Tags: email

Holiday Marketing Hacks

Holiday Marketing Hacks

Beyond • December 17, 2015

For most companies, sending one holiday email campaign is an astronomical feat. It can be challenging to organize internal marketing efforts around the holidays, when business flow tends to be at its highest all year. Whether sales are going up or clients are trying to maximize the services available to them for the year, the last thing on minds of enterprise level marketing departments is to up their email marketing campaigns. Just like this is a high point to maximize business for customers and clients, it’s equally a high season for you to increase your visibility. An amplified email marketing initiative can do that. There’s really no better time in the year than during the holidays, considering the holidays afford an added opportunity to for content variation. Whether you’re creating informative pieces, end of year summaries and highlights, or offering a resource or charity gathering, there’s ample opportunity to hack into holiday marketing, including the tips below. Segmented Email Marketing This is a standard email marketing rule that most growing marketing departments don’t take advantage of primarily because it requires a little extra work to develop segment-friendly marketing content. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. When creating segmented holiday marketing campaigns, you don’t need to go back to the drawing board for each campaign. You can use the same template (saving on time and designer cost). The only thing you would really need to alter is the content. Consider your audience: what type of content would appeal to each? How can you alter your messaging or the products you’re sharing to cater to each? Consider Key Dates The holidays aren’t just about Christmas and New Year’s. Consider the other types of special dates that fall into this month. Giving Tuesday, the first Tuesday of the month, is a pretty big deal. Even if you’re not a charitable organization, you can take advantage of the spirit of giving on that day and during the season to draw attention to a charity you’re passionate about. In fact, charitable giving is a culture and brand defining trait, with several larger companies hiring consultants to guide them in their giving practice. In addition to Giving Tuesday, be mindful of other religious and cultural celebrations this month and going into the New Year. Local Opportunities If you’re a location-based business or organization, take advantage of your local community during the season. The holidays are a major time for communities coming together. For business, this means cultivating rapport, increasing your local brand recognition, and meet people face to face. So get involved. See what’s going on in your community locally and reach out to see what part your business can play. Doing this means starting well ahead of the holiday season so you can market this in your email campaigns, segmented to a local audience. Annual Survey As the New Year approaches, there’s a lot of reflecting that will be going on internally with your company and with your clients as well. This is a great time to reach out to your audience and ask them to reflect on how you performed this year. Using Survey Monkey, keep the surveys short and sweet, along an opportunity in a field to fill out some additional thoughts or notes should anyone wish to share more. If you’re still stuck on what additional campaigns to create this season, consider what your company has done in the past during this time of year that you wish you’d highlighted more.


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How to Churn an Email Campaign From Your Holiday Party

How to Churn an Email Campaign From Your Holiday Party

Beyond • December 15, 2015

By now, most companies will already have planned out their yearly holiday party. In fact, companies typically spend more on their office Christmas party than they will on bonuses or birthdays or any other recreational event for their employees throughout the year. Considering that the holiday party is such an investment of time and money, it comes as pretty big surprise that most companies don’t maximize on this investment. The first mistake organizations make when hosting their annual holiday party is that they forget one very big part of their business: their clients. While some companies will invite their clients, others won’t. In the case of those who do invite clients, the reality is that not everyone can make it. If they do make it, they’re still really limited in their experience of the engagement. The point is, companies are missing the chance to highlight and reinforce their culture during this time of year. The annual office Christmas party is a chance to humanize your brand. Whether or not a client has attended your annual event, the fact is you should be reinforcing that brand my creating an end-of-year email marketing campaign out of your holiday party. This way, those who didn’t attend can partake in it remotely. Those who attended are reinforced. Your marketing manager might be wondering what exactly goes in the email campaign highlighting your holiday party. Ideally, you’re going to work with your designer beforehand and discuss a few options to see what can be feasibly done in the free time your designer has between other client-related projects. My absolute favorite pairing would be to create a really fun card-like template that captures the spirit of the season. Include photos of the event and the names and roles of the people in them. Capture photos of the venue too and definitely capture candid shots rather than just staged photos behind a backdrop. If possible, include a video of the person giving the toast. If you’re pairing a charity event or inviting a special guest, make sure that’s featured as well. The goal of the holiday email campaign is to create a sensation of warmth that invites the reader. The challenge – often seen when companies post-holiday party photos on social media – is to create a connection with your reader rather than looking like you’re in your own world. A way to break through that sort of barrier is to include quotes from the people in the photos as well. This can be gathered after the fact, but it could be about what the employee loved most that year. If you have a smaller number of clients or a specific client you’re targeting, those quotes can be specifically about that client. Most organizations will host the party in early December while prices are still reasonable at local venues. The mistake would be in thinking that the email campaign needs to go out the next week. Don’t do that. Formulate your campaign and send it out in an email campaign and on social about a week or so before Christmas, so that it’s more in keeping with the heightened festivities around that time. From there the email campaign to follow the week after Christmas can be reflective piece from the CEO on the year behind us and the year to come. There are a few ways to approach the email that follows next, but however you approach it, it should still follow the theme of humanizing your brand. This means don’t send of end of year promotional email. If you do plan on doing that – which many retail organizations do – make sure you’re sending out your two heart-led email campaigns first: your Christmas party and your end of year message.


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Benchmark Email Freshbooks Integration: A Holiday Gift That Keeps on Giving

Benchmark Email Freshbooks Integration: A Holiday Gift That Keeps on Giving

Beyond • December 15, 2015

Christmas time is coming soon and there are shopping mayhems occurring in stores and online. The shopping spirit just keeps getting bigger year after year and we are bombarded with sales left and right. So you can imagine the heavy traffic of revenue coming in and out between business and customers. As a business, you want to provide the best shopping experience for your customers. The competition between companies to give out the best holiday deals or create heavier buzz through social media is strong, so you have to amp up your game in order to stand out and give customers what they are looking for. So when revamping your site for the holiday season, do a thorough sweep of the entire website to make sure every link is working properly, every banner is clear and in the correct position, and most importantly, make sure that the check out is running smoothly. Just imagine the herd of people at Walmart or Target trying to pile their purchases onto the cashier conveyor belt, and all of a sudden the belts just stopped working. Now carts are clashing and tempers are rising fast. Now picture that happening to your customers when they are ready to make their purchase online but all of a sudden the site crashed or something went awry when typing in their credit card number. Nothing is more frustrating that finding all the goodies you want to buy but now you can’t because of some technical malfunction. So double and triple check it! Now on your end, there will be a lot of revenue and transactions to deal with. Despite the hectic nature of holiday shopping, you don’t want to make that be a reason to take your time sorting out invoices or even as an excuse for careless mistakes. Now more than ever is an important time you have a effective cloud accounting system that will make every transaction smooth and speedy. That’s why Freshbooks is a must have for the holiday season (and for all seasons of course!). With a cloud system, you rest easy that every record will be saved and is easily accessible and that logging expenses will be kept simple and organized. Consider it a effective and beneficial gift for yourself and your customers this holiday season. Make it the gift that keeps on giving by using the Benchmark Email Freshbooks integration.


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Tips on Crafting Your Email Marketing Message

Tips on Crafting Your Email Marketing Message

Beyond • December 13, 2015

Messaging is key when it comes to your email marketing campaigns. Messaging is the language used consistently over a period of time to communicate a narrative, a business value, or mission. In business, all communication mediums need to keep messaging in mind. For email marketing, this means that crafting your email campaigns just got a whole lot easier. Design your newsletter to fit your brand. Your email campaigns should match your brand’s look and feel. If you’re using a template, you might want to customize it to include your company’s colors and logo in the header. If your emails are consistent with the rest of your company’s content, then readers will feel more familiar from the start. [Forbes] Become a Brand Journalist. Everyone knows that a story always sticks in our minds. No matter how long ago we might have heard a children’s story, we still remember it today. That’s because stories are simply communicated. They have a natural rhythm to them and they’re more personal to us than simply stated principles or facts. Perhaps this is the reason why storytelling has become a must-have in modern marketing. Any brand that doesn’t have a story, not only becomes irrelevant – they become forgettable. Enter brand journalism. According to BrandJournalists.com, brand journalism “involves telling journalism-style stories about a company that make readers want to know more, stories that don’t read like marketing or advertising copy. It means having conversations with your customer – not preaching at them or bombarding them with bullet points, but giving them real and interesting stories they can relate to.” [Benchmark Email] Keep a publishing calendar. A regular newsletter is a commitment. If you go several months without sending anything, then your subscribers will forget about you, and they’ll be more likely to delete the next email, or worse, mark it as spam. Make time to plan, write, design, and send your newsletters regularly. [Forbes] Build a follow-up series. For the sake of example, let\'s say you own a dog grooming business which includes a blog centered around grooming, feeding, and more dog care advice. 2,000 people have signed up to receive your weekly email newsletter. So what can you do to make sure this semi-new audience stays loyal and interested in your content? Construct a follow-up series. A follow-up series is a string of emails, created in advance, set to automatically go out at a specific time. Your \"welcome\" email may have been first in the series. A coupon for 15% off of any grooming service may come a week later. Using the stockpile of content we talked about in Part 1, set up a few weeks worth of email newsletters to show your customers what you\'re all about and to provide them with information and deals that\'ll keep them wanting more. These automated emails will give you peace of mind as you\'ll feel more organized and relaxed knowing that your customers are, in a sense, taken care of. You can focus on other aspects of your business knowing that each new person who signs up for your emails is being sent excellent content that you created just for them. With a steady stream of emails filled with pertinent information, they\'ll see your business for what it is: professional, reliable, and dedicated to its customers. At this point, your audience will begin to trust you more. [HuffPo] Messaging allows for consistency and it helps you keep focused when exploring various approaches to email marketing content. Think of messaging as the thread and each campaign as the bead; the two should meet at every point, allowing for a connected string of email communication.


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Spam Filter Comes to USPS?

Beyond • December 11, 2015

Recently, the United States Postal Service announced plans for a new service, Informed Delivery, which will scan your mail and email you the images every day. After subscribing to the service, you can receive images of up to ten pieces of mail delivered to your inbox before 11:00AM. For now, the service only applies for letter-sized envelopes and not packages or catalogs and magazines. It does not appear that you can actually opt-out of receiving the mail if it appears to be junk, but it can save you a trip to the mailbox some days. Whether or not this is a service that will add value to the USPS remains to be seen. It is, however, interesting that the USPS is turning to one of the biggest factors in its downfall: email. Really, it shows the importance of relevance. In email marketing, direct mail, or any other line of communication, businesses need to deliver content that their customers, subscribers and leads want. If any campaign feels impersonal, it’s sure to be ignored—or worse—marked as spam. In fact, relevant emails drive 18x more revenue than broadcast emails according to Jupiter Research. The best way to deliver relevant content is by actively segmenting lists and keeping contacts organized with as much detail as possible. During the winter, most customers won’t want to be taunted with beachwear … unless the campaign is to lure them into planning a sunny getaway. However a list is segmented, whether it be based on gender, location, product preferences or anything else, it should make a customer or subscriber feel like the campaign in their inbox was tailored specifically for them. Relevance can be derived by proper list segmentation, but it can also be based on the value being delivered. This can be in the form of savings, education and information or entertainment. If campaign is firing on all these cylinders, subscribers will not only feel that the email is relevant to them, but may even look forward to receiving those communications as well. We’ll wait and see how Informed Delivery helps the USPS and its customers. For now, we’ll thank them for the opportunity to remind everyone about the importance of relevance. They have it hard enough this time of year. After all, they get shown up by an overweight senior citizen capable of delivering packages to the entire globe over the course of one night.


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How Businesses Rallied to Email Success in 2015

How Businesses Rallied to Email Success in 2015

Beyond • December 9, 2015

2015 was the year that email reinvented itself by finding new avenues and ways to communicate with an evolving audience. In some cases, it was about finding a way to be more innovative within the same platform – and in other cases it’s about emerging technology forcing a communication evolution. Wearable technology was the biggest game change of the year. With email marketing campaigns now popping up on your smart watch, it became necessary to change how we write email copy. In the case of email copy, it meant two things. The first, subject lines needed to be more conversational, punchy and to the point. A smaller screen to host copy meant that longer text would not only be lost in the mix, but it would also be seen as a nuisance. On the other hand, Twitter-like email subject lines got the message across quickly, would fit on the screen, appear more engaging and they better connect with a Millennial audience. Even though Apple Watch users span across several generational users because of how easy it is to use the product, smart watches specifically (as a first wave of smart watch technology) appealed to the millennial mindset. This means that users are looking to get what they need quickly, informally, and still be able to find value in shorter messages that are screen-friendly. Shorter messages are were also a pretty big rallying point since mobile marketing continued to be a pretty important development need. Even though email campaign platforms offer a mobile version, the fact most marketers tend to forget is that most readers will likely be viewing your campaign on their mobile phone. This mean that both design and content need to be download friend, screen size and resolution friendly, and message friendly – so no large images and multiple images that slow down download, while favoring compact copy. Mobile email campaigns didn’t just stop there. Knowing that “on to go” doesn’t just apply to readers, but also to senders, forward thinking marketers took it a step further aligning themselves with a solution that lets them send on the go too. If you’ve got a smartphone like an iPhone or an Android, you can use the Benchmark Email app to carry your email plan over to your phone. The app comes with 10 exclusive templates that are ready to go. On the go marketers, which is the state of working these days with a need to do multiple things at once, means that you can be sending email blasts and videos that you created at your desk minutes before. Embedded video email campaigns were the last biggest rallying point of 2015. With videos, start-ups and enterprises were able to create powerful personal connections with their audience. Whether it was product reviews, video testimonials or interviews, direct messages from the CEO or using video to generate landing page traffic, video clearly appealed to readers as long as they’re short and offer value was well. As your year wraps up, take an inventory of your email marketing efforts thru the year: what worked and what didn’t? What could be done better? With that in mind, take a look at what else is happening around the corner in 2016 and roll that into your email strategy for the upcoming year.


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Top Measures To Improve Sender Reputation & Email Deliverability

Top Measures To Improve Sender Reputation & Email Deliverability

Beyond • November 29, 2015

Email marketing is one of the most effective tactics for driving sales and generating new leads. Your success depends on your ability to reach your customer’s inbox. Once you hit send, your emails go through multiple testing paths. The better your reputation as a sender, the more emails get delivered into the inbox. Managing your sender reputation is vital to ensuring your messages are delivered reliably. Email deliverability is an issue faced by many companies depending on email to send important messages to their customers. Over 20% of acceptable emails, including email & shipping confirmations and password resets never reach the recipient’s inbox. Let us look at some important factors driving sender reputation: Complaints Complaints occur when the subscriber marks an email as spam or moves it into their junk folder. A high complaint rate can block your emails and can cause a bad sending reputation. It is calculated by dividing the number of complaints by the number of delivered messages. How to reduce your complaint rate? Stick to the type of content for which your subscribers have opted in. Target your subscribers based on their interests. They are likely to unsubscribe if your email doesn\'t bring any value to them. Send emails at a right frequency, as forgetful customers tend to unsubscribe more. Check your acquisition and permission practices for opting in your customers. Make the unsubscribe process easier so as to avoid complaints. A few complaints will not harm your reputation as it may just be some lazy unsubscribes. It is better to keep these complaints below a threshold. For example, Return Path provides comparative data to the ISPs to decide the acceptable limit for complaints.   Unknown Users Sending your marketing emails to non-existing users makes no sense and also adds to bounce rate. An unknown user is generated when you send mail to a recipient that never existed, inactive users or an address abandoned by the subscriber. Check your email list regularly for misspelled, inactive email addresses to filter out all inactive users. You can also find unknown users by identifying the SMTP error codes. Keep this rate to a minimum to build sender credibility. How to avoid it? Remove the hard bounces from your list and regularly monitor the soft bounces. Review your email collection process and ask users to confirm their email address. Monitor the feedback loops and analyze the SMTP error logs. Major ISPs provide feedback loops, in which the sender can gain information from the recipients who have complained about that sender’s email. Spam Traps These are the email addresses which are specifically created for the purpose of finding spammers. These should not be found on any of your opt-in lists. Hotmail postmaster Travis Wetherbee describes a spam trap as “one of the most widely exploited fraud management tools utilized by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).\" There are two primary types of spam traps employed by ISPs that have an impact on sender score reputation: Pure spam traps and Recycled spam traps. Pure spam traps are the addresses created for the sole purpose of catching spammers. They have never been used as an active email address and can create deliverability issues. Recycled spam traps are the email addresses that were once owned by individuals. After a period of inactivity, the ISP will turn the account off and return hard bounce or SMTP errors. Some addresses are reactivated by ISPs for spam traps. How can you avoid spam traps? Do not purchase email lists. Remove disengaged subscribers – monitor email addresses that become inactive. Avoid sending messages to role accounts (i.e. sales@company.com, customerservice@company.com). Efficiently remove hard bounces and utilize suppression lists for every campaign. Volume of Email Sent Volume is another factor in improving sender score. According to Return Path, “Volume refers to the numbers of emails seen by the reputation network over the past seven days and it focus on sending patterns, consistency, and cadence.\" Hence, you should avoid the unusual spikes in your email traffic. For example, if an IP address sends 1 million emails every month and all of a sudden the number increases to 12 million, it can hurt your sender reputation. Is reputation tied to your sending IP address or your domain? Presently, most ISPs are using IP addresses, but in the near future it may shift to an IP/domain pairing to determine reputation. Authentication will help ISPs assign reputations more precisely, by tying this reputation to both sender IP addresses and sender domains. Email marketing can do wonders to your business only when those emails are delivered. Your sending reputation is the main element in getting high inbox placement rates.


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Benchmark Email and EU Safe Harbor Certification

Benchmark Email and EU Safe Harbor Certification

Beyond • November 29, 2015

After 15 years of successful data transfer based on Safe Harbor Principles, the European courts recently rendered it illegal. Safe Harbor was one of the approaches U.S companies adopted to successfully address the concerns of data security for European citizens. A deadline has been set for the end of January for EU and US authorities to come up with an alternative, which we believe they will accomplish. Meanwhile, we would like to assure you that Benchmark Email strictly complies with the Safe Harbor Principles as stated in our privacy policy. As the European courts have ruled the Safe Harbor agreement is no longer valid, we may update this page. We will continue to adhere to these principles, so if you are already with Benchmark your data and that of your customers or recipients are safe and secure. This invalidation will not affect our services, so you can continue to use Benchmark Email confidently. Those who are new to Benchmark Email can review our terms and policies to gain an understanding of how we protect our customers data. Please contact us at support@benchmarkemail.com for further clarification.


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The Best Blog Posts on Email Marketing

Beyond • November 23, 2015

Over time, we’ve developed a digital library of the best email marketing articles on the web. This can be a lot for anyone to sift through, so we’re doing to sifting for you. Whether you’re new to Benchmark or are looking for refresher course on what matters to most, here’s your focused summary of the best email marketing blog posts. How to get Gifs and Memes in Email Campaigns This post is all about gifs and memes, which are particularly important if you’re going to be catering to a millennial audience. The best takeaway from the post is, “If you’re using gifs, you want to make sure you’re using it to further your email campaign rather than distract from it. For example, it’s a great way to showcase your product or initiate how a client can engage with your brand.” (Continue Reading) Millennials Haven’t Ditched Email for Social Media If you think that email marketing is outdated and that all Millennials have ditched it for social media, think again. The best takeaway from the post is, “You also want their attention in a one-on-one capacity, and you’re going to secure that through visually driven email marketing campaigns. There’s another strain of thought along this these lines and that’s that Millennials only use email for business – even the influential savvy type with money to invest. On that theory, here are 2 facts: (1) Millennials tend to keep email for business, but they’re still interested in inviting businesses into their inboxes to take advantage of promotion; (2) Email is for serious business, while social media is still for socializing. On that note, Millennials aren’t moving away from email so much as they’re utilizing more channels to communicate.” (Continue Reading) The Essence of Email Marketing It can be overwhelming to grasp all the different aspects of email marketing, which is why a blog post on quotes is a helpful and light-hearted way to underscore why we do it and why it matters. The best takeaway is, “Bait without a hook is just food.\" – John Hayes on email CTAs…Think about which of these quotes made you stop and think for a bit. If you had to stop and think about it, chances are it’s a gap in your current email marketing campaign. The next step is to chart out where you are now and where you want to go. What action do you want your audience to follow through on when they get your email marketing campaign. Are you looking for a sale, a social share, a conversation or some other type of action? Once you can identify that, you can pair the gaps you discovered here and start creating a strategy.” (Continue Reading) Rescuing Your Email Campaigns From the \"Junk\" Folder It doesn’t matter how hard you work on your email marketing campaigns … if no one is seeing them. On that note, the most important takeaway is, “Certain email servers have more sensitive spam triggers than others, which means that they’re more inclined to toss your campaign into a slush pile. How an email server treats email content will depend on the server. There’s another more challenging face to this problem: you ultimately have zero control of other people’s email servers.” (Continue Reading)


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Benchmark is App-Happy Thanks to Our Zapier Integration

Benchmark is App-Happy Thanks to Our Zapier Integration

Beyond • November 19, 2015

Is there such thing as App Appreciation Day? If there isn’t, then there should be one! We live in a fast-paced tech age where apps make the business world go round. So if you want your company to succeed and catch up with the rest big players in the industry, then get your app on. We at Benchmark are very app-happy. We are not just saying that because we are an email marketing company, but because all business small and big will greatly benefit from apps. Here are some that we love: Gmail – something we all know, love, and have. Gmail has been ranked as the top email service for businesses for their intricate features that makes communicating multiple ways a breeze, searching for old emails easy peasy, and personalization which allows you to organize your inbox to your personal taste. GoToWebinar – Hosting a webinar to demonstrate your product is a terrific marketing strategy for plenty of reasons; you can record your webinar and post on several platforms to expand its reach, share valuable content and show viewers step by step visually how to use the product, engage and answer questions directly, etc. GoToWebinar allows you to manage your webinar with ease and even convert leads to sales. Eventbrite – Hosting an event is hard enough, but having to take the time to promote it, create tickets, and manage sales makes it even harder. Eventbrite saves you all that trouble by implementing everything into three easy steps. You can also simply plug the registration form onto your website. Once finished, you can then post on your social media pages to further promote the event. Wufoo – Collecting data from online surveys and invitations is a crucial part is discovering what your audience wants and needs, and thus improving your product just for them. Wufoo provides an easy way to building contact forms and surveys, share it, and receive real-time report on their progress. LiveChat – Chatting directly with a customer service rep is the newest and most popular way to ask questions to the company. That’s why LiveChat is a necessity for your business, with features such as file sharing, transcripts, after-hours forms, and daily summary reports. With so many apps to improve your business, what better way than to integrate one with your Benchmark account for a powerful boost in your email marketing? Try the Benchmark Email Zapier integration and see for yourself!


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