Tags: Email Marketing

How to Tell Loyal Subscribers You’re Thankful For Them

How to Tell Loyal Subscribers You’re Thankful For Them

Beyond • March 28, 2017

We tend to get comfortable when we’re around the same people often enough. Whether it’s a partner, friends, or colleagues, there’s a level of comfort that sets in after a certain point. While it’s great to be in common company that knows what you’re all about, it’s important to rekindle these relationships so that the other side knows they’re still valued. The same goes for your email subscribers. Of course, your subscriber knows what you’re all about and is still feeding into your campaigns. The problem is, you don’t really know who is paying attention, who is sort of checking out, and who doesn’t exactly remember that they signed up, to begin with. These are all different stages of an exit cycle. This is what you don’t want. In order to retain hard-won subscribers, use the month of gratitude and giving to show them that you’re thankful for their audience. There are a few ways to do this. The simplest way is to send the thank you email campaign speaking directly to your subscribers from the heart. Treat this a bit like the year-end Christmas letters your great aunt Geraldine might have sent. Except, we’re going to twist it up. We’re going to keep it have 500 words; we’re going to make it punchy and segmented. The intro will talk about your gratitude, and the second segment will cover the achievements through the year and how your subscribers played a part in that success. Keep this section short. Nobody likes a glory hog. The third section uses key language and phrasing in order to show authority on the topic at hand. Your goal is to make sure they’re not bored, so do that by dropping some seeds about what’s coming up that might be privileged information. If you can, release an article or product that is only accessible to subscribers as a token of your thanks. This directly gives your subscribers something to show off with - something only they have and can share or purchase through you. As you’re crafting this campaign, remember that your audience is forgetful. They won’t automatically know of wins or shareables. They’re not always in the loop even if they are part of your campaign. They need nudging and directing. That goes for social channels too. A lot of times, subscribers will be all about your email campaigns and Facebook page, but they’ll forget you have a strong Twitter presence or are launching weekly Instagram videos. Whatever it may be, there’s a good chance even your most loyal audience members have been too busy to keep up with it. The thank you email is a good opportunity to nudge them about what else is going on and how they can stay connected. Unlike newbie subscribers that you’re just directing to the most popular calls to action, veteran subscribers can step it up. You might want to segment your list based on this tier and ask for greater involvement from your senior subscribers. Maybe there’s a new philanthropy initiative you think your best brand ambassadors (oldest customers) might be a perfect fit for? Perhaps there’s a segment of your audience that’s very socially active and they can start acting as digital ambassadors making it a point to share one piece of content per week. This is the time to not only thank subscribers but to activate them as well. Show then you’re thankful by being as inclusive as possible.


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Inside Look: Editor Restyle & Organizational Update

Inside Look: Editor Restyle & Organizational Update

Product & Design • March 22, 2017

Our company has found itself in a new season of change, and our different product teams have been growing and finding their strides. We\'ve made mistakes and have faced a bunch of challenges, but we’re learning to make continuous steps of improvement. So, thanks for joining our team’s journey. Here’s a little peek into what went into our release of the restyle and organizational update to the Drag & Drop Editor. Why did we take this on? Our Editor Product Team is comprised of two designers, a front-end developer, a back-end developer and our key stakeholder CEO. We focus on the three email editors: Drag & Drop, Plain Text and Code Editor. When we were in talks of what to take on next, we identified a reoccurring problematic issue that needed solving: inconsistent UI across our newest tools. Over the past few years, Benchmark has released some new builder tools: three email editors, two signup form builders, email engagement automation and most recently Automation Pro (Beta). One weakness was that each tool had different style variations that resulted from a number of possibilities such as multiple designers, multiple developers, lack of style guide, poor handoffs, problematic legacy code and so on. Some variations were visually obvious and some were code specific. With so many inconsistencies, it was creating a nightmare for our product teams to do any feature updates. Not to mention, it hurts our users’ experience and creates confusion as to what are expected behaviors and visual cues. How does a user learn to trust your app if the action outcome is a guessing game? We needed to organize ourselves and move toward product consistency so that our users could spend less time thinking about how to use our tool and more time focusing on their task at hand. Because of this, our team identified two goals: Clean up our design styles and code Create a more seamless user experience across our updated tools There were multiple opportunity areas, but for this release, we decided to limit it to style and organizational UI updates in the top navigation, active block panels and text editing toolbar. Each area presented its own challenges, so here are some of those thoughts. Simplify navigation within the editor The first opportunity sat with the main navigation in our editor. This was represented by four icons that divided each edit area. The fourth icon (a pencil) indicated when a block was selected but didn\'t actually contain options in its panel when a block was not being edited. It ate up valuable space and was more confusing than helpful to our users, so we removed it. We also replaced the icons with text to improve clarity across all languages. Icons took less room, but we thought it important to use clear labeling here. Dedicating ourselves to nine languages isn\'t easy. It means that all our decisions come with additional challenges and we design with worst case scenarios in mind. One challenge is character count. Most of the time our English text uses fewer characters than some languages such as German and Portuguese. In such a limited area, what happens when it gets too long? Does it push to two lines? Truncate? Expand the area? In this case, we chose to solve the issue through text size and insert fallback behaviors. This is a smaller scenario, but at other times it becomes a larger challenge when there are more factors at play. Text editing toolbar Since this is one of the components that people use the most, we realized that updating and sectioning our icons could go a long way to enhance the user experience. We also changed the behavior of the bar to be more adaptable on multiple screen sizes and devices. The full bar is shown until a user changes their browser size. At this time, each option collapses into a menu that can be accessed by clicking \"More.\" The old design invaded our user’s workspace by pushing their work down, whereas the updated design didn\'t. Active block panels This is the area we focused our efforts on. When we applied UI elements from our newest signup form builders and created any missing ones, it helped with style consistency and gave the panels more breathing room. Beneath the surface, the code was combed through, cleaned up and structured to be more modular and run faster (thanks to our front-end developer!). The second problem was organization and consistency amongst the blocks themselves. If you placed all the block options side by side, the organization was different. Our users were readjusting to each individual block, so we standardized organization across all of them. Our biggest change addressed issues with the amount of options shown at a given time and had impacts on user workflow. Some blocks were getting really bloated and weren’t scalable for the future. So for those blocks, we separated their options into two tabs based on function and then usage level within the tab. The first tab contained options relating to the overall block and the second tab dealt with options relating to the elements within that block. So, what’s next? A lot actually! Our team has been taking baby steps to gain deeper user insights by moving toward the “Jobs-to-be-done” methodology. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend checking out Intercom\'s ebook :) They nicely describe it like this: People buy products and services to get a \'job\' done. The key to success is understanding the real job customers are using your product for. This year is shaping up to be full of new and exciting releases. Hopefully, we’ll be chatting about them along the way! Until we meet again ...


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The Basic Principles of Deliverability in Email Marketing

The Basic Principles of Deliverability in Email Marketing

Beyond • March 15, 2017

This paragraph marks the first in our brand new series dedicated to deliverability. Use this series to get your email marketing results back on track (or avoid them going off track in the first place!) as we guide you with insider tips, tricks and know-how that’ll help you get the most out of your Benchmark Email account. Today’s article is a general introduction to the concept of deliverability with some key points to consider. Email marketing: an essential online marketing channel Let’s use an example to illustrate the concept of deliverability. Imagine a company whose marketing team has spent a good few months ignoring the alerts and messages from their email marketing platform. Now, unfortunately, the Head of Marketing is having a look at the quarterly reports that he’s received from his  team and he’s worried. The last campaign had looked promising. It offered a good product, a clear message, it was well focused on the target market, they had a structured plan, the design was attractive and timings had been optimised. Sadly though, the numbers are less than satisfactory so, what went wrong? All channels had performed as expected, except that of email marketing. The amount of leads generated via this channel had been in steady decline over the last 6 months. It had been the star channel, a key aspect of the sales funnel, but things have definitely taken a turn for the worse. Let’s try to understand why. Analysing the deliverability of your messages It’s a common story and you’ve probably seen a similar situation before. The team needs solutions to be found fast. Fortunately, after looking over the reports, one of the team members has offered up some interesting ideas that she thinks could put the team back on the right track: she thinks that the downturn could have something to do with the deliverability of their email marketing messages. Take it from us, deliverability is complex but fascinating to work on but, what is it? In short, it’s about optimising the rate at which your email arrives in the inbox, regardless of who your target public is and which ISP they use. In our imaginary company, no one has been evaluating even the most basic components. The abuse complaint rate and bounces are far too high and the lists haven’t been sufficiently segmented. The consequence of all this is a poor reputation that harms results. Key factor 1: Your sender reputation A brand’s sender reputation is intrinsically linked to their Domain Authority and each ISP keeps a record of the sender’s activity. When evaluating your sender reputation, ask yourself: Do we have many or few spam complaints? What’s our average open rate? Do recipients interact with our campaigns and our content? Bear these questions in mind, review the data and act to improve each of these points. For more details on doing this, keep your eyes peeled for new installments of this series. Key factor 2: A clean list It won’t matter how many campaigns you plan if your lists aren’t in tip-top shape. If your lists are full of spelling mistakes, if you don’t delete unsubscribes or if you keep sending to expired email addresses (hard bounces), you won’t be helping your deliverability. Using double opt-in for signups is vital for confirming that email addresses are both correct and that they exist. To this you must add adequate segmentation. This goes hand in hand with an appropriate analysis and study of open and bounce rates which will let you appreciate just how engaged each recipient is or isn’t. For example, one segment may be those that always open and read your campaigns or have done in the last X months. These will be the ones that will be most interested in reading your promotional emails.  You need this level of planning and preparation to make sure that only relevant content reaches each of your targets, giving you the kind of impact and return that you expect. Key factor 3: Quality email marketing software Now you’ve seen a few tips and understood a little more about what deliverability involves, we need to look beyond the actions of the marketing team alone. None of all of this will be enough if you don’t choose a quality email marketing platform from which to send your carefully planned email marketing campaigns. How to choose? Firstly, you need to make sure that your email marketing service provider is dedicated to providing the right infrastructure. This involves them keeping on top of their server reputation and keeping their systems updated while working with you to optimise your sender reputation. With the right tools, relevant content and clean lists, your email marketing strategy will be on the right path to success. At Benchmark Email we guarantee that we will offer you the right infrastructure for your email marketing success. We always follow best email marketing practices to ensure the best possible delivery rates:  we verify lists, clients and we keep an eye on campaigns too. All of this helps keep sender reputations high and ensures that emails get to their destination. Try it for yourself. Open an account with us and explore our platform for free! This is the first article from our brand new deliverability series. Next up, \"The Advantages of Using a Dedicated IP in Email Marketing.\" 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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Benchmark is Proudly TRUSTe Certified

Benchmark is Proudly TRUSTe Certified

Beyond • March 8, 2017

There are certain emails you receive that make your day. This was one of them: Congratulations! After a thorough assessment against TRUSTe’s Certification Standards, TRUSTe has certified the privacy practices and statement for Benchmark Internet Group. This is not an effort we took lightly and are thrilled to see those words on the page. What is TRUSTe? For those that don’t know, TRUSTe is a service that aids businesses in adhering to the best practices in regards to privacy and the collection and use of personal information. The protection of your data is paramount to us. That’s why we will proudly boast our TRUSTe certification at every opportunity. During the process, TRUSTe reviewed our Privacy Policy as well as our data collection practices. They ensured we dotted every i and crossed every t when it came to both. You will now be able to clearly and proudly demonstrate your commitment to privacy. If you insist. :)


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Behavior Analysis Expected to Drive 2017 Email Marketing

Behavior Analysis Expected to Drive 2017 Email Marketing

Beyond • March 3, 2017

If you followed our advice this time last year, you should already have a pretty well-placed system for email marketing campaigns broken down by quarters. Every three months, your campaigns and directions are driven by core goals for that quarter. Alongside that, by now you also have in place a system of measurement. In other words, per quarter and per campaign, what are your campaign goals and how are you going to measure that data? How will you define success? New Benchmarks for Success In part a response to the limitations of email automation alone and the need to project marketing capabilities to meet the needs of the future, Benchmark rolls out a 2017 gamechanger: Automation Pro. Moving into 2017, you can further streamline how success is defined by using Benchmark’s newest defining feature. Using Automation Pro, success isn’t just about the click-open rate but about the customer journey each subscriber has with your brand through email marketing campaigns. But the email campaign journey isn’t just about a deeper funnel - it’s about streamlining the target. One of the key trends for 2017 will be targeting. Targeting look at variable behavior factors such as demographic profile data, lifestyle, and preferences/attitude. Think of it as a pyramid that factors in behavioral analysis into your marketing. A powerful predictor applied behavior analysis (ABA)can not only help you understand the choices your subscribers make, but also the choices they can be expected to make. Through the Looking-Glass of Behavior Analysis In fact, social scientists are venturing further into marketing upon the industry’s realization that the science used to help understand and encourage behavior can also be used to help predict it. Some studies show that the “...collaboration between behavior analysts and environmental psychologists who study the correlation of individuals’ environmental concern and action with their attitudinal, demographic, and personality characteristics…[replacing] armchair theorizing with interdisciplinary and intervention-focused environmental research.” ABA might be new to you but it’s, in fact, one of the fast growing sciences. A simple Google search for “ABA” or “applied behavior analysis” shows a staggering 16,500,000 hits and growing. The reason marketers love ABA is because it’s a practice based on evidence - so not just a theory of what’s going to work, but what actually works. It’s one of the most data-driven methods aside from the data you get from analytics. However, ABA allows for deeper understanding of behavior; you’re not just seeing a number as you would in analytics alone; you’re able to see why something happens and how to modify that behavior. In other words, marketers can work with behavior analysts to not only interpret and predict behavior but to also shape it. In 2017, you can use ABA to help further perfect the subscriber journey through Automation Pro. Shifting Gears to “Engagement” That’s another thing that changes in 2017: we’re changing our thinking. Instead of relying on a clinical and transactional label such as “email marketing” we’re going to shift to “customer engagement” and we encourage you to think in this frame of mind too. Email marketing is something that happens. Customer engagement is something you do. Customer engagement is realizing that emails aren’t a memo shoot, a black hole vacuum where messages go in one direction into an abysmal void of no return. In truth, email is the most real time digital space you’re going to get where YOU get to focus on the audience. But there’s another sort of engagement that’s also prevalent for 2017. Piggybacking off of the hot use of gifs and video, we expect 2017 to be much more dazzling to the eye. Email campaigns are visually oriented, that almost look like inviting ads themselves, are going to be big. If Twitter, for example, is meant to communicate in 140 words, then people are already conditioned (think ABA) for quick and brief communication. This is why GIFs are so powerful, and why 30 second2-minuteute videos are also powerful tools to communicate your message. Take a look at the Kate Spade email campaign, which is a perfect example of how visual drives message. Their email marketing campaign used their products to introduce a new line for a new audience - without ever showing a picture of the audience. The campaign is driven by a creative pairing of visuals to create a new visual: the target market. Not only does it engage, but it also entertains. A 2014 Gallup poll show that customers who want to spend money, want to spend it on something they feel good about. Gallup - kings of predictive behavior - also based their customer engagement model “on the emerging science of behavior economics, which holds that the vast majority of customer loyalty and buying decisions are influenced by emotional as well as rational factors.” Part of what it means to engage is that it means to \'court\' the customer.’ This is especially true for Millennials but it’s a general qualifier for all customers - or subscribers. So as we’re shifting into customer engagement, think what is going to drive behavior for this segmented audience? What makes them feel good? It looks like 2017 is going to be full of a lot of questions that involve getting to know your subscribers better.


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Discussing Digital Marketing, Email & Engagement with Smart Insights

Discussing Digital Marketing, Email & Engagement with Smart Insights

Beyond • March 1, 2017

Smart Insights is famous for offering expert, practical and actionable advice on digital marketing so I was very excited to have had the pleasure of chatting to Robert Allen, Editor at Smart Insights this week. We discussed all things digital marketing and you’ll find some of the highlights below. He offers tips on writing excellent email copy, engaging a community and much more so be sure to grab a pen and paper: you don’t want to miss any of his exclusive tips! Rob, as editor at Smart Insights, you write on all manner of topics related to digital marketing. Do you have a favourite area or topic? What do you love most about digital marketing? Great question. There are a lot of areas I find really interesting, SEO especially. I’ve been researching machine learning a lot recently which I’ve found fascinating, but I think what I love most of all is the big picture strategy stuff: taking a step back and thinking about the fundamental principles and then applying that to objectives and working out a strategy. It’s why I’ve written at length about marketing models and criticised the ‘tactification’ of marketing, where marketers forget to strategize properly and instead focus on tactics. How did you start out in digital marketing? I started off by volunteering to run a charity’s digital marketing while I was an undergrad at university. I learned on the job and then helped to market several other projects. Once I graduated, I went straight to work for a small marketing consultancy which grew fivefold whilst I was there. I learned loads about social media marketing, SEO, email marketing and content marketing there. When I saw that Smart Insights was looking for someone to run their blog, I jumped at the chance to be at the cutting edge of digital marketing thought leadership, and I’ve been there ever since! As an editor and someone who has had great success in contributing to creating a community and keeping that community engaged, how important would you say engagement is as part of a digital strategy? Engagement is absolutely essential but it’s the final part of a bigger puzzle. We always use the RACE framework when planning our digital marketing. For those unfamiliar with it, it stands for Reach, Act, Convert, Engage. Engagement isn’t about getting new readers, it’s about retaining existing ones and bringing them back time and time again. The key to engagement is being useful- you have to provide your audience with what they want. We publish four articles a day and try to keep our readers up to date with all the latest developments in marketing. We surveyed our readers and found out that what they really wanted was a place to get just the essential updates so they could stop wasting time looking through multiple sites for all the major developments. That’s why we created our ‘What’s Hot’ section to show readers just the key platform developments from each month. Do you agree that writing excellent copy is essential to engaging an audience? Absolutely and it’s important to realise that excellent copy is an art that can always be improved upon. I’m passionate about writing, and spend hours and hours on evenings and weekends reading the work of the best in the biz. You can learn so much from the writing styles of great writers. Scott Alexander’s writing has taught me so much about explaining complex concepts in simple language, whilst I love Mark Ritson and Bob Hoffman’s punchy and pithy style. What advice would you offer someone just starting out with email marketing? Test. It’s that simple. No one really knows what will work and what won’t. Sometimes you work hard coming up with a brilliantly compelling newsletter, and the test finds that’s a simple bullet point list beats it. Similarly, sometimes descriptive subject lines work, whilst for other audiences it’s best to try something unusual. For example, we once tested an email with the subject ‘Something for lunch?’. The email gave them the usual selection of Smart Insights articles we always send out, but we positioned it as something to read over lunch. The open and click rate was more than double the norm! Don’t be afraid to try all sorts of different ideas, just make sure you test them and then apply the lessons learned. What 3 tips would you give someone for making their email copy more effective? It’s always tempting to use industry-speak and buzzwords to try to sound knowledgeable, but I think it’s better to stick to Einstein’s famous dictum that you should ‘always make everything as simple as it can be, and no simpler’. So, if you really need to use an industry term to explain something then by all means use it but, wherever possible, use simple and easy-to-understand language. Think about the objective first and work backward. What is it that you want your audience to do? Do you just want them to click on a link? Then use compelling calls to action and keep it as brief as possible. If you want to entice and inform then use questions to draw people in. Repeat it aloud. Often people write in overly dense sentences when a simpler, punchier style would be more engaging. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else. I love a good comma. You’ll find that when saying it aloud, you’ll add pauses and finish sentences at natural points. Have you seen a blog article that made you think \"wow! what a great idea?\" All the time! I don’t spend hours a day reading blogs for nothing! A great example is when I came across this economics paper from 1970. It’s called ‘the market for lemons’ and I spotted it when reading an economics blog. It made me realise a fundamental principle about how Google’s content ranking algorithm has to work. The paper’s author went on to win a Nobel prize. I’m still working on that one. How do you see the role of email evolving alongside other digital channels, social media, or even artificial intelligence? Email remains one of the most effective of all marketing channels. I don’t see that position being threatened by new tech developments, quite the contrary. Machine learning and AI hold the possibility of incredibly tailored personalisation, which can be applied to email marketing better than most other channels. What do you think will be big in email in 2017? I’ve already mentioned the growing ability of marketers to use machine learning and AI to achieve incredible levels of personalisation. I think the big trends in email this year will be about using the growing power of these technologies in tandem with big data. These will allow the sending of highly relevant offers tailored to individual customers. Thank you for so  many excellent tips and insights, Rob! I’m sure this post has left you with plenty of food for thought. Be sure to apply these tips to your digital and email marketing strategies and keep your eyes peeled for more articles packed full of practical advice. You can help others learn more 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.


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Insights About Spamhaus & SpamCop

Insights About Spamhaus & SpamCop

Beyond • February 27, 2017

In previous posts, we have discussed types of spam traps and how an email marketer can stay out of them. In this article, we are going to talk about the blacklist services Spamhaus and Spamcop. Spamhaus Spamhaus is an international non-profit organization that helps the majority of Internet Service Providers, ESPs, corporations and other security vendors by tracking spammers and blocking the vast majority of spam and malware sent over internet. It provides several blacklists such as SBL, XBL, PBL, DBL and ZEN, which can be used by mailbox providers for protection against spam-like activities. SBL - The Spamhaus Block List is the collection of IP addresses from which Spamhaus doesn’t recommend the receipt of email. It is maintained by a devoted team of investigators spread over 10 countries. XBL - Exploits Block List is a real-time database of IP addresses of hijacked PCs infected by illegal 3rd party exploits, including open proxies (HTTP, socks, AnalogX, wingate, etc), worms/viruses with built-in spam engines and other types of trojan-horse exploits. PBL - The Policy Block List is a DNSBL database of end-user IP address ranges which should not be delivering unauthenticated SMTP email to any Internet mail server, except those provided for specifically by an ISP for that customer\'s use. The PBL helps networks enforce their Acceptable Use Policy for dynamic and non-MTA customer IP ranges. DBL - The Domain Block List is a real-time database of domains (typically web site domains) found in spam messages. Mail server software capable of scanning email message body contents for URIs can use the DBL to identify, classify or reject spam containing DBL-listed domains. ZEN – This is the latest Spamhaus list which combines all of the blocklist zones. It is the most recommended, as it integrates the feature of SBL, XBL, PBL. Rather, you should be using only zen.spamhaus.org in your IP blocklist configuration. Never use ZEN together with other Spamhaus IP blocklists as it will simply be wasting DNS queries and slowing your mail queue. SpamCop Spamcop is the premium service for reporting spam and it gets its list by crawling the internet and from users that report spam. Spamcop discovers the genesis of unwanted email and reports it to the pertinent Internet Service providers. It’s reporting service is free and you can get started by clicking this link: https://www.spamcop.net/anonsignup.shtml. What is the SpamCop Blocking List (SCBL)? The SpamCop Blocking List (SCBL) is a combative spam-fighting tool that indexes IP addresses which have transmitted reported email to SpamCop users. The SCBL is a quick and automatic list of sites sending reported mail, with multiple report sources, including automated reports and SpamCop user submissions. The SCBL also quickly and automatically delists these sites when reports cease. You can read about the working rules of SCBL and it’s implementation here: https://www.spamcop.net/fom-serve/cache/297.html. What to do if you are listed on a Spamhaus or Spamcop blacklist? Take prompt action: To know if you are listed on Spamhaus enter your IP address or domain name here: https://www.spamhaus.org/lookup/ . If you are blocked on Spamhaus, getting delisted should be your first concern as it will affect your deliverability. Review your recent email sends to find the possible issues that triggered the blacklisting. Gauze your list for bounces and inactive email IDs. Resolve the issue: To get delisted from Spamhaus, you need to fix the issue that caused the blacklisting. Your technical support will be able to guide you through the process. Some of the points you should check are: Review your list procurement - Investigate all your sources of list acquisition and stop sending emails to rented or purchased lists. Follow all the components involved to maintain list quality such validation of email addresses and implementing double opt-in. Remove inactive & bounced IDs: Inactive users are vulnerable to spam traps. These are users not engaging to your campaigns and a segmentation policy should be placed to filter out these contacts. Mailbox providers will send an unknown user code a year in advance before turning it into a spam trap. It is important that you identify bounces and remove contacts identified on feedback loops. As soon as you complete the above checklist, follow the delisting process here:  https://www.spamhaus.org/lookup/. While completing the delist form, briefly inform them that you have fixed the issue. Once you are removed from a blacklist, make sure to monitor metrics like complain rates, unknown user rates and spam trap hits proactively.


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15 Ways To Grow Your Email List

15 Ways To Grow Your Email List

Practical Marketer • February 24, 2017

In 2018, like every year before it, your list is the lifeblood of your email marketing efforts. While your list is not a numbers game, it’s always quality over quantity, growth is an important part. We’ve all seen signup forms on most websites we frequent. Many of us have an inbox full of emails we don’t want or, at the very least, don’t open. That can be avoided if you onboard subscribers to your list in the right way and follow best practices for list growth. Here are the factors to consider to grow your list the in 2018. Touchpoints Telling you to put a signup form on your homepage is not groundbreaking advice. It’s every other place a potential subscriber may frequent that you need to be considering as well. Do you have a blog? Put one there to let your readers subscribe to receive your latest posts in their inbox. It even adds variety to the forms of communication in which you send. Your Facebook page should also have a signup form. While I don’t need to sell you on the powerhouse Facebook is in terms of active users, driving traffic and more, there are some ways you can maximize your efforts. Promote your signup form on Facebook. According to the Bit.ly blog, the highest traffic on Facebook occurs between 1:00PM-3:00PM, but engagement may be higher in the evenings. Also, Thursdays and Fridays see 18% higher engagement than the rest of the week. Get the biggest bang for your buck and run ads during those times to maximize eyes. If you have phone support or are ever on the phone to talk to customers, you can simply ask. Even if only to be polite, most people will agree to be added to your list if you ask while they’re on the phone with you. The same applies for chats. For businesses that have customers coming into a brick and mortar location, there are a couple options to gain new subscribers. If your POS system allows for you to add subscribers to your list, you can offer while you’re ringing a customer up. You can also put a computer or tablet in a place that is easy for customers to access and set up a signup station there. Businesses have also used SMS effectively in this situation. Place a sign in your store telling your customers to text a number with their email address to be added to the list. Why is it so important to get them at that moment? According to eMarketer, 81% of online shoppers who have received an email campaign based on previous shopping habits were more likely to purchase again after receiving a targeted email campaign. Events are another great opportunity for list growth. Stay connected with your booth attendees or people you network with by adding them to your email list. Be sure you ask or use another method that allows them to opt in. Timing Like many things in life, timing is everything when growing your list. You want a potential subscriber to see a signup form at the exact moment they’d be most likely to subscribe. Create a popup signup form to appear upon entry to homepage or blog page. Have you ever clicked on an ad for a product or service from Facebook, and shortly after landing on their homepage, have a popup signup form appear with a deal for when you subscribe? It’s effective because you were already intrigued by the product. Getting a discount may make you even more likely to purchase it. According to one case study reported on by the Crazy Egg blog, popups drove 1375% more subscribers than one in the sidebar. An exit-intent popup is a newer, and more stealth, way to attract subscribers. It’s also more of a hail mary approach. The game is almost over and you’ve got one last shot. There are tools out there that create a popup signup form when a site visitor mouses over to leave your sight. If they’re already leaving, a last-ditch effort can be effective when done right. Don’t sound desperate, but consider why they’re leaving. They may not be ready to convert now, but some solid email campaigns down the road could change that. Location. Location. Location. The placement on your site is everything. For signup forms, timing is everything. Consider each situation your site visitors may encounter it when creating to form. On your blog page, it may be after they’ve read most of the post and are into your content. It could be on your Contact page because they want to keep in touch with you and have a dialogue. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and don’t forget to consider mobile readers. Copy Equally as important to how and when someone encounters one of your signup forms is what they say. Carry your voice through to your signup forms. Your email communications will go a long way to carrying your brand voice through all your engagements with your subscribers, but it starts with the signup form. Here’s one on the Benchmark Blog that we use: I touched on this briefly earlier, but offering a promotion, exclusive educational resource or another incentive to entice an individual to subscribe is a highly effective tactic. However, make sure it’s something that makes sense to your brand. Don’t devalue yourself but an offer that will not bring in the type of customer you want. The trick will also be keeping them on your list once they’ve cashed in on your incentive, which brings me to my next point... Deliver on your promise. Whatever you write in your signup form copy, it’s important to back it up with your email campaigns. So, write what will be exciting to a potential subscriber and then make sure it’s even better than they could have expected upon delivery. That means if you say it’s a monthly newsletter, not to send more than once a month. If you said it’s to get additional educational resources, don’t come through with a sales pitch. If you do this, you will reduce list churn and you list will grow as a result. Segmentation List segmentation isn’t as much a growth hack as much as it is a list churn reducer, but it will help your list grow nonetheless. Delivering more targeted, personalized content will ensure happy subscribers. The signup form on your homepage may be a different one from the one on your blog. It allows your site visitors to decide the type of content they want to receive. You can even allow them to check a box for which list they’d like to subscribe to right there in the signup form. If they’re getting the type of email communications they want, they’re going to stick around. Create a Preference Center. When someone goes to Unsubscribe, they can be taken to a Preference Center. You can catch them before they get all the way out the door. There, they can choose to opt-in to specific types of content or even the frequency with which they would like to hear from you. They may not want daily or weekly emails, but once a month would keep them around. List Hygiene Like segmentation, list hygiene is a long play. It will not result in immediate list growth. In fact, initially, it will be quite the opposite. Cleaning your list of bounces and serial unopens will help your list growth in the long-run. It will help keep you in good standing with ISPs and give you good deliverability. Those are key factors in running successful email marketing efforts. That means your active subscribers will stay around longer and help your list grow long-term. For example, try cleaning out the subscribers who haven’t opened your monthly newsletter in the past 6 months. After that much time, they’re not likely to start now. You can also try a re-engagement campaign, after looking to clean your list. You might be able to reactivate those inactive subscribers. One tactic that often works is to tell them you’re going to remove them from the list unless the opt back into receiving your campaigns. Everybody wants what they can’t have! Here are some additional thoughts and ideas on List Segmentation and Hygiene from a recent Facebook Live. Be sure to Like Benchmark on Facebook to see more Live events in the future:


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5 Psychological Hacks To Increase The Impact Of Your Email Campaigns

5 Psychological Hacks To Increase The Impact Of Your Email Campaigns

Beyond • February 23, 2017

It’s not always possible to sit down and logically think about every decision we make, especially given that we make hundreds of them every day. So, we use shortcuts, we rely on how we feel or our emotions to make some choices. For example, in your inbox, you read only those emails which grab your attention and you delete the rest. This was an emotional choice. This is why understanding the psychology and the behavior of a consumer is important for a marketer. You should know what could trigger them, what could put them off, and what could tempt them. Here are some such psychological phenomena that affect a consumer’s decision: 1. Use FOMO Most humans have an aversion to loss; their FOMO (Fear of missing out) often pushes them into action. In fact, according to a study, Brits were 39% more likely to open an email, when it promises to relieve their fear of missing out. For example, say in your email you mention a ‘special discount offer of 50% only for you’, now this might be enticing, but not enough to get an instant response. If instead, you had written, ‘Special discount of 50% only for you - expires in 1 hour’, there is a higher probability of getting an instant response. This is a principle eCommerce retail sites use very well. If you have noticed, below a sale product, they often write ‘Only one piece in stock’. This triggers a sense of urgency in you and pushes you to act now. So, scarcity and urgency are the keys to getting action. Scarcity is also an economic principle in that when the supply of a good product is low the demand is usually high and it looks more desirable. You can use FOMO by including words like ‘Expires’ in the subject line to improve the open rates. Use the email content to further explain the scarcity or the urgency to boost the click-through rates. 2. Choose the right colors to elicit the right response Business psychologists estimate that colour can account for up to 60%  of the reason for the acceptance or the rejection of a product or a service. Color elicits emotional responses from the readers and so, choose the color scheme depending on what emotional response you want to trigger in your audience when reading the email. For instance, Red is known to infuse a sense of danger or urgency and may increase heart rate, while Orange is associated with aggressiveness and may push the readers to click on the CTA. Also, blue represents trustworthiness and hence, serves you well when you are talking about ‘security’. Although each color is known to trigger a very specific emotion, keep in mind that the best way to figure out the color that elicits the best response is through trial and error. Also, when choosing colors, it’s not enough to pick one theme color and chose randomly for the other components of the email. According to Three Deep, the CTA’s color, for example, must be complementary to the email to get the best results. 3. Guide using an image Just like colors, images also elicit an emotional response from the reader and that’s why the saying, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. The truth is most of your audience won’t stop to read every single word of your email; they most likely will give it a scan to see if there is anything interesting and move on otherwise. This is where powerful pictures can stop their auto scan and grab their attention. When choosing pictures for your email instead of picking impersonal images, use pictures of people, especially happy people. Such pictures will successfully catch their attention. You can also use an image to direct the customer to a particular space in your email, for example, the spot where the CTA is. Using a picture of a smiling person pointing towards the sign-up button can be quite effective. 4. Use the content to build a deep relationship with the customer For most companies, their scope of personalization doesn’t go beyond adding the recipient’s name at the top of the email. You need to understand that the reason behind personalization is a very psychological one. According to a study done by the University of Texas, our craving for personalized experiences is for two reasons - our desire for control and information overload. Even though the customer has no literal control over the email, when they realize that email has been personally tailored for them and is unique to them, they get an illusion of control. Additionally, in this age of too much information, the only way to grab your reader’s attention is to speak to them about them and not speak at them! Personalization is a way for you to establish a bond with your customer by understanding what they want and who they are and using this data to compose your email. You can infuse personalization in your email campaigns in a number of ways. For example, say you are a grocery delivery startup, you know that it is raining heavily in your customer’s location, you can send a personalized email to take advantage of this situation by saying, ‘Hey, stuck in rain? Let us do the work for you!’ Using simple factors to segment, such as the age, location, sex of the prospect can help you personalize effectively. If you are small/growing business, you don’t have to invest in high-end tools to do this; using tools such as shared labels and rules/filters to segment your customer base is a smart and cost-effective alternative as well. 5. Persuade better using social proof Social influence is another important psychological phenomenon that affects the consumer behavior in that they look to other consumer’s actions to make their decision about a product/service. In fact, according to a study, 63% of consumers have indicated that they are more likely to purchase when a site has product reviews and ratings displayed. We can infer from this data that an email which contains some social proof, will be more effective than one which doesn’t. You don’t have to include pages of testimonials to impress your audience; sometimes a quote or a one-liner from a customer about your product will be more than enough. Another idea is to include a link for your testimonials and reviews section. In fact, you can get really creative here and find smart ways to present social proof, without being too explicit such as sharing the number of views for your Youtube video or the number of happy customers you serve etc. Wrapping Up Data is certainly important when making your email marketing decisions, but remember that marketing is both a science and an art. You have to understand the minds of consumers to come up with really effective campaigns and sometimes the best way to do that is to experiment a little and figure out what’s working; the above list is a great place to start.


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Practical Strategies for Automation Pro: Website Engagement

Practical Strategies for Automation Pro: Website Engagement

Practical Marketer • February 23, 2017

The goal for every marketer should be an ongoing interaction with their subscribers. It should be customer-focused and based on quality engagement. Many email marketers put their full focus on email and lose sight of where the subscriber goes once they click through to a website or landing page. How a subscriber engages with your website is just as important. As the brilliant Flint McGlaughlin told everyone at last year’s MarketingSherpa Summit: You can only sell a click in an email. The actual sale happens on your website. However, it doesn’t always happen with that first visit. Sometimes it takes multiple interactions for a lead to become a customer. Automation Pro allows you to follow up with those website visitors from your email campaigns based on what is of interest to each individual subscriber. After all, according to the eCommerce software firm Monetate, visitors from an email marketing campaign will buy something 4.24% of the time, versus visitors from search engines (2.49%) or social media (0.59%). Why is using automation such a benefit for this? Automated email campaigns perform better than more standard email marketing campaigns to the tune of 70.5% higher open rates and a whopping 152% increase in click-through rates, according to the Epsilon Email Institute. According to the DMA, more than 75% of revenue from emails is thanks to triggered campaigns, versus a one-size-fits-all blast to your subscribers 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement, according to a report from eConsultancy. Execute A Website Engagement Journey with Automation Pro The first thing you’ll need to do is to place the Automation Pro tracking code on all pages of your website. FAQ: How do I install the tracking code on my website? The next step is to create a journey in which the first email links to your website and even specific pages for which you can plan targeted follow-ups based on those pages. Say you’re a clothing brand and you’re launching a new line for the upcoming season. If your subscribers click on the items for men’s clothing or women’s clothing, you can have those male and female subscribers segmented to separate lists or simply have follow-ups planned based on which items the subscriber viewed. That could be additional product information, customer reviews, photos with people modeling the items, etc. Perhaps you’re a SAAS company. If someone goes to your Pricing Page, they’re probably more interested in your product that someone who did not. You can send a more aggressive follow-up trying to convert the warm lead, versus the slow play or branding moves you may want to send to the cooler leads. In this SAAS example, you can follow-up with additional company information, testimonials and more if they go to your About Us page. Anything you believe the customer would find helpful in learning more about your company and add trust that you would be the best fit for them. Regardless of the business you’re in, having website engagement to help target to your subscribers is a big sales advantage. Not just for first-time sales, but repeat business as well. According to eMarketer, sending targeted emails based on previous shopping habits made online shoppers more likely to purchase again 81% of the time. Creating a digital funnel that allows you to send unique follow-ups based on where each subscriber is in the sales process, as well as their interests, makes the subscriber feel that your brand understands their wants and needs. It also puts the odds in your favor in converting leads to sales and customers until loyal brand advocates. Why is Automation Pro Practical?


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