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Does_Size_Matter_Email_Marketing

In terms of email marketing, few things are worse than watching your message end up in the spam folder or bounce back. Unfortunately, sometimes the cause of this isn’t related to a potentially damaged reputation or obtrusive marketing tactics. Instead, it’s something far more manageable and mundane – the size of your content. In fact, ClickZ’s Jeanne Jennings reports that up to 19 percent of emails succumb to deliverability issues during an average campaign.

To avoid this simple, yet debilitating, faux pas, let’s talk a little bit about the relationship between email size and deliverability, as well as what your brand needs to do keep things in order and on target in the inbox. This way, you’ll never have to experience the frustration of an email that either can’t be delivered or rendered on screen by your valued viewership.

Learning When Size Affects Deliverability

Before going any farther, let’s cover the instances that size can – and will – affect the deliverability of your messages. The obvious place to start is with the maximum space offered per message by email service providers. This data limit can vary from platform to platform, but each provider lists the maximum email size online. For instance, Gmail, AOL, and Yahoo stop delivering messages at 25 MB, while smaller services, like Zoho Mail, limit each email to 12 MB. It might seem like a ton of data as you sit at your desk and read this blog, but the reality of the situation is that hitting these limits can be a problem, and it can happen quicker than you think thanks to the rise of image-laden messages.

However, simply staying under these limits is not enough. Some spam filters trigger based on size (capturing messages that stray even over small limits like 100 KB), template rendering, and the file type of attachments – in addition to actual content – so developing messages that work within these confines also comes at a premium for brands that are serious about making an impact in the inbox.

The Other Piece of the Equation

So now that you know just how much size matters, it’s time to chop up your current content and ship it out in a new trimmed and minimalist form, right? Not exactly. As Graham Charlton of Econsultancy explains, failing to give the content in your messages its due, or slipping too far away from this content due to size concerns, can also hinder deliverability. Essentially, when it comes to keeping deliverability rates high, you’re walking a tightrope, balancing size constraints in one hand and the need for desirable and engaging content and imagery in the other. Leaning too far either way is sure to spell disaster for your campaign.

Finding Balance with Your Content

At this point, you’re probably digesting this information and wondering just what it takes to get the best of both worlds in terms of size and content. While there’s definitely some hard work ahead of you, it’s far from an unmanageable task. To start, Christina Galbornetti of Target Marketing magazine suggests aiming for a template that measures between 450 to 500 pixels in width to help keep size concerns to a minimum if you want to target both desktop and mobile viewers. If you’re willing to incorporate two different templates – which is recommended as part of your audience segmentation – consider having one template designed for desktop viewers that sits at the slightly higher end of this spectrum and one on the lower side for mobile viewers.

When it comes to images, Galbornetti goes on to point out that adding these data intensive object for no better reason than to create a flashy message is a bad idea. There’s nothing wrong with imagery in emails, just don’t go overboard. For those graphics you do use, try to limit each image to a size of 20 KB or less. This way, you can avoid the harsh penalty imposed by certain spam filters.

Finally, the Content Marketing Institute’s Jenny DeGraff makes a strong point regarding the role of layouts and calls-to-action (CTAs) in the size debate. Basically, if you can stick to a single column approach, especially on the mobile front, as well as keep your CTAs in an easily visible spot at the top of the message, you’ll put your brand in a good position to blend these two opposing concerns and keep the most important content held within in the limelight while still being cognizant of size concerns. From here, all that’s left to do is watch your deliverability rates go up as the competition still struggles with oversized emails and spam filter problems.

 

5_Quick_Tips_Google+

Social media and email marketing go together like peanut butter and jelly, Bonnie and Clyde, two peas in a pod, and virtually any other simile or metaphor you can come up with off the top of your head that relates to great pairs. It’s well-documented and far from earthshattering in terms of news potential, but there’s no way to skirt around the facts. However, what is a little surprising is the fact that Google’s favorite social project does fly under the radar a bit in terms of exposure – at least when compared to the amount of attention given to Twitter and Facebook. To help give your brand a competitive advantage over other organizations that are still fighting for dwindling share and reach on these other networks, let’s take a look at five quick tips that can help you become a big name on Google+.

Get Familiar with Gmail/Google+ Messages

One of the biggest things going for Google+ is the extended reach it offers for active members of the community. As Danny Sullivan of Marketing Land explains, Google+ users, including your brand, can send messages to anyone else on the network. While this message does show up in the social tab of the new Gmail interface, it provides an extra avenue for communication with individuals who might not be aware of your email offers and discounts. Adding that it helps promote your brand’s standing on this ever-growing network doesn’t hurt either.

Make the Most of the People Widget

After you start building up a list of followers on Google+, you’ll find that your posts start popping up in the people widget section of the Gmail interface. As Frederic Lardinois of TechCrunch points out, highlighting recent posts and comments in this portion of the inbox serves as additional marketing real estate for your brand. Essentially, if you plan out your social media content with this concept in mind, you can create a deeper and lasting bond with your contact list that blends Google+ posts and the deals and discounts held within your current email content seamlessly.

Keep an Eye on Influencers

Of course, sometimes people don’t want to experience a deluge of marketing offers when they open up their inbox in the morning. With this in mind, Forbes magazine’s Kate Harrison suggests keeping an eye on influencers and developing content and social outreach that leans heavily on these major industry voices.

The end game for this method is two-fold. First, simply watching for relevant or interesting posts and links from these individuals on Google+ helps improve the quality of your email content. Additionally, if you can leverage your emerging position on this network into a relationship with these influencers, then mentions, recommendations, and exclusive content that your competitors can only dream of could stand as a well-earned reward for your hard work.

Understand and Utilize Google+ Analytics

Harrison goes on to note that for brands looking at any form of online outreach, from email to social and other digital strategies, the audience analytics offered by this social network are second to none. For instance, the “post ripple” feature tracks virtually every facet of a given submission to the platform. From distribution channels to top influencer interaction and sharing velocity, taking note of how users interact with this content can help shape and mold your email message moving forward.

Think of it as an alternate form of A/B testing. If something ignites your social circles on Google+, chances are it has a home in your next marketed message. Similarly, if you have a recent offer in the inbox that is doing well, there’s no reason not to double up and hit your social audience for even more conversions and brand awareness.

Optimize Your Profile

Finally, it’s no big secret that Google is the biggest name in the search engine business, so it makes sense to optimize your profile and rank higher on relevant result pages. Filling out all relevant entries, keeping your profile content up to date, and using accurate imagery all help kick this process into high gear. If you want to go to the next level, Cindy King of Social Media Examiner recommends using your profile to claim authorship for any original works generated on behalf of your brand.

Even if it’s just a simple industry white paper or report, connecting your social presence to these high value pieces of content can help increase the reach of your online persona. This, in turn, should help funnel even more interested consumers into your contact list, which means all the world for brands that are serious about taking the inbox by storm.

 

ABCs_of_Email_Marketing

When it comes to looking back on your time in school, everything you’ve learned points back to one specific lesson – getting to know your ABCs. Sure, this might sound like an understatement or generalization, but it’s the truth; without these building blocks serving as the foundation of the educational process, how could you ever delve into history, literature, or even mathematics?

With this “building from the ground up” approach guiding the discussion, let’s dig into the ABCs of email marketing, as described by Daniel Faggella of Marketing Land. This way, much like the transition from earlier schooling to advanced studies in high school and college, you’ll have all the tools you need to growth and enhance your brand’s appeal in the inbox.

The Basics Concept Behind This Approach

So what exactly are the “ABCs of email marketing?” As Faggella explains, the “A” stands for aggregating your lists, while building on this overarching list and finding consistency in your inbox represents “B” and “C,” respectively. Essentially, the idea set forth here is that if you can hone in on these three facets of the process, you’ll have no problems enacting more in-depth strategies and methods. Additionally, simply ensuring your brand doesn’t succumb to the pitfalls associated with poor implementation also has a role in learning what goes into these ABCs.

Harnessing the Power of List Aggregation

Now that we’ve taken a look at the big picture, it’s time to zoom in each of the pillars of this approach, starting with list aggregation. In this scenario, properly aggregating your brand’s lists begins with viewing each of your addresses or contacts as a specific resource that can be broken up into nuggets of information and identifiers. Whether it’s geological data or personal information related to the consumer or the organization on the other site of the screen, having this content in hand can help you sub-segment your list and develop emails that lean heavily on optimized messages and lead generation.

While all that sounds great, it doesn’t explain the best way to aggregate and segment your existing contacts. If you’re looking for a few tips on how to get to this point, Sujan Patel of Search Engine Journal offers up some insight regarding segmentation and aggregation.

First off, compile your assorted lists and let this database serve as the starting point. From here, breaking up your list into popular segments – like customers who have or have not previously made a purchase – can help tell the story of your contacts. Naturally, the more you split and categorize these customers and followers, the more refined and detailed your aggregation and segmentation process will become.

Taking a Step Forward with List Building

Once you have a system in place, Fagella’s next portion of the email marketing alphabet, “B,” is all about building your list up. While this sounds like something that seems fairly straightforward, there’s one underlying truth that makes this process anything but easy – virtually every brand knows how important it is to be king of the email marketing hill. If you want to stand out from the competition, you’ll need to go above and beyond in terms of list building.

According to A.J. Kumar of Entrepreneur magazine, the best way to go about list building is by attacking this endeavor from a variety of angles. Whether you’re generating an opt-in page on your branded site or Facebook page, or making the request for email contact info an integral part of your checkout process, politely requesting access to the inbox early, and often, is the best way to cast a wide net and create a list that’s sure to power your operations moving forward.

Finding Consistency in All Phases of Your Email Marketing

Finally, consistency in all phases of your email marketing operation wraps up this fundamental, yet in-depth, approach to going about an email marketing campaign the right way. Email marketing isn’t just about what you send to the  customers inbox, so be prepared to take an all-encompassing approach that dips into the rest of your digital marketing efforts. Slipping in opt-in requests in guest posts on other industry sites, networking and building mentions or recommendations on social media, and simply pushing email marketing to the forefront of your operations online is the best way to extract the most value out of this process and promote consistency. Considering that connecting with customers in the inbox shows no signs of slowing down as the most powerful form of digital outreach, chances are you won’t find a better way to spend your time, effort, and web-based marketing budget.

 

Email-Marketing-Tips

For all of the personal trainers, plumbers, or freelance IT gurus out there, making a name for yourself seems like a hopeless proposition at times. After all, there’s a plethora of options consumers can choose from, in addition to your brand’s need to hone in on local demographics. However, just because you have your sights set on a different target audience than all of the major global brands that utilize email marketing successfully doesn’t mean that you also can’t put this powerful process to use. To help your service-based business get the most out of email marketing, here’s five smart tips that will have you sailing past the competition in the inbox in no time.

Focus on Yourself

The best place to start when forging ahead with email content is yourself. As narcissistic as this tip might sound, Kim T. Gordon of Entrepreneur magazine explains that one of the most important selling points when offering a service is letting the customer learn a little more about you. Whether it’s providing these individuals with a look into your quality control steps, or focusing on your experience in the industry, mixing in this kind of content into your welcome and marketing messages goes a long way toward maximizing the comfort of your potential customers.

Cross Promote Your Other Content

In keeping with this theme, Gordon goes on to point out that promoting your other content in the inbox continues what you’ve already started in terms of trust building among your audience. “How-to” videos on your YouTube channel, social media Q&A sessions, and old-fashioned blog posts all fit this billing and ensure that you establish yourself as a trusted and reputable source for information and services. The best part about this approach? Taking the time to mix in your other content and outreach programs expands your inbox offerings and helps avoid stagnant or repetitive marketed messages.

Go Beyond Splash Offers

Of course, sometimes simply building in additional content to your offers just isn’t enough. For service-based individuals, a lasting and deep bond in the inbox means repeat customers. To achieve this continued relationship, it’s time to go above and beyond in terms of your emails that don’t contain offers or discounts. Well wishes for upcoming holidays, birthday e-cards, and any other personal moment you can hone in on is a great way to show that you care about more than just the next sale. In ultra-competitive industries, the goodwill built in this manner can be worth far more than its weight in gold.

Incorporate Brand Reviews from Peer-Oriented Sites

As important as it is to tout your skills and services, Jeff Sexton of Web Marketing Today explains that in many cases, you’re better off letting someone else speak on your behalf. Sometimes this means adding in links to your brand pages on Yelp, Angie’s List, and other local peer sites and letting your inbox viewers do a little digging before committing to the deals and discounts offered within your marketed messages. However, if you can utilize reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers and users of these sites, you’ll have a powerful asset on your side as you connect with wary and speculative customers still sitting on the fence.

If you really want to get creative with peer-oriented review content, Sexton goes on to suggest utilizing product reviews covering your tools from Amazon and other online retailers. By doing this, you’ll be able to erase any doubts your customers might have about low quality or insufficient materials on the job.

Make the Most of Visual First Impressions

Finally, Sexton recommends that you take some pride in the visuals that go with your marketing pitch – in the inbox and anywhere else online. You only get one chance to make a stellar first impression, so why not get the most out of this process with aesthetically pleasing templates and graphics? Sure, at the end of the day you need to impart value and a certain level of confidence to the customers considering your services, but it’s hard to expect them to read beyond the break if your email comes off as rudimentary or disorganized. With this tip in hand, as well as the rest of what you’ve learned, you’ll be well on your way to serving new customers in your area in no time.

 

 

Email-Marketing--Building-a-Better-Bond

While it’s not necessarily breaking news, there’s still quite a few brands that aren’t on to the powerful connection between social media and email marketing. As for those who are “in the know” regarding this veritable match made in heaven, there’s plenty among this group that can’t see beyond the wide reach of Facebook and the SEO benefits of Google+. While there’s no denying the merits of these two major platforms, this oversight does present a strong opportunity for brands like your own to leverage the unused potential of Twitter. To find out just how your brand can start boosting conversions and contact list numbers 140 characters at a time, here’s a few tips to help build a better bond between your email marketing operations and Twitter presence.

Collecting Handles and Follows

One of the oldest tricks in the book for brands looking to build a bigger social presence comes in the form of slipping in quick connection requests at opportune times. With this in mind, why not try to connect with a simple request in the inbox or on the checkout screen after landing a conversion thanks to your creative email content? Twitter lays claim to over 284 million active users, so even if you only harvest a small percentage of followers for your email marketing operation, or the handles of prominent customers for later tweets and outreach, the potential for visibility among previously undiscovered audiences is through the roof.

Become a Major Player in the Right Hashtag Discussions

Of course, simply asking inbox viewers to follow your brand or identify themselves on the network for your marketing team only goes so far. To really spread the word about your email marketing operations, or any other related digital marketing content for that matter, you need to have your tweets seen in the right place, at the right time, and by the right people.

So how does a brand do this? The answer revolves around finding the right hashtag conversations. For instance, the constantly flowing discussion within #emailmarketing matters quite a bit to us, just as a brand in the home improvement industry naturally will gravitate toward #diy and #interiordesign. The big point here is that finding specific, narrow conversations and inserting your brand directly into the middle of these relevant discussions goes a long way.

Make the Most out of Retweetable “Snippets”

One of the best ways to accomplish this goal once you’ve honed in on the right hashtags is by making certain portions of your email content retweetable with a simple click by the viewer. As DJ Waldow of Social Media Examiner explains, highlighting the best “snippets” of your content goes beyond the basic plea of “retweet this!” and gives your inbox audience a great reason to promote your brand presence on Twitter to their followers. Incorporating tweets and quotes from industry thought leaders also fits into this tactic exceptionally well.

If you’re struggling to drum up some interest on this front, Waldow goes on to point out that incentivizing the process is not only fair game, put a pretty smart tactic as well. Whether it’s providing an additional entry into a related email or SMS sweepstakes, or simply unlocking some gated content in return for this action, giving your audience a reason to retweet the best parts of your marketed messages can go a long way toward getting this highly valuable content in front of the eyes of potential new members of your contact list and future customers alike.

Have Some Fun with Your Tweets

Above all else, don’t forget what makes Twitter so popular – it stands as one of the most fun and informative places on the Internet. Whether it’s sharing funny cat pictures or a link to the latest great industry white paper, people simply can’t get enough of these brief glimpses into the lives of others. In short, the average Twitter experience touches on quite a few emotions and subjects, so if you want to best leverage this platform to gain more traction for your email content and increase conversions, you can’t afford to approach this process from just one angle of attack.

To avoid disenfranchising your following – and ruining potential gains for your email marketing operations – don’t be afraid to mix in some lighthearted or engaging content. People aren’t always looking for sales-oriented content, so aim for a healthy blend of branded selections and curated content that’s both informative and enjoyable. By doing this, you’ll key in on the best of both worlds and keep users, both longstanding and new to the fold, coming back for more.

 

Getting-to-the-root-of-ineffective-marketed-email

If there’s one thing most businesses can’t stand, it’s investing in something that should be a major hit with consumers, but only ends up fizzling out or falling flat on its face. Unfortunately, email marketing campaigns aren’t exempt from this reality. The truth of the matter is that just because connecting with consumers via the inbox can be the most powerful tool in your digital marketing arsenal, doesn’t always mean it’s a slam dunk. To help get things back on track, let’s diagnosis the different ailments found in many ineffective marketed emails. From here, you’ll have everything you need to install a successful and productive campaign that will have your target customers eagerly waiting for more.

Failing to Understand the Customer Lifecycle

The first place to start dissecting your email content comes in the form of gauging your understanding of the role of these marketed messages within the consumer lifecycle. As the experts at the London School of Marketing explain, everything from the inviting welcome email sent out to new subscribers to the “final chance” outreach fired off to long dormant contact list members, has a spot in your planning process. Without the ability to think several steps ahead and tie your content together across these various stages, it’s hard not to have a message that comes off as incomplete or flat out disjointed.

Lacking an Understanding of the Customer-Business Relationship

Similarly, having an understanding of what’s expected between your brand and the consumers making up your contact list also matters when gauging the successes and failures of an inbox campaign. After all, as Karol Krol of Business 2 Community explains, an inability to comprehend the particulars of this relationship creates a gap between the message held within your emails and the person reading it at home or in the office that’s not easily overcome.

If you don’t want to ruin this relationship, Krol suggests stepping into the shoes of your consumers for a little bit and basing your creative development decisions off of this introspection. From keying in on seasonal events to simplifying the purchasing process once your viewers hit your landing pages, spending some time learning about the intricacies of the customer-business relationship via email marketing can go a long way toward regaining a successful campaign outlook.

Overcoming Technical Barriers

One you’re done tying up these conceptual loose ends, it’s time to shift your gaze toward the technical side of email marketing. In his look at the myriad technical difficulties afflicting modern email campaigns, Ian McGrath of iMedia Connection points out that sometimes these issues simply aren’t in your control. For instance, if you’re based out of a country that’s notorious for spam operations, it’s hard to avoid getting caught up in the wide-ranging nets cast by email service providers.

However, for the technical difficulties that do reside within your grasp, like shoddy templates and images that render incorrectly, there’s one surefire way to beat these problems for good – constant testing. It might not be the most exciting answer to this dilemma, but when facing down a campaign that’s sinking thanks to technical mishaps, it’s hard to deny the power of A/B testing. Naturally, you’ll spend a decent amount of time getting into the swing of things, but once you see the results of your hard work come to life in the form of technically sound and engaging emails, you’ll never question again that testing your content before it goes live is the right call.

Setting Appropriate Goals

Finally, it’s always important to set realistic goals when developing your email content and campaigns. Obviously, everyone wants to hit a home run in the inbox on their first try, but the reality of the situation is that starting off small and working your way up is often the best course of action for long term success. In his look at this method of cleaning up a flagging campaign, Ryan Pinkham, also of Business 2 Community, suggests honing in on a specific area and building off of these partitioned goals.

Whether it’s aiming for a raw increase in contact list numbers, or building a strategy that boosts conversions with your current audience, setting appropriate goals and being diligent when it comes to monitoring your successes and failures goes a long way toward righting the ship. When combined with the rest of what you’ve learned, there’s no doubt that this approach will help you get to the root of ineffective emails and lay a foundation on which you can build moving forward.

 

 

CTIASMS_guideline

Much like the CASL series of updates that rocked the email marketing world earlier in 2014, CTIA has completely changed the game for those looking to connect with customers via SMS messages. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry. With our in-depth look at the latest SMS guideline update, as well as the background storylines that led to this change, you’ll have all the info you need to keep your text campaigns running and successful throughout this change – as well as any others waiting beyond the horizon.

What Is the CTIA?

For those of you sitting at your office chair and wondering just what the CTIA is, the answer to this question is simple. Originally known as the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, CTIA is a nonprofit membership-based industry group that aims to provide uniform regulation and promote best practices across all wireless connections in North America. From helping guide the debate surrounding the proliferation of consumer data and net neutrality, to how to properly text consumers, CTIA covers a wide spectrum of issues that relate to businesses and organizations like your own.

What Sparked the Update?

Now that we’ve got the particulars of CTIA out of the way, it’s time to talk about why this governing body decided to switch things up in terms of SMS best practices. According to Natalie Gagliordi of ZDNet, the storylines behind this one focus on the role of net neutrality when it comes to the functions utilized by cellular devices. Essentially, the debate revolves around whether or not mobile carriers have the right to regulate the content they provide customers – specifically marketed messages and content originated via the Internet.

Additionally, January of 2014 saw the major mobile service providers – like AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile – agree to cease billing customers for short code messages that fall under the premium designation. Naturally, this move sent ripples throughout the SMS community on both the service provider and marketer side of the equation.

While there’s currently no end in sight to this particular discussion, or a clear cut understanding of all the ramifications of the major service provider short code shift that occurred in January of 2014 – CTIA hopes to cut off any drastic moves from other industry forces by guiding brands – like your own – with a specific set of best practices. This way, the world of SMS marketing can keep on rolling toward a happy confluence of great deals and eager customers who can’t wait for the latest update from the brands they care about.

Building a Plan That Promotes Compliance

So what exactly goes into maintaining compliance with CTIA’s new SMS guidelines? As Derek Johnson of Mobile Marketing Watch explains, it all starts with clearly identifying your brand at the beginning of the text transmission. Without this transparent approach, you could easily turn customers off who are unsure of the origin of this message. From here, explaining the particulars of the program – such as recurring deals or the frequency of messages – ensures that the reader knows exactly what they are getting into.

As for disclosures, CTIA suggests putting the request of consent and terms of usage somewhere in the body of the message. In Johnson’s recommended template, this info comes right after the call to action (CTA) – a position that’s definitely going to attract some attention from customers skimming over the finer points of the text. Finally, giving some real estate to messaging and data rates, as well as opt-out instructions, rounds out the process and gives your brand the ability to stay in line with CTIA’s guidelines and best practices.

Bracing for the Future

Of course, it wouldn’t be appropriate to gloss over the fact that CTIA doesn’t hand out fines or penalties based on those who fall out of compliance like the proponents of CASL and other email marketing anti-spam laws. However, it’s an ill-advised path to disregard these guidelines and best practices completely. With the discussion of net neutrality now incorporating mobile data and SMS operations, it’s only a matter of time before adhering to these enhanced methods becomes the common standard.

Additionally, keeping your offerings of the highest quality – based exclusively on value and transparency – is never a bad idea. Consumers respond to top tier selections when it comes to SMS marketing, so why not set high standards for your creative mobile content? Otherwise, don’t be surprised when you’re behind the times in terms of industry best practices and unable to stand out in a cluttered text message inbox.

 

Email-Marketing-Calendar

There’s no worse feeling than the regret that comes with missing out on a golden opportunity thanks to a disjointed or disorganized approach. While this definitely rings true for plenty of other facets of your business process, it takes on a whole new meaning when the discussion turns toward email marketing. In a world where ever message and viewer counts, you simply can’t afford to let potential conversions slip through the cracks and fall into the hands of other brands within your industry. With this in mind, let’s dig into how an email marketing calendar can help you kick this inefficiency to the curb and just what goes into a successful take on this tool. This way, you’ll always have an eye on important events and upcoming opportunities – something that’s sure to set you apart from your competition in the inbox.

Understand Where You Started

Before you dive headfirst into the future with reckless abandon, Nikki Ilchert of the Inman news agency suggests spending a little time reflecting on the past and gleaning any potential lessons from previous inbox outreach operations. By looking back at prior campaigns and initiatives, you can gain a better understanding of just where your brand comes up short in terms of marketed messages and missed opportunities with your inbox consumers. It might not be the most pleasant experience in the world, but at least you can write off the threat of making the same mistakes twice with a calendar built with these shortcomings in mind.

Set Your Goals

Once you’re done sifting through the past and figuring out where your brand comes from in terms of email marketing success and failures, it’s time to look toward to the future and where you want to see your brand head in the coming months. After all, that’s what this calendar is made for, right? The best way to go about this is setting realistic goals and benchmarks along the way. Whether you’re factoring in open and conversion rates, or just looking to boost raw contact list numbers over the coming year, you now have the basis to accurately measure and impose attainable goals now that you’ve given the past its due and adjusted your current outlook accordingly.

Identify Key Dates

Of course, no calendar is complete without taking the time to highlight key dates related to your brand’s products and services. Armando Roggio of Practical Ecommerce points to this activity as the next step in the process. Naturally the big holidays – like Christmas, Easter, etc. – are a great place to start, but chances are there’s plenty more dates your brand can’t afford to let fly under the radar.

For instance, if you’re in the business of selling sporting goods, pinpointing the Super Bowl or the Olympics as active dates is a good call when it comes to more specific opportunities. It’s probably going to take a little time finding each and every date worthy of building email content around, but with this guide in hand, you’ll never be left wondering what’s on the agenda in terms of inbox outreach.

The Frequency Dilemma

As for the days and weeks that aren’t necessarily noteworthy on their own, having an email marketing calendar can help you hit the appropriate frequency levels. Instead of working on guesswork and supposition, you’ll have a firm understanding of just how often you’re reaching out to consumers during the average week. From here, trimming down or giving the numbers a little boost is a decision your brand can make with confidence. The best part? As your audience shifts or trends change, you’ll have historic data covering monthly, weekly, and even daily activity backing up your adjustments in response to the inevitable ebbs and flow of consumer demographics.

Develop Your Content!

After all that, there’s only one thing left to do – develop your content based around the blueprint laid out by your email marketing calendar. You’ll find that seeing beyond the imminent and having a strong plan in place does wonders not only for your peace of mind, but also for your brand’s ability to make the most out of fleeting windows of opportunity.

Whether you’re gearing up for a major holiday push, or simply capitalizing on an industry specific event, with this tool now on your side, there’s nothing stopping your organization from taking control of the inbox in a big way. Considering that this channel doesn’t show any signs of losing its top spot in terms of digital marketing prowess, that’s a hard proposition to make for any brand that’s serious about its online presence.

 

social-media-2015

2015 will be the year of social media. In fact, Jeremy Harris Lipschultz, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and contributor to The Huffington Post, suggests that nothing will influence online marketing operations more than how brands integrate these social platforms into the other facets of digital outreach. Considering that email marketing still stands supreme in terms of reach and conversion potential, it only makes sense to start with the bond between these two when building a plan that maximizes the gains of this rising social trend. To help get you up to speed and ready to reap the rewards of a more social 2015, here’s a few quick tips to strengthen the connection between this form of media and the content you ship off to customers.

Mixing Things up with Blasts and Shares

The first tip comes from Nicole Kroese of Business 2 Community and touches on the basic – but oft overlooked – practice of including social share links in your email marketing blasts and content. While it might seem like an obvious inclusion, plenty of brands fail to incorporate these simple buttons and hyperlinks into their content, which in turn results in missed opportunities for bolstering your social following while also enacting your standard email strategy.

If you’re shipping out webinars, white papers, or any other content that can go viral, you can help propel this content to viewership far outside of your established inbox audience by including a sweepstakes or giveaway promotion. People love the chance to win free stuff, so why not offer up something enticing in exchange for a like, share, or repost? This way, you’ll not only drum up some interest within your current community, but also enhance your ability to connect with viewers who might be unaware of your content and email subscription list.

Retarget Your “Cold Feet” Prospects

For brands willing to further entwine their email marketing operations with social media and digital marketing at large, Kroese goes on to suggest utilizing the powerful Facebook retargeted ad campaign tool when the time comes to attempt another conversion. By retargeting individuals that reached your landing pages after opening an email or social link but didn’t quite go all the way with a sale, you can advertise on the most relevant platform and keep your brand’s name in the discussion. There’s no guarantee that you’ll convert all of these shoppers who would otherwise slip through the cracks, but leveraging the power of social media and breathing new life into the deals and discounts found in your emails via a new medium is hard to pass up.

Make Unsubscribing a Positive

Not everyone stays subscribed to your email contact list, but that doesn’t mean you and these wayward viewers can’t stay in touch. As Pamella Neely of Web Marketing Today explains, just because someone doesn’t want to receive emails anymore, that doesn’t mean he or she is completely done with your brand. By adding in social like, follow, and favorite buttons on your unsubscribe confirmation page, you leave the door open for consumers that might just need a change of pace in terms of brand contact. Who knows? After enjoying your social content for a while, they might decide that it’s time for a change of heart and come back to the list. At the very least, you can keep your brand from completely being cut out of the picture.

Generate Web-Based Versions of Your Email Content

Similarly, building web-based versions of your email content is a great way to show these unsubscribed viewers what they are missing. Not only can your brand tweet, post, and share these deals and discounts as a way of promoting its email contact list and generating value, it also provides users with a way to share specific offerings with friends and family. In short, web-based clones of your email content extends the reach even farther of this already powerful tool.

Spotlight Exceptional Fans

Finally, any time you can add a little human element to your content, you’re doing something right. With this in mind, why not take the best posts, tweets, and other follower activity and add it into your email content? Having a “customer spotlight” section in your emails on a daily or periodic basis not only helps break up the “salesy” nature of many messages, it also gives people a chance to hear from their peers before accepting an offer. Combining this modern take on testimonials and other tips with your current content can help seal the deal and ensure you always extract the most value from email marketing and social media in 2015 and beyond.

 

We’re only days away from the turn of the New Year, so now’s a time for festivities and looking back on a job well done over the past year, right? While this is definitely true, it’s only part of the equation when it comes to ensuring the good times are always rolling with your email marketing operations. If you’re interested in keeping your brand one step ahead of the competition, you’ll need a smart approach to 2015. To help you along the way, here’s all you need to know about prepping your email marketing campaign for the coming year and beyond.

Give the Past Its Due

It’s hard to make improvements on the year gone by without a solid introspective look at your prior successes and failures, so Ayaz Nanji of the MarketingProfs research site suggests spending a few minutes giving your previous campaigns an honest assessment. Did you reach the desired contact list numbers you set forth at the beginning of the year? What about conversion rates and offer redemptions? Being open and straightforward with this review is the first step in improving your email marketing performance and setting attainable goals over the next 12 months.

Understand What Metrics Matter to Your Brand

Of course, when reviewing the past or projecting the future, it’s important to know just what metrics deserve your attention. With this in mind, Nanji goes on to identify the performance indicators that matter most to brands that enjoy success in the inbox. Not surprisingly, open rates stand out in this regard. After all, it’s hard to understand what’s going right or wrong within the message if people aren’t opening it up in the first place.

From here, click-through rates and conversion numbers help expand upon the success of your content, as well as point your brand in new or more effective directions during the creation process. Finally, with the constant emphasis on mobile usage, knowing which devices your customers prefer to check their email on can go a long way when the time comes to discuss formatting and design templates that promote viewability and a consistent user experience.

Reignite Your Storytelling Passion

Once you’re done on the technical front, it’s worth looking at the conceptual side of your approach to 2015. In her review of this angle of email marketing, Jackie Wright of the Phoenix Business Blog suggests giving customers that warm and fuzzy feeling via great storytelling. Your email content is a blank canvas, so why not take this opportunity to engage and connect with viewers in a way that goes beyond the simple sales pitch?

Not every message you fire off has to include a deal or discount, so don’t be afraid to sprinkle in some human interest or new stories. Anything that connects your brand to an eye-popping headline and an interesting read positions you for success in the inbox, so complimenting your standard offerings with these change of pace emails can definitely go a long way with your audience.

Consider Expanding Your Email Operations

Of course, there’s nothing saying that your brand can only implement a limited amount of strategies or approaches. As Avi Dan of Forbes magazine explains, 2015 is set to continue upward trends and be a big year for email marketing, so why not expand your operations and capitalize on the continued growth of this format? Whether you implement more seasonal campaigns or increase your reach and support of your contact list in other marketing areas, shifting a greater focus toward the most powerful marketing practice on the web is hardly a bad call when it comes time to set the coming year’s budget in place.

Whatever You Do Plan, Then Plan Some More

Regardless of which path fits your brand’s approach, Eric Hammis gives a hearty vote of support toward planning out each step of the process. While other forms of advertising and outreach might not require as much foresight, the truly successful players in the world of email marketing have an intricate and precise understanding of every facet of an upcoming campaign. This means that for new initiatives, both large and small, don’t be afraid to go overboard when it comes to the finer points of your content, the visual templates utilized by your organization, promotional materials, and everything else in between. Once you have this plan in place, as well as the rest of the information we’ve covered on hand, you’ll be in position to make 2015 the best year ever for your brand in terms of inbox outreach.

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