Tags: Email Marketing

Gmail Gets A Game-Changing Interactive Design Update

Gmail Gets A Game-Changing Interactive Design Update

Beyond • November 3, 2016

Last month, Gmail rolled out new email features that include font, styling and CSS accessibility, complete with a support team to help integrate users. It sounds like a lot of tech speak, but the thing to really understand is that Gmail has upgraded its email system to that system is more interactive. Let me explain - and let’s do that by stepping back in time. When social media hit its pinnacle, people thought email was dead. It wasn’t. As social media platforms sky-rocket it triggered a disconnected user pulled between way too many platforms that were all competing for attention. You’ll say that Facebook and Twitter still dominate along with Instagram, but let’s look at that super quickly. Facebook is facing controversy (even insurgency from within ranks) for increasingly censoring content and profiles. Twitter just went through a series of global hacks last week alone that limited user access and Instagram is just a pretty place for pictures with no possibility of serious content. That left email, which rose to the surface again in both importance and viability. The same thing is happening again with smartphone apps. There are simply too many mobile apps running the same course social media platforms did. There can be only one - it seems - and email is it again. In fact, email through mobile is the preferred method of digital communication even over desktop email portals. Medium’s Dave Bailey calls email the enduring “dark horse,” namely because in the face of shifting methods of tech use, email still dominates. Namely, you own your email (which can’t be said for social media platforms or mobile apps). Bailey also comments on emails increased interactive capabilities by first pointing out the myth. MYTH: “Since emails have no JavaScript, the programming language behind most web interactions, we tend to think of emails as a ‘read-only,’ one-way channel; good for sharing calls to action that get people back to your website.” REALITY: “What most people don’t realize is that CSS3 does allow for basic interactions, like switching tabs, without any JavaScript at all. Mark Robbins of RebelMail describes a technique called ‘Punch Card Coding’ that uses CSS alone to allow users to click buttons that change what they see on screen, essentially by having every permutation as a different ‘tab’.” If it still sounds completely foreign, check out the example Bailey shared about how the screen data and imaging can change in real-time without your users have to click a button and re-routed to another page. If you consider that there are one billion Gmail users as of February 2016 - and 90.7 million of them use the Gmail app - you’re looking at a completely game-changing way to sell.


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How Can I Overcome Email Marketing Horrors?

How Can I Overcome Email Marketing Horrors?

Practical Marketer • October 31, 2016

You won’t hear it as much, but there are days in email marketing where it may seem like a Final Destination and everywhere you turn, there is some hair-raising event that might be the end of you. Things like sending an email in error or sending to the wrong list, large numbers of spam and unsubscribe complaints, or disappearing emails or lists. You might be thinking, “that will never happen to me,”  the characters in Final Destination didn’t either! After spending some time in support, taking calls and helping email marketing software users handling tough situations, receiving a call that a sender had sent an email in error, or that the email has errors is quite common. We’re all human so we make mistakes, but this can be a nightmare if people notice the problem, especially if it\'s big like missing an entire section. So what can you do to avoid accidentally sending an email? There are a couple of ways to prevent this nightmare. Don’t link or associate your list to the email when you create the email. This will prevent you from accidentally sending to the wrong people. Some services may require you to select a list before continuing creating the campaign, if that is the case, create a test list with your colleagues so if you accidentally send the email, it is to someone you know. Some services may be able to stop an email from sending but it is not recommended. Regardless of the infrastructure that the email is sent with, one an email is sent and received in the subscriber’s inbox, there is no way to reach in there to take it back. All the service may be able to do then is stop the remaining subscribers from receiving the incorrect email. Then when you are done and the email is good to go, then associate the campaign with your list. Now you’re sending your email to your subscribers, but murphy’s law applies. The next horrific ordeal you’ll have to go through is a bunch of people unsubscribing and clicking spam. Unfortunately, the damage is done. You can recover by cleaning your list and definitely getting rid of those unsubscribes and complainants. You can also prevent this ordeal from happening by using a tactic called Double Opt-in. Double opt-in is that email a subscriber receives after signing up to a list. It’s a little annoying, but it plays an important part. This double opt-in email will filter the contacts who just want a little nibble of what you got, from the ones who want to be your subscriber and not cause you problems. Without it, who knows what kind of people will sign up to your list. Another common panic-inducing nightmare that does happen, are lists and email drafts disappearing. It happens to the best of us, but that feeling of panic that sets in when you see, or rather, don’t see that item where it’s supposed to be. Hopefully, you have a backup of the email or the of the list, right? It’s a good idea to have a backup but what can you do when you’re just not that lucky. There is a silver lining just like any horror movie and it although it doesn’t apply to every situation, it’s a chance of survival. It’s ideal to have a separate backup of your list in another system, or as it’s own backup file. If your list is missing, you wouldn’t have to start over, but you may not be able to get back all missing contacts by going back to your previous email reports. If your system allows, you might be able to view your contacts and restore them that way. For email drafts that have gone missing, it might be trickier. Much like recovering your missing list, it won’t be perfect and it might be a version that was being worked on, better than starting all over. If you have sent yourself a test email or a sample email to a colleague for review, that is your backup. Without getting too technical, the HTML code of that email is what you want to get and use, essential as a template. Sometimes there is a message at the bottom saying the email is a sample, that can still be removed in the HTML code.


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Why Are Email Marketing And Surveys A Freaky Good Combo?

Why Are Email Marketing And Surveys A Freaky Good Combo?

Practical Marketer • October 25, 2016

It’s been said many times on this blog, in our webinars and other discussions about the benefits of email marketing, but we’ll say it once more: the expected ROI for email marketing is $40 for every $1 spent. A big reason for that is how connected to email your subscribers already are in the first place. For that same reason, surveys serve as a powerful tool when combined with your email marketing efforts. Connect In A Space Engagement Already Exists If you’re using best practices for email marketing and maintaining a clean list, then you should have a list full of individuals who regularly open your email campaigns, click on links and, in general, look forward to receiving communications from you. So, sending a survey via email isn’t exactly a cold call. You’re reaching out in a space where they’re already opted-in to hearing from you. Surveys are just one more approach in the long list of ways you can do great, effective email marketing and maximize that ROI. Gain Valuable Feedback Surveys give a voice to your subscribers. They let you know if you’re delivering on the promises you’ve made and if your customers are happy. Use surveys to gauge the successes and failures of your marketing initiatives, branding and more. They must be used sparingly, as you don’t want to overwhelm your customers, but when sent at the proper times can be highly effective. Learn Your Net Promoter Score You’ve probably been sent a survey in the last year or so by a company looking to determine their Net Promoter Score without even realizing it. The brand likely asked how likely you were to recommend their goods or services to a friend, on a scale of 1-10. They would then subtract the percentage of Detractors (score of 0-6) from the percentage of promoters (9-10) to determine their NPS on a range of -100 to 100. This gives you a read on your customer’s experience and predicts business growth.


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Why Is A Re-engagement Campaign Not A Monster To Be Afraid Of?

Why Is A Re-engagement Campaign Not A Monster To Be Afraid Of?

Practical Marketer • October 24, 2016

There is a monster that grows when you have subscribers just sitting there in a list not doing anything. It’s also there when you have a large number of subscribers, not opening your emails. This monster grows until there comes a time where you’ll have to come face to face with a Frankenstein-like monster. That monster is the re-engagement email you may be considering to send, but it’s frightening what might happen when you send that type of email. When a person subscribes to your emails, this signifies that they are interested in your company, and would like to stay up to date with you. However, time is a monster itself, and over time people can lose interest for any reason and stop opening emails, or their life cycle can end and are just sitting there. Many fear to even think about sending a re-engagement email because it may lead to a lot of unsubscribes as if it’s like releasing a monster onto a village. Much like some stories of Frankenstein though, it’s wrongfully feared. With these conditions, it is the perfect time to at least try to re-engage your contacts. The reason subscribers put their name on the list is because they were excited about your company and your services, so it’s time to get them excited again. So how do you re-engage your contacts? It is as simple as sending an email, but it’s what is in the email is what matters, especially when re-engaging contacts. A question to ask yourself before you send the email is why this person or group of people subscribed to your list in the first place. This would be easy to ascertain if the list has been segmented. It can be harder if you haven’t and that’s okay, it’s definitely not too late to start now. Yes, even un-engaged and inactive contacts you’ll need to split into teams, because it’s usually good to split into teams to tackle a monster, just maybe not in scary movies. Now what you put into the email really depends on your segments and why you want to re-engage these contacts. For example, if you know that your contacts have subscribed because of the Halloween costumes, what you’ll want is to send an email with new Halloween costumes. In this scenario, you’re re-engaging contacts with the goal of having a lot of them remain to keep opening your emails. Otherwise, the other tactic is to clean your list Cleaning your list is a best practice in the email marketing industry. Yes, this does mean getting rid of some contacts and possibly shortening your list, but that’s a good thing! You never want contacts who are disinterested in your emails and do nothing. They only cause problems, especially with deliverability in the end. You always want to send to contacts that you believe will open your email. Hopefully, now that the monster has come to light that now you see it as a gentle giant. Re-engaging your contacts is something not to be afraid of, rather a tactic to be used to either regain contacts or to clean your list.


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What Are Some Tricks I Can Use To Deliver A Treat To My Subscribers For Halloween?

What Are Some Tricks I Can Use To Deliver A Treat To My Subscribers For Halloween?

Practical Marketer • October 18, 2016

The horror genre owns some real estate in the land of Halloween. However, it’s also about fun. Most of us remember dressing up in costumes we were tremendously excited about and dragging a sack full of candy (and our parents) around the neighborhood. If you can capture just a modicum of that fun in your Halloween email marketing campaigns, it will be a success. So, what can you do to achieve that? Surprise Them With A Treat Offer some mystery savings to your subscribers. I’ve seen several businesses in the past execute this strategy to success. You segment your list into three groups. Each receives a different promo code. When they go to checkout and enter the promo code, they discover the amount of savings. One group may get 10%, another 20% and the last 30%. That’s up to you. The fun is in the reveal. Put A Costume On Your Email Template We already talked about ways in which you can Halloween-ize your email marketing template. So, I’ll just touch on why it’s a fun treat for your subscribers. Seeing the same-looking email month after month will get boring. Spicing up your template once in a while for the holidays is a great way to keep things fresh. Put A Costume On Your CEO If it’s early enough in the month, you can offer a poll to your subscribers and let them vote on the costume your CEO will wear. Then you can post the winning option on your social media channels or in another email campaign. CEO is often viewed as a stuffy position. Sending out a photo of your CEO in a funny costume will go a long way towards humanizing the CEO and your brand.


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Benchmark Email Around The World

Benchmark Email Around The World

Beyond • October 17, 2016

Benchmark Email takes pride in being an international business. Our headquarters are located in Los Alamitos, California and Benchmark boasts local offices worldwide. We also call Bogotá, Guangzhou, Guatemala City, Gurgaon, Madrid, Mexico City, Mumbai, Rome, Sáo Paolo, Taipei and Tokyo home (or casa, 家, ホーム). This allows us to offer our services in nine languages, with a local presence and customer support for each one. Across the globe, the Benchmark team has been busy participating in trade shows, seminars and more. Recently, Benchmark representatives from near and far (Japan!) attended the Litmus Email Design Conference in San Francisco. The lessons they brought back have already spread throughout our office and will surely find their way into new blog posts, webinars and more. Benchmark values the email marketer who takes pride in furthering his or her education and skills. That’s why we make a point to participate in as many events and other speaking opportunities. Where will you find us next?! [caption id=\"attachment_2929\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"480\"] Our team hosted an Email Marketing seminar in Taiwan.[/caption]   [caption id=\"attachment_2930\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"759\"] The Benchmark team was all smiles at our booth at Publishop in Mexico.[/caption] [caption id=\"attachment_2931\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1200\"] Benchmark Japan hosted a seminar for 100 attendees from the fashion industry.[/caption] [caption id=\"attachment_2932\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"759\"] Fresh off being named the best email marketing company in Brazil, our team hosted a talk called \"What happens when two winning platforms get together?\" at Forum eCommerce Brasil 2016.[/caption] [caption id=\"attachment_2933\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"700\"] Our UK team shows off the soon to be released Automation Pro BETA at Benchmark at Technology For Marketing 2016 in London.[/caption] These photos only begin to scratch the surface of the events Benchmark Email attends, hosts and/or sponsors across the globe. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see where you\'ll find us next!


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Why You Should Have Audience Personas for Every Email Campaign

Why You Should Have Audience Personas for Every Email Campaign

Beyond • October 17, 2016

Not a single person in your audience wants to be clumped into a data pool. We all want to be seen and understood as individuals – while marketers need to see people in terms of segmented data. The best of both can be achieved by creating audience personas. While an audience persona doesn’t get you to know that Colette likes two lumps of brown sugar with her non-dairy coffee every day, it will get you to know that Colette has her coffee at 10am rather than at 8 or 9 in the morning. The question you should be asking next is why is Colette waiting till so late in the day for a brew – and that’s where your audience persona comes in. Colette is a single mom of an energy-driven five-year-old, and she works from home. She’s also a loyal consumer of your brand. Here’s where these two facts meet: Our busy single work-from-home mom is up in the morning to check emails before getting the little one ready for school. This is not the time to send her your email campaign even though industry experts are telling you to get that email out first thing. The email scans before a school run are just that – they’re scans where she’s looking for the most critical information. Once she drops her kid off, she’s back at her desk and finally having a cup of coffee. Your job, on the other hand, is to keep holding off on that “send” button. Right now Colette is all about knocking out some tasks during the critical 3-5 hours she has before her son gets back. Right now her focus is on work. Colette then picks up her son, tends to him. Maybe it’s time for lunch or a snack. Then she’ll attempt to get some work done, but it won’t happen because she’s distracted by the needs of a hyper-playful five-year-old. You, on the other hand, are getting closer to hitting that send button. The next few hours are a tug-of-war for Colette between trying to get things done and trying to be a mom too. Thoroughly exhausted at about 8pm at night, she’s finally have tired out the little one and will be looking for her first real break of the day. She’s now having a tea and biscuit break and investing in herself. Now you can hit send. At this moment, Colette is exhausted. She’s taking a desperately needed break before she does or does not get back to a few lingering tasks. This is the time she’s going to invest in herself. If she’s going to make a purchase in order to reward herself, now is the time she’s going to do it because (a) she feels she has earned it and (b) she knows she has some uninterrupted time to herself. However, if your mom was a stay-at-home mom, the email campaign you would send would be around 9 am after she dropped the kids to school. If your consumer is a mom of a smaller child, then you wait till nap time, which is around 1-2pm. Audience personas are key for understanding the psychology that drives behavior. Understanding this behavior means that you’re working in flow with your consumer’s lifestyle, rather than against the grain. It is a far more effective strategy to send out email campaigns at different times based on who that target audience is. The content of that campaign may need to change as well. So far example, you might send two women the same email campaign at the same time at 7pm or 8pm. This is generally the time women get to relax, but your goal of each campaign will differ. For the mom, it’s about not feeling like a failure. For the single woman, it’s about feeling successful. Your images should reflect those two tones even if you’re sending otherwise the same campaign. Now if you’re sending that to a dad, 8pm at night is the worst time because his family duties have kicked in. The best time to send him anything is during lunch or gym hours when he has a chance to browse uninterrupted. The same sorts of adaptations are necessary if you’re catering to a small enterprise or start-up, or even wildly successful entrepreneurs. Both sets of people are at a stage in their life where they’re incredibly busy with high demands on their attention. If you’re going to send them anything, make sure it’s short and sweet, with consistent and timely delivery.


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What Can I Do To Dress Up My Email Marketing Templates For Halloween?

What Can I Do To Dress Up My Email Marketing Templates For Halloween?

Practical Marketer • October 14, 2016

It’s that time of year. Pumpkins aren’t just spicing our lattes anymore. No. They’re everywhere. In the Facebook’s feeds of my friends with kids at the pumpkin patch and they’re carved with the faces of the candidates from the current Presidential election. Halloween is here and it’s everywhere you turn. Does that include your email marketing templates? Try A Pre-Made Template Benchmark Email and all ESPs offer a set of pre-made email templates for every occasion. Pick one of the several available to you and then get to work making sure it still stays true to your brand. Add your logo and anything else you can to maintain a consistency in your branding. This is the store-bought costume route. Adjust Your Current Template The DIY costume option is to put a Halloween spin on your current template. Tweak the color scheme to fit a Halloween vibe. Bring out the orange! You can also add in some extra Halloween graphics to spruce up the template. Drop in a couple pumpkins, a witch or a ghost. Just like when using a pre-made template, it’s imperative not to lose the integrity of your brand within the holiday fun.  


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Why Marketing is Not a Numbers Game When it Comes to Click-Through Rates

Why Marketing is Not a Numbers Game When it Comes to Click-Through Rates

Beyond • October 14, 2016

One of the worst marketing attitudes is desperation – and we see it all the time. New media marketing, with its high level of competition and many portals for message sharing, can drive companies to feel compelled to be seen and heard. This results in a lot of marketing activity that’s propelled by very little understanding what marketing means. This is where it gets interesting. The average marketing team for an enterprise level company has various members who have one or two key talents. They make up a talent pool that then becomes the driving head of that business’ marketing efforts. In many cases, that head is controlled by someone outside of marketing who doesn’t understand this side of the business that well but still has a voice that drives expectations. For our enterprise level company, this means that marketing is often directed and dictated by high ups who don’t understand that quality is better than quantity. We see this problem more so in email marketing because email preceded social media. While social media is a largely mysterious realm of new media marketing that many people are happy to leave to the pros, email marketing doesn’t quite benefit from that hands off attitude. People have been using email regularly since the 90’s, which for us means that there’s a tendency to assume we also understand email marketing. In other words, you might be pushing – or you might get pushed – to quickly draft up a long list of subscribers from existing contacts. Here’s a small piece of advice: don’t do it. Email marketing is not a numbers game when it comes to the only thing that matters in email marketing: the end goal. The end goal of any email marketing campaign is to have a high click-through rate. Novices in this field make a common mistake: throw everyone into one email pile and blast off messages. This is a terrible, terrible mistake. For one, having a high number of contacts who haven’t opted in doesn’t mean you have a high number of people genuinely interested in your email campaigns. Here’s what happens when you engage in that practice: you’re going to have a high bounce rate, subscription rate, and spam rate. The bad news doesn’t end there. Not only are you losing credibility, you’re also unlikely to get any of these people back as authentic email subscribers. Then there’s the last follow-through of any email campaign – the analytics. When you engage in this practice, your data is completely skewed. You now have, let’s say, 1000 subscribers and no real way to understand behavior patterns once an email goes out. We could take one case example, but the fact is that almost every company that decides to embrace email marketing is guilty of this time-consuming mistake. Instead of thinking you’re going to have an army of email subscribers and this high level of activity, understand that email campaigns are a long game just like most other new media marketing strategies. It’s a brick-by-brick process. The first step is to start with the small pool of subscribers you already have and work with creating content they’re going to want. If that means you only have 8 people to send a campaign to, then make sure you make those 8 people happy and motivated to share that campaign with their network. The second step is to have subscription access points across key places, including social media. You can use widgets, apps, and even directly share a subscription link in your social media “about” page. You definitely want a signup form on your website and a pop-up as well. Ultimately, email marketing is about data and the last thing you want is skewed data. If you take shortcuts, that’s exactly what you’re going to end up with.


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