Tags: email marketing blog

Customize a Tasty Email Template: July Is National Hot Dog Month

Beyond • October 29, 2011

July is National Hot Dog Month. It makes perfect sense. July is the peak of summer. You can’t walk through any neighborhood without the smell of a backyard BBQ wafting through the air. What doesn’t make sense is how people can put ketchup on a hot dog. That is blasphemy, people! And while I do enjoy both bacon and hot dogs, sorry LA, but bacon wrapped hot dogs are not my jam. Without further adieu, the recipe for an authentic Chicago dog (i.e. the only way a hot dog should ever be prepared): Steamed kosher-style, all-beef hotdog Poppy seed bun (it won’t taste the same on a regular bun or even sesame seed) Yellow mustard (nothing too fancy) Chopped white onion Sweet pick relish (if it’s not radioactive green, it’s not the real deal) Dill pickle spear Tomato slices Celery salt Sport peppers Now that you know how to make a hot dog the right way, you can celebrate National Hot Dog Month with your subscribers. Customize a Benchmark email template for National Hot Dog Month. Share this recipe with them, and spread the word on the way a hot dog was meant to be eaten. Besides, the hot dog subject lines practically write themselves.

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Costume Ideas, Google+, BlackBerry, The Weekly Wrap’s Got It All

Beyond • October 21, 2011

Have you decided what you’re going to be for Halloween yet? I may have a last-minute idea for you. Read this edition of the weekly wrap to find out what it is. In Memory of Dennis Ritchie (1941-2011) I can’t be the only one that saw the name Dennis Ritchie trending on Twitter and assumed it was Lionel’s brother. Right? Fine. I was the only one. Sue me (please don’t sue me). If you were as confused as I was and don’t want to admit it, read this post In Memory of Dennis Ritchie (1941-2011). Women in the Workplace: Has the Internet Expanded Opportunity? My mom always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Luckily, I’m not sexist and can tell you to check out this great post on Women in the Workplace: Has the Internet Expanded Opportunity? Benchmark Email Releases Free Manual on the Entertainment Industry Sadly, it doesn’t cover how to stop making so many knock offs, reboots and super hero movies. Maybe if they did better email marketing they could afford to make better movies. Better check out our Free Manual on the Entertainment Industry. 5 Timeless Marketing Lessons Learned from Steve Jobs #6: It doesn’t matter if you can count in Spanish if your name is Bono. Discover the other 5 Timeless Marketing Lessons Learned from Steve Jobs. DIY Websites: How to Create, Launch and Manage Your Own Site Channel your inner Martha Stewart. No, I don’t mean get involved in insider trading and spend time in jail. I mean learn about DIY Websites: How to Create, Launch and Manage Your Own Site. Netflix Drops Qwikster and Reincorporates DVD Service Sure, it could have been the thousands of other posts skewering Netflix CEO Reed Hastings that caused him to rethink his plan, but I’m going to say it was my take on it that made Netflix Drop Qwikster and Reincorporate DVD Service. Brick Joke: BlackBerry’s Self-Inflicted Tribulations I thought it was a fitting joke that at Steve Jobs\' tribute yesterday, Coldplay dedicated “Fix You” to BlackBerry. Chris Martin wasn’t the only one to tell a Brick Joke: BlackBerry’s Self-Inflicted Tribulations. Support Update: Facebook Integration with Benchmark Email You know the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Well, Facebook broke our integration. You’ll need to reconnect your account to accept their new permissions. Find out how in this Support Update: Facebook Integration with Benchmark Email. Is Google+ Alive or the Walking Dead? So is it going to be this year or next year that someone dresses as Zombie Google+ for Halloween? Find out, Is Google+ Alive or the Walking Dead? iPhone 4S: To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade? The eternal child in me is screaming, “NEW TOYS! I WANT TO PLAY WITH SIRI!!” For now, the party pooper known as my bank account is acting as the voice of reason. Where do you stand on the iPhone 4S: To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade?

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Amazon Utilizes Swift Email to Terminate California Associates

Beyond • June 30, 2011

Breaking bad news is certainly not anybody’s favorite use of email marketing. That being said, it can certainly soften the blow when there is bad news to deliver. Amazon did an excellent job this week of informing the California residents involved in their Amazon Associates Program of some less than favorable news. Due to a new California law, Amazon has been forced to terminate their Amazon Associates Program for all California residents. They did it with a simple, straightforward email that addressed the who, what, when, why and how in an easy to understand manner. The first paragraph explained that the law had been signed to bill by Governor Brown and that as a result they would have to terminate the affiliate contracts of all California residents. They also made sure to address the fact that any money earned up to that point would be paid in full (sure to be a relief to those affected by this). Amazon moved on to say they were sending the email to all California residents. They also gave instructions on what to do in the case that the recipient was no longer a California resident or was planning to move to another state. Amazon also made sure to reiterate the point that this was only an issue for California residents and that it would not affect their purchasing abilities from any of the websites under the Amazon umbrella. The email closes by thanking those affected for their time participating in the Amazon Associates Program. Recipients were also informed that should the issue be solved in the future, Amazon would happily welcome the California residents back into the fold. Lastly, Amazon said they were searching for alternative ways for California residents to monetize their website. For bad news, Amazon delivered it as well as they could. They explained the situation in detail and provided plenty of links for the recipients to obtain further information. Nobody is going to want to find out that their source of income on their website has ceased to exist, but Amazon did their best to alleviate any stress that this may cause. The one thing they stopped short of doing was saying the word “sorry.” Granted, this wasn’t a situation they caused, but they could have at least apologized for the inconvenience. Sorries aside, Amazon did an excellent job in delivering bad news to the inboxes of the California residents involved in their Amazon Associates Program.

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Analyzing Online Marketing: Google’s Acquisition of PostRank

Beyond • June 29, 2011

Google has been quite busy in the acquisition game as of late. With hopes of boosting its profile in the burgeoning display advertising field, it announced the acquisition of AdMeld early this month. And in what appears to be a move to obtain relevance in the area of social analytics, the company also decided to snatch up Canadian startup PostRank. According to the creators themselves, PostRank is currently the largest aggregator of social media engagement metrics on the market. Before the acquisition, the web-based software platform allowed users to view data on popular conversations, trending topics and their own comments published on the web in real-time. The app pulled data from a variety of social networks, including both Facebook and Twitter. PostRank, which got its official start in 2007, stated in a blog post that it will soon be moving from its office in Waterloo, Ontario to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Social Tracking Evolving Aside from the information included in the PostRank blog post, there isn’t much else known in regards to the specific details of the acquisition. Google isn’t saying much other than the usual, stating its admiration for PostRank’s approach to web analytics, how both sides are looking forward to working together, etc. However, the fact that the Canadian team is relocating to Mountain View is an indication that Google isn’t necessarily interested in their product, but their expertise, which adds a whole new dimension of intrigue to this acquisition. One of the most challenging aspects of social marketing is being able to accurately measure engagement and performance. Facebook has its own analytics platform in Facebook Insights. Twitter has a built-in measuring tool it makes available to advertising partners. There are also a number of third-party applications of both the free and paid variety. Even with all these options available, marketers often find themselves putting together a measuring system from different bits and pieces simply because they can’t rely on a single solution. With its expertise already shining through in Google Analytics, the acquisition of PostRank may enable Google to fill more of the void in today’s online marketing landscape. Nothing is for certain, but the PostRank acquisition could have some interesting implications in terms of search and social. Google has said that it wants the online discovery process to be a more social experience, and a few of its recent actions hint that things may be moving forward faster than some would have thought. One of the most obvious examples is the +1 button. Similar to the Facebook Like, the button allows users to endorse content online, both in the search results and on the web. With Google making serious attempts to increase its presence in the social space, it wouldn’t be surprising to see PostRank’s expertise used to track the impact of +1 activity and other interactions associated with the company’s social efforts.

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Is Your July 4th Email Campaign Patriotic or Exploitative?

Beyond • June 27, 2011

With Independence Day approaching rapidly, email marketers throughout the country are gearing up for what they hope will be hugely successful holiday campaigns. Many of them will be leveraging the proud colors of Old Glory and other related aspects to capitalize on the patriotic spirit of their audience members. While this is a common practice, there is a fine line between patriotism and exploitation when it comes to marketing. Perception Is Everything Marketing and exploitation are actually a far more common pair than one would imagine. We see it all the time in more subtle examples like Independence Day marketing as well as more sensitive issues involving tragedy. The most recent example is the Japan crisis that resulted from the huge earthquake that rocked the nation back in March. Various companies and organizations stepped up to support the people affected, but some were scrutinized for trying to benefit their own brands in the process. With even major corporations like Microsoft being accused of unethical business practices, this particular case showed us how the perception of exploitative marketing can impact a brand’s image. No One Says You Have to Sell The Fourth of July is a great email marketing opportunity, so if you have something to sell this is as good a time as any to put it out there. However, if your approach comes off as shameless self promotion of your products or services, your efforts could very well backfire. Then again, your Independence Day campaign doesn’t have to aim to sell anything. You could garner just as much success in the long run by designing a campaign around sharing information, luring the subscriber to the conversation on your favorite social network or just using the holiday as a way to say thanks for the support. Taking engagement beyond selling is the most surefire method for keeping the mere thought of exploitation away from your email marketing. Value Is Key There is nothing wrong with utilizing a patriotic holiday like Independence Day for marketing gain, but how you approach the matter is crucial. Whether you are really trying to help your subscribers by offering something you think they need or just out to pad your pockets, you must illustrate genuine value in your approach. Email marketers will be coming out of the woodwork to seize the moment that is Independence Day, and many of those who do fail will be the ones viewed as greedy marketers trying to exploit an opportunity. Unless you want to be viewed in the same light, you must take the time to understand what your audience is most likely to respond to beforehand and deliver. If you are worried about how people perceive your Fourth of July email campaign, you probably shouldn’t lose too much sleep over the moral bit. After all, marketing that capitalizes on holidays and recognizable events is something most of your subscribers have come to expect. Set your focus on providing value that makes this interaction worth their time and honors the spirit of the day.

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How SMS Can Work with Email Marketing

Beyond • June 23, 2011

The phenomenon that is texting gives SMS tremendous potential as a marketing tool. That and the fact that just about everyone seems to have a smart or not so smartphone capable of sending and receiving these short messages. While this exciting new form of mobile marketing has a lot to offer, it is best suited for an integrated marketing strategy. This post will discuss how it can work beside your email marketing program. Add More Subscribers to Your Lists SMS marketing is like email marketing in many ways, especially when it comes to building your list. In order to engage users with your mobile content, you must get their permission, in addition to their phone number. And just like email, you need to give potential subscribers a compelling reason to hand over the goods. Maybe it’s a free gift, valuable information or just the promise of irresistible savings. Whatever it is, it should be integrated into the message you communicate at every point of interaction. This includes the cash register, direct mail pieces and the preference center you have online for your customers. Play your cards right and you may be able to capture SMS and email subscriptions in one fell swoop. Use Them Together in Your Communication Strategy The idea behind picking up SMS is not to replace email but to actually use them together for the greater benefit of your overall marketing efforts. Using both methods to engage readers with timely communications can help to ensure that your brand is always fresh on their minds. For instance, let’s say your ultimate goal is to build up attendance for your next seminar with event marketing. If so, you could use email to send along the initial invitation and get the word out, and then follow up with text reminders as the event draws closer. In this case SMS is best for following up because people are very likely to open and read just about every text message they receive. Know Their Strengths and Weaknesses Email marketing and SMS both have their respective strengths and weaknesses. Understanding them is the key to using both tactics effectively in a tandem marketing strategy. Many of us utilize email to connect our audience to relevant content through newsletters, promotions and special offers. Because SMS communications are generally brief in nature it would be best to send your mobile subscribers shorter messages that are quick and painless to read. You definitely don’t want people to have to scroll through a text message - because most won’t. SMS can provide you with an easy entry into the mobile marketing game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean having success will be a piece of cake. You have to be very cautious not to come off as intrusive even if you are sending messages to subscribers who willingly gave you permission. Spam could easily become a problem on the mobile platform if we as marketers are not sensitive to the consumer’s privacy and preferences.

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iCloud Could Rain Data Security Violations on Email Marketers

Beyond • June 23, 2011

The iCloud has been welcomed with typical Apple-evangelist enthusiasm across the iWorld, but there is one group of users looking at the new development as a nebulous harbinger of iStorms to come. Enterprise IT administrators have expressed dismay at Apple’s lack of security requirements for data stored in the cloud, as well as the inability of the user to be able to block the upload of any specific content to Apple’s servers. This is not an esoteric factor that only concerns MIS managers at multinational corporations, as any email marketer with employees utilizing iDevices could find themselves in a real compliance iMess. Every Opened Files Ends up in the iCloud Let’s examine this scenario: You send to one of your employees a Word, Excel or PowerPoint document containing a handful of names and email addresses from your list so that they might review their behavior, customer service issues or any other factors. The employee opens the email attachment on an iPad which automatically launches Apple’s corresponding app: Pages, Numbers or Keynote. The second that file is opened, a copy is uploaded to Apple’s servers. Once your employee has finished the work, they send the work file back to you but their version of the document remains in the iCloud. iCloud Safe? Hackers Have Cracked the CIA! Since the hackers have managed to crack into the CIA’s own website, it is fairly certain that all the juicy information floating around in the iCloud will pose little challenge. However, even if we ignore the possibility of exposure through a LulzSec type of penetration into your online files, a predominance of international email legislation including the massive European Union (EU) require that every single byte of personal information be irrevocably deleted upon customer request. Complying with such a request is difficult enough when your own server backups are taken into consideration, but when your customer data may be peppered throughout the iCloud in various employee accounts, that data has completely escaped your control. iCloud Data Insecurity Violates EU Regulations Another troublesome aspect of the iCloud is that any file becomes automatically accessible to all of that user’s linked devices, so a file opened on an employee’s iPad immediately becomes available to their kids playing on their Mac at home, their spouse who is using their iPhone, and so on. The EU and other national regulations are extremely clear in placing responsibility for all customer data with the original marketer, and allowing any of it to end up in the iCloud accessible by a variety of non-employees could be deemed a serious violation subject to massive fines. iCloud Users Cannot Segregate Work Data At this time there seems to be no way for users to segregate work data from personal files and thus everything will be uploaded indiscriminately into the iCloud. To be fair, Google Docs and effectively every other cloud service incorporate similar chasms in data security. However, iOS is the world’s third most used operating system after Windows and Mac OS X, and with the universality of adoption of the iCloud in all iOS devices data security on any file opened on an iDevice has essentially evaporated. Personal customer data could very easily find itself in the iCloud, passed onto other Apple devices used by friends and family, forwarded on to who knows who, and show up in the darndest places. Should email marketers outright block internal use of the iCloud? There seems to be no easy way to do so, given the proliferation of iDevices. When you send an email there is no easy way to block it from being read on an iDevice, so establishing a company policy that emails be read only on non-cloud-able computers could be nearly impossible to enforce. The only even remotely feasible policy is to place a firm moratorium on the internal emailing of any information that pertains to any of your clients, but even that would be highly impractical. Your staff needs to access various aspects of identifiable client data and unfortunately there seems to be no reasonable way to avoid that information from landing in the iCloud.

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