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Avoiding_Email_Marketing_Irrelevance

There’s no denying that email marketing is about as high impact a method as you can get when it comes to connecting with consumers across the digital landscape. However, results aren’t just guaranteed to everyone that fires off a marketed message. In fact, as the experts over at TechnologyAdvice Research point out in their industry report regarding email marketing mistakes, more than 30 percent of the people polled cited irrelevant email marketing content as the primary reason for flagging a brand with the spam tag. If you’re not interested in falling behind with the rest of the lagging members of the email marketing community and ending up in the trash folder, spend a few minutes reading over these quick tips that can keep your operations on the right side of the inbox divide.

Thinking Harder about Content

One of the most common ways to appear irrelevant or dated in terms of email marketing, according to Jeri Dube of Marketing Sherpa, comes from offering up boring or bland content. As great as it would be for consumers to lower their standards and accept every overt sales pitch and promotional email that asks for their money and provides little else, that’s just not how email marketing works these days.

If you really want to connect with consumers, it’s time to focus on value first and let the sales part take care of itself after you build a solid relationship with these viewers. From linking back to your blog posts – or other relevant posts from around the web – to providing insider insight into the latest breaking news, emphasizing the quality of your messages and offering up engaging material should serve as the cornerstone of your email marketing approach, regardless of your chosen industry or marketplace.

Understanding the Role of Timing

Outside of how you develop your content, there’s also the issue regarding the relevancy of your timing. For instance, failing to account for differences in time zones or firing off messages at odd hours of the day both inhibit the ability of your message to reach the person on the other side of the screen in a timely manner. Thankfully, if you start asking for some basic info from your audience during the sign-up process – like their physical locations and preferred mailing times – there’s nothing stopping your brand from tidying up any lingering relevancy issues on this front.

Your Contact List Is Diverse

Dube wraps up his take on the discussion by pointing out that another main point of contention regarding relevancy is the misconception that every member of your audience wants the same thing. Sure, common points of interest and parallels in behavior are most likely present among these individuals; after all, they all did end up on your contact list. However, the fact of the matter is that these people are still unique, and thus have plenty of subtle differences and desires that create further differentiation as you dig into the relevant data.

By employing the concept of segmentation, your brand can gain insight into the particular desires and needs of each subset of your audience, creating even more opportunities to stay relevant with these various groups. It is obviously more work to enact this kind of strategy, but when compared to painting the portrait of your contact list with broad, sweeping strokes, it’s easy to see how pinpoint segmentation offers up a reward that’s well worth the effort.

Keep Your Layout out of the Stone Age

Finally, Dan Bond of Econsultancy explains that relevancy concerns also affect the visual templates associated with your marketed messages. Essentially, appearing dated with unresponsive or bland selections not only hinders the aesthetic appeal of your content, it can also put a damper on the pure functionality of the message – particularly depending on the formatting and target browser or mail app.

While going big with flashy graphics and embedded images seems like a strong response to this concern, you’re much better off spending some time testing out templates and themes that load quickly, keep the viewer focused on the call-to-action (CTA), and translate well to as many mobile platforms as possible. Thankfully, subscribing to the aforementioned segmentation approach can help smooth out the testing and development of these visuals, as well as any later attempts at template optimization. With this tool in hand, as well as the rest of what you’ve picked up from this post, you’ll be well on your way to making a living on the cutting edge of email marketing, all while the competition struggles to stay relevant and generate results at the tail end of the pack.

 

Actually_Read_Your_Emails

For most brands, the email marketing process goes a little something like this: Build some solid email content that supports your brand or industry, generate sign-ups for your contact list via promotions and outreach, and then sit back and watch as the conversions come rolling in when these messages end up in the inbox. Unfortunately, what most brands and marketers alike don’t understand is that there’s a hidden step found within this basic overview that’s often overlooked and exceedingly vital to the success of your email campaign; confirming that your readers actually take a moment to view your message content. To ensure that you’re not stumbling over this point in the process, let’s explore the issue from every angle and look into the best ways to boost your reach and impact in the inbox.

The Cold Hard Facts

At first glance, it seems like the answer to this whole dilemma is pretty simple. After all, monitoring open rates is as good as confirming that the reader actually read your content, right? Not exactly. As the experts at TechnologyAdvice explain in “Do Your Subscribers Read Your Emails?” – a research paper that delves into the cold hard facts surrounding the big picture response to email marketing practices – the truth is that while 60 percent of surveyed adults confirm that they read emails from businesses, this state can be a little misleading.

The reality of the situation is that only about 16 percent actually read these offerings on a regular basis, and 43 percent confirm that their consumption of marketed content falls into the “rare” category. Adding in the 57 percent of respondents who look over between zero and 25 percent of the average email further proves that getting an open is one thing, but actually having your content make an impact is an entirely different matter.

What’s the Problem?

For the regular readers of this blog, right about now you’re probably thinking, “But wait, aren’t you always explaining how email marketing is the best tool for reaching out to customers on the web?” As the report from TechnologyAdvice goes on to point out, it’s not a problem with email marketing itself, but rather the application of this powerful tool. The main issues hindering most brands from uncovering the true potential of email content occurs on two fronts. First, 43 percent of those polled would like businesses to cut down on the frequency of these marketed messages, while 48 percent would also like to see more informative email content and less advertising or sales “fluff.”

Breaking the Trend and Regaining Control of the Inbox

With a better understanding of the issues facing email marketing efficiency, and a proper overview of the current inbox environment, reacting appropriately starts taking on a much clearer shape. To address the first problem regarding email frequency, Matthew Collis of The Huffington Post suggests saying goodbye to quantity and embracing quality. Instead of inundating your contact list into oblivion and earning a one-way ticket to the trash folder, focus on sending the right message, to the right people, at the right time. It might seem a little awkward at first to potentially email your customers half, or even a quarter of the times you normally would, but giving these valued audience members what they want starts with doing so on their terms and according to their schedule.

As for what constitutes the right message, Collis goes on to explain that following a simple line of thought on behalf of the viewer (What’s in it for me?) can help your creative design and development process rebound and regain the attention of these readers. Just like the question implies, reviewing your offerings and figuring out just what, if any, benefits your contact list can gain from this content can ensure that you distill the message into one that embodies value and limits filler and “salesy” selections completely.

Additionally, it never hurts to have a subject line that stands out in a crowded inbox. Teasing out the value held within the message – in a manner that’s as short and as sweet as possible – is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind as you craft these headlines. However, if you have another idea for a subject line that seems like it might pop off the screen, don’t be afraid to do a little testing with segments of your audience. When combined with the rest of what you’ve learned about how and why consumers actually read emails, this tool is sure to help get your campaign into its rightful spot as a powerhouse within the inbox.

 

Email_Marketing_and_Branded_Apps

With every day that passes, the world is becoming a more mobile-friendly place. In fact, it’s fairly safe to say that being hip and relevant isn’t a good idea to get around to eventually, it’s vital to the health of your email operation. And what better way is there to stay in touch on this front than with a marketed message approach that interacts favorably with your branded app? Regardless of whether you’re working off of an Apple or an Android, now’s the time to build a better link between these two heavily overlapping portions of your outreach operations.

Does Mobile Really Matter?

Of course, there’s probably plenty of people out there reading this that think the notion of email marketing and the world of mobile apps having anything in common – let alone being a powerful duo – is pure nonsense. However, as Small Business Trends’ Megan Totka points out, with over 2.5 billion email users spanning the globe and 53 percent of all emails being opened on a mobile device, staying relevant and in touch on the small screen is a crucial undertaking for any modern brand looking to make a splash with its targeted customers.

Laying the Foundation

Unfortunately, despite the fact that there’s plenty of potential in this shared space, that doesn’t always mean that it’s a walk in the park when it comes to actually succeeding on both of these fronts. If you want to make the most out of the outreach allocated to your email marketing operations and branded app promotion, Annum Munir of Business 2 Community explains that it all starts with the simple stuff; specially leveraging your email contact list into an instant app following.

By firing off a simple, straightforward announcement or briefing of the launch of this program to the inboxes of these individuals, you can generate a massive amount of interest in your app and help get it off the ground in a hurry. Sure, not everyone who clicks on this message will immediately try out your app, but offering up a download link, a few mobile-friendly screenshots of the app in action, and a breakdown of just what to expect once they sign up for access to this program can help entice a significant portion of these email followers to give your brand’s app a try.

From here, keeping the mentions in your weekly newsletter or related content fresh and consistent can help keep the discussion surrounding your app relevant, as well as help capture downloads from the newer members of your contact list. Naturally, you’ll want to keep moving forward with your current email marketing operations and avoid going overboard with your app promotion, but slipping in a download link or nod toward the app from time to time is perfectly agreeable and highly recommended.

Going Above and Beyond

As Munir goes on to note, if you’re really looking to go above and beyond with the connection between your email audience and marketed app, there’s two very unique and powerful ways to utilize the lessons learned from in-app activity – leveraging profile data and dissecting in-app behavioral activity.

Much like a “Big Data” set or survey filed out on your brand’s website, profile data offers up access to raw facts and figures related to your audience. This information in turn can help refine and update your consumer profile, as well as give you a better idea of just what kind of people make up the majority of your inbox following. When paired up with the data you already have on hand, this injection of fresh insight can boost your ability to enhance content direction, timing, and email frequency in a major way.

Additionally, in-app activity serves a similar purpose in terms of your overall approach to content subject matter and how you generate these offerings. To help you get a handle on this idea, Munir suggests thinking of it from the angle of staying relevant with the latest trends within your audience. By following in-app clicks, favorites, cart data, and social plug-in interactions, your brand can garner a firm understanding of just what’s going on in the minds of these mobile users.

Obviously if you’re not quite ready to build this connection – or you haven’t launched a branded app just yet – this discussion falls under the “theoretical” category for the moment. However, whenever you’re ready to give these customers what they want in the form of a useful, value-driven app, you’ll have all the tools you need on hand to make the most of this process and enhance your email marketing campaign all at the same time.

 

doubleoptint

The idea of doing something twice over usually doesn’t sound all that appealing most of the time. However, when it comes to signing up your valued customers and audience members as part of your email marketing contact list, incorporating a double opt-in approach provides a variety of benefits and opportunities that can enhance your brand awareness and reach. Don’t believe it? Let’s spend the next few minutes reviewing the case for double opt-ins to see if there really is any merit to the idea of being thorough on this front.

The Double Opt-in Difference

Of course, it’s probably worth stepping aside for a moment to discuss the particulars of the double opt-in method for those who aren’t quite as familiar with this corner of the email marketing world. As ClickZ’s Jeanne Jennings points out, the double opt-in method attempts to connect and verify the agreement between you and your new list member via multiple levels of connection.

The typical double opt-in process doesn’t end once these consumers drop their email addresses into the virtual submission box, but instead goes a step further and confirms that this address actually belongs to the individual in question. Usually some sort of confirmation code or URL makes its way into this message, ensuring that only those who receive and respond to this offering end up on the list. Naturally, incorporating resend options as a failsafe method helps guarantee that your brand doesn’t disenfranchise those viewers who are experiencing some technical difficulties.

The Types of Double Opt-in

Depending on how you approach the double opt-in process, Aaron Bolshaw of Business 2 Community explains that there’s a few unique paths your brand can take with this type of additional confirmation. Aside from the generic double opt-in with a confirmation message, your organization can go a step farther by offering up an explicit unsubscribe opportunity that goes beyond the legally required link in the email’s footer – a little more on this later.

Another way to establish this bond is by asking for a “whitelist” exemption. Whitelisting ensures that the consumer plans to stick around for the long haul by adding your branded addresses to his or her personal contacts. If you go down this route, don’t forget to include whitelist requests in your scheduled content moving forward so that you can also gain this connection with your prior list membership

Gauging the Benefits

So now that you know how it works, the discussion turns to why you would want to complicate and add more steps to the initial communications between your organization and its email subscriber community. While there’s no denying that the double opt-in approach does require more setup than a single opt-in alternative, the benefits of this approach consistently outweigh the additional effort associated with this practice.

First off, by creating this natural filter, your contact list will reduce the amount of dormant or disinterested users, as well as those who joined the list by accident or by some other mistake. Your raw list numbers might experience a slight drop, but the quality and responsiveness of this membership will rise significantly thanks to the increased density of interested consumers.

In addition to the refinement of your contact list, incorporating a double opt-in system also gives you a chance to connect with your subscribers instantaneously. Whether you add in a welcome as part of the sign up email itself, or simply build an automated response that fires off after the second confirmation occurs, making contact with this new subscriber can occur in real-time and not have to wait until your next scheduled message ends up in the inbox.

Thinking Long Term

At the end of the day, there’s nothing that says you absolutely have to go beyond the single opt-in system. However, the benefits of putting in a little extra effort and building a lasting connection with the people that make up your audience stands out in a clearly defined manner.

Outside of the immediate gains, the rising demand for consumer privacy and rights – Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) in particular – ensures that even though double opt-in systems aren’t a necessity now, it’s hard to imagine a future in which this and other comprehensive tactics aren’t firmly entrenched in the status quo. With this in mind, as well as the imminent benefits of making the switch, the question isn’t whether or not double opt-ins should be a part of your email marketing approach, but rather how long are you willing to wait before you catch up with the cutting edge of the industry?

 

important_viewers

The web is inundated with talk about the ongoing rise to prominence of mobile viewership and activity. However, for the skeptics out there, this idea that a “mobile revolution” could supplant the tried and true world of desktop interaction seems like nothing more than the ravings of an uneducated, vocal minority. To prove that there’s more than just a little truth to this supposed “noise,” let’s spend some time analyzing the latest trends and statistics floating around the world of email marketing. With this insight guiding the way, as well some tried and true mobile success tactics and methods following along, you’ll be off the fence and on the path to better connections with your mobile audience in no time.

The Situation as It Stands Now

In order to kick off the discussion, there’s no better place to start than with some cold hard facts from a leading industry source, like Greg Sterling of Marketing Land. As Sterling points out in an analysis of the current email marketing landscape, over 66 percent of all emails being opened on the web take place via a mobile device. No “ifs,” “ands, or “buts” here, just the realization that less than a third of the messages of any kind – marketed or otherwise – ever see the light of day via a traditional desktop monitor.

As amazing as that realization is, Sterling breaks down the utilization of devices for email access in even greater detail in a related report, also compiled for the Marketing Land page. Essentially, of this over 66 percent of emails opened up on mobile devices, 49.5 percent occurred on a smartphone while over 16.8 percent took place on a tablet. Perhaps the most astounding insight garnered from this study is the fact that if you dig even deeper, you’ll learn that 58 percent of these mobile opens came via an Apple device, with another 7 percent originating on an Android.

What Does This Mean for Your Brand?

Based on these findings, there’s two pretty strong conclusions your brand can take moving forward. First, if you’re not tailoring your email content to the mobile world, chances are you’re on track for a marketing catastrophe sooner or later. Additionally, there’s a fairly strong possibility that a significant portion of your audience is opening these marketed messages on an iPhone or other Apple device. Naturally, there will be some brands that market heavily toward Android based communities, but for the vast majority of the other organizations fighting for a spot in the inbox, keeping up with the latest iOS changes seems like anything but a bad judgment call.

Making the Most of the Mobile Revolution

So now that we’ve definitely answered the question concerning the importance of mobile development within your email marketing campaign, what’s next? The obvious answer here is the optimization and refinement of your mobile content, as well as any other tips and tricks that can help guarantee you get the most out of your interaction with readers on the go.

With these concepts leading the way, Drew Hendricks of Forbes magazine explains that ensuring your mobile messages load quickly and are easy to read is a great place to start. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when you miss out on vital leads and outreach opportunities. Reducing the sizes and fixing the proportions of image files embedded within your content, as well as making your call-to-action (CTA) easily clickable and readily available helps out immensely when undertaking this new mobile first approach.

Additionally, The Huffington Post’s Matthew Collis suggests increasing the font size of your text to compensate for the smaller screen sizes and also moving to a single column layout. Both of these tactics help improve the readability of your email content – from the subject line to the unsubscribe details and other legal footnotes.

Of course, focusing exclusively on what happens in the inbox fails to take into account the big picture regarding your connection with these mobile shoppers. Once you fire off a stellar piece of mobile content, you’ll want to have a responsive web page design that keeps the mobile friendly theme alive and well. Just like the tenants of a strong mobile marketed message, a site that’s well-received via mobile shoppers incorporates much of the same attributes and visual guides. If you can shore up both ends of this purchasing process, there’s no doubt that you’ll be making the most of this connection with your shoppers on the go, all while the competition that’s stuck in the past wonders where it all went wrong.

 

RESTOF2015

The first three months of 2015 have been a whirlwind of excitement and change for the email marketing world. From the impact of the #Blizzardof2015 on the inbox, to Compu-Finder receiving the first CASL fine, there’s no denying that connecting with the people that matter most in this way is anything but static. With this in mind, as well as the first quarter of the year wrapping up, there’s no better time than now to take a moment and engage in a little forecasting regarding what’s up next for email marketing over the rest of the year.

Email Marketing Growth Continues

As hard as it may be to believe, Jayson DeMers of Forbes magazine points out that the current growth trend surrounding email marketing is alive and well. Despite the fact that this form of outreach has stood atop the marketing world for quite some time now, 59 percent of marketers and brands have plans to increase spending over the duration of the year. Additionally, 73 percent point to this process as a core portion of their marketing strategy moving forward. The moral of the story is a simple one – email marketing is the biggest name around in terms of consumer outreach, and the rest of 2015 should go a long way toward further cementing this claim.

Demand Will Only Go Higher

DeMers goes on to explain that the other side of this brand-viewer equation, consumer demand for value-driven email content, should also keep trending upward. However, with this continually rising demand comes higher expectations as well. The brands that do the best with the rest of 2015 will be the ones that go above and beyond the expected in the inbox. This means giveaways, extended content, and other offerings that focus more on value and less on a thinly veiled sales pitch all play perfectly into the current positioning of the email marketing world.

Coordinating Across Channels Still Needs Some Polishing

Even though the digital world has never been more connected, iMedia Connection’s Chris Marriott notes that email marketing hasn’t come quite so far as to make cross-channel marketing a walk in the park. This means that if you want to maximize the potential of your marketed messages on Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms and digital gathering spots, you’ll need to dig deep into the assets standing before your brand.

To overcome the “Big Three” multichannel roadblocks – inadequate campaign coordination, not having the right support people and team members, and limited marketing budgets – during the remainder of 2015, Marriott points to attacking the problem from a variety of angles. For instance, utilizing “Big Data” and first-party insight alike, as well as aligning your brand with a team of dedicated industry experts, can help alleviate this surprising, yet manageable, hindrance to the email marketing process.

Deploying Your Own Homegrown Solution Remains a Risky Business

Much like the issues facing cross channel promotions, Marriott points to the stubbornness of certain factions within the community in regard to homegrown email marketing operations as a point of contention moving forward. While there’s nothing wrong with doing things your own way, the unfortunate truth of the matter is that most brands simply aren’t capable of conducting a successful campaign when left to their own devices.

Even for those that can generate some value, there’s still plenty of potential left on the table thanks to inefficient or ineffective email marketing operations. For the 47 percent of organizations still following this path to the inbox, according to Marriott, it’s time to shift the discussion toward how a proper email marketing platform can increase productivity and minimize the wasted potential garnered via substandard email operations.

Obviously there’s a variety of options standing before you if you fall into the category, but the big key here is connecting with a team of experts that both understands your marketing needs and has the tools to get you on the right track in terms of consumer outreach and impact. Templates, management tools, storage options, and anything that helps you win the social media battle should all fit into the image of what makes an ideal email marketing partnership.

Perhaps the biggest asset you can gain from this approach is acquiring the insight of experts who understand what it takes to map out the landscape of all of the years to come. After all, there’s no doubt that once 2015 is in the books and gone for good, you’ll want to stay up to date with whatever the next big thing is that’s altering the email marketing landscape.

 

bigdata

In the past two years, the Internet has generated a zettabyte – that’s one sextillion bytes – of data. While abstract numbers might not do much to impress you, the realization that this number dwarfs the entirety of human records before it, as explained by Harvard magazine’s Jonathan Shaw, should help bring the astounding nature of “Big Data” to life in a meaningful way. Despite this eye-catching stat, does this massive pile of data mean anything to your email marketing campaign? To find out, let’s dig into the potential connection between Big Data sets and a better understanding of the people that matter most to your brand.

What the Heck Is Big Data?

First off, it’s probably worth laying the groundwork with a proper definition of “Big Data” for those readers who aren’t quite familiar with the term. According to Edd Dumbill of Forbes magazine, these data sets encompass an amount of information that exceeds the capacity of conventional systems and covers a wide range of variables and content. Basically, Big Data offers up previously unimaginable insight into a particular area of interest – in this case, your targeted email audience. Simply put, brands and marketers alike have never had a tool as inclusive and encompassing as Big Data on their side before in the history of any form of marketing.

Facing down Audience Challenges

While this sounds great, it still doesn’t answer the overarching question; does Big Data have a home in the world of email marketing? As the team at Marketing Charts explains, there are plenty of hindrances and roadblocks standing between your campaign and email optimization that Big Data could help answer or eliminate.

To start, 40 percent of the brands and individuals polled in the study conducted by this team noted that accessing relevant customer data from multiple channels and sources was a time-consuming problem. Additionally, simply coordinating data in general across marketing channels, and not from a single source, also stood out as a concern for 34 percent. Finally, 32 percent noted that putting this data to good use by developing relevant engagement served as the final issue when it came to leveraging Big Data into exemplary marketing content.

Capitalizing on the Data Trend

So if Big Data offers exceptional insight into what’s going on with the people on the other side of the email inbox, but it’s a hard tool to work with at times, the next logical step in the discussion centers on how best to get the most out of these sets of information. As Tracey Wallace of Business 2 Community suggests, getting your first-party data sources in order is a great place to start.

First-party data includes any information your brand harvests via surveys, consumer feedback, and other interaction with your contact list members. The big key here is ensuring you always play by the rules as far as transparency and consent go, as well as keeping your data organized and accessible.

If you’re ready to branch into second-party sources, like Facebook and other social platforms, Wallace goes on to explain that keeping up with the latest regulations and terms of service imposed by these outlets can help maximize the influx of data. For instance, Facebook and LinkedIn both are becoming stricter in terms of releasing sensitive consumer data, so exploring other platforms or retooling how you harvest this information could keep the flow of data steady and consistent.

Finally, delving into the world of massive third-party data sets opens up the full potential of Big Data. However, access to this information often requires an additional hit to your marketing budget, as well as a keen eye for trend analysis and data referencing. If you’re not comfortable sifting through mountains of data on your own, employing the services of an expert or trained professional could save you a significant amount of stress and expedite the process considerably.

Once you have your chosen data in hand, don’t be afraid to follow its lead and build email content that hones in on relevant and engaging subject matter. After all, what good is the information gleaned from this data for if you decide to second guess the trends and insight held within?

What’s Next?

Even if you’re not ready to take the plunge into data-driven thinking and email content generation, it’s only a matter of time before this approach becomes the industry norm. As Dan Worth of the United Kingdom’s V3 tech news site reports, the Internet will generate an unbelievable 400 zettabytes of information a year by 2018 – easily eclipsing the paltry single zettabyte of the past year and exponentially expanding the parameters of the already insightful connection brands share with customers in the inbox.

 

freshenup

Despite the fact that email marketing is the biggest tool in most brand awareness arsenals, that doesn’t mean that embodying the “set it and forget it” mentality is the right way to go about managing your campaign. Sure, making drastic or sweeping changes is probably also not the appropriate approach, but it can’t hurt to freshen up your marketing messages from time to time with a few quick and easy upgrades. With this in mind, let’s spend a few minutes talking about some fun and simple ideas that can help breathe new life into your upcoming emails.

Build a Branded Persona

If you’re building message content that speaks from a brand-first perspective, it might be worth following in the footsteps of Get Covered; a non-profit organization aimed at raising public awareness among our neighbors to the south regarding the Obamacare health system. As part of its push to enroll Americans in viable healthcare plans, the team behind Get Covered created the character Nona as a way to enhance its communications in the inbox.

Essentially, Nona shifts the intangible identity of the Get Covered foundation to the backburner in favor of a warm and engaging cartoon personality that appears in each specialized email. This in turn helps build continuity and familiarity within the message content. Even if you’re not in the same business as this non-profit, having a friendly face – like Nona – greet your audience each time a new message hits the inbox could be the key to making the most of a mini-rebranding or reimagining of your marketed content.

Share a Company Milestone

If you’d rather keep things a little more formal, Juile Niehoff of The Huffington Post suggests taking some time out of your standard message schedule and sharing some good news with your audience in the form of a brand milestone or achievement. Whether this means thanking contact list members for hitting a certain subscriber plateau or the opening of a branch in a new area, having a little celebration with the people that helped get your organization to this point never hurts. If you really want to go all-in on this strategy, tying a special promotion or discount to the good news can help build even more excitement and goodwill toward your content.

Open the Door for Conversation

Additionally, Niehoff also explains that realigning how you view the inbox could be the key to opening up a wider conversation with these customers. Instead of speaking at your audience, consider developing content that attempts to speak with these individuals. From asking for feedback and honest reviews regarding messages, products, and services, to incorporating social sharing tools and links that keep the discussion going on, on other platforms, switching up a few pieces of the email content creation process can help get your brand off to a fresh start that puts an even greater emphasis on reaching out to the people that make up your contact list membership.

Take a New Angle on Subject Lines

As far as trying to make a few changes that maximize your brand’s ability to make the most of a good first impression, Entrepreneur’s Sujan Patel points out that if you’re not testing your subject lines, you’re missing out on connecting with a significant portion of your audience.

The reality of the situation is that regardless of how great your content is below the fold, if you don’t have a catchy or engaging subject line, some readers just won’t take the time to open your message. Unfortunately, no two audiences or demographics are the same, so testing a variety of new angles, all the way up from casual and witty to highly formal and professional, is the best way to develop a fresh new headline that packs a major punch.

Go Over Your Contact List with a Fine-Tooth Comb

While all of the rest of the tips and suggestions thus far have picked apart what goes into your content, Patel notes that sometimes refreshing your strategy comes from a completely unexpected direction – in this case, how you manage your content list. Having raw numbers that continue to climb and climb can look great from the outside, but this doesn’t always mean you have an accurate gauge of what’s really going on with this group. Unresponsive addresses, typos, and outdated information can all wreak havoc on the accuracy of your performance metrics, so routinely checking over these entries, in conjunction with the rest of what you’ve learned, can go a long way toward putting your email campaign in a place to thrive and succeed going forward.

 

wronghistory

After months and months of warnings, press releases, and precautionary tales from this and other industry sources, the hammer finally came down on those who remained unwilling to abide by the new rules and regulations surrounding Canada’s stance on spam tactics. Specifically, Quebec-based management and technology consulting firm Compu-Finder stands alone with the dubious “honor” of being the first organization to feel the wrath of Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL.) To find out just what Compu-Finder did to earn this $1.1 million fine, as well as what you need to do to avoid having the same fate befall your organization, let’s break down the story from a variety of angles and with all of the facts surrounding the incident.

What Exactly Happened with Compu-Finder?

On March 5th, 2015, the office of the Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that Compu-Finder had received a Notice of Violation. In total, four spam violations fell under this notice, eliciting $1.1 million in fines from the CRTC. Needless to say, the first fine offered up on behalf of the CASL was far from a slap on the wrist. In fact, it’s completely understandable to view this response as “sending a message” to any other firms or organizations that might be toeing the line between acceptable communications and outright spamming.

The Particulars of the Violation

So what exactly did Compu-Finder do to merit such a harsh reaction from the CRTC? As industry expert Mickey Chandler explains on his personal spam and policy blog, this organization broke the anti-spam law in two different, but equally serious, ways. First, Compu-Finder sent marketing messages to recipients that did not offer up prior consent between July 2nd, 2014, and September 16th, 2014.

Aside from firing off unsolicited messages into unsuspecting inboxes, the team operating this campaign went a step farther and refused to unsubscribe customers that no longer desired to be a member of Compu-Finder’s contact list. In fact, Chandler notes that the aforementioned office of the Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer received firsthand accounts from consumers in which these unsubscribed individuals attempted to connect with this company and explain that these marketing messages were still ending up in the inbox, only to have the stream of messages remain steady and unaffected.

To put it bluntly, Compu-Finder either didn’t understand how the unsubscribe feature of a mailing list works, or simply didn’t care whether or not the person on the other side of the screen wanted to receive these messages any more. Whether the reasoning behind this activity is ignorance or negligence, it doesn’t take an industry insider to understand that both methods are a recipe for disaster under the new rules.

The First of Many?

Of course, it is important to understand that at the time of the publication of this article no other organizations have come under fire thanks to CASL infractions, so it’s reasonable to wonder if this is just an isolated incident. However, with Nestor E. Arellano of IT World Canada reporting that Compu-Finder accounted for 26 percent of the total complaints submitted so far, the reality of the situation is that there’s more than likely more Notices of Violation coming down the pipelines. The question now turns away from if more notices will go out and instead to when we’ll see the next big breaking story regarding fines and penalties.

Protecting Your Brand from Spam Regulations

Now that you’re up to speed on just how serious the CRTC is about CASL enforcement, it’s time to talk about keeping you on the right side of the law and avoiding any actions that could have your brand joining the ranks of Compu-Finder and any other pending violators.

First off, spend some time browsing over the CRTC anti-spam page and familiarizing yourself with the particulars of this legislation. If you’re looking for some anti-spam reading material that skips over the legal mumbo jumbo and gives you a crash course regarding compliance and proper email and SMS marketing tactics, we’ve already spent some time covering the basics, as well as digging even deeper with a CASL Survival Guide.

For those of you worried about your current standing – or the potential for looming violations – you’ll want to read up on these posts, in addition to connecting with the CRTC immediately. As Arellano goes on to explain, Compu-Finder only has 30 days to pay the penalty or submit paperwork refuting the claims, so time is of the essence. Hopefully you’ll never find yourself in this position, but at least now with the first groundbreaking violation on the books, you have all the info you need to see just how serious stepping over the CASL line can be for your brand’s viability in the inbox.

 

quickideas

There’s nothing worse than sitting down and trying to put virtual pen to paper, only to wind up staring at a blank screen. Okay, so email marketing writer’s block isn’t on the same scale as the kind experienced by Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or any other famous author, but it can still be devastating to the viability of your email marketing operations. To keep you on the right track, here’s a few quick ideas that can help get your creative email content back on schedule and landing in consumer inboxes in no time.

Rework Your Welcome Email

Considering that most of the people reading this aren’t sure where to take the content of their next marketing message, why not take a step back and retool your opening letter to new contact list members? Sure, it might not be the direction you thought this endeavor would go, but as Pamela Neely of Web Marketing Today explains, few items are as important as your welcome email.

Whether it’s a new template or an update on what these subscribers can expect, this quick detour can help you shift your focus toward a creative development that’s just as important. Not only does this method ensure you don’t waste your time sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike, it can also help give you a chance to formulate a new idea regarding the content for your current contact list members.

Hijack the News

If this approach doesn’t work, you can always aim at utilizing current events and stories relevant to your audience in your next email. Known as “newsjacking,” the Content Marketing Institute’s Britt Klontz points out that this process can be a little tricky. Essentially, your brand will need to move in real time and capture the fervor and excitement surrounding a developing story. Whether it’s simply linking back to a news sources and bringing the issue to the attention of your audience, or making the most out of this approach by offering exclusive industry-based insight along with the generic overview, being current and relevant is the main appeal of the newsjacking method as it pertains to inbox operations.

Do a “Best of” Edition

Another tactic that can help alleviate the burden of coming up with unique content – while still offering quality and value to the viewer – is a “best of” edition of your newsletter or other email content. As the name implies, you’ll want to dig deep and find the best tidbits and nuggets from your previous messages. Naturally, relying on this tactic too often can come off as a little repetitive, but when used in moderation, this tool can help keep established members interested while simultaneously helping to catch up the newer viewers on your contact list.

Try to Go Viral

For the trendier brands out there, maximizing the rapid-fire nature of social sharing and its connection to the inbox presents the unique opportunity to “go viral.” In her look at this process, Kristie Lorette of the Houston Chronicle notes that more members of your contact list are likely to click that share, like, or favorite button if you include coupons, videos, or even exclusive information or tips that won’t find anywhere else. Of course, going viral is usually easier said than done, but if you have a unique presentation or truly one-of-a-kind experience to tether to your content, the process becomes significantly easier to accomplish.

Say Thank You

Finally, if all else fails and you can’t come up with anything else worth saying to your dedicated inbox following, there’s nothing wrong with taking a few minutes to just say thank you. These individuals are the veritable lifeblood of your digital operations, so making sure they know exactly how important they are to your organization is never a bad idea.

In fact, if you really want to go above and beyond on this front, keying in on contact list member birthdays, subscriber anniversaries, and other momentous occasions can help further endear your brand to your loyal following. Obviously, gathering this information and developing an automated system will require a little bit of extra work, but it can not only help fill in the gaps during email content locals, it can also earn your organization some serious goodwill – something that’s not easy to come by with most audiences.

Hopefully after browsing over these ideas, you’ll find exactly what you need to get back on track with your content development. At the very least, you’ll walk away from your computer with a stable of ideas that can serve you well the next time you’re feeling stuck and unsure of what to say to your email following.

© 2013 Elite Email Inc. Blog Admin