Tags: Email Marketing

Your Questions Answered: List Uploads & List Verification

Your Questions Answered: List Uploads & List Verification

Beyond • May 2, 2017

Your list is your most valuable asset in email marketing. Having a good quality list plays a huge role in the success of your campaigns and your deliverability, and you should make sure that you do everything you can to send only to valid email addresses. To help you understand the quality of your list before you send a campaign and make sure you don’t damage your reputation in the meantime, we run checks on every single list uploaded to our platform. What does this mean for you? Read on to find out. What are the benefits of list verification? Lower bounce rates. If you send to an invalid email address, it will bounce. The more bounces you have, the lower your sender reputation will fall, and a low sender reputation has a very negative impact on whether or not your emails go through to the inbox. You might not have considered how important your bounce rate is but ISPs, anti-spam groups and corporate email protection services all set thresholds for bounces, spam complaints and unsubscribe requests and they use this info to prioritise emails in the inbox. Additionally, if you get too many bounces, your ESP may suspend your account. Better sender reputation. It might help if you think of your sender reputation a bit like a credit score. If the results of a campaign aren’t very positive, then this will leave a negative mark on your sender history. Also, just like a credit history, once your reputation drops, it can be tricky to build it up again. Clearer campaign results. Verifying your list means that you’ll no longer be sending to undeliverable emails. With these removed, your open and click-through rates will be more meaningful. Save money. Verifying your list might mean having fewer subscribers on the list, but they weren’t valid email addresses anyway. Having fewer people on your list may mean being able to move to a smaller plan and this saving will help you make back the investment made to verify. What happens when I upload a list to Benchmark? When you upload a list to Benchmark, our system runs a statistically significant sample of it through email validation software to understand the quality of the list. From this sample, results are grouped into four categories: Valid: emails marked as valid have a valid account associated, and it’s safe to send campaigns to them. Invalid: It is not possible to deliver emails to these addresses. It may be that this address is no longer in use or that the format of the address is incorrect. Accept All: Sending to email addresses marked as Accept All is risky because the server has been set to receive all emails sent to a specific domain making the address seem valid at first. The company will have a firewall or other spam filtering tool in place though which may cause emails to bounce when you send your campaign. Unknown: The email looks ok, but the domain isn’t responding. We don’t know whether it’s not responding due to a temporary or permanent issue so sending to these addresses is also considered risky. Once the sample has been taken, your list with then either be accepted or rejected based on these results. If your list is rejected, it will be because too many of the addresses were marked as invalid, risky or both. If your list is rejected, then you will not be able to use it without verifying it first as, in its current state, you would receive an amount of bounces that would be damaging to your sender reputation. How can I verify my list? All customers on paid plans can verify their list with us. The process is extremely easy and hassle-free. All you have to do is send your list to your account manager or our support team, and we will do the rest for you. If you do not have a paid account, then we strongly recommend that you use BriteVerify, Kickbox, QuickEmailVerification or one of the many other good options out there to verify your list. There are many companies that offer email validation, but the quality of the technology used to determine the state of the address varies a great deal between companies. Your provider will determine if the syntax of the email address is correct (e.g. me@company.com) and it will then verify the validity of the email domain for the email address. Finally, it connects to the email server directly to see whether the email address exists on the server. What does list verification cost? The price we charge for list verification is very affordable at just $3 per 1000 emails. So I just verify the list once and then I’m done? Not exactly. It’s smart not to just clean your list and then leave it until you’ve got a sky-high bounce rate again. Verify your list at least once a year and use our in-platform clean list tools at least every 3 or 4 campaigns. Our clean list tool is included in all accounts and allows you to choose what you’d like to clean: confirmed and hard bounces, or people who haven’t opened a campaign of yours in X campaigns for example. To find this tool, click on the list that you’d like to clean and click clean list as shown in the image below: List verification is easy and makes both financial and email marketing sense. I hope this helps answer some of your list related questions. If you have any others, leave a comment below or contact your Customer Engagement Specialist.


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3 Things Every Email Marketing Specialist Should Know

3 Things Every Email Marketing Specialist Should Know

Beyond • May 1, 2017

Whether you’re manning the email marketing fort, training a team, or looking to hire a specialist, there are some concrete skills every email marketing specialist should have. We’re here to help you figure out what that list looks like, and how to get these skills. #1 Knowing How to Survey the Scene Email marketing doesn’t start with your email campaigns. It starts with understanding the conversation around you. It’s the job of every smart email marketing specialist to survey the scene and understand the conversation around them. That starts with listening. Listening is actually one of the most important things you can be doing on social media. While many marketers think the point of social media is to engage, it’s just as important to keep your eyes and ears open for what people are talking about and how they’re talking about it. There are simple ways to do that including setting up lists and checking in with those lists on a daily basis to see where the conversation is going. But for more aggressive email marketing specialists, there are social media listening tools that range from free to paid structures. # 2 Understanding What Your Audience Wants A “Science of Email” study shows that 64% of email subscribers prefer rich text emails. Once you figure out if your demographic - and which part of your demographic - falls into that category, the next step is seeing what they consider rich. While rich to me might be a thousand words, rich for most people might just mean a good 400 words with a link to a landing page if they want to read on or find out more. Then there’s the question of knowing that not everyone wants words. This goes back to your demographic. Some readers might only be interested in visual content or a certain type of content like quarterly updates or weekly check-ins. Others might like in-depth material. To understand what your audience wants, you need to ask them. The best time to do that is to get them to check off their preferences when they opt-in to your email list. #3 Automation Makes Your Life Easier Emails that reward people for signing up do something else: they bring people into the world of your brand. The first email you send once someone has signed up is the most important one. It’s the one that statistically as a 41% chance of being opened up over any other email you’ll ever send again, and it has a 14% click-through rate, which is pretty high considering you’re looking at 14% of 41%. Being an email marketing specialist is a misunderstood position. Unless you’ve done it and understand what needs to be done to be successful (see above), people are going to think you’re sitting there stuffing and licking envelopes - the real-time equivalent to what they think email marketing is about. We know better. We know you have a lot of fine tuning to know what the message should be, how to craft it, and how to repackage it for each segmented audience. That’s why you need to use automation as much as you can, especially the follow-up emails thanking people for signing up. Being an email marketing specialist is about being smart and using all the tools at your disposal to run a full-time, well-oiled machine. You’re the proverbial wizard behind the curtain, pulling levers and pushing buttons - and somehow it all seems to work on the other end. But you and I know there is a lot that goes on (and needs to go on) behind the scenes. What are some other things that you think email marketers should know? Share your ideas in the comments!


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Two Reasons to See Email Marketing as an Extension of Content Design

Two Reasons to See Email Marketing as an Extension of Content Design

Beyond • April 25, 2017

A textbook mistake marketing departments make is disembodying their content strategy from their email marketing strategy. At the drafting table, most marketers design a content plan that is focused on types of content and then look to outlets to disseminate that information. Along with social media and websites, email is seen as another content marketing channel. Instead, email should be looked at like a hybrid between a marketing channel and it’s own content platform. While not all content cuts and pastes neatly into an email campaign, email marketing design can still accommodate content needs. In fact, it can not only present the info to a pool of subscribers, but it can also evolve and adapt the content to be reframed. Repetition There are a couple of reasons it’s advantageous to reframe content when considering how content can be designed to fit email marketing. First, there’s repetition. A commonly known marketing fact is that a viewer needs to be presented with the same information at least 5-7 times before being persuaded or influenced to make a decision. The same is true if you’re trying to inform or educate. Repeat exposure helps drill in the information you’re trying to get your audience to internalize and express it back in their own opinion. A McKinsey report on the customer journey showed that repeat exposure gets your audience through key gateways before they can convert to a loyal customer or audience member: Awareness Familiarity Consideration Purchase Loyalty Framing Framing is about how you position your message. What you can say in one format might not be how you want to (or can) say it in another way especially when you have to repeat exposure to a product or idea. Take for example a feature article you might write: 800 words are great for an in-depth publication but it’s too long for a blog post about that article. You can chop it down to 300 words for a summary in a blog post, but that’s probably still too much for an email campaign, especially if that campaign is designed to drive traffic to the original article. So while you’re reframing your original feature for email, you also need to consider how the audience best approaches the issue in a pool of email subscribers. This is where segmenting works really well, but you want to pair segmentation with smart email marketing design. Instead of just segmenting batches of email campaigns by demographics, age, or gender, why not try something far more intimately and scientifically tested -- like a Meta Program? According to Forbes contributing writer Christine Comaford’s article “How to Influence Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere,” Meta Programs increase conversion by 50% through looking at codes: Meta Programs operate on a range: we don’t usually fall all the way to one side or the other as an absolute. They are also contextual, meaning that you may have one set of meta programs in the context of work, another set when it comes to money, and yet another for romantic love. Though we generally have an overall set for how we approach life. Going back to segmenting, you’re going to design your email marketing based on another scientific principle, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), that looks at how people perform. ABA was something we discussed in an earlier blog post, and if you’ve been working on understanding your audience through motivators, you should have begun forming a model that helps you understand what motivates them and how they make a decision. Using that data, you can then apply meta programs to push content so that it drives behavior. The ultimate purpose of content is not to inform, but to persuade.


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How Design Impacts Deliverability

How Design Impacts Deliverability

Practical Marketer • April 19, 2017

Just before we get started, this article isn’t about us showing you how to make an email look beautiful. This is the sixth article in our deliverability series and the intention is not to teach you design tips here, but to explain the kind of design that your email campaigns need to pass spam filters and get to your recipient’s inbox. So, what works best? The answer is, in fact, surprisingly simple. What works best are emails that are 100% text. No images. That’s the answer when looking at the topic purely from a deliverability perspective. I know, though, that you need to balance this ideal with your need to make campaigns that convert and are aesthetically pleasing. It’s up to you how you balance one goal against the other. The important thing is that when you finish reading this article, you’ll understand how to design your campaigns so that your designs don’t harm your deliverability. Here’s what to keep in mind when designing for deliverability: Keep your use of images to a minimum As I mentioned above, in an ideal world, your email would be 100% text. I know that that doesn’t make for beautiful emails but it’s true. If you want to include images, you should aim for a ratio of 70% text and 30% images. The further you are from this 70:30 ratio, with images taking a heavier weighting, the more trouble you’ll have with your deliverability. Single column designs Yes, it might not be very exciting but simplicity is the key to success. Creating multi-column or complex emails won’t help you get to the inbox. Designing single-column emails offers several benefits: content clarity, order and, importantly, your responsive email campaign will be able to more easily adapt to all screen types. Be careful with colours The most highly recommended colours are #FFFFFF for the email’s background and #000000 for the font colour. You can imagine which colours they are, can’t you? That’s right, a white background and black text. Again this would be what you’d use in a perfect world. I know you’ll want to use your company colours but, be careful, don’t go wild with them. Don’t put them as the background colours for example. I’d also recommend that you keep an eye on making sure that there’s a strong contrast between text and background colours. They should not be similar as it makes reading your email a lot more difficult for your recipient. Font type and formatting We’re often asked why we only have 17 fonts in our drag & drop editor. The answer is simple. They are the only fonts that are read and accepted by all inbox clients. This means that when you use one of them, you know that it will be shown in that exact format across all inboxes. Besides choosing the font itself, it’s also best that you keep the text formatting simple. Going all out with bold formatting, for example, could help land your campaign in the spam folder or, if the text is quite large, it might simply SEEM LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING. Try to keep in mind that usability and the experience of your recipient when interacting with your email is important here. Spammy words and symbols This is a classic. You’ve probably already heard that you need to be careful with the kinds of words that you use in your emails because if you abuse words like free, earn money, millions, extra income, free access, work from home, amazing, limited time, mortgages, credit, opportunity, act now, price, thousands, lose weight … or use several exclamation marks, capital letters, currency signs, asterisks or unusual symbols, it’s very likely that you will see poor deliverability. We often get asked about emojis and, while you can use them, make sure your use of them is relevant and not excessive. Be careful with links too. Make sure they work and that they are sending your recipient to the right page. An email with false, incorrect or misleading links will look suspicious to spam filters and won’t help further your objectives either. Subscription links You probably weren’t expecting to see this last section, but it’s part of the design of emails created in our Drag & Drop editor and has an important impact on deliverability. In this block, you can choose the links to include although the unsubscribe link is not optional. We also recommend that you always include the following at least: Manage subscription Sent to information Report abuse These links will silently but effectively look after your reputation. Don’t be afraid of including them and always keep things open and transparent for your subscribers. That’s it for today’s article. Be sure to apply these 6 basic but essential pieces of advice to your email marketing and let us know how you get on. Help others learn more about email marketing best practices too 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!


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Mistakes To Avoid In Email Marketing Automation

Mistakes To Avoid In Email Marketing Automation

Practical Marketer • April 14, 2017

I am of the first generation to really have grown up with cell phones. Actually, I’m probably just older than that generation but play along for the sake of my point (and feelings). I’m very familiar with using my smartphone and am often guilty of it being seemingly attached to my hands. Due to advancing technology and ease-of-use, my grandmother now has a smartphone too. However, she convinced herself she doesn’t know how to use it and doesn’t want to learn. Last time I was in town, I spent time with her to show her how easy it was. Seeing it for herself, she finally admitted she was fully capable of using her smartphone. She’d built up fears in her head that kept her from using her phone, but getting to see it in action, felt confident enough to use her phone. For years, I would attend expos or events and would talk to business owners who felt similarly about email marketing and social media. As time has gone on, that fear has subsided. In its place is email marketing automation. The technology has gotten to a point where any marketer can successfully execute automated campaigns. However, we need to break down the mental barriers keeping marketers from trying. Below, I’m sharing what not to do, so that the only thing left to do is to setup automated journeys for your subscribers. Here are four mistakes to avoid in email marketing automation: Mistake #1: Not Doing Email Marketing Automation Why avoid something that can save you time, increase your efficiency and make you a more impactful marketer? Automation also frees up time for your other important tasks. In fact, a practical marketer should be doing as much as possible with automation. Perhaps the reason you’ve avoided automation to this point is that you’re not sure where to begin. Well, start simple. Many marketers have set up a Welcome Email to send upon subscription. It doesn’t hurt to start off with a concept with which you’re already familiar. Rather than that onboarding process being a one-off email, try and make it a three email journey that brings a subscriber in and introduces them to your brand. Say you’ve custom designed t-shirts for a local sports team and you’re trying to convert a new website visitor into a customer. Use a signup form that offers a small discount for subscribing to your list. In your first Welcome Email, be sure to provide the promo code for the discount you promised on the signup form. The CTA should be to purchase a t-shirt using the promo code. Three days after they subscribe, you can follow up with an email campaign that has customer testimonials. They can boast how comfortable the t-shirts are or how many compliments someone got when wearing the shirt to the team’s recent game. Once again, the CTA should be to purchase a t-shirt and a reminder of the promo code. For your third email, seven days after they subscribe you can share a few of your most popular t-shirts or even the most recent designs. A site visitor may have liked the look of your homepage and figured they’d be interested in a t-shirt at some point but hasn’t had the chance to browse your site. Seeing the shirts in their inbox may just be the thing that pushes them to convert. Don’t forget, add a CTA to purchase a t-shirt with a reminder of the promo code. Benchmark provides a template within Automation Pro to execute this strategy. Check it out: You’re not the only one just getting your start in automation. According to the 2016 Marketing Maturity Benchmark Report from LeadMD, only 21% said they had a marketing automation maturity level of above average or higher. Mistake #2: Not Setting a Goal Knowing the reason for each automated journey is imperative. The reason automation is so successful is that each automated touch point should be one step closer to a conversion. Understanding what that conversion is whether it’s to subscribe, purchase, download a case study, etc., is the first step in succeeding with automation. You work your way backward from there. It’s important to see things from the perspective of your subscribers and customers. While your goal is likely going to be to sell more, they’re looking to solve a problem. It’s your job to meet them on their level and explain all the ways that your goods or services can help to do that. Let’s look back at the previous example. If they’re visiting your website, they likely want to support their local sports team or they want a gift for someone else who does. Offering a discount incentivizes the visitor to subscribe because they’re seeing the value in doing so right off the bat. If they haven’t purchased a t-shirt by the time your second email sends, seeing the testimonials can help reduce any anxiety they may have in purchasing a t-shirt from you. Let your customers boast about how soft the cotton is or how many compliments they have received on the t-shirt’s custom design. A week in, it’s possible the new subscriber got distracted or forgot to browse the selection on your website. It happens. We live in an A.D.D. culture. So, when your third email in the journey is automatically sent, you’re doing the work for that new subscriber by sharing some of your more popular items. Mistake #3: Not Segmenting or Moving Lists I recently re-told my automation and list segmenting horror story and shared some strategies. Here, I’ll focus on this mistake and how to overcome. Failure to segment your lists will result in non-relevant, non-targeted email campaigns, automated or not. The first solution to this mistake is to begin your list segmentation from signup. This could either be via the data that you collect or by allowing the new subscriber to determine which list he or she would like to join such as daily, weekly or monthly newsletters, which a checkbox for each they want to receive. The next solution is to use the subscriber’s engagement to segment your email campaigns or website. If a subscriber is consistently clicking on one type of products or services, you can segment them into a list that will continue to provide info on those items of interest. To keep with our ongoing example, this could be whether a subscriber has been interested in men’s or women’s t-shirts or you can even segment by which team(s) they are interested in. Another solution is to create a journey that will check to see if a subscriber has converted or not. That way, you can move a lead to a customer list once they have. A purchase confirmation strategy template is available to you in Automation Pro. Mistake #4: Sending Too Often Or Not Enough Like with any email marketing, the frequency with which you send your emails is important. Keeping with our t-shirt company example, the journey detailed above does a good job of striking while the iron is hot, in terms of serving the new subscriber’s interest, but it doesn’t send so often that you risk annoying the new subscriber or coming off as desperate. On the other end of the spectrum, you send so infrequently that the contact forgets who you are or why he or she subscribed in the first place. Test with your one-off email campaigns and get a feel for what frequency works with your audience. Once you’ve got that knowledge, it will be easier to make an educated decision when it comes to building your customer journeys and understanding the wait times you place between your email campaigns in the sequence. [caption id=\"attachment_5036\" align=\"alignleft\" width=\"1114\"] DMA research report 2016 as seen on Smart Insights.[/caption] If learning the important mistakes with email marketing automation hasn’t been enough to assuage your concerns and help you overcome the fear hurdle standing in your way, our friend Jordie van Rijn has put together a long list of marketing automation statistics that should convince you to make the jump to automate your customer journeys. What fears keep you from using automation?


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One Simple Way To Rescue Your Email Marketing Strategy

One Simple Way To Rescue Your Email Marketing Strategy

Practical Marketer • April 12, 2017

We have seen in previous articles why it’s so important to build your own database but did you know that it’s also extremely important that you keep it up to date? If your subscriber list isn’t up to date, then you’ll certainly see deliverability issues and this not only means that you won’t see as many conversions as you expect but also that you risk your emails being marked as spam. Keep reading to find out how to get better results from your email marketing campaigns. Manage your list to optimise email deliverability I hinted at this above but my first piece of advice is that you need to make sure that you’re creating your database yourselves, from scratch. Forget about buying lists of thousands of subscribers. It’s much better to start with nothing and encourage people to sign up bit by bit than buy a list or harvest addresses from the internet. Sending 100 emails to people that have given you their email address voluntarily is much more effective than sending to 1000s that have never even heard of you before. To create a list, you need to get people interested enough to give you their email address. To do this, you’ll need to think up a strategy for each of the different channels on which you intend to be present. Here are some ideas that are 100% practical and effective: Website: Not only do you need a signup form but your contact form must be visible and easy to find. You must also inform all those that contact you via the contact form that they are also opting in to receiving future info and updates from you. Blog: It’s likely that your website has a link to your blog. If that’s the case, make sure that you request email addresses via a popup that appears when your readers visit. You can tempt them to share their valuable information by letting them know that, in return, they’ll receive inside info, a special offer, a report etc. Create a group on tools like Meetup and organise face-to-face events with people that have interests in common with yours. Organise online courses and webinars where all participants must register with their email address to attend. On your landing pages, offer ebooks, manuals, checklists or any other content of value that can be downloaded when an email address is provided. Competitions and giveaways on social media. Exchange business cards with new contacts at business shows, fairs, events and networking sessions. Once you have subscribers, it’s very important that you communicate with them in a way that keeps them opening your emails, going back to your website and clicking on your links. Automation Pro makes doing this really easy. It’s an excellent tool for keeping people engaged and interested as it allows you to create personalised journeys for each of your clients based on what they do or don’t do on your website or in response to your emails. Let’s have a more detailed look at how to engage and keep engagement high. Every time you send a campaign, you need to keep an eye on who is and who isn’t opening your messages. If you have a group of people who haven’t opened any of your messages in some time, they may not be interested in your product anymore, or the email address might no longer be in use. In cases like these, the risk of being marked as spam is increased. Here are a few practical tips to follow: On Benchmark, you have a “Clean List” tool. It’s very important that every 3 or 4 campaigns, you review the quality of your list and delete confirmed and hard bounces. If you have a high percentage of people who haven’t opened your emails in several campaigns you can: Delete them from the list. They’re not interested in what you’re offering and deleting them may mean that you can move onto a smaller plan. Not only are you saving money but you’re increasing your open rate by only focusing on your core subscriber. Separate those that open from those that don’t. With this strategy, it’s best to create a subaccount where you’ll place only those that don’t open your emails. To this group, you’ll send a reengagement campaign. Those that come back on board can be moved to the master account. Doing this will make sure that your master account has an excellent reputation as you’ll be sending to only your most engaged subscribers from here. Also, make sure that the campaigns sent to the non-openers are built specifically to re-engage. You should not be sending the same email to someone on a reengagement campaign as to someone who is already showing an interest. Consider creating segments too. As you know, the more personalised and targeted the campaign, the more relevant and successful it will be. Lastly, remember that within your Benchmark account, you have access to a Targeted Emailing tool. Take advantage of this tool and create lists of those that have opened several campaigns or a specific campaign, those that don’t open, those that click, those that click on a specific link and so on. You can find out how interested your subscriber list is in particular products, for example. Just include the products in question in a campaign and wait to see who clicks. Once you’ve sent the campaign and have the results, you can create lists segmented by who was interested in each product. Not only does this give you more information on who’s interested in what but you can also follow up with future campaigns based on these interests. In our next article, we’ll be looking at how an email’s design can impact its 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!


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5 Email Campaigns to Warm Up Cold Prospects

5 Email Campaigns to Warm Up Cold Prospects

Beyond • April 6, 2017

We all want to go back to the days where customers read through every email, but times have changed. Customers can easily spot spam or a direct sales pitch. So how do you fight the battle between personalizing and trying to build email campaigns at scale? Answer: do both. Segment your customers into the stages of the buying cycle (based on customer engagement with your content) and then cross-segment those customers again with the prospective value of the customer. Those customers that are low-engagement and low lifetime value should receive different targeting than the high lifetime value customers who have high engagement. This article targets leads of all engagement levels and value who have, for one reason or another, gone cold. They no longer interact with your brand and probably wouldn’t take your call if you tried to reach out. The good news is that you can use marketing automation software to build outreach campaigns that “warm up” some of these disengaged prospects. To truly engage cold prospects, you need to launch a well-crafted email marketing automation campaign. A single email with a CTA won’t cut it here. They’ve ghosted you before, so they won’t think twice about deleting your email and unsubscribing now. Tread lightly. Below are five ideas for warm-up campaigns to get you started. 1. Free Education Offer free, educational content related to the prospect’s job role or industry, and continuing content if the prospect clicks through the first email. Gauge response on these (open rates, clicks, etc.) for further segmentation. Remember that these types of emails need to add value: give your customer actionable insights and useful knowledge that answers a pain point they might struggle with.Ideas for a continued education offers: Ideas for a continued education offers: A free e-course An email cadence with daily doses of information over 3/5/7 days A blog series delivered to their inbox (send article previews with links to the blog so you can measure engagement) Why it works: Those who stick with you during the cadence or who interact with your content will take some time to warm up to your offer before. When you provide education and actionable insight, you build trust with potential buyers, which can turn into dollars later. Follow this campaign with a purchase or offer, and ask for feedback. Everybody likes free stuff, and if the content you give them is helpful, they’re more likely to believe that your product and your team are helpful. Use this to contact: Casual content browsers — those who come to you for research and ideas, but don’t buy into the real need for your product yet. 2. Usage Statistic This email uses your case studies and customer tests to prove results from your product. When you build these cold emails, you’re trying not just to prove that your product works, but also prove value to the buyer, so think about the pain points and the particular problems you can demonstrate that your product solves. Why it works: Numbers are eye-stoppers. When you add statistics to your copy, your readers are more likely to sit up and pay attention than they would if you confronted them with a wall of text. Use bullet points and short, concise sentences to keep the eyes moving. Use this to contact: Prospects who have strayed from the pack. When a lead goes cold, it’s for a reason. You need to engage, and quickly. Giving statistics provide evidence that your product works, and helps those leads remember why they came to you in the first place. 3. Action-Based Emails This one takes a little more segmenting and lead tracking, and it can go awry faster, but sending a “We noticed you downloaded this” email or something similar has the possibility to engage a distracted lead. Why it works: They realize you’re paying attention. When you mention their specific download/click/read, they see something familiar in your email and are more likely to keep reading. You can combine this outreach tactic with an educational drip to move the customer closer to buying, but keep these emails short and informative. Use this to contact: People who lurk on your website and use your content but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. 4. Apology Campaign Use an apology email to re-start the conversation with customers you lost due to negligence or bad policies. Think of this like an “Under New Management” sign, and discuss with the customer how you’ve changed or how you’d like to renew the relationship. Use these emails to further segment your lost customers: those who respond can move toward warm-up emails while those who ignore you can go to your ice cold segment. Why it works: When you humble yourself, it pulls on your customer’s heart strings. In return, give the customer immediate and specific terms that prove you’ve changed. Not all customers will respond to this particular tactic, so use it sparingly. Use this to contact: Customers you lost through bad policies, negligence, or an unforeseen event. 5. Meeting Request Cadence The customer has browsed your content, keeps visiting your site to check out your latest posts, and maybe even liked some of your social media posts. You want to take this relationship to the next level, but the customer shies away from contacting you. It’s time for your salesperson to move toward a meeting. Caveats here: Make the first email or two are about the lead. What pain points do you see, and how can you address them? Don’t ask for the meeting in the first email. While your goal is to set an appointment, you want your prospect to show interest, and the fastest way to scare them off is by being forward. Why it works: Think of this one as a true campaign targeted at a single customer. If you play your cards right and stay persistent, this campaign has the power to build a long-term, highly engaged customer. Use this to contact: Engaged but skittish customers who need personal attention. This works well for high-value accounts that will give you the big payout if they’re engaged and cared for. Closing Thoughts Work on your subject lines. You should A/B test every part of the email, but a good subject line will make customers open your emails more than any other factor. We all know what a sales email looks like, so have some self-awareness when you write these emails. You don’t have to disguise your email as something else, but you’ll definitely want to stay away from the “Buy Now!” mentality. Cold leads can be disheartening to a sales team because they seem like a lost opportunity. But if you’re willing to get creative with outreach, you can engage — and possibly salvage — a significant number.


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How Do Abuse Complaints Affect Your Newsletter’s Deliverability?

How Do Abuse Complaints Affect Your Newsletter’s Deliverability?

Practical Marketer • April 5, 2017

In previous articles, we’ve had a look at the definition of deliverability, key factors and the advantages of having a Dedicated IP. In this installment, we’re going to have a look at abuse complaints as this is another aspect of email marketing that, when not dealt with correctly, can negatively impact your sender reputation and, therefore, your deliverability. Unfortunately, it’s just as bad to be marked as spam as it is to hit spam traps. But, what is an abuse complaint? If you’re using Benchmark, an abuse complaint can come from one of two sources: When a client marks an email as spam using the button in their inbox. This is the most serious of the two because it’s Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc. who will receive the complaint and take measures against your emails. Via Benchmark’s “Report Abuse” button. If the recipient chooses to complain via this button, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc. don’t receive the complaint and this gives us time to resolve the issue. This doesn’t mean that it’s not serious, though. At Benchmark, we take abuse complaints very seriously and, while we will work with you to help you resolve the issue, if any client has a ratio of abuse complaints that\'s over 0.05%, their account will be terminated. To put this in perspective, this means we allow one abuse complaint per 2000 emails sent. What gets my emails marked as spam? This is a very good question. Many factors may be behind your recipient marking you as spam. For example: The database that you’re using is too old. A database being old may mean that the information that you’re sending is no longer relevant or they don’t remember signing up to your emails. The information that you’re sending isn’t of interest to your subscribers so they incorrectly mark you as spam instead of unsubscribing. You’re sending too many emails and your recipients are tired of receiving them. If you think that this could be the case, it’s time to stop and review your strategy. You’re sending emails to people that haven’t opted-in. This isn’t only bad email marketing practice but it’s also illegal and can have consequences that are much more far-reaching than bad campaign results. You’re sending content to people that had requested/expected information about something else when they signed up. For example, if they signed up to receive a webinar series on carpentry, don’t send them one on haute cuisine. People will be happy to receive more information related to what they originally signed up for but not offers for other things. The recipient was simply having a bad day and decided they weren’t interested in your email so marked you as spam.  It hardly happens but you’ll learn more on resolving this below. You’ll see now then that there are various factors that can be behind an abuse complaint and, while this isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list, you must ask yourself if you’re guilty of any of the above because your abuse complaint ratio is something that you can control. At Benchmark, when you send a campaign, you can see if you receive an abuse complaint in your reports: Don’t forget though that you can only control your abuse complaints if you add the “Report Abuse” link to your campaign. If you don’t use this link, the recipient will only be able to complain directly to their inbox provider and this will seriously damage your sender reputation. How can I avoid being marked as spam? We’ve already seen some of the reasons behind why we might get labeled as spam so let’s have a look at some possible solutions: If your database is old, send only to those that open your emails. Why pay for the big plan if it’s not being effective? We often think that what we’re sending is very interesting and relevant but, are you completely sure? Take a minute now to go and have a look at your last campaign’s click-through rate. Are you satisfied? If you’re not, consider changing your content so that it really is something that provokes engagement from your subscribers. Tip: Our “click heat maps” within your email reports can give you some valuable insights into the type of content that your recipients are interested in. Create a strategy around the emails you send. Consider your content and the best time and day to send that particular message. Also, don’t ever send the same content twice in the same week. Less is more. Don’t send spam. Make sure that you’re only sending to people who have opted in to receiving news from you. Segment your clients by the type of content that they want to receive. This will boost relevancy. If a recipient has marked you as spam, review your reports and contact them personally to find out why they did it and understand what actions you need to take. Final recommendations Remember to always add our “Report Abuse” link to your emails Keep an eye on your reports Listen to your recipients and learn from their actions In our next article, we’ll be discussing why it’s important to keep your lists up to date. 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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Why and How To Re-Engage Your Email Leads

Why and How To Re-Engage Your Email Leads

Practical Marketer • March 30, 2017

Marketing is a contest for people’s attention. And that’s a big challenge, as you’re up against a lot of noise. To be honest, noise is only how marketers describe all the other messages and distractions consumers have in their life. If you can get and keep subscribers engaged email remains one of the most consistent channels to reach and motivate your target audience.
 In earning the same valuable piece of attention, the trick is, of course, to not become noise yourself. Your potential customer is assaulted by marketing messages everywhere he goes, so it’s tough to firstly generate quality SMB leads and after that keep them engaged. The even harsher truth is that many well-intentioned, committed SMB marketers are working with email lists in which an average 60% of the subscribers are inactive – or, to use the appropriate industry term, “dead.” These contacts have not opened, clicked on or responded to any email sent in in the last period. Usually, the yardstick is six months or longer. Armed with this knowledge, SMB marketers can make the choice not to ignore the inactives
and just keep sending, with the risk of diminished deliverability. Instead, go for re-engagement, attempt to re-establish a relationship with those potential customers. Why It’s Worthwhile to Re-Engage It is a big chunk of the email list we are talking about. Inactive subscribers on your list have not unsubscribed. That means they are still part of your (addressable) audience. They already like you and want to hear from your brand. At one point, they opted in, which means they are on your good side – they’re a far cry from cold calls. You want to keep your email subscribers longer than a day. Although the email marketing rule of thumb has historically been to proactively “prune” dead subscribers to avoid damaging your message deliverability and refrain from teaching ISPs to recognize you as spam, it’s worthwhile to attempt re-engagement before starting to prune. Ultimately, the ROI of email marketing campaign for reactivation is hard to miss. The dollars and cents tell you to attempt re-engagement before cutting the inactive subscribers from your list. Don’t take your existing contacts for granted. Re-engaging them is a way to improve your list quality, increase conversion rates, and maintain good list hygiene. Re-engagement Versus Winback Before we break down disengagement into “reason buckets” in order to formulate your re-engagement strategy, it’s critical to define a “reengage” message vs. a “win-back” message. A re-engagement email’s purpose is to convince a dead subscriber to become interested in hearing from your brand again, whereas a win-back email is used to drive a specific purchase after that purchase may seem lost. For instance when someone cancels his subscription. The difference between the two is essential because you are not attempting to get one customer to buy anything at this point. Your goal is to spark your potential customer’s interest in your messaging and re-establishing a long-term relationship with your brand. Why Did Your Subscribers Flat-Line?
 In order to formulate your reengagement strategy, first it is good to identify various reasons behind disengagement. You can adjust your email marketing strategy if the reasons are known. Here are the most likely disengagement enhancing culprits. 1. Poor quality content: If your emails didn’t deliver relevant, valuable content that your target audience could genuinely benefit from, no wonder your subscribers stopped opening your messages. Back to the (content) drawing board after you find out this is the main reason for large scale disengagement. You have to give your email subscribers some love if you are to expect anything in return. 2. Email overload: Did you send too many emails? Subscribers have limits to their attention, so they prioritize. Overloading them likely landed your messages in your subscriber’s “I’ll read that tomorrow” pile… and tomorrow never came. Image via notablist.com One way to prevent overload in combination with re-engagement is to (just once) give the option to decrease frequency, like Delish does with their “we miss you” campaign. 3. They were never interested in the first place: Perhaps, with the best of intentions, you offered an expertly marketed opt-in to increase subscribers. But it ultimately didn’t provide you with quality leads. If the freebie offer was “too good,” you may have unintentionally attracted people who don’t care about your brand, but instead simply wanted the freebie you were offering. In order to keep track of your subscription quality always mark save the name of your subscription in the customer profile. It avoids investing in a big but uninterested freebie/giveaway group which is watering down your subscriber list in the future. 4. You broke a promise (or many): Clickbait-y titles that don’t deliver, a super useful-looking download which turns out to be nothing more than a blatant advertisement… broken promises compromise the trust your subscribers hold in your brand, and that leads to disengagement. Take Their Pulse It’s important to identify how disengaged your subscriber really is. Has this person walked away just from your email marketing campaigns or from your other touch-points as well? Because there are different levels of “dead,” each rightfully having its own reengagement strategy. You must segment your dead subscribers into groups based on what channels they’ve disengaged from. Alive but unengaged: This person isn’t opening your emails but is still visiting your website and your brick-and-mortar store, and last week, she liked one of your Facebook posts. She is going to be reasonably easy to re-engage. Mostly dead: This person not only isn’t opening your emails, she isn’t visiting your website or engaged via other channels. She made a purchase and this year, but you haven’t heard from her since. She is going to be hard, hard, hard to re-engage Go through his clothes and look for loose change dead: This person is entirely uninterested. He isn’t opening your emails, isn’t engaging with your brand, and has never made a purchase. The only engagement you’ve ever seen is the email subscription, but it stopped there. You may never be able to win him back because he likely wasn’t interested from the start. How to Re-engage If someone has only disengaged from your emails but is still engaging with your brand on alternate channels, your best move is to reach out directly with a reactivation email prompting them to update their preferences. Perhaps the emails they’ve received from you thus far haven’t been properly personalized or are simply not valuable or engaging. Revamp your emails to make them more valuable, and reach out. Not once. Not twice. Attempt at least three times before closing the door on this still valuable contact. If, however, someone has walked away from most or all of your channels – email, social, website – you have to re-demonstrate your value entirely. You can send an offer to entice, or send something that shoots straight including messaging that states clearly that you haven’t seen this person in a while and that you’d love to re-establish a relationship. Highlight all the news, features, sales and “buzz” that you’ve created in the last few months, and perhaps even kick it up a notch by including recent testimonials to prove your value. Yes, there are some subscribers you’re going to have to cut from the list. When you find yourself picking through his clothes for loose change, it’s time to cut him.  If he has never made a purchase or interacted with your brand on any channel, you can feel productive eliminating him from your subscriber list. Don’t Let the Contact Wither When you notice “dead” weight on your subscriber list, avoid the temptation to delete disengaged users immediately. First re-market to them intelligently. Remember, your purpose here is not to convince the disinterested subscriber to buy directly from that first email, but neither is it to open just that one email. What you really want is for your potential customers to start interacting with you again and ultimately purchase regularly. It’s a worthwhile effort to re-engage your contacts!


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The 5 Factors That Affect Your Newsletter’s Deliverability

The 5 Factors That Affect Your Newsletter’s Deliverability

Practical Marketer • March 29, 2017

You can spend hours planning and creating the perfect newsletter, tweaking it until you’re sure that it’s going to help bring in new clients and boost profits, but it doesn’t matter how well-thought-out or well-designed it is: if it doesn’t get to your recipients, it won’t fulfill your objectives. This is why working to ensure that the email arrives in the inbox needs to be your number one priority. Deliverability is all about getting to the inbox and avoiding the spam folder. Basically, If you don’t look after your deliverability and it takes a turn for the worse, it’s likely that your emails will end up in spam. The consequence of this is usually that your recipients will start to think of you as “that company that sends spam”. This isn’t only a problem for your marketing but it can also bring with it legal problems, being added to a blacklist or your account being permanently blocked. Ignoring deliverability, or not actively working to improve or maintain it, is not an option for anyone working in email marketing. There are 5 factors that can affect a campaign’s deliverability. Each one needs to be considered and optimised, as deliverability can be negatively impacted by just one of them going awry. The Email Marketing Manager   The person that decides the email campaign’s content. They’ll choose the subject line, the layout of images, text etc. and they’ll also have the final word on how many emails to send and when. They’re responsible for ensuring that the list is up-to-date, correct and cleansed of old addresses that no longer exist, spam traps and generic email addresses. Sender domain By sender, we mean the name, the address and the domain used to send the campaign. While the name and address have the biggest impact on whether the email gets opened or not, the domain can be key to guaranteeing good deliverability as it’s the first thing that the different organisations and filters will analyse to classify the newsletter. The domain’s reputation and not having been classified as spam previously is essential for the success of your campaign. As a general rule, it’s recommended that you don’t use a public domain like Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail. Instead, opt to use a private domain that in itself doesn’t contain expressions that can be interpreted as spammy. You also need to make sure that it’s not on any blacklists. Configuring the SPF record that we provide is also good practice as it helps prove that we have permission to send campaigns on your behalf. No excuses! It’s quick, easy and free to do so if you’re not sure how, please contact your Benchmark representative who will be happy to assist you. Email Marketing Platform The platform you choose has a decisive impact on deliverability. It must have a good infrastructure for sending bulk email campaigns and it should also provide statistics on each one you send. Check to see if they can show you how many abuse complaints,  bounces, clicks etc. you receive as this information will help you optimise your database and strategy for upcoming campaigns. It’s also useful if they have good customer service available in case you need it. The Recipient The person that receives your email also has a relevant part to play in your deliverability as it’s them that has the power to configure their account’s anti-spam filter. Not only this but their inbox will learn from and monitor their actions. Do they open your emails? Do they interact with them? Do they mark them as spam? The ISP will learn and filter the emails accordingly. Suggest to your recipients that they whitelist you and that they remove your emails from spam if they find you there. Inbox filters will learn that you are a good sender this way. It’s also important that the recipient interacts with our emails and this can only be achieved with relevant content and thoughtful design. Don’t forget either that, even before they open the email, the subject line has to win them over so take the time to think about it and make it a good, eye-catching, non-spammy one. You can also use our Targeted Emailing tool to create segments of, and target, clients based on their open and click behaviour. Additionally, Inbox Checkers are another great way of double-checking your campaign before it gets sent out. Use them to see what your email will look like on different devices and browsers and avoid surprises when you’ve already sent out the campaign. Spam filters This is who decides whether the recipient receives the email or not. We don’t have control over this but it will analyse the factors that we’ve been looking at in this article. Now we’ve seen the 5 main actors in the email marketing process, consider how your deliverability is being influenced by each one and be sure to optimise each area for campaign success. Did you like this article? Have you spotted any areas of your email marketing deliverability that you can improve? This is the third article from our brand new deliverability series. Next up... How abuse complaints affect your 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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