5 Hot Tips for a Clean Email List

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5 Hot Tips for a Clean Email List

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Finding Your Target Audience

Finding Your Target Audience

Practical Marketer • September 12, 2017

I’m sure every single one of us has complained about too many emails in our inbox. We agree to sign up for a list to get a discount, but have no need for additional purchases with that brand and do not continue to see value in being subscribed. Maybe you tried to win a giveaway and one brand partnered with others to compile the prize package. Entering subscribes you to brands you never even knew existed. You weren’t paying attention. You just wanted the free stuff. Even the brands we legitimately subscribed with can let us down after too many irrelevant emails. There is one action that can overcome each of these instances, and it’s targeting. That is why it’s so important to find your target audience. What is a Target Audience? A Target Audience is defined as the group of individuals, or for email marketing purposes the specific list or segment, at which a campaign is aimed. It’s the target demographic for each marketing effort. It’s also who would be most likely to convert, based on each targeted email campaign you send. For example, if you owned a plumbing company, your target audience would be homeowners or landlords. It’s important to remember that the target audience is who is most likely to purchase your goods or services and not necessarily for whom the goods and services are intended. Take, for example, a toy store. Yes, kids (of all ages) will play with the toys. However, more often than not it’s parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who are most likely to be buying the toys. Why is it important to find a Target Audience for each email you send? In our guide, What Makes a Great Email, we discussed that content makes an email great. However, subject line, email copy and a Call To Action are only half of what we said makes for great emails. Your target audience is the other part of what will make your emails great. To paraphrase an old saying, greatness is in the eye of the beholder. In the above examples of inbox overload, all could have been avoided had the subscribers been able to relate to the tone and content of the emails. That would have made those emails great to those users. This is why it’s imperative to make sure each campaign you send is directed towards the correct target audience. After all, we’ve all surely heard the famous John Lydgate quote, that was also famously shared by Abraham Lincoln. …you can’t please all of the people all of the time. A lot of the time, your whole contact list will not be interested in all of the emails you want to send. However, a targeted email to the right audience is far more likely to find a happy audience. Are your emails being sent to the appropriate audience? It’s important to serve the needs and interests of each subscriber. A targeted audience means a segment of your list(s) filled with individuals who are pleased with the emails they’re receiving. In 2015, nearly 80% of all email marketing ROI was a result of being sent to the correct target audience! There Are No Targeted Audiences Without Proper Segmentation Knowing who to target with your email campaigns begins with an understanding of the list segments you should be creating. List segmentation does not have to be difficult. It can begin with your signup form. Based on the data fields on your signup form, you can sort new subscribers from the beginning. One way you can segment your list is by demographic. This includes gender, age and location. It is possible to gather this data at signup, but be mindful that you’re not turning off potential subscribers from completing your form. You can also build a segmented target audience around the type of industry a subscriber is in, the size of their company or any wide range of data that you can ask for on your signup form. Engagement is another opportunity for segmenting your list. Find the subscribers who interact most often with your emails. That could mean who is opening them a lot or even those who tend to click on links. This group comes in handy if you want to get customer feedback with a poll or survey or if you want to create a loyalty program. While your most active subscribers make a great segment, the opposite is also true. Inactive subscribers are another segment you can create and target. You can target that audience with a re-engagement campaign to bring them back into the fold. Clean your list of the ones to remain inactive. Your customer’s purchase history is another segment you can create. When you know what goods or services they have previously purchased, you can target that audience with a campaign director towards their interests. Target Audience Examples It’s one thing to see how you could segment and target your audiences. Seeing examples makes more relatable: Perhaps you’re a microbrewery. You can segment your list into people who like IPAs or wheat beers based on on the items they’re clicking on in your emails. If you’re a car dealership, you can send targeted campaigns based on the types of cars your subscribers are clicking on in your email promotions. Or maybe you’re in charge of the email marketing for your local Park District. You can segment and create targeted emails for children’s camps, teen activities and adult programs based on the email content in which your subscribers have shown interest. You can also create targeted audiences for the subscribers who most often engage with your emails. This is the audience who is most likely to open your emails. They might even be excited when they receive an email from you! It’s a good idea to reward that level of engagement. You can offer your engaged subscribers a sneak peek at new product launches. Give them early access to these products as a reward for their loyalty. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can create a targeted audience of your inactive subscribers. The easiest and most common way to target this audience is by telling them you’re going to remove them from your list unless they’d like to opt back in. People want what they can’t have, and they’ll probably start paying closer attention to your emails. Purchase history also gives you the information you need to create specific target audiences. Think about any time you’ve purchased something on Amazon. You’ve certainly received an email after the fact that said something like this: “Because you purchased Cards Against Humanity, you may also be interested in What Do You Meme? Adult Party Game.” If your business requires recurring payments, you can also create a target audience of canceled or expired accounts. Show them how to update their credit card information with a quick video. You will likely win back lost accounts and money! Tips for Understanding Your Target Audience It is incredibly important to understand who the individuals are in each target audience. One simple way to do this is by creating customer personas. You can even go so far as to search Google Images and choose a photo for each target audience and the individual that will represent each persona. Consider the car they drive, places they shop and even what magazines or blogs they enjoy reading. You should also turn to your reports to gain a better understanding of each target audience. Your reports are another opportunity to understand your target audience. There, you can see the device they’re opening your emails on, what time they’re opening those emails and the goods or services of interest based on clicks. You can learn if your target audience is on-the-go opening emails on smartphones or if they open on a computer. This will help you know your sales process should be. If it’s hard for them to convert from a phone, create a process that will work on the phone and allow you to follow-up in a way that will let them actually convert later. Same goes for the time your emails are being opened. Learn when your emails are being opened by your segments, and you’ll know when to time your offerings. Early morning emails may get those that are opening their emails in bed (or the bathroom) every morning. If you’re in a business where your sales team talks to leads on the phone, you may want to send a targeted email campaign to those early morning openers that allows them to schedule a call or a demo later in the day when they’ll be more prepared to handle it. Each will give you an additional peek into the lives of your subscribers and help you know who they are as people. After all, remembering that there are people behind the email addresses you’re sending to is perhaps the most important part of understanding a target audience. Conclusion First, you have to understand what a target audience is and why they’re important. Armed with that knowledge, you can start creating your target audiences. That begins with the signup form and continues throughout your relationship with your subscribers. Once you have segmented your list(s) into various target audiences, you can create campaigns tailored specifically to those groups of people. That is what it means to send great emails. Share Your Ideas What do you do to create segments and create target audiences? We want to hear from you. Tell us in the comments your favorite tips for making great targeted emails. Want to Learn More? This post is only one part of what goes into finding your target audience, an integral part of what makes an email great. That’s why we wrote a new guide called What Makes a Great Email. There you can gain a better understanding for segmenting target audiences, and you’ll learn practical strategies to create them. Click here to download What Makes a Great Email. Get Started Today If this post has you inspired to make a great email for your target audiences, signup for the free Benchmark Starter Plan. Or login and put what you’ve learned to use.


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Email Marketing and the Importance of Security

Email Marketing and the Importance of Security

Beyond • September 7, 2017

With marketing becoming largely digital, email in particular has become a huge driver for generating more leads, conversions and ultimately revenue. It ranks above other distribution channels such as affiliate marketing, SEO, and even social media. In fact, email marketing was found to be the preferred channel by most marketers in a survey carried out by Gigaom. While it may sound easy to simply click and send off a slew of emails, the least of our worries is a full inbox. Email is deemed one of the most valuable online distribution channels, but it’s also the least secure. With people’s personal information at stake, the email channel must be protected at all costs. At the end of the day, it’s not just about ensuring that your marketing campaigns are effective but it’s also protecting your brand’s reputation and helping your customers, past, present or future, from falling for possible scams and cyber attacks like the most common one for email marketing: phishing. What Is Email Phishing? Phishing is a big threat to marketers because it can directly affect marketing efforts and Return on Investment (ROI) drastically. According to Venture Beat, for every $1 spent on email marketing, there is a $38 ROI (some even believe this number to be upwards of $42). So, what exactly is phishing? There are many variants of phishing but they largely all follow the same pattern. Phishing works through electronic communication, usually via email, in which the sender mimics a trustworthy entity using social engineering tactics to convince the recipient that they are legitimate and, in return, obtain personal or financial information for malicious purposes. It’s more than just financial losses; phishing also affects your company’s brand and reputation. A major downside with email phishing is that anyone can fall for one. Social engineering has come a long way and even top executives like CEOs fall victim to phishing emails (this particular type is called “whaling”). Today, businesses are seeing more and more malicious emails flooding their inboxes. Statistics from Symantec’s 2017 Internet Security Threat Report revealed a disturbing fact: one in every 131 emails contained malware in 2016. Phishing is an extremely successful tactic for hackers to get what they want, and marketers should take extra caution. Email phishing has a huge impact on marketing email campaigns, so it’s important to know the warning signs. Here are some warning signs to look out for when identifying a potential spoofed or phishing email: Poor spelling and grammar. We are all human and make mistakes, but when an email correspondence is littered with spelling and grammatical errors, then there is every reason to be suspicious since a reliable and professional entity will rarely make that many blatant typos. Check for any lack of personalization. If the email was directly sent to one person, a vague greeting without specific names or titles also calls for suspicion. Urgency detected. If the email message seems geared towards promoting a sense of urgency or is flagged as “high importance,” as counterintuitive as it is, the email might be spoofed. Pay particular attention to emails that demand a response “at your earliest convenience” and call on specific actions to be taken, like verifying information online. Typically, urgent matters are handled over the phone, so when in doubt, double check through another mode of communication. False hyperlinks. Hackers typically hide malicious links in hypertext within the contents of an email. Before clicking, hover over the destination address. If there is a mismatch between the text and the hyperlinked URL web address, there’s a good chance that the email is attempting to redirect you to a malicious site. Request for personal information. If you are asked for personal information or asked to verify your identity by clicking a link for example, be wary. Banks, for example, will never ask you for personal information over email. It only takes a second to verify the link before you proceed to click or download an attachment, and that can save you from dealing with the overwhelming burden and consequences that comes with a phishing attack. Best Security Practices Learning to spot inconsistencies and suspicious content within emails is a useful skill for anyone, but for marketers, sharing this kind of information with customers can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of campaigns. Besides, regardless of tangible campaign success, you are also looking to build the trust of your customers by keeping your customers safe from cyber attacks that originate from email. So, we would recommend adopting the following practices: Ask recipients to add you to their address list. Before you launch an email marketing campaign, request for your recipients to add your mailing address to their contact list so that your campaign emails will not go into the spam or junk folders. Doing this also means recipients will see warnings if a spoofed email (seemingly coming for your company) shows up in their inbox as senders who aren’t in their address book should be flagged. Authenticate your email. Authenticating your email is a great way to prevent phishing attacks even before they reach your customers’ inboxes. This is possible because email authentication ensures that the server that sends the email has the right to use the domain name listed in the message’s header (the “from” field) in the first place, thus “verifying” the legitimacy of the sender. As a result, email authentication works like a security tool. Add disclaimers. Adding disclaimers to the bottom of your emails and reminding customers that you will never ask for financial information and other sensitive information via email can help recipients spot the red flags in future spoofed emails if they ever receive them. Even if you have email authentication in place, a difference in a letter can mislead recipients in believing they are receiving legitimate emails from you. Generate general security awareness. We’ve shared our own tips for spotting phishing emails but educating your customers on these warning signs benefits your campaigns as well. Besides just including disclaimers at the bottom of your emails, launching a short campaign on online security can reap long term benefits. Email marketing is a powerful tool, and responsibility should come from your company and your employees. Before you launch an email marketing campaign, it’s crucial that you place importance on security as a first step to making sure your emails reach your customers with the right impact. Taking some basic measures to protect your customers from email-based web attacks also means that you can focus on other aspects of your campaign, knowing its success won\'t be hindered by spam filters and having your emails mistaken for spoofed phishing emails How has security impacted your campaigns? Was it positive or negative? Share it in the comments!


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Lean Receipts

Lean Receipts

Lean Journey • August 17, 2017

As we approach the one year anniversary of our Lean journey, the accounting department took time to reflect on how we have evolved over the past year through Lean principles. We had to laugh at how antiquated some of our procedures and processes were before Lean. One process we brought into the 21st century was how we collect and store our credit card receipts. Identifying Waste Storing expense receipts and invoices is an unavoidable pain one must endure if they wish to maintain a healthy relationship with Uncle Sam. Before we started Lean we used to collect receipts via a basket on my desk and an email address for digital receipts. Then, I had to scan all the hard copies into quickbooks and store them in a file box under my desk. I would then move on to the digital receipts. We had a receipt email address that credit card holders would send all their digital receipts too. I would go through the inbox and one by one download or screenshot each receipt onto my desktop. After downloading or screenshotting the receipts, I moved the receipts to a folder belonging to the specific credit card holder. We had north of 20 different folders. Once they were on my desktop, I would open QuickBooks and drag the receipt into the attachment section. In order to attach a receipt to the proper transaction in QuickBooks, you need to know the vendor, date and amount for each transaction. Being an international company with offices in 15 countries servicing 9 different languages, I would often have to try and find that critical information in a language that wasn’t my own. I had to find a currency converter online to get the amount in USD. Then I would would use Google translate to find the vendor. Finding the date was even a hassle since countries vary in where the date is located on the receipt. The order of day, month, and year is even different. I would have to do this with a few hundred transactions per month spending on average one to two days a week attaching receipts. Lean forces you to evaluate every department and every process within that department. When the accounting department began evaluating our processes, we knew that the credit card receipt process needed some Lean injected into it. Our first improvement actually came from an employee outside of the accounting department. One of the eight wastes of 2-Second Lean is underutilizing employee genius. Lean forces you to leave your ego at the door. We did not mind that someone from another department had an idea that would improve one of our processes. We had recently switched our internal communication software to Slack so the suggestion was to create a Slack channel for each credit card holder that they would send their digital receipts to. This made it easier for them to send their receipts and easier for me to keep track of their receipts. This one simple improvement shortened the digital process by a third. Continuous Improvement Now that we mastered our credit credit receipt process, it would make sense that we would move on to another process. Right? Wrong. Lean is continual improvement. That includes processes that have already been “leanified.” Lean is not a fad you incorporate for a few months until you find another business book at the airport to read on the plane. Lean is a cultural overhaul of your company. Sending the digital receipts to a Slack channel was the catalyst that got the ball rolling. We realized that digital receipts were just half of the equation. What were we going to do about the box of receipts under my desk that would put CVS to shame? Don’t Waste Employee Genius! To solve this issue, we once again had to rely on employee genius outside of the accounting department (you are probably wondering if there is any employee genius within the accounting department). It helps to have a fresh outside point of view evaluating your processes. One of our international employees, who has a fair amount of receipts, was finding it very tedious to download and send in all his receipts. He had a very simple solution. Realizing that he had a camera on him at all times on his phone, he simply took pictures of all his receipts and uploaded them directly into his Slack channel. This saved him the step of downloading the receipt as a PDF to upload it and saved me the step of downloading the pdf to open it. This was such a simple and effective solution that we made it a company wide standard. In fact, it was so convenient for the digital receipts that we made the people in the office that turned in hard copies switch to this method as well. More Continuous Improvement With the issue of collecting and storing resolved, there was one more major issue to address. I needed to find an easier way for me to get the information needed to properly code the transaction. Instead of putting all of the responsibility on me for finding this information, I asked all of the credit card holders to write down the information on the receipts. They wrote down what the charge was for, how much the charge was in USD, the date of the charge and the proper expense account it should be coded to. What sometimes took me up to five minutes to find per receipt, they were able to produce in around 30 seconds! It was a game changer. Loving Our Lean Journey Lean was able to turn a dreaded weekly process into a minor, but necessary,  inconvenience. It is only able to do this if you check your ego and make yourself a little vulnerable. I know it can be scary opening yourself up to criticism, but it is essential for personal and organization growth. Albert Einstein, a fairly successful physicist, once said, Success comes from curiosity, concentration, perseverance and self-criticism. How do you use Lean to succeed? Share your tips in the comments.                    


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How to Turn Your Email List into Brand Promoters

How to Turn Your Email List into Brand Promoters

Beyond • August 10, 2017

Customer acquisition and retention are the traditionally advertised benefits of email marketing. Automation software makes keeping in touch with customers at every stage of the buyers’ journey simple and cost-effective. Yet, an often overlooked potential for email marketing is the ability to transform your list from passive readers to active promoters. Brand ambassadors are born after the sale. Sadly, many companies don’t take advantage of the full scale of possibilities inherent in email marketing. They end relationships with customers after check out. The thank-you email or shipping confirmation signals the end of the journey. Other companies may continue to send monthly promotional emails to stay in the forefront of consumer consciousness, but these companies still fail to develop the true potential of email marketing. Forward-thinking businesses understand that to leverage the power of email properly, and convert your customers from purchasing to engaging, you need to consider the overall experience. Branding, proper targeting, ethical email practices, relevant content, and effective re-marketing strategies will turn a static email list into a dynamic fan base happy to promote your business, unprompted, through word of mouth. Untapped Potential Statistically, you have 100 days to solidify customer opinion of your business. The countdown starts at initial awareness and means every communication you have with the customer vital. The strategy begins with the opt-in. The first few days are crucial for brand awareness. A perfected welcome email makes customers feel valued and comfortable. Also, consider that 67% of first time customers who add items to a shopping cart will abandon it. Rather than viewing this as a negative data point, see this as an opportunity. With an additional $36 of revenue generated per click on an abandoned cart email, it is imperative to send one within 24 hours. Abandoned cart emails that contain a discount code further increase the likelihood that the customer will return to complete the purchase and also establishes a baseline of trust. Once the purchase is made, the strategy to convert your new customer into a brand ambassador begins. Branding Every email sent to your list needs to succinctly communicate your business philosophy. From welcome emails to renewal notices, tell customers how important their satisfaction is and how you intend to keep it that way. Businesses who have crisp, clean, and clear tag lines, logos, and mission statements embedded in their email communications embed their brand into consumer consciousness. By communicating your business philosophy, you are giving consumers the ammunition they need to promote your business. Brand promoters don’t just identify businesses by product offerings. They describe them with emotion. This is why it is essential to communicate the emotional side of your business to the customer at every opportunity. They will likely share both their experience as a customer and your company’s mission statement with others. Targeting Customers are not created equal. Not everyone has the potential to become a brand ambassador. Using targeted emailing, analyze your list for purchasing behavior and look for repeat customers who have shared or forwarded your emails to others in the past. Repeat customers are the most likely to become promoters. Another demographic to target is customers who have clicked on embedded social media links to share your emails, discount codes, or content. This indicates a high likelihood of them becoming a promoter. Proper identification and targeting of this demographic with post-sale email marketing will encourage them to evolve from an occasional sharer of information into a full-time brand promoter. Once they have been identified, give those customers their own segmented list and be sure to send them VIP and loyalty emails as well as relevant content, discounts, and surveys. Ethical Email Practices The quickest way to get unsubscribes is to bombard customers with irrelevant or tricky emails. Use open rate data from A/B testing to determine the best times and frequency to deploy email campaigns and make sure the content of your emails aligns to your subject line. If customers feel tricked by catchy, but irrelevant subject lines, they will unsubscribe so they won’t hear from you in the future. The perfect welcome email will make your customers feel appreciated and comfortable at first contact. To create brand promoters, consider inviting them to join a VIP list where they receive special offers or are the first to know of upcoming events or sales. Predictive marketing is another tool that works well to facilitate an emotional connection. Showing repeat customers similar items that they may enjoy, illustrates they can trust your judgement. You are showing them that you know them well enough to predict their tastes in product. Supportive Content Continuing to provide customers with post-sale support and information through content is one of the best ways to create brand ambassadors. Consider maintaining an active blog on your website and email them articles or videos that they may enjoy. This is especially effective if the content is related to past product purchases. Sending them relevant, informative content is an excellent way to show customers your loyalty to them long after a purchase is completed. Include a well-placed call-to-action in your emails encouraging them to share the information with friends. People respond well to clear directions. Tell them what you want. If they forward your emails or share your content on social media, they have become unpaid marketing specialists for your company. To increase the likelihood of them sharing, offer a freebie, contest, or discount code if they do share. Re-marketing The key to re-marketing customers is under-selling. Taking them back to step one of the buyer’s journey is impersonal and shows a lack of understanding or consideration on your part. Instead of re-sending template emails from the beginning of the funnel, make sure your emails abide by the 80/20 rule allowing you to stay in their immediate consciousness while feeling special. You must appear to be genuinely thankful for their previous purchases, while subtly encouraging them to return often and buy more. Whether you are corresponding with a first-time customer or repeat-buyer, no one likes a hard sell. Don’t focus your emails on the sale, focus instead on the relationship you have established with the customers. the 80/20 rule states that 80% of your email content should be about the customer and their needs. The remaining 20% can strategically place your products and services as a solution to their problems. Effective re-marketing is intended to maintain trust and loyalty. When a company does what is best for the customer, they will come back for more. Conclusion Turning your email list into brand promoters isn’t difficult, but it does require strategy and thoughtfulness on your part. These customers are unique and deserve to be treated as such. Establish a relationship with them early using ethical email practices. Continue to anticipate their needs and be responsive to their concerns at all times. Keep the purchase process simple and be genuinely thankful for their business. Most important of all, continue nurturing the relationship long after the sale is complete with well-timed, supportive content that is useful to them. Following these simple rules will have customers singing your praises online and through word-of-mouth - and that’s the best marketing strategy of all.


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5 Email Marketing Metrics to Watch Depending on Your Goals

5 Email Marketing Metrics to Watch Depending on Your Goals

Beyond • August 8, 2017

Email remains one of the best ways to reach your audience. Nearly all internet users have at least one email address and most check them daily. It does no good, however, to send an email out into the void without an understanding of who will read it and how they will react. To ensure that you are doing everything to meet your goals, watch the metrics that apply. What you will look at will often depend on what you want to achieve. We\'ve assembled a few of the best metrics to watch for a range of email marketing goals. You\'re Trying To Increase Awareness If your goal is increasing awareness of your brand or a new product, your open rate is one of the most important metrics to look at. This is the measure of how many people are opening your emails and how many are deleting them unread. If your open rate is lower than you would like, there are a number of strategies that can increase it. Changing your subject line to something that adds urgency, for instance, can help increase your open rate. You may also wish to vary the times and days that you send your emails. Business to business emails may get more response during morning hours. For B2C communications, weekends may work better for you. You Want More Traffic To Your Website If you want to increase traffic to a landing page or product page, measure how many people are clicking your links. The percentage of people who you are sending to who click through will tell you how successful you are. To learn more about who is visiting, create unique tracking codes that go in each email. These codes can tell you which prospects are visiting your website to learn more. When paired with other information that you have about each prospect, you can learn more about what they respond to. Including a single, clear, and compelling call to action (CTA) can increase the traffic to your site. Be sure that the CTA is easily seen. Using a larger font and setting it off from the paragraphs above and below can help. Try A/B testing of different colors and fonts. Look at whether you have the best results when you put the CTA above the fold versus at the bottom of the email. You Are Promoting A New Product Look at click-throughs and conversions when you are bringing a new product to your prospects. There are a number of variables that can affect your success in this area. Do your customers click through and buy more often when you feature a single product or several related ones? Does it help when your emails are mobile-friendly? Do you do better when you list a price in the email itself or when it is shown once they\'ve clicked through to the page? Testing these variables to see which give you the best results can dramatically increase your success in this area. Track your results to learn what your prospects respond to. Test one variable at a time with similar lists to learn more about what works. You Want To Build A More Robust List While size isn\'t everything, the number of people who you are reaching is important. Learn whether your emails are turning prospects off by watching your unsubscribes. People unsubscribing to your list is a normal part of marketing. However, if you are finding that too many people are leaving, there could be something wrong with your approach. Try different headlines or offering the option to subscribe to a list that receives mail less often to keep your numbers up. You Want To Increase Revenue When you are working to grow your business, every bit of revenue counts. Increases here can open up opportunities to expand your product range, bring in new talent, or expand into new markets. To see how your email marketing stands up, look at your revenue per email -- how much you earn, on average, for each marketing email that you send. There are a wide range of actions that you can take that can increase your return on your email marketing investment. Segmenting your marketing list can result in better conversions. With segmentation, you send a different marketing message to different groups of prospects based on their reactions in the past. This sort of highly targeted marketing is more resource intensive, but can also significantly increase your conversion rate and your revenue. Upselling and cross-selling can also increase your revenue from each prospect who responds. For instance, instead of marketing a single product in each email, you can increase your revenue by offering related products together. Summing Up The shotgun approach to email marketing does not work anymore. Too many of your clients are constantly bombarded by offers and promotions. To stand out from the noise, you need to create email marketing assets that take your clients\' behaviors and preferences into account. By carefully studying the data that you get from your marketing analytics, you can create more compelling marketing emails. This, in turn, helps you achieve your goals.


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How To Set & Achieve Your Email Marketing Goals

How To Set & Achieve Your Email Marketing Goals

Practical Marketer • August 4, 2017

In any role in your business, it’s easy to fall into autopilot. Most of us are creatures of habit. How often is the reason for doing something, “we’ve always done it that way?” The truth is, we should spend no time or resources on any task without understanding the goal for it. What are you hoping to achieve? When it comes to email marketing, do you know the reason behind each and every email you send? Factors to Consider When Setting a Goal For your email marketing, the needs of your subscriber should almost come first and foremost. This is what makes an email great. Of course, we’re all doing email marketing because it’s great for our business too. Balancing these two is sides of a goal is what leads to great emails. Why Setting a Goal Makes for Great Emails When you understand the ultimate goal of an email, you can reverse engineer the steps it takes to achieve that purpose. Keeping a goal in mind puts every aspect of your email into focus. It lets you know what you need to achieve at each level of your email. Choosing Your Goal Yes, there are many different things that you achieve with email marketing. You can build trust, further your branding, increase your sales and so much more. In reality, it’s really just whether it’s a slow play or a long play towards boosting your bottom line. Knowing that the end game is always going to be sales, even if it’s hard to see how that email will impact sales in the short-term, you can pick your goal based on where that email plays into your overall sales funnel. Marketing is always about micro wins. You won’t go far if your only move is “here buy this.” You have to do the work and approach each small step (or goal) that will lead you towards that ultimate goal of a sale. So how do you do it? How To Achieve Your Goals As mentioned above, to achieve your goals work backwards from your end point. It’s important to gain a complete understanding of each of these levels, in order to truly make your emails great. Without this knowledge, you’re playing a guessing game and you cannot expect to achieve your goals. So, what are the steps a customer or subscribe must take for you to achieve your goal? Step 1: Provide a Clear Call To Action We’ve often shared the sage words of Flint McGlaughlin, Founder and Managing Director of MECLABS, who likes to say that you cannot sell anything with email marketing other than a click. The final goal will likely take place on a product page, landing page or another location outside of your email. That means that Call To Action (CTA) that compels a subscriber to reach that page must be on point. If you have properly identified a goal for your email, the CTA should be obvious. Your CTA should be clear and easy to follow. In fact, that there are impressive stats that demonstrate the benefit of only having one CTA in an email campaign. Recently, Toast tested having one clear CTA in their email campaigns. This test yielded increased clicks to the tune of 371% and boosted sales 1,617%. [caption id=\"attachment_6659\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"615\"] H&M used one clear and simple CTA.[/caption] Most subscribers are busy or in some cases just lazy. Don’t ask too much of subscribers. At this point, you may be thinking, “but Andy ... there are more than one things I may need a subscriber or customer to take action on!” That’s perfectly fine. Just use more than one email to achieve this. What makes a great CTA? A great CTA does three things well: Creates urgency. A subscriber should feel the need to act right away. Provides clear instructions on what you want the email recipient to do next. Gives confidence. Avoid friction or anxiety. There’s no risk when something is free, right? Here’s an example of those points in action: Don’t wait another minute to make a great email! Start email marketing free today. If you don’t already have one, click here to get your Free Plan now! It’s important to test the various CTAs that are available to you, to find out what works with your audience. Test what is more successful for you between buttons for CTAs or using linked text. If you opt for using buttons, the design of your button is another factor to consider. Color, size, placement and even something as simple as adding an arrow graphic, like a mouse cursor, can have a significant impact on your email marketing success. Simply adding an arrow icon to their CTA buttons gave Helzberg Diamonds a 26% increase in clicks. The copy you use to motive in your CTA is also important. One company, ContentVerve, used first-person phrasing and saw a 90% increase in Click-Through Rate (CTR). For example, \"Start my free 30 day trial\" vs. \"Start your free 30 day trial.\" Step 2: Write Compelling Email Copy Your CTA isn’t the only place that copy is important. Write compelling email copy that causes a subscriber to read your entire email through to the CTA. Follow these tips for writing quality email copy: Write quickly. It will help your enthusiasm and personality shine. Be brief. Write like each word costs you money. Subscribers have a short attention span. You don’t want them to lose interest. Write conversationally. Craft your emails as if you were having a face-to-face conversation with one subscriber. Look back at your copy and ask yourself if you would talk that way if you were in a conversation. No boilerplates. Being too formulaic will result in a one way ticket to Boring Town. Break from the norm. Throw away things like “Sincerely,” “Best” or “Thanks.” Use your own personality. You might just see an email from Benchmark end in “With regards from sunny Southern California.” You want to use “you.” It’s among the most persuasive words in the dictionary. It’s not about you. Care and compassion for your subscribers will take your email marketing a long way. Step 3: Write A Great Subject Line Now that you know you can write a great email, let’s make sure that email gets opened. Enter subject lines. According to Convince & Convert, 35% of subscribers will open an email based on the subject line alone. Follow these tips for great subject lines: Be concise. With so many emails being viewed on mobile first, they’ll only see your subject line in its entirety if it’s around 50 characters. Deliver on your promise. Make sure your subject line is an honest representation of what follows within the email. The point of great emails is to build trust! Begin with an action-oriented verb. Your subject line is similar to a CTA and beginning a subject line with an action verb will help your email get opened. Give a sense of urgency. Same logic behind a subject line being like your CTA applies. Make them want to open your email. NOW! Ask a question? One that your subscribers will want the answer to and open the email to find the answer or consider the answer for themselves. In case you still need extra help with subject lines, Sumo has 62 formulas for great subject lines. Other factors that should be considered here are From Name and the email address from which you are sending as well as the Preview Text. Conclusion These are the important steps for creating great emails. Yes, they are in reverse order from how your subscriber will experience them. However, it’s always easiest when you understand what your goal is and then work backwards from there. That way you can make sure that you’ve set yourself up for success at each level of your email. Before you create any great email, you must first know your goal for that email. Then you have you make sure that the CTA in your email is great enough to get them to act on it, ultimately achieving your goal. To get them to your CTA, you have to first craft great email copy. This will make them read through your email to the CTA. For your email to be read in the first place, you need to write a great subject line that inspires your subscribers to open your email. Share Your Ideas What do you do to make your emails great? We want to hear from you. Tell us in the comments your favorite tips for making great emails. Want to Learn More? This post is only one part of what goes into making a great email. That’s why we wrote a new guide called What Makes a Great Email. There you can gain a better understanding for great emails and learn practical strategies to create them. Click here to download What Makes a Great Email. Get Started Today If this post has you inspired to make a great email, signup for the free Benchmark Starter Plan. Or login and put what you’ve learned to use.


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Join Us for Automation Fridays

Join Us for Automation Fridays

Practical Marketer • August 4, 2017

Automation is the next frontier of email marketing. Thankfully, automation technology has reached a point where it is accessible to the masses. Automated customer journeys need not look like a toddler hurled a handful of spaghetti at a wall. Automation can be simple, straightforward and easy to build. The best news is: we’re here to help. We’re hosting Automation Fridays every single Friday at noon PST. Do you have questions about automation? It could be about how to get started with automation or perhaps you have questions about a current automation you are trying to execute. Join us and have your questions answered by our Director of Marketing, Daniel Miller. He may even jump right into an account and show you how to build it himself! Even if you’re not sure what using automation would look like for your business, come see what others are doing with automation. You might find some inspiration! Plus, we’ll have practical strategies prepared to discuss every week. It could be talking about creating a shopping cart abandonment email sequence or the perfect drip sequence to attach to your lead magnets. We’ll get to those when all of our attendees questions are done being answered. Automation Fridays are totally free to join. We’re here to serve as your teacher, consultant and sounding board for automating your emails. Register for Automation Fridays.


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Is Your Email Content a Gift or a Drag?

Is Your Email Content a Gift or a Drag?

Beyond • August 2, 2017

I remember the first email I ever got. It was sent and received on the same computer — a test from my parents written to their children’s new shared AOL account. Thanks to both my own and the email marketing world’s immaturity, emails such as that one were the only contents of my inbox for several years. Drip by drip, that began to change for me, and every other email user out there. The word “spam” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2000 and since then, the drip has turned into a flood. It’s estimated that more than 225 billion emails are sent every day. The growth is spectacular — more emails, more email users, and more email accounts per user are stacking up at staggering rates. And many of us are creating those additional accounts to segregate and manage the vast quantity of marketing emails we receive — from brands we care about and want to hear from (but not too often) and brands we’ve never heard of (and aren’t sure how they heard of us). So what about the marketers on the other side of that send button? We’ve Settled Into Low Expectations Email spam blockers are becoming smarter and more people are signing up for services that roll-up their subscriptions so they’re easier to manage. As a result, bounce rates have been increasing year over year. With the average open rate for marketing emails at less than a fifth of what is sent, and the click through rate just about half of that, most marketers have settled into low expectations. We ooh and ahh over the slightest upward changes our analytics show us — delighted with increases of less than a percentage point. It needn’t be this way. Marketers can beat the spam filters, the inbox exhaustion, and the jaded recipients. It all starts with gaining a little perspective. Take the Test For the next month, take on the following challenge. Create a folder in your email account. Every time you open a marketing email, forward that email to the folder. If you click on the offer in the email, star it as well. Ask a couple of coworkers, friends, and family members to do the same. At the end of the month, collect all of the emails and do an evaluation. Gather up the subject lines. How were they similar? We’re any of the same words used? Were they personalized? Then evaluate the difference between the emails you opened and clicked on versus those you didn’t click through. Where was the CTA placed? Were there images? And what was the general theme of the content? If you clicked, chances are the content wasn’t asking you to do anything, in fact, it was probably offering to give you something instead. Email as a Gift The majority of emails the average adult receives are asking for something — complete this work task, pay that bill, call your mom — our inboxes have have become a burden, a to-do list we’d rather avoid. And because of that, most marketers’ emails go unread, lost to either the mass deleters or those with unopened mail in the six digits. The best way to stand out is simple — give instead of ask; take something off the to-do list rather than add to it; offer a way to make life easier and they will open it and click. So how do you make your emails a gift? Start by thinking about your customers (bonus points if you actually ask them in a survey). What are their pain points? What do they need? What do they have to do, but hate doing? Then insert yourself as the solution. Here are a few ideas you can set up in your marketing automation software to get started: Monetary: Provide a special offer of savings on services or products that you’ve already tracked their interest in through your analytics. This is probably the simplest and most common gift email marketers use today. Exclusive: Give your loyal customers something that no one else can have — early access to a sale, a special invite to an event, or a free download that’s locked to anyone else. Knowledge: Share insightful, engaging content with your customers. This could be a white paper or article that you’ve written yourself that addresses one of the pain points you’ve identified. Curation: If you don’t have the capacity to create your own excellent content, try curating content your customers might enjoy so that they don’t have to go around searching for it. You’ll position yourself as an expert, and show that you’re not just about promoting yourself, but about raising the bar of your industry overall. Happiness: Life is stressful, so why not interrupt that and create some goodwill? Think of small pieces of positivity you can send your customers — birthday greetings, motivational quotes, random bits of trivia, funny or heartwarming stories. If you create email that’s a gift instead of a drag, your customers will look forward to it like you probably look forward to your annual snail mail birthday card in a vast stack of catalogues and junk letters. So go on, raise your expectations, take the one month challenge and change the way you send email.


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Awesome Ways to Grow Your Email List with Facebook and Snapchat

Awesome Ways to Grow Your Email List with Facebook and Snapchat

Practical Marketer • July 24, 2017

It’s a question older than email marketing itself: How do I grow my contact list? Your list is one of the most valuable assets to your company. No matter the communication channel, you own your list. Nobody can take that away from you. With a return on investment for Email Marketing of $45 for every $1 spent, of course you want to grow your list! Consider Your Options There is no shortage of tried and true methods to grow your email list. Let’s take this time to get a little creative and consider what else is available to you. Are you getting the most out of the tools and apps you’re already using? With every new social media tool that debuts, the questions of “is email marketing dead?” soon follows. The opposite is true. Email marketing thrives in tandem with social media. It’s actually a new avenue to support and strengthen your email list. While it may sometimes seem like Facebook and Snapchat are engaging in an all out battle to the death, both are exciting options for growing your email list. The Power of Social Media and Its Users With each new feature released by a social channel, new marketing opportunities arise. Why? Because no marketer can ignore the numbers. The stats on Facebook are staggering: 1.9 Billion active monthly users 1.2 Billion logon to the platform daily 20 min is the average time a user spends on Facebook when they log on 4.75 Billion pieces of content are shared daily Over 16 Million Business pages on the platform Snapchat is rapidly growing each day: 300 Million monthly active users 100 Million daily active users 1.7 Billiion snaps are shared each day 30% of US Millennial Internet Users use Snapchat regularly 60% of college students would purchased from a brand off of Spapchat With all those users, some will surely subscribe to your email list. Right? Right. Let’s look at how. Harness the Power of Facebook You can promote your email subscription to your existing Facebook fans. To do this, you can put a signup form on a Tab on your Facebook page. You can best accomplish this with an iFrame app. Using the iFrame app, you can paste the HTML code of a signup form you’ve previously designed or even link the URL of a landing page built for gathering subscribers. The result will be a signup form that matches your branding, directly on your Facebook page. Once you’ve added a signup form to your Facebook page, you can also create ads to promote it. You can drive traffic directly to the Tab on your page that has your signup form with a simple ad. The best part, is that you can target to whom you promote your ad. When you’re in the process of creating your ad, you have the option to customize the audience for your ad. There, you’ll see the immensely valuable option to create a Lookalike Audience. That means you’ll target your ad towards people on Facebook who are similar to your most valuable customers. Snapchat, Crackle and Make Your List Pop As Snapchat is still the relatively new kid on the block, it doesn’t hurt to take some steps to grow your audience there. Snapchat users have found many creative ways to share their snapcode: Print it out and put it on your storefront, car or anywhere! Set it as your profile picture on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media channel Put your snapcode on your business card Simply forward it to your list of contacts (in a post on how social media can boost your email marketing, let’s not forget email can promote your social media efforts as well) Now, you can turn your new and existing Snapchat followers into subscribers. This can be done with the new attachment feature on Snapchat. The way this looks from a user experience, is that your follower can swipe up on your snap. This will take them to the website you’ve chosen. Much like Facebook, you can direct them to a landing page with your signup form on it. Tailor the page to your Snapchat followers and give them good incentive to subscribe. Also like Facebook, there are unique targeting options available to you in Snapchat. Using the Our Story feature, you can target your signup form snaps to a specific audience. This feature allows you to add a snap to a local story, whether it be a location or even an event. Adding a snap in Our Story means anyone watching the story for their location or the event they’re attending or following will see your snap. Snapchat has more recently added an option to view snaps from anywhere in the world. That’s right! Now your snap you’ve sent to build your list can even go viral. Go to a highly dense snap area or look for events in your area and upload snaps to the public story with your attachment. This will bring in new subscribers to your landing page. Don’t Forget the Details No matter what methods you use to grow your list, make sure to keep your lists well organized and segmented. Try not to group all your new subscribers together in one list. You can do this with the fields in the signup forms you’re using on Facebook and Snapchat. Or you can even create separate lists for each one. That will let you send campaigns tailored to the audience on each channel. Conclusion There are many creative and interesting ways that you can incentivize your social media followers to become email subscribers. The method you choose is the first step. Getting someone to subscribe to your email list is all about the “why.” Think of an email address as a currency. You better give value for the exchange. Otherwise, why would anyone signup? How Do You Grow Your List? Have you found effective ways to use Facebook, Snapchat or any other social tool that we didn’t discuss? Share your successes in the comments! We love to hear about what others are doing. If you’re inspired to put these ideas to use, signup and get started today.


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Integrating Benchmark with Prestashop

Integrating Benchmark with Prestashop

Beyond • July 14, 2017

Surely, if you are a customer of Benchmark and Prestashop you already know that for over more than a year both platforms are integrated through an Official Module developed by InnovaDeluxe. The module is translated into three languages: Spanish, English and Italian, and will allow you to: Synchronize in real time with the selected Benchmark list. Popup in Front Office for subscription to the newsletter. Customizable popup with a banner to make the email taster more attractive. Very easy to use, it works automatically, you just have to configure your Benchmark profile. You can generate a discount code by subscribing to the newsletter. Customizable multilingual newsletter title. Field to add a custom description in the popup, also translatable to multiple languages. Link to the backoffice of the module to create your account in Benchmark if you do not already have one. You can configure the time it takes for the popup to be displayed to the client. You can have a user from the list go to the drop-down list in Benchmark. Also, both Benchmark and InnovaDeluxe, we will offer you the best support and help to make everything easy for you. Do not fall behind and make your online store completely automated and work on its own. Also, with Automation Pro, you can now create custom journeys based on the actions your customers and leads take on your website or in your emails. It has never been so easy. Now is your time, go ahead! If you need us to erase any doubts, you may have about the module, leave us your comment here below.


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Email Marketers: Awesome Free Stock Photo Sites & the Right Way to Use Images

Email Marketers: Awesome Free Stock Photo Sites & the Right Way to Use Images

Practical Marketer • July 5, 2017

When was the last time you went anywhere and did not see at least one person stop to snap a picture? I honestly can’t remember. Not at a restaurant. Not on a hike. Not even walking down the street. Everywhere you go, someone is capturing the moment. In 2017, 85% of all digital photos taken were on a phone. The impact of the iPhone and the smartphones that followed has been massive. It’s how we communicate in this day in age. Our photos cross all language and cultural barriers. A picture is worth even more than a thousand words when you’re limited to 140 characters on Twitter. Images Are Essential In Marketing With the abundance of photographs in our everyday lives, it should come as no surprise to find out how effective images are as a part of a successful marketing campaign. We recently wrote about how much visual content matters. You don’t have to believe me (though I’ve about I have an honest face). There is no shortage of data that proves just how important images are to your marketing efforts. Blog posts and articles with quality images see an average of 94% more total views than those without them Sending a press release with photos receives nearly 15% more online views than their text-only counterparts When it comes to web search, 60% of consumers prefer to contact a business whose listing includes an image Almost 70% of online shoppers say that the product image is of the utmost importance when making a purchase decision Not sold yet? Let’s use an image to demonstrate these points and more. Check out this MDG Advertising Infographic: Infographic by MDG Advertising Where You Can Find Great Images Not every business can afford an in-house design team or professional photographer. Thankfully, you don’t need those if you know the right places to look. You do, however, need to find quality images. There is so much bad stock art that is available to marketers out there. You also don’t want to be using the same exact images your competitors have on their website. Shopify, who we have created a helpful email marketing integration with, created a list of many great free stock image sites. We compiled a list our favorite sites from their list that offer free stock images for you to use in your email marketing: Startup Stock: Ideal for businesses in the tech space. This site features high res stock images that focus on startup photography. Pexels: This site adds five photos each day and boasts quality images featuring nature, technology and even abstract photography. ISO Republic: Great photos for eCommerce. Easy to sort through images by category. Cupcake: Features photography related to landscapes and nature. This site is ideal for hero images. Commercial use of the images is free. Buckelistly: This site has great photographs from all over the world, which is helpful if you’re selling globally. SplitShire: If you need portrait-type images or even abstract photography, this site is great for you. Getrefe: This site advertising real life photos. There are a lot of cityscape images, but there’s also a good mix of everything. Function: Ideal for B2B businesses, as this site feature many overhead photographs of desks. Picography: A great site to find lifestyle photography for your email campaigns. Stock Snap: This is a very user-friendly site that has a powerful search engine to find the best images for your business. What To Look For In An Image Now that we know where to find great images, let’s touch on just what makes an image great. Here are three questions that you should ask yourself when choosing an image for your email campaigns: Is it relevant to your content? It seems like common sense, but it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder. Your image should represent what your email content is discussing. Is it a captivating image? A great image will draw the eye in and demand attention. Remember, you’re only going to a get a small amount of time before a subscriber decides to check the next email in their inbox. Make sure the images in your emails demand attention when they are opened. Is it a high-quality image? If you’re selecting images from the sites I suggested above, you should be in good shape. However, if you’re grabbing photos from elsewhere on the web (be sure you have the right to use it!), it’s possible that the image will be of a lesser quality. Same goes for using images you may have taken with your smartphone. The Best Ways To Use Images Knowing where to get free stock photos and what to look for are only the first steps. Learning how to properly use them is just as important. Here are a few important factors to keep in mind when using images in your email marketing: Maintain a ratio of 80% text to 20% images. There a few factors that play into the reasoning behind this. First, is that image only emails are far more likely to be delivered to the spam or junk folder. Second, many inbox clients or even subscribers may have images turned off. This means your email will not display correctly if it’s too image heavy (it also means that you should plan for how your email will be viewed when images are turned off). Lastly, image-heavy emails take longer to load. Make it mobile-friendly. It’s estimated that by 2018, 8 out of 10 email users will be checking their emails from a mobile device. That means that images which feature one clear subject than can be easily understood at a smaller size will be most effective. Otherwise, you risk your images feeling too dense or crowded when viewed on a smartphone. Understand the psychology of color. You have a short window of time that a subscriber will look at each email. Why not use science to make the greatest impact in that brief moment? Certain colors influence individuals in specific ways. Pink is calming. That’s why many sports teams will paint the visitor’s locker room pink. Red encourages appetite, so many restaurants will feature red on their menus or in their logos. Here’s a helpful infographic to learn more on the psychology of color: Courtesy of NowSourcing, Inc Find Inspiration If you’re still unsure of whether or not you’re finding the best images and using them in the most effective ways, look to the companies that you think have captivating images. It’s perfectly OK to take inspiration from those around us. Wayfair does a great job of designing email campaigns filled with images of well-designed homes that I’d love to live in. As I’m currently nearing the time when my girlfriend will be moving in with me, we have both perused these emails and fantasized about how nice our apartment might look with some of these items. Viyet does an excellent job with the photography in their email campaigns as well. Take, for example, this email campaign that features the sofas that they sell. Rather than the standard box images we’re all used to seeing in email campaigns, they show each sofa and nothing else. There’s nothing to distract you from the matter at hand. Plus, it breaks up the flow and encourages you to scroll through to see them all. Groupon does a great job with photographs on their Getaways list as well. Each photograph they pick entices me to want to experience that little slice of life from the given destination. Photos Cannot Be Denied The power of photography in marketing is undeniable. That is the world we live in. Our marketing cannot thrive without great photography. Just remember, using great photographs in your email marketing is a three part process. The first part is knowing where to find great photographs. Next, is gaining an understanding of what makes a photo great. Last, is implementing photographs in your email marketing campaigns in an effective manner. Put these steps together, and you’re ready to thrive. Share What You Do Did we forgot one of the free stock photo sites that you prefer? Share it in the comments! We want to learn about and share everything that is out there for marketers to put to use. Tell us about the successes you’ve had with using photographs in your email campaigns. What lessons have you learned? Share your advice and spread the wealth. If you’re ready to put what you’ve learned to use, login to your Benchmark account or signup for a free Starter Plan and get started today.


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Using Email Marketing to Boost Social Media Followers

Using Email Marketing to Boost Social Media Followers

Beyond • June 26, 2017

Marketing is meant to be a machine with all parts working toward the same goal. In most marketing departments, the parts are meant to make up the whole; at least, that is the ideal. The reality is very different. The reality is most marketing department processes and functions rarely support other pockets of activity. Take content, for example, the most time intensive marketing responsibility. Content should be an overarching umbrella that funnels into different purposes. One piece of content should be adaptable and have multiple functionalities so it can be adapted to social media, email marketing, blogs, and more. In this way, content is not only dictating how other marketing arms are fleshed out, but the content is also bringing these different pockets together. Instead, content tends to be scattered across the board. One thing is said on one platform and something else entirely somewhere else. What’s shared on the blog, of course, often makes it to social media platforms -- but not all social media platforms. First of all, content is not adapted to suit the style of each platform. What works on Facebook will not work on Instagram; and what works on Instagram is not going to cut it for Twitter. Let’s look at content the other way around. In fact, let’s look at your biggest organic content generator: social media. Filling the Social Media Follower Void If you have an active social media presence on any platform -- and you’re not pulling from the engagement and dialogue there -- you’re missing out on some major opportunities. One of those opportunities is getting more people from your email marketing list to convert as new social media followers. This is particularly important if you have a strong email marketing subscriber list and a loyal following there -- and are trying to build up your social media accounts. The most under-utilized way to bridge the gap is to integrate social media into your email campaigns, particularly newsletters. If you have a hot Instagram or Twitter account, take some of the best high-traffic posts and link to them in your campaigns. If there was a dynamic Facebook post the generate a riveting dialogue with followers, then summarize that with a headline and an invitation to join the conversation on Facebook. The point is to tease your subscribers with linked-back images of the chats that are happening somewhere else so you can funnel them to your social platforms. In fact, you can have an entire email campaign per week dedicated exclusively to social media chatter for the week. When it comes to social media, you want to keep this a weekly occurrence just because the news cycle changes so quickly. What’s relevant or hot today, may not be of interest to your followers next week, even if that social post is visually driven images from Instagram. Cultivating Social Media Followers from Email Campaigns The point is not to forget about one pocket while you’re working in another pocket. For starters, it’s highly recommend to center one entire email campaign is centered on a call to action for social media. It should be well-designed, clean and organized, as you see with the two examples. The one above for JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores is a fantastic example of how to focus on your niche audience. At the top of the email campaign, as you would also share at the top of a website, they list all the social media platforms they’re on. They understand their demographic is women who are inspired to create and get crafty. The best social media platform for that is Pinterest. If they were to focus on a second, maybe it would be Facebook and then Instagram. JoAnn’s chose to focus on Pinterest and paired it with a pinboard. There isn’t an excessive copy. The call to action is simply the pins, which they repeated in various graphic design elements throughout the email campaign. The example below is Bed Bath & Beyond. They have a cheeky theme about “getting into the swing of it,” paired with value for each platform. The value isn’t also a thesis, it’s about pairing strong visuals that direct action with language that supports taking that action. Interestingly, the email campaign weaves in elements of website design. The top two rows of categories mimic their website. This is smart. It reminds people what the brand is about but also is a non-verbal cue to shop. Building on that, there are other ways to get email subscribers to show. Try including social media links in your email sign up form as well as your email confirmation form. Your subscriber’s welcome email can also be broken up into two separate campaigns, the latter of which focuses exclusively on social media. Have a second follow-up welcome email focus exclusively on social is smart if your email campaigns tend to be spaced out, allowing your subscribers to stay engaged in other ways in between campaigns. Weaving in Your Brand Value When integrating your social media teasers into your email campaigns, the key is to keep in mind brand value. In other words, think of communicating,  “Here’s what you need and here’s why you need it.” That is how you go about drumming up your value. Ask yourself what’s the one thing you offer on your social platforms that make them pop out? Going further, perhaps there are multiple types of value. You might get great community engagement on your Facebook page. Perhaps your Twitter page scoops up the hottest issues. Instagram might be where you curate the best finds across the visual platform and repost on your Instagram account. Maybe your Instagram is where you capture your brand’s culture. The point is the value you have your social media accounts tends to be diverse, and each platform captures a different facet of your brand value. Now it’s time to bring that back home to your email campaigns. It’s Always About the Numbers [caption id=\"attachment_5960\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"620\"] Graph as seen on OptinMonster.[/caption] The people marketing higher-ups typically answer to are easily charmed by the appeal of social media. The engagement there is visible. The likes and the replies are visible, but that doesn’t mean they’re measurable in the same way you measure engagement on email marketing. Think of it this way: 5,000 subscribers to your email subscriber list is not the same 5,000 subscribers on your Facebook or Twitter page. According to Stuart Marler from Retriever Digital, “If you have 2,000 Facebook fans usually only 2-5 people will see each post you publish.\" The level of engagement on social media is typically very minimal unless you’ve boosted the post. Then there’s the issue of boosting a post. While a boosted post gets you more traffic, likes, shares, and replies, etc., that engagement very typically isn’t driven by people who like or follow your business page. They’re often one-offs, there because you’ve paid for a sponsored post. It’s not an accurate level of reach or fanbase, especially when not compared to what you get on email marketing. Let’s look at what you get when you post the same thing to social media, on a platform like Facebook, while also sending the post to your email subscribers. Thought leaders Ogilvy note that Facebook organic reaches an estimated 6% of a brand’s fanbase, whereas the average reach (open rate) for email is 22%. That is a huge discrepancy in numbers. The point is this, the level of followers or subscribers is not equal to the level of engagement had based on that number alone. Think of it like this: you can have 5,000 contacts on your phone but who picks up the phone when you call? When it comes to social media, the same relative theory applies. It’s a question of who’s there versus who answers the call. Coming back to the point, considering that you naturally have a higher rate of email marketing engagement, it’s smart marketing to drive that audience to social media. Not only do you want to make sure you are evening out the playing field with the same people accessing all platforms you’re present in, but you can also use your email subscribers to help boost social media engagement. Going back to the drawing board, think of how you can use this information to create a bridge to connect social media to your email marketing campaigns. Considering summer is ahead of us and is typically a dry spell for email marketing, this is a great time to go back and pull the best of what you have on social media into your email campaigns. In fact, a key theme during the summer could be to draw attention to the most pivotal conversations and shares on social media as one-off email campaigns that can be sent out daily. It would be curious to see how your numbers perform under this strategy, whether your social media followers go up and whether you’ve maybe even increased social engagement through this innovative way to think about your marketing platforms. Give it a try, have fun with it, and let us know how it went for you!


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Unroll.me: A Flawed, Misleading Unsubscribe Service

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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What You Need to Know About Creating a 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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