Archive for the ‘Email Marketing’ Category
Marketing professionals, particularly those who work with technology companies, strive to stay ahead of the curve. What’s the next new tactic, channel or trend we need to have on our radar?
Social media and content marketing are now mainstream. Even mobile marketing is losing its shiny newness. Which technologies do we need to watch next, to understand their impact on marketing strategies and tactics—”big data” analytics? Wearables? The Internet of Things? Micropersonalization?
It’s not just a matter of being distracted by shiny new things. It really is important to watch trends and understand the business impact of new technologies (case in point: Blockbuster).
But lead generation remains the top priority for B2B marketers, and when it comes down to what pays the bills, it’s imperative not to lose sight of the basics, of what works. And even in a hyper-connected app-driven world, old-school techniques like live events, direct mail, and email still rule.
Consider recent research from Chief Marketer (see below). Other than social media and content marketing (no surprise), the top three sources for B2B lead generation are email (87%), trade shows & conferences (62%), and direct mail (49%).
The Chief Marketer report also notes that, other than referrals, the tactics that produce the largest number of qualified leads are face-to-face sales interaction (such as at trade shows and conferences), email, and direct marketing.
And among other recent research findings reported here, “Despite all the hype about online, 67% of B2B content marketers consider event marketing to be their most effective strategy,” and “The vast majority of buyers prefer to contact vendors through email (81%) or phone (58%). Just 17% want to use live chat and 9% social media.”
Though best practices for using these channels continue to evolve, the tactics themselves are decidedly old-school. Industrial trade shows date to the late 18th century, and direct mail originated even earlier, with William Lucas’s seed catalogue in 1667.
Even email has reached middle age. As shown in the infographic below:
- • The first electronic message was sent 44 years ago, in 1971.
- • The term “email” was first used in 1982.
- • The word “spam” (pertaining to email) was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 1998.
- • And by 2012, 90 million Americans were accessing email on mobile devices—64% of them daily.
The challenge for B2B marketers is to continue to embrace and experiment with new technologies and tactics, while not neglecting proven techniques.
Though email is one of the oldest tools in the digital marketing toolbox, it remains one of the most popular and productive. As reported here previously:
- • There are nine times as many marketing emails sent each year as direct mail pieces delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
- • Email marketing delivers the highest ROI (about $44 per dollar spent, on average) of any digital marketing tactic.
- • Nearly two-thirds of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an e-mail marketing message.
With familiarity however comes the danger of fatigue. So, marketers must continually to teach the old email dog new digital marketing tricks.
What are the best tactics today for cutting through inbox clutter? Persuading prospective buyers to opt-in to yet another email list? Designing attention-grabbing emails with compelling content? Optimizing content across devices? Avoiding common mistakes?
Find the answers to those questions and others here in more than a dozen of the best email marketing tips and guides of the past year.
General Email Marketing Tips and Guides
How Much Do You Know About Gmail? [Infographic] by The Wonder of Tech
Carolyn Nicander Mohr presents an infographic full of interesting stats and facts about Gmail, the world’s largest email provider with 425 million users. Among the trivia: Gmail includes an “undo send” feature many people are unaware of; you can do video hangouts with up to nine people from your inbox; and messages are always encrypted.
Quick Winds for Email Marketers in 2015 by MediaPost
Chad White serves up nine (mostly) low-effort tips to drive short-term improvements in email marketing results, such as providing an “opt down” option to receive fewer emails rather than unsubscribing completely, using HTML text rather than text inside images, and testing use of special characters in subject lines (“Special characters are the images of subject lines. If you haven’t A/B tested them yet, give it a try”).
The 10 most innovative emails of 2014 by iMedia Connection
Christopher Marriott presents the 10 most innovative marketing emails of last year as judged by The Relevancy Group. Check out the winners (and why each was picked as the best) across categories including best abandoned cart email (FTD), best coupon email (Macy’s), best “welcome” email (AllRecipes.com), Best newsletter (Olympus Cameras) and more.
William Steward details four key steps to creating compelling email newsletter content, from focusing on education (“Try to inform your readers. What’s happening in the industry that they might be interested in? What blog posts have you written in the last month that they might find helpful? Have you released a new whitepaper, or research report?”) to avoiding too much imagery.
The Ultimate List of E-mail Marketing Tips by Digital Growth
Luke Chapman shares thoughts and content from a panel discussion on email marketing, covering topics such as why email remains a powerful marketing tool (“If your e-mails are well thought out and you can get the customer to open them, you have just opened a 1-on-1 conversation with them and don’t have to compete with other noise. The ROI of e-mail marketing is phenomenal if you do it right”), how to track the ROI, mistakes to avoid, and list building tactics.
Email Marketing Toolbox: 60+ Resources for Email Marketers by ProfitBlitz
Marc Andre showcases a huge collection of helpful tools and resources for email marketers, from email marketing services to plugins to CRM tools, pop-up creators, alternatives to pop-ups (for those who acknowledge how obnoxious those can be), landing page design tools, contest tools, web conferencing services and more.
Email List-Building Tips and Guides
50 Proven Ways To Grow Your Email List by NewsCred
Observing that “You may have already noticed that your website visitors aren’t automatically going to sign up for your list just because you have an opt-in box in your sidebar…Opt-in incentives need to be more enticing and more valuable, and this value needs to be clear. Your opt-in links and sign-up boxes need to be obvious, without being pushy or distracting,” Jayson DeMers lists 50 proven tactics for increasing opt-in signups, from adding a lightbox form or valuable incentive to being relatable (“Let potential subscribers know you’re a real person”) and giving potential subsciners a sneak-peak of what they’ll be receiving.
60 Experts Reveal Top 3 Tools To Grow Your Email List by Robbie Richards
Robbie Richards compiles expert tips on list-building tools from an impressive spectrum of digital marketing pros, including Adam Connell, Joe Pulizzi, Ann Smarty, Jeff Bullas, Kristi Hines, and Gini Dietrich (whose favorite tools are “1) Blog; 2) Twitter; and 3) Landing pages with rich content behind them”), among others.
OptinMonster Review: Growing Your Email Subscribers by Razor Social
Ian Cleary provides an in-depth review of OptinMonster, a WordPress plugin for building email subscriber lists. He explains how OptinMonster gets a reader’s attention while on your blog or website, how to set up the tool, create a design, and output settings (“You now specify some settings related to where the opt-in box will appear. Does it show up for the whole site, or for specific categories and/or specific pages on your site?”).
Common Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
6 sins that email marketers commit every day by iMedia Connection
Mark Brown entertainingly outlines half a dozen bad practices in email marketing to avoid, for example: “Always use alternative functions. That kid who always makes the team but never gets to play is kind of like the alt text function. It’s a brilliant function and absolutely necessary, but is never really used — until it’s too late. Alt text is displayed when an image in your email fails to display for whatever reason. It is the only thing that stops your readers being presented with a screen full of the grey you associate with terribly mixed drinks and cheap cocktail bars.”
Greg Digneo warns email marketers away from common mistakes, such as not having clear goals (“Ideally, your goal should be specific and measurable. So saying “get more sales” is probably not a great goal to have. However “Generate 100 leads and close 10 sales a month” is one that you can measure”), giving readers too many choices, and not optimizing for mobile devices.
Mobile Email Marketing Tips and Guides
How Mobile Readers Interact With Marketing Emails by MarketingProfs
Ayaz Nanji shares some interesting findings on how mobile users interact with emails. For example, mobile users are notably less likely to click on links within emails–but that’s necessarily bad, as many mobile users open emails on their phones and then return to the message later from their desktops. And “mobile readers who opened emails a second time from their computers were 65% more likely to click through, indicating that optimizing for both mobile email opens and later desktop interactions can have a significant payoff.”
Echoing some of the findings reported above, this article highlights takeaways from research across nearly six million email marketing campaigns. Among the findings: “Improve the content: First open results in fewer clicks on mobile. Readers are less likely to click through on the initial open from mobile devices than they are from their desktops. The standard for compelling content is higher than ever.”
Reporting that 49% of emails are now opened on mobile devices, Selena Blue provides four value tips for mobile experience optimization, starting with making use of pre-header text: “Many inboxes are formatted so that users can see not only the subject line, but also a line of additional text in the email. This text is pulled from the first bit of text at the top of your email. However…the default text for most templates is not very valuable messaging.” Instead, make your pre-header text “tie into the subject line, bringing [readers] in and encouraging the click.”
- • For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25.
- • 91% of consumers use email at least once a day.
- • When asked which medium consumers would like to receive updates from, 90% preferred an email newsletter, while only 10% chose Facebook.
- • 60% of marketers say that email marketing is producing an ROI for their organization.
However—as email inboxes get more crowded and both the sophistication and expectations of consumers and business buyers increase, marketers need to refine their tactics in order to build their opt-in email lists, retain subscribers, and drive leads and sales through email marketing.
So what are the most effective tactics for building an opt-in email list today? What are the best practices to maximize open and click-through rates? What worst practices or pitfalls should email marketers avoid? What’s the best day of the week to send emails?
Find the answers to those questions and many more here almost two dozen expert guides to email marketing.
Email List Building Guides
Daniel Burstein reports that most marketers struggle with growing their opt-in lists–but also offers tips from the happy minority enjoying rapid list building success. Among them: “63% of marketers found registration during purchase to be very effective…If you could start, or improve, only one element of your opt-in program this year, you should strongly consider taking a look at how you offer customers the chance to register for your list when they’re making a purchase. Only 41% of marketers are using this tactic to drive their organization’s email list growth.” Online events are also effective, while social media sharing buttons are at the other end of the scale, cited as “very effective” by only 9% of marketers.
10 Top Tips to Grow Your Email List by jeffbullas.com
Jeff Bullas suggests 10 ways to grow your opt-in email list, from the common (offer a free ebook, or use a pop-up box–which he concedes is annoying, but they work anyway) to the less obvious (do some guest blogging, use annotations in YouTube videos, or use SlideShare Pro (“the premium version of Slideshare…offers a pop up box to capture emails and leads”).
4 tips for growing your email list by iMedia Connection
Reporting, regarding the continuing importance of email as a marketing tactic, that “Fifty-four percent of organizations generate 20 percent or more of overall revenue through email marketing. For 21 percent of respondents, email marketing accounts for 60 percent or more of all digital business revenue,” Monique Torres presents four helpful tips for building opt-in email lists, including offering incentives for signing up, which may include content, exclusive access, tesimonials, or discounts.
Email List Growth: Marketers Rank Their Most Popular – and Effective – Tactics by Marketing Charts
It’s not surprising that, according to research from ExactTarget, a majority of marketers use tactics like placing a general email signup form on their websites, or signup forms specific to different sections of their sites. But among some findings that are less obvious, this post notes “While only 23% capture email during inbound sales calls, 71% rate this tactic as being effective.”
16 Ways to Capture Email Addresses for Your Email Marketing List by Blue Kite Marketing
Frequent best-of honoree Laura Click serves up more than a dozen helpful tactics for growing an opt-in email marketing list, from offering an incentive to sign up (“such as eBooks, webinars and video series”) and social media channels to digital ads, contests, and collecting email addresses at trade shows and other industry events.
Guest author Marya Jan steps through seven common roadblocks to growing a subscriber list, and explains what to do instead in order to quickly build a large opt-in email list. For example, not providing an incentive to sign up: “the best opt-in offers are those that offer some sort of short cut of doing a task. A cheat sheet of sorts…a report, mini ebook, white paper or a short webinar works well.”
General Email Marketing Guides
10 email best practices to remember (Infographic) by iMedia Connection
Erik Matlick showcases an infographic detailing 10 best practices for effective marketing emails, from subject lines (punctuation is unnecessary; capitalizing all words results in higher engagement) to content and CTAs (questions spike interest and encourage click-through; orange and red are the best colors for CTA buttons).
11 Email Marketing WORST Practices by Bourn Creative
Shifting the focus from email marketing best practices to worst practices, Jennifer Bourn here helpfully warns marketers to avoid these potentially costly email mistakes, such as buying email lists (“This tactic is guaranteed to result in a lot of spam complaints, angry consumers, and damage to your brand”), using a bait-and-switch opt-in (“Don’t sneak your ezine in after the fact and trick new subscribers”) and buring out your list with over-mailing.
Personalized e-mails drive shoppers to buy—and buy more—in stores and online by Internet Retailer
Want your marketing emails to be more effective? Make them personal. According to Amy Dusto, “77% of online shoppers say they’re more likely to buy from a retailer when its e-mails are personal…and 82% of web shoppers say they’d likely buy more items from a retailer if its e-mails were more personally relevant.”
Email Deliverability: 8 tactics help you overcome rising B2B challenges by MarketingSherpa
“There are plenty of layers to permeate when it comes to deliverability. In the B2B market, those layers thicken. You bear a bulk of ongoing challenges including a longer sales cycle, complex reputation score hurdles and high employee turnover, resulting in multiple inactive email addresses.” To overcome these challenges, Allison Banko walks through eight tactics for improving deliverability specifically for b2b email marketers, from careful segmentation to optimizing emails for mobile devices.
Noting that typical email conversion rates are significantly higher than for search or social media, Ian Cleary passes along conversion tactics from nine top marketing professionals, among them John Jantsch (use a bright color for your call-to-action button and “never use your call to action button color anywhere else on your site”) and Melanie Duncan: “Melanie has a great picture of her with a visual cue (i.e. she’s pointing to where you have to subscribe).”
Marketing Research Chart: Which day is best to send emails? by MarketingSherpa
Daniel Burstein (again) shares research on which day of the week marketers believe is most effective for sending marketing emails. (It’s Tuesday, followed closely by Wednesday.) However, he also points out the value of testing (as your mileage may vary), the importance of accurate measurement, and international considerations.
Justin Bridegan shares four key lessons from his email marketing experience, including the importance of providing value over just selling: “Your emails should be an ongoing conversation and always offer real value. Ask yourself, ‘Does this pass the ‘so what’ test?’ If not, then scrap what you have and start over.”
The 4 Pillars of Email Marketing by MarketingSherpa
Astutely noting that “If you focus on everything, you focus on nothing,” Daniel Burstein (once more) presents the four focus areas for presentations at MarketingSherpa’s email summit, along with supporting content. These focus areas included list building, design, automation, and integration (“The optimization of email integration tactics with social media, websites, mobile, offline and testing”).
5 Reasons Why Most Email Marketing Messages Get Ignored by Blue Kite Marketing
Laura Click (again) muses upon several reasons marketing emails have low open rates, including an excessive focus on selling (“Yes, it’s important to use email to sell. But, that shouldn’t be the only thing you do. It needs to be balanced with other compelling content”), boring content, and terrible subject lines.
24 Tips for Responsive Email Design by Get Elastic
Noting that “43% of email is currently opened on mobile devices, headed towards 50% by the end of the year,” Linda Bustos explains how responsive email design works, and supplies a set of practical tips for design, content, and calls to action (“Make links look like links. Sound like Web usability kindergarten? It’s still important, especially since modern designs style links as colored text without underlining”).
Email Marketing: 7 Things You Should Do Before Hitting “Send” by The 60 Second Marketer
May Advincula walks through seven items to check before hitting the “send” button on a marketing email message, among them, covering the basics (“Do you have an easily accessible unsubscribe link?”) and keeping it simple (“Once your subscribers get past the subject line and open your e-mail, make sure the reason why subscribers have signed up for your e-mail is prominent”).
Simple ideas for integrating social and email by iMedia Connection
Drew Hubbard contends that contrary to the notion that social media has “killed” email, in fact, “the explosive popularity of social networking is an opportunity to boost the effectiveness of email marketing.” He then details a handful of ways social media can be used to leverage email marketing efforts, such as encouraging sharing: “Remember back in the day when email marketers did backflips when subscribers chose to ‘forward to a friend?’ Well, with social networking, email subscribers today can choose to ‘forward to ALL friends.'”
Email Subject Lines and Copywriting Guides
Infographic: 10 Commandments of Email Copywriting by The Point
Howard J. Sewell shares clever and practical commandments for effetive email copywriting, from “Thou shalt not direct people to ‘learn more'” (“‘Learn more” is the worst possible call to action. It means absolutely nothing. What is it that you’re offering, exactly?”) and “Thou shalt use ‘you,” not ‘we'” to “Thou shalt not serve up multiple calls to action.”
Email Subject Lines: Words and Tactics That Boost Open Rates by MarketingProfs
Among other research findings detailed here, Ayaz Nanji reports that “Email subject lines that convey a sense of urgency, such as those that contain the words ‘urgent’ and/or ‘important,’ have open rates that are much higher than normal…(also) email recipients are much more intrigued by subject lines that contain positive solicitations rather than negative admonitions: Words such as ‘announcement’ and ‘invitation’ have significantly higher open rates than those containing ‘reminder’ and ‘cancelled.'”
Which Email Keywords Get the Highest Open and Click-Through Rates? by The Daily Egg
**** 5 STARS
Sherice Jacob notes that, as email inboxes become ever more crowded, “The competition is only going to get fiercer…now more than ever—word choice matters.” She then delves into research on how small changes in subject line word choice can make a big difference in results. For example, “save” vs. “sale”: “‘sale’ enjoyed an over 23% increase in open rates and over 60% in click-through rates, whereas ‘save’ flat-lined at 3.4% and -25.2% respectively.”
Email Design Awards and Inspiration
The 10 most innovative marketing emails of 2013 by iMediaConnection
Chris Marriott takes a close look at some of last year’s more effective email marketing campaigns, from best abandoned cart email (“Too many abandoned cart emails read along the lines of, ‘Hey dummy, you didn’t finish checking out.’ Not here. Bare Necessities strikes just the right tone with subject line, ‘Thanks for checking us out.’ That thought is repeated in the email itself, along with dynamically placed pictures of what was left in the cart”) and best coupon email (CVS) to best newsletter (P&G Home Made Simple) and best re-activation email (Clinique UK).
MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2014, presented by ExactTarget by MarketingSherpa
***** 5 STARS
Get design and campaign inspiration from the MarketingSherpa Email Awards winners in these 17 illustrated examples, including Dell’s Ultrabook program for e-commerce creation and design: “Dell wanted to support the launch and ongoing promotion of an innovative product. The main feature was a flip-hinge design allowing a user to transform the device from an Ultrabook to a tablet. Dell marketers saw an opportunity to demonstrate the key feature of their product using a unique approach – a short animated GIF. Touting high compatibility with email clients and browsers, this solution saw an increase in revenue of 109% against the quarterly benchmark for similar campaigns.”
Guest post by Daniel Faggella.
Building an email list is vital for online business success. But it takes time, money, and work. Here are two strategies for optimizing the investment made in building a house list for email marketing efforts.
Principle 1: The Yellow Brick Road
When a prospect enters your world, via opt-in, by registration, by a first purchase… they should not be permitted to stray. Any entry point with you will lead them down a Yellow Brick Road (or “YBR”) – a series of explicit steps to get them to the highest customer lifetime value possible – while delivering maximum benefit to them (the customer).
This isn’t just about how much of their money can fit in your wallet (you can always get a bigger wallet, so that’s not a problem), but also how you can fit your product or service to provide for the customer.
Your YBR should be customized and tailored to the prospect, and flexible to adjust itself to their goals / desires / situation.
If you offer, let’s say, a software as a service (who doesn’t, these days), then let’s suppose that you’d like your YBR to result in the maximum monthly usage (and revenue) of your service, and prolonged / indefinite retention.
Suppose that your software allows users to detect loopholes in their databases or their own software, giving them the ability to patch up these errors before hackers take advantage of them. Regardless – you’ll be thinking about your YBR this way:
Think about the YBR like this…
“How can I identify the exact needs of the prospect, and the most profitable and valuable fit for our service or product – automatically?”
If I’m a small eCommerce site concerned about the credit card information of my customers, I’ll need to be spoken to much differently that a massive software company who is more concerned about their own proprietary software being hacked. If I’m a 40-person company, I’ll need to be communicated with much differently than a 40,000 person enterprise.
Can you determine the size of the enterprise on the front-end of your YBR (IE: the opt-in or appointment form)? Can you refer to other companies of my size (or in my sector) in email or phone communication?
Can you tailor your message to the phase of the funnel I’m in? For example – if I have downloaded the free version of your software but haven’t yet installed the tracking code, what would you like me to do next?
Determine all of the ways that people can make their first step on your yellow bricks, and lay out the ideal path to determine your optimal fit for THAT exact prospect, and move them, step-by-step, to the exact path to make that perfect match.
Principle 2: Routinize Your Reach-Out
When a prospect ends their automatic email interaction with you – they’ll often end up in the “bucket.” This is the database segment that you tried to get hooked via a string of emails – possibly phone calls – and potentially even mail pieces (though physical mail is rare for early-stage startups).
After a month of emails, phone calls, and no conversion (maybe even no contact at all), they end up in that big list of past leads that either gets totally ignored, or gets mostly ignored – interrupted only by random promotions or a vanilla newsletter.
OR – after becoming clients, the “push” for conversion stops, and again – communication simply stops or goes vanilla.
There is always another conversion, or another desirable action.
Maybe you current clients end up staying longer when they’re properly educated on your software, so selling additional consulting or getting them to a series of educational webinars would be tremendously valuable in terms of bottom line (with a much higher ROI than dropping dollars on putting new customers into a “leaky bucket” in terms of retention).
Maybe clients who never converted before are looking for more information – what kind of educational articles, videos, or case studies could they gain value from? Instead of having a sales team call “prospects” – why don’t they START with the prospects who opened the case study email – and clicked to read it? Do you think those prospects would be more qualified than those who haven’t opened an email in 3 months?
However, this database segment outreach ought not be random – but regimented. Just like prospecting (this is a kind of lower-cost prospecting, by the way), it must be a discipline – yet how rare that is ever the case!
Below are some examples that might fit different business models.
Security SaaS Example:
- Once per Month – Put on a unique, case-study (social proof)-oriented, educational webinar for all current clients – soft pitch to add-on services and consulting.
- Quarterly – Run a particular offer to all major unconverted prospect segments (by industry), including additional bonuses and incentives to join or sign up this week.
- Weekly – Pick a micro-niche within your database, and run a two-email sequence to that segment (IE: all customers who have 500 or more employees, or all previous customers from the energy sector who cancelled your service, or all prospects who used a trade journal as a lead source yet have not converted), and tailor a specific offer, upsell, or cross-sell JUST to that segment, experimenting with what offers click with specific sub-segments. All opened emails will be followed up my a phone call for that same limited-time offer.
Fashion eCommerce Example:
- Weekly – One email each Tuesday morning at 8:00am, offering an updated selection of new available lines, catchy / share-able blog posts, and new offers. Prospects and customers can be tagged for new “interest areas” based on what they habitually click on.
- Weekly – Sub-select the buyers of a particular kind of garment, or brand of garment, and send out a one-or-two email blast about some special offers or bundles JUST for that sub-segment.
- Monthly – Fashion expert interviews seem to perform very well on your company blog – so monthly include a major blog feature about a particular designer, as well as a clear offering for various new items from that particular designer.
Do you think that the strategies above would do better than “random emails to the database when we feel like or it think it will be a good idea”? Of course.
The idea is not just to set a regimen, but to experiment with MULTIPLE formats, and determine through qualitative and quantitative methods exactly which strategy seems to deliver the best long-term ROI.
Database marketing is not just about the automated front-end, and where it lands your prospects / clients once the automation ends. It’s also about the art and science of regular content, making “customer lifetime value” not just a matter of your initial front-end automation (which is important, and our first area of focus), but also on the “rhythm” of communication over time – lasting years and years for prospects and customers alike.
Daniel Faggella is an email marketing and marketing automation expert with an obsession for customer lifetime value. He runs CLVboost, a boutique email marketing consultancy in Cambridge, MA, and regularly speaks on email marketing strategy. His clients range from venture backed startup companies to eCommerce businesses to established brick-and-mortar businesses.
Email marketing is like the car my teenagers drive (and you thought there were no original analogies left!)—it’s been around for 20 years and there’s nothing flashy about it, but it’s reliable, effective, and there’s at least a 50-50 chance it will continue to do it’s job for quite some time to come.
In spite of all the abuse of the medium that’s been perpetrated over the years either maliciously (in the case of spammers) or simply as a result of ineptitude by well-meaning but ill-informed marketers, consumers and business decision makers alike continue to be willing to exchange their email addresses for the promise of valuable information on a regular basis. But both groups have become more sophisticated; more wary of subscribing in the first place, and quicker to unsubscribe if they don’t perceive value in a sender’s communications.
That means email marketers need to be more thoughtful and creative in terms of attracting subscribers, crafting email subject lines that will lead to opens and click-throughs, designing messages that are distinctive yet clear on any device, and most importantly, creating content that both provides value to the recipient and achieves organizational goals.
How can you make sure your emails avoid the spam filter and actually reach their intended recipients? What are the most effective techniques for building an opt-in email list? How can you minimize unsubscribes? What’s the best day and time to send emails? How can you craft killer subject lines that maximize open rates?
Find the answers to these questions and more here in two dozen of the best email marketing guides from the past year.
General Email Marketing Tips & Techniques
The key to maximizing your email open rates is to write great subject lines, but before recipients will even see your subject lines, your messages have to get by spam filters. Karen Rubin lists nearly 400 words and phrases to avoid in subject lines in order to improve deliverability, such as “order status,” “home based,” “lowest price,” “free offer” and, of course, “Viagra.”
Email Marketing: Avoid the pitfalls of a direct-mail mindset by MarketingSherpa
Adam T. Sutton advises marketers not to treat email like direct mail, for example by avoiding segmentation: “In direct mail, segmentation is used to keep costs down…When email came along, direct mail marketers saw a bonanza. An email cost less than a penny to send. Companies stopped seeing the point in segmentation.” That’s the kind of thinking that produces spam.
10 Unsubscribe Page Best Practices by Betterment
Writing that “Catching your precious subscriber with one foot out the door isn’t the same as permanently bidding them arriverderci. Handled correctly, your unsubscribe page can actually snatch a loyal subscriber from the jaws of…whatever the opposite of that is,” Jason Amunwa lists 10 techniques to win back unsubscribers, among them giving your readers options (such as changing message frequency), letting them know you’re a person, and not using one-click unsubscribe.
Why you should measure email ROI by iMedia Connection
Mitch Lapides explains why measuring email ROI (and not just metrics like open rates) is important, how to measure it, and the four main categories of factors that can affect ROI, such as list hygiene: “a high number of inactive users—subscribers who have stopped opening your emails but haven’t unsubscribed—can hurt your email deliverability. Between 0.5 percent and 2 percent of a typical email list becomes inactive each month. And it’s not unusual to find between 30 percent and 60 percent of an email list inactive, especially if an organization hasn’t removed inactive subscribers or run a re-engagement campaign in a few years.”
Allyson Galle answers the top questions posed following a popular email webinar, such as: should emails come from the company or from an individual name (answer: it depends, test); how long should subject lines be; what constitutes a decent click-through rate; and what’s the best day and time to send emails?
7 Steps to a High-Converting Email Marketing Campaign by The Daily Egg
Sherice Jacob provides an “’email marketing campaign checklist’ of how to not only launch a profitable mailing list, but keep subscribers hungry for more,” from creating your signup form and determining the optimal placement for it on your website to personalizing email subject lines and continually testing.
Shelley Pringle shares a dozen best practices for effective email marketing, from having a clear goal for each message (“Every marketing email you send should include a call-to-action. If there’s no link in the email, you won’t be able to track or measure your campaign, including the open rate, and more importantly, the click-through rate”) and segmenting your list to focusing on benefits and keeping your messages brief.
How to Combine Email and Social
Email and Social: A Killer Combo by ClickZ
Robin Neifield offers a dozen tips to help “integrate email and each of the major social properties,” such as, on Facebook, “Definitely use your status updates to tease upcoming emails—especially if you have an offer or promo. Provide a link so users can sign up for email if they are not already on the list.”
An inside look into the convergence of email and social by iMedia Connection
Wikus Engelbrecht offers “insights and practical tips on how to integrate and manage your cross-channel voice and leverage (email, social and mobile) in unison to get better results.” For example, create integrated messages: start by crafting “a short and sharp (email) subject line, at 50 characters or less; which should clearly state what your readers can expect from your email, what’s in it for them or what you want them to do as a result…By taking that message to the 120 character frame in Twitter, you can create more interest and clarify your call-to-action. Add a #hashtag and use a shortened URL to save on character count. A Facebook post gives you the opportunity to entice fans even more by expanding your message to 150 characters. Remove the #hashtag you used in Twitter and add a compelling graphic.”
Email Marketing Benchmarks, Facts and Statistics
Is Email Dead? Nope [INFOGRAPHIC] by eStrategy After Hours
A great infographic to share with the “email is dead / social media is the future” crowd. Among the facts David Erickson shares here: three times as many people have email accounts as are on Facebook, and compared to Twitter the ratio is ten to one. There are 60 million Facebook posts each day—but 188 billion email messages sent. Email volume continues to grow, and more than half of marketers still say that email is popular in business.
Gavin O’Malley reports that less than four out of five marketing emails actually make it to the recipient’s inbox, and the rate is trending downward. He also explains why more messages are ending up in spam folders and what marketers can do to improve their deliverability rates.
Email Campaign Volumes Surge, Open Rates Stronger by MarketingProfs
Research from Epsilon shows that average email open rates increased in the past year, while typical click-through rates fell slightly (from 5.5% to 5.2%). Among other findings: messages from banks and general retailers garner the highest average open rates (34%-36%), while emails from consumer publishers and apparel retailers are most likely to be ignored. By type, service-related emails have the highest open rate (46%) while editorial emails average 33% and marketing messages just 20%.
Infographic: Email open rates by time of day by MarketingSherpa
David Kirkpatrick shares an infographic that breaks down common patterns in email open and click-through rates to try to identify the best time to send emails. Among the findings: emails are most likely to be opened between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. and again between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. Also, nearly a quarter of all commercial emails are opened within one hour after sending. After 24 hours, the open rate is near zero.
B2B Email Marketing Best-Practices and Trends by MarketingProfs
According to a study by Pardot, only 30% of B2B marketers use email as a primary lead generation tactic; most consider email to be a more valuable tool for lead nurturing. The majority of B2B marketers (65%) spend less than 25% of their budgets on email. Tuesday is generally viewed as the best day for sending B2B emails, and Friday the worst. And there’s more.
Email List Building Tips
Constantly adding new names to your subscriber list is crucial, because as Andrew Pitre reports, “your email marketing database degrades by about 25% every year. Your contacts’ email addresses change as they move from one company to another, they opt-out of your email communication, or they abandon that old AOL address they only use to fill out forms on websites.” He then offers more than two dozen tips to help keep your list growing, from QR codes and online contests to ebooks and videos.
5 Ways to Generate More Email Sign Ups by Duct Tape Marketing
John Jantsch steps through five tactics by building an email list, such as feature with content: “Many WordPress theme frameworks today (Genesis and Thesis) allow for what are being called ‘feature boxes.’ These feature boxes make it easy to place a sign up box at, say, the end of each blog post or top of your blog home page. Placing your email offer where people are reading and enjoy your content improves uptake.”
Email Tips for Lead Nurturing
Corey Eridon advises that “If you’re interested in starting or improving upon your existing lead nurturing campaigns, make sure you incorporate these 6 types of emails into your lead nurturing mix to help move your leads swiftly through the sales funnel,” including emails that are personal, that educate, and that help recipients improve some aspect of their lives.
Noting that “The idea behind lead nurturing is to provide your leads with valuable content that targets their needs and goals in order to guide them through your buying cycle until they are sales-ready,” Sarah Goliger serves up seven tips for more effective nurturing emails, from communicating to your prospects based on information you already know about them to putting the emphasis on helping your prospects—not yourself.
Email Design Tips
It’s Not You, It’s Outlook – The Complete Guide for Email Marketers by VerticalResponse Marketing Blog
Noting that Outlook has numerous problems rendering HTML emails properly–“If you’re an email marketer… you’ve probably encountered some form of Outlook error. Your email looks pristine on your shiny iPhone, Android device, or web-based email client, but suddenly blows up when you open it up in Outlook”–this post details HTML elements that Outlook does not support, and provides recommendations for work-arounds.
Lauren Smith reviews the basics of email design: color, typography, layout, and device-awareness. That last consideration is easy to overlook, but “rather than focusing on creating emails that look great in one particular environment, emails should be optimized for all inboxes,” particularly since only 3% of recipients will typically bother trying to read your email on more than one device.
How to Write Awesomely Effective Email Subject Lines
14 Email Subject Line Hacks by ClickZ
***** 5 STARS
Noting that “If our email is to be read, our subject lines must save our recipients from mindless autonomy,” Brian Massey lists 14 helpful “hacks” for creating compelling subject lines, such as shock and awe (example: “Media Measurement: Science, Art or a Load of Crap”), make up words (“The Making of Twittamentary”), and metaphors and similes (“Snackable Content: Working in a Bite-Sized Future”).
The Subject Line Strategy That Gets 541% More Response by AWeber Communications
Amanda Gagnon reports on an extensive test conducted to determine which type of email subject lines (clear or creative) perform better in terms of comments, tweets, Facebook Likes, traffic and subscriptions. And the winner is…
Use web analytics to choose email subject lines by WhatCounts
Christopher S. Penn provides step-by-step instructions one how to use Google Analytics data to identify high-volume, high CTR search queries you can test as email subject lines “to see if your audience is as interested in your emails as they are in what’s bringing them to your website.” Note that you’ll need to have your Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools accounts linked in order for this to work.
Although she acknowledges that “there’s really no such thing as the perfect subject line—or, if there is, it must be hiding with Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster,” Justine Jordan nevertheless takes a shot at that process with this helpful infographic. Among the tips: ask questions; keep subject lines short (40 characters or less if possible); focus on being relevant, specific and timely; and always be testing.