Tags: Email Marketing

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

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

Practical Marketer • July 5, 2017

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


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Using Email Marketing to Boost Social Media Followers

Using Email Marketing to Boost Social Media Followers

Beyond • June 26, 2017

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


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The Advantages of Using A Dedicated IP in Email Marketing

The Advantages of Using A Dedicated IP in Email Marketing

Practical Marketer • June 19, 2017

In this second article of our deliverability series, we’re going to be looking at the importance of using a Dedicated IP. If you’re not sure what that is, or if you’re finding that your emails often end up in the spam folder, get comfortable, take note and get ready to put our second installment of expert advice into practice. If you’re running your own business or working in email marketing, you’ll expect that your emails arrive safe and sound in your recipient’s inbox. What you\'d least want, of course, is that they end up in the spam folder. To reduce the chances of this happening, one of the things that you can do is use a Dedicated IP. Boosting your chances of avoiding the spam folder is just one of the advantages of using a Dedicated IP in your email marketing. Let’s have a look at a few more. What is a Dedicated IP? Most of you have probably heard of Dedicated IPs but you may not be sure of exactly what they are. Let’s imagine then that an IP address is a road where, instead of having cars, we have lots of people\'s emails using the road. This would be a Shared IP. A Dedicated IP, on the other hand, is a private road where only the owner’s emails can travel. The advantage is that emails on a Dedicated IP move quicker and remain unaffected by the potential “accidents” of other users along the way. A Dedicated IP is for your very own use and not sharing it with others means that you don’t have to worry about how their quality and quantity of sending could affect you negatively. For example, if, from a Shared IP, one or more users sends spam, all users in that group could be marked as spammers. In the case of a Dedicated IP, only you would use it so your campaigns will depend on your actions alone. If you are using or choose to use Benchmark as your email marketing specialists, we will work to protect your reputation, even if you opt to use a Shared IP. We apply a quality protocol that groups clients by their public reputation. So, to give you an example, this protocol might qualify clients as good, bad or average. If you have good quality lists but don’t work by best email marketing practices, then you might belong to the average group. We monitor this behaviour constantly but you can also work to make sure you’re always in the best possible group by ensuring that you abide by best practices. You should also bear in mind that the various ISPs (like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail etc.) have lists of IPs called “blacklists” and they use them to help to reduce spam. These lists contain IPs that are known to be used to send spam and they’re used to filter email messages and help when categorising a message as spam or not. Some examples of organisations that compile blacklists to help combat spam are SPAMHAUS, Trend Micro and spamcop.net. Of course, maximising the advantages of having a Dedicated IP requires that you use good email marketing practices. You don’t want to risk its reputation or end up on a blacklist. Some of these good email practices include: Good quality lists: You must have permission from your recipients. Double opt-in contacts are best. Minimal spam reports: The more your email campaigns are marked as spam, the more your reputation suffers. Avoid sending from public addresses like @gmail, @hotmail etc.: Using a private domain (like me@mydomain.com) looks more professional, but it also helps build your reputation. A private domain allows you to add an SPF record too, providing an extra layer of authentication that you wouldn’t get with a public address. List compilation: Don’t buy lists, avoid using lists that belong to third-parties and do not harvest addresses. Keep an eye out for future installments of this series for more definitions and advice. Other advantages of Dedicated IPs Dedicated IPs offer greater reliability when it comes to time-sensitive promotions. Those campaigns that require special attention also benefit from the timely delivery offered here. If you’re a high volume sender, we recommend that you buy various Dedicated IPs, apart from the one(s) that we will configure for you, as this will improve send speed. If you’re a client on a smaller plan, then one Dedicated IP is beneficial for the reasons mentioned above. At Benchmark, when we finish configuring a high volume plan, we will send a maximum of 20,000 emails at a time for your first 5 campaigns. Why? Because the various ISPs don’t like receiving lots of emails all of a sudden from an IP address with no history. Your campaigns would run the risk of ending up in the spam folder or being blocked. What about Dedicated IPs that are not on high volume plans? In this case, we “warm” the IP up for you beforehand and then it’s up to you to build your reputation and keep it as close to 100% as possible. In fact, you can keep an eye on your IP’s reputation on sites like https://senderscore.org/. Remember that your Dedicated IP with Benchmark costs just $28.95/month. If you’re a client with a high volume plan, contact us to find out how many Dedicated IPs you already have included in your plan. Adding another takes just 24 hours to set up and will boost your send speed. Did you like this article? Have you spotted any areas of your email marketing that you can improve? This is the second article from our brand new deliverability series. Next up, \"The 5 factors that affect your newsletter’s deliverability.\" Follow us, subscribe and don’t miss out! Help others learn more about email marketing best practices by sharing on social media and spreading the word. And, if you have any questions for us, just leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you. Enjoy learning with Benchmark Email!


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Email Verification: What, Why and How

Email Verification: What, Why and How

Beyond • June 14, 2017

It can come as a surprise: you sign up with a great new email service provider like Benchmark, you prepare to launch your first campaign, you upload your email list and then . . . your progress suddenly stops. You’re told you need to verify your email addresses. Don’t worry - we’ve got you covered. We’re going to answer your questions and get you back on track. The bottom line is that email verification doesn’t take long, doesn’t cost much, and can significantly improve your marketing efforts. Let’s dive into the details. What is email verification? Email verification is the process of making sure the emails on your list are tied to an inbox. In other words, it’s making sure that the messages you’re sending have somewhere to go. Why should I verify my emails? When it comes to undelivered messaging, blasting your emails to an unverified list could result in some unfortunate consequences. Email service providers like Benchmark get proactive about verifying your emails to protect you from: Account Suspension Internet service providers, spam monitors, and email security services all set thresholds for spam complaints, undelivered messages, and unsubscribes. If you are emailing a stale or unmanaged list, you will likely cause a high number of all three. Email platforms like Benchmark have an obligation to enforce these thresholds. If you exceed them, they may be forced to suspend your account to maintain their reputation and deliverability rates. Verifying an email list is specifically helpful for reducing your number of undelivered messages. Dismal Marketing Results Sending an email to a lot of addresses might make you feel productive, but if those addresses are not valid, you won’t accomplish what you set out to do. After all, sending an email is a tactic. The underlying goal is to make a connection, which isn’t possible with an invalid address. If too many of your emails bounce back, this can hurt your deliverability. That means that even valid addresses may not hear from you. Plus, a high bounce rate can muddy your campaign metrics, making it more difficult to understand what’s working for the valid addresses on your list. Wasting Money Since email service providers like Benchmark base their pricing on the number of subscribers on each user’s list, keeping invalid email addresses in the system is a recurring waste. How does Benchmark know my emails need to be verified? Benchmark works with BriteVerify to perform a preliminary scan on a portion of your list. During the verification process, BriteVerify checks email syntax (“does it have an @ symbol”), verifies its email domain (MX record), and confirms the address exists on the server using custom integrations. Benchmark flags users when the percentage of risky emails in the sample list exceeds its acceptable standard. In general, of course, it’s a good idea for everyone to verify their entire email list before importing it into an ESP. While Benchmark’s preliminary process helps assess your risk, it doesn’t subject your entire list to a complete scan. That’s where BriteVerify can help you. What kinds of emails are risky and how should I handle them? BriteVerify sorts emails into different categories, where “Valid” emails are not risky at all and “Invalid” emails are those you should obviously remove from your list. The remaining categories are a bit more nuanced. “Accept All” emails are associated with domains that accept everything that comes in - at first. These catch-all domains may have a firewall or other spam tool that could remove or bounce your email later. “Unknown” emails are associated with a domain that isn’t responding. This may be a temporary issue, but it still creates uncertainty. Since “Accept All” and “Unknown” emails are risky, it’s wise to proceed with caution. If a large majority of the list consists of Invalid, Accept All and Unknown emails, consider the age and source of the data. In addition, BriteVerify also scans for and identifies two more potentially risky types of emails: role-based addresses and temporary addresses. Role-based addresses are usually set up to manage an organization’s generic inquiries or issues. Examples include addresses starting with sales@, support@, or info@. These emails may be managed by several people across different departments. In general, sending email to such addresses results in a high complaint rate. Temporary or disposable addresses are created by users in lieu of using their primary address. Users may want to conceal their identity or simply be wary of joining another email list. Temporary addresses are valid and active for a while - in fact, users may share them with multiple organizations. However, they are more likely to be shut down after some time. Because of their temporary nature, they are identified as risky emails and should not be included in the imported list to Benchmark. How should I verify my emails and how much is this going to cost? You can sign up for BriteVerify and verify your emails by clicking this link and following the steps. As for cost, proper email verification can save you money. For example, maintaining 100,000 subscribers in Benchmark costs $449.95 per month. If 20% of those emails are invalid (a realistic possibility), that means the user should ideally only be paying for 80,000 valid subscribers at a cost of $360 per month. Without verification, the user is paying the higher price. The difference between the real world and the ideal world is a recurring loss of $89.95 per month or $1,079.40 per year. BriteVerify costs just a penny to verify each email - in this case, $1,000 for 100,000 addresses. Verification thus pays for itself in less than a year - and that doesn’t even account for the benefits of better and unimpeded marketing results. The benefits of cleaning your list are direct and measurable. Mike Means, Sales Channel Manager at BriteVerify, advises that \"continuously monitoring the quality of your emails before sending is becoming a ‘must do’ as email data is decaying faster than we think.\" Why are so many of my email addresses invalid? Here are a few reasons you may have a high rate of Invalid or other risky emails: List decay. Email addresses don’t necessarily stay valid forever: people change jobs, get married, or abandon accounts. Citing MarketingSherpa research, HubSpot notes that “[e]mail marketing databases naturally degrade by about 22.5% every year.” You didn’t validate your emails as they came in through webforms, allowing typos to enter your system. In addition to cleaning your existing list, BriteVerify can block typos at the point of entry. The list is peppered with role addresses (like sales@ or marketing@) or disposable ones. Even great marketers have bad emails on their list. They just know that by proactively removing them, they’ll achieve better performance, improve campaign measurement, and protect their campaigns from sudden derailment.


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Save Time & Look Good with Inbox Checker

Save Time & Look Good with Inbox Checker

Practical Marketer • June 5, 2017

Raise your hand if this scenario sounds all too familiar to you: You’ve put in the time to craft the perfect email campaign. You’re sure that the design and copy will combine to create engagement and makes sales. Because you’re a practical marketer, you want to send a test email. You even know you should send it to a couple coworkers, family or friends just to be sure you’re set up for success. The test campaign goes out, and two coworkers tell you that the line spacing is off. A friend says that the images were broken. Your sister sends you a screenshot of the email she received and the font looks entirely different in her inbox! We’ve all been there. The Problem We Face In today’s day and age, most of us have multiple devices and dozens of apps installed on them. Some of us even have multiple apps to accomplish the same task (hello Waze, Google Maps and Apple Maps). You may use the default email system that comes with your device to check your emails when you’re not at your desk, but log on to your browser on your desktop to do the same when you’re at the office. The thing is, each of the apps, inbox clients and browsers we all use are built by different companies, with different programmers. All have the intention of doing it better than the next, and naturally they each have their own opinion on how that is done. Here’s the Email Client Market Share, according to Litmus: Apple iPhone: 31% Gmail: 21% Apple iPad: 11% Apple Mail: 7% Outlook: 6% Google Android: 5% Outlook.com: 5% Samsung Email App: 4% Yahoo! Mail: 2% Windows Mail: 1% The result can be an inconsistent appearance of your email campaigns across devices, inbox clients and browsers. The Variety Can Be Overwhelming Most of us here at Benchmark drank the Apple Kool-Aid long ago. They keep is simple with just a few offerings in terms of devices. Android, on the other hand, has enough devices that considering testing on all of them is enough to give you a headache. Check out this Android fragmentation breakdown from OpenSignal: While this might look like a fun backsplash for your kitchen, having it as a testing agenda is overwhelming, if not impossible. That doesn’t mean you should give up on having your email campaigns appear the way you intended each and every time. We’ve Got Your Back Inbox Checkers are available to make sure your email marketing campaigns look good on every single device. Thanks to our integration with Litmus, a company which specializes in creating a better world for email, you can check all of your emails before you hit send. You are able to check how your email campaigns will appear on the most popular devices, inbox clients and browsers. You can even determine the possibility of your emails being marked as spam. Even on the Benchmark Starter Plan, Inbox Checker for Gmail (Explorer) and Outlook 2003 is totally free. For any paid Benchmark Email plan, there are 50 free checks included. If you determine you have more testing to do, you can purchase 100 checks for just $14.00. It is not a recurring payment and you can use the service as needed. Why Use Inbox Checker? It’s important to ensure your email campaigns look great on every device, inbox client and browser. Sure, when you use our Drag-and-Drop Email Designer, you are creating responsive email campaigns. That means that your emails will fit on the screen of any device you send to. However, with Inbox Checker, you will be able to check for spacing, font styles, how images display and even spam tolerance across the most popular devices and platforms. Quick Tip Once you have sent your first email campaign, you can look to your reports for help on understanding which devices for which you should test. Within your email reports, you can clicked on Opened Emails to see everyone who has opened your email campaign. In that report, you can also view on what device the email was opened. From there, you will be able to see a pattern of what email client or device your subscribers use. With that data, you can select to test those devices using Inbox Checker. That way you’re not paying for checks that you do not need. What Do You Test? Aside from using Inbox Checker, there are plenty of other tests that you can run with your email campaigns. What are some tests that you do? Share with us in the comments section!


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Picture Perfect: Images, Hosting and Your Benchmark Email Campaigns

Picture Perfect: Images, Hosting and Your Benchmark Email Campaigns

Practical Marketer • June 5, 2017

Let me know if this sounds familiar to you: Your pet is doing the cutest thing, or you and your significant other are posed for the perfect Kodak moment. Or maybe you just know that Facebook absolutely has to see the photo of your child with food all over its face. You click to take the picture and… ...an alert pops up saying your storage space is full. Cue scrambling to delete photos and rank in your head which special memories are more important than others (or which restaurant you still want to be able to brag about eating at later). That’s the worst. Right? Visual Content Matters It happens with businesses too. Sometimes businesses hire professional photographer to take candid shots around the office or glamour shots of their products. We all have a hoard of photos from events and expos or even company gatherings. In fact, visual marketing ranked second only to blogging in terms of important content when marketers were polled by Social Media Examiner last year. Sharing images helps to give a personal touch to any business. Including your logo works to establish your brand recognition. Readers pay close attention to images that carry information. Eyetracking studies tell us when images are relevant, they will spend more time looking at the images than text. The data is there. We need to have our stockpile of photos and visual content at the ready for every email campaign. When you’ve budgeted your time for your latest email campaign, the last thing you need is get an alert that your Image Gallery is full. There’s that same sinking feeling we all know too well. Benchmark Understands Your Visual Content Needs With every account, whether it’s free or paid, Benchmark offers marketers an Image Gallery that can store up to 10MB of images. Depending on the size of your images, that can help you store up to 100 images! For your email campaigns to load as fast as possible and for the best deliverability, we recommend uploading images of around 100KBs. As you upload images into your account, our system will automatically compress them a bit without losing quality. You can also try a few other free tools here: Compressor.io Kraken.io GiftOfSpeed PNG Compressor or JPEG Compressor Tinypng OptimiZilla ImageRecycle With the editing tool inside of your account, Aviary, you can also edit your images by adding filters, text and much more! Say Goodbye to the Storage Full Alert As you continue to hone your craft and become an email marketing pro, and have images as a huge part of your email campaigns, you may bump up against the Image Gallery storage limit. Don’t fret. You can easily upgrade to Image Hosting Plus! This add-on will give you UNLIMITED space for all of your visual content for just $5 per month. The Smarter Way To Engage with Your Customers Our platform is built for the practical marketer, we offer all of the tools you need to get started and even more as you grow. Share Your Ideas Let us know your tips for visual content in your email marketing. Did we miss any tools? Have you tried something that’s yielded impressive results. Tell us in the comments below.  


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Why You Need to be A/B Testing Your Email Campaigns

Why You Need to be A/B Testing Your Email Campaigns

Beyond • June 5, 2017

The single most honest (and infuriating) answer to nearly every marketing question is, “it depends.” That’s because there’s no one right answer when it comes to marketing. What works for one business won’t necessarily work for another. Customers and audiences may differ. Even within your own audience, factors such as region and age can affect how someone will react to your email marketing campaigns. There are many variables that come into play with every email campaign and we’re often left asking ourselves if we’re doing the best that we can. Is your email marketing connecting with your subscribers, customers and leads? What Happens in Vegas... For the past couple years, we’ve been lucky enough to attend the MarketingSherpa Summit in Las Vegas. We learned a great many things, but one point that especially stood out was from MECLABS founder and managing director, Flint McGlaughlin: There are no such things as expert marketers. There are only marketers with experience. You may think you have all the answers, but really, we’re all playing guessing games. Granted, for some of us, they’re more educated guesses than others. At the end of the day, we all have a unique offering and we need to find a way to connect on a personal level with our core customers. One True Answer One key pattern emerged at MarketingSherpa event. A more accurate answer than “it depends.” The answer is testing. From small businesses to international corporations, nobody found the answers they were seeking without testing. Tests ranged from signup forms to email copy and even the number of steps in a conversion process that it took to establish trust. The bottom line is that testing is king. Consumer Reports Boosts Donations with A/B Testing At MarketingSherpa Summit 2016, we got to participate in what Austin McCraw, Senior Director of Content Production at MECLABS, called “the largest collaborative A/B test on the planet\" for Consumer Reports. The goal was to help increase donations to Consumer Reports by testing and hopefully improving the email campaigns they send to do so. First, the crowd was polled on various value propositions. The first set of tests was run based on the favorites of the crowd. Next, we voted on various email treatments for the campaign. Tests were run on each. Throughout the testing, we learned some things that did not work … and ultimately what did. That’s right. By end end of the two-day event we had helped Consumer Reports to increase revenue per donation by 32%! Increase Open Rates with A/B Testing The Apollo Education Group is the parent company of The University of Phoenix and more. They were unable to run A/B tests due to an old, outdated tools. They upgraded ESPs and soon found out how easy A/B Testing can be. The first tests they ran were more simple things such as subject lines and from names. They were impressed by how much testing the from name improved their engagement. From there, the Apollo Group ran A/B tests on the placement of the unsubscribe links being at the top or bottom of their campaigns. They continued from there, establishing a meeting to view results to gain an understanding of what was successful. Speaking of success, the Apollo Group achieved: An increase of 39% overall in open rates thanks to \'from\' line testing A 58% overall increase in click-through rates by testing their email templates By adding a name in the preheader, they gained a 9% increase in open rates MVMT Watches See Movement in Revenue Among many other tests, MVMT Watches ran A/B Tests on email length and content. This process enabled them to send versions to small sample sizes of their email list. Then, the winning campaign was sent to the remainder of their list. By running A/B tests, as well as testing to optimize their emails and send frequency, they were able to see an increase in revenue of 105%! The Proof is in the Pudding As you can see, each of these companies had different ideas on what might be successful. Only through testing, were they able to see which ones would work. Some strategies may seem counterintuitive or even impossible, but we can never know for sure until we test. By asking the right questions, running the tests and analyzing the data, these companies were able to gain the answers they sought. They created the proper tests and improved upon their goals. Don’t Just Trust Your Gut So, when it comes time to send your next email marketing campaign, don’t just rely on your instincts. Look to the data. Remember, there are no marketing experts. Instead, you can become a marketer with experience by running tests and learning what will be successful with your subscribers, customers and leads. Put everything you do to the test. With Benchmark Email, you can test subject lines, from names and even full email campaigns. I’ve said it many times. Using A/B Testing is like having your very own crystal ball. It enables you to see how your subscribers, customers and leads will engage with your email campaigns. That way, you’ll always know what your best performing ideas will be. Now It’s Your Turn When you go to run an A/B test on your own email campaigns, be careful not to test too many variables at once. You need to be able to identify which change was successful. Keep it to one test at a time. Identify your goals and test one idea at a time to achieve it. If your open rate is low, try to test the elements that can help improve that. If you want to see an increased engagement rate, focus on those items. You get the picture. Here are some A/B tests that you can run: Subject Line or From Name: helps to improve your open rate Headline Test: can work to boost your engagement rate Link or button tests: see which CTAs increase your click-through rate Copy or voice: testing your content can help both engagement and click-through rates   Let Us Know What You’re Do Share what you’ve tried. If you’ve already run A/B tests or you try one after reading this post, we want to hear about it. Tell us what you’ve learned in the comments below.        


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6 Email Subject Line Templates That Will Get Your Emails Opened

6 Email Subject Line Templates That Will Get Your Emails Opened

Practical Marketer • May 31, 2017

Back in 1963, David Ogilvy reminded his profession that ‘on the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.’ Email open rates average 18.2% for ad agencies, rising to 27.3% for car and transport businesses. So it looks like Ogilvy is still reliable. Your subject line, like his headline, is 80 cents of your email dollar. And it counts: 47% of readers open emails based on subject line alone. 70% will dismiss you as spam on the same basis. It’s the biggest variable you can control. Great subject lines can impact your deliverability and your open rate, and open rates count because they’re the first step to conversions. Of the people who don’t open your email, 100% don’t convert. Upping open rates has a dramatic effect on ROI. Want to see what it could do for yours? Check out the email ROI calculator. Our subject lines have to make it through spam filters, and they have to engage readers and ‘sell’ them the rest of the email. Here are six email subject line templates that will do both. 1: The Reason Why Why nobody is actually reading your content - and what you can do about it Inbound.org ‘Reason Why’ subject lines combine two powerful effects: curiosity and self-interest. They convince readers that they should do something, and offer compelling reasons. (Bonus points for numbering the reasons.) The desired behavior speaks to self-interest. The reasons speak to curiosity. Together, they’re an effective combination. Numbered reasons (‘5 reasons why,’ ‘Top 3 reasons’) reassure readers that the email won’t be too long to read in the time they have or guarantee meaty, usable content a couple of clicks away. But single reasons can work too: ‘the REAL reason you should...’ or ‘the number one reason startups fail’ subject lines offer insider knowledge. Try these templates: The REAL reason {undesirable outcome relevant to audience} Example: The REAL reason your emails aren’t getting opened The top X reasons {undesirable outcome} and how to avoid them Example: The top 6 reasons projects fail and how to avoid them 2: The Offer Last chance! Save 25% when you come back to Shutterstock Shutterstock.com If you want something, ask for it. Sales people tell each other all the time to ask for the sale. Don’t be scared to do it in your emails. Making the offer more powerful is partly a matter of segmentation: don’t offer suburban soccer moms 10% off Iron Maiden, and don’t offer college kids lower rates on retirement insurance. Copywriting can’t fix this. But there are things we can do to make an offer more compelling. If your 10% off will be there forever, no rush. That email slips down the inbox, never to be opened. If it’s all over in 12 hours, better check it out now. Try adding a call-out. Emailing runners saying ‘10% off tights for your next marathon’ or ‘Kayakers: save 40% on paddles - this weekend ONLY’ hits all the right buttons, making your recipients feel like you’re talking right to them. It’s like hearing your name over the PA in the store: ‘Hey, that’s me!’ Try these templates: X% off {targeted product} this weekend Example: Get 22% off skiwear this weekend or {Call-out}: save X% when you {desirable action} - ends in {time} Example: Marathoners: save 22% when you sign up - ends in 12 hours 3: The Question What can you afford? Zillow Try these templates: How much {desirable outcome} can you get for {low sum}? Example: How much car does $500 buy you? Or: Can you afford to {not do desired action}? Example: Can you afford to ignore these 17 email marketing stats? 4: The Urgency Time is running out to save $400 on B2B Marketing Forum MarketingProfs   Urgency and scarcity have been triggers to buy since the first time anyone sold anything. When we send out emails advising, ‘hurry - ends in 14 hours,’ or ‘DON’T MISS OUT: last chance to get your free DVD,’ we’re not doing anything new. But we are doing something effective. It’s effective because it pushes them toward making a decision now, not waiting til later and then forgetting about it. But they might decide they don’t really want it. So use urgency with purchase-ready recipients. There are several ways to achieve the urgency we want. We can focus on a deadline. Tell recipients they have just 4 hours, or that the sale ends Friday. Or we can inject some urgent language into the subject line. Like ‘final,’ ‘last,’ ‘go,’ ‘now.’ Even just telling customers to ‘hurry’ can work. These words trigger arousal states that make engagement more likely. Try these templates: Hurry - sale ends at {deadline} Example: Hurry - sale ends at midnight Friday! Or Last chance to get {offer} - {time} to go! Example: Last chance to get your subject line templates - 4 hours to go! 5: Too cool for a subject line Hey   Say what you like about Obama, his marketing was on point. One of the ways he set himself apart from his competition was an email campaign with this simple one-word subject line. It’s effective because it sounds like a call for attention - hey! Over here! - and a greeting. Hey, how’s it going? Every subject line in your audience’s inbox is making an effort. Sometimes it can feel like all that engineered urgency and corporate targeting is just trying too hard. Subject lines that stand out by being human give you an in. They work best when you’re looking for engagement, not direct sales, but even a sales or outreach email often gets opened more with a ‘Just a quick idea’ subject line than when it’s clanking along under a pile of caps, punctuation and dollar signs. It’s not about being super short - though that does visually distinguish your email in an inbox. It’s about being a human voice. Your\"So I was thinking…\" subject line sounds like a real person, and it makes people want to know what’s on your mind in a way that no superheated special offer could. Try these templates: {Name}, quick question...? Example: Jonathan, quick question…? Or: Hey {Name}, talk to me about {subject}? Example: Lou, talk to me about your conversion rate? 6: My Story How he doubled his traffic (and gets ~50% new clients from his blog) Derek Halpern What’s better than telling me how I should do something? Telling me how you already did it. Now I know that you know what you’re talking about. You’re qualified to show me the way, and your experience is just as useful as your advice. (I’ve learned a lot from asides in blog posts that say stuff like ‘one thing I noticed was that people seemed to…’ At least as much as I ever have from advice saying ‘do this because figures.’) Subject lines like this let you make specific, factual offers. You’d like to learn how to double your traffic and get half your business as inbound off your blog, right? But you make those offers in a way that feels natural, gripping and un-salesy. And we love a story. It’s part of being human. What film or TV show isn’t about someone overcoming adversity to get what they want? Not usually more blog traffic, granted, but the point remains the same. We can’t resist narrative. Gear it to our special interests and promise us a payoff at the end? Hooked. Try these templates: How I turned/went from {disadvantageous position} into a successful business Example: How I went from a mental asylum to running a successful business Or: How {Name} {outsize success} in {tiny time period} using {tool or technique} Example: How Michael doubled conversions in just three weeks using persuasive copy Conclusion When you’re trying to make sure your emails get opened, your subject line is the most important tool you can wield. Some of what makes it work is getting to know your audience, and it’s tough for even the best subject line to work ‘uphill’ against the results of poor segmentation. But if you’re all set otherwise, these 6 email subject line templates should get your copy, offers and images where they need to be: in front of your audience. Have you received any awesome or horrifying subject lines? Share them in the comments below - I would love to hear about them.


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Benchmark Email PieSync Integration

Benchmark Email PieSync Integration

Beyond • May 12, 2017

Any marketer worth their salt knows, or is willing to search for, the tools they need to make them the best at what they do. If they’re practical, like we know the marketers who choose Benchmark are, then they find a way to integrate those tools whenever possible. Introducing the Benchmark Email PieSync Integration Enter the Benchmark Email PieSync integration. They’ve built a 2-way data sync to all the other cloud-based apps you’re putting to work for your business. That’s right! Now there’s a way to connect all the tools you use to help your business thrive. PieSync enables a 2-way, real-time data sync between your cloud-based tools and apps and Benchmark Email. Boost all of your efforts with the power of email marketing. No more spending too much valuable time exporting and importing lists to and from your Benchmark Email account. PieSync helps you to maintain one, unified database across all platforms. This allows you to focus on the tasks that matter, knowing that this is going to happen automatically. PieSync monitors your apps to see when an update is needed and will then sync all new data. You can also designate which tool is your master database, so you don’t have to fear overwriting incorrect or outdated information. What to Integrate You should take any and every opportunity available to integrate your business apps with your Benchmark account. CRM. If you\'re maintaining a CRM database, you\'re doing most of the list management work required for successful email marketing. PieSync will ensure your email lists are up-to-date and in sync with your CRM. Use automation in your email account to create effective customer journeys. eCommerce. You can send email follow-ups to customers from the moment they make a purchase. Inform them of related items and accessories or when it\'s time to buy more with the right automated campaign. Form builders. If you\'re gathering data and email addresses with a form builder, you can send those lists directly to your email marketing account.  Send a Welcome Email, make good on the promo code your form promised and more. What Do You Integrate? Let us know what tools and apps you combine with your email marketing to boost your business!


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Automation: The Practical Tool for Marketers

Automation: The Practical Tool for Marketers

Beyond • May 9, 2017

Here’s what your life looks like without email automation: You send out your email campaign: You notice you have three new subscribers You send out a separate campaign to welcome your new subscribers You notice someone has unsubscribed: You send out a separate “hey why did you leave/come back” campaign You notice 5 people haven’t completeld a conversion cycle you set up: You send out a separate new campaign to push them along the sales funnel. You notice some dead-end email subscribers: You launch a separate campaign targeted at stragglers who aren’t engaging. So while you dipped into your email marketing with just one task in mind, you ended up taking on three others, wasting about at least an extra hour or more on tasks that should have been automated. Automation Lets You Be a Precision-Oriented Marketer Automating makes sense. As a marketer who wears several hats, I know that if I have to detour my tasks to take on additional subtasks like the ones mentioned below -- then I’m not going to be that great at each individual task let alone get through my list of action items. But if I thought about these needs ahead of time, I can invest the time, creativity and attention to detail it needs to perfect each automated campaign. This keeps me from being sloppy and making a mistake. And this keeps your subscriber far more engaged. Fact is, the average email open time is about 15-20 seconds. This means you’ve got that small window to rope someone in; and so what you send to be top notch -- and not rushed in a flurry of email tasks. This means that you can be on the go with other tasks while your email marketing is still happening on autopilot. In other words, think of automotion as the Tesla of email marketing. Your most effective engagement vehicle is on autopilot while you can tend to other matters. Automation Lets You Focus on Your “Real” Job The idea behind automation as a practical business solution is this: it keeps your hands free so you can keep a pulse on customers and leads. So while you’re able to stay attuned to your clients and develop new business, your automated marketing campaigns are: Sending out personalized email campaigns that mimic direct engagement without you actually needing to directly engage. Something as simple as saying someone’s name creates an emotional connection that is a tenet of rapport building. In fact, a personalized subject line increases click open rates by 22%. You might be asking why you’d want a personalized subject line when the email is personalized. The answer is this: you want to get the subscriber to even click open the email first. To do that, rely on direct connections through emotional ties like a person’s name. To further the cause, personalized email push click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%. It’s About More Than Email Marketing. It’s About You. That’s really the takeaway with automation: not only does it make your job easier and help you be more successful in other areas by freeing up your time, but it also maximizes results. Lead generation alone sees over a 450% increase when marketing campaigns are personalized. And of course, you could do that yourself. You could painstakingly send out each email and be on top of every movement within the campaign cycle across however many users you have. But we’re sure you’d like to actually get away from your desk once in awhile or enjoy lunch with your colleagues. Automation is bigger than giving you your life back. Email marketing automation gives order and process by framing email marketing within a systemic framework. Consider that 64% of chief marketing officers have no process to manage their marketing automation, which keeps them forever in a ‘management’ loop juggling all these different tasks versus really steering the ship as a director of marketing. So not only is automation about making your job easier and doing your job better -- it’s ultimately about leveling up. Your email marketing game levels up, and in turn you get room to level up professionally.


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