration Benchmark Cares About Your Privacy If you’ve done any data protection and privacy research, you’ve likely read about the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) lately. Here is everything you need to know about GDPR.


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Building Businesses and Molding Your SEO with Clayton Wood

Building Businesses and Molding Your SEO with Clayton Wood

Beyond • May 25, 2018

The Heart of Business has provided me and my menagerie of cohosts the opportunity to speak with so many incredible people who we’d never get the chance to chat with otherwise. However, once in a while we get to talk with someone who we are familiar with and something special happens. You get to ask questions you never would otherwise and find out even more about someone you already know. It’s a treat. That was the case with Clayton Wood. For the better part of the last year, we’ve gotten to see Clayton’s face in our office or hear his voice on a call with weekly frequency. He’s taught us more about SEO than we could have ever imagined possible. It’s always fun to hear where he’s been in the time he’s not with us. He’ll share with us about the events he attends and speaks at. All those lucky audiences! We realized it was time to make our podcast listeners one of those. We got to talk a bit about SEO, how Clayton has founded multiple multi-million dollar businesses and the lessons he’s learned along the way. Plus, we found out how he wound up in Playboy. There seems to be this common thread through people that have this adventurous spirit and I can’t quite put a pin on it, but there’s something about the personality and it’s really interesting that when these people meet each other, something clicks. Even if you don’t talk about the traveling or the adventures that you had ... there seems to be something about the way that people\'s brains work that are looking for some amazing adventure. The best relationships I’ve had are with people with similar mindsets in that regard. 3:30 - Taking the leap to leave the corporate world and pursuing SEO 9:19 - What is SEO? 14:48 - How to proceed when your savings are dwindling and you think you’ve backed yourself into a corner 20:46 - On winding up in Playboy 26:04 - Going from learning from industry experts to becoming a peer


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The Power Of A Strong Call To Action: How To Make Yours Click-Worthy

The Power Of A Strong Call To Action: How To Make Yours Click-Worthy

Beyond • May 23, 2018

Calls to action might be the most important part of your business strategy: the jewel in your marketing crown. Your brand’s success goes hand in hand with a strong call to action. You will have experienced this first-hand, whether you’ve signed up to Netflix or bought a new jacket online: the chances are a good call to action led you there. I’ve seen countless CTAs in my work, so I know what works — and what doesn’t. If your CTAs aren’t on-point, you’ll see conversions slow and sales fizzle out. So, if you want to know how to make your call to actions truly click-worthy, read on... So why are calls to action important? Well, take this as an example: if you include just a single call to action as part of your email marketing strategy, your clicks could increase by up to 400%, and your sales by over 1000%. A good call to action works as part of a more comprehensive customer experience strategy, building on useful and engaging copy and high-quality aesthetics to work towards a final goal. It should be compelling and drive your customers to take a specific action: to make a purchase or sign up for your newsletter. Without a compelling call to action, your customers are just lost sheep on a mountain without a shepherd. Your CTA can lead them to where you want them to go. So what makes for a strong call to action? A good call to action is so much more than just a button at the bottom of the page. When you’re writing your CTA, you need to… Make It Compelling This is an obvious one, but no less important. Your customers are like mice in a maze: they need direction, and you need to provide them with it. So when you write your CTA, it needs to have a clear and compelling directive. This means using a powerful, commanding verb to start your CTA with. This can vary depending on what it is you’re offering, and therefore what you need from the customer. For example, if you’re running an online store, you would want to start with “buy” or “shop.” Alternatively, if you’re marketing a newsletter or ebook, begin with “subscribe” or “download.” Charity: Water does this nicely with their donation page, below. They start with the imperative to give but follow it up with another command: “change.” It’s a pleasant surprise that gives their CTA a more emotional slant, compelling people to donate. Keep It In the First Person Your customers also like to feel like they’re the only customer in the world. They don’t want to share your attention with anyone else, so be sure that your CTAs are written in the first person. While this might not work with every call to action, it can be hugely effective for some. For example, saying things like “claim my discount code today” rather than “download your free discount code today” can make the difference between a conversion and a loss. Convey A Sense of Urgency Remember when you had to write an essay at school and as you got closer and closer to the deadline, all you could think of was that essay? While it might have been stressful back then, today you can leverage that in your CTAs to ramp up your conversions and boost sales. Consider including a deadline for a special offer or promotion in your CTA, for example: “Buy now! Sale ends tomorrow”. Just like you and me, customers have severe FOMO (that is, Fear Of Missing Out). The thought of losing out on a great deal or offer because of inaction is a powerful motivator. Check out online fashion retailer ASOS’s lead-in to their call to action in the example below. The command to “grab it before it’s gone” reinforces the sense of urgency, further compounded by the bold announcement that these are the “final reductions” below. Tell Your Customer Why They Should Click If you want your call to action to be truly click-worthy, you need to show your customer what’s in it for them. Will they get a great deal on shoes? Will they learn the secrets of the trade? The benefit might be a summation of your value proposition, the unique quality that your business has over your competitors. Clearly state the benefit they’ll receive when they click on your CTA to give them that little extra nudge. For example, the eCommerce marketplace Exchange lures their customers in with the promise of their “next big success,” a bold claim that is sure to hook any budding entrepreneur looking for businesses for sale: Combine that with a brightly-colored CTA button, and your eyes are drawn to it like a pink flower in a lilac field. It’s all about making the CTA irresistible to click. Engage Your Customers Consumers are bombarded with demands to buy, download, sign up and more from marketing all the time, from print, digital and television advertisements. This means they tend to tune out a lot of what they see and hear. So you need to slice through that and grab their attention. How? With a little quirky humor. Check out credit union Fairwinds’ website, below. They use the oldest (and in my unpopular opinion, the best) trick in the book to get their customers focused: a simple pun. It might not be the funniest thing you’ve read all day, but it’s enough to raise a smile on your face and hook you long enough to read it. Emphasize Freebies People love freebies. Whether it’s a cheese sample at your local grocery store or a ticket to a concert, consumers love getting something for nothing. If you’re able to offer something for free, such as a sample or product trial, make sure that’s clear in your call to action. It could be just enough to push a dithering shopper to purchase or sign up. Check out Spotify’s call to action. The offer of their free option is colored a punchy green and naturally draws the reader subtly to their Premium option too. It stands out, and the freebie is hard to miss. The layout as well is nice and simple, the cornerstone of any good CTA. Minimize Stress and Hassle As much as people love freebies, they enjoy a stress-free life too (and don’t we all?). So consumers are understandably wary of signing up to anything if they think that they’re going to have to endure countless tedious phone calls and annoying email exchanges if anything goes wrong. To counter this, you need to reassure them that by clicking your CTA, the process will be as easy or risk-free as possible for them. For example, Netflix knows that customers can be put off by the hassle of canceling a subscription to services. Recognizing that, they lead into their call to action with the promise that potential customers can cancel at any time, heading off their concern before they can even voice it. Keep It Simple This one is crucial. If your website or email is chock-a-block with copy, images, graphics and banners, your potential customers will get an instant headache. Instead of clicking on your call to action, they’ll probably be more likely to take a painkiller and lie down in a darkened room. Visual clutter is a big turn-off and will distract from your CTA. Want to see an example of a brand doing it right? Look no further than file hosting service Dropbox. Their aesthetic is built around subtle imagery and simple design, and their call to action is no difference. Contained in a bold blue box, it contrasts with the negative space around it. It jumps out from the page without any external distractions, and even the photo is simple and understated. Your call to action is your advertising Horn of Gondor, the guiding light down your marketing funnel. Work on creating a strong, crafted, and compelling command, and your campaigns will be rejuvenated, injected with a hit of energy and dynamism. Whether it’s part of your email marketing or placed enticingly on your website, be sure to heed the lessons imparted above. And it’s not just there either: a call to action on your blog post or social media content can open up new avenues for you to draw in the customers. So what are you waiting for? Get working on those calls to action today!


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How can you re-confirm a database?

How can you re-confirm a database?

Practical Marketer • May 23, 2018

Have you updated your privacy policy? Do you just want to keep the most engaged subscribers? Perhaps you want to re-confirm the consent of your database as a preventive measure for the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)? In this video, we show you how you can reconfirm a database with Benchmark. Re-confirm your database:   The text you need to use: Opt-in tag:  [opt-in: here you can write in text] Unsubscribe tag: [unsubscribe: here you can write in text] The text is 100% customizable. You just need to modify the italic text. Save the contacts that have re-confirmed in a separate list   Maybe you want to consider sending a campaign again to those who have not opened or to the whole list, excluding the new list of contacts, that have already confirmed. If you want to know more about the GDPR, we invite you to read and watch the webinar we held and in which we explain all the sensitive points that affect your email marketing strategy. Leave your comments or questions below and keep learning with Benchmark!


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How Benchmark adapts to the GDPR

How Benchmark adapts to the GDPR

Practical Marketer • May 18, 2018

We have spent months talking about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The 25th of May, which is the day when it goes into effect, is fast approaching. During this time, we have provide you with tons of information related to adapting your email marketing strategy. In this article, we want to make a recap of how has Benchmark adapted to the GDPR and about all the changes we have implemented and which you might need to know: “Right to be forgotten” This right is one of the biggest changes of this Regulation. For the very first time, this right is regulated and obliges the controller to completely remove the data if the data subject requests. To exercise the right to be forgotten, we have two different scenarios: Benchmark | Customer If a Benchmark customer wants to be “forgotten,” he or she needs to request the deletion of the data by writing to support@benchmarkemail.com and we will proceed with the removal of their data. Benchmark | Customer | Subscriber Any of our client’s subscribers can request to be deleted from lists and/or records. It’s the customer’s responsibility to delete a subscriber from our (and other) systems, with one exception: if the subscriber has already unsubscribed, the client will not be able to remove the data from the “Unsubscribe” list. If this happens, the customer should forward the user’s email to support@benchmarkemail.com and we will proceed with the elimination of the subscriber from the list. In this FAQ, we explain all the steps to follow. Accessibility / rectification / unsubscribe An email marketer must include the “Manage Subscription” option on all email campaigns:   Adding this option, the client gives the data subject the option to access, rectify and unsubscribe from his/her data. When the subscriber clicks on that link, he/she will find this screen:   The subscriber can exercise his/her rights here. At Benchmark, we are currently preparing to allow the data subject to be able to rectify the rest of the fields and not just the email, name and surname. Consent We have also updated our classic and pop-up signup forms to be compliant with the GDPR. You have to include the required check box linked to your privacy policy. Find out how to do this by reading: How can you create GDPR-compliant sign up forms?   International transfer of personal data Article 45 mentions that a transfer of personal data to a third country or an international organization may take place where the Commission has decided that the third country, a territory or one or more specified sectors within that third country, or the international organisation in question ensures an adequate level of protection. Such a transfer shall not require any specific authorization. This international transfer of personal data is guaranteed under the EU-US Privacy Shield Agreement whose certification is held by Benchmark: Privacy policy We have updated our Privacy Policy, explaining the role Benchmark has according to the GDPR and which roles our clients fulfil themselves. Also, we have determined the period of time which we are going to keep your data for and we give you more details about what we do with your data. Additionally, we have created a new Cookie Policy which you will need to read and accept if you want to peruse our website. Server location It was actually NEVER an obligation to have servers in Europe, but with the new GDPR it is even less necessary. One of the goals of the GDPR is to equate the data protection that the European companies are fulfilling with the one applied by companies from abroad, in a way that all companies are obliged to compete in equal conditions. Contract between the controller and the processor Article 28 explains the possibility to sign a contract between the controller and the processor and provides all the details about it. We have created this contract and will make it available for you through the tool. If you want to check the regulation, you can do it here. If this article has been interesting for you, please, share it with your colleagues and friends.


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