Tags: campaigns

The Most Epic Holiday Email Campaigns

The Most Epic Holiday Email Campaigns

Beyond • December 17, 2015

Now that we’re well-versed with holiday marketing hacks, it’s time to level up and get inspired by some of the most epic holiday email campaigns. The best time to start your holiday email campaign is right in advance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can create a holiday “preview” sale and include a coupon that’s only available through your email marketing campaign. A lot of people will do this. What makes your company stand out is in how creative your email design is going to be. Is it going to be a run of the mill graphic design or will it be inspired to think differently. Think differently by creating a photo spread or using more modern design elements. If you have the capability, have an interactive email marketing campaign that links to an interactive landing page. This works brilliantly for retail industries. The landing page could be a photo of a real family living room with a Christmas tree and fireplace. The styling you go with will depend on your audience: contemporary modern or classic. You can have gifts under the tree and visitors can click on the gifts to see what’s inside, each one being a product. An interactive landing page stirs the imagination and gets people virtually engaged with your products. If they can imagine it under your tree, they can imagine it under their tree. You can also play on the “12 Days of Christmas” Theme and have a 12 day email campaign that features one product at a time. If you’re featuring one product, you’re going to really need to engage readers with that product. Include a video if you can, get a popular guest blogger involved if possible. It also helps create buzz if you offer an email integrated giveaway for reach product. If you’re going to do a giveaway, make sure you’re taking advantage of the opportunity by creating FOMO (fear of missing out) ahead of time, through social media, prior email campaigns and your website. Also make sure you’re making it easier for people to subscribe to your email campaigns since this type of campaign will increase subscribers. Creative holiday campaigns don’t just need to be about the email campaign itself. You can use the email campaign to draw attention to a creative holiday “gift” or service. Consider what Netflix did. They offered a video of a warm fireplace called “Your Home – Official Trailer.” The idea was that you could use Netflix to turn your TV into a live video of a cozy fireplace. You’re still using Netflix, and you’re getting something personalized out of it. It’s genius. How you use your email marketing campaigns can – and should – vary. Do what works for you and your growing organization. If it’s strictly about content, great. If it’s to draw users to a landing page, even better. The goal is to move beyond just promotional content during the holidays and find a way to personalize your company and what it has to offer an audience base. As a rule, it’s always better to send more holiday email campaigns that are varied in style and content, rather than just the one-off creative holiday campaign. This is the time of year for you to get noticed and a creative email campaign has the potential to do just that.


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Getting it Wrong: The Issue with Using Graphics in Email Campaigns

Getting it Wrong: The Issue with Using Graphics in Email Campaigns

Beyond • October 3, 2015

The use graphics or to not use graphics – that is the question for many many in marketing. On the one hand, graphics can be gorgeous visual statements that drive the message. They can be used as the entire communication piece, with text embedded in through Photoshop; they can be used to further the narrative with artfully placed graphics; or they can be strategically used in an email signature as a punctuated after-thought to driver readers to a landing page. On the other hand, they can also hinder communications if they’re not properly downloaded. There are a few reasons this happens, and you’re probably on the receiving end of some of these reasons too. The root of the problem lies in email server types. The fact is, not all email servers are the same. Some will be more friendly to images, and others (like Outlook) will not. Outlook, which is the most commonly used business email, tends to be a problem for many – and there’s the common misinterpretation that there’s no way to bypass the picture block. There is. The are three reasons pictures get blocked in servers like Outlook: You’re either blocking external content Your SecureTemp folder is “full” You have Word’s “picture placeholder” setting enabled If most of your recipients are outlook users, you can guide them on how to unblock pictures in servers like Outlook through very simple steps. The challenge is doing this remotely or through instructions alone with most of the population still isn’t tech savvy when it comes to understanding the mechanics of things like email settings. Another commonly used email server is Gmail, which also has the same graphic downloading problem as Outlook. To bypass the obstacle, you need to encourage subscribers to disable their HTTPS settings for their Gmail account. Beyond Outlook and Gmail, you’ll encounter problems with Hotmail, Yahoo and even mobile technology. In each instances, you’ll have to communicate to your subscribers on enable multiple types of email servers since you couldn’t possibly know what the various types of commonly used servers are from a list of let’s say 200 to 2000 subscribers. The solution here is draft a text email that lists out the steps for various servers. Even better solution is to rigorously rely on an email marketing platform. The only surefire way to bypass the graphics issue is to use an email campaign template for all email communications. The template will ensure that images, gifs, and videos are framed in a way that support the content, and the marketing campaign will have a text-only option as well as an html viewing option. This way, both types of users are able to access your communication the way they prefer rather than being forced down a messy graphics funnel.


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Top 4 Reasons You Need Video Email Campaigns

Top 4 Reasons You Need Video Email Campaigns

Beyond • September 10, 2015

Despite email marketing still being one of the most effective means of communication to a target audience – there’s still one issue: they need to read them. Regardless of what type of audience you have, you’re battling for their attention span. If you’re in retail, then your content is image heavy. If you’re detailing with a chunk of information, then you’re straddled with a lot of text that a reader has to get through. Both scenarios would benefit from video email campaigns. The former gets another layer of creative visual assets shared with their demographic, while the later gets to stream text heavy content into more engaging media files. Full Product Reviews Images are one thing, but most female shoppers have a hard time trusting the images, especially if it’s a textile. Having a video product review offers a more tangible way to experience the product – and it helps increase sales. Products that are felt and touched by the host offer a sort of tactile experience that “connects” the shopper with the product. This is why in home shopping networks, products are often touched and explored or played with rather than just on display. The former experience creates intimacy, trust and curiosity while the latter is remote and detached. Video Testimonials Send out video testimonials by encouraging “…one of your most loyal, happy customers to create a video testimonial to your business and send it out to all your recipients. If you can include more than one, go for it. If not, just showcase the best one to encourage others to be excited about your business or organization.” On that note, any kind of testimonial or exchange can be shared via video, include and particularly interviews. Message from the CEO Create a message from your CEO to your customers, which can be tactically used to push key messages that really need to be communicated, adopted and acted upon. Having your CEO – or key face of the company or organization – give a personal message also create a direct connection and offers access to top tier personnel without your busy executive needing to go out of their way or eat up valuable time with in person meetings. Direct to a Landing Page There are a multitude of ways that marketers can employ videos for email marketing purposes. In addition to triggering greater interest in the message that’s being delivered, it can also be used to direct readers to a specific landing page. Most landing pages require action, and it’s incredibly hard to encourage action without offering something in return or being crystal clear in your messaging. Now that you know “why,” the next step is starting your first video email marketing campaign – and mastering it! If there’s one takeaway, it’s to remember that videos are a lot more difficult and time consuming to produce than traditional text-based content. Don’t overshoot – start with one a month or one every two weeks and get your footing before trying to take on doing more. The quality, pace and feel of your video will improve over time as with anything else.


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Tips to Master Your First Video Email Campaign

Tips to Master Your First Video Email Campaign

Beyond • September 8, 2015

A recent study showed the marketers are increasingly turning to video messaging as part of their email marketing campaigns. In fact, in my last post, we discussed the top reason why you need video email campaigns. But we’re not the only ones that feel video is a compelling mode of communication when it comes to email marketing campaigns. Here’s what other thought leaders are saying: Mimic the look of a typical video player Here you’re adding a visual indication that a video is part of your email with the play button. When readers are prompted with this play button, they’ll click the image and be directed to a landing page – or a branded video sharing page – with your video embedded. Using a compelling image to link readers to your video content within email works really well to increase click through rates. Source: Ian Hutchinson of Vidyard, a video marketing blog that offers resources, inspiration and tactics. Hutchinson also had another great idea that layered on a common approach. Instead of just hosting your video on your landing page – in addition to your email campaign - consider having your landing page video set to autoplay. In the case of sharing it on your landing page, have a email sign up subscription featured that encourages people to opt in to get more great video content delivered right to their emails. Turn up the data with heat maps Every email marketing campaign needs to be be data driven. Video email marketing campaigns aren’t an exception. Every view generates a heatmap, which shows exactly which parts of the video the viewer watched, skipped, and rewatched. Trend Graphs let you track how your entire video library performs over time. Source: Wistia, which offers professional video hosting with analytics and marketing tools. Once you’ve created your video and tracked data, the next video email marketing step is creating video number two and finding a way to organize your video assets through a robust CMS, which Benchmark offers: Storing all your videos in your own gallery that you can access 24/7 Dragging and dropping in videos directly into your layouts and templates Sending recipients to a mirror page showing the video if it gets blocked by their email providers Think in GIFs Gifs are short punctuated videos or slideshows, or an animated graphic, that are wildly popular right now. That said, think in GIFs the next time you need to create a video email campaign. The GIF you create an be used to prompt readers to a landing page. Marketing Land has a useful post with practical example. There is no one way to go about using video email marketing campaigns – but there is only one way to do it right … and that’s with the right tool that serves all your email marketing needs. When shopping for your video marketing tool that allows you to embed creative and information videos in emails, check to see how much more a platform is charging for that service. Unlike Benchmark, not all platforms include this feature as a basic tier of service that’s included in each plan.


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Words that Ensure Your Email Marketing Campaigns Totally Fail

Words that Ensure Your Email Marketing Campaigns Totally Fail

Beyond • August 12, 2015

Along with the good, there’s the bad. When it comes to subject lines, it’s easier to fail by using a poor word choice rather than to win by thinking like your consumer. Take a moment to process that because here’s the bottom line: use of basic and uncreative words will cause your email campaign to fall in the slush bin of generic content. Here’s what to look out for: In-Your-Face Sales There’s a fine difference between reminding a customer that a sale is going on versus screeching “Sale now!” The former tends to offer some description such as what is being offered, when and at what value. The rather relies on an expectation that just because there’s a sale, people should come rushing through the doors. That may have worked in a small town half a century ago, but it doesn’t work anymore. Good, Great, Awesome, Wonderful These words are boring and they’re completely overused. If we’re going to get technical, they’re also words that support an opinion rather than a fact. Stop using them…today, please. Nothing you’re offering is good, great, awesome or wonderful unless you can also highlight or demonstrate that to your audience. Monday and Friday are the Black Hole of Sales Aside from the ever popular “Cyber Monday” and “Black Friday,” emails on these two days tend to not do very well. On Mondays, people are getting organized for the week and recovering from the weekend (which is why press releases are also not sent on a Monday). Likewise, on a Friday, everyone’s mentally checked out and focused on the weekend. Save your campaign efforts for Tuesday, Wednesday and even Thursday. Fake Personalization I started getting emails from groups I subscribed to because I felt they might have something valuable for me. Then I noticed these bizarre email subject line that looked like they were having a conversation with me. But here’s the thing: they don’t even know me and they’re over-excited conversational subject lines were a ploy to push something that really only benefited them. Don’t do this. It’s annoying and there isn’t one instance where I ended up engaging any of those email campaigns in anyway. Getting to know someone is a process. Don’t cheapen it to get one more ‘quick win’ for your email marketing campaign. It’s rude. Don’t Ask for Money. Appeal to Self-Interest Email campaigns that ask for money have it especially tough. You’re using words like donate, help or assistance…which are immediately going to turn off your reader because they know you’re panhandling for help. They’re going to think, “Here’s one more person asking me for something.” You’re using a digital platform to remotely ask someone something as personal as money. It’s not an intimate setting but you can turn the situation to your advantage by treating the first opportunity to donations to be about setting the conversation. And that conversation is the value derived from investing or supporting your cause. You’re going to need to talk about who or what you are and what’s in it for them: what does your donor getting for supporting you? To answer this question, think of how you can make donors look good. Words that fail can be clumped together in one category: their words that demand your audience’s attention without offering anything in return. In fact, in most cases the words support language that is sale oriented rather than customer oriented. You’re pushing what you want onto your customer rather than thinking about what type of content they want to read.


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Is Mobile Killing Your Email Campaign?

Is Mobile Killing Your Email Campaign?

Beyond • May 6, 2015

If you’re finding that your email campaigns aren’t converting for mobile, then the likely culprit behind that failed conversion is your email content and design. With mobile users toppling past about 66% of digital consumers, it’s no longer just an option to optimize emails. In fact, if Google’s new algorithm announcement is anything to go by, mobile optimization is now a basic business practice – or at least is should be. And if Google’s announcement hasn’t startled you into action, then this should: 75% of emails that aren’t optimized for mobile will delete the email campaign without reading it. Engagement Levels Define Mobile Click-Through Rates There are likely several paired reasons for why that percentage is so high. It’s not just about formatting. Sure, if you’re email campaign isn’t formatted for mobile, it makes the user experience highly cumbersome and time-consuming. However, it’s also about the level of engagement mobile users expect compared to traditional desktop consumers. Mobile users prefer language to be targeted, personal, and action-oriented. That said, having formality in your campaigns, whether it’s in the title of your message or the subject line, doesn’t offer an invitation to keep reading. Add to it the fact that it matters who we’re receiving email campaigns from. As Mark J. Hiemstra in an Unbounce article titled “Why No One is Reading Your Emails on Mobile,” points out, “Instead of sending the email from your company as a whole, send it from a specific person with a face and a name.” In fact, according to Crazy Egg, there’s a 29% increase in open rates when there’s some sort of personification behind a sender beyond just “customer support,” “customer service,” or even “admin.” Demographics Aren’t as Clear-Cut as You’d Imagined in Mobile At one point, we could say that it’s the millennial generation that using mobile. While that’s true, the fact is that mobile consumption is a way of life for most tech users. Brafton recently conducted a study where they found that, “People between the ages of 35 and 44 represent the highest saturation of smartphone news consumption at 73 percent, followed closely behind by every age bracket besides the 65+ crowd.” However, mobile shopping is also a highly prevalent form of mobile consumption, and email marketing is a strong platform to reach that audience. If your industry is retail, then keep your emails image-rich and content clean. Have clear calls to action and make it easy to buyers to follow through. The Lesson Learned in Mobile Marketing The lesson learned here is that if you’re not integrating mobile into your regular email marketing campaign, you’re sabotaging your own efforts. Whether you’re using email marketing campaigns for content driven campaigns, or image-driven campaigns for retail, you have to keep the end user in mind. Today, that end user is looking to consume content while at lunch during the workday, while standing in line, or while watching TV. Their ability to engage and convert needs to be made as easy as possible. If that path isn’t paved for them with mobile optimization and mobile-friendly content, then you’re losing your audience. When that pattern is repeated, then you begin losing subscribers.


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Email Newsletter Awards: Most Interesting Content

Email Newsletter Awards: Most Interesting Content

Beyond • December 12, 2010

At some point, every email marketer worries that their newsletter topic will go over like a five- hour seminar on dialysis equipment. If you don\'t have your own focus group to mull over every idea, it\'s simply too easy to pick topics that fall flat. For iPrints.com, our Newsletter Awards winner for Most Interesting Content, finding an intriguing topic was a matter of creatively asking and answering a very common question: How does one (effectively) photograph fireworks? In reality, most people with cameras have at some point tried – and failed – to take great snaps of fireworks, only to end up with dark images framing smudgy, barely there explosions. But iPrints.com not only breaks down what adjustments need to be made, but also when to take the best shots and where to stand to get them. This iPrints.com email does more than pique the interest of readers, it takes a typical-yet-compelling issue and addresses it with crisp, easy to digest text. Thanks to this breezy content, readers learned something new and put iPrints.com\'s emails on their must-open list. Check out the full-size version of the Most Interesting Content winner\'s email campaign in the Benchmark Community.


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Avoiding the Inadvertent Email Insult

Avoiding the Inadvertent Email Insult

Beyond • November 3, 2010

Last week we touched upon ways to keep your email marketing text neutral & non-offensive by avoiding key words that can be interpreted to be racist or sexist. Indeed, they were so racist and sexist that we couldn\'t even publish them! However, there are many other ways whereby you may be insulting your readers without using any specifically offensive words. Here are some of the major points. He / She / He/She??? The English language was crafted during a time when it was assumed by both writers and readers that any generic or unspecified gender would automatically default to male. As recently as the 1970s, it was acceptable for discussions of everything from deities to children to be a \"him.\" As our society has developed a more enlightened consideration for gender, the language has unfortunately not kept up with the times. Thus it is difficult to specify generic gender, as in the case of: \"When administering the medicine to your child, hold (his / her / his/her) hand.\" His/her is cumbersome, and the use of either gender can be deemed discriminatory. The only remotely suitable workaround is to phrase the content in the plural: \"When administering the medicine to your children, hold their hands.\" It\'s ugly and awkward, but there are no currently available suitable alternatives. Keep Language Positive Negative language must be avoided in all of your email marketing content. You especially have to be extremely careful about wording reminders so that they do not sound accusatory. Reminding a customer that they did not renew their subscription should never use terms such as \"you neglected to\" or \"you failed to,\" as well as any reference to \"your lack of response.\" It is much more acceptable to phrase these reminders in the form of a question, such as \"did you receive our reminder notice that your subscription is about to lapse?\" Leave the Pontification to the Pontiff It is easy to cross the line into pontification when instructing or educating your audience. Using terms such as \"you must,\" \"you have to,\" or \"do this\" implies that you are commanding rather than informing. That is an approach that is diametrically opposed to the preferable tactic. An email marketing campaign is no place for preaching, moralizing, lecturing or catechizing. Consider your readers as your peers and share information that you believe will be of interest without talking down to them. Shun overly technical or detailed data, but summarize your content in a simple, easy-to-grasp manner that portrays the respect you must have for your audience. Watch the Humor Email campaigns that are lightened by a fun sense of comedy can significantly outperform the dull and straight-laced, but it is very easy for satire to be taken the wrong way by some readers. Self-deprecating humor is also a double-edged sword: Some customers will interpret the attempt at self-zinging humor as a confession of your brand\'s incompetence. Under no circumstance should any national group or profession be singled out in your humor: Any of the old chestnuts about \"a lawyer, a doctor, and a priest are shipwrecked on a desert island\" or \"a Russian, a German, and an Italian walk into a bar\" should be left for Improv Night. Even an extremely minor aspect, such as the position of a hyphen, can change the meaning of a sentence to one that can be seen as offensive. A \"small-business owner\" is the proprietor of a small business, but a \"small business-owner\" is a proprietor who is shorter than average. Today more than ever it is imperative to go through each and every one of your email marketing messages with a fine-toothed comb to ensure that no aspect of the content could possibly offend or insult any one of its readers.


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St. Patrick’s Day Email Templates

St. Patrick’s Day Email Templates

Beyond • March 5, 2010

You won’t need the luck of the Irish to score big with a St. Patrick’s Day email template. It’s never been easier to capitalize on the holidays, with a Benchmark Email St. Patrick’s Day template. After all, everyone is Irish on St. Paddy’s Day. Sláinte! Break out your green shirts, socks and shamrocks and check out our St. Patrick’s Day Email templates. view all holiday email templates 3 Ideas for St. Patrick’s Day themed email campaigns: Offer a discount for customers who comes into your place of business wearing green. Restaurants and bars can promote celebrating responsibly by offering a discount to groups with a designated driver. Even if you don’t run a promotion, use it as an opportunity to visit some inboxes and teach your customers about the symbols of St. Patrick’s Day.  


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