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While most blogs and industry thought leaders can’t talk enough about the power of Facebook when it comes to supporting an email campaign – and for good reason – few such community voices give the official advertising branch of this network the same amount of attention as the social management side of things. Unfortunately for brands like your own, this often leads to wasted potential and missed opportunities to connect with the people that truly want to enjoy your inbox content. With this in mind, let’s take a moment to talk a little more about the particulars of Facebook Ads, as well as how this system can revolutionize the outreach and awareness phases of your email marketing campaigns.

Understanding the Facebook Ad System

If you’re unfamiliar with Facebook Ads, it’s probably a good idea to lay down the basic framework of this system before delving into the more in-depth conversations surrounding content optimization and campaign management. As the official Facebook Ads page explains, this tool provides brands from industries across the web with instant access to premium ad spots (sometimes referred to as impressions.)

These impressions can be sorted by audience age, location, consumer interest, and other relevant metrics, thus providing you with the ability to match your current email marketing profiles with the related Facebook demographics. Additionally, you can also tailor these ads to mobile devices, thereby ensuring that your brand doesn’t take on the dubious distinction of serving up content that doesn’t work within the parameters of smartphones and tablets.

Does This Channel Really Live up to the Hype?

As great as all of this sounds, is it really worth the extra work and expense to add to your next email marketing campaign? According to Laura Donovan of Business 2 community, there are few assets that you can add to a marketing operation that are as powerful as the Facebook Ads system.

Aside from giving you access to the 1.4 billion members of the Facebook community – 900 million of which access the network on a daily basis – Donovan notes that 77 percent of adults use this platform to gather additional insight regarding purchases or offers. Outside of this compelling stat, there’s also the fact that Facebook Ads reach an astounding 89 percent of target viewers; something that is even more impressive when compared to the average online advertising ad that reaches only 38 percent of the desired audience. Simply put, when used properly, Facebook Ads can definitely give your email marketing operations – and specific offers – a healthy boost in visibility and impact.

Finding the Right Emails to Promote

Of course, just because this platform offers up a ton of potential, that doesn’t mean that you should dedicate a portion of every upcoming campaign budget to the world of Facebook ads. In fact, that kind of blanket approach is an easy way to overburden even the most flexible initiatives. The truth of the matter is that you’re much better off leveraging this tool on behalf of certain inbox content and campaigns.

Email content that covers seasonal offers and upcoming events fit this ideology, as do major announcements regarding your inbox subscription service or brand in general. If you don’t have major or exciting news to offer up to the Facebook community, but still have a desire to leverage the power held within this tool, promoting email content that covers friendly reminders or deadlines works as well.

Making the Most out of the Facebook Ad Approach

Now that we know how and why the system works, in addition to what content best fits this approach, it’s time to start talking about how to tweak the variables held within Facebook Ads and mold it to your next email campaign. As part of his review of this subject, Econsultancy’s Jeff Rajeck highlights a few key points to consider as you familiarize yourself with the Facebook Ads platform.

First, you’re better off using the power editor tool over the consumer-grade ad editor. Yes, this interface does require a little more practice to get all of the kinks out, but it provides you with far greater control over your ad content – something that is beyond important as you try to make the most out of this audience interaction.

From here, don’t be afraid to split up your desktop and mobile campaigns. Just like with your inbox content, trying to go the “one size fits all” route is an easy way to blow this golden opportunity. If you can combine these vital suggestions with the rest of what you’ve learned here, there’s no reason why your brand can’t stand toe-to-toe with other advertisers on Facebook as it continues to spread awareness for its latest email marketing initiative.

 

breath_new_life

As hard as it may be to face, sometimes even the most successful endeavors can fall flat or feel stale after an extended period of time. Despite what others might have you believe, SMS marketing is not exempt from this truth. Now, this isn’t to say that you did anything wrong or failed to keep your mobile audience in mind; just that sometimes switching things up can be the boost you need to reinvigorate a subdued contact list. To help you out on this front, here’s a quick overview on how to breathe new life into your SMS marketing operations.

Switch up Your Standard Message Rotation

At the top of the list of rejuvenating tactics, according to Shayla Ebsen of Promotion World, is the concept of switching up when you fire off promotional SMS messages to the members of your contact list. Naturally, this isn’t an invitation to completely disregard your consumer research and start sending out messages at odd hours of the day and night.

Instead, see if there is a little wiggle room within the parameters of what constitutes your predetermined acceptable text timeframes. This way, your brand can generate a little buzz with a new schedule while still staying on the right path regarding optimal messaging sending periods.

Reimagine Your CTAs

In terms of the meat and potatoes of your text content, Ebsen goes on to suggest rolling out a new stable of calls-to-action (CTAs.) Like most other marketing practices, cycling through the same standard selections over an extended campaign – one that spans weeks and even months – can lead to consumer disenfranchisement and apathy.

Whipping up a whole new set of CTAs is obviously a lot of work; there’s no reason to even sugarcoat this fact. However, the time and effort spent embodying this practice not only freshens up your SMS content, it also allows you to store your original batch of CTAs and rotate these assets back into the mix at a later date. This larger scale cycling can dramatically lower the resources that go into your campaign in the long run if you’re willing to bite the bullet on the short term obligations that come with this approach.

Scale Back and Refine Your Limited Content

While some might point to an increased deluge of content as an appropriate response to this receding engagement, this is often the wrong response. The reality of the situation is that a languishing contact list is generally a sign of a tired or overwhelmed audience.

In place of beating these viewers over the head with additional content, consider scaling back and improving your limited offerings. Cutting your message volume down helps recapture urgency and excitement as consumers no longer grow to expect numerous selections. If possible, you’ll want to pair this method up with a flashy new promotion or discount that can help hammer home the notion that your brand’s new outlook on SMS connections focuses on driving value to the customer on their terms.

Add a Touch of Personalization

As far as minor tweaks and changes go, Business 2 Community’s Vic Dadson offers up the notion that going the extra mile with a little extra personalization can help re-engage these on-the-go readers. It might seem inconsequential now, but something as simple as adding in the name of the contact list member to the text goes a long way toward generating a more positive response.

If you really want to leverage the full power of personalization, Dadson explains that there is a seemingly endless amount of ways to connect with your audience. Utilizing consumer data related to age, gender, occupation, purchasing habits, and even hobbies can help serve as the foundation for unique message content that speaks to the needs and desires of each segment of your SMS audience.

Reevaluate Your Stance on Opt-Outs

Finally, should you find yourself in this position, don’t be afraid to reevaluate your stance on the role opt-outs play in you SMS strategy, as well as the position of this information within your SMS content. Yes, this can be a hard pill to swallow at first when you start putting opt-out clauses and instructions into a place of prominence within these texts.

However, giving the less active portion of your audience a way to disconnect from your list allows the overall quality of this asset to rise dramatically, thereby increasing the accuracy of your reporting metrics and helping your brand develop more impactful content. By adding this in with the rest of the tips and tricks covered in this post, you’ll have all the tools you need to breathe life into even the most lethargic SMS community.

 

bolster_clickrates

As unlikely as it may seem, email marketing isn’t always a surefire way into the hearts and minds of your target audience. In fact, the uptick in participation on this front has led to a unique situation in which the brands that do things right are reaching unprecedented levels of success, all while those who fail to captivate audiences face a lackluster or damaging response. To ensure you’re always on the right side of this split, let’s talk about the best ways to bolster your presence in the inbox despite the sagging click rates experienced by the industry.

Understanding the Core Issue

Before delving into the solution to this issue, it’s a good idea to cover the basic overview of the problem that is affecting the world of email marketing. According to Judy Loschen from the Epsilon blog, the issue with click rates might not seem like much of a problem at first, but it represents a very concerning trend.

Essentially, the problem stems from an inverse relationship between average open and click rates leading up to the current calendar year. While this past year saw a rise in open rates – around six and a half percent over the 12 months of 2014 – the amount of clicks fell significantly, thus heralding a decrease in consumer activity and engagement.

What Caused This Problem?

So what caused this curious case of rising open rates, but falling meaningful interaction with consumers? As Loschen goes on to explain, the prime cause behind this shift is the continued rise in mobile usage and consumer reliance upon these related devices. Simply put, more people than ever before are opening emails on their phones and tablets, but these same consumers are just as quickly ignoring and forgetting the less than stellar options that end up on this channel.

Taking the First Steps to Safeguarding Your Inbox Presence

Now that we know that the mobile surge has created an increase in visibility, but also encouraged viewers to interact less with run-of-the-mill offerings, what does your brand need to do to break the cycle and boost click rates? In his look at garnering increased engagement, Entrepreneur magazine’s Eric Samson suggests building empathy with your inbox audience.

Instead of firing off email blasts that barrage the reader with “buy this now!” content, try and understand where your messages fit into the consumer sales cycle. Are these mobile viewers out and about browsing for products or services? What about addressing the lack of knowledge surrounding these offerings before a purchase? Answering these questions and other related queries can help slot your brand into the proper phase of the sales process and ensure that your inbox content always hits on key points regarding consumer needs and concerns.

Additionally, Samson points out that those who win on this front take advantage of the allure of mobile-friendly emails. Having great content is part of the process. However, to truly get your email marketing campaign off on the right foot and capturing enhanced click rates, it’s important to also tailor your content to as many app and mobile platforms as possible. This way, regardless of what device or email service provider your audience members prefer, you’ll always have a message that comes through in a clear and agreeable format.

Going Above and Beyond for the Future

Outside of tailoring your content and message templates to this new wave of modern viewers, Joe Rosenthal of Business 2 Community also notes that tweaking the small things – like the “From” field of your email and the timing of the message – goes a long way toward promoting increased engagement.

Since 43 percent of all viewers make a decision regarding the validity of an email based on the “From” field, it’s beyond vital that you get this part of the process right as soon as possible. Generally, you’ll want to steer clear of vague or unclear selections and instead directly identify your company name or alias.

As far as the timing of the message goes, Rosenthal suggests honing in on Tuesday and afternoon time slots for general audiences. Obviously, the ideal timing can shift based on your audience, but you’ll be hard pressed to come up short if you stick to these high traffic periods.

There’s no denying that the rise in mobile usage has changed the face of audience interaction and caused a shift in what viewers expect from brands like your own. However, with this new understanding of what truly garners increased click rates from the people across the web, your brand will be ready to revamp its approach and regain a strong standing in the inbox in no time.

 

boosting_awareness

One of the most effective ways to spread your message to the digital world is by developing a useful and engaging app. Of course, simply providing a tool or service that improves the life of the person on the other side of the screen isn’t enough. To really watch downloads take off, you need to boost awareness within your target audience and make sure these individuals know exactly what to expect from your app. With this in mind, let’s talk about how email marketing can fill this void and ensure that you leave no stone unturned as you help your latest digital offering hit the ground running.

Put Your Value Proposition Center Stage

In terms of developing email content that helps capture the attention of your audience and boost downloads of your mobile app, Tom Taulli of Forbes magazine points out that you’ll be hard pressed to find a better portion of the message to build around than the value proposition. The main reason for pinpointing the value proposition as a major factor in the conversion process revolves around the fact that viewers – even if they only spend a moment glancing over this statement – spend a lot of time thinking about this part of the email.

A strong value proposition keeps things short and to the point, while also focusing on the benefits of your app. Naturally, tweaking the number of sentences and words that go into this statement – usually located in the header caption of your email – requires a little bit of work. However, finding the “sweet spot” that stands as the perfect blend of brevity and impactful content ensures that your promotional offering doesn’t get lost or forgotten in the turmoil of a busy inbox.

Engage in “Show and Tell”

Once you have the details regarding your value proposition hammered out, it’s time to talk about supporting your message with stunning visuals. As Taulli goes on to explain, users process visual content at a rate that is 60,000 times greater than text content, so it’s always a good idea to back up you primary message with graphic demonstrations or examples.

A good rule of thumb on this front is to avoid visual overload – you don’t want your message to be sluggish as it loads up – and highlight key functions or features. Does your app do something that the competition could only dream off? Show it off with a great screen capture or image. Additionally, consider making your call-to-action (CTA) a clickable button as well; Taulli notes that these buttons carry a 28 percent higher click-through rate when compared to standard text links.

Think Responsively

Outside of these factors, Smashing magazine’s Ros Hodgekiss points out that a responsive design is a strong addition to your email marketing promotional plan of attack. Considering that you are dabbling in the business of mobile apps, it makes sense to have a set of templates that cater to viewers who are on-the-go.

Generally, a solid responsive design tries to support as many platforms as possible. From the Gmail app to Outlook on the desktop, working with a template or team of email marketing experts who can develop and design methods to work properly on these myriad platforms is vital to the success of your promotional content and securing even more downloads for your app.

Keep the Conversation Rolling

Finally, even after you start capturing conversions and your app downloads soar, the role of a strong email marketing campaign is far from over. One of the biggest missed opportunities, whether you’re a major brand or just starting off with a grass roots app development, comes in the form of failing to leverage existing users.

By remarketing via an inbox initiative, you can capture the potential held within this group. Sending welcome emails, educational offerings, or simply soliciting feedback is a great way to keep the conversation rolling. From here, letting these users spread this knowledge via word-of-mouth and social posts gives your app a major boost in organic growth and awareness. Regardless of your position in the industry, having this kind of aid on your side is definitely a hard asset to pass up.

As you can see, making a splash with a new app is far from an easy task – in fact, if you’re not ready to leverage the powerful of all of the tools at your disposal, this process can feel downright impossible. Thankfully, by putting what you’ve learned here about the connection between email marketing and raising awareness for your app to good use, there’s no reason why this offering can’t take the mobile world by storm.

 

prospective_emails

As cliché as it sounds, the concept of only getting one first impression has never carried more weight than it does right now. In fact, with so many other brands vying for supremacy in the inbox, that first impression isn’t just important, it’s essential to the success of your online marketing operations. In order to help you make the most out of prospective emails and this initial interaction with your audience, let’s spend some time covering the finer points of building a winning framework on this front.

What Is a Prospective Email?

Before going any farther, it’s a good idea to lay out the particulars of the prospective email. This way, as you seek to refine and optimize your content, you’ll have a strong foundation upon which to base any decisions, changes, or alterations that might come out of this process.

Essentially, a prospective message is not the digital equivalent of a “cold call.” In fact, trying your hand at this approach is a quick way to earn a warning or penalty from the team behind Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL.) Instead, think of this message as your first formally requested contact with a potential customer or client. Even though reaching out via the inbox doesn’t seem like such a serious affair, the truth of the matter is that there is a rigid set of rules and guidelines for generating meaningful contact on this platform.

Breaking down the Phases of the Process

Now that we’re clear on what constitutes a prospective email, let’s dig into the phases of this outreach process. According to Brian Whalley of HubSpot you can whittle down this event to three key traits. The first portion covers why you’re contacting the consumer in question. Generally, you’ll want to focus on the event that triggered this contact – a contact list sign up, an on-site purchase, etc. – and why this contact is warranted.

From here, the next phase of your prospective email should be why your brand has chosen this time to reach out. This helps build urgency (more on that later.) Finally, the last portion of the process aims to show the person reading this message why fulfilling your request for future contact is quick, easy, and beneficial.

Taking on a Provocative Approach

Outside of molding your content to this basic structure, it’s important to find a way to differentiate your brand from the others that may also be following this approach. For this reason, Target Marketing magazine’s Jeff Molander suggests that it’s time to get provocative or get out of the inbox.

Now this isn’t to say that you want to fill your content with racy or suggestive offerings that would make your more modest viewers blush. However, finding ways to explore a problem or concern that the person on the other side of the screen might be dealing with is a strong tactic that helps highlight why your products or services matter.

Promote Urgency and Action

Additionally, Molander points out that the best prospective emails rely upon generating a sense of urgency within the target audience. What happens if the reader delays? Why is converting now vital to the best interests of these people? If you’re able to accurately answer these questions – all while avoiding unnecessary dramatics – then you’ve truly captured the concept of garnering action via urgency in this kind of email content. Adding in time sensitive information furthers this process and keeps the need for action moving forward.

Rethink Your Goals

After doing all of this, you should be cruising down easy street and heading toward more consumer interaction than ever before, right? While there can definitely be some truth to this line of thought, it’s also important to make sure you always approach the situation from a realistic perspective.

Prospective emails are all about starting a conversation. Sometimes, this can lead to an immediate and fruitful interaction that ends at the digital checkout. Other times, the relationship takes a little longer to bloom. The big key here is that there’s no way to reach either point unless your email content paves a path to success using these tips.

From understanding the nature of the prospective email method to keeping the right goals in mind as your campaign progresses, it’s all in front of your brand now. The only question left to answer revolves around when you’re ready to start leveraging email marketing and acting on these opportunities to reach out to new customers in a unique and effective way.

 

email_for_millennials

Developing content for your email marketing campaigns can sometimes feel like it requires a crystal ball or a lucky streak to get things right. This notion holds especially true if your ideal audience falls into that powerful rising segment of youthful consumers who have both particular tastes and a discerning eye for content. To help your brand capture the attention of these shoppers, and the substantial amount of spending power they bring to the digital world, let’s talk about some of the best ways to optimize your content with Millennials in mind.

Why Millennials Matter

Before delving into the particulars of this process, you’re probably wondering why exactly these people – born between 1982 and 2004 – matter so much to your company’s inbox prospects. According to Yahoo’s Ryan Jenkins, it all starts with the fact that the balance of power is constantly shifting toward this demographic when it comes to expendable income.

Specifically, Millennials stand to have the most spending power of any generation by 2018. Outside of this trend, the people that fall into this range also stand to account for a staggering $2.45 trillion in purchases by the end of this year. Finally, no other generation is as tethered to its mobile devices as the Millennials, meaning that brands who are trying to ride the wave of on-the-go mobile marketing must account for the influence garnered by this type of shopper.

Think Culturally

Now that you understand why the Millennials matter, it’s time to cover what these viewers are looking for in terms of inbox content. As Shea Bennett of Social Times explains, these consumers can’t get enough of content with a heavy cultural orientation. While other players in the world of email marketing are trying to jam overt promotions in front of the Millennials, your brand needs to “get with the times” if it wants to really generate some buzz.

Whether you highlight how your product is relevant to social trends or regional events and gatherings, the big key here is to tether your content to desirable happenings and movements. Simply throwing out an email that’s nothing more than a thinly-veiled “buy me now!” statement isn’t going to cut it with this group.

Keep Things Short and Sweet

As far as the length of your inbox offering goes, Bennett goes on to point out that brevity is a powerful ally when it comes to the Millennials. In fact, Bennett reports that two in five Millennials will simply abandon your content if they consider it too long or boring. Considering how much time and effort you put into developing these offerings, it’s safe to say that facing down an outcome such as this one falls firmly into the “disaster” category.

During your content optimization sessions, ask yourself the following question: “Would my son or daughter read this through to the end?” If the answer is anything other than a confident “yes,” it’s imperative that you head back to the drawing board and see if the message can’t be trimmed or edited down to a more desirable length.

Build with Mobile in Mind

Another strong tactic – this time from Entrepreneur magazine’s Eric Krattenstein – revolves around the concept of building with mobile devices in mind. As we covered earlier, no other generation relies on interacting with email marketing campaigns via mobile platforms as much as the Millennials, so creating accessible and refined content for these devices is a must.

Generating templates and email messages that offer up a responsive experience is a good start. However, if you really want to win on this front, you’ll need to constantly test the end user experience early and often across as many devices as possible.

Leverage Social Media as Much as Possible

Finally, Krattenstein notes that successful email marketing campaigns don’t just take place in the inbox. If you really want to squeeze out the maximum amount of value from these initiatives, then you need to get active on social media and jump right into the middle of relevant digital conversations.

Tweeting out interesting content, sharing your email messages via Facebook posts, and firing off sharable visuals on Instagram all make the cut. Naturally you’ll need to figure out which social networks matter most to your portion of the Millennial demographic pie, but the idea of the “more the merrier” definitely holds some weight in this strategy.

As you can see, building a strong relationship with the Millennials is both highly important and challenging if you’re not prepared for this journey. However, with this newfound knowledge guiding your way, there’s no reason why your brand can’t connect with these shoppers on a deep, meaningful, and lasting level.

 

five_waystoboost_ROI

At the end of the day, there’s a reason why email marketing is known as the best way to reach your digital audience – when you do things right, nothing else can compare to the results that come with this process. However, just because there’s seemingly limitless potential held within this practice, that doesn’t mean you get a free pass to a happy ending. To generate a powerful following – and the sales that come with such a contact list – there’s plenty that needs to go right for your brand. With this in mind, let’s spend some time talking about five fast and efficient ways to give your email marketing return on investment (ROI) a healthy boost.

Power up your Subject Lines

Since the first thing your viewers see when a new email goes out is the subject line, Entrepreneur magazine’s Eric Samson points out that there’s no better place to start this discussion than with this portion of your message content. In order to capitalize on the ROI gains found within your subject line, Samson explains that you need to hit on three key points.

First, make sure that the subject line is useful, unique, urgent, and ultra-specific. Viewers don’t have time to waste on changes found within these headers, so get to the point and make sure it stands out in a big way. From here, try to identify your brand; it’s important that your audience knows exactly who is attempting to connect with them. Finally, great subject lines take these two attributes and add factors that promote trust and a rapport with the person on the other side of the screen when possible.

Show Empathy in Your Content

Once you’ve garnered that all important open via a strong subject line, Samson goes on to suggest that you continue to build goodwill with your readers by way of emphatic content. Making a point to highlight the fact that you’re willing to use this content to cover any questions, comments, or concerns regarding both the daily life of these audience members and your products or services shows that your brand is able to connect on a deep and meaningful level with consumers.

Avoid the Spam Filter

From a technical aspect, Eric Didier of MarketingProfs suggests that your brand can boost ROI by avoiding the spam filter. By avoiding “spammy” words both in your subject line and within your content, your email blasts can successfully bypass these filters and end up in front of your targeted audience.

Aside from succumbing to the temptation to use damaging words like “buy,” “free,” and “stop,” Didier also pinpoints coding errors as a way to trigger filtering on your messages. Before hitting send, make sure that your template functions properly on both mobile and traditional platforms. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when the response to this content is stymied due to unnecessary spam filtering.

Play to the Holiday

Is there an important or exciting holiday/event coming up in your region? If you answered “yes” to this question, then Social Media Today’s Veronica Taylor explains that you might be sitting on an ROI boosting goldmine. Whether it’s Christmas, Easter, or a more localized reason to celebrate, developing content that highlights these exciting times not only breaks up the monotony of generic offerings, it also helps your brand stand out while other organizations let these opportunities slips through the cracks.

Embrace the Mobile Future

Finally, if there’s only one piece of advice you follow from this look into boosting ROI, it needs to be the fact that embracing the mobile future of the email marketing world is vital to your campaign’s success. With more than half of all emails being opened on smartphones and tablets, it’s more important than ever before to get things right with your on-the-go customers.

Implementing responsive templates that shift to the needs of each device or platform, keeping message content brief and concise, and constantly evaluating the mobile experience from a critical perspective helps ensure that your brand is always on the cutting edge of this front of the email marketing industry and maximizing the impact of its mobile ROI potential.

Naturally, there’s so much more that goes into boosting ROI than just these five tips. However, if you’re strapped on time and looking for a few quick fixes to get things back on track in terms of extracting the maximum value from your email marketing operations, you’ll be hard pressed to find better tips that what we’ve covered here today. Once you’ve hit on each of these points and you’re ready to take the next step with your campaign practices, the sky is the limit in terms of your ROI potential.

 

h2h_email_campaign

By now, you’ve probably noticed a recurring theme regarding statistics, data, and analytics in a lot of the helpful content on this blog. Considering how important these tools are to the email marketing process, this revelation should come as no surprise. After all, everyone loves a good figure or stat that helps support an email marketing decision or change. However, there is a growing number of voices in the community that claim these cold and calculating tools aren’t the only way to enhance your inbox content development and optimization.

Breaking down the Concept of H2H Marketing

So if there’s more to creating a winning email strategy than just facts and figures, what’s the missing ingredient? According to Gabriel Villablanca of Direct Marketing News, what most brands don’t mix enough of into the campaign process is the “H2H” marketing element.

H2H – otherwise known as human to human – marketing is all about answering a few fundamental questions regarding your customers and leveraging the power that’s held within these queries. Who are these people that open and read your emails? What are their needs and desires? And how can your organization create an email marketing experience that develops a strong emotional bond with these consumers? If you can answer these questions, Villablanca suggests that it’s only a matter of time before your brand stands as a titan in the inbox.

Why Bother with This Method?

For those of you who think that blending the power of H2H marketing with your established consumer data sets sounds like a lot of work, you’re not wrong. However, despite the hurdles that come with this approach, the Content Marketing Institute’s Andrew Davis notes that sparking these meaningful connections with your audience is well worth the effort.

The big takeaway from Davis’ piece on the subject is that in today’s ultra-competitive digital world, every connection counts and anything that helps differentiate your brand is well worth the effort. Basically, standing out in the inbox today and capturing sales requires more than just standard sales pitches and promotional gimmicks.

Gauging Your Current H2H Capabilities

Of course, simply stating that you want your brand to take on a more human element and expecting to see results isn’t exactly a strong plan. To really get off on the right foot, it’s imperative that you gauge your current capabilities and content practices. Specifically, critiquing your active consumer personas and previous email marketing efforts make the cut on this front. By sitting down and engaging in a little introspection within these areas, you’ll not only garner a better understanding of any inherent H2H capabilities in your current campaign, but also generate a better understanding of what you need to do to get up to par with this approach.

Developing a Winning Strategy for Your Next Campaign

Aside from ensuring that you know who makes up your audience and whether or not you’ve sparked any sort of connection beforehand, Deanna Baisden of Social Media Today also points out that it’s important to know your role in the inbox. In terms of creating a more humanistic approach within your email content, Baisden highlights three key roles – the informant, the creative, and the entertainer.

As the names imply, each slant on the H2H process aims to fill a certain void in the inbox that hones in on a certain need or desire found within the audience. The informant uses the stories of others and real-life situations to help enlighten and educate the person on the other side of the screen. This relationship often comes across as slightly more formal than the other two.

Brands that fill the creative slot seek to inspire the inbox audience with content that shows unique or intriguing response to concerns or problems. For those that take on this role, thinking “outside the box” definitely takes a spot at center stage. As for the entertainer, this approach is all about engaging your viewers with high quality offerings that fit the specific interests of the group. Humor is usually a big player in most campaigns that follow this path.

Figuring out which role to take on requires quite a bit of soul-searching on behalf of your brand. However, with this information in hand, as well as the rest of what you’ve learned here today, there’s no reason why your company can’t navigate the sometimes tumultuous waters of the inbox and reap the rewards that come with adding a greater amount of H2H elements to your campaign practices.

 

content_curation

Coming up with unique and impactful content on a regular and consistent basis is far from an easy affair. In fact, if you’re not ready for the strain that comes with this process, you can drive yourself crazy trying to keep up with the demand for meaningful and engaging offerings generated by your inbox audience. To help keep your head above water, and ensure that you’re always a must-read member of the email marketing community, let’s spend some time talking about how content curation can add a new dynamic to your content approach.

What Is Content Curation?

Of course, if you’re not familiar with the term, chances are that the notion of content curation doesn’t spark too much of a response as you’re reading this post. With this in mind, here’s a quick breakdown of the process, as explained by Kristina Cisnero of the HootSuite blog.

As Cisnero points out, the idea of content curation is all about sifting through blog posts and other pieces of content on the web and bringing only the best offerings to your target audience. Naturally, citation and proper referencing is a must when leveraging this practice, but even with these requirements, content curation can help keep your brand stay at the heart of the conversation – even when it’s not your content on display.

Sifting Through the Big Differences

It doesn’t take an email marketing professional with years of experience under his or her belt to see that the idea of promoting other people’s content is a big departure from the standard take on creating your own branded offerings. However, there’s other subtle differences that are worth mentioning when the conversation turns to a comparison between curation and creation.

For starters, heading down this path requires an intricate understanding of what other movers and shakers are doing within your industry. While creating your own content is often a more closed off experience, curating from other sites requires a significant jump in external activity. Additionally, curation also stands as an opportunity to promote other organizations and thought leaders, thus creating unique relationships and boosting the reach of your brand within the community.

Is This Process Right for Your Email Marketing Campaign?

Now that you’re up to speed with the curation process, it’s time to answer the big question – is this approach really right for your brand? According to The Content Marketing Institute’s Mark Sherbin, the answer to this query requires digging deeper into your overarching content philosophy.

Before allocating and curating content for your inbox messages, step back and ask yourself a few questions. Is it okay to showcase the work of others in your emails? Do you need to seek out permission for the usage of these pieces? Is there even enough content to curate in the first place? By answering these questions now, you can ensure that your brand gets the most out of this powerful take on the content development front.

Getting the Most out of Content Curation

Should you decide to take on the content curation approach as a way to switch things up with your email marketing audience and reduce the strain of constantly creating offerings for the inbox, Matthew Collis of The Huffington Post offers up a few tips to help you excel via this practice.

To start, Collis suggests that variety take center stage with your curation process. Bringing new voices and takes on industry issues and concerns to your audience is all about making a splash, so don’t be afraid to switch things up by leveraging a large selection of both authors and content types.

Additionally, if you’re able to, try and add your voice to the conversation. Even little blurbs and responses to these pieces of curated content in your weekly messages can go a long way toward showing your readers that you are not only up-to-date with the latest news, but also willing to give your own take on the subject.

Collis also points out that tracking the response from your audience to these pieces can help you decide when, where, and how to optimize your curation approach. By listening to what your viewers have to say via feedback, as well as tracking clicks, your brand can refine and adjust the type of content – and the frequency at which it is sent out – in order to create a more enjoyable curated experience. When paired up with your unique offerings, it won’t be long before this supplemental take on content development has your brand standing as an innovator in the inbox.

 

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More brands than ever before are using email marketing to reach out to customers around the globe – this is no big secret. However, just because awareness of this powerful tool is on the rise, that doesn’t mean that every brand walking down this path comes off with a distinct and memorable voice. To ensure that your brand’s style and tone stand out, let’s spend some time talking about the best ways to find your voice when creating content for your upcoming email marketing campaign.

Don’t Assume You Already Have a Good Grasp on This Process

In his look at finding your brand’s voice and generating unique inbox content, Business 2 Community’s Arek Estall points out that doing things “the way you’ve always done it” is one of the most dangerous mindsets an organization can rely upon during the content development phase. Yes, leveraging consistent themes and approaches from the past can be helpful – especially if you’ve already spent some time thinking about your content style and tone – but failing to explore new ground and try out new methods is a quick way to end up as a dull and unexciting option to your target consumers.

Build a Plan for Optimization

Once you’ve kicked the concept of “resting on your laurels” out the front door, Estall explains that it’s time to come up with a strong plan for your branded voice. How would you describe your company’s principles, brand values, and mission? Are these things that translate well to the inbox, or do you need to support this medium with content that goes beyond basic text and imagery?

Asking these questions isn’t easy; in fact, if you’re new to the process, this whole ordeal can be a little time consuming. However, by hashing out the overarching direction of your email content campaign, you and your team of marketing experts can then start filling in the details with content ideas and writing styles that support the chosen tone and image.

Create a Style Guide

If all of this feels like it’s too much to handle in just one sitting, Anne Marie Kelly of MarketingProfs suggests creating a style guide based on your findings during the planning phase. This document should seek to answer both technical and content direction-oriented questions, as well as serve as a guideline for specific style decisions.

Think of it this way: Should you find yourself wondering how to phrase a promotional message, or whether or not a topic is acceptable based on what you know about your audience, the content style guide should step into this situation and serve as a spotlight that points your brand in the right direction. At the very least, this type of guide can help ensure that you feel comfortable with a new approach to content by operating as a tool that was created via data-driven thinking and consumer insight.

Don’t Be Afraid to Audit

Kelly goes on to note that whether you use a style guide or keep the process a little more fluid, it never hurts to regularly audit your content and general take on your brand’s inbox voice. Depending on your target audience, the type of content that these people need and crave can change from time to time, so it’s okay to take things back to the drawing board if necessary. After all, isn’t staying proactive on this front a better call than ending up with dated or useless offerings in the inbox?

There’s always the chance that the audit comes back with no changes needed – which is definitely the optimal outcome. However, if and when the time comes for a change in your content voice or orientation, you’ll be glad you took the initiative and conducted a thorough and objective audit.

Communication Is Key

Finally, if you have any questions about which direction you should take your branded voice, don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted team of email marketing professionals. As Kelly and countless other industry thought leaders explain, having this kind of professional experience on your side can go a long way. Whether you’re new to the market, or just looking to bounce some ideas off of a seasoned expert, this support system ensures that your brand has what it needs to truly stand up and let its voice shine in the inbox. Considering how important it is to be heard on this platform, it makes perfect sense to get your brand’s voice in order as soon as possible.

© 2013 Elite Email Inc. Blog Admin