Tags: Emails

How to Rescue Your Email Campaigns From the “Junk” Folder

How to Rescue Your Email Campaigns From the “Junk” Folder

Beyond • September 4, 2015

After you’ve identified the reasons your emails are hitting the junk folder, the next step is to source practical solutions for overcoming this problem. Understanding Email Servers 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. The way around email servers is to get your email subscribers to recognize your domain as a ‘safe sender.’ There are several ways this can – and should – be done since all servers work a little bit differently. The campaign platform you’re using should have a guide you can share with your email list, or a representative should be able to work with you on this. The simplest way forward is to draft a punctuated email to your members, which states the obstacle in receiving content from you and then shows you to overcome it. Have your email identify the type of email serve they’re using and how to adopt your domain as a safe sender. If you have the opportunity, including a visual guide as a part of this document would be immensely helpful. Then set up times to reach out out to each member and see how they’re doing. Factor in that you might need to get them on a call to help them through this process, especially if you’re not technologically savvy. It’s certainly time-consuming but it’s worth the effort to get your email delivered to the right folder. Rethink Subject Lines Your subject line is the first impression you give an email server of the type of content you’re sending out. However, if you’re subject line is too “animated” with the use excessive exclamation marks, then it’s going to trigger the spam. Same goes for if your subject lines have symbols, the word “free” or the letter “X.” Each of those trigger junk mail filters for spam or inappropriate content. The solution is to play with a few different subject line options that either highlight a few key subjects, what’s being offered in the email or experiment with different styles and tones to see what type of language your readers prefer. Segmentation Segmentation is key when you’re sending out email campaigns. You can either send out emails per lists guided by demographic reach (which is particularly useful if you’re reaching a wide net with different time zones). In addition to segmentation, another option is to have a ‘drip’ campaign, where you sending out a chunk of emails in one go versus all the emails at once. Segmentation and drip campaigns are especially important if your subscribers are hosted on Yahoo or Hotmail. Testing 1, 2, 3 If you’re using an email marketing software, then take advantage of the test email feature that lets you preview what your email campaign is going to look like. This is the first wave of prevention in keeping your email away from the spam folder. If you’re looking for your preview and it’s immediately dumped in the spam bin, then you’ve got a problem. That’s step one. Once you can identify that problem, you can then move forward and see how to solve that problem. And once your email has jumped over the “junk mail” hurdle, you can now move on to properly asses click-open rates. Marketing doesn’t mean anything without analytics, but you can rely on your analytics if they’re not able to source authentic information. So before you worry about click-open rates, and A/B testing, let’s make sure your subscribers are aware of your campaign to begin with. Most people never check their junk folders, so take the time to reach out and have a conversation with the individuals on your email list.


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How to Design Emails for Smartwatches

How to Design Emails for Smartwatches

Beyond • August 17, 2015

Believe it or not, Smartwatches are starting to sell. They have been around about a year now, but the launch of Apple Watch gave a kick-start to wearable communication devices. According to Nielsen’s Connected Life Report, the number of wearable devices sold will increase ten-fold by 2018. This means people will be staring at their wrist more and phone less. Although it is the small section of the market, it is important to consider how people will react to your emails. Here are some smartwatch email design tips which will help marketers maximize success. Sender Details Sender details form part of the notification when someone receives an email and are even more important for smartwatches. You should use a recognizable name that could be either your own name or the name of your company. Here you can also make use of A/B test feature to determine which will work best. Subject Lines Screen size being smaller on wearable devices leaves minimal display area for other information. It is very important to keep your subject line short and catchy. It should be engaging enough to capture audience attention. Try to keep your subject line around 3-6 words so that you have more space for other email text. For example, Apple watches offer 12-20 characters for subject line whereas Samsung Gear S allow 30-45 characters for the subject. Preheader Text Preheader is the text followed by the subject line and provides an overview of the rest of the content. It gives you an idea of what the message is about before you open it. As wearable devices are getting popular, it is essential to entice readers at the beginning of your emails. This helps the user to decide whether to mark this for later or take the action instantly. Call To Action Tell the reader exactly what to do by crafting your call to action early in the email. Links are disabled for apple watches so it is better to mention as a text rather than a link. You can make the address and phone number a link to allow wearers to call up straight away or open the address in maps to make a visit. Plain Text Smartwatches lack built-in browsers so most of the time they ignore your fancy HTML and CSS. This makes the plain text version of your email more essential and requires a compelling introductory message. If your email doesn’t have a plain-text alternative, it will be more or less useless. Without a text version Android watches render raw HTML, whereas Apple watches tell you that “The full version of this message isn\'t available, but you can read it on your iPhone.\" Marketers know that the best way to reach customers is to message them wherever they are and wearable devices allow marketers to engage with their audience in new and fun ways. You can only win by standing out in the cluttered inbox, so start optimizing your subject lines and preheader for different devices. Wearable devices are part of a bigger picture and they are here to stay. If you have any suggestions for smartwatch marketing please let us know in below comments.


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Emails That Do Work: Spring Edition Part 2

Emails That Do Work: Spring Edition Part 2

Beyond • April 30, 2014

Hello again, world! It’s time for another segment of Emails That Do Work. I’m your host/blogger, Julie. Every month, I dive into our Benchmark Community to find and review client email templates with strong elements that successfully engage their readers and promote their message. As thrilling as it sounds, I’m pretty much staring at an opened browser with too many tabs to count. But onto my favorite part - writing about it! Let’s get started. Brandignity Right off the bat, I’m going to applaud Brandignity for having both a unique and functional business name. But are they backing up their brand as much as their name does? From the looks of their website at brandignity.com, I would have to say yes, yes, a million times yes! Based in Florida, Brandignity is a white hat search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing firm that aims to help clients develop their brand and market their businesses’ websites online. Why it works: Cleanliness: If I were to section off an email into categories like design, layout, and content, Brandignity wins in all three. Walking through a crowded store can be both a daunting and discouraging task. Barely making it to the checkout line without screaming bloody murder can really stain your experience at that retail establishment. Brandignity’s email is the complete opposite of that. It guides the reader’s eyes with a very symmetrical and mobile-friendly layout, stacking different articles and updates on top of one another. To simplify reader experience, the contrast between the black section blocks versus the white background call attention to the article topics, which are set in different colors. What really makes this email clean and consistent is the establishment of viewing pattern. The reader can glance at the top portion and already “predict” what is to follow. Familiar Environment: Business emails are an extension of your company’s brand. They’re like cyber versions of your sales reps, coming into your clients’ inboxes to check in on a client and leave a virtual business card behind. If you expect your employees to dress the part, then have your emails do the same. Brandignity’s emails are a great example of this. Take a look at their website and compare it with their emails. Not only do they use matching typefaces/fonts and color schemes, but they also set their company’s tagline (“No Science / No Secrets. Just Internet Marketing.”) at the top of their emails. Yes, the same tagline that populates Brandignity’s home page. This is a very clever way to establishing familiarity with the reader. The reader’s eyes will hit the tagline and think, “I remember that. I know where it’s from. I can keep reading because I opted in on these emails.” Hoteles Buenaventura Hoteles Buenaventura is a hotel, spa and beach club with properties in both Puerto Vallarta and Mexico. Their properties consist of the Villa Premiere, the Buenaventura Grand, and the Hacienda hotel and spa beach club. For today, we’ll focus on this particular email for the Villa Premiere, a luxury boutique retreat located in the heart of Puerto Vallarta. Why it works: Balance: There’s a great balance between photos and content. If we keep digging, there’s an even greater balance within the content, between sales pitches and actual details that inform the readers. What does this mean? It means that there is just as much imagery as there is text. It’s nothing new to state that readers are more receptive towards visuals, and Hoteles Buenaventura takes it one step further by moving their photos up towards the top fold to catch the reader’s eye. Let’s move on to my comment about a balance within the content between sales pitches and actual information. The content within the email is divvied up into two folds. The top fold carries all the sales pitch, and the bottom fold houses all the flight and pricing details to back up their marketing. This practice makes complete sense. It is straight-forward, and gives readers the discretion to keep reading if it’s something they are interested in. Details: Hoteles Buenaventura’s emails also list very specific pricing and flight details. This validates the sales pitch at the top portion of the email with more concrete information below, adding substance and legitimacy. The deals are more obtainable and readers don’t have to visit the business’s website to explore any further when it’s laid out in one neat little package...or email. Toby’s Sports Toby’s Sports is incorporated under the name Quorum International, along with its brand marketing and distribution arm, Sports Resources Inc. What began as a children’s toy store in 1978 and later shifted into skateboard sales, owner Roberto Claudio shifted the business’s focus onto sports retail when management observed the growing demand of sporting goods. The store was re-launched from Toby’s Forms and Shapes to what is now known as Toby’s Sports, both named after Claudio’s son. Why it works: No Beating Around the Bush: With emails being checked more and more often through mobile devices, we can safely assume that time is of the essence when reaching out to our subscribers. What I liked about this email is how much information a reader can get just from a simple glance. And that means one thing: Toby’s Sports made every word count in their promo email. Let’s take a look at the layout. About 60%-65% of the email is imagery. The headline, products, logo, and negative space take up the remaining area. Yes, they even left room for nothing but blank space. A great example of what I can call both an email marketing and life lesson - if you don’t have anything else to say, stop talking. Imagery With Purpose: More often than not, I see a lot of promo emails and updates with too many stock images that have no business being there. Before you go crazy on the downloads from your favorite stock image website, ask yourself a few questions. Does the image relate directly to my content? Or is it just something pretty that could fill in the empty space? The imagery in this email showcases not just any sportswear products, but the actual products being promoted. To make things even easier (as if they haven’t already), Toby’s Sports links each of those products with a number to match to the description names below.


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Emails That Do Work: Spring Edition Part 1

Emails That Do Work: Spring Edition Part 1

Beyond • April 28, 2014

Spring has sprung for many, except for the few areas over east with pockets of snow (boo). The flowers bloom, the birds and the bees mingle, and businesses everywhere send out spring-themed emails to their faithful readers. Now that I’m done setting up this imaginary tea party, let’s sit down and chat about Emails That Do Work. Main Street Wine Bar The Main Street Wine Bar is based in Stahlstown, Pennsylvania. Right in the heart of the Laurel Highlands, this cozy bar features wines from around the world. The small and intimate restaurant specializes mainly in its hefty selection of wines, either by the glass or bottle. Menu items feature delicious small plates, hand tossed pizza, and main dishes that can easily be paired with any wine offered. Why it works: Proper Dress Code: This email is well themed. From its imagery down to the colors used for the bottom fold, a mere glance is more than enough to convey what type of business the email is from. The rich reds and the scenic graphic paired with small glimpses of half-filled wine glasses is creates a very relaxing aesthetic. Nothing turns off readers more than misleading or confusing content. It’s safe to recommend that your emails should establish at least a somewhat relevant environment for your subscribers to recognize and open. Inviting Format: Good emails don’t necessarily need to be anything more than simple. Main Street Wine Bar stays on point with nothing more than informative content. This is an invitation with details - anything else, the reader can definitely do without. When structuring an email layout, think of what the purpose of your email will be. In this case, the Main Street Wine Bar is inviting all recipients to a wine tasting event. The next step would be to consider the information necessary for these recipients to attend. Remember to keep the objective in mind before executing anything else. Escade Media Entertainment Group Since 2009, The Escade Media Entertainment Group (Escade) has been working to offer professional services to all clients. This innovative DJ booking agency has more than 10 years of experience within the music industry, acting as an international agents for a roster of aspiring artists and DJs worldwide Why it works: Balance: There is a lot of attention to balancing the vibrant, dynamic imagery with structure. Without compromising movement and visual appeal, Escade has managed to contain the excitement of the imagery with organization in layout. Regardless of what industry you’re working in, putting some thought into simple tactics like this will demonstrate the quality of your business. In this case, Escade has skillfully balanced structure with creativity by presenting bold and intensive imagery in their emails while making it an easy read. Functional Folds: The folds of your email each serve a different purpose and therefore, hold different value. What do I mean by “folds”? The term “above the fold” refers to the upper half of the front page of the newspaper. Applying this to what we know today (ahem, the Internet), this term has now evolved into what we know now as content being “above the scroll”. Escade keeps this good practice in mind with their current email. Splaying out the main headline with louder imagery in the top fold was no accident. If emails have real estate value, anything “above the fold” or “above the scroll” is considered to be the highest priority. Important content is prominently displayed to ensure that the main message is visible to all users on a default as soon as the page loads. Small Business Expo Small Business Expo is the largest networking event, trade show and conference for small business owners. Hosted in seven of the Nation’s largest small business cities, Small Business Expo offers more than 5,000 registrants, 25 workshops, and 150 exhibitors in each market. Speaking of which, Benchmark is an active sponsor. Come visit us at a city near you if you can! Why it works: Brand Mentions: See the list of logos in the bottom of the email? Cross promotion is a great way for your business to form and develop relationships with other businesses. Competition is always key, but never forget potential allies that can do a great deal of work in brand awareness. Many SMBs are now working to form partner/affiliate programs and integrations with other businesses. Not all businesses can afford some of the larger sources of branding and promotion. Those who can usually hire ad agencies to execute media buys, outdoor and guerilla advertising, viral web campaigns, the whole nine yards. They lie in wait, hidden in the metaphorical business grass waiting to pounce during their multi-million dollar Superbowl ad time slot. For the rest of us, building a great foundation through lasting business relationships will simply have to do (because it works). Links: Emails that promote upcoming events, like this one, need to also offer the user ways to contact, share or sign up for the organization’s event. Small Business Expo provides social media sharing links to make it easy for their subscribers to share or sign up. Removing these options may not seem like a big deal, but the extra click or spare minutes your readers take to look for the information themselves can cost you more than you will know. A sign up, perhaps?


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Emails That Do Work: April Part 2

Emails That Do Work: April Part 2

Beyond • April 11, 2014

Hello, and welcome to another month of Emails That Do Work! At this point, I feel like I should have a gameshow slogan following the intro of this series. “Welcome to Emails That Do Work! Where emails...that do work...actually...” I’ll need some time to sit on this before improvising a cut-throat slogan. For those of you who are new to this series, I go into our Benchmark Community every month to pull emails from actual Benchmark users. I write highlights on useful practices and how this can be applied to your own email campaigns. Sam Mickail’s CUT Steak House At a quick glance, I found myself salivating over the imagery before I even bothered to look into the text. What is Sam Mickail’s CUT Steak House? Besides the obvious answer (steak house), it is a place where Sam Mickail can infuse a little international twist with the traditional method of preparing and cooking steak. Born in Cairo, raised in France, and trained in Switzerland, Mickail makes good use of his global experiences when it comes to his colorful cuisine.     Why it works: Delicious Presentation: When you’re in the food business, email like it! Food, unlike most products and services, require a different kind of TLC when it is being photographed. Lighting and freshness are key. And do your research - what color schemes are appetizing, and what kind of shots are you willing to present to your audience? In this particular email, Mickail presents himself in the top fold. This personalizes the restaurant, and creates ownership for the chef. After all, it IS Sam Mickail’s CUT Steak House, and not just CUT Steak House alone. Stomachs grumble as we move down to the bottom half of the email, where more-than-static images of their menu items burst out in a colorful frenzy. Remember, the menu is the main selling point! Give it the credit it deserves by creating movement with dynamic shots and colorful garnishments. Your readers will crave for more. Using REAL Imagery: Stock images are out. And if you still think they’re in, then you’re not investing enough in creating your own content. Remember that content is just as important in your marketing efforts to reach out to prospective customers as it is to get in touch with them. Increase your email readership and opens by changing up your content, both in copy and imagery. What I especially liked about this email is the FOOD, but wait...is this just a generic ad to promote the biz? Absolutely not. It’s a weekly special, and that implies a weekly update. These food pics are not a quick buy from a stock photo website. They are the main course--no, the meat of this email (pardon my bad puns). And because of this, the copy on this email is purely description, leaving the featured specials to do the promoting. SoundTree Media SoundTree Media is a music and entertainment company that mainly focuses on independent music marketing. They aspire to invest efforts on promoting independent artists and music to develop partnerships. Their goals lie in strengthening the “alternative entertainment and cultural ecosystem in the country,” through the means of artist management, composing editorials, festivals/events planning and organization, music marketing, and programming.     Why it works:   Layout is Unique, yet Organized: SoundTree’s email is a great example of applying creativity without sacrificing structure. Far different than the usual stacked layout (which is still clean and professional), the use of diagonal lines to segment the content creates a lot of dynamic flow and movement. Readers will find their eyes traveling in diagonal staggered “S” direction all the way down the page. This layout is something you don’t see every day, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. Color Schemes That Flow: It’s always easier said than done when it comes to choosing a good color scheme. SoundTree’s use of color works in several different ways. For one, the existing colors are complimentary. Instead of forcing different colors together to compete for the spotlight, the mellow colors all cancel each other out to make the content easier to read and focus on. Your email’s color scheme should be like backstage help - it allows your emails to function by guiding the reader’s eyes without having too much attention on itself. Royal LePage Realty in Parksville Royal LePage Realty in Parksville (Royal LePage) is a realty firm with its real estate sales territory in the British Colombia. Their team of realtors live and work in the Oceanside area and focus mainly on residential home sales and leasing.   Why it works: Simple and Professional: Blue is the main go-to color when it comes to marketing and branding your business professionally, mainly because blues are pegged for projecting trustworthy and reliable impressions. This doesn’t mean that every business should be branded and plastered in blue. If it’s not in your industry to do so, then don’t. Royal LePage keeps a very easy template going since their listings are the main featured content. These are simple to swap out on a regular basis, leaving the rest of the template to fill in the blank areas with secondary marketing offers. As seen in the lower fold of the email, Royal LePage wastes no time promoting subscriptions to get Vancouver Island market updates.   Detailed CTAs: Not only do they promote readership subscriptions, but they also offer a brief description on what the user will receive by clicking on their CTA (their call-to-action). If I hadn’t mentioned this before, a call-to-action is a banner, button, or a type of graphic with the sole purpose of prompting the user to click and continue down a funnel. As a business, you want your readers to take action on something. Whether it’s to opt in on marketing and promotional efforts or to purchase something right on the spot, you want your users to interact with your business in some way. This stirs up engagement and develops a relationship that leads you one step closer to your audience’s brand loyalty. In this case, Royal LePage explains in the lower left corner of their email what users will receive when they subscribe to market updates. This is a wise move. You don’t want to give your customers something completely irrelevant after they decide to click on your CTA button. Not only will they click out of it, but they might be left with a bad impression of your brand.


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Emails That Do Work: April Part 1

Emails That Do Work: April Part 1

Beyond • April 10, 2014

Here’s to another around of Emails That Do Work! Every month, I dive into the Benchmark Community to review and select a few emails that are putting good practices to great use. Keep these tips in mind when you’re preparing your next email campaign. Success starts when improvement shows! More Than Sound More Than Sound (MTS) creates and publishes high-quality tools to develop emotionally intelligent leadership and mindfulness. Their production expands from a line of podcasts, articles, blogs, publications, and video courses to offer tips and coaching on mastering the art of both subjects. Based on the nature of their business and their email campaigns (such as the one we’re reviewing today), we can safely say that MTS understands how to communicate effectively to their subscribers.     Why it works: Engaging Imagery: It’s very rare to see graphics that stray anywhere far from the usual stock photos. I was quite impressed by how MTS incorporated their promotional product into their imagery. Even at a glance, we can immediately segment the entire email into three portions - the purple intro and description, the yellow imagery, and an off-topic suggested read of “Understanding the Science of Moods at Work”. The friendly interaction between the people in the graphics and the product immediately communicates two messages: (1) that this book is for everyone, and (2) that someone at MTS took the time to create a visual to engage readers. Rather than to slap a few stock images that could maybe fit into the context of the email message, MTS took ownership in branding their imagery. Complementing Colors: Yes, complementing with an E, not an I...although these colors also do compliment each other as well. When selecting colors to use in creating your email template, take the time to make sure they look good next to each other. In this case, MTS opted for lighter colors that are easy on the eyes. As noted before, the colors also help segment the email into separate portions. Notice how the colors populate about 90% of the email without overwhelming the eyes. The opaqueness fills the page but doesn’t remove the spotlight from the content. You’re probably wondering what influenced the choice of colors within the email. Purple and yellow? Seems a strange pair to use, right? Take a look again. This email is a promotion for a newly released book. What colors are used on the book cover? Yes, there you have it. And that’s where we begin to make the connection of the subtle circular patterns behind the content. The colors and graphics are inspired by the featured product. Pretty neat, huh? SARAR The SARAR Group is a menswear business with over 60 years of experience in the industry. Based in Eskisehir in Turkey, the headquarters now comprise of three modern menswear factories located right next to each other. About 40% of the factory’s output is exported to the U.S., Germany, Holland, Italy, Iceland and the United Arab Emirates.     Why it works: To The Point: This email conveys SARAR’s message in the blink of an eye. That’s a good thing, because many people tend to ramble in emails. This practice works well to engage your readers, and it’s worth the extra time that it might take to cut content out. What may seem less of a read could also mean a boost in readership. Squeezing anything and everything you’d want to say to a reader onto an email is wasted effort. Your subscribers will get lost trying to decipher what the main point of your message is, and will most likely forget about it altogether. That is, if they even get to reading the entire thing. One good habit to make your own, as SARAR has successfully done, is to cut down content. When in doubt, leave it out! Call Out Actions: If we take the email and read the red text, what do we get? “ONE WEEK ONLY (02/17 MON - 02/23 SUN)”, “(Except shoes and accessories)”, and “FREE”. Without even glancing at the rest of the content, we already know that there is a limited time event that excludes a few line of products, and that they are offering a deal in which the buyer gets something free. The red is eye-catching and encourages readers to take action, even if they don’t necessarily know what they need to take action on. If they’re interested, they’ll take the time fill in the blanks by reading the white text. Red is a very powerful color, especially when placed next to whites and blacks. It signals most readers to stop, or pause. SARAR puts into practice what most effective emails do - grab your reader’s attention first, and say what you have to say immediately after. QNAP QNAP, Inc. is branded as the “Quality Network Appliance Provider” and aims to deliver comprehensive offerings of network attached storage and network video recorder solutions. The business integrates technologies and designs to effectively improve business efficiency on file sharing, virtualization applications, storage management and surveillance for other businesses.   Why it works: Content Structure and Layout: As someone who designs the landing pages for our acquisitions team here at Benchmark, I see QNAP’s email design ringing pretty close to home. Try to answer the 5 Ws when you’re developing your email campaign - Who, What, Where, When and Why. Of course, depending on your points, you may be able to eliminate a few Ws out of irrelevancy. In QNAP’s case, the When is left out because there isn’t a date or time of any significance to provide for the readers. The Who is answered by their logo in the top right. The What gets a bit more obvious (hint: it’s the large storage unit pictured in the dead center of the email). The Where is offered as link to redirect interested buyers to view locations that carry the featured product. The Why, though, should always be prevalent. Why do you want your readers to take action? Why do they want the What that you’re offering? This question can be disguised as product features, as QNAP has effectively done with bullet points below the storage unit (you know, that aforementioned storage unit with three small men interacting with it). Social Media Sharing (and Other Options): So you’ve sold your readers on why they should pursue your offer. What now? Put yourself in the customer’s chair. Is the product simple enough to decide on right then and there? Or does your product or service have more information to offer? If so, DON’T include it all on your email. An interested reader will pursue more details, so make it easier for them to find it. In the orange footer section at the bottom of QNAP’s email, there are options to view more information on the product, retailer locations, and an option to contact QNAP for anything else. Social media sharing buttons never hurt an email. If anything, they offer consumers to create a bridge of communication that will extend the lifespan of their relationship with the business. It also shows that QNAP has great web presence, making them more accessible and trustworthy than a business that fails to provide those channels.


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