Tags: Email Marketing

The Art of Nurturing Organic Email Content

The Art of Nurturing Organic Email Content

Beyond • October 14, 2016

Every week or every month, you sit there in front of your email marketing campaign wondering what you’re going to send out this week. Email, the evolved version of a letter, is a far cry from the letters we would send each other up until about two decades ago. Now it’s all about emails and in the process we’ve become the wizard behind the curtain, pushing buttons and pulling levers to send out campaign communications. We rarely see who we’re even sending these to anymore – and they rarely see us. Add to this the hierarchy of social media, which I’m convinced has more or less made people forget how to talk with each other rather than to each other. Yet, there’s a way to use both these tools to nurture real conversations with your audience so that your email content is original, organic and thoughtful. Let’s start with consumer expectations and brand loyalty. Consumer expectation is to be able to have a clear looking glass into your company. Your audience wants to know who you are, what you’re about and why your culture resonates with their values. And that’s part of where brand loyalty stems from. Your company probably isn’t a brand like Aston Martin or Gucci, so when people come to you they’re not going for that kind of brand. The brand they’re going for isn’t about labels. Rather, it’s about narratives. A narrative is the story you tell your audience. It can be a story about shared values or it can be a story that has your company mirroring what matters most to your customers. Ultimately it’s about reciprocation and the ability of the consumer to see themselves in your brand so they can say “I identify with this.” All that comes down to conversations. You can cultivate brand loyalty, get to know your audience base and stimulate meaningful conversations with them so you have not only a deeper understanding of these people but so that you can also create more meaningful email content. This happens in two ways. Most enterprise companies move faster through digital media, especially when it comes to their marketing branch of the operation. So in this department, you’re going to want to have a people person that can generate conversations on social media and through email campaigns more so than just automatically posting content. In other words, you want a dialogue coordinator. A dialogue coordinator isn’t widely used in the consumer world, but it needs to be. Instead, we see dialogue coordinators more so with activism and publication outlets. However, everyone should be relying on a skilled dialogue coordinator for the doors they can open and conversations they can initiate. One group by the name of Clarion Project, which talks about current issues, has a fantastic dialogue coordinator whose job it is to cultivate conversations with the audience. This coordinator even launched a highly successful Facebook group page for interested members. After a year of cultivating conversations, there has recently turned them into a podcast that has generated PR, followers and brand visibility for Clarion. Clarion also has a brand challenge. They were seen as too conservative in their views, which alienated a large potential audience base that they needed in order to be considered authentic and impactful. Having a dialogue coordinator build bridges and work with new communities and bring them into the fold, giving them a voice that they also wanted, has pretty much completely rebranded Clarion as inclusive and balanced. They’ve gone from being just a publication about news to being seen as a humanitarian group – all in about the time span of one year. And now their email campaigns are more about humanitarian stories and they’re able to pivot themselves on that position based on nurtured conversations over the last year.  For Clarion, this means increased market relevance, increased social shares/email forwards, and increased visibility as a thought leader.


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Supernatural Lessons On Marketing

Supernatural Lessons On Marketing

Beyond • October 12, 2016

What makes Halloween so exciting for people all over the world is the element of the unknown. When you pair this with a season that embraces gloomier days and colder nights, we understand how the transition from bright and exposed days of summer to dark and secretive themes in October is so appealing to people. Essentially, that supernatural element of the unknown is probably the most thrilling part of the Halloween season. It’s also what a show by that name, Supernatural, has gotten down perfectly across 12 seasons. So what advice would a hit show about the supernatural world give to the marketing world? Create a Bond What drives the show is the bond between two brothers: Sam and Dean Winchester Along the way other characters are introduced who pull at the heart strings. What’s ultimately a very dark and sometimes serious show is anchored by the love you have for these characters and how human they are in a world that is not. When it comes to marketing - especially if your subject matter is dark or dense - it’s that much more important for you to create your own anchor. There’s a saying that “facts tell but stories sell.” In the same way, the story you tell about your company, purpose, or even its leaders go a lot further and carry more weight than the facts alone. There’s Always a Baddie The mission is the same but the face of the bad guy changes. As is the case for any plot that needs to move forward, you need a ‘baddie’ or a nemesis. In your own world, what’s the face of your enemy and how can you leverage that to position yourself as the counter to that enemy? If it’s a mission-driven cause you’re fighting for, then the enemy is as faceless. In this case, you’re fighting an idea so you’re going to want to make that idea come to life so you have something to stand against and confront. On the other hand, If it’s a person or an opponent, then at least behind closed doors you want to rally your team to face off against this challenge. In this case, you’ll publically challenge your opponent through value propositioning. In other words, what is a value you offer that your enemy fails to bring to the table? Remember that for you to win, there has to be an enemy for you to win against. Have a Signature Style What makes Supernatural iconic is the Americana it embraces: classic cars, jeans and flannel. Having that unique style, which 12 seasons ago was risky and an unpopular aesthetic, is what helped the show skyrocket to success by being so bravely and unapologetically unique. Your brand should do the same. What is it about you or your company that stands out from the crowd and helps it get remembered? It doesn’t just have to be how you look: it can be about how you think, or how you approach a problem. In some powerful way, you need to be different.


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How To Increase The Expected ROI For Email Marketing?

How To Increase The Expected ROI For Email Marketing?

Practical Marketer • October 10, 2016

Many talk about the expected Return on Investment for email marketing being $40 per $1 spent. Although I love this stat and I believe that many can achieve even more than this, it’s important to understand how your email marketing is being used before setting expectations. Below are a few examples as to how email marketing can be used for your business and what to look at when trying to increase the ROI of your email marketing efforts. For Sales When it comes to creating sales or promotional emails the numbers are pretty straightforward, right? How much did it cost to create and send the email vs. how much money did it generate? If you were a daily deal company, it may be that easy. However, when it comes to the habits of today\'s consumers, this black and white view may need a few shades of grey … no leathers needed here (unless that is what you are selling). Here are a few things to pay attention to when trying to increase the expected ROI for your next promotion: Are you sending to the right people? Many companies lack segmentation in their email marketing strategies. If you try to send to everyone you may be discouraged by the results, since it’s important to know that not all of your subscribers are buyers (YET). What I mean by this is that some people may not have the need for your product at that time or they may have just subscribed to you emails because you have an excellent blog and they would like to get updates of your posts. It is important to try to segment your subscribers based on behaviours and sign up purpose. For example, for people who signup from your blog pages, you may want to have these in a separate list from people who signed up on your pricing page. I think this is step one of setting up your next promotional email: Segment your lists. This isn’t cheating! For the people who aren’t in your buying category, you can send them more of a “warm up” email to entice them to move into that category. What are the selling points? The other day I was speaking with a friend that had issues with a product they were trying to promote. They had segmented their list and had a series of 3 emails to promote their new product. All of the emails had the same information and were pointing to the same landing page. The issue with this is redundancy. If you have an idea to set up a series of emails, I sure hope you have a reason for this. People receive a lot of emails. Sending too many emails with the same info will only disappoint your subscribers. When trying to promote a product if you want to have a series of emails, make sure to find reasons to send that series. Are you focusing on different selling points? Is time of the essences? If that first email didn’t get the result you were looking for what improvements can you make with the next one? This is also a perfect opportunity to learn more about your subscribers. Having different selling points will give you insights as to what your subscribers are more interested in. For example: If you are selling computers, you may have 3 different emails that focus on computers for Gaming, School or Work. This will help you create more in-depth segments on your subscribers to increase your engagement rate later on. Do you have a fluid buying process? Is it easy for your subscriber to understand and buy the product or service you are promoting? I have seen cases where companies have complicated rules or just don’t have an easy and fluid process to buy. For this last case, the most common mistake I see is an email that promotes something but the call to action just dumps the subscriber on their home page. It’s important to use landing pages to keep the flow of the sale. Using landing pages allows you to focus on the promotion and get specific feedback to better your next promotion. If you just dump subscribers onto your homepage, they may get distracted with other areas of your site and totally miss the reason they came to your site in the first place. In regards to providing easy to follow steps to redeem this promotion, be sure to use your channels properly. Often times companies try to include everything in the email. Remember, you have less than a 3-second likability opportunity with email. The promotion needs to WOW me and intrigue me to click on the call to action. Once you have me on the landing page, you have more real estate to explain the steps or rules to qualify. Think of your email as the doorway to the promotion, not the promotion itself. Measure. What is the goal? For this last point, I want to remind every marketer to measure what they do. It’s easy to get lost in the idea of just sending emails and pushing people to landing pages. If your results are just focused on looking at the sales numbers, you won’t know why your sales are going up or down… If your marketing efforts include multichannel strategies, be sure to set specific milestones and overall goals to reach that pertain to your email efforts exclusively, and, of course, do the same for the other channels involved but be sure to keep them separate. Doing this will help you understand the true value of email marketing. If the goal isn’t reached, the milestones should help you understand how to improve your next campaign. Key takeaways? Divide and conquer. These are suggestions that any marketer can follow and implement with their own strategies. Today, customers are crossing and subscribing to many of your channels: Your website, emails, social, etc. Be sure to set clear paths for each, measure by stages and stay focused! Jumbling it all together will only drive you crazy and discourage you and your team.


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How To Tell When Your Subscribers Are Bored

How To Tell When Your Subscribers Are Bored

Beyond • October 10, 2016

Your marketing efforts is a ship that needs to be kept afloat - and moving forward. No ship just suddenly sinks. There is a cause and effect chain that impacts a ship just like there is a cause and effect chain that impacts your marketing. So if you’re thinking that your email marketing is a sinking ship, look back to see what were some of the signs that should have been a tell. In some cases, it’s just a sail that no longer catches any wind. In this case, that useless sail might be your engagement capability. In other words, are your email subscribers bored? There are a few ways to figure this out. As with any vessel that you’re in, your job is to make sure all parts are in working conditions. Becuase the climate you’re in might not be favorable from time to time, but your ability to sail through will depend on the condition of your vessel. These are important points to get across, especially since a lot of people understand these simpler concepts but don’t associate them with intangibles like digital media. Yet, the rules are the same. Let’s take a look at what might be turning off your subscribers and see if we can fix that sail. When the Tone Never Changes...Ever One of the most annoying email marketing campaigns are the ones that don’t ever shift their tone. One of these serial email senders hails from a pretty significant new media company. Every email from him is trying to rope me into thinking the message is a personal note from a friend. Obviously, it’s not. And then there’s the tone. The one of enthusiastic and it’s unbelievable. No one is always that happy. The reason this is boring is because it doesn’t come across as genuine - and that’s boring. Your email subscribers want a real person, and not some ever-cheery Android programmed at 100% happy. The same rule of thumb goes for the doom-and-gloom or the overly serious email campaigners. Learn to change it up and have some sort of balance in your messaging. It’s Not You, It’s Me A ship that doesn’t understand it’s part of a sea is a ship that will probably sink. You need to respect that your marketing campaigns aren’t some machine independent of the environment that it’s in. That environment is your audience. Campaigns that don’t consider the end-reader are selfishly driven and monotonous. To break it up try working with segmented audiences based on gender or location so that you can make content more personal. Or you can even send out personalized campaigns that shows you get the reader. If you’re in retail, then perhaps you have a new product coming out and have a list of buyers in mind that covet said product. Or if you’re in media, perhaps there’s a story that you know some readers are particularly interested in or following. If you’re in academia and there’s a new class or lecture, how about sending a personal invite to students (or parents of students) who are keen on that subject.


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Why is it a bad idea to send from a public domain email address?

Why is it a bad idea to send from a public domain email address?

Practical Marketer • October 7, 2016

I recently heard a simple concept from Michael Drew. He said that he wouldn’t do anything in a marketing campaign that he wouldn’t do in real life. When I got my driver’s license in Illinois, I had to bring two pieces of mail (think bills) with me to prove I lived where I said I lived and that I was a resident. Well, IRL (as the kids say these days), there are occasions where we must prove our identification. It is also imperative to do the same with your email marketing campaigns. DMARC DMARC, which stands for “Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance,” is an email authentication protocol. Your inbox client(s) attempt to authenticate the sender. This is made easier by using an email address from your own domain, versus one from Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc. Translation? It’s best to send an email campaign from your business’ domain For example: yourname@yourbusiness.com. Most importantly, it’s because it will help you with your deliverability. However, as our Director of Marketing, Daniel Miller, mentions in the video below, it’s also an issue of branding. You don’t want to have the idea that you’re too cheap or can’t afford your own domain name, rather than just having a business Gmail account. For more on this subject, watch our quick pre-recorded Facebook Live video:


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What Should I Do With My Nightmarish Open Rate?

What Should I Do With My Nightmarish Open Rate?

Practical Marketer • October 4, 2016

Perhaps you sent an email campaign recently, reviewed your reports and did a double take. No! It can’t be. That open rate can’t be right! Let me refresh the page and see if it changes. Shoot! It’s true. That open rate may be the thing of nightmares, making you shoot up in the middle of the night with a cold sweat on your brow. So, what can you do to fix it? Clean Your List Perhaps your open rate is low due to a large number of inactive subscribers filling up your list. It is important to maintain good list hygiene. Look to see who hasn’t opened your last several campaigns. You can remove them outright, or at least attempt a re-engagement campaign to see if you can bring some inactive subscribers back into the fold. Work On Your Subject Lines The subject line is your foot in the door of your subscribers’ inbox. It’s the first impression each campaign makes and the best chance at enticing them to open your email campaign. Remember, the subject line needs to show them the value in your email campaign. It’s not about you! If you’re writing subject lines that service your needs, that may be the cause of your nightmarish open rates. Make it about the subscriber and make sure your campaigns deliver on the promise of your subject lines. Adjust The From Name People don’t like feeling that they’re being marketing to. Sometimes, sending from just your brand name does just that. Try using the name of your CEO, your email marketing manager or an account manager with which your subscribers may have some familiarity. Or combine the two. For example, if you were receiving an email from me it may say “Andy from Benchmark Email.” Run An A/B Test Enough with the guessing games. A/B Testing is one of the most important things you can do with your email campaigns. It tells you how your subscribers are most likely to react to your email campaigns. You can test subject lines as well as From Names against one another to see which are most likely to get your campaigned opened. The A/B Test will send a small portion to a percentage of your list and then send the winning email to the remainder of your list.


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How Can I Use Email Marketing To Promote My Webinars?

How Can I Use Email Marketing To Promote My Webinars?

Practical Marketer • September 30, 2016

When a person registers for one of your webinars, it’s important to keep them engaged and interested so that the day in question is something that they look forward to. In other words, how you promote your webinar is very important. People tend to sign up for the webinar weeks in advance, but forget when the time comes around. Reminder emails are excellent because it is versatile and best of all, the most cost effective. It’s common to start promoting your webinar two weeks prior to to the event. So it would make sense to also send a reminder email one week prior, then three days prior. What we’ve done here at Benchmark, is we sometimes send our reminders on the day of and that has shown to increase our attendance rate overall. What is important is that you keep your registrants in the know about the webinar. Sending them updates or even information about that cool special guest that will be attending. Something to include in those emails that you send is a button to add this event to their personal electronic calendar. Google’s Gmail can sometimes pick up the event from within the email and automatically place it in their Google Calendar. But not everyone uses Google; others like to use Microsoft or Mac calendars. Adding this button allows them to set reminders with just a click. Others may be less inclined to add it to their calendars manually. Now we’re not done yet. After the webinar, it’s best to thank your registrants, and also provide them with a recording of the webinar to save and reference. Discussions and interactions that occur during webinars are invaluable pieces of information and by providing a souvenir gives great valuable to your future webinars as long as you keep this standard. Now we’ve gone through, basically from beginning to end, what an email marketing promotion should look like for a webinar. Remember that you want to engage your audience and ensure that have the capability to save the date and to keep them looking forward to the event. Nobody wants to host a webinar for an empty room.


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How to Create A Series as a Part of Your Holiday Marketing

How to Create A Series as a Part of Your Holiday Marketing

Beyond • September 29, 2016

Around December 1st, most companies will start planning their annual holiday email marketing campaign. For many, it’s going to just be a digital card that gets pushed on December 25th. What’s even more sad about this dismal effort to expose your brand during the most busiest time of the year is the total lack of effort most companies are willing to make. Fact: more time gets spent planning and fussing over the holiday party than it does over a vital part of your marketing efforts. Marketing during the holidays is ultimately about three things. First, it’s about capturing the spirit of the season. Your goal is to direct the warm, fuzzy feelings people have during that time of year to your business and brand. Second, it’s about using those warm, fuzzy feelings to stay in someone’s head as they connect and talk with hundreds of people over the next month. They’re going to need something to talk about - so why not have that something be you? And finally, it’s about using all that to prime yourself for success in the coming year. This way come January 1st, you’re not having to say “Hey, remember us?” Instead, you can smoothly transition into increased engagement. Now that I’ve captured your attention, the next thing you need to know is this: running a series is one of the best ways to create a holiday marketing strategy. A one-off campaign is possible, but it also relies on the fantasy that people are paying attention. Those warm and fuzzy holiday sentiments mean that a lot of people are distracted during this time of year. The one-off campaign is better than a last minute, and quite frankly cheap, holiday card, but it’s not as impactful as the series. Here are a few quick ideas: Get Inspired By the 12 Days of Christmas Run your own themed campaign that starts after Thanksgiving and runs about twice a week. It can be on just about anything you want, but it should hit 12 cycles that are uniquely but consistently designed. Run a Heart-Led Cyber Monday Have a Cyber Monday coupon people can use, but infuse a way to give back or invoke generosity where a portion of each Cyber Monday spend gets routed to a charity in need. Make a big deal about that charity in the campaign by profiling it in a different aspect each time. This allows people to treat themselves while also giving back. Keep in mind earlier Cyber Monday runs will likely be gifts for others, and latter runs will be presents to oneself. Run a Giving Series If you’re a heart-led company, you can run a profile series on charities or campaigns your company is passionate about. If this is the route you take, make sure you’re weaving in your brand messaging and values in with the profile and giving people an option to act along with visuals and talking points to share with others. Everyone’s looking for something cool to talk about during the holidays with the spike in socializing. Believe it or not, this creates a lot of anxiety and tension. But your campaigns can cater to that, especially if your industry is philanthropy or education.


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Why Are Birthday Emails Such An Effective Tool?

Why Are Birthday Emails Such An Effective Tool?

Practical Marketer • September 26, 2016

I have lived away from my family for seven years now. It doesn’t get easier, but it makes the times I do get to spend with them even more special. This year, it just so happened that I was able to be back in Chicago around my birthday. My grandma was so excited that she planned a special dinner at a great steakhouse with all of my cousins and aunt and uncle. The meal was fantastic and we greatly enjoyed watching my baby cousin toddle around the private room my grandma had reserved. When it came time for dessert, the waiter brought out an empty plate with a candle on it. I looked at my family and asked what the were trying to tell me. Everyone had a good laugh and the waiter explained they just weren’t sure which of several desserts my family had ordered that I would want. While the whole evening was wonderful, that special birthday dessert at the end made it feel complete. Everyone enjoys something sweet on their birthday! That’s why birthday emails are so effective. Getting those birthday emails in your inbox throughout your special day will bring a smile to your face each time. It makes it feel like they were thinking of you. In reality, it’s probably an automated email that was sent based on data the company obtained when you signed up. Aside from the time-saving, feel good aspect of birthday emails, another reason they are so effective is that they bring in business. If you’re a restaurant, offering a free dessert means they’re purchasing a meal. Outside of the restaurant world, it may be a discount or percentage off of your purchase. It’s earning you money that you otherwise may not have … all while making your subscribers happy to hear from you. So why are birthday emails such an effective tool? Save you time thanks to automation Gain good feelings about your brand Increase business you may not have had previously


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How Can I Use Videos Effectively In My Emails?

How Can I Use Videos Effectively In My Emails?

Practical Marketer • September 21, 2016

Using videos in email marketing is not as simple as embedding a video. Unfortunately, some of the big names in email software, like Gmail and Outlook, do not support video playback within the email. However, there are some tips and tricks to not circumvent the video playback inability, but at the very least get attention to your videos and make them effective in your strategies. Call to Action Every email you send out needs a Call To Action (CTA). Something that compels reader to reader to click on something in your email. A video itself can be a CTA, but since it can’t be played in the email, it will need to go somewhere else. Depending on the content you would send the readers to: HTML version of the email if the users should continue reading the rest of the email like a newsletter Web page with the video embedded to direct readers to content on your website Video source because the video may be monetized and that is the focus of your email You would take a still of your video and place a play button over it to simulate that it can play, but then send them to any location you need them to end up in. Otherwise, it can be difficult to get them back to the email Use an animated .GIFs Using .GIFs in emails is also difficult because not all inboxes support them either. Using them in conjunction with videos can provide an amazing reading experience for your subscribers. Because videos can\'t be played, in place you could use an animated .GIF to draw attention to the video. The animated picture should provide a preview of the video and entice them to view more of it. What about the inboxes that don’t support animated .GIFs?  Well, fortunately, the behavior in that situation is predictable. The .GIF will display the first frame of the image and will use that to display a still image. Take advantage of that and use a still for those who won’t be able to see the cool animation. Create videos specifically for your subscribers People love exclusivity and your subscribers are no different. What\'s even better is that you can segment your list based on the information you collect. It is good email marketing practice to segment your list. Based on those segments, you should also create videos specifically for them whether it is showcasing or demonstrating products and services, or customer testimonials from local people of that region. So even though you can’t play the video in the email itself, videos still can be a powerful tool to use and to garnish attention. It also makes reading more enjoyable to your subscribers. Remember to keep in mind where you want your readers to watch the video to keep their attention and to avoid distractions.


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