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Benchmark Email PieSync Integration

Benchmark Email PieSync Integration

Beyond • May 12, 2017

Any marketer worth their salt knows, or is willing to search for, the tools they need to make them the best at what they do. If they’re practical, like we know the marketers who choose Benchmark are, then they find a way to integrate those tools whenever possible. Introducing the Benchmark Email PieSync Integration Enter the Benchmark Email PieSync integration. They’ve built a 2-way data sync to all the other cloud-based apps you’re putting to work for your business. That’s right! Now there’s a way to connect all the tools you use to help your business thrive. PieSync enables a 2-way, real-time data sync between your cloud-based tools and apps and Benchmark Email. Boost all of your efforts with the power of email marketing. No more spending too much valuable time exporting and importing lists to and from your Benchmark Email account. PieSync helps you to maintain one, unified database across all platforms. This allows you to focus on the tasks that matter, knowing that this is going to happen automatically. PieSync monitors your apps to see when an update is needed and will then sync all new data. You can also designate which tool is your master database, so you don’t have to fear overwriting incorrect or outdated information. What to Integrate You should take any and every opportunity available to integrate your business apps with your Benchmark account. CRM. If you\'re maintaining a CRM database, you\'re doing most of the list management work required for successful email marketing. PieSync will ensure your email lists are up-to-date and in sync with your CRM. Use automation in your email account to create effective customer journeys. eCommerce. You can send email follow-ups to customers from the moment they make a purchase. Inform them of related items and accessories or when it\'s time to buy more with the right automated campaign. Form builders. If you\'re gathering data and email addresses with a form builder, you can send those lists directly to your email marketing account.  Send a Welcome Email, make good on the promo code your form promised and more. What Do You Integrate? Let us know what tools and apps you combine with your email marketing to boost your business!


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How to Go Back to the Drawing Board for the Best Email Newsletters

How to Go Back to the Drawing Board for the Best Email Newsletters

Beyond • May 10, 2017

I’ve been around a lot of email marketing campaigns across several industries. Whether you’re looking at non-profits, think tanks, e-commerce, major consumer brands, networking groups, or blogs, there’s one thing that ties the best of the best together, and it’s purpose. Every great email marketing plan — and notice it’s a plan or a campaign, versus a single email — has these common variables. They each have a common purpose behind their campaigns. They each invoke emotion, and that emotion is typically carried in part through the design. There’s consistency in deliverability and there’s a variety of the types of campaigns shared over time. These factors are what creates the difference between mediocre campaigns and the best email newsletters. It always boils down to purpose. If you know what you’re walking through those doors for every morning — if you have a mission — it becomes a lot easier to walk out of them winning every day. The best email newsletters are all unified in their mission statement. They understand that email is so different from any other content or messaging platform. Email is the spear that drives the arrow. For there to be a point, you need to know what your purpose is. This comes back to organizational awareness. You might know what product or service you’re selling, but unless you know why you matter (or what matters to you), you don’t really have a purpose. You may be looking back and thinking this would have been easier to get right at the start of your business rather than maybe going back to the drawing board. I disagree. Once you’re in the ebb and flow of your business, you sometimes come out with a much better idea of what direction you’re going in and what matters to you now. From there, it’s always easy to shift and redesign. 9 Rules for Going Back to the Drawing Board World leading marketing analysts McKinsey & Co. developed a fantastic guideline for redesigning with purpose. According to the expert analysts that are drivers to growth and opportunity in some of the world’s most lucrative business, there are nine concrete steps to making this happen: Focus on long term goals Study the landscape Think about the blueprint Think beyond structures Bring on the right people Guide people to think differently Set a benchmark for analytics Leaders should be talking to each other, always. Things won’t always go your way, so manage those risks. Their guideline also shows that companies who follow six or more rules have a 73% improvement rate versus companies who followed just one or two rules. The latter had a 12% improvement rate. Those who followed all nine rules secured a jump in an improvement of a staggering 86%. Your Mission Statement, Should You Choose To Accept It To shake up your own company’s mission statement, get your team in a room and ask them to write down their answers to these questions: What do they think your business does every day? What would they say is your mission statement in a sentence or two? What would they like to see the company doing in this regard? You don’t want to give people more than 15 minutes to write their answers down. You want their answers to be real and not packaged for what might sound best. The same can also be done if you run an online business or content-based platform.


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The Daily Lean Convene

The Daily Lean Convene

Lean Journey • May 9, 2017

When we decided to really commit to becoming LEAN at Benchmark, we knew we would have an extra challenge since our team is spread throughout the world.  Could we realistically teach the concept of Lean to our team of 140+ Benchmarkers who operate in 9 languages and 8 time zones?  More importantly, could we build a LEAN culture that would come to permeate how we make decisions and the way we work every day?  These were important questions our Leadership Team had to answer. We had already assembled our Lean Squad so now we had to land on how we would go about making Lean part of our daily lives.   We needed to drive home the lean message of continuous improvement.  We already had daily huddles and scrums and weekly Level 10 meetings for our various teams.  But we did not have a standing meeting that everyone in the company attended every day.  Would it really be possible to commit to meeting every work day in every one of our offices in the world?  Could we afford the loss of time?  The answer was absolutely!  In fact, we could not afford to NOT meet, especially if we wanted to have a true lean transformation.  We saw this as an investment in our team and we hoped they would see it the same way. I was especially concerned about our developers.  They tend to be very smart, matter of fact, black and white and not very touchy feely.  I could just imagine them saying ‘Why the heck are we wasting time on this?  I’ve got code to write!\' We decided we would meet every day for 19 minutes, so we named our meeting Lean 19.  Each of the 6 other regions picked a time that they could commit to daily.  In our headquarters in Los Alamitos, we chose 9:41 AM.  It was an odd time, so people remembered it.  We have an automatic Slack reminder that posts at 9:39 and then we “ring the bell” at 9:40.  Most of the team is already making their way to the conference room and are seated by 9:41. [caption id=\"attachment_5270\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"768\"] Our Lean 19 bell[/caption] For the first few months, our meetings consisted of learning Lean principles,  talking about our “2-Second Improvements” and reviewing one of our Core Values followed by an inspiring Ted Talk. At first, it was a little hard to get everyone on board and I think some of the team thought we were crazy.  I was especially concerned about our developers.  They tend to be very smart, to the matter of fact, black and white and not very touchy feely.  I could just imagine them saying, “Why the heck are we wasting time on this?  I’ve got code to write!”  However, I was so wrong.  Not only did they get on board, they loved it.  In fact, they seemed to take to Lean quicker than anyone else. Our first Lean 19 meeting was July 18, 2016.  We’ve had a meeting almost every work day since then and they just keep getting better. If you are interested in our daily Lean 19 agendas, just email me at denise.keller@benchmarkemail.com and I’d be happy to share my presentations with you.


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Going Global

Going Global: Language Barriers

Going Global • May 5, 2017

This week has been a week of India travels for me. I am visiting our offices in Delhi, and then our programmers in Mumbai and finally onto our new CRM development team in Kerala. I am actually on that flight as I write this. I like the Indian culture and country. I always find them to be quite friendly and talkative when I do get a chance to chat. So, back to our Going Global series. What are the challenges that we are facing being a smaller, but global company? In one word, resources. Since we are a small company, we don’t have a lot of them for each region. Each country must wear many hats: business development, sales, content management, translations, accounting, administration and other chores that might be required. In this blog, I will focus on some of the large concepts and challenges that are created by being global. As an example, we recently just launched a new homepage, brand and logo. So, of course, the design must support all the languages we are in (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese - simple and traditional - as well as Japanese). So, designing for nine languages is not easy and can really slow down the process. Does it translate well? Do we keep some of the English words? Is the spacing correct? We often have to get the translations from everyone to move forward, and if they are busy with other activities, it can take a few days which slows the whole process. In addition, almost every region has an opinion of what the page should look like or what is important for their region. This is understandable but again takes up time. We have a homegrown language Content Management System, which does give flexibility and an order of control, but the process still seems a bit lethargic. The top 5 issues with managing multiple languages for a small company, and maybe a large company as well, are: Getting the desired results from your web pages based on the nuances and meaning you are trying to communicate to a particular country. The management of getting translations completed for nine different languages in a timely manner. Business development. In China, the phone is used heavily. There\'s a lot of making cold calls and talking with customers to take orders and getting six-month or annual written contracts. Compared to the U.S. and Europe, where business is mostly driven by online credit card transactions. This makes the business development process hard to standardize, and requires a lot of customization, making it more difficult to scale. Taking local payments. In some of our regions, mostly in China, India and Latin America, we have allowed local payments to happen. We did this for a couple of reasons. One to get the business in the first place. Second, because in those regions companies can’t deduct the payments as an expense unless they get a service tax credit. That usually requires a local payment. Just plain old communication. Time differences are real and challenging. Even though we use as many tools as we can (Skype, Slack, SMS, phone, Whatsapp ... you name it),  people just can’t work at the same productive creative level all day long. It takes its toll. For most people, their thought process at 10-12PM is not as good as it was between 8-11AM. When you multiple that week after week, sometimes day after day, it gets tiring. Marketing is customized for each region, which again takes more time and doesn\'t allow for standardization. India, Brazil and other regions allow us to get very low-cost freemium signups, which we then can sift through to find the gems who will purchase our product. However, in the U.S., Europe and Japan, PPC is expensive to get free users. To summarize, it’s fair to say that managing a small, global company with many local offices poses it’s challenges in scaling the operation. However, one benefit of going global early on is that we understand the difficulties and start to iterate our processes. So, every quarter that goes by we get better and better. Kind of like an AI machine (if only we could iterate as quickly). Also, in some markets, we are the early offering with such a rich feature set that gives us some advantages.


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Your Questions Answered: List Uploads & List Verification

Beyond • May 2, 2017

Your list is your most valuable asset in email marketing. Having a good quality list plays a huge role in the success of your campaigns and your deliverability, and you should make sure that you do everything you can to send only to valid email addresses. To help you understand the quality of your list before you send a campaign and make sure you don’t damage your reputation in the meantime, we run checks on every single list uploaded to our platform. What does this mean for you? Read on to find out. What are the benefits of list verification? Lower bounce rates. If you send to an invalid email address, it will bounce. The more bounces you have, the lower your sender reputation will fall, and a low sender reputation has a very negative impact on whether or not your emails go through to the inbox. You might not have considered how important your bounce rate is but ISPs, anti-spam groups and corporate email protection services all set thresholds for bounces, spam complaints and unsubscribe requests and they use this info to prioritise emails in the inbox. Additionally, if you get too many bounces, your ESP may suspend your account. Better sender reputation. It might help if you think of your sender reputation a bit like a credit score. If the results of a campaign aren’t very positive, then this will leave a negative mark on your sender history. Also, just like a credit history, once your reputation drops, it can be tricky to build it up again. Clearer campaign results. Verifying your list means that you’ll no longer be sending to undeliverable emails. With these removed, your open and click-through rates will be more meaningful. Save money. Verifying your list might mean having fewer subscribers on the list, but they weren’t valid email addresses anyway. Having fewer people on your list may mean being able to move to a smaller plan and this saving will help you make back the investment made to verify. What happens when I upload a list to Benchmark? When you upload a list to Benchmark, our system runs a statistically significant sample of it through email validation software to understand the quality of the list. From this sample, results are grouped into four categories: Valid: emails marked as valid have a valid account associated, and it’s safe to send campaigns to them. Invalid: It is not possible to deliver emails to these addresses. It may be that this address is no longer in use or that the format of the address is incorrect. Accept All: Sending to email addresses marked as Accept All is risky because the server has been set to receive all emails sent to a specific domain making the address seem valid at first. The company will have a firewall or other spam filtering tool in place though which may cause emails to bounce when you send your campaign. Unknown: The email looks ok, but the domain isn’t responding. We don’t know whether it’s not responding due to a temporary or permanent issue so sending to these addresses is also considered risky. Once the sample has been taken, your list with then either be accepted or rejected based on these results. If your list is rejected, it will be because too many of the addresses were marked as invalid, risky or both. If your list is rejected, then you will not be able to use it without verifying it first as, in its current state, you would receive an amount of bounces that would be damaging to your sender reputation. How can I verify my list? All customers on paid plans can verify their list with us. The process is extremely easy and hassle-free. All you have to do is send your list to your account manager or our support team, and we will do the rest for you. If you do not have a paid account, then we strongly recommend that you use BriteVerify, Kickbox, QuickEmailVerification or one of the many other good options out there to verify your list. There are many companies that offer email validation, but the quality of the technology used to determine the state of the address varies a great deal between companies. Your provider will determine if the syntax of the email address is correct (e.g. me@company.com) and it will then verify the validity of the email domain for the email address. Finally, it connects to the email server directly to see whether the email address exists on the server. What does list verification cost? The price we charge for list verification is very affordable at just $3 per 1000 emails. So I just verify the list once and then I’m done? Not exactly. It’s smart not to just clean your list and then leave it until you’ve got a sky-high bounce rate again. Verify your list at least once a year and use our in-platform clean list tools at least every 3 or 4 campaigns. Our clean list tool is included in all accounts and allows you to choose what you’d like to clean: confirmed and hard bounces, or people who haven’t opened a campaign of yours in X campaigns for example. To find this tool, click on the list that you’d like to clean and click clean list as shown in the image below: List verification is easy and makes both financial and email marketing sense. I hope this helps answer some of your list related questions. If you have any others, leave a comment below or contact your Customer Engagement Specialist.


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3 Things Every Email Marketing Specialist Should Know

3 Things Every Email Marketing Specialist Should Know

Beyond • May 1, 2017

Whether you’re manning the email marketing fort, training a team, or looking to hire a specialist, there are some concrete skills every email marketing specialist should have. We’re here to help you figure out what that list looks like, and how to get these skills. #1 Knowing How to Survey the Scene Email marketing doesn’t start with your email campaigns. It starts with understanding the conversation around you. It’s the job of every smart email marketing specialist to survey the scene and understand the conversation around them. That starts with listening. Listening is actually one of the most important things you can be doing on social media. While many marketers think the point of social media is to engage, it’s just as important to keep your eyes and ears open for what people are talking about and how they’re talking about it. There are simple ways to do that including setting up lists and checking in with those lists on a daily basis to see where the conversation is going. But for more aggressive email marketing specialists, there are social media listening tools that range from free to paid structures. # 2 Understanding What Your Audience Wants A “Science of Email” study shows that 64% of email subscribers prefer rich text emails. Once you figure out if your demographic - and which part of your demographic - falls into that category, the next step is seeing what they consider rich. While rich to me might be a thousand words, rich for most people might just mean a good 400 words with a link to a landing page if they want to read on or find out more. Then there’s the question of knowing that not everyone wants words. This goes back to your demographic. Some readers might only be interested in visual content or a certain type of content like quarterly updates or weekly check-ins. Others might like in-depth material. To understand what your audience wants, you need to ask them. The best time to do that is to get them to check off their preferences when they opt-in to your email list. #3 Automation Makes Your Life Easier Emails that reward people for signing up do something else: they bring people into the world of your brand. The first email you send once someone has signed up is the most important one. It’s the one that statistically as a 41% chance of being opened up over any other email you’ll ever send again, and it has a 14% click-through rate, which is pretty high considering you’re looking at 14% of 41%. Being an email marketing specialist is a misunderstood position. Unless you’ve done it and understand what needs to be done to be successful (see above), people are going to think you’re sitting there stuffing and licking envelopes - the real-time equivalent to what they think email marketing is about. We know better. We know you have a lot of fine tuning to know what the message should be, how to craft it, and how to repackage it for each segmented audience. That’s why you need to use automation as much as you can, especially the follow-up emails thanking people for signing up. Being an email marketing specialist is about being smart and using all the tools at your disposal to run a full-time, well-oiled machine. You’re the proverbial wizard behind the curtain, pulling levers and pushing buttons - and somehow it all seems to work on the other end. But you and I know there is a lot that goes on (and needs to go on) behind the scenes. What are some other things that you think email marketers should know? Share your ideas in the comments!


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Benchmark CRM

Get a Sneak Peek at Benchmark CRM

CRM • April 26, 2017

No matter the level of experience, a practical marketer knows to find the right tool for every task. As email marketing evolves into customer engagement, having a CRM has become an integral part of connecting with customers and leads on a more personal level. That’s why we have been hard at work to create Benchmark CRM. It’s easy to use, mobile friendly and has a powerful email marketing integration at the forefront. Here’s what you have to look forward to: Manage your contacts, customers and leads Follow up on all opportunities Communicate easily with an email system directly in your CRM Boost engagement with the integration with Benchmark Email Benchmark CRM Exclusive Preview We want to give the marketers using Benchmark Email and you, our readers, the first opportunity to experience Benchmark CRM. Be one of the first to see how a CRM built by email marketers will be the smarter way to engage your customers. Boost sales and become a more efficient and impactful marketer. During this beta period, we promise to keep any bugs and UI issues few and far between as we improve based on your feedback. Any and all feedback is appreciated and is an important part of this exclusive beta period. We will be providing live chat and a feedback form so you can directly communicate with our product managers and support team. There will be no cost for this sneak peek. At the conclusion of our exclusive beta period, we will be offering a significant discount to our beta testers as a thank you for your contribution to the development of Benchmark CRM. We look forward to sharing Benchmark CRM with you. Join the waitlist for Benchmark CRM.


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Two Reasons to See Email Marketing as an Extension of Content Design

Two Reasons to See Email Marketing as an Extension of Content Design

Beyond • April 25, 2017

A textbook mistake marketing departments make is disembodying their content strategy from their email marketing strategy. At the drafting table, most marketers design a content plan that is focused on types of content and then look to outlets to disseminate that information. Along with social media and websites, email is seen as another content marketing channel. Instead, email should be looked at like a hybrid between a marketing channel and it’s own content platform. While not all content cuts and pastes neatly into an email campaign, email marketing design can still accommodate content needs. In fact, it can not only present the info to a pool of subscribers, but it can also evolve and adapt the content to be reframed. Repetition There are a couple of reasons it’s advantageous to reframe content when considering how content can be designed to fit email marketing. First, there’s repetition. A commonly known marketing fact is that a viewer needs to be presented with the same information at least 5-7 times before being persuaded or influenced to make a decision. The same is true if you’re trying to inform or educate. Repeat exposure helps drill in the information you’re trying to get your audience to internalize and express it back in their own opinion. A McKinsey report on the customer journey showed that repeat exposure gets your audience through key gateways before they can convert to a loyal customer or audience member: Awareness Familiarity Consideration Purchase Loyalty Framing Framing is about how you position your message. What you can say in one format might not be how you want to (or can) say it in another way especially when you have to repeat exposure to a product or idea. Take for example a feature article you might write: 800 words are great for an in-depth publication but it’s too long for a blog post about that article. You can chop it down to 300 words for a summary in a blog post, but that’s probably still too much for an email campaign, especially if that campaign is designed to drive traffic to the original article. So while you’re reframing your original feature for email, you also need to consider how the audience best approaches the issue in a pool of email subscribers. This is where segmenting works really well, but you want to pair segmentation with smart email marketing design. Instead of just segmenting batches of email campaigns by demographics, age, or gender, why not try something far more intimately and scientifically tested -- like a Meta Program? According to Forbes contributing writer Christine Comaford’s article “How to Influence Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere,” Meta Programs increase conversion by 50% through looking at codes: Meta Programs operate on a range: we don’t usually fall all the way to one side or the other as an absolute. They are also contextual, meaning that you may have one set of meta programs in the context of work, another set when it comes to money, and yet another for romantic love. Though we generally have an overall set for how we approach life. Going back to segmenting, you’re going to design your email marketing based on another scientific principle, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), that looks at how people perform. ABA was something we discussed in an earlier blog post, and if you’ve been working on understanding your audience through motivators, you should have begun forming a model that helps you understand what motivates them and how they make a decision. Using that data, you can then apply meta programs to push content so that it drives behavior. The ultimate purpose of content is not to inform, but to persuade.


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Lean Journey: Let’s Do it in the Bathroom

Lean Journey • April 20, 2017

When I first introduced Lean to the Benchmark team I was a little uncomfortable with a comment from Paul Akers, author of 2 Second Lean, stating that “it all starts in the bathroom.”  He maintains that there is no better place to start to build and maintain a culture of continuous improvement than in the bathroom.  Everyone uses it, so it’s a perfect place to apply the 3 S\'s:  sweep, sort and standardize. Sweep - a clean environment improves morale and actually makes it easier to identify equipment deterioration and/or malfunction Sort - sort everything and remove what is not necessary to the job at hand and get rid of all the clutter and junk Standardize - this involves building consensus in the workplace for best practices so that everybody understands what to expect and what is expected of them I wasn’t sure how the team would react to being asked to clean the bathroom.  We have a fabulous cleaning service and I certainly wasn’t trying to put them out of business.  The real goal was to get everyone to start thinking LEAN.  So I apprehensively shared this 3 S-ing idea with the team in our Daily Lean 19 meeting and was surprised by the positive reception.  Everyone was on board! My advice for people wanting to create a Lean culture is to start in the bathroom and roll it out slowly from there. Go ahead, do it in the bathroom! - Paul Akers We decided to divide our worldwide headquarters into seven main regions: men and women’s bathroom, kitchen, lobby, main conference room and supply room.  We did an enormous 3 S-ing day where everyone was assigned to one of the areas and we went to town getting everything spic n’ span.  It was actually fun. We made a Red Tag table for stuff that had been laying around for ages.  We invited people to take anything on the table.  Whatever was left over would be donated, recycled or trashed.  We got rid of loads of junk that was lowering our productivity. [caption id=\"attachment_5064\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"768\"] Just like Paul recommended, we went through each area- including the bathrooms- and 3S-ed.[/caption] Everyone- including our CEO, Curt Keller,  takes a turn maintaining a different area for the week. We announce the weekly 3S-ing assignments in our Daily Lean 19 meeting and in Slack.  It rotates around and thanks to our standardized visual procedures, they know exactly what needs to be done. [caption id=\"attachment_5070\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"768\"] Now our bathrooms are spotless all the time ... and our cleaning service loves us as we’ve made their job easier![/caption] Building a Lean culture requires standardizing and simplifying everything.   By starting with the bathroom, you embrace one of the main tenets of Lean which is respect for people. Leaving the bathroom cleaner than you found it is a very basic sign of respect and courtesy for others. The toilet seat is down and there is no icky stuff to navigate. I’d love to hear what you have done in your office to help build a Lean culture. Please share in the comments!


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Der Zusammenhang von Design und Spam bei der Zustellung von E-Mails

How Design Impacts Deliverability

Practical Marketer • April 19, 2017

Just before we get started, this article isn’t about us showing you how to make an email look beautiful. This is the sixth article in our deliverability series and the intention is not to teach you design tips here, but to explain the kind of design that your email campaigns need to pass spam filters and get to your recipient’s inbox. So, what works best? The answer is, in fact, surprisingly simple. What works best are emails that are 100% text. No images. That’s the answer when looking at the topic purely from a deliverability perspective. I know, though, that you need to balance this ideal with your need to make campaigns that convert and are aesthetically pleasing. It’s up to you how you balance one goal against the other. The important thing is that when you finish reading this article, you’ll understand how to design your campaigns so that your designs don’t harm your deliverability. Here’s what to keep in mind when designing for deliverability: Keep your use of images to a minimum As I mentioned above, in an ideal world, your email would be 100% text. I know that that doesn’t make for beautiful emails but it’s true. If you want to include images, you should aim for a ratio of 70% text and 30% images. The further you are from this 70:30 ratio, with images taking a heavier weighting, the more trouble you’ll have with your deliverability. Single column designs Yes, it might not be very exciting but simplicity is the key to success. Creating multi-column or complex emails won’t help you get to the inbox. Designing single-column emails offers several benefits: content clarity, order and, importantly, your responsive email campaign will be able to more easily adapt to all screen types. Be careful with colours The most highly recommended colours are #FFFFFF for the email’s background and #000000 for the font colour. You can imagine which colours they are, can’t you? That’s right, a white background and black text. Again this would be what you’d use in a perfect world. I know you’ll want to use your company colours but, be careful, don’t go wild with them. Don’t put them as the background colours for example. I’d also recommend that you keep an eye on making sure that there’s a strong contrast between text and background colours. They should not be similar as it makes reading your email a lot more difficult for your recipient. Font type and formatting We’re often asked why we only have 17 fonts in our drag & drop editor. The answer is simple. They are the only fonts that are read and accepted by all inbox clients. This means that when you use one of them, you know that it will be shown in that exact format across all inboxes. Besides choosing the font itself, it’s also best that you keep the text formatting simple. Going all out with bold formatting, for example, could help land your campaign in the spam folder or, if the text is quite large, it might simply SEEM LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING. Try to keep in mind that usability and the experience of your recipient when interacting with your email is important here. Spammy words and symbols This is a classic. You’ve probably already heard that you need to be careful with the kinds of words that you use in your emails because if you abuse words like free, earn money, millions, extra income, free access, work from home, amazing, limited time, mortgages, credit, opportunity, act now, price, thousands, lose weight … or use several exclamation marks, capital letters, currency signs, asterisks or unusual symbols, it’s very likely that you will see poor deliverability. We often get asked about emojis and, while you can use them, make sure your use of them is relevant and not excessive. Be careful with links too. Make sure they work and that they are sending your recipient to the right page. An email with false, incorrect or misleading links will look suspicious to spam filters and won’t help further your objectives either. Subscription links You probably weren’t expecting to see this last section, but it’s part of the design of emails created in our Drag & Drop editor and has an important impact on deliverability. In this block, you can choose the links to include although the unsubscribe link is not optional. We also recommend that you always include the following at least: Manage subscription Sent to information Report abuse These links will silently but effectively look after your reputation. Don’t be afraid of including them and always keep things open and transparent for your subscribers. That’s it for today’s article. Be sure to apply these 6 basic but essential pieces of advice to your email marketing and let us know how you get on. Help others learn more about email marketing best practices too by sharing on social media and spreading the word. And, if you have any questions for us, just leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you. Enjoy learning with Benchmark!


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Mistakes To Avoid in Email Marketing Automation

Mistakes To Avoid In Email Marketing Automation

Practical Marketer • April 14, 2017

I am of the first generation to really have grown up with cell phones. Actually, I’m probably just older than that generation but play along for the sake of my point (and feelings). I’m very familiar with using my smartphone and am often guilty of it being seemingly attached to my hands. Due to advancing technology and ease-of-use, my grandmother now has a smartphone too. However, she convinced herself she doesn’t know how to use it and doesn’t want to learn. Last time I was in town, I spent time with her to show her how easy it was. Seeing it for herself, she finally admitted she was fully capable of using her smartphone. She’d built up fears in her head that kept her from using her phone, but getting to see it in action, felt confident enough to use her phone. For years, I would attend expos or events and would talk to business owners who felt similarly about email marketing and social media. As time has gone on, that fear has subsided. In its place is email marketing automation. The technology has gotten to a point where any marketer can successfully execute automated campaigns. However, we need to break down the mental barriers keeping marketers from trying. Below, I’m sharing what not to do, so that the only thing left to do is to setup automated journeys for your subscribers. Here are four mistakes to avoid in email marketing automation: Mistake #1: Not Doing Email Marketing Automation Why avoid something that can save you time, increase your efficiency and make you a more impactful marketer? Automation also frees up time for your other important tasks. In fact, a practical marketer should be doing as much as possible with automation. Perhaps the reason you’ve avoided automation to this point is that you’re not sure where to begin. Well, start simple. Many marketers have set up a Welcome Email to send upon subscription. It doesn’t hurt to start off with a concept with which you’re already familiar. Rather than that onboarding process being a one-off email, try and make it a three email journey that brings a subscriber in and introduces them to your brand. Say you’ve custom designed t-shirts for a local sports team and you’re trying to convert a new website visitor into a customer. Use a signup form that offers a small discount for subscribing to your list. In your first Welcome Email, be sure to provide the promo code for the discount you promised on the signup form. The CTA should be to purchase a t-shirt using the promo code. Three days after they subscribe, you can follow up with an email campaign that has customer testimonials. They can boast how comfortable the t-shirts are or how many compliments someone got when wearing the shirt to the team’s recent game. Once again, the CTA should be to purchase a t-shirt and a reminder of the promo code. For your third email, seven days after they subscribe you can share a few of your most popular t-shirts or even the most recent designs. A site visitor may have liked the look of your homepage and figured they’d be interested in a t-shirt at some point but hasn’t had the chance to browse your site. Seeing the shirts in their inbox may just be the thing that pushes them to convert. Don’t forget, add a CTA to purchase a t-shirt with a reminder of the promo code. Benchmark provides a template within Automation Pro to execute this strategy. Check it out: You’re not the only one just getting your start in automation. According to the 2016 Marketing Maturity Benchmark Report from LeadMD, only 21% said they had a marketing automation maturity level of above average or higher. Mistake #2: Not Setting a Goal Knowing the reason for each automated journey is imperative. The reason automation is so successful is that each automated touch point should be one step closer to a conversion. Understanding what that conversion is whether it’s to subscribe, purchase, download a case study, etc., is the first step in succeeding with automation. You work your way backward from there. It’s important to see things from the perspective of your subscribers and customers. While your goal is likely going to be to sell more, they’re looking to solve a problem. It’s your job to meet them on their level and explain all the ways that your goods or services can help to do that. Let’s look back at the previous example. If they’re visiting your website, they likely want to support their local sports team or they want a gift for someone else who does. Offering a discount incentivizes the visitor to subscribe because they’re seeing the value in doing so right off the bat. If they haven’t purchased a t-shirt by the time your second email sends, seeing the testimonials can help reduce any anxiety they may have in purchasing a t-shirt from you. Let your customers boast about how soft the cotton is or how many compliments they have received on the t-shirt’s custom design. A week in, it’s possible the new subscriber got distracted or forgot to browse the selection on your website. It happens. We live in an A.D.D. culture. So, when your third email in the journey is automatically sent, you’re doing the work for that new subscriber by sharing some of your more popular items. Mistake #3: Not Segmenting or Moving Lists I recently re-told my automation and list segmenting horror story and shared some strategies. Here, I’ll focus on this mistake and how to overcome. Failure to segment your lists will result in non-relevant, non-targeted email campaigns, automated or not. The first solution to this mistake is to begin your list segmentation from signup. This could either be via the data that you collect or by allowing the new subscriber to determine which list he or she would like to join such as daily, weekly or monthly newsletters, which a checkbox for each they want to receive. The next solution is to use the subscriber’s engagement to segment your email campaigns or website. If a subscriber is consistently clicking on one type of products or services, you can segment them into a list that will continue to provide info on those items of interest. To keep with our ongoing example, this could be whether a subscriber has been interested in men’s or women’s t-shirts or you can even segment by which team(s) they are interested in. Another solution is to create a journey that will check to see if a subscriber has converted or not. That way, you can move a lead to a customer list once they have. A purchase confirmation strategy template is available to you in Automation Pro. Mistake #4: Sending Too Often Or Not Enough Like with any email marketing, the frequency with which you send your emails is important. Keeping with our t-shirt company example, the journey detailed above does a good job of striking while the iron is hot, in terms of serving the new subscriber’s interest, but it doesn’t send so often that you risk annoying the new subscriber or coming off as desperate. On the other end of the spectrum, you send so infrequently that the contact forgets who you are or why he or she subscribed in the first place. Test with your one-off email campaigns and get a feel for what frequency works with your audience. Once you’ve got that knowledge, it will be easier to make an educated decision when it comes to building your customer journeys and understanding the wait times you place between your email campaigns in the sequence. [caption id=\"attachment_5036\" align=\"alignleft\" width=\"1114\"] DMA research report 2016 as seen on Smart Insights.[/caption] If learning the important mistakes with email marketing automation hasn’t been enough to assuage your concerns and help you overcome the fear hurdle standing in your way, our friend Jordie van Rijn has put together a long list of marketing automation statistics that should convince you to make the jump to automate your customer journeys. What fears keep you from using automation?


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One Simple Way To Rescue Your Email Marketing Strategy

Practical Marketer • April 12, 2017

We have seen in previous articles why it’s so important to build your own database but did you know that it’s also extremely important that you keep it up to date? If your subscriber list isn’t up to date, then you’ll certainly see deliverability issues and this not only means that you won’t see as many conversions as you expect but also that you risk your emails being marked as spam. Keep reading to find out how to get better results from your email marketing campaigns. Manage your list to optimise email deliverability I hinted at this above but my first piece of advice is that you need to make sure that you’re creating your database yourselves, from scratch. Forget about buying lists of thousands of subscribers. It’s much better to start with nothing and encourage people to sign up bit by bit than buy a list or harvest addresses from the internet. Sending 100 emails to people that have given you their email address voluntarily is much more effective than sending to 1000s that have never even heard of you before. To create a list, you need to get people interested enough to give you their email address. To do this, you’ll need to think up a strategy for each of the different channels on which you intend to be present. Here are some ideas that are 100% practical and effective: Website: Not only do you need a signup form but your contact form must be visible and easy to find. You must also inform all those that contact you via the contact form that they are also opting in to receiving future info and updates from you. Blog: It’s likely that your website has a link to your blog. If that’s the case, make sure that you request email addresses via a popup that appears when your readers visit. You can tempt them to share their valuable information by letting them know that, in return, they’ll receive inside info, a special offer, a report etc. Create a group on tools like Meetup and organise face-to-face events with people that have interests in common with yours. Organise online courses and webinars where all participants must register with their email address to attend. On your landing pages, offer ebooks, manuals, checklists or any other content of value that can be downloaded when an email address is provided. Competitions and giveaways on social media. Exchange business cards with new contacts at business shows, fairs, events and networking sessions. Once you have subscribers, it’s very important that you communicate with them in a way that keeps them opening your emails, going back to your website and clicking on your links. Automation Pro makes doing this really easy. It’s an excellent tool for keeping people engaged and interested as it allows you to create personalised journeys for each of your clients based on what they do or don’t do on your website or in response to your emails. Let’s have a more detailed look at how to engage and keep engagement high. Every time you send a campaign, you need to keep an eye on who is and who isn’t opening your messages. If you have a group of people who haven’t opened any of your messages in some time, they may not be interested in your product anymore, or the email address might no longer be in use. In cases like these, the risk of being marked as spam is increased. Here are a few practical tips to follow: On Benchmark, you have a “Clean List” tool. It’s very important that every 3 or 4 campaigns, you review the quality of your list and delete confirmed and hard bounces. If you have a high percentage of people who haven’t opened your emails in several campaigns you can: Delete them from the list. They’re not interested in what you’re offering and deleting them may mean that you can move onto a smaller plan. Not only are you saving money but you’re increasing your open rate by only focusing on your core subscriber. Separate those that open from those that don’t. With this strategy, it’s best to create a subaccount where you’ll place only those that don’t open your emails. To this group, you’ll send a reengagement campaign. Those that come back on board can be moved to the master account. Doing this will make sure that your master account has an excellent reputation as you’ll be sending to only your most engaged subscribers from here. Also, make sure that the campaigns sent to the non-openers are built specifically to re-engage. You should not be sending the same email to someone on a reengagement campaign as to someone who is already showing an interest. Consider creating segments too. As you know, the more personalised and targeted the campaign, the more relevant and successful it will be. Lastly, remember that within your Benchmark account, you have access to a Targeted Emailing tool. Take advantage of this tool and create lists of those that have opened several campaigns or a specific campaign, those that don’t open, those that click, those that click on a specific link and so on. You can find out how interested your subscriber list is in particular products, for example. Just include the products in question in a campaign and wait to see who clicks. Once you’ve sent the campaign and have the results, you can create lists segmented by who was interested in each product. Not only does this give you more information on who’s interested in what but you can also follow up with future campaigns based on these interests. In our next article, we’ll be looking at how an email’s design can impact its deliverability. Follow us, subscribe and don’t miss out! Help others learn more about email marketing best practices by sharing on social media and spreading the word. And, if you have any questions for us, just leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you. Enjoy learning with Benchmark!


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5 Email Campaigns to Warm Up Cold Prospects

5 Email Campaigns to Warm Up Cold Prospects

Beyond • April 6, 2017

We all want to go back to the days where customers read through every email, but times have changed. Customers can easily spot spam or a direct sales pitch. So how do you fight the battle between personalizing and trying to build email campaigns at scale? Answer: do both. Segment your customers into the stages of the buying cycle (based on customer engagement with your content) and then cross-segment those customers again with the prospective value of the customer. Those customers that are low-engagement and low lifetime value should receive different targeting than the high lifetime value customers who have high engagement. This article targets leads of all engagement levels and value who have, for one reason or another, gone cold. They no longer interact with your brand and probably wouldn’t take your call if you tried to reach out. The good news is that you can use marketing automation software to build outreach campaigns that “warm up” some of these disengaged prospects. To truly engage cold prospects, you need to launch a well-crafted email marketing automation campaign. A single email with a CTA won’t cut it here. They’ve ghosted you before, so they won’t think twice about deleting your email and unsubscribing now. Tread lightly. Below are five ideas for warm-up campaigns to get you started. 1. Free Education Offer free, educational content related to the prospect’s job role or industry, and continuing content if the prospect clicks through the first email. Gauge response on these (open rates, clicks, etc.) for further segmentation. Remember that these types of emails need to add value: give your customer actionable insights and useful knowledge that answers a pain point they might struggle with.Ideas for a continued education offers: Ideas for a continued education offers: A free e-course An email cadence with daily doses of information over 3/5/7 days A blog series delivered to their inbox (send article previews with links to the blog so you can measure engagement) Why it works: Those who stick with you during the cadence or who interact with your content will take some time to warm up to your offer before. When you provide education and actionable insight, you build trust with potential buyers, which can turn into dollars later. Follow this campaign with a purchase or offer, and ask for feedback. Everybody likes free stuff, and if the content you give them is helpful, they’re more likely to believe that your product and your team are helpful. Use this to contact: Casual content browsers — those who come to you for research and ideas, but don’t buy into the real need for your product yet. 2. Usage Statistic This email uses your case studies and customer tests to prove results from your product. When you build these cold emails, you’re trying not just to prove that your product works, but also prove value to the buyer, so think about the pain points and the particular problems you can demonstrate that your product solves. Why it works: Numbers are eye-stoppers. When you add statistics to your copy, your readers are more likely to sit up and pay attention than they would if you confronted them with a wall of text. Use bullet points and short, concise sentences to keep the eyes moving. Use this to contact: Prospects who have strayed from the pack. When a lead goes cold, it’s for a reason. You need to engage, and quickly. Giving statistics provide evidence that your product works, and helps those leads remember why they came to you in the first place. 3. Action-Based Emails This one takes a little more segmenting and lead tracking, and it can go awry faster, but sending a “We noticed you downloaded this” email or something similar has the possibility to engage a distracted lead. Why it works: They realize you’re paying attention. When you mention their specific download/click/read, they see something familiar in your email and are more likely to keep reading. You can combine this outreach tactic with an educational drip to move the customer closer to buying, but keep these emails short and informative. Use this to contact: People who lurk on your website and use your content but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. 4. Apology Campaign Use an apology email to re-start the conversation with customers you lost due to negligence or bad policies. Think of this like an “Under New Management” sign, and discuss with the customer how you’ve changed or how you’d like to renew the relationship. Use these emails to further segment your lost customers: those who respond can move toward warm-up emails while those who ignore you can go to your ice cold segment. Why it works: When you humble yourself, it pulls on your customer’s heart strings. In return, give the customer immediate and specific terms that prove you’ve changed. Not all customers will respond to this particular tactic, so use it sparingly. Use this to contact: Customers you lost through bad policies, negligence, or an unforeseen event. 5. Meeting Request Cadence The customer has browsed your content, keeps visiting your site to check out your latest posts, and maybe even liked some of your social media posts. You want to take this relationship to the next level, but the customer shies away from contacting you. It’s time for your salesperson to move toward a meeting. Caveats here: Make the first email or two are about the lead. What pain points do you see, and how can you address them? Don’t ask for the meeting in the first email. While your goal is to set an appointment, you want your prospect to show interest, and the fastest way to scare them off is by being forward. Why it works: Think of this one as a true campaign targeted at a single customer. If you play your cards right and stay persistent, this campaign has the power to build a long-term, highly engaged customer. Use this to contact: Engaged but skittish customers who need personal attention. This works well for high-value accounts that will give you the big payout if they’re engaged and cared for. Closing Thoughts Work on your subject lines. You should A/B test every part of the email, but a good subject line will make customers open your emails more than any other factor. We all know what a sales email looks like, so have some self-awareness when you write these emails. You don’t have to disguise your email as something else, but you’ll definitely want to stay away from the “Buy Now!” mentality. Cold leads can be disheartening to a sales team because they seem like a lost opportunity. But if you’re willing to get creative with outreach, you can engage — and possibly salvage — a significant number.


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How Do Abuse Complaints Affect Your Newsletter’s Deliverability?

Practical Marketer • April 5, 2017

In previous articles, we’ve had a look at the definition of deliverability, key factors and the advantages of having a Dedicated IP. In this installment, we’re going to have a look at abuse complaints as this is another aspect of email marketing that, when not dealt with correctly, can negatively impact your sender reputation and, therefore, your deliverability. Unfortunately, it’s just as bad to be marked as spam as it is to hit spam traps. But, what is an abuse complaint? If you’re using Benchmark, an abuse complaint can come from one of two sources: When a client marks an email as spam using the button in their inbox. This is the most serious of the two because it’s Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc. who will receive the complaint and take measures against your emails. Via Benchmark’s “Report Abuse” button. If the recipient chooses to complain via this button, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc. don’t receive the complaint and this gives us time to resolve the issue. This doesn’t mean that it’s not serious, though. At Benchmark, we take abuse complaints very seriously and, while we will work with you to help you resolve the issue, if any client has a ratio of abuse complaints that\'s over 0.05%, their account will be terminated. To put this in perspective, this means we allow one abuse complaint per 2000 emails sent. What gets my emails marked as spam? This is a very good question. Many factors may be behind your recipient marking you as spam. For example: The database that you’re using is too old. A database being old may mean that the information that you’re sending is no longer relevant or they don’t remember signing up to your emails. The information that you’re sending isn’t of interest to your subscribers so they incorrectly mark you as spam instead of unsubscribing. You’re sending too many emails and your recipients are tired of receiving them. If you think that this could be the case, it’s time to stop and review your strategy. You’re sending emails to people that haven’t opted-in. This isn’t only bad email marketing practice but it’s also illegal and can have consequences that are much more far-reaching than bad campaign results. You’re sending content to people that had requested/expected information about something else when they signed up. For example, if they signed up to receive a webinar series on carpentry, don’t send them one on haute cuisine. People will be happy to receive more information related to what they originally signed up for but not offers for other things. The recipient was simply having a bad day and decided they weren’t interested in your email so marked you as spam.  It hardly happens but you’ll learn more on resolving this below. You’ll see now then that there are various factors that can be behind an abuse complaint and, while this isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list, you must ask yourself if you’re guilty of any of the above because your abuse complaint ratio is something that you can control. At Benchmark, when you send a campaign, you can see if you receive an abuse complaint in your reports: Don’t forget though that you can only control your abuse complaints if you add the “Report Abuse” link to your campaign. If you don’t use this link, the recipient will only be able to complain directly to their inbox provider and this will seriously damage your sender reputation. How can I avoid being marked as spam? We’ve already seen some of the reasons behind why we might get labeled as spam so let’s have a look at some possible solutions: If your database is old, send only to those that open your emails. Why pay for the big plan if it’s not being effective? We often think that what we’re sending is very interesting and relevant but, are you completely sure? Take a minute now to go and have a look at your last campaign’s click-through rate. Are you satisfied? If you’re not, consider changing your content so that it really is something that provokes engagement from your subscribers. Tip: Our “click heat maps” within your email reports can give you some valuable insights into the type of content that your recipients are interested in. Create a strategy around the emails you send. Consider your content and the best time and day to send that particular message. Also, don’t ever send the same content twice in the same week. Less is more. Don’t send spam. Make sure that you’re only sending to people who have opted in to receiving news from you. Segment your clients by the type of content that they want to receive. This will boost relevancy. If a recipient has marked you as spam, review your reports and contact them personally to find out why they did it and understand what actions you need to take. Final recommendations Remember to always add our “Report Abuse” link to your emails Keep an eye on your reports Listen to your recipients and learn from their actions In our next article, we’ll be discussing why it’s important to keep your lists up to date. Follow us, subscribe and don’t miss out! Help others learn more about email marketing best practices by sharing on social media and spreading the word. And, if you have any questions for us, just leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you. Enjoy learning with Benchmark Email!  


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