July 26th, 2012
|In Email Marketing, it is ALWAYS about Communication — the importance of building customer relationships through communication and nurturing your customers through time by learning and remembering their individual preferences and interests. The acquisition of customer information directly from customers through personal interaction is the key. Then you must keep in touch with your customers on a regular basis ensuring them their needs and success remains in the forefront of your mind.
Continual communication can be expensive and time consuming. It is said to take more than six contacts before you can turn a prospect into a customer. This is why email marketing is an essential part of any company’s marketing. Email marketing is affordable and has a significantly higher response rate than direct mail and banner ads. Email marketing is the most effective way to increase sales, drive traffic, and build customer loyalty.
With email marketing your communications can include newsletters, promotions, sale announcements, service updates, invitations, and much more.
Besides the aforementioned cost benefits consider the following:
Email is fast – an email marketing flier can be built up in hours and can be distributed instantly. You can choose the exact moment to send it. The relevance (in terms of your marketing strategy) of email marketing allows you to capitalize on events and the factors that may impact when your audiences wants to buy, be notified, etc.
Email allows you to test – email marketing is a wonderful way to test and get immediate answers.
Added value in exchange for more information – you can use email marketing to gather additional information from your audiences. Having them fill out a survey or a form are just a few examples of how to execute this tactic. You also can provide instant benefits for your readers when they click on an ad within your newsletter.
|So considering all the advantages isn’t it time to start (or continue more effectively) your email marketing. You need to address and practice the following (if you are not already doing so):
Have an email form on your website — offer customers a way to register through your website. It is the best way to build your list. A registration form can be added to your website with ease. The placement of an email registration feature on your website has an impact on conversion rates. It should be prominently placed on your website. If your website uses a content management system then the newsletter registration feature should be included.
Begin marketing a newsletter — sending newsletters to your customers is an effective email marketing technique. The newsletter can be weekly, monthly or quarterly. A newsletter provides an excellent opportunity to communicate with your customers on regular basis and to market your products and services.
Here are some simple methods to improve awareness about your marketing newsletter or email list and encourage people to register:
Include a link to register for emails in all email correspondence.
Include information about your email newsletter in invoices and company documents.
Include an email registration link in a prominent place on your website.
Let your team know to inform customers about your marketing newsletter.
Create an incentive to subscribe to your email or company newsletters.
|Follow the rules — it is imperative you respect customer’s privacy and take all the necessary steps to protect customer data collected by your email marketing campaigns. Do not share information without prior consent. Your email marketing list should be opt-in. When customers register their email address they are agreeing to receive marketing emails from you.
Send quality emails – do not send out a poorly designed marketing email to customers. You should plan your marketing campaign in advance. The content of the marketing should provide value to customers. It is fine to promote your products but you should offer a variety of information. A well balanced email is more likely to succeed than a purely promotional email. Therefore, always focus on quality over quantity.
Select suitable subjects for your emails — a quality subject line for your email is vital in deciding how many are opened and read.
Layout and Design — the layout should be organized and easy to read. The design should be clean and modest. Any images used should be optimized for fast loading time. Also remember the design should reflect your brand.
Call to action — an effective email should encourage users to take action. A call to action in your emails can improve the chances of conversion.
Additional activities you should be doing — cleaning your email marketing list, which means performing basic list hygiene tasks periodically. Test your email marketing campaign properly before you send them out, i.e. perform a spell check; make sure any links in the email are tracked and not broken; another good technique is to send a copy to yourself first. Finally, measure the performance of your email marketing campaigns — monitor delivery rates, response rates, click rates, find out how many were opened and how many links were clicked.
*Did You Know? The oldest known symbols created with the purpose of communication through time are the cave paintings, a form of rock art, dating to the Upper Paleolithic. The oldest known cave painting is that of the Chauvet Cave, dating to around 30,000 BC.
July 3rd, 2012
|The language delivery and deliverability are consistently used in the email marketing industry. The problem is people use them as identical terms, but there is a significant difference between the two. The reason this is important to you is because understanding this distinction could bring considerable change to your ROI and your bottom line.
All marketing shares a common goal: conversion. You are usually trying to get the customer to sign up for something or buy something. You can do a lot to influence conversion long before the customer clicks that buy button.
Every marketing medium takes your customers down a different path to reach a buying decision. Internet marketing and email in particular allows a surprising number of measurement points that let you see how well your customers are responding to your message as they travel the purchasing decision path.
|Delivery is the acceptance rate of all mail sent to an ISP. This includes mail accepted to inbox, junk, and mail that gets black holed — which includes a DNS based black hole list, a fake email account that is set up using Hotmail, Yahoo, etc., or disposable email addresses that are used when registering for something so future email (often SPAM) is routed to that address. There is a program, called Black hole that is used to route SPAM to separate folders so it can be checked by an IMAP client). Just because an email is accepted does not mean the user saw it. Think about it — do you read every piece of mail in your junk box or are you like everyone else and scan for important items and then delete all, leaving many messages unread?
||Deliverability is the amount of delivered mail that goes to inbox. IP reputation, from name, content, user interaction, are all part of deliverability and determine if you will be allowed into the inbox, sent to the junk folder, or be forever forgotten in the black hole.
A good way to track deliverability is what we call Seed accounts. Seed emails are email addresses placed on a list to determine what messages are sent to the list and/or to track delivery rate and/or visible appearance of delivered messages. Seeds may also be placed on websites and other areas of the Internet to track Spammers’ harvesting activities.
You can get a rough estimate of how much of your mail is going to junk or inbox by sending to your seed accounts. However, be careful when using your seed accounts because some ISPs have rules to discipline people who try to inflate their open score by doing this on a large scale, which will negatively affect your reputation.
|You also can see a direct impact, positive and negative, with deliverability in your eCPMs — Effective cost per thousand impressions (eCPM) is the amount of revenue you can expect to earn for every 1000 impressions shown on your site. To calculate your eCPM you need to determine the number of impressions, or number of times the ad was shown. For example, over the past year the advertisement may have been viewed 10,000 times. Then determine the amount of earnings the ad made. For example, over the past year, an ad may have brought in $50 of revenue. Finally, divide the number of total earnings by the number of impressions and multiply it by 1,000. The sum is the effective cost per thousand. In this example, divide 50 by 10,000 and then multiple by 1,000 to get $5.
|If your delivery rate stays the same and you are seeing an increase in clicks, revenue, or whatever your metric is and you have not made any additional changes, you can attribute this to improved deliverability. Keep a close eye on fluctuations as this can be an early indicator of improved or reduce deliverability.
If you have a 90% delivery rate but only a 40% inboxing rate, this means something is not right. If you only focus on delivery and not deliverability you are missing a huge part of the process. Start focusing on deliverability if you want your users to see your mail, and want to increase your value to the user. If those things are happening you should ultimately increase to your bottom line.
Email marketing has become a science so do not become overwhelmed with all the aspects you need to consider to become truly successful at it. What you need to do is consider using the services of a company that specializes in helping companies with email campaigns.
*Did You Know? Only 81% of emails sent during the first half of 2011 reached consumers’ inboxes. The Global Email Deliverability Benchmark Report found that 7% of emails worldwide were classified as SPAM and 12% were missing.
June 26th, 2012
|The rules are changing for email marketing creative materials (i.e. fliers, newsletters, announcements, etc.). The one-size-fits-all approach is not the best practice anymore. Now you may need to adopt the responsive email design method. You can design your email to automatically reformat and resize to optimize for whatever screen size your recipient is using to read your email. You also can make sure the main call-to-actions of your email campaign are easily found. In addition, you can alter other elements including text size and color, images, backgrounds, and more.
|Since more and more email is being read on mobile devices, companies are striving to find ways to make them appear as sharp and professional as possible in that environment. In web design, there has been a movement towards responsive design which allows you to create one website that reformats itself for optimal viewing on different devices. The same process can be applied to email design however, like many things pertaining to email what might seem easy on the surface can include numerous technical challenges.
||The way responsive design works is by checking the width of the device’s viewport by using a line of code within the head tag called a “media query”.
Media Queries are used to find out the current max resolution of the screen, and they allow you to use a different CSS for this state than a normal CSS. This is what is called responsive design it discovers what resolution the visitor currently has and responds to this by the use of Media Queries.
In the past the only way we could adapt a website to any resolution was to use a fluid page design but media queries allow you to do much more. With media queries you can hide the sidebar of the page on smaller screens to show more of your content or you can increase the size of the font on bigger screens.
|What this does is check to see if the screen width is less than 480px wide (which is equal to an iPhone in landscape orientation) and then activates a set of specified styles that would be listed within the curly brackets. As an example, if you wanted to target tablet screens you could have another media query that looks for a max-width of 768px. In addition you will need to set the Viewport Meta Tag, which means adding another line of code to the head tag.
So, do you need to be using media queries?
Studies show by June of this year, more people will read email on a mobile device than on a desktop computer or webmail client. So, you want to make your emails as readable as possible on these small screens. The simplest approach that has become the minimum standard for developing mobile-friendly emails is to use a font size large enough to be readable on both desktop and mobile browsers but it can be difficult to create one design.
|The biggest advantage of using responsive design in emails is the ability to set different font sizes for different screens. This is most beneficial in text-heavy emails like newsletters.
The most basic use of responsive email design is your email layout. Let us say your typical email format is a 3-column layout. Using responsive email design, you can now design two other versions: a two-column layout for tablets and a one-column layout for mobile devices. This will ensure your reader is always seeing the most important parts of your email, no matter what size screen they are using.
This all sounds great and interesting, but remember you need to plan. If you have to go back and retrofit media queries into an email that was not designed for it you are going to find yourself redesigning, rebuilding, and rethinking what you have already completed. Also, even with proper planning you are going to find yourself putting in more time into design and development than you normally would for a simple email. So be prepared.
Another item to remember is you still have to create it the old way. If you did not know, Gmail strips out any stylesheet information you put in the head tag and this includes media queries. So, to accommodate for Gmail (and other email browsers that do not support this) you need to cover all your bases and still build the email using inline styles in combination with classes and ids that we can call with the media query. This means that even when you are using media queries you still have to go through the trouble of making sure your email works on mobile screens without them.
There is a lot more to say on this topic, and we will in upcoming newsletters. For now ask yourself this — is responsive email design right for your company?
The answer to this will depend primarily on three considerations:
Audience: If a large portion of your audience is reading email on a mobile device, responsive design may be a good idea.
Budget: Additional design and development time will be required.
Content: Text-heavy newsletters will benefit from responsive design, while with graphic heavy emails it may be easier to design one email that reads well across all devices.
*Did You Know — Morgan Stanley’s analysts believe that, based on the current rate of change and adoption, the mobile web will be bigger than desktop Internet use by 2015.