5 Hot Tips for a Clean Email List

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5 Hot Tips for a Clean Email List

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Fear of Marketing Automation (#FOMA): Lack of Marketing Automation Strategy

Fear of Marketing Automation (#FOMA): Lack of Marketing Automation Strategy

Practical Marketer • January 8, 2018

Marketing automation can seem scary. “Giving up control to the machines? No way.” “I don’t know. It’s so complicated… I’m probably better off doing this on my own.” Fun fact: Industry stats tell us a very different story. In fact, this study shows that marketing automation increases sales productivity by 14.5% and drives a 12.2% decrease in marketing overhead. Doesn’t seem that scary now, does it? It isn’t. Most marketers still hesitate to take the automation leap, especially because they feel they don’t have a good enough “strategy” to do that yet. Here’s the good news: You don’t have to wait. You don’t need a complex, out-of-the-world strategy. Your marketing automation strategy is right there in front of you. It lies within all the things you are already doing manually. You just need to find it. We are here to help you do just that. Follow these three simple, super-easy steps to find and deploy your perfect Marketing Automation strategy 1. Start Simple First of all, stop worrying about doing everything all at once. You don’t have to automate all your marketing or sales processes in one day. When you start simple, you have a clear idea of where you stand, and where you want to go from there. This gives you more control over your decisions, and you’ll end up with a better, more effective automation strategy. Automate the Basics Start with the most basic stuff already part of your sales process. Think about it: what kind of emails do you typically send out? Don’t you think you can save a lot of time by automating those emails? You could invest that time into more important things. Like actually creating an amazing email. Here are some basic marketing processes you can easily automate when you start off initially: Welcome Series If you have a sign-up or subscription form anywhere on your website, blog or store, you should at least welcome your new subscribers. If you already do that manually, think about how much automation can help you out. Automating your welcome emails will do more than just save a lot of your precious time and energy. You will also know exactly when and what your visitors will receive as soon as they hit that subscribe button. Being aware of what your visitors can expect helps you optimize your future marketing efforts. If you manually send your welcome emails, you’ll never fully understand the effects of what you send out. What if you sent that one email two minutes earlier? What if you forgot to welcome those other two subscribers? The list goes on and on. Automating your welcome emails ensures your visitors get an immediate response from you, which can do wonders for their experience, help you save time, and increase your sales at the same time! Promotional Emails New products in your e-commerce store? An upcoming event you need to promote? A SALE?? Of course, you need to send an email about it! What if some of your subscribers never opened your email? Maybe they just scrolled past and missed it. Or maybe they just weren’t interested at that time. Whatever the reason, you need to follow up with them. That’s where you automate. Automating your follow-up emails can help you send personalized emails to the right people, at just the right time, which is an integral part of your automation strategy. You no longer have to worry about tracking down who to send them to, because automating the process will simply send pre-designed follow-up emails after a set time to the right subscribers, based on whether they opened your promotional email or not. Sending automated follow-up emails will save you tons of time, and will also minimize, if not eliminate, the chances of missing out on following up with some subscribers. It’s also very effective when it comes to increasing sales, and getting people to notice your promotions. Cart Abandonment & Repurchase Programs According to the Baymard Institute, the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.23%. That’s a LOT. And if you run an e-commerce business, you already know the importance of trying to win these “abandoners” back. Look at it this way: These people showed interest in your products. All they need is a little nudge in the right direction! Cart abandonment and repurchase programs can easily become an effective part of your marketing automation strategy. Instead of manually trying to reach every single person who showed interest in your product, automate the whole process! This ensures your “potential” customers receive timely, personalized emails, which can dramatically increase your conversion rates. For added impact, you can also throw in automated discounts and promotions on the items they showed interest in or abandoned. 2. Visualize Your Sales Process Now that you’ve automated some of the basic stuff you usually do manually, it’s time to take things a little further. To develop an ideal, comprehensive marketing automation strategy for your business, you need to look more carefully at your sales process. Visualize it. It’s a great practice to jot down all the steps involved in your marketing and sales process, from welcoming subscribers, offering promotions and discounts, to thanking them and asking them for feedback. Once you do that, it will be much easier to focus on each part, instead of being overwhelmed by the whole. Look for Opportunities to Automate The good thing about visualizing your entire sales process is now you can identify ‘openings,’ or opportunities to automate. Don’t just restrict yourself to the obvious. Look for the pieces in between. Thanking a customer after they buy your product? Automate it. Schedule an awesome ‘Thank You’ email that goes every time someone makes a purchase. That part where you ask for their feedback? You can automate that too. Other than the usual stuff, you can also use your creativity to start to fill in the gaps. If you collect information like your subscriber’s birth date, you can send out automated birthday emails to brighten their day! Enrich your automation strategy by exploiting new, untapped opportunities in your marketing and sales process. Work Backwards Great, so you have started to hunt for opportunities to automate. Now, how about you look at your sales process from a different perspective? Working backward, or reverse engineering your sales process, is a crucial step in developing an effective automation strategy. When you work backward, you start with the end in mind. Look at what sells, and which of your campaigns do well. Break it down and see what worked. What parts can you automate to get the same or even better results? 3. Learn from Others Use of Marketing Automation Never underestimate the importance of learning from other businesses, and all their different kinds of automation campaigns and strategies. Take inspiration from the best, and you’ll find that marketing automation is not complicated at all. Finding out what works, and following the trend, with some modification, of course, can go a long way in helping you develop that perfect automation strategy. Check out these examples of great automated emails for a healthy dose of inspiration: Example 1: Evernote Evernote is a digital productivity tool for collecting and organizing notes. Here is an example of their Welcome Email, which is sent as soon as a visitor makes it through their opt-in page, and downloads their software. Notice how they end their welcome email with a call-to-action for downloading their app across all other devices. Evernote’s Welcome Email is followed by a series of more short emails, which guide you step-by-step through the journey of using and understanding their app. Each email makes sure to end with a call-to-action. Check out the complete email sequence here. Example 2: Twitter Of course, you know about Twitter.  It’s one of the most popular social media platforms out there. Twitter welcomes its new users with a different, more actionable approach than others. Take a look at this example of the first email visitors receive as soon as they sign up and verify their email address on Twitter. What’s important to note here is this email is part of Twitter’s onboarding sequence. Which means that each email in the series is designed to get new users to engage with the platform, and start using it regularly. This first email helps new users ‘get started’ immediately and connects with them by showing them they are part of the Twitter community now. Notice the two calls-to-action placed inside the email. You can check out Twitter’s complete onboarding email sequence here. Example 3: Vimeo Vimeo is a popular video marketing and hosting platform. Here is an interesting example of Vimeo’s onboarding email sequence. Vimeo sends out this specific automated email to remind users about their weekly storage limit. Notice how the email also incorporates some calls-to-action to get people to upgrade to their PRO Unlimited or Business plans. As I said before, this email is part of Vimeo’s onboarding email sequence. The other emails in this sequence also talk about the PRO and Business plans in detail, with the aim of getting their users to upgrade and actively engage with the platform. Check out Vimeo’s complete onboarding email sequence here. Conclusion Developing your perfect marketing automation strategy is not as complicated as you think it is. You just need to reflect on the sales process you already have in place and find out where you can automate to speed things up and get better results. Did this article help you find a great automation strategy for your business? Let us know your feedback and comments!


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Overcoming Our Fears: Getting Started with Email Marketing

Overcoming Our Fears: Getting Started with Email Marketing

Practical Marketer • January 5, 2018

For a lot of us, doing something new is scary. It could be that we fear the unknown, a fear of failing or that we fear we won’t know how to do something. Regardless of the source, many of us won’t ever try a new thing as we succumb to our fears. When it comes to email marketing, several fears or impediments may come into play. So, let’s address them. But first, let’s take a look at why you should even be doing email marketing in the first place. If you made it this far, you’re at least curious. The Case For Email Marketing It’s projected that there will be 2.9 billion email users worldwide by 2019. That’s quite the large audience. Additionally, 105 billion emails are sent daily, with that number expected to increase to 246 billion by 2020. If the numbers aren’t convincing enough, here are several more reasons you need to be doing email marketing: It’s Affordable. Hands down, email marketing is one of the most, if not the most, cost-effective marketing solutions available to businesses today. It\'s Fast. You can create and send your first email in under thirty minutes. You can reach thousands (or more!) of customers and leads in less time than it takes to watch an episode of Game of Thrones. Sending the right message will even inspire your subscribers to quickly engage with your campaign and act upon your call to action. It’s Focused. Few people enjoy feeling like they’re being marketing to. Email marketing allows you to segment your lists into targeted opportunities which allows you to address the needs and wants of your subscribers and provide them with value. That makes for a happy, engaged audience. It’s Simple. Anyone can succeed with email marketing, no matter their experience. Thanks to email templates and drag and drop email builders, as well as other easy-to-implement tools such as A/B Testing and List Segmentation, the learning curve for email marketing is lower than ever before. Plus, real-time reporting shows you your successes and areas for improvement. When your strategy is properly executed, your campaigns will contribute to managing themselves while freeing you up to plan the next move. It Works. A well-planned email campaign will work to drive traffic to your website, increase sales and create ongoing engagement that leads to loyal customers. In fact, for every $1 spent on email marketing, the Return on Investment is $42 earned. Other marketing opportunities simply don’t see those results, all while creating and building brand reputation. So, now you know why you should be doing email marketing. Now, what’s stopping you? Fear of Not Knowing Where to Get Started In the almost decade that I have been working in the email marketing industry, there is one statement that I hear all too frequently from business owners: “We’re not ready for email marketing yet.” However, the real reason they’re not doing email marketing yet is that they don’t know what to do or afraid they’ll do the wrong thing. The truth is, any business, even before they have officially opened their doors (either at a brick and mortar physical location or on the web), should have an email marketing account. Why? It All Starts with a List An email list is the single most important marketing asset to any business. It’s more important than social media followers and a presence on those sites. After all, those sites could go away one day, and all your hard work would be erased along with your followers on that site. Your list of contacts endures. Plus, you can start growing your list even before you company officially launches. It’s a good idea to place a signup form on your website and Facebook page. Tell people to signup to get updates from the company to begin growing excitement. That reason for that is twofold. On the one hand, it helps you build hype leading up to your launch date. It also helps you hit the ground running once you’re open for business. Upload Your List Many companies have a list of contacts, even if they are new to email marketing. For some, it’s the list of customers with whom you’ve already established a relationship. For others, it’s the leads you’re already nurturing with one-off basic emails or phone calls. It could even be just the friends and family members who you can test your early strategies on. Take what you have to work with and upload it to your email marketing account. Based on the amount of data you have on your list, you may even be able to begin some segmentation. At the very least, it’ll give you your start to email marketing. You have to start somewhere, and even sending to a small audience will help you learn what works. Create a Signup Form After uploading any existing contacts you may have already had, a signup form is going to be your new best friend. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, when asked to opt-in to receive updates for a company, 90% chose to receive an email newsletter. Only 10% elected to get updates via Facebook. This is how your list will grow. From there, you expand your reach, follow-up with leads and build your brand--all while doing nothing more than placing a lead capturing form in the places that people interested in your business may visit. So what goes into a great signup form? Keep It Simple, Stupid. You don’t want anything on your list that will give someone pause before signing up. That means keep it short by not asking for too much information. Do you need more than the email address? Can you get that information or qualify your leads in another way? In most cases, the answer is yes. Set clear expectations for the subscriber. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, it helps convince people to sign up. If they know they’re going to get deals from you or helpful information once a month, they won’t be worried about getting their inboxes bombarded. It also helps you attract the kind of subscribers you want and ones who won’t quickly unsubscribe. Create a strong CTA. It should make your site visitors or social followers feel like they simply have to sign up to hear from you and that they have to act now. Make sure the button is large enough to be easily noticed Again, the button must stand out. Traditionally, red buttons work best, and green is the second most effective. Your CTA copy should not be longer than 40 characters. Use first-person language such as “me” or “my” to help potential subscribers relate better. Now that you know what makes up a great signup form, it’s also important to understand where you should put them. Your homepage is the obvious place to start. Some will place it right smack dab above the fold, as the hero image at the top of their page. These are people whose business relies on capturing email addresses. You can’t miss this signup form on the homepage for by Regina. It helps that they’re offering something for signing up. Any incentive is always helpful. Others may relegate their signup form to a sidebar or footer on the page. Make sure it’s on the top of your sidebar. The further down the page it gets, the fewer subscribers you’ll receive. Yes, the footer is all the way at the bottom of your page. However, if someone gets that far, they’re interested in what you’re doing. That makes for better quality subscribers in most cases. A company like Casper knows you’re not on their website to sign up for their emails. That’s why it makes sense for them to reserve their signup form for their footer. The “Free bedtime reading” copy is very on brand for them. If you want to demand attention, use a pop-up signup form. A website visitor will not be able to miss your signup form when it pops directly into their sightlines. You can’t ignore these savings from TOMS when their signup form pops up in front of your face. Saying “Join Us” is another nice touch. It sounds like you have less on the line to sign up. It sounds more like your helping them in their cause of donating shoes to those in need. Aside from your homepage, here are a few other places you should put a signup form: Your blog. It can even be a separate list from your main list. These people may just want to subscribe to receive email updates when you post new content on the blog. Facebook page. Your social media followers aren’t always your email subscribers or website visitors. Change that. About Us page. For many businesses, the About Us page is among the most visited on their website. Take advantage of the eyeballs on the page! That little bar across the top of your site. You’ve probably seen it on some sites you frequent. There are tools that make it easy. Try Hello Bar or ViperBar. SPF Records and DKIM The phrase SPF Records sounds like it means I have to show proof to my overbearing mother that I wore sunscreen at the beach yesterday. DKIM sounds intimidating as well. They don’t need to be! While these two steps in getting started with email marketing are on the technical side, there are easy to follow instructions on how to do them. But first, let’s understand them. SPF Records SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework. If you’re like me, that doesn’t mean anything. In fact, it makes it more confusing. Simply put, SPF Records allow ISPs and inbox clients to trust the authenticity of your emails. Still lost? Say someone knocks on your door. You look through the peephole to see who it is. SPF Records are the peephole of your email campaigns. One of the most common tricks that spammers run is a phishing scam. They design an email to look like it’s from your bank and use it to gain access to your passwords or other sensitive data. Establishing your SPF Records means the ISP can identify the email campaigns you’re sending. It ensures the best chance of delivery of your email campaigns. To establish your SPF records, you’ll do so with your DNS Manager. If you’re unsure of what a DNS Manager is, you’re not alone. If you’ve purchased a domain name and hosting, you have access to a DNS manager. If you don’t, whoever runs your website does. Ask them for help. The SPF record for yourwebdomain.com should go in your DNS manager something like this: yourwebdomain.com IN TXT “v=spf1 a mx ip4:1.2.3.4 include:thirdpartyespdomain.com -all” In this example, 1.2.3.4 = the IP Address of your mail server or 3rd party ESP, like Benchmark Email. Also, thirdpartyespdomain.com = the domain of the 3rd party ESP, such as Benchmark Email, or their relay mail server’s domain name. Your ESP will give you this information. Here’s a very helpful FAQ that will help you establish SPF Records with various domain hosts. Additionally, you can get help with your SPF Records on these sites: http://www.openspf.org/SPF_Record_Syntax http://www.openspf.org/FAQ Once you’ve finished establishing your SPF Records, it’s time to test it. You can do so with either of these sites: http://www.mxtoolbox.com/spf.aspx http://www.kitterman.com/spf/validate.html If you’re still lost or confused, you can reach out to the support with your domain host or your ESP. Both will have plenty of resources to help you out. We cannot emphasize enough how important this step is to getting started with email marketing on the right foot. If you need help, just ask! DKIM DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is another intimidating sounding phrase, but one which is another easy step in setting yourself up for good email delivery from the start. What DKIM does, is grants an organization the responsibility for an email being delivered, which may pertain to your own business or the ESP you’re using … or both! Any ESP will automatically authenticate your emails with DKIM. That’s good news! However, you can take it up a notch and enable a DKIM CName, which gives you double authentication. That means your emails are authenticated as coming from your business, sent through your ESP. This lets the ISPs identify you as the sender and builds your sender reputation with the help of your ESP as your co-signer. This is what you’ll need: CNAME RECORD FOR DKIM: bmdeda._domainkey.yourdomain.net VALUE: bmdeda._domainkey.bmsend.com Here is a very helpful FAQ to assist you with DKIM and various domain hosting companies. For even more on what you can do to improve your email deliverability, check out our guide The Deliverability Formula: 5 Steps to Reach the Inbox.


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New Year’s Resolution: Conquering Our Fears

New Year’s Resolution: Conquering Our Fears

Beyond • January 3, 2018

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt Most of us will choose fight or flight in the face of fear at some point in our lives. Some of us face fears on a daily basis. As we ring in the new year, we want to make a resolution for ourselves and all of you. We’ll do it together! All of January, we are going to carry the theme of \"Conquering Our Fears\" as our New Year\'s Resolution. We\'re creating posts to help you, our readers, to overcome the various fears you may face when doing email marketing and marketing automation. All of us here at Benchmark are committing to conquering our fears as well. That way we\'re in it together. Plus, you can win something along the way! The Contest Editor\'s note: This contest has ended. Thanks to everyone who participated and congratulations to the winner. We will be running a contest for the entire month of January. For every retweet milestone (20, 50, 100, etc.) this post gets, many of us at Benchmark will commit to facing our fears. What does that mean? For example, I\'m committing to conquering my fear of heights by going down the glass Skyslide nearly 1,000 ft over downtown LA. All it will take is 20 Retweets. I\'m setting the barrier low for myself. It\'s my idea, and I\'ll be the first to do it. Plus, every person that retweets this post will be entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card. Our New Year\'s Resolution is to Conquer Our Fears and help you do the same. It starts with this infographic on fear. RT this tweet to be entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card. For every RT milestone we hit, a Benchmark employee will face his or her fear: https://t.co/9Fly1OAL9C — Benchmark (@BenchmarkEmail) January 3, 2018 Here Are the Other Fears We’re Committed to Overcoming I asked everyone across the globe here at Benchmark what fear they’d be willing to overcome and how many retweets it would take for them to face it. It\'s our Fear Factor, except it doesn\'t end with Joe Rogan giving us money. You\'ll see by the retweet threshold they set how brave everyone is. Retweet away. We’ll put together a video at the end as proof of us holding up our end of the bargain. 20 RTs: Andy Shore, Content & Social Networking Manager, will face his fear of heights by sliding down the glass Skyslide 1,000 feet over downtown Los Angeles. 50 RTs: Alvaro Rosado, Marketing Design, will eat chapulines, which are grasshoppers found in Mexico. 75 RTs: Ronald Liang, Front End Developer, will go on a rollercoaster. 100 RTs: Robert Schweickert, Business Development Executive, will jump out of an airplane. 250 RTs: Matt Alonso, Country Manager for Brazil & Portugal, will hold a frog. 500 RTs: Daniel Miller, Marketing Director, will face his fear of needles by getting acupuncture. 1,000 RTs: Freddy Uribio, Latin America Regional Manager, will also eat bugs. 10,000 RTs: Irene Martinez, Training Manager, will go swimming in the ocean. 850,000 RTs: Debbie Running, Accounting/Human Resources, will eat escargot. 1,000,000 RTs: Jose Hernandez, VP of Sales & Marketing, will touch a snake. Look (Stats About) Fear in the Face I came across a ton of interesting information while I was writing this introductory post for January’s theme and contest. Since this post will hopefully be shared quite a bit (in the name of overcoming fears, I figured including an infographic of all the fun stats I found would be helpful. Keep that last stat in mind as you learn from our New Year\'s Resolution this month. If you can overcome your fears about email marketing and marketing automation, you\'re already ahead of everyone else who couldn\'t. Get started today! More on Conquering Our Fears Overcoming Our Fears: Getting Started with Email Marketing Fear Of Marketing Automation (#FOMA): Lack of Marketing Automation Strategy Fear Of Marketing Automation (#FOMA): Lack of Human Resources Fear Of Marketing Automation (#FOMA): Lack of Expertise or Know-How Fear Of Marketing Automation (#FOMA): Insufficient Customer Data Overcoming Our Fears of the Gmail Promotions Tab


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How to Make Millennials Fall in Love with Your Emails

How to Make Millennials Fall in Love with Your Emails

Beyond • December 20, 2017

“Millennial” – It’s the buzzword for marketers. As per Google Trends, the word ‘Millennial’ has picked up traction since January 2016. There is a high chance that even you click-baited when you read the headline and wanted to know more. But Why Millennials? Marketing, in general, is dependent on how well you have defined your customer persona, which is built after a close analysis of the demographics your customers belong to. Millennials pose a challenge in this case as they are a combination of different types of demographics. Right from working individuals to businessmen and startup partners to those freshly out of college ready to experience the world first hand, all are Millennials. In fact, 25% of the U.S population is Millennials. As per a research, millennials make up 21% of consumer purchases, which is estimated over a trillion dollars of buying power. So it’s very important for brands to expand their reach to cover millennials and which marketing channel has the highest reach other than emails?! But commit the mistake of considering them just a part of your emailing list, and you shall lose the count of unsubscribes you may get. With that in mind, here are some useful tips on how to make millennials fall in love with your emails. Being Responsive As per a study, 63% millennials shop on their smartphones every day. So it is very important for your emails to be responsive. Nothing spells disaster like a broken email layout where your subscriber needs to scroll across their screens to read the entire email. ( Image is for representation purposes only ) Less Read and More Visual In the world of 140 chars and Snapchat videos, people now want information short and crisp. People rather skip the text and focus on the image. So make sure your emails are not paragraphs of text. Provide information in short bursts. Get creative with text formatting to draw attention to certain keywords. Use images and animated GIFs to convey the message of your email. Moreover, be creative in crafting your subject lines and preview text, so that your subscribers get your message even before opening your email. Use of emojis in the subject line is also a popular trend. Dazzle Them with the Unexpected Anything out of the blue is always eye-catching. Ditch the standard design that your subscribers are accustomed to and surprise them with some interactivity or an embedded video. Penguin Random House designed a scrollable email where the bus is a static element and the background changes. Email on Acid created a bicycle lock in their email. Taco Bell’s email is molded as a conversation between two buddies. Even if you don’t include any interactive elements, you can still experiment with the email layout to create interesting emails. J crew’s summer announcement email was a tall scoop of ice cream where the CTA button was visible in the footer when you scroll till the end. Humor Builds Bridges Though it contradicts to our earlier statement, a good and humorous email copy can be a really good end user experience. Humor is an emotion that registers quickly and helps you create a foundation for lasting relation. In fact, 80% of millennials want the brands to entertain them. Brands such as Really Good Emails and phrasee have emails with witty subject lines and a competing email copy. (The subject line of this email is “Do you even uplift, bro?) Loyalty Can’t Be Bought Millennials don’t want to be associated with a brand for the name only. Millennials value brands that in a way improve their lives. According to Hubspot, 84% of consumers research online, and 70% read online reviews before buying online. Learn what your subscriber wants and make sure your emails provide the same. Stay away from using false and luring subject lines or misguiding offers & promotions. Offer loyalty rewards to your customers who have been associated with your brands. Personalize Beyond the First Name Imagine your email campaign to be a party and your subscribers as the party attendees. Each email is like a conversation you have with them. No one would want to talk to someone who doesn’t even know their name. But in this era of hyper-personalization, just referring your customers by the first name doesn’t cut it anymore. People want customized and tailored information in exchange for their personal details. So segment your list. Suggest recommendations based on their purchase history. Learn their preferences and treat your subscribers like people instead of faceless names on an emailing list. Ask for Feedback Millennials like to be vocal. As per a research, 70% millennials feel a responsibility to share feedback with companies after a good or bad experience. So integrate a feedback form in your email or redirect them to a landing page where the subscribers can give feedback. This is a win-win, as based on the feedbacks received, brands can make necessary changes to their marketing strategies. Wrapping Up Millennials are stereotyped to be picky and never tend to stick to anything for a long stretch of time, but on the contrary, once you succeed in building (and retaining) their loyalty, the buying power of millennials is an easy resource to tap into. And the stepping stone to a good relationship is to provide a good customer experience and based on the above suggestions, your emails can be fruitful to cater that.


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Here’s Your Sneak Peek at a New Benchmark Interface

Here’s Your Sneak Peek at a New Benchmark Interface

Beyond • December 18, 2017

Powerfully simple. Simply powerful. What does that mean? It means having the tools you need to accomplish your goals. It also means those tools are intuitive and have a low learning curve so that anyone can use them with ease. We’re about to take a major step forward to address the latter. Powerfully Simple and Simply Powerful Solutions Identifying the areas for improvement was only the first part. Creating solutions that were lean-focused and user-friendly is where the real work came in. We’re confident you’ll be pleased with what we’ve done. Clear and Concise Navigation The first thing you’ll notice in Benchmark Email’s new user interface is a clear and concise navigation. All of your favorite features are now easier to find. At any point, while using our tools, you will have a better understanding of where you’re at and from where you have come. In addition to a better navigation experience, we’ve also made sure the labels on your user account options are more clear as well. Continued Speed Enhancements We don’t need to get into how. What you need to know is that you’re in for a faster experience while creating email campaigns and automations with Benchmark. That means less load time when moving from one feature to another, reports load faster, and you’re free to move on to other important tasks that much quicker. Other Important Changes to Note In addition to these main updates, we’ve made a few other enhancements to the new interface. Improved Email Reports Our team has improved the way your information is displayed in your reports. You will be able to glance at your data and immediately interpret it without wasting any time having to determine the success of your efforts. A More Seamless Experience Across Devices and Screen Sizes The new user interface is responsive. That means you can check your email reports easily from your phone or tablet. It also means you can add contacts from any device on the fly. More business is conducted on-the-go than ever before. Now that means growing your email list, tracking the success of your emails and more. Here’s What to Expect There is a lot to be excited about. A better Benchmark experience is right around the corner. A faster tool with improved navigation and incredible reports that can be easily analyzed from your phone or anywhere else are almost here. None of your active automations, scheduled email campaigns, drafts or any data will be affected by this change. Everything will still be working as you intended it. Change is something many of us fear. We understand that. We want this update to be a seamless experience and have done everything we can to ensure that. If you’re already using Benchmark Email, you’ll see the new interface when you log in once it goes live. Don’t fret; we’re not just dropping you in the deep end. You’ll be greeted with a tour to show you the ropes of the new interface. If change doesn’t come easily to you, the slides will also show you how to go back to the old interface. Once you’ve gone back to the old interface, we’ll also provide instructions on how you can rejoin the rest of us using the new interface for when you’re ready.


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Customer List Management vs Customer Relationship Management

Customer List Management vs Customer Relationship Management

Beyond • December 11, 2017

Do you know the difference between Customer List Management and Customer Relationship Management? Did you even know there was a difference? For a long time, it’s been our job to show you the practical strategies to grow your email list, the best ways to maintain them and the benefits of doing both. Great marketing is customer-centric. The ability to do that comes from having the right tools for the job. Customer List Management plays a role but doesn’t include what happens outside of the inbox. That’s where CRM becomes so important. Benchmark CRM’s Project Manager, Paul Rijnders, spelled out the difference between Customer List Management and Customer Relationship Management on the Benchmark CRM blog. We’ll be introducing some of the posts from the CRM blog in this space that we think may help our email marketing audience as well. Check them out!


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Marketing Automation: Welcome Series

Marketing Automation: Welcome Series

Practical Marketer • December 10, 2017

Marketing Automation is not a buzzword. It’s an industry standard at this point. If you have signup forms on your website, blog, social channels or anywhere else, you should have an automation to at least welcome those new subscribers. Time is of the essence here, and when someone is showing interest in your company, it’s extremely important to engage with them ASAP. Some of you may say, “I know, I know. I need to set up Automation… but I just don’t have time! It’s too complicated” or whatever excuse you want to use. The Case for Marketing Automation The bottom line here is that creating an automation will save you time and when it comes to the idea of it being too complicated well, that’s why I am writing this blog. To demonstrate how any business can create simple automations to at least welcome new subscribers, leads, contacts, etc. The days of sending an email once a week/month to your newly added subscribers for that time are over. People want your information as soon as they sign up. If they don’t get it from you promptly … they will find someone else. Marketing Automation has proven to drive excellent ROI and experience to businesses and subscribers. A recent study by Nucleus Research shows that businesses who use marketing automation have seen an increase in sales by 14.5% and a reduction in marketing overhead of about 12.2%. Start with \"Welcome\" On top of saving you time and money while increasing sales you are also providing an excellent experience to your subscribers. Having a welcome series automation allows you to set a standard for the user experience. This means that every time a new visitor goes to your website and subscribes, you know exactly what they receive and when. This sets a clear standard and will help you identify issues when optimizing your marketing efforts. If you see your open rates are low, you can work on adjusting the send time or Subject line and From name of your automation. If you see low engagement rate, you can work on adjusting the content of the email and CTAs. Sending welcome emails manually opens up a huge issue when trying to identify where to optimize since each email is sent at a different time from the moment your subscriber signs up and may even include different text. I don’t want to hear, “I have a reminder that notifies me every day at 9:00 AM to send my welcome emails…” What if you are sick? On holiday? Or snooze the reminder to “do it later?” Save yourself time and stress, and get rid of unnecessary reminders and create a welcome email series. You have no excuse to avoid this. Marketing Automation Made Easy We have heard it all! We made sure to make your experience creating a welcome series extremely easy. With Marketing Automation Pro tool, we created a few templates to get you started right away. I clocked myself using the Welcome Series template, and I was able to create a full welcome series automation (with tips and tricks) in under 15 min. Your first time around may take a little longer than that, but trust me, you will be so proud and happy once it’s done! Get Started with Marketing Automation If you are reading this blog, you are already a step closer to getting on board with Automation. The next step is to login to your Benchmark Email account (click here if you don’t have an account) and get to work! We even created a downloadable PDF that explains our Welcome Series Template and how to use it: Welcome Your New Subscribers Final tips and thoughts on the Welcome Series Automation: Keep it simple. If you are just getting started with marketing automation, one email is enough to welcome your subscribers. You can edit your automation later on as you gain experience. Warm Welcome. Remember the purpose of the email. It’s to welcome your new subscribers. Unless you state it at the point of signup, avoid selling in a welcome email. Think of building a long-lasting relationship. The welcome email is intended to give a warm welcome and to connect with your subscribers. Calls to Action. As most, if not all emails, avoid too many calls to action but most definitely include at least one! To help build a long-lasting relationship it is important to do this from day one. Include a link to your website, social channels or a really interesting blog. This will help your subscriber get used to clicking on your emails so when you start sending promotional emails in the future, your subscriber is already familiar with engaging with your messages. It also tells your subscribers email provider (Gmail, Outlook, etc.) that they like to engage with your emails, resulting in a higher priority to ensure your emails always land in the inbox. Reporting. Once you create the welcome series, set yourself a timeframe to review the results. If it is your first automation, a 30-day window is great. That doesn’t mean you have to change anything. It’s just a time to review the automation and think of improvements. You may find that it’s working great and no changes need to be made! If that is the case, check back around in another 60 - 90 days. Don’t forget about Holidays and other events within your company. You may want to make a special welcome series depending on the time of the year. Welcome Series Per Channel or Signup Method. Start with your most influential channel or signup method. If most of your subscribers come from your blog or website, start there for your first welcome series. As you nail down the most important one, you can go on to the next one. This may be your social channels or other avenues you may have. Can you have just one welcome series for all of your channels? Sure! But I recommend giving somewhat of a custom experience based on where the subscriber came from. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, just play with the wording or message to match the place they came from. BONUS: List Management. This is optional, but I highly recommend keeping your “New Subscribers” separate from your “Existing Subscribers.” This may not apply to your single email welcome automation, but it makes much more sense when you have a longer welcome series with multiple emails. Doing this allows you to separate new subscribers from the rest. Why is this important? Two main reasons: Filter freebie signups. If you are giving something away in exchange of the signup, (e.g. A free report, pdf, infographic, etc.) you will get a lot of signups looking for that free asset. But when it comes to potential buyers… you will want to filter the freebie chasers out. Having a longer welcome series can help you identify quality subscribers who may show interest in your product or service by tracking the engagement with your emails. Towards the end of the welcome automation series, you can add conditions to check who your most engaged subscribers were and automatically add these to your “Main Subscriber” list for more aggressive sales follow-ups later on. It’s a good way to weed out “junk” signups and focus on real interested signups. Promotions. Imagine it is your slow seasons and you want to send a special promotion to try to boost sales for that month. Keeping your lists separated allows you to target new subscribers with specials to earn their business and avoid sending to subscribers that may have already purchased at the full price. You can learn more about using goal-based lists for marketing automation in a post we recently published. As mentioned, marketing automation can seem intimidating, and many times you give up because you just don’t know where to start. Take it with bite-size pieces and start to automate what already works for your business. This is why we highly recommend to start your automation experience with a welcome series. Its simple, has value and its an excellent way to get your feet wet and see the power of automation. Join Us For Automation Fridays If you have a welcome series to share with us, or a success story after implementing automation for your business, please post it below in the comments or join us for Automation Friday! We meet every week to discuss automation tips, strategies and examples.


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10 Essential Event Email Design Tips to Drive Registration

10 Essential Event Email Design Tips to Drive Registration

Practical Marketer • November 30, 2017

Among the billions of emails that are sent daily, there is a common goal among all of them: to drive action. Whether that action is to subscribe, to donate, or to simply open the message, an email’s objective is to always persuade the reader to engage in some way. For event marketers, their email strategy oftentimes revolves around a single action: registering for the event. According to the Event Marketing 2018: Benchmarks and Trends report, most marketers (40%) believe email to be the best channel for promoting events—more than digital ads, social media or content marketing. This comes as no surprise as email continues to be the go-to form of communication for many businesses. The challenge then becomes crafting the ideal email strategy that aligns with the goals of an event marketer. To assist with email crafting process, here are 10 event email design tips that help to drive event registration. Event email marketing is a nuanced kind of email strategy and these tips make sure to address the specific needs of event marketers. 1. The Rule of Three Perhaps the most important rule when it comes to event email design, or any kind of email design for that matter, is simplicity. The most visually appealing emails are the ones that are not too cluttered and easily readable. The key is to make the message memorable for the reader and nothing achieves that more quickly than simplicity. A good rule of thumb keep in mind is to not to exceed three subsections within an email. This will ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for the reader. As you can see in the example below, Wistia, a video marketing platform, follows the rule of three beautifully. Notice that there is very minimal text because most of the key information is already included in the graphics. This example illustrates that an email with simple, minimal design makes for an enjoyable read while also leaving the recipient wanting more. 2. Apply a Consistent Color Scheme A very specific event email design principle to adhere to is keeping a consistent color scheme throughout the email. Doing so creates a visually unified aesthetic while also showcasing your  event branding. The above example shows how the Forecast 2017 conference maintains a repetitive color scheme throughout, using accents where appropriate. 3. Harness the Power of Video Video marketing continues to be core strategy for marketers so it only make sense to utilize it within email campaigns as well. This study from Syndacast shows that simply including the word “video” in the subject line increased clicked-through rates by 65%. The above example shows how Unbounce used a video a main speaker to persuade people to register. Having an eye-catching thumbnail image also helps to invite more clicks. 4. Strategically Place CTA buttons As mentioned before, the goal of an email is to drive action. Often times the main action that is presented to the reader is a call-to-action button. Within the context of event marketing, this button usually leads to a registration page. Since driving the reader to click on the button is the key action, the placement and design of the button is crucial. One way to make the CTA button stand out is to use a color that is different from the rest of the email but still agrees with the overall aesthetic, as shown in the example above. In terms of placement, make sure it is in line with the overall flow of the email. This is why many CTA buttons are often times at the end of the email. You can also include the button a second or third time to emphasize its importance, as shown in the example from Invision. So as long as the placement makes sense contextually, you should feel free to arrange the buttons as you see fit. 5. Leverage Social Proof There are few things as persuasive as the opinions of others, especially within the context of conferences. Social proof is the concept of solidifying one’s perspective through the collective influence of others. Thus if you have positive reviews from your previous events, make sure to use them within the email to further drive event registration. The above example shows how Amy Porterfield, a business coach for entrepreneurs, promoted her webinar through the praise of previous webinar attendees. Social proof can come in the form of social media mentions, survey responses, video testimonials, or any other kind of evidence that establishes the awesomeness of your event. 6. Spotlight Your Speakers Many attendees and prospective attendees will be most excited about the speaker lineup. To further amp up the hype, you can design the event registration email to solely spotlight your speakers while giving more context about each one. HubSpot’s INBOUND conference always has stellar speakers and they’re not shy about showing them off in their emails. Even if your lineup isn’t as impressive as the one above, there are plenty of ways to create enthusiasm around your speakers. You could give a short summary of their experience, offer a sneak-peek of their speaking topic, or list their accolades. If you’ve chosen them to speak at your event, there is definitely a way to show them off. 7. Add a Personal Touch Personalization is a cardinal rule for effective event email design. One study showed that personalization throughout an email improved click-through rates by 14% and increased conversions by 10%. The above example shows how the Bizzabo platform provides a wide range of personalization tokens within its email marketing feature. By personalizing the email in the right context, you create a message that resonates with your target audience. 8. Apply a Concise Subject Lines Remember that effective event email design begins before the email is actually opened. The subject line is the first thing the reader will see so it is important to optimize this portion of the message. Research has shown that short, catchy subject line usually results in higher open rates. According to a study by Informz, subject lines with less than 10 characters had open rates of nearly 54%. Of course this statistic shouldn’t be applied to all emails as some require more information in the subject line, but this is a good reminder to maintain short, pithy subject lines when possible. Doing so will pique your reader\'s’ interest and entice them to open the email. 9. Create Sense of Urgency Another form of effective event email design would be to include a countdown clock. This timer would count down to the final day of registration which creates a feeling of urgency for prospective attendees. Below you can see that The Web Summit does a great job of making the countdown the largest part of the email to maximize its effect. Including a countdown clock is a simple yet dynamic visual graphic that causes the exact effect you’re looking for. A sense of urgency equals a reason to take action, which results in more registrations. As shown in the example above from Web Summit, a simple countdown clock with a brief explanation of the event is enough content to communicate the necessary information while inducing a feeling of urgency, a perfect balance to drive registrations. 10. Optimize for Mobile An overarching design principle to keep in mind is to optimize your email for mobile devices. Because 65% of email users access their email through a mobile device, it’s imperative to create an optimal mobile reading experience. Overlooking this key feature will result in an unpleasant association with your event brand. Wrapping Up To offer a quick summary, here are a few key points from the aforementioned examples. Maintain simplicity both in terms of content and visuals. Doing so will make your email more memorable and stand out from the rest. Leverage your best assets, which includes your speaker lineup and previous attendee testimonials. Both of these can be strong forms of persuasion. Think of creative ways to use video. Utilizing dynamic content will increase the likelihood of your reader engaging with the email. Mix and match these event email design tips to create the perfect formula for your particular event brand. And while these tips specifically focused on increasing event registration, these best practices can be applied to help achieve your overall email marketing goals.


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Free Holiday Email Templates

Free Holiday Email Templates

Practical Marketer • November 29, 2017

The season to be jolly is right around the corner! That’s right! Holiday cups are back at Starbucks, Christmas music is already playing in every store. Decorations are right around the corner, if not already here. It always feels too early to start celebrating the holidays, but it’s never too soon to plan your holiday email marketing design. Holiday Email Templates Who doesn’t enjoy spreading some holiday cheer? Benchmark Email helps you get your email marketing in the holiday spirit with dozens of festive holiday email templates. Here are some things to keep in mind when using a holiday email template: Stay true to your branding. Don’t make your logo a color your subscribers have never seen it before, just to match the holiday motif. Same goes for buttons and other colors that are consistent across your email campaigns. Dress it up for the holidays, but don’t become something unrecognizable to your subscribers. Keep it simple. Don’t overdo it. You don’t want to be the house on the block with lights covering every square inch of the exterior and lawn with lights. You can’t look at that house without sunglasses. Don’t limit it to the template. Extend the holiday cheer to your subject line as well. That way it won’t be a surprise when your subscribers open your holiday email. Templates To Automate Aside from the great holiday email templates available to you, we’ve also created strategy templates to let you automate your holiday email marketing. You can send a promotion and follow-up with your subscribers based on if they opened the email, clicked a link or visited a specific page on your website. Don’t wait for 2018 to take your email marketing to the next level. Get a head start on your New Year’s resolution and close out 2017 strong. We also put together some tips and ideas for your Christmas and Chanukah marketing campaigns to be automated. Share Your Tips Have you run a successful holiday email marketing campaign in the past? Or maybe a favorite one you’ve received? Share your tips in the comments. We love to hear them!


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Email Marketing Tactics to Help Boost SEO

Email Marketing Tactics to Help Boost SEO

Beyond • November 28, 2017

Although email marketing and SEO campaigns are made up of very different components and utilize different tools, they both ultimately share the same goal – driving traffic to your website. Simply implementing an email marketing campaign into your business strategy will not directly impact SEO results, because search engines can’t rank and crawl emails like they do web page listings. However, there are tactics involved in email marketing that help steer audiences to your company’s website and social media pages, thus furthering SEO initiatives. Encourage Engagement SEO professionals know the key to building authority for your site is making it popular. The more time someone spends on a page, the more Google values it. Email marketing can help encourage consumers to engage on your blog or social media pages by persuading them to leave comments or share on their pages. Interacting with your social media pages or blog helps you gain exposure and also increases the time spent on your pages. Sending out mass emails can also drive more people to your website than ever before. By creating powerful messages about your product or service and linking them back to landing pages on your website through a button or image, you are boosting SEO. Ongoing Engagement is Even Better Convincing people to leave comments and share your social media and blog posts once or twice is helpful, but attracting regular followers and subscribers is much more beneficial. Give your email subscribers (and non-subscribers) the option to sign up for more specific emailing lists, such as daily or weekly emails. Also, encouraging subscribers to follow your social media channels by sending previews of social content to entice them can be helpful. For example, send a few images from your Instagram with a link to your profile, telling people they can view more if they follow you. Turn Emails into Blogs Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way Google could track the content in e-newsletters? Well, repurposing the content into blog posts and loading it up with keywords is a great solution that directly impacts SEO. It also gives people who are not email subscribers a chance to see the content. If an email is too short to be used a blog post, you could either add external content to it or combine multiple short emails into one blog. Choose the Right Email Service Provider Choosing the right Email Service Provider (ESP) is crucial for an email marketing campaign for a number of reasons, including SEO. For your campaign, the ESP will provide you with an IP address, reporting and analytics including clicks and bounce rates, and most importantly, assistance with Internet Service Providers (ISP). The relationship between the ESP and ISP can get quite complex during an email marketing campaign, which is why choosing an ESP that will manage that relationship properly is essential. Incorporate Email into SEO Although it would make life easier for SEO marketers if search engine results included content and keywords from emails directly, it is still extremely valuable to implement email marketing campaigns for their indirect benefits to SEO. Being creative and thinking outside of the box is required when it comes to developing new ways of boosting SEO.


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Tiger by the Tail:  Video Content in Email Campaigns

Tiger by the Tail: Video Content in Email Campaigns

Beyond • November 22, 2017

Video in email marketing improves campaign results more than any other form of content. Blame it on the saber-tooth tigers, probably.  Motion in the grass was a KMI (key mortality indicator) for our marketing ancestors. Figuring out why something is moving - hungry? not? - was important.  So we still can’t help but give attention priority to things that are moving. Video content is a savage beast, even for marketers with infinite budgets and no deadlines (and other fictitious creatures.)  The rewards are fantastic - your audiences will look and click and watch 2x-8x more.  But sourcing and using video content is the problem. Video is expensive; the Small Business Cost Helper says ‘corporate video packages typically range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the length of the video.’ Video is still quite technical.  Encoding, hosting, embed codes, mobile-ready - these are just the chapter headings for hours of work.  (For even one video!) Video is SLOW.  Writing, storyboarding, shooting, sound, editing, post-production take time, or budgets to hire talent, and they still take time! Feel the bite? I do and have.  Our small studio produced hundreds of videos, mainly for Fortune 100 clients - about six weeks and six figures on average.  More often than not, our clients took that precious artifact and buried in the digital jungle (YouTube). Sometimes it got to their website; sometimes on their social media pages, but I can think of just a few that put their expensive video assets to work in their email campaigns. Disappointing.  Frustrating.  So we decided to tie a knot in that kitty’s tail by developing one platform with all of the pieces needed to create and use video content - Vid.One. Imagine you’ve got a critical campaign going out the door through Benchmark.  Geez, it would be great to see the numbers bump up a bunch - adding video would probably do it, but it’s scheduled to launch in 1 hour. Grrr! Relax. You can use the other 59 minutes for something else, because creating a video, and getting the key assets ready to use in Benchmark (including an animated GIF thumbnail - remember, we look at moving things) will take about 1 minute on Vid.One. Sound useful? Read on. Tigers Aside, Why Does Video Have Such A Bite? The saber-tooth thing is part of the video story; our eyes go right to a thing-in-motion without any conscious prompt.  (Open a web page with a looping GIF, and leave it on-screen for a minute.  Distracting, isn’t it??)  It’s one aspect of a broader principle - we process visuals first and fast - then text.  The generally-accepted stat in the world of visual communications in that we process visuals 50,000 times faster than text. That means the people who get your campaign are going to assess the visuals before they peruse that copy your team has been sweating over.  Most of them won’t read the copy, either; they’ll skim and scan, hit the H1s and breeze over the rest. No wonder clickthrough rates are single-digits. In simple human terms, the impact of video makes sense.  It’s got visuals - 1000 words per picture; it’s got motion - about 30 images per second. Forrester combined those figures to come up with their controversial estimate - 1 minute of video is worth 1.8 million words of text.  I think Forrester’s equation leaves out another dimension in video - story.  Video unfolds over time; it’s inherently suited to story. On the longer time axis - memory & recall - the combination of visuals and language and story structures make video potentially the best way to get a little piece of a viewer’s memory banks.  Competing studies and academic theories abound; the Picture Superiority Effect, which argues that we’re more likely to remember images than words, has been verified repeatedly. Dual-coding theory, Sensory semantic theory, and Weldon and Roediger-transfer appropriate processing theories propose reasons why.  (I do wish one of ‘em would come up with a diagram - visuals, right?) The punch line is, if you want brand recall, use video. Video for Email Made Simple It’s faster to create a video in Vid.One than to read this blog post, and you’ll see what the tool does in 2 quick screens.  But some people prefer to read first, so for both of you, here are the essentials. Pick a template.  You don’t need to bring video footage or audio tracks.  Vid.One offers thousands of professionally-designed video templates. You can browse by themes (People, Nature, Technology), or search in 22 different languages.  The soundtrack has already been picked for each template, and all of the music is properly licensed; don’t put your company at risk with unlicensed soundtracks! Write a tiny story: beginning, middle and end.  By design, Vid.One provides that most basic of narrative forms. You’ve got full layout control - multiple text blocks, hundreds of fonts, colors, etc.  Think of it as writing three great subject lines. Add logos & photos. You can incorporate your visuals into the video - logos, photos or existing marketing graphics. Size them, lay them out, even rotate & drop-shadow them. Preview, tweak, preview, tweak.  We generate video previews in just seconds, so you can watch and adjust until you’re happy.  Then just hit Publish. Use It with Integrations & Downloads.  Benchmark integration is built right in. Click the Benchmark button and sign in; Vid.One will instantly transfer an animated GIF ‘teaser’, and a still thumbnail, right into the Benchmark image gallery. Add an image block; select that image; link to the video landing page or (better) the video on your website. You can also publish your video to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Buffer...and download the HD video file and thumbnails. (We’re working with Benchmark to provide ‘Add Video’ shortly; did you know Benchmark is the only major email platform with a built-in video gallery?) Video isn’t quite on the same footing in the inbox as the browser; video doesn’t play reliably and predictably in email, and that will probably remain true for some time.  (The technical reasons deserve a separate post.) But study after study shows that video thumbnails - which are a visual promise to deliver a video - and, more recently, animated GIFs - still change engagement and action rates substantially. Free.  Then Cheap. Vid.One is not a subscription service. Vid.One is not a subscription service. That seemed worth repeating since just about everything seems to be a subscription service these days!  New users get a coupon code for three free videos, instantly. (Sign up & check your email.) After that, individual videos run between $5-$10.  You get perpetual rights - it’s yours to use, forever.  Vid.One does include 30 days of video hosting, and there’s an option to extend hosting if you find it useful - but it’s not required. Email platforms like Benchmark have fantastic email templates and design tools to modify them.  Vid.One aims to do the same thing for video; it should be just as quick and easy to add a video to your campaigns as an image. How To Make The Most Of Your Video Assets Email marketing doesn’t operate in a vacuum; you have other channels, and it’s worth pointing out some ways to manage your video assets to get the most out of them.  Here are a few guidelines: Keep them brand-coherent.  You will, over time, create and use many separate videos; I’d bet you have that problem with static graphics now.  Decide what kind of visuals suit your brand; decide where your logo goes, and what kind of call-to-action information you include. 
(Video is hard to modify after-the-fact; get it right up front.) One video = many assets.  A quick Vid.One video for a campaign gives you a cloud-hosted video, which has its web embed code and email merge tags.  It also provides downloads - HD video, SD video, PNG thumbnail, GIF and GIF teaser.  Each of those can be re-used elsewhere. One video = content for many channels.  
Email, check.  Why not put that same video on your social-media pages? Embed it on your website.  Paste the merge tag (which is a thumbnail linked to the video landing page) in a template in your CRM system, too. SEO super-magnet.  Search engines LOVE video. Forrester calculated that a page with video is 53 times more likely to reach Page 1 than a text-only page. Keep track of your videos.  Video is a pain in the tail (tiger joke) to manage; the files are big, and a file name doesn’t tell you all the things you need to know. HD or SD?  Version 1? 2? 93?  H264 or OGV?  I’ve had clients get in touch a year after a project, asking if we could send them a copy because they lost it.  (You paid six figures for this, and you lost it? Sure...hang on a sec…) Start evaluating video-hosting options.  If you… Want to look at ROI on video content… Want to track visits, views, viewers…. Want to capture leads. Want to keep people on YOUR website, not YouTube.com… Want to improve your SEO. Want to make better video content in the future Then you’re probably in the market for a business-grade video hosting platform.  The costs are relatively modest, the benefits - especially in the long run - are enormous.  Vid.One is integrated with Wistia, Vidyard and Vimeo - direct transfer, no download! Try Video, It Won’t Bite Video is a relatively new piece of the online world, and it is still far more complicated than it should be.  It’s still surprisingly technical; it’s still quite fussy and easy to break.  HTML5 isn’t magic; rumors to the contrary, HTML5’s <video> tag doesn’t fully sort out the vexing issues. Video playing in email has some additional costs to consider, too.  Many of the critical measures for digital marketing are made on-page - website, social-media page, or some other landing page. Playing a video within an email client doesn’t close those loops. After a bunch of research and attempts to get video to play within email clients, we put that particular tiger back in the cage. It’s just too unpredictable; it moved Vid.One away from click-and-market simplicity, back into the HTML/if/CSS !important jungle. (Tip:  if you want to test video-playing-in-email-where-it-can, take a look at Viwomail.com.) There’s still a bunch of ROI in video content for email campaigns, though.  Do static PNG/JPG thumbnails increase read & clickthrough rates?  Yes - but you’re promising your prospect a video when you show them a thumb.  Beyond that - what about animated GIFs?  We looked at some A/B tests of animated-GIF thumbnails; the one that convinced us to build them in showed a 49.7% increase in clickthroughs over static JPG thumbnails. That makes Yet More Images to manage, but Vid.One tames that beast as well.  Static thumbnails and animated ‘teaser’ GIFs thumbnails are included, and those images are pushed directly into Benchmark for ease of use. If you’ve been putting off testing video in your campaigns, you’re in great company. Video has been a budget and time sink.  Video-making solutions are getting better, but that’s only part of the equation; integration, like the Vid.One→ Benchmark integration is key to making video a natural part of campaign management. Three free videos?  Instant Benchmark campaign assets?  Yup. Give it a try at https://app.vid.one; look for the Benchmark icon under each finished video.


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Protect Your Brand with SPF Records

Protect Your Brand with SPF Records

Beyond Practical Marketer • November 21, 2017

At 32, and in a long-term relationship, I seldom get a quiet night alone. On those rare occasions, I usually order in. Cooking for one isn’t too much fun. Inevitably, the pizza delivery person will knock. Every time, without fail, I will peek through the eyehole to see who is at the door even though I’m expecting the arrival of the pizza (my girlfriend is lactose intolerant, and it’s the only chance I get to eat pizza). I won’t open the door for the pizza I’m expecting without confirming that it’s the delivery person. The same way that I sought to authenticate the identity of the individual knocking on my door, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) do the same with your email campaigns. What are SPF Records? Sender Policy Framework (SPF) records ensure higher deliverability for your emails by allowing ISPs to trust the authenticity of your email. In short, the ISP can trust the email is genuine and not fraudulently sent in your name, which is a common spammers\' trick. SPF is an email validation system that blocks spam in the form of spoofing. \"Spoofers\" commit mail fraud by sending mail from what appear to be trusted addresses to gain sensitive information. If you are following email marketing best practices, your good reputation and verified identity should be enough to let the ISP know that your email is not spam and thus should be delivered. Using SPF records, an administrator can choose which hosts may use a given domain by creating an SPF record in the public Domain Name System (DNS). The DNS can then be used to verify that email from a given domain is sent from a host approved by the domain\'s administrators. Why Does Benchmark Use SPF Records? Benchmark Email creates a record on your behalf that shows the ISP that you are exactly who you say you are when your email is being sent. By adding an SPF to include Benchmark Email, you will authorize Benchmark to send on your behalf, by verifying that we are doing the sending with the SPF Record. The single advantage of publishing an SPF Record is that Spammers and Phishers will not be able to forge the email sending domain. Spammers will not be able to pretend that they are sending mails from your domain name. If they do, that mail will be caught by the Anti-Spam systems of the respective ISPs and the mail will land in the Junk or Spam folder. Thus by publishing an SPF record, you are making your domain spoof-proof. Benchmark Email authenticates outgoing emails by using SPF and other authentication methods. You can find out more by reading our article on email authentication. Further Understanding SPF Records An SPF Record looks something like this: \"v=spf1 a mx -all\" In the SPF Record, you can determine which IP addresses and domains can send mails on behalf of your domain, preventing spoofing. Let\'s say you are a client of Benchmark Email and you are sending emails to your customers through the Benchmark Email platform. For better deliverability, you need to explicitly allow Benchmark Email to send mails to your customers on your behalf. The SPF record for yourwebdomain.com should go in your DNS manager something like this: yourwebdomain.com IN TXT \"v=spf1 a mx ip4:1.2.3.4 include:thirdpartyespdomain.com -all\" In this scenario, 1.2.3.4 = the IP Address of your mail server or 3rd party ESP, like Benchmark Email. Furthermore, thirdpartyespdomain.com = the domain of the 3rd party ESP, such as Benchmark Email, or their relay mail server\'s domain name. Additional SPF Resources We\'ve put together a helpful FAQ that teaches you how to establish SPF Records with many different domain hosts. You can get great help from the links given here: http://www.openspf.org/SPF_Record_Syntax http://www.openspf.org/FAQ Once you have published your SPF record as a DNS TXT record, you can test it by visiting the given links: http://www.mxtoolbox.com/spf.aspx http://www.kitterman.com/spf/validate.html Bonus Section: DKIM DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is the second factor that goes into authenticating an email address. DKIM grants an organization the responsibility for an email being delivered. DKIM may pertain to your business or your ESP. What DKIM does is it verifies a domain using cryptographic authentication. Using an ESP like Benchmark, you will automatically have your emails authenticated with DKIM. You can take it up a notch and further improve your deliverability by enabling a DKIM CName, giving yourself double authentication. This lets ISPs know who you are and will assist you in building a sender reputation with your ESP as your co-signer. Here\'s what you\'ll need: CNAME RECORD FOR DKIM: bmdeda._domainkey.yourdomain.net VALUE: bmdeda._domainkey.bmsend.com We\'ve put together a helpful FAQ to assist you with DKIM and various domain hosting companies. Need Help? Our customer engagement specialists are here to help if you have any questions or need any assistance with SPF Records. Contact us via phone, chat or email.


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Why Nobody Reads Your Emails

Why Nobody Reads Your Emails

Beyond • November 20, 2017

To succeed, email marketers must overcome three hurdles. First, they have to get people to open the email. Second, they have to get people to read it. Third, they have to get people to act on it. Regarding email marketing strategy and metrics, a lot of attention goes to open rates and conversion rates — the first and third challenges. In between, there is the rather important step of getting people to read the email. Using proper email list management techniques and testing methodology for subject lines will boost open rates to be sure, but without getting those additional email openers to read the content, there is no conversion, and as a result, ROI goes nowhere. A Different Approach to Email Marketing Strategy for Content Tips for getting people to read your emails are everywhere on the Internet. But these tips — for instance, writing about benefits, creating attention-grabbing headlines, having strong calls to action — are all good. However, without the right email marketing strategy for content, deploying these techniques is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The analysis and suggestions that follow may be a bit different from what you have read in the past, but a new way of thinking about your email content strategy may be just the thing to transform your email ROI from flat to flat-out fantastic. What Happens to Your Email in the Real World People are deluged with email 24/7. They are not likely to consume content for the purpose of saving it for future reference. Unless an email subscriber needs to act on the content now, it will be forgotten. So, when companies send emails with information about new products, industry insights, helpful industry data and the like, the subscriber’s reaction will be, at best, “That’s nice.” In the back of the subscriber’s mind, there may be the thought, “This company is smart, they’d be good to work with” — but that’s a pretty fragile conversion hook on which to hang your hat. As long as I’ve been in sales and marketing, there has always been a strong element of “out of sight, out of mind” on the part of customers and prospects. Now, any possibility of prospects hanging on to emails for future reference has dwindled to near nothingness  — because of search engines. Information is immediately accessible to your email subscribers. If they have an immediate need to know about new products, industry insights and helpful industry data, they just Google it, then and there, when they need it. Nobody is going to sift through an email folder of old emails to find it. Google processes more than 40,000 search queries per second. An interesting consumer study from 2016 shows that when consumers are searching for products, about 75 percent start on Amazon or Google, with, hmm … zero starting with their saved emails. On the B2B side, about 70 percent of product searches start with search queries and is trending upward. With mobile search and voice search set to explode, the ability to obtain instant information will only spike further. The point is, email subscribers are well aware of their ability to get information instantly and on demand. Thus, if they have no immediate need for your email, they are not likely to read it. Emails Must Be Immediately Necessary To continue on this line of thinking, if your email needs to address an immediate need, what sorts of things are customers and prospects always interested in? Here are some pretty safe bets: Saving money (profit) Selling something (profit) Getting an edge over competitors (profit) Preventing a problem (security) Solving a problem (security) Not losing ground to competitors (fear) Getting promoted or being a hero (ego) Contributing to a good cause (ego) There certainly are more items that could go on this list — please share your ideas in comments — but consider: If your emails cycled through these eight content themes, can you imagine the impact on conversions? Boiling it down into a few practical examples: Announcing a new manufacturing capability is boring. Telling subscribers they can take advantage of capability “X” and leave their competitors in the dust — now that’s interesting. Talking about a professional HVAC staff is boring. Explaining how particulates in a home’s ventilation system could be poisoning the family —interesting. Recapping changes to the tax code is boring. Explaining five accounting changes that, if made now, could reduce taxes next April by $2,000 — interesting. Reminding subscribers of store hours is boring. Sending a coupon redeemable for $100 for the next 48 hours — interesting. The common theme is immediacy. If your email content can be salted away, it’s unlikely to be reopened. Buy To Sell Offering to buy or accept donations is a very underused email marketing strategy, but people are always interested in selling something or donating to a good cause. So, if “give-to-get” is a good marketing strategy, “buy-to-sell” is an even better one. There may be a good option for you in this area. For example: Buying outdated equipment in exchange for a new model Men’s Wearhouse runs its National Suit Drive to help people in need — and also tempts contributors to clean out overpacked closets. Could something like this work in your business? These approaches have the additional benefits of building a very strong brand image, and may even enable your business to create a new revenue stream selling used or refurbished equipment or merchandise. SEO: Make Your Emails Searchable and Optimized One final technique worth touching on is to make your email content findable on organic search, which will enable all those people doing search queries to discover your email content. From an SEO perspective, the best way to do this is to create an HTML page on your website domain for each email, optimized with relevant and at least moderately high-volume keywords. Thus, anyone (subscriber or not) with an immediate need can find your content and convert, tomorrow or three years from tomorrow. This is an excellent way to repurpose email content and squeeze yet more conversions and ROI out of your email campaign. Also, steadily adding fresh content will help raise the organic visibility of your website. Google values sites with continually updated content, and for many types of searches, ranks fresh content higher. Over To You Addressing or creating immediate needs should be the constant theme of your email marketing strategy for content. Anything else is liable to be wasted motion, something nobody can afford unless they have an unlimited marketing budget. But in the real world, most organizations never seem to have a big enough budget, and by the same token, email subscribers never have enough time to plow through their inboxes. Subscribers must have a great reason — not just a good reason — to read what you’ve sent them. What techniques have you used successfully in email campaigns to create a sense of urgency and boost conversions?  


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Comparing Email Marketing Success with Other Marketing Channels

Comparing Email Marketing Success with Other Marketing Channels

Beyond • November 16, 2017

What is the most effective digital marketing and/or advertising strategy? That’s a question marketers have been asking themselves since the first time the internet became known as the ultimate driver of marketing success. And, while there are many factors that determine the overall success of a marketing and/or advertising campaign, it’s become clear that one strategy has separated itself from the pack. That strategy is email marketing. How is Email Marketing More Effective Than Other Marketing & Advertising Channels? For most organizations, the true value of a marketing strategy is determined by the ROI it provides. According to a study from VentureBeat, email marketing yields $38 in ROI for every $1 spent. That number puts e-marketing ahead of every other potential digital marketing and advertising strategy utilized by organizations throughout the world. In comparison, let’s take a look at some return-on-investment figures offered by other popular digital marketing strategies:      Content Marketing. While this is difficult to measure, content marketing guru Neil Patel estimated that he achieved $10 in ROI for every $1 he spent on creating great content.      Social Media Marketing. According to a survey by SmartInsights, only 20% of businesses feel that social media marketing yields a high ROI. Also, the survey found that only 48% of marketers were confident that social media provided any ROI at all.      Paid Search. The ROI of paid search varies wildly depending on the industry, although WordStream produced a study showing that the average cost-per-action in Adwords is $59.18 for search and over $60 for display. As you can see, e-marketing significantly outperforms all three of the strategies listed above. But reaching the astounding level of ROI provided by email does not just happen because your organization decides to utilize email marketing services. To reach that level of ROI, or even surpass it, there are a few tactics that you’ll need to focus on. The 3 Tactics That Lead to Email Marketing Success While there are many factors that go into succeeding with e-marketing, there are a few tactics that have proven to provide the most significant impact. They include:     Segmentation     Personalization     Automation Fortunately, many email marketing services provide tools to aid you in maximizing the potential of each of these tactics. Segmentation According to the Data & Marketing Association, segmented email campaigns result in a 760% increase in revenue over a one-size-fits-all campaign. And while it makes sense that segmenting would lead to higher conversion rates and success, 760% is a staggering number that makes it clear that segmentation is a necessity. The reason for this is simple. By segmenting your email list into specified groups, you’re able to better target your subscribers in a way that makes them feel as if you’re talking directly to them while catering to their unique wants and needs. Personalization In a study by Experian Marketing Services, they determined that personalized subject lines increased email open rates by 29.3%. But including a name in a subject line isn’t the only way to commit to personalization through email. As KissMetrics contributor Emma O’Neill outlines, there are several other techniques that you can utilize. They include:      Ask specific questions related to the actions taken by the subscriber.      Develop multiple customer personas to better understand the behaviors of subscribers.      Use location and time factors to your advantage.      Utilize marketing automation to create automated behavioral trigger emails. While using personalization in your subject lines can lead to higher open rates, the techniques above can produce the increased click-through and conversion rates that lead to true email marketing success. Automation As Marketo outlined in their ebook about Strategies for Sustaining Success, 91% of successful marketers say that marketing automation is “very important” to the overall success of their marketing strategies. Automation is particularly important in the world of email marketing, as HubSpot identified that relevant emails sent through marketing automation software drive 18x more revenue than those sent through email blasts. The important point to take from these statistics is simple – when identifying potential email marketing services to use, make sure you’re honing in on platforms that offer advanced automation tools. Combining Segmentation, Personalization, and Automation When combined properly, the three techniques outlined above provide a powerful combination capable of helping you reach, or even exceed, the $38 to $1 ROI that e-marketing offers. It’s important, however, that they’re looked at as a team of techniques that need to work together. Using each on their own can certainly lead to success, but combining them effectively is where the real potential lies. Using Email Marketing with Other Marketing Strategies In the same way that e-marketing works best when the techniques outlined above are used in unison, e-marketing is most successful when utilized in combination with other marketing strategies. This is particularly true as you work to build your email list. After all, it will be extremely difficult to achieve success through email if you don’t have a list to target. To get the most out of your email efforts, you’ll want to design your content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing strategies to work in harmony. A few strategies for making this work could include:      Use your emails as a way to distribute targeted content to the right people at the right time.      Use social media and your blog as a way to encourage visitors to sign up to your email list.      Use social media to create customer personas that can help you better segment and personalize your emails. Bringing It Altogether It\'s hard to argue the power that email marketing has when it comes to the ROI it can provide for your business. But to truly maximize your potential, it’s important that you allow your marketing techniques and strategies to work together as a team. What about you? What are some ways that you’ve combined email marketing with other marketing strategies to maximize the ROI provided to your business?


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