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Unroll.me

Unroll.me: A Flawed, Misleading Unsubscribe Service

Beyond • June 23, 2017

Have you ever glanced at a friend or family member’s phone or computer and been shocked at the number of unread emails in their inbox? I may be far too neurotic not to zero-out my push notifications in my inbox, but I know I’m in the minority. Most people receive so much email on a daily basis that they can’t even keep up. Sound familiar? According to a report from the Radicati Group, the number of business emails sent and received per person in a day totals 122 emails in 2015. This figure is expected to increase to an average of 126 messages sent and received per person in a day by the end of 2019. Set Them Free Should an email marketer fear the unsubscribe? Sure, in an ideal world every individual that subscribes to your email campaigns would want to read them for the rest of time. However, you don’t want to send to people who don’t want to hear from you. In that instance, those who unsubscribe save you the time of removing them from your list once they go inactive. Unsubscribes can save you from low Open Rates and Abuse complaints. Is Unroll.me the Solution? It is one of the most perplexing paradoxes to face any marketer in any industry through any channel in the world. Every day any brand marketer is confronted with customers who have voluntarily subscribed to their email campaigns but now want out for any variety of reasons. While some unsubscribe in the conventional manner, many more just mark the emails as spam when they’re tired of them, causing significant damage to your sender reputation. The reasons why so many millions of subscribers just can’t seem to “do the right thing” and unsubscribe conventionally may be a question to be solved by the digital historians of the future, but one of the latest developments has caused even more consternation among marketers: Unroll.me is a service which promises to mass-unsubscribe customers at a single click and which presents a possible threat to all email marketers. Rollup or Nuke While it is true that Unroll.me offers a single daily rollup, a digest of sorts of all your accepted email marketing missives, the feature which has caused the most concern among email marketers is the ease at how users of this site can easily wipe out subscriptions to dozens or even hundreds of brands at one fell swoop. The user begins by giving Unroll.me access to Yahoo, MSN, AOL, or Gmail account and then letting it scan the complete contents of the inboxes and storage folders to arrive at its determination of what is commercial email. The user is then presented with a list whereby they can sort out what they want to continue to see, but presented in a rollup fashion, and which ones they want to nuke outright. Since When Are They Unwanted? By the end of 2013, Unroll.me boasted that it had killed over a billion “unwanted emails.” Therein lies the paradox of the entire email subscriber psychology and the failing that Unroll.me is capitalizing on. None of these billion emails were at all “unwanted.” They had all been generated by permission of the customer which they had voluntarily given at some point in the past. The vast majority of these permissions were marked by a double opt-in policy which reconfirmed the desire of the customer to receive these emails. However, even with all of those more than ample justifications for the statements that these are indeed “wanted” emails, it does not stop the very same customers who agreed at every step of the process to have them disappear from their sight. As I stated, all of this is nothing more than a very strange paradox, but one that is unfortunately central to the life of the email marketer. 1-800-Flowers Lost 52.5% The amount of “damage” which has been done by Unroll.me to legitimate brand email marketing is only now coming into focus. 2.5 million subscriptions were negated in 2013, with 1-800-Flowers having the highest percentage at 52.5%, TicketWeb in second place with 47.5% and ProFlowers at 45.1%. Again, it begs the question of what these subscribers were thinking when they agreed to receive these brand emails which they had since changed their minds around, but that delves into the realm of psychologists and psychiatrists. It Doesn’t Unsubscribe, It Mass-Junks! The largest single problem with Unroll.me for email marketers is not just the number of legitimate subscriptions which have been rendered null and void by the service, but the way which the software unsubscribes. As it turns out, Unroll.me doesn’t unsubscribe at all! Although the site itself barely mentions what happens to the emails which are listed as to be unsubscribed from, there is ample evidence that they are essentially held in limbo which is only a whisker’s breadth away from having them marked as spam. Therefore what Unroll.me has created is not so much a mass unsubscribe service as a mass spam folder service which can make a considerable ding in any email marketer’s online reputation with the all-important ISPs. There is no reason why Unroll.me couldn’t have been created to correctly unsubscribe emails rather than mass-junking them. That is the primary reason why it is an essentially flawed and misleading software that could be very dangerous to email marketers. Other Issues with Unroll.me Recently, more negative press has surfaced about Unroll.me. It turns out, Uber had been using data from Slice Intelligence, a data firm which uses Unroll.me to scan inboxes for information, to track users from its competition, Lyft. While not illegal, it certainly upset many Unroll.me users. As long as the data sold doesn’t identify users by name, it happens with many free services. Unroll.me included. What Other Options Do Subscribers Have? There’s plenty of other practical ways to manage your crowded inbox. Smart folders are a popular solution, even amongst the team here at Benchmark. You can create smart folders that sort the clutter in your inbox into more manageable sections. This allows you to focus on the more important items first. Preference centers allow you to manage the frequency of which you receive email campaigns from individual companies. Maybe daily or weekly is too often for you, but you can probably handle one email per month. Just hit Unsubscribe! Once in a while, a bit of inbox maintenance is helpful. There may just be some places you don’t need to hear from anymore. Or perhaps you’ve forgotten why you subscribed in the first place. What Can You Do As An Email Marketer? The biggest thing you need to answer, as an email marketers, is why an individual wants to unsubscribe in the first place. Are you sending too often? Maybe not enough and they forgot why they subscribed in the first place? This is where setting up an aforementioned preference center can save you from unsubscribes. Maybe your content isn’t relevant enough. Not providing the value that people signed up for is another way to lose your audience. Make sure you’re paying attention to your reports. Segment your lists accordingly and tailor content to those individual audiences. Speaking of relevance, are you using different signup forms in different locations. Each signup form will attract a different audience. You can being the segmentation process upon signup when you do it right. Share Your Experience Have you used Unroll.me? What are your favorite solutions for managing a crowded inbox. What do you do as an email marketer to reduce list churn and unsubscribes? Tell us in the comments!


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Improve Open Rates With Targeted Emailing

Improve Open Rates With Targeted Emailing

Beyond • June 5, 2017

So, if you ask me what was the first thing I did when I started doing email marketing, it was  building a list. That is one thing that any marketer can do from the beginning. Having a list is the best way to deepen your relationship with the audience. Having said so, it is equally important to master the art of targeting in order to unleash the full power of your email lists. Having a list of your most engaged clients or subscribers is a most important asset for a business. It\'s All About Being On Target Targeted emailing is a key for building a foundation for your effective email outreach. Some marketers never realize the importance of targeting and end up generating leads that aren’t qualified. You have to realize that your email list consists of people with varying interests, behaviors and profiles. We have to remember one size doesn’t fit all. So, why treat them the same? The solution is to split them into small groups and send personalized email campaigns to each segment. The common mistakes some marketers make is treating their email list as a single entity. According to the case study done by Marketing Sherpa, artbeads.com saw conversion rates jump by 208% when they used targeted emailing instead of email blast. 32% of marketers say segmenting their email database is one of their top priority for the year. Furthermore, 52% of marketers believe that they are in great need to improve their list segmentation. What Are They Missing Out On? Jupiter Research found targeted email marketing campaigns can generate nine times more revenue than broadcast mailings. The more personalization that is included in each email sent to your subscribers, users are more likely to open the emails, clicks on call-to-action and then convert to buyers. On average, untargeted email campaigns have open rates of only 20%, a click-through rate of only 9.5% and conversion rates of only about 1%. On the other hand, targeted email campaigns have a 33% open rate on average, a 14% click-through rate, and a conversion rate of 3.9%. With a targeted list, you will always have a group of loyal customers. For instance, if you are a bookseller and have a chain of retail outlets, then you can segment your list into people who prefer certain genres of books, age-groups, most valued customers etc. You can also classify your list on the basis of the purchases your customers make. This means you may have a separate category for people who make purchases between $300 and $500 or between $500 and $1000 or above $1000. Benchmark Email provides you Targeted Emailing tool to help you get better ROI from your email lists. Targeted Emailing takes your campaigns and compares all the opens or clicks to create segmented lists for you to target. Targeting specific contacts is a great way to improve your engagement in your emails.  It isn\'t the size of your list, it is also the quality of your list.  Targeted Emailing can also be used to clean your lists as well, as it creates a list of contacts that have not opened your emails. Targeting specific contacts is a great way to improve your engagement in your emails.  It isn\'t the size of your list, it is also the quality of your list.  Targeted Emailing can also be used to clean your lists as well, as it creates a list of contacts that have not opened your emails. You can access this feature in your navigation bar. There are two ways you can create targeted lists. The first one is based on opens & unopens of your email campaigns. The second list is based on the URLs clicked in your campaigns. General Clicks and Opens The process for Targeted Emailing is this: Select up to 10 campaigns to compare Choose whether to base the comparison on engaged or non-engaged contacts Based on each individual emails or all your emails Opens or Clicks Save So in the first step, you\'ll need to select the campaigns you want to compare. It\'s recommended you compare similar campaigns to accurately segment or target your campaigns, but is not required.  Just to reiterate, as it is important, you can only select from the most recent 50 campaigns that are older than three days. Then you can only select up to 10 campaigns to compare. The third step is to select whether to compare your campaigns individually (Some or one Emails), or compare them all against each other (All Emails). Depending on what you choose, you can have a very different number. The Some (or one) Emails option, will combine through all 10 emails and depending on opens or clicks, it will place the contact in the list at the end. The All Emails option will take all 10 of your campaigns and looks for contacts that opened or click all of your emails that you\'ve selected. This will produce a significantly lower number. Lastly, you simply choose whether you want a list of opens or a list of clicks or both!  After this, you\'ll be able to create a second list based on different settings. At this step, you can also calculate the number of each set so that you can also visualize the number of contacts for each, as it takes time to assemble the list.  Don\'t forget to name it and then save your list! Click Focus Click Focus is different from Clicks & Opens. This will compare not the emails themselves, but the URLs within the emails. So if you are a retailer with promotions, or if your emails contain a lot of URLs, this may be the best option for you.  Comparing all the products and URLs is difficult manually, but Click Focus automates the comparison and allows users to create lists based on certain settings. Much like Opens & Clicks, you can select from the most recent 50 campaigns that are older than three days and you can select up to 10 campaigns. A little similar to Clicks & Opens, but still different. The difference between the previous option and Click Focus is that this extra step you select the URLs you want to gain contacts from.  For example, if you are a sports retailer and have sent several emails related to different sports.  You can create a Click Focus lists of contacts who are interested in Soccer products, then create a strategy to market to only Soccer players based on what they clicked.  That\'s exactly how Targeted Emailing is meant to work. So the First step is to choose the campaigns you want to look at, then second you choose the URLs you want to see contact.  You can only select up to 10 campaigns and 10 URLs to compare. The next step is to select ANY or ALL of the lists.  This is much like the same concept as before that is sometimes hard to grasp.  If you choose ANY, the system will collect contacts that have clicked on at least one URL in ANY email.  If you ALL, the system will look at all the campaigns, and collect contacts that have clicked on ALL of the emails.  The ALL option will most likely produce a significant number than the other.  Then name the list and click save. What You Need To Do If you have just started then it can be an intimidating task, if you do not have a clear direction. So to start with, you’ll need to determine what your objectives are for each targeted email marketing segment and how success will be measured. You’ll also need to figure out what your strategy will accomplish. Benchmark email’s Targeted emailing tool makes it easy to identify your most loyal subscribers. If you haven’t used it yet, test the tool in and out and let me know your feedback.


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Brand Story

What You Need to Know About Creating a Brand Story

Practical Marketer • June 5, 2017

Once upon a time… It’s the start of every great story, right? Each business has an origin story of its own. A reason why a business was started and what solution they sought out to fix for people. We all understand the trials and tribulations businesses face as they grow and evolve. Companies learn from successes and failures and their stories either become a testimony of success … or a cautionary tale. Every business faces competition in their market. A good story can help a company stand tall as customers latch onto it and become a part of the storytelling itself. But what makes a good brand story? What makes your story interesting. More importantly, how can you create a brand story that makes customers trust in you and what you are doing? Brand Stories on Display If you’re like us, you’ve watched more than a few episodes of Shark Tank. Time and time again, businesses get deals because the Sharks bought into the brand story that they are telling as much as the product which they are selling (if not more). Companies who assume a social responsibility are more investible to the Sharks, because they know that it makes a consumer more likely to support a brand. A great brand story also lends itself to more shareable content on social media. When customers buy into your brand story, they become brand advocates. Think about a company story which you have bought into. What worked? TOMS One for One One of the most successful recent examples of creating a brand story is TOMS One for One approach to business. For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. Additionally, when you buy a pair of eyewear, TOMS will help to restore sight to an individual in need. “It’s different from traditional marketing because we’re not just a shoe company, a sunglasses or a fashion company, or a coffee company. We’re not just selling — we’re also a movement.” – Zita Cassizzi, TOMS’ Chief Digital Officer Think about it. There is no shortage of options out there when you need a new pair of shoes. The brand story of TOMS helps the consumer feel something when they buy new shoes. From Visually. Bombas Warms Feet and Hearts A Shark Tank success story, Bombas donates one pair of socks for every one pair purchased. Their founders learned that socks were the most requested item at homeless shelters. So, Bombas works with shelters, non-profits, charities, and individuals dedicated to helping the homeless, in-need, or at-risk communities. On the strength of their brand story, Bombas sold $400,000 worth of socks in just four days after their Shark Tank appearance! That’s so many socks donated. R.Riveter Offers Pride in Storytelling Not every business needs a donation model to succeed with a brand story. There are other causes that people will rally behind. R.Riveter employs military spouses to handcraft handbags and accessories. They bring together a community and create a connection between their products and customers. Their concept was proven even before R.Riveter hit Shark Tank. They raised $42,000 in a successful Kickstarter campaign first. In early 2017, co-founder Lisa Bradley revealed the company had grown 600% since airing on Shark Tank. It’s hard to deny the power of a brand story when you see the success stories at every level of R.Riveter. How To Create Your Own Brand Story There are several steps a business must take to establish a brand story that holds any merit. All of these elements add up to earn trust and lend authenticity to your brand story. Infuse Your Story with Personality Your marketing materials should speak with the same tone as the individuals who collectively make up your corporate culture. If the individuals who make up your company buy into that story, the customers will too. People like what others are passionate about. We talked about this with our friends at Tom’s of Maine on the Heart of Business podcast. Keep It Simple, Stupid A mantra for myself when it comes to copywriting. Simplicity is important when it comes to establishing a brand story. Achieving simplicity is as simple as remembering the basic elements of any good story. A beginning, middle and end. Beginning: This is the reason you went into business. That problem that you knew you could fix. The Why you’re in business. Middle: Not just the products or services you offer to solve the problem, but also the way in which your business operates. End: Your brand story will speak for itself when it’s a good one. You’ll be proud to boast your successes and your customers will be too. TOMS founder and CEO, Blake Mycoskie, often speaks about the simplicity to their One for One brand story. “My prior businesses really showed me how important it is to keep it simple,” says Mycoskie. “Some of the businesses that weren’t really successful in my earlier days were because they were too complex and required too much dependence on having a big customer to be successful.” Why Are You Here? In the example above, Bombas didn’t just set out to reinvent your socks drawer. They saw the success that Toms had with the One for One model and wanted to do something similar for the homeless community. Bombas managed to get people excited about socks with a great brand story. The punchline to every bad gift joke itself, socks, became something people were happy to buy into. That’s why you need a reason for existence that extends past making money. The Results When you can achieve these elements within your brand story, you will reap the rewards. As we all know, every good story has a great ending. It’s a third act that both your brand and your customers will enjoy. This is what you can look forward to: Customers who connect with your story. This is achieved when you speak to them in a way that says we are on your side, we get what you need, because we are just like you. Customers that buy into your brand … and the products or services you sell. When you have a great brand story, your customers are buying into that with each purchase. Customers that are brand advocates. They will share your story on social media and boast their association to your brand. It’s some of the best word-of-mouth marketing that you can achieve Let’s all work to build our happily ever afters. Share Your Story Do you have experience with creating a brand story? Share your tips and lessons in the comments. We want to hear from you!


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Inbox Checker

Save Time & Look Good with Inbox Checker

Practical Marketer • June 5, 2017

Raise your hand if this scenario sounds all too familiar to you: You’ve put in the time to craft the perfect email campaign. You’re sure that the design and copy will combine to create engagement and makes sales. Because you’re a practical marketer, you want to send a test email. You even know you should send it to a couple coworkers, family or friends just to be sure you’re set up for success. The test campaign goes out, and two coworkers tell you that the line spacing is off. A friend says that the images were broken. Your sister sends you a screenshot of the email she received and the font looks entirely different in her inbox! We’ve all been there. The Problem We Face In today’s day and age, most of us have multiple devices and dozens of apps installed on them. Some of us even have multiple apps to accomplish the same task (hello Waze, Google Maps and Apple Maps). You may use the default email system that comes with your device to check your emails when you’re not at your desk, but log on to your browser on your desktop to do the same when you’re at the office. The thing is, each of the apps, inbox clients and browsers we all use are built by different companies, with different programmers. All have the intention of doing it better than the next, and naturally they each have their own opinion on how that is done. Here’s the Email Client Market Share, according to Litmus: Apple iPhone: 31% Gmail: 21% Apple iPad: 11% Apple Mail: 7% Outlook: 6% Google Android: 5% Outlook.com: 5% Samsung Email App: 4% Yahoo! Mail: 2% Windows Mail: 1% The result can be an inconsistent appearance of your email campaigns across devices, inbox clients and browsers. The Variety Can Be Overwhelming Most of us here at Benchmark drank the Apple Kool-Aid long ago. They keep is simple with just a few offerings in terms of devices. Android, on the other hand, has enough devices that considering testing on all of them is enough to give you a headache. Check out this Android fragmentation breakdown from OpenSignal: While this might look like a fun backsplash for your kitchen, having it as a testing agenda is overwhelming, if not impossible. That doesn’t mean you should give up on having your email campaigns appear the way you intended each and every time. We’ve Got Your Back Inbox Checkers are available to make sure your email marketing campaigns look good on every single device. Thanks to our integration with Litmus, a company which specializes in creating a better world for email, you can check all of your emails before you hit send. You are able to check how your email campaigns will appear on the most popular devices, inbox clients and browsers. You can even determine the possibility of your emails being marked as spam. Even on the Benchmark Starter Plan, Inbox Checker for Gmail (Explorer) and Outlook 2003 is totally free. For any paid Benchmark Email plan, there are 50 free checks included. If you determine you have more testing to do, you can purchase 100 checks for just $14.00. It is not a recurring payment and you can use the service as needed. Why Use Inbox Checker? It’s important to ensure your email campaigns look great on every device, inbox client and browser. Sure, when you use our Drag-and-Drop Email Designer, you are creating responsive email campaigns. That means that your emails will fit on the screen of any device you send to. However, with Inbox Checker, you will be able to check for spacing, font styles, how images display and even spam tolerance across the most popular devices and platforms. Quick Tip Once you have sent your first email campaign, you can look to your reports for help on understanding which devices for which you should test. Within your email reports, you can clicked on Opened Emails to see everyone who has opened your email campaign. In that report, you can also view on what device the email was opened. From there, you will be able to see a pattern of what email client or device your subscribers use. With that data, you can select to test those devices using Inbox Checker. That way you’re not paying for checks that you do not need. What Do You Test? Aside from using Inbox Checker, there are plenty of other tests that you can run with your email campaigns. What are some tests that you do? Share with us in the comments section!


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Image Hosting

Picture Perfect: Images, Hosting and Your Benchmark Email Campaigns

Practical Marketer • June 5, 2017

Let me know if this sounds familiar to you: Your pet is doing the cutest thing, or you and your significant other are posed for the perfect Kodak moment. Or maybe you just know that Facebook absolutely has to see the photo of your child with food all over its face. You click to take the picture and… ...an alert pops up saying your storage space is full. Cue scrambling to delete photos and rank in your head which special memories are more important than others (or which restaurant you still want to be able to brag about eating at later). That’s the worst. Right? Visual Content Matters It happens with businesses too. Sometimes businesses hire professional photographer to take candid shots around the office or glamour shots of their products. We all have a hoard of photos from events and expos or even company gatherings. In fact, visual marketing ranked second only to blogging in terms of important content when marketers were polled by Social Media Examiner last year. Sharing images helps to give a personal touch to any business. Including your logo works to establish your brand recognition. Readers pay close attention to images that carry information. Eyetracking studies tell us when images are relevant, they will spend more time looking at the images than text. The data is there. We need to have our stockpile of photos and visual content at the ready for every email campaign. When you’ve budgeted your time for your latest email campaign, the last thing you need is get an alert that your Image Gallery is full. There’s that same sinking feeling we all know too well. Benchmark Understands Your Visual Content Needs With every account, whether it’s free or paid, Benchmark offers marketers an Image Gallery that can store up to 10MB of images. Depending on the size of your images, that can help you store up to 100 images! For your email campaigns to load as fast as possible and for the best deliverability, we recommend uploading images of around 100KBs. As you upload images into your account, our system will automatically compress them a bit without losing quality. You can also try a few other free tools here: Compressor.io Kraken.io GiftOfSpeed PNG Compressor or JPEG Compressor Tinypng OptimiZilla ImageRecycle With the editing tool inside of your account, Aviary, you can also edit your images by adding filters, text and much more! Say Goodbye to the Storage Full Alert As you continue to hone your craft and become an email marketing pro, and have images as a huge part of your email campaigns, you may bump up against the Image Gallery storage limit. Don’t fret. You can easily upgrade to Image Hosting Plus! This add-on will give you UNLIMITED space for all of your visual content for just $5 per month. The Smarter Way To Engage with Your Customers Our platform is built for the practical marketer, we offer all of the tools you need to get started and even more as you grow. Share Your Ideas Let us know your tips for visual content in your email marketing. Did we miss any tools? Have you tried something that’s yielded impressive results. Tell us in the comments below.  


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A/B Testing

Why You Need to be A/B Testing Your Email Campaigns

Beyond • June 5, 2017

The single most honest (and infuriating) answer to nearly every marketing question is, “it depends.” That’s because there’s no one right answer when it comes to marketing. What works for one business won’t necessarily work for another. Customers and audiences may differ. Even within your own audience, factors such as region and age can affect how someone will react to your email marketing campaigns. There are many variables that come into play with every email campaign and we’re often left asking ourselves if we’re doing the best that we can. Is your email marketing connecting with your subscribers, customers and leads? What Happens in Vegas... For the past couple years, we’ve been lucky enough to attend the MarketingSherpa Summit in Las Vegas. We learned a great many things, but one point that especially stood out was from MECLABS founder and managing director, Flint McGlaughlin: There are no such things as expert marketers. There are only marketers with experience. You may think you have all the answers, but really, we’re all playing guessing games. Granted, for some of us, they’re more educated guesses than others. At the end of the day, we all have a unique offering and we need to find a way to connect on a personal level with our core customers. One True Answer One key pattern emerged at MarketingSherpa event. A more accurate answer than “it depends.” The answer is testing. From small businesses to international corporations, nobody found the answers they were seeking without testing. Tests ranged from signup forms to email copy and even the number of steps in a conversion process that it took to establish trust. The bottom line is that testing is king. Consumer Reports Boosts Donations with A/B Testing At MarketingSherpa Summit 2016, we got to participate in what Austin McCraw, Senior Director of Content Production at MECLABS, called “the largest collaborative A/B test on the planet\" for Consumer Reports. The goal was to help increase donations to Consumer Reports by testing and hopefully improving the email campaigns they send to do so. First, the crowd was polled on various value propositions. The first set of tests was run based on the favorites of the crowd. Next, we voted on various email treatments for the campaign. Tests were run on each. Throughout the testing, we learned some things that did not work … and ultimately what did. That’s right. By end end of the two-day event we had helped Consumer Reports to increase revenue per donation by 32%! Increase Open Rates with A/B Testing The Apollo Education Group is the parent company of The University of Phoenix and more. They were unable to run A/B tests due to an old, outdated tools. They upgraded ESPs and soon found out how easy A/B Testing can be. The first tests they ran were more simple things such as subject lines and from names. They were impressed by how much testing the from name improved their engagement. From there, the Apollo Group ran A/B tests on the placement of the unsubscribe links being at the top or bottom of their campaigns. They continued from there, establishing a meeting to view results to gain an understanding of what was successful. Speaking of success, the Apollo Group achieved: An increase of 39% overall in open rates thanks to \'from\' line testing A 58% overall increase in click-through rates by testing their email templates By adding a name in the preheader, they gained a 9% increase in open rates MVMT Watches See Movement in Revenue Among many other tests, MVMT Watches ran A/B Tests on email length and content. This process enabled them to send versions to small sample sizes of their email list. Then, the winning campaign was sent to the remainder of their list. By running A/B tests, as well as testing to optimize their emails and send frequency, they were able to see an increase in revenue of 105%! The Proof is in the Pudding As you can see, each of these companies had different ideas on what might be successful. Only through testing, were they able to see which ones would work. Some strategies may seem counterintuitive or even impossible, but we can never know for sure until we test. By asking the right questions, running the tests and analyzing the data, these companies were able to gain the answers they sought. They created the proper tests and improved upon their goals. Don’t Just Trust Your Gut So, when it comes time to send your next email marketing campaign, don’t just rely on your instincts. Look to the data. Remember, there are no marketing experts. Instead, you can become a marketer with experience by running tests and learning what will be successful with your subscribers, customers and leads. Put everything you do to the test. With Benchmark Email, you can test subject lines, from names and even full email campaigns. I’ve said it many times. Using A/B Testing is like having your very own crystal ball. It enables you to see how your subscribers, customers and leads will engage with your email campaigns. That way, you’ll always know what your best performing ideas will be. Now It’s Your Turn When you go to run an A/B test on your own email campaigns, be careful not to test too many variables at once. You need to be able to identify which change was successful. Keep it to one test at a time. Identify your goals and test one idea at a time to achieve it. If your open rate is low, try to test the elements that can help improve that. If you want to see an increased engagement rate, focus on those items. You get the picture. Here are some A/B tests that you can run: Subject Line or From Name: helps to improve your open rate Headline Test: can work to boost your engagement rate Link or button tests: see which CTAs increase your click-through rate Copy or voice: testing your content can help both engagement and click-through rates   Let Us Know What You’re Do Share what you’ve tried. If you’ve already run A/B tests or you try one after reading this post, we want to hear about it. Tell us what you’ve learned in the comments below.        


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Dedicated IP

The Benefits of a Dedicated IP

Beyond • June 5, 2017

Spam. That word sends shivers down our spines. As an email marketing company, it’s a joke (and sometimes accusation) that often gets lobbed our way. We’re sure you’ve heard similar when you tell a friend or family member that you do email marketing. “Oh … you’re a spammer.” Then we explain permission-based, opt-in email marketing. Some people buy it (real practical marketers already knew and don’t bother with the jokes … they’re too busy enjoying the ROI email marketers enjoy). That’s because even legitimate businesses sometimes don’t understand the impact of unwanted emails. Companies who don’t quite follow email marketing best practices can become a huge problem. A lot of marketers don’t even realize the damage they can cause if they don’t pay attention to their sender reputation. The worst part is that sometimes these bad practices can affect other senders on the same servers. Why Use a Dedicated IP At Benchmark we offer shared IPs and Servers for a lot of our users. It’s a great way to get started with email marketing. We always try to group users who have similar sending patterns and reputation. Even though we do this, sometimes a bad sender can slip through the cracks. We have algorithms and security measures that detect these bad practices quite fast. We immediately take action by halting a harmful user, but it can still affect the server. How It Works As we mentioned, Benchmark tries to group users with similar sending patterns and reputation scores. We based these off of your domain’s sender score and sending habits. For example, if you are a retail business and you send often promotions and sales like emails, our system would take that and your sender score as reference to place you into a group of other users with similar practices. We would do the same for a blogger or non-profit organization that would send out more newsletter type emails. This practice helps keep a good reputation with the ISPs and an overall good delivery rate for the emails. When to Use a Dedicated IP As you get started with your email marketing efforts, shared spaces are a perfect, cost-effective solution. It’s already included in your account! As your list grows and the importance of your email marketing channel builds, your email volume will surely increase. This is when you should consider a dedicated IP for your account. Your Own Dedicated IP Having a Dedicated IP means that we setup an IP just for you! Think of it as having your own dedicated mail man. This gives you full control over your reputation and sender score. The more you send and the more engagement your subscribers have with your emails, the better delivery rates you will have. For just $30 a month, you can have your own Dedicated IP. We have plenty of IPs warming up and they only take a few minutes to set up for your business. Let’s Review A shared IP is perfect for the standard email marketer or for small lists of subscribers. However, as your list grows, and your emails become money makers, we encourage you to look into the advantages of having a Dedicated IP. Once again, this gives you full control over your reputation and delivery. The more engagement, the better rates! We recommend companies with a list size of 50,000 or more to consider the dedicated IP option. Especially if you are a frequent sender. We’re Here To Help If you have questions or if you would like to learn more about dedicated IPs, call, chat or email us! Our knowledgeable and dedicated team of customer engagement specialists can help you identify if a Dedicated IP is right for you.      


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Email Verification What, Why, and How

Email Verification: What, Why and How

Beyond • June 5, 2017

It can come as a surprise: you sign up with a great new email service provider like Benchmark, you prepare to launch your first campaign, you upload your email list and then . . . your progress suddenly stops. You’re told you need to verify your email addresses. Don’t worry - we’ve got you covered. We’re going to answer your questions and get you back on track. The bottom line is that email verification doesn’t take long, doesn’t cost much, and can significantly improve your marketing efforts. Let’s dive into the details. What is email verification? Email verification is the process of making sure the emails on your list are tied to an inbox. In other words, it’s making sure that the messages you’re sending have somewhere to go. Why should I verify my emails? When it comes to undelivered messaging, blasting your emails to an unverified list could result in some unfortunate consequences. Email service providers like Benchmark get proactive about verifying your emails to protect you from: Account Suspension Internet service providers, spam monitors, and email security services all set thresholds for spam complaints, undelivered messages, and unsubscribes. If you are emailing a stale or unmanaged list, you will likely cause a high number of all three. Email platforms like Benchmark have an obligation to enforce these thresholds. If you exceed them, they may be forced to suspend your account to maintain their reputation and deliverability rates. Verifying an email list is specifically helpful for reducing your number of undelivered messages. Dismal Marketing Results Sending an email to a lot of addresses might make you feel productive, but if those addresses are not valid, you won’t accomplish what you set out to do. After all, sending an email is a tactic. The underlying goal is to make a connection, which isn’t possible with an invalid address. If too many of your emails bounce back, this can hurt your deliverability. That means that even valid addresses may not hear from you. Plus, a high bounce rate can muddy your campaign metrics, making it more difficult to understand what’s working for the valid addresses on your list. Wasting Money Since email service providers like Benchmark base their pricing on the number of subscribers on each user’s list, keeping invalid email addresses in the system is a recurring waste. How does Benchmark know my emails need to be verified? Benchmark works with BriteVerify to perform a preliminary scan on a portion of your list. During the verification process, BriteVerify checks email syntax (“does it have an @ symbol”), verifies its email domain (MX record), and confirms the address exists on the server using custom integrations. Benchmark flags users when the percentage of risky emails in the sample list exceeds its acceptable standard. In general, of course, it’s a good idea for everyone to verify their entire email list before importing it into an ESP. While Benchmark’s preliminary process helps assess your risk, it doesn’t subject your entire list to a complete scan. That’s where BriteVerify can help you. What kinds of emails are risky and how should I handle them? BriteVerify sorts emails into different categories, where “Valid” emails are not risky at all and “Invalid” emails are those you should obviously remove from your list. The remaining categories are a bit more nuanced. “Accept All” emails are associated with domains that accept everything that comes in - at first. These catch-all domains may have a firewall or other spam tool that could remove or bounce your email later. “Unknown” emails are associated with a domain that isn’t responding. This may be a temporary issue, but it still creates uncertainty. Since “Accept All” and “Unknown” emails are risky, it’s wise to proceed with caution. If a large majority of the list consists of Invalid, Accept All and Unknown emails, consider the age and source of the data. In addition, BriteVerify also scans for and identifies two more potentially risky types of emails: role-based addresses and temporary addresses. Role-based addresses are usually set up to manage an organization’s generic inquiries or issues. Examples include addresses starting with sales@, support@, or info@. These emails may be managed by several people across different departments. In general, sending email to such addresses results in a high complaint rate. Temporary or disposable addresses are created by users in lieu of using their primary address. Users may want to conceal their identity or simply be wary of joining another email list. Temporary addresses are valid and active for a while - in fact, users may share them with multiple organizations. However, they are more likely to be shut down after some time. Because of their temporary nature, they are identified as risky emails and should not be included in the imported list to Benchmark. How should I verify my emails and how much is this going to cost? You can sign up for BriteVerify and verify your emails by clicking this link and following the steps. As for cost, proper email verification can save you money. For example, maintaining 100,000 subscribers in Benchmark costs $449.95 per month. If 20% of those emails are invalid (a realistic possibility), that means the user should ideally only be paying for 80,000 valid subscribers at a cost of $360 per month. Without verification, the user is paying the higher price. The difference between the real world and the ideal world is a recurring loss of $89.95 per month or $1,079.40 per year. BriteVerify costs just a penny to verify each email - in this case, $1,000 for 100,000 addresses. Verification thus pays for itself in less than a year - and that doesn’t even account for the benefits of better and unimpeded marketing results. The benefits of cleaning your list are direct and measurable. Mike Means, Sales Channel Manager at BriteVerify, advises that \"continuously monitoring the quality of your emails before sending is becoming a ‘must do’ as email data is decaying faster than we think.\" Why are so many of my email addresses invalid? Here are a few reasons you may have a high rate of Invalid or other risky emails: List decay. Email addresses don’t necessarily stay valid forever: people change jobs, get married, or abandon accounts. Citing MarketingSherpa research, HubSpot notes that “[e]mail marketing databases naturally degrade by about 22.5% every year.” You didn’t validate your emails as they came in through webforms, allowing typos to enter your system. In addition to cleaning your existing list, BriteVerify can block typos at the point of entry. The list is peppered with role addresses (like sales@ or marketing@) or disposable ones. Even great marketers have bad emails on their list. They just know that by proactively removing them, they’ll achieve better performance, improve campaign measurement, and protect their campaigns from sudden derailment.


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Understanding your reports

Understanding Your Email Marketing Reports

Beyond • June 2, 2017

Whether you’ve been doing email marketing for 24 hours or 10 years, understanding the important metrics in your reports is a crucial part. I come across this question often in regards to the many features our platform offers is, “What does it all mean?” Every marketer should have a sound understanding of these factors in order to fully enjoy the fruits of email marketing. Benchmark offers five types of reports to help marketers identify their targeted and loyal audience: 1. Email Reports We offer real-time tracking of your email marketing and social media campaigns. It gives you the platform to understand your subscribers, clients and fans better with these analytics. Everyone likes to see high open rates and an additional increase in the traffic due to email click-throughs. Let’s also look to help understand what other metrics inform you and how you can apply it to identify your email marketing growth. [caption id=\"attachment_5622\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"997\"] Check this report to identify how many subscribers opened your campaign and, most importantly, who clicked on what.[/caption] The basics: Open rate: It’s pretty self-explanatory. This is the unique number of users who opened your email. Bounces: This includes the list of users who are temporarily or permanently unable to receive your emails. The temporary bounces, aka soft bounces, are due to a full inbox or a subscriber\'s service being unavailable. Permanent bounce, aka hard bounces, occurs due to fake or mistyped email IDs. Stay away from bounces, and remove hard bounces instantly from your list. Links Clicked: Check which link in your campaign received the most clicks and which subscribers clicked those links. Unsubscribe: This number tells you the subscribers who are no longer interested in receiving your campaigns. Make sure to update your database and refrain from sending any campaigns to them in future. Emails Forwarded: Check this to see how many really liked your campaign and have shared with their friends and clients. The click map feature will tell you what percentage of subscribers are clicking your call-to-action buttons. This can help you to design your next campaign with more targeted CTAs. Campaign Comparison reports:  This is a powerful feature that compares multiple sent campaigns on the basis of open rates, clicks, bounces, etc. This report can be helpful to understand how your subscribers reacted to your campaigns. With the geo-tracking feature, you can discover where in the world your subscribers are opening your emails. Easily segment lists based on time zones to make sure your emails are always delivered at the time you want. 2. A/B Test Reports A/B Testing is a common practice in email marketing.  With a very broad audience and a lot of content, sometimes it\'s hard to judge what words or style that a subscriber might like.  We want the contact to like the email so that they will open the email and continue to open future emails you send to them. But what subject line should I use?  What email format works better?  These questions will always be on the mind of an email marketer before sending an email.  The answers to those questions come in the form of A/B Testing.  Not only can you test the subject line, you can also test different emails as well. Reports of A/B Tests can be viewed under the Reports section of your dashboard. Select the A/B campaign for which you want to analyze the results. You can view the opens, bounces and forwards for that campaign. 3. Survey Reports This unique feature helps you to learn more about your subscribers. You can ask their opinions on various subjects and company developments. Benchmark allows you to create a survey in minutes to reach your audience on any device. You can host these surveys to your domain and embed them on any web page. Reports of the survey created can be seen under the Reports button on the dashboard. View the responses, export it in a PDF or reuse it for a new survey. Gauge the individual as well as overall responses that can help you to be even more successful in your future business endeavors. 4. Poll Reports Using Polls can help you discover what your subscribers like. Polls create better engagement with subscribers and your company. Similar to a survey, a poll can be distributed through your email campaigns or placed on your web page. Use a poll to find out what your subscribers want, need and like. Stats for each poll can be seen by clicking on each item under the poll name. You can view the percentage of votes received by each option in your poll. Polls give you the unmatched convenience and efficiency of direct, free engagement with your subscribers. 5. Automation Reports In 2016, we introduced this awesome tool to our customers. This practical tool for marketers has helped them to become a Precision-Oriented Marketer by keeping their email marketing on autopilot. The reports on automation journeys created by the users in Automation Pro can be seen under the Reports section of the dashboard.  The email reports are similar to the one which is available for your general campaigns. It is useful to understand which automation journeys are working for the product and which needs your attention. In Summary At the end of the day, email marketing improvements are based on a few important metrics which every marketer must understand. By following certain tips like maintaining an opt-in list, writing compelling subject line, maintaining streamline sending frequency can help you improve every metrics explained above.            


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Going Global: To China

Going Global • June 2, 2017

In this blog, I want to focus on Mainland China and talk about the nuances of managing this particular country, as well as listing some of our successes and challenges. Our offices in both Taiwan and China are managed by Meilin, our local director, and these two regions were established in 2011 and 2013 respectively. Let’s first focus on China. Challenges Management of these regions of course is challenged by the huge time differences and the peculiarities of the business practices within these areas. For example, the phone is heavily used as a sales tool in both Taiwan and China. In the western world of North America and Europe utilizing the phone as the primarily sales tool is highly discouraged as people prefer email or other online methods. Another challenge within China is purely cultural. First, our Chinese customers mostly don’t practice the idea of permission-based email marketing, this concept is a bit foreign here. They simply want to get a bulk list for as little money as possible and blast. Quick results from their marketing efforts are a must. Our local specialists have their hands full convincing them of the benefits of permission based marketing and ongoing customer engagement, some do understand this concept for sure, but it\'s not widely practiced. An additional big challenge is turnover. The typical employee has low loyalty when compared to other countries. They are constantly searching for better salaries and less work hours, some will jump from one job to the next for as little as $50 per month increase. Obviously, with China’s growth, employees are constantly looking for the latest and greatest thing. We do provide flexibility and a great working environment with competitive salary packages, but many times that is not enough. Actually, providing our email tools within China itself has not been easy. Even though we utilize a content and application delivery network company that provides us with good SSL speed, within China itself we are still affected by the Internet Censorship and speed reductions that the government imposes. In addition, even though we have local native language support it’s difficult at times delivering email into these domains (QQ.com or 163.com and sohu.com, these companies don’t actively publish guidelines on best practices for email delivery) which are very large within China. This has forced us to focus on local companies that want to market outside of China to the rest of the world. With regard to competition, local competitors are now starting to heat up. However, their feature mix typically does not stack up to ours, though they are improving. Lastly, as we grow and have success it’s difficult to transfer money outside of China (we take local currency payments and pay our employees from a local bank account to offset this issue), and we incur taxes of 16% or more. That is not based on profit, but simply based on transferring money outside of China. Success The benefits of being in China early are that the economic globalization and world multi-polarization is being accelerated. Mainland China is willing to absorb Western experience to enrich its own. With our local sales and support teams playing an important consultative role, Benchmark Email\'s solutions are actually the right tool for them. We are not only selling the tool, but teaching clients how to implement strategies with their marketing process. The power of A/B Testing, Automation Pro, Signup Forms and other key Benchmark tools are strengthening their understanding and usage of permission-based email marketing tools, while enhancing their overall marketing strategy. I hope this gives some insights into our process within China, I will expand upon other regions in my next blog.


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6 Email Subject Line Templates That Will Get Your Emails Opened

6 Email Subject Line Templates That Will Get Your Emails Opened

Practical Marketer • May 31, 2017

Back in 1963, David Ogilvy reminded his profession that ‘on the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.’ Email open rates average 18.2% for ad agencies, rising to 27.3% for car and transport businesses. So it looks like Ogilvy is still reliable. Your subject line, like his headline, is 80 cents of your email dollar. And it counts: 47% of readers open emails based on subject line alone. 70% will dismiss you as spam on the same basis. It’s the biggest variable you can control. Great subject lines can impact your deliverability and your open rate, and open rates count because they’re the first step to conversions. Of the people who don’t open your email, 100% don’t convert. Upping open rates has a dramatic effect on ROI. Want to see what it could do for yours? Check out the email ROI calculator. Our subject lines have to make it through spam filters, and they have to engage readers and ‘sell’ them the rest of the email. Here are six email subject line templates that will do both. 1: The Reason Why Why nobody is actually reading your content - and what you can do about it Inbound.org ‘Reason Why’ subject lines combine two powerful effects: curiosity and self-interest. They convince readers that they should do something, and offer compelling reasons. (Bonus points for numbering the reasons.) The desired behavior speaks to self-interest. The reasons speak to curiosity. Together, they’re an effective combination. Numbered reasons (‘5 reasons why,’ ‘Top 3 reasons’) reassure readers that the email won’t be too long to read in the time they have or guarantee meaty, usable content a couple of clicks away. But single reasons can work too: ‘the REAL reason you should...’ or ‘the number one reason startups fail’ subject lines offer insider knowledge. Try these templates: The REAL reason {undesirable outcome relevant to audience} Example: The REAL reason your emails aren’t getting opened The top X reasons {undesirable outcome} and how to avoid them Example: The top 6 reasons projects fail and how to avoid them 2: The Offer Last chance! Save 25% when you come back to Shutterstock Shutterstock.com If you want something, ask for it. Sales people tell each other all the time to ask for the sale. Don’t be scared to do it in your emails. Making the offer more powerful is partly a matter of segmentation: don’t offer suburban soccer moms 10% off Iron Maiden, and don’t offer college kids lower rates on retirement insurance. Copywriting can’t fix this. But there are things we can do to make an offer more compelling. If your 10% off will be there forever, no rush. That email slips down the inbox, never to be opened. If it’s all over in 12 hours, better check it out now. Try adding a call-out. Emailing runners saying ‘10% off tights for your next marathon’ or ‘Kayakers: save 40% on paddles - this weekend ONLY’ hits all the right buttons, making your recipients feel like you’re talking right to them. It’s like hearing your name over the PA in the store: ‘Hey, that’s me!’ Try these templates: X% off {targeted product} this weekend Example: Get 22% off skiwear this weekend or {Call-out}: save X% when you {desirable action} - ends in {time} Example: Marathoners: save 22% when you sign up - ends in 12 hours 3: The Question What can you afford? Zillow Try these templates: How much {desirable outcome} can you get for {low sum}? Example: How much car does $500 buy you? Or: Can you afford to {not do desired action}? Example: Can you afford to ignore these 17 email marketing stats? 4: The Urgency Time is running out to save $400 on B2B Marketing Forum MarketingProfs   Urgency and scarcity have been triggers to buy since the first time anyone sold anything. When we send out emails advising, ‘hurry - ends in 14 hours,’ or ‘DON’T MISS OUT: last chance to get your free DVD,’ we’re not doing anything new. But we are doing something effective. It’s effective because it pushes them toward making a decision now, not waiting til later and then forgetting about it. But they might decide they don’t really want it. So use urgency with purchase-ready recipients. There are several ways to achieve the urgency we want. We can focus on a deadline. Tell recipients they have just 4 hours, or that the sale ends Friday. Or we can inject some urgent language into the subject line. Like ‘final,’ ‘last,’ ‘go,’ ‘now.’ Even just telling customers to ‘hurry’ can work. These words trigger arousal states that make engagement more likely. Try these templates: Hurry - sale ends at {deadline} Example: Hurry - sale ends at midnight Friday! Or Last chance to get {offer} - {time} to go! Example: Last chance to get your subject line templates - 4 hours to go! 5: Too cool for a subject line Hey   Say what you like about Obama, his marketing was on point. One of the ways he set himself apart from his competition was an email campaign with this simple one-word subject line. It’s effective because it sounds like a call for attention - hey! Over here! - and a greeting. Hey, how’s it going? Every subject line in your audience’s inbox is making an effort. Sometimes it can feel like all that engineered urgency and corporate targeting is just trying too hard. Subject lines that stand out by being human give you an in. They work best when you’re looking for engagement, not direct sales, but even a sales or outreach email often gets opened more with a ‘Just a quick idea’ subject line than when it’s clanking along under a pile of caps, punctuation and dollar signs. It’s not about being super short - though that does visually distinguish your email in an inbox. It’s about being a human voice. Your\"So I was thinking…\" subject line sounds like a real person, and it makes people want to know what’s on your mind in a way that no superheated special offer could. Try these templates: {Name}, quick question...? Example: Jonathan, quick question…? Or: Hey {Name}, talk to me about {subject}? Example: Lou, talk to me about your conversion rate? 6: My Story How he doubled his traffic (and gets ~50% new clients from his blog) Derek Halpern What’s better than telling me how I should do something? Telling me how you already did it. Now I know that you know what you’re talking about. You’re qualified to show me the way, and your experience is just as useful as your advice. (I’ve learned a lot from asides in blog posts that say stuff like ‘one thing I noticed was that people seemed to…’ At least as much as I ever have from advice saying ‘do this because figures.’) Subject lines like this let you make specific, factual offers. You’d like to learn how to double your traffic and get half your business as inbound off your blog, right? But you make those offers in a way that feels natural, gripping and un-salesy. And we love a story. It’s part of being human. What film or TV show isn’t about someone overcoming adversity to get what they want? Not usually more blog traffic, granted, but the point remains the same. We can’t resist narrative. Gear it to our special interests and promise us a payoff at the end? Hooked. Try these templates: How I turned/went from {disadvantageous position} into a successful business Example: How I went from a mental asylum to running a successful business Or: How {Name} {outsize success} in {tiny time period} using {tool or technique} Example: How Michael doubled conversions in just three weeks using persuasive copy Conclusion When you’re trying to make sure your emails get opened, your subject line is the most important tool you can wield. Some of what makes it work is getting to know your audience, and it’s tough for even the best subject line to work ‘uphill’ against the results of poor segmentation. But if you’re all set otherwise, these 6 email subject line templates should get your copy, offers and images where they need to be: in front of your audience. Have you received any awesome or horrifying subject lines? Share them in the comments below - I would love to hear about them.


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Spotlight on Benchmark: Have You Seen The Wonderful News?

Spotlight on Benchmark: Have You Seen The Wonderful News?

Beyond • May 26, 2017

“If you could choose just one moment, what would you choose?” That’s what a colleague asked me recently as we discussed everything that’s happened at Benchmark over the years and, honestly, I can’t choose just one. We’ve never really seized the opportunity to tell you all about what we’ve achieved internationally although we have, of course, been keeping you up to date on all the improvements we’ve made to the platform itself. You’ve surely noticed that the tool and site have just undergone a rebrand. We’ve got a brand new logo and released the game-changing Automation Pro a few months ago as well. That’s not it either and we’ve got a few more surprises coming your way very soon. However, what about awards? Did you know that in 2016, we won the award for Best Email Marketing Solution at eShow Brazil, or that, more recently, we appeared in Forbes as one of the top B2B tools to try in 2017? The truth is that we hardly ever make enough of a song and dance about these small victories, but each and every one is something that we’re all incredibly proud of. So, instead of just choosing one, I’ve chosen 6 of my most recent favourite moments to share with you. Business News Daily named us Best Email Marketing Software for Small Business Overall in January. They researched and analysed dozens of other platforms, but fell in love with our templates, powerful and easy-to-use editing software, detailed reports and dedicated support. You can click to read the review in full. Last year, we participated in eShow Brazil 2016, a major digital marketing event in Sao Paulo attended by over 4,000 digital professionals. The show also celebrates the most innovative digital services, e-commerce tools and agencies with an awards ceremony where we were voted Best Email Marketing Solution. You can see photos from the event, our shiny award and also practice your Portuguese by clicking to view our special eShow blog post. There are lots of great email marketing blogs so it was very exciting to see that ours has recently been ranked 7th best of all of them! We are genuinely passionate about sharing our email marketing knowledge and experience so knowing we’ve made a difference helping so many marketers with practical, insider tips and advice, really means a lot.You can see the entire ranking here. We recently became one of a select few companies that have been shown to comply with the Privacy Shield’s data protection requirements. This agreement imposes stronger obligations on US companies to protect the personal data of Europeans and also enforces greater transparency while offering several redress possibilities. Getting certified is a rigorous process but, if you’re still wondering what’s involved and why it’s important, then you’re in luck because you can learn more about the agreement and also find out which of your favourite companies comply with the requirements here. Privacy Shield wasn’t the only certification process we passed with flying colours either. After a thorough assessment, which involved reviewing our Privacy Policy and data collection practices, TRUSTe certified our commitment to privacy. It was quite the honour to have Dan Reich, writing on Forbes, the leading business and financial news publication, include us among his 20 B2B technologies to try in 2017. Dan is an entrepreneur and business expert with years of online and technological experience. If you’d like to read more about what he said about us, as well as explore his other favourite B2B tools for 2017, click the link above. Finally, we truly believe that these successes aren’t just ours. We couldn’t have won these prizes and acknowledgments without you because it’s thanks to you that we’re where we are today so, thank you :-) What about you? What were your big successes and favourite moments from recent months? Share them in the comments below.


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Lean en Espanol

Lean en Español

Lean Journey • May 23, 2017

When they invited me to be part of the Benchmark Lean Squad I was very excited. This new lean concept idea was something that, from the very beginning, made sense in regards to our daily tasks thanks to the many digital tools and software that we use. Now, we are able to simplify them with Lean. I simply loved the idea. Not only do I love being lean at work, but it\'s also in my way of living. I even use the ideas of lean to rate my everyday activities. Does this same strange? Well, imagine my motivation when they invited me to lead the Lean meetings for Latin America and Europe. The Team My super Lean team consists of 15 people. They are all from different countries and cultures, and we only have a few things in common: we all speak Spanish and we are all Benchmarkers. The Meeting: Beginning Stage \"It can\'t be. I have to conduct the Lean Meeting!\" Every day we read the diary of the Stoics, a beautiful book that contains the most celebrated quotes from Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, among a few others. We also share our best 2-second lean improvements, a daily commitment to daily and continuous improvement. Everyone writes down their improvements and shares them. We also watched a video for personal improvement. On Fridays, we have our Core Value presentation, in which we reflected on and have a discussion of the same. It all seemed to be going fine and dandy, however, the reality was another. Our meeting is held via a call, and not actually in person. This limits us because it does not allow us to see the true reactions of the ones behind the screen and, to be totally honest, I was not sure who was actually engaged. The Challenge Ensuring the team was interested and engaged during the meetings was and is a challenge. I cannot claim victory here yet, and I must admit this is something that we will continue to try and improve on. We have implemented a series of new ideas to make our meetings more interactive, and I say we because Frieder (Germany- Manager) and Raquel (Regional Manager for Europe) have given me their full support in every step. It has been a great team effort. One of the first changes was to stop translating our Daily Stoic and to look for something in our own language. Second, we continued with the videos provided by the Lean Squad, but we were also busy looking for videos in Spanish and ultimately videos that peaked our interest. We also started sharing our screens, which was another great suggestion given to improve our meeting. The second change, we started getting to know each other. One of the best experiences in my opinion! It occurred to me, to create a drawing jar with each of our names and an activity for that day to draw from. Here are some stories our team members have shared with us during our Lean 19 meetings: [caption id=\"attachment_5531\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"879\"] Karen, from our Colombian office, talked to us about, Valledupar, her birthplace. It was interesting to find out that instead of looking for a queen, they look for a king during their Annual Vallenato Festival.[/caption] [caption id=\"attachment_5532\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1600\"] Here is Eduardo Ramos, one of our Support Executive team members. It’s incredible, the acrobatic performance he can do while on a motorcycle. I must admit this really surprised us![/caption] [caption id=\"attachment_5533\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"749\"] Fernanda Brito, from our Mexico office, with her family crossing between Guanajuato and Mexico.[/caption] Result I strongly believe we are now more than just colleagues. Like I said before, it\'s a work in progress. That even I don\'t expect the improvements to stop. We will continue to reinvent day to day, and hopefully, in the end, the team will enjoy the 19 minutes and adopt the lean concept.  Why not become friends on the way to being lean despite the distance and those cultural differences that, at the end of the day, enrich our wonderful company.


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The Best Email Designs Are Based on Your Audience

The Best Email Designs Are Based on Your Audience

Beyond • May 16, 2017

You might want all the bells and whistles when you’re crafting the best email designs for your marketing campaigns. Yet, the best way to go about this project is to step back and think about your audience. If you’re opting for a packing your email campaign with a lot of information, consider whether that’s the ideal way to communicate to an older audience that might have trouble navigating between different messages or focusing on the one you want to emphasize the most. It would be information overflow. Similarly, if your email design is going to an e-commerce subscriber list of customers, you may want to focus on information such as different products. However, now you’re facing an additional issue. Your content isn’t text, but the product, and so your email design needs to highlight and beautify each product. Making this process a lot easier for you, we’ve tallied the best tips across the web. Best Email Design Tip #1: Forget the Big Picture Even though you might want a big beautiful design, email design size matters. Studies show that the more a reader has to keep their eye movement along the same line before a line break, the longer it takes them to process the information. The longer it takes someone to read or process something, the sooner they’re disinterested and walk away. That stat has a lot to do with why content skyrocketed once mobile technology developed. People go through content more on their mobile devices. The same goes for your newsletter. You want your desktop version to be at 600px and you want to also check and see how that converts to mobile. In most cases, this means keeping design simple and focusing on one or two key images versus flooding your email campaign with images. You want your desktop version to be at 600px and you want to also check and see how that converts to mobile. In most cases, this means keeping design simple and focusing on one or two key images versus flooding your email campaign with images. If you do have a lot of images to share, focus on one or two for the email campaign and include a link to a landing page that hosts more. Because size matters, you’re going to want to be very selective about what type of content you include. This also applies to the level of text you have. Sure people are scanning for information, but they don’t want to keep scanning. Keep the text brief with a link to a landing page. If you absolutely feel the need to add in a lot of text, then have breakers and subheadings with bullet points. These markers will help draw the eye to key information, helping your reader get through it faster. Best Email Design Tip #2: Think About the Big Picture So while we’re forgetting about the literal big picture, we do want to keep in mind the figurative big picture. When there’s so much going on in the world of your subscriber - or even just in your email campaign - how do you draw their eye to what matters? An email campaign isn’t just about saying hello and letting people know you exist. In other words, it’s not enough to just send the campaign. Best email design practices mean that you need to drive home a point. Each email campaign MUST have a call to action. The most powerful way to set up your call to action is in your design. Your email design needs to highlight the call to action but also clearly frame and identify it. The call to action could be a key point or message; it could be a donate button; it could be a ‘buy now’ button, etc. The truth is most email campaign readers don’t scroll all the way through your email campaign. Instead, they make a snap decision. This means that you’re best email design practice includes keeping your call to action at the top. For content-driven campaigns, that means using the major headlines as the key point you want to drive home so that if that’s all your reader read, they’ve walked away with the bit of info you want. For e-commerce, it’s about capturing someone’s attention with the sale teaser, such as the percentage off, the coupon or the window of time - all these things. From there you want to keep the buy now button not at the end of the campaign, but in the middle of the frame or picture so it’s still easy to access.


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