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If your email marketing campaign is in dire shape, don’t worry; the doctor is in and ready to discuss the pain points that stymie your growth in the inbox. From content creation concerns to growing your list and finding new audiences, there’s plenty such issues that can hinder the development of even the most established campaigns. Thankfully, with a proper understanding, and some smart tips and tricks, you can overcome these pain points and continue moving forward with the most powerful marketing practice on the web.

Creating Relevant, and Enjoyable, Content

First up, Ayaz Nanji at the Marketing Professors blog notes that 42 percent of brands and marketers across the web struggle with developing dynamic and personalized content. If you’re an unfortunate member of this statistic, the best way to buck the trend is by setting aside some time for a content development overhaul.

To start this process, take a moment to review your latest offerings. By doing this, you can objectively pinpoint the problems plaguing your campaign, such as repetitive content or impersonal greetings. From here, making it a priority to put your contact list info, like subscriber names and locations, to good use in the personalization process, as well as trying to incorporate content that goes beyond basic offers and discounts, can help give this facet of your email marketing campaign a big boost.

List Maintenance

Also high on Nanji’s list of email marketing pain points, list maintenance requires a skillful hand to properly navigate. If you’re like most other members of the community that haven’t been around the block before, you probably subscribe to the notion that the bigger your contact list is, the better. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Sure, growing the number of people on your contact list should be a top priority, but growth for the sake of growth isn’t always right. Aside from the inherent risk of coming off as “spammy,” following down that path can lead to disgruntled or disenfranchised members that deliberately or accidentally mark your offerings as spam. If you have inactive subscribers and renewed outreach methods aren’t working, you’re much better off pruning these wayward members off the list and focusing on the consumers who are actually interested in your content.

Deciphering Analytics

One of the biggest keys to optimizing an email marketing campaign comes in the form of understanding and applying analytics to your development process. Of course, if you’re unfamiliar with bounce rates, opt-out rates, and the other terminology found in the email marketing, it might feel like you need to go back to college to truly understand how to put these stats to good use.

If you’re not able to wrap your head around these figures, or willing to put the time and effort into the process of learning the particulars of these offerings, don’t be afraid to connect with an expert who can help guide you along in your journey. Having a helping hand when it comes to analytics is a massive boon, even for established brands that aren’t new to the scene.

Making the Most out of Social Media

Social media and email marketing go hand in hand, so it’s only natural for one of the biggest pain points in the business to reside at this intersection, according to an industry report published by the experts at the Marketing Sherpa research page. In fact, this report notes that over 45 percent of brands find this process at least somewhat challenging.

The best way to maximize your time on social media is to dedicate your brand to rubbing virtual elbows with its followers. Pushing your email list and offers via mundane posts and tweets is one thing, but if you’re able to interact with these digital socialites and generate some organic and engaging conversation based on relevant topics, you’ll definitely turn this pain point into a strength in no time.

Finding New Audiences

Finally, the last pain point in need of some in-depth discussion doesn’t focus on starting your contact list, but rather what to do once you’re already up and running. Stagnation and stymied growth are real concerns, so it’s worth preparing for this situation, even if you’re currently on the upswing as far as growth goes.

To keep the momentum flowing in the right direction, place an emphasis on staying current with what makes your audience tick. By monitoring pertinent social groups and pages, as well as soliciting feedback via surveys and other inbox tools, you can keep track of what matters most to these shoppers, and even uncover gaps in content coverage and outreach that could lead to connecting with new audiences. When paired with the rest of what you’ve learned, dealing with pain points will become a thing of the past in no time.

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Few things are worse than having a bad hair day. With this concept in mind, it might seem like a fairly straightforward process for M&M Products to sell its variety of ethnic-oriented hair products to those in the Atlanta, Georgia area looking to say goodbye to frizzy and tangled hair. However, with so many options on the market, this brand needed a powerful and effective approach for standing above the crowd. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how M&M Products put some solid SMS tactics to good use.

Pinpointing the Path to Success

At the heart of the program, this organization wanted to push product trials via SMS marketing to help target customers and contact list members understand the difference offered by this brand – specifically its Sofn’Free GroHealthy line. Aside from the primary objective of boosting contact list opt-ins, M&M Products also aimed to hit on a few key secondary goals. Chief among these additional benchmarks was the desire to foster growth via in the brand’s email marketing operations, as well as a deeper understanding and awareness of the full range of products offered by this organization.

Connecting with the Target Audience

So how did M&M Products kick things off and let the world, or in this case the people of Atlanta, know to opt-in and pick up a free trail of Sofn’Free GroHealthy? To start, the brand purchased an assortment of print ad space selections to broadcast the message, in addition to revamping its website and social media pages with the news. Additionally, on-shelf displays asking shoppers to opt-in via the keyword “SOFT” and SMS shortcode 59925 helped cover the target audience members that might have slipped through the cracks located between print and digital awareness offerings.

Reaping the Rewards of a Proper Process

Obviously, this campaign attacked from a lot of different angles, with some pretty high hopes in terms of final results. However, these lofty goals and aspirations quickly came to life thanks to the hard work put in by the M&M Products group. In total, over 4,400 messages came in from interested users, with 2,056 going one step farther and opting-in for some continued interaction with the brand. As far as conversion rates go, this 46 percent mark stands as an absolutely outstanding final number. Adding that the campaign only lasted for 90 days makes this total even more impressive.

However, the team at M&M Products wasn’t quite done with just racking up the opt-ins on the SMS front. As far as boosting its email marketing operations went, this campaign helped account for 1,774 new members to the brand’s ongoing inbox initiative. Needless to say, this double dipping is a dream scenario for any brand looking to take on a complete online marketing approach.

Looking Your Best Too with SMS

This is a lot to digest in one sitting, but if you’re looking for the quick and easy lessons from this case study, there’s a few key points that pop out across all phases of the M&M Products campaign. First, once you’ve uncovered your target audience, connecting with them across all possible platforms is the best way to ensure the success of your operation. Whether you’re going low-tech with on-shelf displays or dipping into social media and your email marketing list, spreading the word as much as possible reduces the chance for any wasted opportunities.

Aside from covering every angle of attack for the promotion, M&M Products was also willing to take a hit with free samples in the short term to build a lasting and dedicated relationship moving forward. If there’s one thing customers love, it’s valuable offerings and “freebies,” so don’t be afraid to load up on the deals and discounts. It might seem a little tough to swallow at first, but don’t be fooled; backing up your SMS marketing with great offers now is the key to sustained success and engagement later. With this notion on your side, as well as the rest of what you’ve learned from this case study, it won’t be long before your brand kicks off a winning campaign of its own.

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The world of hip-hop is a polarizing industry, to put things mildly. While some love the genre and its varying styles and flavors, there’s plenty on the other side of the fence that have some not so kind things to say about this type of music as well. However, when it comes to SMS marketing, picking sides on this discussion matters little in the grand scheme of things. What’s more important is the potential lessons and strategies this segment of the music world holds for those willing to spend some time uncovering the clues. To find out if any of this insight fits in with your upcoming marketing plans, let’s delve into the finer points of some of the more engaging and innovative information employed by major names within the business.

Getting Creative Counts

To start off the discussion, there’s no better place to turn than Max Porter, of music industry news source Hypebot, and his look into the use of text message marketing by Keith Cozart. As one of the up and coming young artists in the urban Chicago area, Cozart employs a unique brand of SMS outreach that blends YouTube with the always available access to the text inbox found within his youthful audience.

While dealing with the constraints of house arrest during his rise to fame in 2012, Cozart commissioned a series of viral videos on YouTube that showcased his rap skills with friends and fellow artists. Aside from the good tunes, this burgeoning star also promoted his SMS contact list via the videos. As these offerings spread across the web, fans tuned in and signed up in order to receive alerts and notifications regarding concert dates, album releases, guest appearances, and much more.

Even if you’re aiming to promote more conventional products and services than those offered by Cozart, the message here is pretty clear. Combining other popular platforms, like YouTube or even email marketing, with savvy SMS practices is a quick and easy way to boost your contact list numbers.

There’s Power in Social Media

Porter goes on to note that letting social media followings go by the wayside, whether you’re in the hip-hop industry or working in another market, is a major marketing faux pas. In his illustration of this concept, Porter points to the nearly over 11 million followers of Kanye West. If even a small fraction of this base would opt-in to a marketing contact list, the return generated by this influx would be worthy of a spot in our case study series immediately.

Naturally, not every brand can boast follower numbers that rival a rap icon. However, the point still holds plenty of merit. If you have any sort of tangible presence on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social network, don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Converting these individuals into a stable and engaged contact list is a quick and easy way to tap into a powerful SMS foundation that would otherwise go unused.

Every Demographic Loves Text Messaging

The final message you can take from the unexpected, but undeniable, connection between SMS marketing and the hip-hop industry is that both appeal and cater to demographics of all shapes and sizes. From the more youthful populations to the older generations, with over 5.1 billion people owning a smartphone around the world, as reported by Laura Varley of Digital Marketing Magazine, the odds of your target audience not responding well to SMS marketing is slim to none.

In fact, spend some time thinking long and hard about whether or not there’s a plausible scenario in which the individuals most closely related to your brand don’t respond well to access to deals and discounts via SMS messages. Having trouble? That’s because the reality of the situation is that modern culture revolves around smartphones and instant access, making it perfectly logical for the marketing moguls of the hip-hop world and other businesses to hone in on this platform during the planning of outreach with consumers and fans alike.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that following in the footsteps of this portion of the music industry is a surefire way to employ a successful mobile marketing program. While these tactics, concepts, and facts can serve as the basis of an SMS plan, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board if things don’t quite pan out. Even if it takes a little time, once you find the right way to deploy your deals and offers to the customers that matter most, the results and positive feedback will surely end up being music to your ears.

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Email marketing is all about connecting with as many people as possible, in an effective and efficient manner. Unfortunately, no campaign ever keeps customers glued to their inbox forever. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to sit back and idly watch your contact list dwindle away into obscurity. With a proper understanding of the problem, as well as a smart strategy for maintaining and regaining your position, you can minimize the impact of opt-outs in your campaign and continue enjoying the benefits of email marketing moving forward.

Understanding the Core of the Problem

Before going any farther, it’s important to understand what actually drives customers to opt-out of your email contact list and choose another path. According to Julie Knudson of Small Business Computing, several roadblocks – originating both from your brand’s efforts and from issues on the consumer side of the process – lead to diminishing activity and drooping contact list numbers.

One of the prime offenders in this regard is poor email marketing practices. Whether it’s spamming your consumers day and night with messages or focusing too much on pushy promotions when generating email marketing content, losing sight of the basic value agreement that tethers your organization to these shoppers via the inbox and employing substandard practices is an easy way to force away the viewers that matter most.

Additionally, not understanding that value goes beyond coupons and limited time offers also creates a problem that can lead to opt-outs. This isn’t to say that customers don’t love deals, but rather that in today’s ultra-competitive online marketing landscape, these shoppers expect brands vying for their attention to go above and beyond with relevant and entertaining content, in addition to basic discounts and offers.

Finally, Knudson’s last piece of the opt-in puzzle isn’t really anything you can change, just something that you should be aware of as you develop your strategy; changes on the other side of the screen. From abandoning current email addresses and forgetting to rejoin your contact list to accidentally clicking the unsubscribe button, plenty of unfortunate and unintended errors by your viewership can artificially inflate opt-out numbers.

Redefining Your Strategy

So what can you do to fight back and revitalize the relationship with current contact list members before they also part ways with your email marketing campaign? As Syed Balkhi of Forbes magazine explains, it’s all about getting back to the basics and avoiding mistakes that reduce the original value proposition of your marketing messages.

First off, take some time to review your latest offerings and see if these emails actually stick with what you initially promised to provide to your contact list members. For instance, if your brand set out with the goal of creating an “insider culture” with early access to new products and discounts for subscribers, but somehow ended up straying off this path, it’s time to refocus and renew your commitment to this email marketing angle.

As for frequency and segmentation, Balkhi goes on to point out that these aspects of your campaign require constant testing and evaluation, not just when trying to fight back against increasing opt-outs. When it comes to segmentation, it’s important to create content that hits on the major demographics in your group, as the “one size fits all” approach is far from idle in the email marketing world.

Of course, the biggest question you have to ask yourself when redefining your strategy and aiming for fewer opt-outs revolves around the most important part of the email marketing process – do you still offer tangible value to these customers? If the answer is anything but a resounding “yes,” it’s time to get back to the drawing board and rethink what types of offers and content can truly spark the interest of these readers.

In terms of reconnecting with customers who accidentally unsubscribe or change email addresses without rejoining your list on the new account, the best way to regain lost ground on this front comes in the form of an active and vibrant social media presence. While there’s no guarantees that you’ll find a way to reach these viewers, having your posts shared, liked, retweeted, and spread in a variety of other ways presents your brand with the best chances possible to find these stray members of your campaign and bring them back into the fold. When combined with the rest of what you’ve learned about reducing the impact of opt-outs on your campaign, a strong social front stands as the perfect finish to a complete, and effective, email marketing turnaround.

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The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How the Dawson McAllister Live talk radio show of Spring Hill, Tennessee used a strong SMS approach to reach out to local youths in need of help and guidance.

Few callings in life are as admirable as trying to help the younger generations make the transition from budding youth to mature adulthood. However, for Dawson McAllister, a well-known youth advisor in the Spring Hill, Tennessee area, of the Dawson McAllister Live radio show, making the connection through standard practices just wasn’t quite doing the job. With the need for enhanced communications and outreach serving as the backdrop, let’s spend a little time looking into how the Dawson McAllister Live radio show utilized a smart and savvy SMS program to reach the adolescents and young adults who needed guidance most.

Setting the Stage for Interaction

In order to promote enhanced interaction with his audience, Dawson McAllister of this eponymous radio show focused on something near and dear to the younger generations – texting. During the “Peer-to-Peer Advisor” segment of the radio show, the team behind Dawson McAllister Live decided to incorporate real-time texts as part of the feature. By doing this, other teens and young adults could chime in with advice and insight to help the call-in guest as he or she navigated the sometimes rocky waters of growing up. Depending on the subject or topic, different short codes, like “parents” or “anxiety,” helped funnel appropriate responses to the show in an orderly and efficient fashion.

In the long-term, the Dawson McAllister Live radio show also hoped to acquire a lasting and active SMS contact list. With this audience further connected to the brand, Dawson McAllister and the rest of the organization planned to release relevant content and promotions that would in turn improve the quality of life for these youthful participants.

Reaching out to the Masses

To help spread the word about this new feature, Dawson McAllister and the rest of his team explored a variety of promotional avenues. Aside from talking up the text-in service on the live show, the production group went above and beyond by retooling the branded website with information regarding the service, as well as implementing various awareness campaigns on social media. In the end, listeners of the show had countless opportunities to learn about the text-in feature and how best to utilize this new tool during the next “Peer-to-Peer Advisor” segment.

Gauging the Impact of This Guidance

While still a major part of the Dawson McAllister Live radio show today, the implementation of the text-in service provided powerful insight into the value of SMS marketing in general. First, when offered the choice between chiming in via Facebook, Twitter, the Dawson McAllister Live website, and text, the audience of this radio show overwhelmingly stood behind the SMS option. Considering how powerful text messaging is in this demographic, as well as many others, the fact that this became the preferred method shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

As this SMS community continued to grow, Dawson McAllister and his team used the burgeoning success of this platform to promote and build awareness for a one-on-one off-air help line, known as The Hope Line. Today, this radio show also boosts a constantly growing network of list members that can’t wait to receive all of the latest news and offers associated with relevant topics and discussions.

Finding the Right Path for Your SMS Success

Even if you’re not in the self-help business, there’s still plenty to learn from this case study. First, SMS marketing can easily supplant other offerings – even social media – when you give your audience the opportunity to make a choice. Additionally, while most think of texting as a planned and metered system for communications, the Dawson McAllister Live team proved that utilizing this tool in real-time isn’t only viable, it’s effective as well.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, as you grow your SMS audience, there’s no reason you can’t use this community to foster growth in your other ventures. Whether it’s something like McAllister’s off-air help line, or a selection more oriented toward tangible productions, having a vibrant SMS following is a great way to build awareness for new offerings. With these lessons in hand, the choice is clear; if you want to connect with your audience in a way that truly matters to them, follow the Dawson McAllister Live radio show’s lead and start texting with the people that matter most.

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In terms of raw power and the ability to connect with your targeted audience, few things even come close to deserving mention in the same sentence as email marketing, let alone having the potential to stand as its equal. However, there is one thing that takes an inbox initiative to the next level by adding an astounding amount of reach and power to the equation – social media. The only problem is that plenty of brands that try to combine the two fall woefully short, thanks to mishaps and implementation mistakes. To make sure your brand never ends up in this less than illustrious company, let’s spend a few minutes going over the five social media mistakes that have no place in your campaign as you attempt to take your marketing efforts to the next level.

Misunderstanding the Relationship Between Social Media and Email Marketing

The first mistake on the list also happens to address the social media and email marketing connection from a distinctly big picture perspective. As Shea Bennett of the All Twitter resource explains, too many brands fail to see inbox connections and the social networking landscape as it rightfully stands – two sides of the same coin. Because both methods of outreach work so well together, thinking of the two as separate or disjointed parts is not only incorrect, but can lead to inefficiencies in your content development. By basing your strategy around the notion that email marketing and social media work hand-in-hand through each phase of connecting with customers, you can approach your upcoming campaigns with a mindset that promotes interactive and interconnected offerings.

Offering up a Drastically Different Social Page

In terms of the design of your social pages – from Twitter to Facebook and Google+ – Lisa Cannon of Business 2 Community notes that presenting a profile that drastically differs from the themes and design of your current brands website creates a jarring and disjointed experience that can turn your audience off in a hurry. Instead of operating these branches of your digital outreach as separate entities, consider taking a more streamlined approach that promotes continuity across all fronts. This way, your email content, social profiles, and official website all stand as a unified and professional representation of your brand.

Lacking Extra Content on Your Social Profiles

Another major mistake that can sink your social media operations highlighted by Cannon focuses on the lack of non-sales oriented content on profiles and accounts. While there’s nothing overtly wrong with sharing the same discounts and deals that end up in the inbox of your followers on these platforms, only offering this kind of content is a quick way to lose the attention of social viewers. Repurposing and sharing content from your site, as well as relevant offerings from around the web, helps differentiate your brand as a thought leader, which in turn completes the powerful one-two punch of valuable marketing offers and entertaining content.

Spreading Your Brand’s Presence Too Thin

When it comes to deciding on which networks best compliment your email marketing campaign, your answer should focus on quality and not quantity. As Bob Hutchins of Social Media Today explains in his look at properly utilizing these networks in a supporting role, spreading yourself too thin and trying to use every platform available is a bad idea. If you’re able to properly monitor, post, and interact on a multitude of social media sites, you’re much better off honing in on a smaller selection and maximizing your impact with the target audience this way. You can always spread to new platforms later if you’re comfortable with the position your brand holds on the original selections.

Failing to Respond to, and Acknowledge, Feedback

Of course, the whole reason social media even matters in today’s world is because it offers people and brands a way to constantly interact in a meaningful and enjoyable manner. If you’re not embodying this mentality, there’s no reason to log into Facebook, Twitter, or any other platform.

While posting discounts and updates about brand products and services is a nice place to start, if you really want to see your organization flourish, and your email contact list numbers start trending upward, don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit with your followers. Whether it’s answering questions or responding to comments and suggestions, showing that your company is interactive and can offer more than just the standard sales pitch goes a long way toward tapping into the power of social media. With this ideal guiding the way, and the rest of these potential mistakes in your rearview mirror, there’s nothing stopping your brand from enjoying a healthy and vibrant social media and email marketing campaign.

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We spend a lot of time dipping into more advanced industry topics on this blog, but sometimes it’s worth focusing more on helping newer members of the mobile marketing community get acquainted with the basics of the process. After all, whether you’re a seasoned SMS veteran or you’re in the midst of your first campaign, everyone has to start somewhere. With this in mind, here’s five SMS marketing tips that “newbies” to the process simply can’t live without as they prepare to reach out to mobile shoppers.

Stick to the Short and Sweet Approach

Before doing anything else, Entrepreneur magazine’s Susan Gunelius notes that the last thing mobile viewers want to have pop up in their SMS inbox is a long-winded message. Instead, your brand is much better off keeping things short and sweet. It might take a little practice getting used to trimming down the fluff, but once you see the positive response in the form of opt-ins and increased interaction, you won’t think twice about sticking to a more streamlined method for your SMS content.

Always Avoid Hype and Slang

Of course, there is most definitely a right way and a wrong way to keep your messages short and to the point. As appealing as it may be to use slang and abbreviations to reduce the character count, Gunelius goes on to point out that the reality of the situation is that having these colloquialisms in your text messages does little to impress an audience. Instead, focus on promoting a professional and straightforward style of writing. Additionally, avoid overused hype words, such as “amazing” and “unbelievable,” to keep the tone on track for a clear and powerful marketing message.

Simple CTAs Go a Long Way

The backbone of any mobile offer comes in the form of its call-to-action (CTA.) This portion of the mobile sales pitch frames the offer in such a way as to convince the viewer to accept the promotion immediately. As Lilian Sue of Business 2 Community explains, there’s no need to turn your text CTA into an over the top production. For newer members of the text marketing scene and established brands alike, staying simple and making the next step clear and easy with a straightforward CTA is the best way to generate a positive interaction with your target audience.

Don’t Be Daunted by Seasonality

One of the biggest stumbling points to operating a successful series of text campaigns comes in the form of keeping relevant content rolling out to customers at a consistent pace. Unlike other forms of marketing, SMS messages relies heavily on seizing the moment. In his look at this process, specifically for the upcoming holiday season, Michael Essany of Mobile Marketing Watch reports that brands aiming for true success on this front know the importance of capitalizing on seasonality.

Fortunately, this concepts spreads far beyond just taking note of spring, summer, fall, and winter. By keying in on local and regional events, as well as other developments related to your target audience, your brand can make the most of timely and relevant texts. In some cases, this could be a recurring or perennial series of events, or a one-time offer. Either way, when compared with the mundane and static selections fired off by your competition, it won’t take much to see that embracing seasonality is a cornerstone that can help SMS newbies make quite the splash.

It’s All about Value

Of course, the biggest thing to keep in mind as you make your way into the world of SMS marketing is that value stands above all else. Without a compelling or powerful deal backing your promotional material, it’s hard to expect much from your campaign moving forward. Naturally, what defines value depends entirely on what matters to your target audience, but keeping an emphasis on giving these shoppers something worthwhile and relevant at the forefront of your approach is a solid way to lay the foundation for your SMS initiative.

In most cases having coupons or redeemable codes fit this billing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with your content once you’re a little more comfortable with the text marketing process. By adding in consistent communications that promote upcoming events and other relevant news and info, your brand can go beyond the basics and redefine the established value proposition that comes with coupons and discounts. Even if you’re not quite ready for this phase of your SMS evolution, at least you now have all the tools in place to leave your newbie status in the rearview mirror.

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The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky used a smart SMS system to welcome in eager freshmen to campus.

Looking back on your college years probably brings back a mix of emotions. Added in to those sleepless nights cramming for the next day’s exam are plenty of great memories with friends, as well as the struggle of acclimating to life away from home. Now imagine if you would have had the help of your university in making the transition a little easier your freshman year.

For the students at the University of Louisville, this idea turned into a reality, all thanks to a savvy SMS marketing campaign. Even if your focus is on promoting goods and services to eager customers, there’s still myriad lessons to be learned by delving into the particulars of this innovative text messaging approach.

Finding a Better Way

At the heart of this campaign was the desire to make assimilating into college life easier for new students. By minimizing the shock of this process, the team at Louisville felt that new additions to the student body would have a better chance at succeeding in both their personal and academic lives. However, the big issue standing in the way came from the unwillingness of the freshman class to regularly check their official university email inboxes.

While these students generally end up using the school-based email system as a primary means of staying connected with class members and faculty eventually, the university found that early adoption of this method was woefully inadequate during the weeks leading up to the beginning of the semester. However, if there’s one thing about students fresh out of high school that holds true in virtually any situation, it’s that these young people can’t get enough texting.

With this in mind, the team at Louisville decided to build a dedicated SMS campaign that would help keep these new members to campus informed and aware of all upcoming orientation and freshman events. In order to make sure these students heard the message loud a clear, those who opted-in received a free week of campus parking for joining the contact list. Additionally, having new members to the list respond back with the three things they were most looking forward to upon entering college life helped the university learn a little more about these bright young minds.

Creating a Warm and Welcoming Environment

To say the response was positive sells the success of the campaign short in a major way. During the first year of the outreach program, the team at Louisville connected with approximately 500 incoming freshman via SMS messaging. As a result, the university not only gained a new venue for communicating with the portion of the student body that needs guidance and direction most, it also helped bridge the gap that previously occurred between acceptance to the school and slipping into the habit or regularly checking official university email accounts.

Today, Louisville continues to broaden its text messaging outreach program by including reminders about campus visits, application deadlines, and more. Despite serving as a more nontraditional case study, the primary lesson learned from this campaign still holds true for organizations in a variety of industries and nonprofit settings – the younger generations love text messaging.

Taking Notes for Your Next Big SMS Test

So now that we’ve closed the chapter on the University of Louisville’s SMS success story, it’s time to put what you’ve learned to good use for your brand. First off, there’s no denying the power of text messaging when it comes to reaching out to the 18 to 24 demographic. If your target audience falls in to this range, chances are they’ll be more than receptive to the idea of texting with your company or organization.

Also, value in the SMS setting can go beyond traditional coupons and discounts. While these staples serve as a primary part of the mobile marketing process in many campaigns, providing your audience with useful and relevant news and information can also add value to the SMS experience from an entirely different, but equally effective, angle. With these lessons in hand, you’ll be ready to ace your next text message campaign test and start on the path to connecting with the consumers and individuals that matter most to your brand or organization.

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There’s snow on the ground and the aromatic smells of holiday food wafting from the kitchen through the rest of the house, so that can only mean one thing – it’s time for some serious shopping. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday right around the corner, your business needs to get a smart plan together to make the most of these massive sales opportunities. To help set you on the right track, here’s a few powerful tips that can pump up your email contact list and get these consumers ready for all that fun that comes during two of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Make Mobile a Priority

The first place to start your planning begins with putting mobile at the forefront. As ClickZ’s Liva Judic explains in her look at the upcoming shopping season, mobile viewing accounted for 29.7 percent of all traffic on Cyber Monday in 2013, exposing a massive upward trend of over 58 percent from the previous year. If this move continues, optimizing your messages for mobile viewing takes on even more importance in your campaign.

Thankfully, getting your messages dressed to impress on smartphones and tablets doesn’t require a completely new approach. By reducing image clutter and sticking to a single column design, you can develop simple, straightforward messages that renders quickly on these smaller screens. Additionally, putting your call-to-action (CTA) button front and center makes clicking and visiting your mobile landing pages a simple and convenient affair.

Going Beyond Standard Social Interactions

Obviously, the impact of social media in modern marketing of any form can’t be overstated. However, there’s truly something special when it comes to the connection this digital community has with the world of marketed inbox messages. In her look at this bond and its implications in the build-up leading to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Lili Boev points out that socially shareable content in the inbox goes a long way toward improving your brand’s fortunes.

During last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday season, 55 percent of social activity occurred on a mobile device, with more than $150 million in revenue tracing its origins to referrals via shareable content. To capitalize on this powerful platform that grows even stronger when the sales start firing up, consider adding single-click social sharing links to your email templates, in addition to follow buttons. By doing this, you’ll give your sales content a great opportunity to go viral, which helps boost redemptions and grow your social media presence.

There’s No Time for Sitting Around

Boev goes on to point out that there’s no time like the present to get your campaign in gear. While it might seem a little early to start promoting the limited time offers that come with this shopping season, building a sense of urgency goes a long way toward creating a digital replication of the “doorbuster” frenzy associated with brick and mortar store offerings.

Whether you’re sending out time sensitive emails or inbox promotions that offer limited opportunity redemption codes, instilling this “act now” mentality helps give your conversion rate a healthy boost without dipping into spam tactic territory. If you’re looking to get a little more creative with your email content, consider adding a countdown clock to the message or on a relevant landing page. This approach brings your concept of urgency to life with a stunning visual that keeps customers aware that the savings won’t last beyond this shopping holiday.

Build a Strategy for Cart Abandonment

Speaking of boosting conversions, no great email marketing campaign – either during this frantic time of the year or a more standard cycle – is complete without putting an emphasis on reducing cart abandonment. As Eddy Swindell of Media Post explains, going out of your way to reconnect with these potential shoppers goes a long way toward increasing sales now and building a strong relationship for later.

By sending out personalized messages to these visitors, often 20 minutes to an hour after they ditch their carts, you can cut down on missed opportunities and keep your brand in the conversation. In some cases, trying again after a few days and including a discount or promotion code can help seal the deal as well. Naturally, you’ll want to avoid bombarding these potential consumers with email overload, but it can’t hurt to take a few extra shots at building toward a conversion. When combined with the rest of what you’ve learned here, there’s no doubt that you’ll be ready to take the inbox scene by storm when the Black Friday and Cyber Monday frenzy kicks into high gear.

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The holiday season is all about spending time with family, experiencing the joy of giving and receiving presents, and, most importantly, all of the great food you can’t help but indulge in. Since our friends to the south are heading toward their Thanksgiving, and Christmas is right around the corner for everyone, there’s no time like the present to spend some time whipping up the perfect email marketing recipe for success. This way, after you’ve enjoyed the fine offerings of the holiday season, you’ll have all the ingredients you need to build a winning approach to connecting in the inbox that stretches well beyond the New Year.

The Right Foundation

Before jumping into any other part of the recipe, it’s important to start with the right “cookbook.” As Vikas Lalwani of Entrepreneur explains, in the world of email marketing, this means coming up with a strong objective that helps guide and direct your outreach initiative from start to finish. Whether your goal focuses on boosting site traffic via email marketing or building and maintaining a healthy subscriber list that you can rely on far into the future, having a solid foundation for your campaign helps streamline the process and improve the overall efficiency of your operations.

A Strong Subject Line

Once you have a strong objective helping shape your campaign, it’s time to jump into the first bite of the email marketing process – the always important subject line. To find the right subject line, Lalwani goes on to suggest spending some time looking at your email content from the point of view of your subscribers. By embodying this mindset, you can key in on what piques the interest of these viewers and start testing potential offerings from this vantage point. Considering that Lalwani reports 47 percent of readers decide whether or not to read an email based on the subject line alone, there’s nothing wrong with pointing in some serious effort perfecting this portion of the recipe.

Appealing Body Content

As far as the content of your message goes, the experts at Business 2 Community point out that you can’t go wrong with placing an emphasis on personalization and value. By tailoring your message to each reader with the information garnered via your contact list sign-up sheet, your brand can develop a unique and engaging experience that stands out in a cluttered inbox. Adding in that shoppers are always looking for a good deal stands as plenty of reason to provide valuable promotions when building your stable of great email messages.

Enticing Email Layouts

Of course, enticing text content doesn’t go over so well if it’s wrapped up in a boring or confusing package that’s hard to read. For this reason, one of the most important facets of the successful email marketing recipe hones in on your email design and layouts. By developing ascetically appealing presentations that help promote your message and keep the reader’s eyes flowing to your call-to-action (CTA), these emails can pack a dynamic one-two punch of content and visuals that is sure to knock your inbox audience off of its collective feet. Just be sure to spend some time delving into the arena of mobile and responsive design as well. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating a large portion of your targeted demographic with unwieldy selections that don’t render properly on these devices.

The Secret Ingredient

The final ingredient that goes into the recipe for a stellar inbox initiative actually doesn’t have a spot in your email content at all. Instead, Carolina Di Pietro, also part of the Business 2 Community team of industry experts, recommends that any brand serious about making a splash via email marketing and other digital outreach programs spend some time sprucing up its landing pages. The main reason for this “secret ingredient” comes from the fact that many organizations develop great inbox content, but let numerous conversions slip through the cracks thanks to a substandard on-site experience.

To avoid this unwanted outcome, don’t be afraid to redesign and streamline your stable of landing pages. Whether you revamp your visuals and content, or implement a more interactive digital design, spending some time bringing this gateway to your online storefront into the modern era can help your brand better accommodate desktop and on-the-go shoppers. Naturally, this isn’t a process that happens in the blink of an eye, but seeing the boost in site traffic and conversions that come from complimentary landing pages is more than enough motivation for brands looking to whip up an email marketing recipe that puts the competition to shame this holiday season.

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