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With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror here in Canada and Halloween just around the corner, saying that the holiday season is in full swing is a bit of an understatement. Aside from the frantic rushing of families trying to keep up with all of the festivities, this time of year is also special for your brand’s email marketing campaign. To help ensure that you keep up with the holiday cheer, here’s a few simple tips that can help maximize your inbox presence from Halloween to Christmas and beyond.

Prepare for the “Creative Crunch”

Even if you’ve been around the block before during the holiday season, that doesn’t make the influx of increased sending, as well as the development of creative content, any easier. As Steve Dille of Marketing Land points out, adding in Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day, and all of the other major shopping events that occur before the start of the New Year onto the standard holiday dates puts a strain unlike any other on brands looking to stay connected with consumers during this time.

To avoid a complete email marketing meltdown, spend some time with your team and make sure they understand the need for quality and expedience during this time. Also, connecting with your email service provider to ensure that there won’t be any technical hiccups when the time comes to ship out massive amounts of marketing messages can also save you some headaches during peak times of activity.

Optimize in Real-Time

Additionally, to help make the development and optimization of your email creative content operate smoothly, Dille suggests getting your team acclimated to working with consumer data and information in real-time, or working with professionals that embody this approach. By familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of deciphering customer trends, as well as maintaining easy access to this information, your brand can implement fast responses to any sudden changes to your ideal consumer profile. When compared to the sluggish reaction times and techniques utilized by your competition, it’s hard not to feel a little extra holiday cheer when enacting this approach.

Seasonal and Segmentation Go Hand-in-Hand

One of the biggest mistakes brands make when trying to capitalize on the holiday season is forgetting that, even though profiling helps describe the average customer, not all members of the target audience are alike. As Stephanie Zatkyo of HubSpot explains, failing to incorporate list segmentation with your seasonal offers can lead to some sticky situations with these readers. For instance, just because the majority of your contact list celebrates Christmas doesn’t mean that it’s okay to fire off emails filled with this type of content to the members of your list that identify with other religious orientations.

Again, this comes down to the amount of data you have on your target audience. However, the message still holds true; if you have the ability to segment your list and offer varied seasonal content, this endeavor is well worth your time and effort, especially when compared to potentially offending these valued customers.

Make the Holiday Season Interactive

Another smart tip that can really drum up some major interaction with the members of your email marketing list is to encourage user submissions as part of your holiday campaign. In his post for Marketing Sherpa, Adam T. Sutton explains that finding ways to promote an interactive experience, especially during Halloween, is one of the most engaging techniques brands can implement as the holiday spirit sweeps your target audience.

Even something as simple as requesting photos of your contact list members in their costumes for an on-site gallery is enough to add a little fun to your seasonal promotion. Of course, if your brand can find a fun and creative way to tie these submissions or acts to its products and services, you’ve struck pure email marketing gold. Regardless of how you decide to follow this tip, keeping things fun, lighthearted, and interactive is a recipe for success that’s hard to beat.

Branch off Into Uncharted Territory

For the last tip, Sutton goes on to suggest that leaving the beaten path behind and blazing your own trail in terms of holiday email marketing is a clever way to stand out from the competition that’s locked into standard offerings. Instead of sticking to the traditional spooky skeletons and red-nosed reindeer that come with this time of year, taking a more subtle approach and embodying other aspects of the holiday season, like rich red and gold autumnal colors in your templates, can help put a fresh spin on seasonal marketing. When combined with the rest of what you’ve learned about maximizing your impact in the inbox during this festive time of year, there’s nothing stopping your brand from sitting back and enjoying an extra-large helping of holiday cheer along with increased traffic and conversions.

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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 Mobil1 Lube Express in Willow Grove Pennsylvania used smart SMS tactics to bring in customers and put an end to wasteful marketing expenditure.

Taking the car in for a quick oil change is something that most people probably don’t do enough of on a regular basis. The folks over at Mobil1 Lube Express in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania knew this, but needed to find the right way to connect with consumers and make routine car care a top priority again. With this in mind, let’s spend some time digging into the particulars of how the experts at Mobil1 put SMS to the test against email and conventional direct mail reminders, answering the question of “which is best?” once and for all.

The Grand SMS Experiment

This entire case study begins with a competition of sorts. As part of its overall marketing promotion, this quality automotive service provider pitted SMS communications against direct mail and email offers to find which method generated the highest return on investment (ROI.) From here, Mobil1 Lube Express could then focus on streamlining its advertising budget by migrating away from the strategies deemed inefficient by this program.

Enacting the Strategy

To begin the promotional outreach, the various Mobil1 locations in Willow Grove and the surrounding areas supplied in-store consumers and participating local businesses and civic areas with hand-out cards. After receiving a card, customers then opted-in to the program by texting his or her license plate number, as well as the short code “OILCHG” to the number supplied within the instructions. After doing so, the customer identified the preferred channel – either text, direct mail, or email – for receiving an oil change reminder and limited time offer for discounted service.

Tallying the Results

Over the course of six months, Mobil1 Express Lube compiled the results for each channel in order to determine a victor. In total, 2,187 of a possible 6,849 customers opted-in via one of the three selected methods. On average, 21 percent of the individuals who chose a traditional mail reminder returned to claim the discount offer within 45 days. For the email and text alternatives, this number jumped to 29 and 35 percent respectively, leading the marketing team for this brand to declare SMS marketing the most responsive of the three channels.

However, the team also found that the text-oriented portion of the audience didn’t just claim the offer in greater numbers, but also responded faster. When compared to consumers who received no reminder, the group that chose the SMS route returned an average of 8.4 days sooner than either the email or direct mail respondents.

Based on these results, as well as the costs associated with shipping out direct mail, email, and SMS messages, Mobil1 Express Lube found that texting with customers also generated the highest ROI. In fact, when compared to direct mail’s $24 return on each dollar spent, the $308 and $344 generated per dollar spent by email and SMS respectively proves that this comparison isn’t even a close one.

In case you’re wondering about the average cost of each channel that went into factoring these ROIs, Mobil1 provided a general breakdown that paints an even more unflattering picture for direct mail programs. In terms of SMS messages sent, Mobil1 spent a grand total of $0.20 per text to returning customer. While email was a close second at $0.24 per message to returned customer, the whopping $2.76 in supplies and shipping costs accumulated per mailed postcard proves just how prohibitive archaic marketing tactics can be for businesses on a budget.

Finding the Right Blend for Your Brand

Now that Mobil1 Express Lube did all the work for your brand, the lesson from this case study is clear – SMS marketing, when conducted properly, offers up the biggest bang for your buck. Additionally, email marketing had a strong showing as well, which in turn signals that a strong blend of the two definitely has a spot in many marketing budgets. Regardless of which of these routes you choose, the message is as easy to understand as the discount promotion offered by the team over at Mobil1 Lube Express; if you want to connect with your customers, the best way to do so is by sticking to the mobile technology they prefer and avoiding the costly snail mail trap.

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Email marketing is all about capitalizing on potential opportunities with your target audience. Unfortunately, plenty of brands let a substantial portion of these chances slip by the wayside, all thanks to a lag in the marketing process. One of the best ways to overcome this hurdle, and get a leg up on the competition, is by setting up an email campaign based around triggered events. To learn a little more about how this approach works, as well as what your brand has to gain by making the switch, let’s spend some time breaking down the particulars of event-driven email marketing.

Understanding the Idea Behind Event or “Triggered” Messages

Before rearranging your entire approach to connect with consumers in the inbox, it’s probably a good idea to properly frame what a triggered email actually does when compared to a standard marketed message. Essentially, this type of campaign aims to fire off emails when something important – known as an event – happens in the lives of your target audience, instead of sticking to a set schedule.

Naturally, the definition of an event varies widely depending on your brand, industry, and ideal consumer profile. Whether it’s a national holiday in your region, religious occurrence, or even something as simple as abandoning a cart in your online store at the last minute, all of these examples serve as events worthy of firing off a marketed message that goes beyond your standard branded newsletter or weekly email.

The Benefits of This Process

Obviously, leaving behind the “set it and forget it” mentality that comes with a normal email marketing operation adds some extra work to the process. However, spending the time to enact a system that develops and deploys creative email content in real-time does comes with some substantial benefits, according to George Passwater of Business 2 Community.

In his look at the usage of triggered emails, Passwater notes that properly utilizing this strategy helps increase conversions and promote the rise of “brand ambassadors.” If you’re unfamiliar with this term, it’s a fancy way of saying increased consumer goodwill and the ability of word-of-mouth to help spread the news about your products, services, and email contact list. The big key here is that even though direct gains in conversions and the residual effect of additional brand ambassadors come from two ends of the awareness spectrum, both provide a significant boost to your email marketing return on investment (ROI.)

Finding the Right Opportunity

So now that you know how event-driven email marketing works, as well as what this process has to offer in return for your effort, what’s next? To start, Passwater suggests honing in on the events, or triggers, that matter most to your audience. Naturally, navigating this territory depends entirely on the information you currently have regarding these consumers. For some companies, the right opportunity comes in the form of sticking to major life events, like changes in marital status, birthdays, and holidays.

However, the room for creativity expands significantly when the triggered event turns toward abandoned carts. For instance, firing off an email with the subject line “Forget Something?” after a consumer skips out on the final steps of a purchase is an easy way to frame the message in a fun manner. Having the body text of the message stay in theme, while gently reminding the shopper to return and finish the deal or offering an enticing discount, helps enhance this process and take advantage of this event.

If you’re feeling extra bold with the humor portion of event-driven email marketing, don’t be scared to have a little fun with some of the more flavorful life events. In particular, 40th birthdays are ripe for the picking. Naturally, this can be a touchy subject for some consumers, but as long as you keep the copy found in this message lighthearted and engaging, you’ll have no problems connecting with consumers during these memorable events.

Taking the Next Step

Of course, just because honing in on triggered-events offers plenty of opportunities to connect with your audience, it’s far from a stand-alone approach. To truly take the next step with this type of email marketing, and any type in general, finding the balance between capitalizing on these events and keeping up a consistent traditional approach is vital to the success of your brand. As enticing as it may be to focus on only one side of the equation, connecting with consumers in the inbox doesn’t boil down to a single right method. Instead, maintaining a stable presence, while keeping an eye on the opportunity presented by these events, is your best chance to make a great impression with the viewers that matter most.

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Our society can’t get enough of putting a ranking or a value on everything. Whether it’s comparing the best NHL prospects too early or finding the best spot to eat lunch with your friends, the idea of having a clear “best” option seems to be universal across every facet of life. When it comes to email marketing, our industry is no different. Every brand wants to have the best marketed messages in place before connecting with contact list members. But is there really one right way to do everything with your emails? To find out, let’s spend some time breaking down some of the major pieces of the greater email marketing process to answer once and for all what goes into “the best” content hitting the inbox across the web.

Perfect Email Text Content

First on the list, the content found within your messages, is arguably the most important part of any email marketing campaign. However, with each series of messages developed for your audience, it’s impossible to lay out a universal plan for success that fits every brand perfectly. Instead, the best content comes from tailoring the viewing experience to what resonates most with your readers.

As Courtney Eckerle of Marketing Sherpa explains, relevant content is the key to making a mark on this front. By spending some time learning about the desires, concerns, and needs of these readers, your brand can then generate impactful and engaging content that both addresses these issues and helps promote your deals and offers in ways that go beyond standard pleas for business.

The Right Send Time

Much like the particulars surrounding the content of the message, timing is also a subjective part of the process that depends entirely on what works for your targeted audience. In his look at the importance of timing, David Moth of Econsultancy reports that finding the optimal times to send out these emails doesn’t come from some guide online, but rather via thorough testing.

By exploring different send times that span both day and night, your brand can pinpoint the exact moment that garners the most views, providing a serious competitive advantage over other organizations that don’t bother with testing this parameter. Considering that Moth goes on to note that only 49 percent of businesses undertake this process, that’s quite a bit of ground you can gain on others in your industry.

Superlative Subject Line Length

While most of the rest of the work that goes into embodying the best practices found in email marketing doesn’t come with a clear cut answer for all brands, optimal subject line length actually goes in the other direction. According to a study highlighted in Ayaz Nanji’s post on Marketing Professors, the most effective length for subject lines falls in the six to ten word range. With the average open rate standing at 21 percent, this length blew past both longer and shorter offerings in terms of performance and reliability.

Oddly enough, Nanji explains that more than half of all brands utilizing email marketing outreach incorporate subject lines that end up being between 11 and 15 words long. If your messages currently sit in this range, it’s time to get tough with the edits and trim down this word count to a more manageable, and effective, total.

Developing an Unstoppable Call-to-Action

The final piece up for discussion, the call-to-action (CTA), returns to the predominately subjective trend found within the world of email marketing. In a review of examples of individually great CTAs, Chris Hexton of Marketing Land points out that it’s easier to trim away what doesn’t work for your brand when compared to focusing on a universal “one size fits all” answer to the this challenge.

To start the process, ask the question of whether or not your CTA promotes a need for urgency and action on the viewer’s end of the promotion. Readers respond well to direct propositions that explain why they should make a visit to your site, so don’t be afraid to point out exactly why dropping everything else and clicking the redirect button is the best thing your audience can do with their time. In fact, Hexton goes on to explain that repeating your CTA throughout the message might not be right for every brand, but it’s an effective tactic in many circumstances. Again, testing goes a long way to uncovering what’s right for the readers that matter most to your organization.

Even though the cookie cutter option doesn’t always exist for each part of the message, there’s definitely enough evidence to point you in the right direction for success now that you understand the true nature of what goes into the best email marketing practices. With this realization on your side, as well as a few quick and effective tips, you should have everything you need to maximize the impact of your limited time on screen in the inbox.

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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 Women’s Southern Show brought SMS success to the Jacksonville, Florida area, all thanks to an innovative cross channel approach.

There must be something about the warm Florida sunshine that brings out the best in mobile marketing practices. After making the trip down to Jacksonville once in this case study series to chronicle the success of the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships, our attention now turns to the Southern Women’s Show – a traveling shopping and entertainment expo based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. To find out exactly how this exhibition put on an SMS show to remember, let’s spend some time breaking down the particulars of this campaign and what these lesson mean for your brand moving forward.

The Basic Plan

As no strangers to the power of SMS marketing, the team behind the promotion of the Southern Women’s Show in Jacksonville decided to spread the word thanks to a series of smart and effective text messages. At the heart of this campaign was a simple focus – connect with women, age 18 to 40, who like to shop.

While this might sound as easy as shooting fish in a barrel, the truth of the situation is that women in this area, and across North America in general, have a plethora of options when it comes to spending their hard-earned money. To sweeten the deal and entice these shoppers to make a visit to the show, the Southern Women’s Show campaign offered new contact list sign-ups a chance to win a $250 shopping spree at the event, as well as a guaranteed $2 off the price of admission.

Additionally, the team involved in this initiative decided to spread the word via energetic radio commercial spots and physical promotional material, such as tent cards and posters, located within participating stores in the area. As a nice finishing touch to the basic plan, each participant in the mobile marketing list received a “bounceback” message thanking them for their registration, as well as a friendly reminder about the show two days before the event kicked off.

Doing Your Homework Matters

Of course, if you’re familiar with this case study series, you know that sticking to the basics isn’t good enough to earn you a spot in the limelight. To ensure that this promotion went above and beyond the normal level of results, the Southern Women’s Show decided to optimize its text message content by researching keywords and phrases that perform well in other marketing channels. This in-depth research helped uncover a variety of inclusions that resonated with viewers and listeners, generating additional interest and interaction.

Reaping the Rewards of Hard Work

So what did the Southern Women’s Show team get in return for their hard work? To start, the digital $2 coupon garnered a 20 percent redemption rate, further proving the point that mobile marketing creates more opportunity and interaction than traditional coupons. In this case, the increased redemption rate correlated directly to a massive turnout at the Jacksonville rendition of this traveling event.

Outside of the immediate boost the Southern Women’s Show received from this expertly executed promotion, the organization as a whole gained some invaluable consumer data that would later serve other campaigns in different markets. First, even in predominately radio oriented markets like Jacksonville, printed tent cards drew a ton of attention thanks to easily understood written instructions. From here, learning about optimized keywords created a reusable foundation for future promotional content.

Putting These Lessons to Good Use on Your End

Even if your brand is not in the business of setting up expos in major cities across North America, that doesn’t mean you can’t pull a lesson or two from this example of outstanding mobile marketing. First, the recurring theme of giving your customers something worthwhile pops up again. Gaining contact list members is all about the value proposition, so offer up some enticing freebies in addition to interactive text content.

As far as promotional materials go, don’t be afraid to optimize this content with a little keyword research across several channels. By doing your homework on this front, your organization can generate stellar results and boost opt-in numbers significantly. Considering how well this worked for the Southern Women’s Show, it’s far from a bad thing to count your brand in this kind of company.

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It’s officially Small Business Month here in Canada, so there’s no better time than now to talk about how your business can connect with the local community and build some lasting relationships. Considering that people across the country can’t get enough of social media these days, as well as the fact that these networks play an integral part in any successful email marketing campaign, let’s spend a few minutes talking about how your small business can change up its outreach approach and hang with the industry big boys on Facebook, Twitter, and more moving forward.

Relationships Come First

Just like going through the process of requesting permission before firing off marketing emails, you can’t get ahead of yourself when it comes to connecting with your audience on social media. As Donne Torr of Hootsuite, a social marketing aggregation tool, explains in her look at the particulars of navigating these platforms from the perspective of a small business, emphasizing relationship building is a key part of the process.

Instead of spamming newsfeeds with requests to buy your products or join your brand’s email contact list, focus on interacting and conversing with followers and individuals who frequent related social circles. If you can present this kind of personable front for your organization, the potential for conversions will grow organically from this solid foundation.

Run with a Different Crowd

When it comes to picking the right network for your social endeavors, Emily Wight of The Guardian’s Small Business Network points out that business-to-business opportunities are better suited for LinkedIn than anywhere else. If your brand focuses on forging contracts and finalizing sales with other organizations before reaching retail markets, it makes sense to skip the casual appeal of Facebook or Twitter and opt for this more professional platform.

One of the best ways to engender this concept and make major headway in regard to professional relationships comes from posting in relevant industry oriented groups. The more you provide thought-provoking or conversation-inducing content in these groups, the more likely you are to notch a few more members on your contact list.

A neat little trick that works especially well once you join these groups is to repurpose your email or blog content into condensed posts. Naturally, you’ll want to freshen up these offerings and avoid simply copying the source material. If you can do this, repurposing is a quick and easy way to share something valuable on the network without spending hours trying to reinvent the wheel.

Find Ways to Stand Apart

Regardless of which networks you decide to incorporate in your approach, Nicole Fallon of Fox’s Small Business Center explains that it’s vital to the success of your campaign to stand out. While following in the path of the bigger names in your industry definitely requires the least amount of work, it’s also unrealistic to expect much out of this approach.

To really embody this mindset, Fallon suggests stepping out of line and doing something creative and fun. Whether it’s putting a premium on humorous or light-hearted content that adds a little levity to your followers’ coffee breaks or posting a weekly look into the daily operations of your organization (a video blog uploaded to YouTube works wonders for this concept), doing something aside from a few generic posts a day is the best way to stand apart from the masses.

Keep an Eye on the Competition

For the history buffs out there, Sun Tzu’s famous words of advice regarding knowing oneself and the enemy as well before a battle will ring especially true for this next social media tip. Specifically, Jean Moncrieff of Business 2 Community suggests spending some time looking at the profiles of your top three to five competitors in the industry. By doing a little “scouting” on these organizations, you can see what works and what doesn’t in terms of interaction and visibility, which in turn refines your brand’s approach before it even begins.

Spend Some Time Measuring Progress

Finally, Moncrieff goes on to point out that none of this work matters if you don’t spend some time analyzing your success and failures. Whether it’s keeping a pulse on the rise and fall of raw follower numbers and email contact list opt-ins or going a little deeper and recording the shares, likes, and favorites on individual posts, having some sort of metric in place goes a long way to finding out if your campaign is a finely tuned machine or if it’s closer to “fixer-upper” status. Regardless of how you measure your campaign, adding in some performance indicators, as well as the rest of the other tips covering social media success, can help your organization make the most of its time spent on these networks during Small Business Month and beyond.

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For some of the regular readers of this blog, it’s probably next to inconceivable that some brands still don’t understand the power of mobile marketing. However, with the emergence of new players in nearly every industry, as well as the constant development of small businesses, there’s plenty of room for unwitting organizations to slip through the cracks when it comes to SMS awareness. To help cut through this marketing inertia and show how vital connecting with shoppers on their phones is to a successful outreach initiative, here’s five stats brands simply can’t ignore that support the continued rise of text marketing.

Mobile Will Soon Pass Desktop in Terms of Searches

To start the discussion, Andrew Gazdecki of Business 2 Community offers up a true gem concerning the prevalence of smartphone usage in the modern world. In referencing a study from Google, Gazdecki notes that the search engine leader projects mobile search queries to surpass those made on traditional desktop platforms by nearly one billion requests in 2015.

At first glance, this looks like it has nothing to do with mobile marketing. However, this projection, which will put total mobile queries above 85 billion for the upcoming year, helps support an important notion for brands looking to connect with consumers via SMS promotions – the vast majority of virtually any target audience can’t get enough of their smartphones. Essentially, if your customers plan on spending so much time on these devices anyways, why not build a campaign that takes advantage of this predisposition with powerful targeting and easy access to the right demographics?

Conversions via Mobile Marketing Are Lightning Fast

While other forms of marketing play toward a longer form approach for sealing conversions, mobile and SMS offerings take a much different approach. Again, Andrew Gazdecki provides this insight, noting that conversions via this platform traditionally happen within five hours of the event. Basically, as soon as your marketed message arrives on the phones of your contact list members, the clock starts counting down toward an acceptance of your offer or promotion.

Naturally, this number can fluctuate between brands and marketplaces, but there’s no denying that organizations looking for fast conversions don’t have to go any farther than value-oriented SMS offerings. Adding in that a large portion of these consumers accept such offers on-the-go provides even more credence that a fast conversion on a “flash” deal can occur anytime, anywhere.

SMS Marketing Provides Constant Access

When it comes to a steady stream of access to consumers, brands can’t go wrong with SMS marketing. Sure, 57 percent of people log on to Facebook at least once a day, and 58 percent check their email at least three times every 24 hours, both according to Allegra Tepper of Mashable. However, while these stats are nice, Tepper goes on to point out that average person looks at his or her phone 150 times a day. Whether these individuals are checking social media, texting friends, or simply looking at missed calls, it all boils down to one undeniable fact – after sending off a marketed text message, the odds of your message going unnoticed is next to none.

Virtually Every Message You Send Is Opened

In fact, this kind of constant viewing of smartphones ensures that virtually every message you send is opened and read by the targeted viewer. As Laura Varley of the United Kingdom’s Digital Marketing Magazine points out, 98 percent of all messages fired off not only reach the target, but also end up opened. This eye-popping stat easily eclipses the visibility offered by sponsored ad spots on social media networks and even the biggest name in the business – email marketing. If consistency and a fair shot at promoting your brand is your primary goal, it’s easy to see that connecting with consumers via SMS marketing not only fulfills this desire, but goes above and beyond it with flying colors.

It Doesn’t Take a Lot to Run a Campaign

While these stats are definitely compelling, if you’re new to the mobile marketing world, chances are you probably think that to reach these levels of success, you’ll need to spend day and night creating promotional content. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Varley goes on to explain that 83 percent of readers only wish to receive two messages a month, at most.

To really connect with these consumers, you don’t have to go overboard. Instead, simply connecting with them on their preferred platform and incorporating value-driven content should be more than enough to help you turn these impressive statistics into a successful and fruitful branded campaign of your own.

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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 Legends In Concert tribute revue spread the word about its show via stellar SMS messages and extended billboard integration.

Imagine if you could sit down and watch Elvis Presley, Adele, and The Blues Brothers all perform on the same night. Seems impossible, right? Well for fans of the Legends In Concert tribute show located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the ability to come close to this dream, via talented impersonators and a one-of-a-kind concert environment, turned to reality, even if just for one night. However, spreading the word regarding this amazing series of performances wasn’t exactly easy, especially amid a sluggish music marketplace.

To overcome this roadblock, Legends In Concert turned to one of the most powerful marketing tools around – SMS marketing. In order to learn exactly how this method helped bring in a slew of new customers, and generate a lasting mobile contact list, let’s spend a few minutes digging into the particulars of this campaign.

Setting the Stage for an SMS Showcase

At the core of this mobile marketing initiative was a two-fold approach. First, the management arm of Legends In Concert wanted to build an SMS contact list from the ground up in order to develop a lasting relationship with the local Myrtle Beach audience. However, as a business located in one of the biggest tourist destinations in the United States, this tribute show also wanted to capitalize on the short term gains of marketing toward the heavy flow of transient traffic found in the area. These two vastly different requirements presented a serious challenge to the brand, yet also provided an opportunity to highlight the flexibility and expansive reach of mobile marketing.

Finding the Right Platform for Both Goals

Trying to appeal to two different segments of the target audience isn’t exactly easy, so most readers probably assume that Legends In Concert needed to include a variety of different platforms to reach its goals. However, this case of mobile marketing surprisingly goes in a different direction. In order to reach both targeted groups, this show purchased ad space on billboards in high traffic areas around town and highlighted a discount coupon offer in return for joining the burgeoning contact list. While this might seem like an unexciting method of spreading the word, Legends In Concert utilized a very unique approach to this traditional platform.

By incorporating billboards equipped with digital technology, they were able to implement several promotional slides, each with shifting variations of “text-in” keywords. This process not only vaulted over the issues associated with static billboards – namely fading into the local scenery – but also provided the promoter with the ability to get creative and showcase various acts from the show. Adding in that these billboards promoted the SMS campaign in areas trafficked by tourists and locals further cemented that this decision keyed in on both goals.

During the later stages of the campaign, Legends In Concert utilized geo-location tools to increase the amount of ads displayed when contact list members were in the area. This practice proved that with the right technology, even something as mundane as a standard billboard can instantly become a highly refined and optimized tool for the promotion of text marketing.

The Big Finale

In return for all of this hard work, the Legends In Concert review received a major push on both fronts. First, in the short term the coupon promotion associated with new members of the contact list generated a 16 percent conversion rate and 1,200 percent return on the initial investment. Naturally, these figures are pretty nice on their own. However, the true success came from the lasting connection created by the growth of the contact list. Today, Legends In Concert boasts a 1,600 member list that is still growing at a healthy pace each day.

Writing Your Own SMS Hit

For brands looking to break onto the SMS scene like this organization, the message behind the success is fairly straightforward. If you connect with consumers via the right platform, and offer solid value in your promotion, they’ll go above and beyond in rewarding you for your hard work. Naturally, utilizing billboard space might not always be the right call, but taking the time to find what does work when spreading the word about your upcoming text campaign can help you join the ranks of Legends In Concert and other brands that unlocked the power of a properly tuned SMS initiative.

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While there’s no denying that was goes on inside of your emails matters quite a bit, the simple truth of the situation is that if you can’t convince these readers to stick around and check out your messages in the first place, it doesn’t matter what’s going on behind the open button. If you’re on the fence about the importance of the subject line in the email marketing process, look no farther than this stat from Nathan Safran of the Moz Blog.

According to Safran, 80 percent of readers don’t look any farther than the subject line of promotional emails. Essentially, if you can’t win the battle surrounding subject lines against your inbox competition, you’ve already lost the email marketing war. To ensure this fate doesn’t befall your brand, here’s some simple ways to spice up your stable of subject lines and really make a major splash with your audience moving forward.

Utilize the Right Amount of Brevity

The first thing you can do to give your subject lines a facelift is to simply trim off any excess fluff. As Pamela Neely of Web Marketing Today points out in her look at improving open rates, having a subject line that hovers between six and ten words produces the best response. Naturally, there’s more factors at play here, including the engaging nature of this content, but ensuring you don’t write a novel in this header is a great way to start off on the right foot. Considering that the Harvard School of Business’ Nancy Koehn reports that the average attention span for a human stands at eight seconds, a full one second less than a goldfish, opting for brevity is a decision that can truly pay dividends in the inbox.

Find the Right Words

Spam filters are redefining what’s acceptable in regards to subject lines, so Neely goes on to recommend treading carefully in this area. Some of the biggest offenders that can relegate your offerings to the trash bin include “help,” “percent off,” and “reminder.” While these offerings might seem innocuous at first glance, they are common tools of the less than savory sect of email marketing.

If possible, you’re much better off utilizing words like “announcement,” “alert,” and “free delivery.” If you can sneak in a “freebie” somewhere in the subject line, Neely notes that consumers respond exceptionally well to this type of inclusion. Obviously, subject lines are highly customizable and depend a lot on what you plan on promoting, but steering clear of the prime offenders is well worth the effort.

Making Good Use of Your Audience Information

Speaking of your target audience, chances are you’ve worked hard to learn as much as possible about these consumers, so why not put this information to good use? As D.J. Waldow of Entrepreneur magazine explains, adding flair and flavor to the subject line based on what resonates with these viewers is an excellent way to surpass the mundane offerings of other brands. For instance, if fashion is the primary focus of your industry, firing off an email with “A Dress For…” is a smart way to capture their interest and preview the contents of the message.

It might take some time tinkering with this customization considering our previous discussion surrounding brevity, but the best in the business know that if you can cater your subject lines to what matters most to the reader, you’ve entered a special spot in the email marketing world.

Say Goodbye to Guesswork

Additionally, Waldow points out that even if you think you have a great idea that embodies everything we’ve discusses so far, there’s no guarantees that this subject line can be successful until you test it against other variations. By split testing against other subject lines via select portions of your contact list, you can settle the discussion once and for all and leave the guesswork to other brands.

Aside from learning about the effectiveness of the test subject lines, utilizing this method can also tell you even more about your deliverability rates and potential steps for improvement. Considering how valuable your time is, employing the “two birds, one stone” approach can help optimize your time investment and improve the effectiveness of your overall marketing plans at the same time.

By combining these tips with what everything else you’ve learned about subject lines in previous articles, you’ll have everything you need to knock the digital socks off of your targeted customers when they see your messages. Naturally, you’ll still need to follow up with some powerful content in the body of the email, but at least you won’t have to worry about getting lost in the see of substandard offerings that flood the inbox anymore.

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There’s definitely not a lot of love lost between the worlds of email and print marketing. After all, with the rise of this form of digital advertising and the fact that more brands than ever want to connect with consumers via the inbox, it’s easy to see why newspapers and other publications are feeling the pinch when it comes to the dipping value of open ad space. However, just because email marketing is the current top dog doesn’t mean that we can’t learn a thing or two from the more traditional variations of connecting with customers. With this in mind, let’s dig into the concept of “above the fold” marketing and find out if it has a spot in your next campaign.

Understanding the Concept Behind “Above the Fold”

For those readers out there that aren’t familiar with print marketing lingo, it’s necessary to establish a proper definitely of what “above the fold” means before diving headfirst into the discussion. As Web 1’s Internet marketing glossary explains, headlines and advertisements placed above the physical fold of the newspaper naturally attract more attention than offerings positioned on the opposing side of the publication.

Digging a little deeper into this definition unveils a slightly more philosophical approach to understanding the “above the fold” mentality. Aside from making sense from a logistics standpoint, advertising in this region during the peak years of newspaper readership became a prestigious endeavor reserved only for premier brands. Basically, if your business acquired this kind of ad space during this era of advertising, there was no question that your organization had made it to the big time.

Does This Translate to Email Marketing?

Obviously, the connection between what “above the fold” means in the email marketing world and realm of print advertising doesn’t necessarily translate at a one-to-one ratio. The big difference here is that you’re not competing with other brands for prime email real estate since your brand controls what goes into these messages.

Instead, “above the fold” marketing in terms of what goes on in the inbox is all about maximizing the limited real estate of the preview pane, according to Ciara Gill of Business 2 Community. Much like the finite resource of page space above the physical fold for newspapers, the preview pane generated by email service clients like Gmail and Yahoo provides you with a limited platform to spread your message, so it’s vital to the health of your campaign that you put your best foot forward with your message previews.

Maximizing the Most Important Portion of Your Emails

So what can you do to maximize your email preview panes and boost open rates? As Heather Fletcher of Target Marketing Magazine explains, it all starts with keeping your preheaders short, both in text length and font size. Preheaders are often the first thing viewers on either mobile or desktop platforms see in the preview pane, so making sure this text doesn’t take up too much real estate and block out the rest of your message is essential. Instead of writing a novel for this portion of your email, think of it as a chance to use one or two sentences to reinforce your subject line, drawing the reader in and leading them to your call-to-action.

From here, Fletcher goes on to suggest using HTML instead of imbedded graphics whenever possible. With so many email service providers suppressing images as part of the ongoing fight against spam, using HTML coding can help you avoid the dreaded “empty box” disaster that comes with images not rendering in the preview pane. Additionally, making sure you find a way to fit your logo into this portion of the message adds a level of familiarity and trust to the email. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when customers don’t respond well to a message from a source that’s not easily identified and differentiated from spam.

The last part of maximizing this preview comes with fitting in the most important pieces of content into the remaining space. By pushing extraneous and supporting information to beneath the preview pane “fold,” you can send a powerful message to consumers by highlighting the valuable content held within. Whether it’s a summary of what’s inside the message or a table of contents that directs newsletter readers to their favorite sections, avoiding wasted space with fluff can drastically improve your preview pane performance. With these tips, as well as everything else you’ve learned about putting the “above the fold” approach to good use, there’s nothing stopping your brand from making a major splash with readers who can’t wait to see your next email.

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