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branded_newsletter

The newsletter is the backbone of many email marketing campaigns – and for good reason. As one of the most effective methods for reaching an audience in the inbox, this form of content truly goes a long way with readers when implemented properly. Unfortunately, plenty of brands simply assume that newsletter success is a forgone conclusion, leading to suboptimal practices and swiftly diminishing returns. If you’re worried that your brand is in a rut in terms of benefits generated by this type of content, or that this piece of your marketing operations is heading in the wrong direction, take a moment to look over these five quick tips that can supercharge your next newsletter offering.

Always Add Value

In terms of pure impact, Jimmy Daly of Marketing Land explains that there’s no better place to start than with how much value you’re adding to the viewer equation. While some might see this concept from a purely fiscal perspective – coupons, discounts, etc. – adding value goes far beyond this approach. By providing unique and engaging content in your newsletter that enriches the reader, and leaving the sales pitch behind from time to time, your brand can differentiate itself as a valuable and important member of the increasingly crowded inbox scene.

Being Beautiful Goes a Long Way

Outside of giving your content direction an overhaul, focusing on the visuals that represent your newsletter can also go a long way with your email following. Revamping templates and supporting graphics not only shakes things up for the people on the other side of the screen, this approach can also help optimize the rendering and display of your inbox content.

Essentially, building beautiful newsletters in the modern world of email marketing requires finding harmony between stunning graphics and designs that port well to the mobile experience. It might take the help of trusted industry experts and a little trial and error via split testing, but finding the sweet spot where aesthetics meet performance can put this content in position to truly capture the attention of traditional and mobile viewers alike.

Explore Your Brand Story

If you’re looking for a different take on the newsletter experience, Daly goes on to suggest that exploring your brand story can help build a deeper relationship with the target audience. Whether you offer up an insider look at what’s going on behind the scenes, or delve into the personal experiences of members of your community, adding some of the human element to your newsletters serves as a powerful tool for building common ground with your brand’s readers.

Sure, getting personal does require a willingness to broach subjects that go beyond the status quo. However, if you’re able set aside this concern and take the conversation a step deeper than others via connecting on an even more meaningful level, you’ll be rewarded substantially by members of your email community who can’t wait for the next inbox installment.

Hit Your Audience with a Powerful Headline

Obviously, getting what’s going on below the fold in order is a big priority – nobody’s can question this motivating factor. However, Jeanne Jennings of ClickZ points out that if you don’t have a headline that jumps off the page and grabs the reader’s attention, there’s a very real possibility that you’re letting a significant number of viewers slip through the cracks.

A powerful headline is short, simple, and compliments the content that is held within the message. Aside from keeping things straightforward and to the point, Jennings also notes that utilizing a bit of personalization here and there also works well in terms of headline crafting and consumer reception.

Spread the Word

As you optimize and refine your newsletter using these methods and ideas, don’t be afraid to tell the digital world about your new take on this content. By interacting with your audience on social media, your branded blog, and other platforms, your organization can generate even more buzz about these offerings. Considering how important building organic reach is as part of an overarching email marketing campaign, taking the time to work on this front isn’t just good for your newsletters, it’s beneficial to all of the rest of your inbox initiatives as well.

At the end of the day, fixing or enhancing a newsletter doesn’t happen overnight. However, this doesn’t mean you should completely give up on trying to improve your operations completely. By putting what you’ve learned here to good use, there’s nothing that can stop your brand from truly fostering a deeper and more meaningful relationship with these readers via insightful and engaging newsletter content.

 

life_cycle

One of the biggest stumbling points for brands that are trying to make a splash with a target audience is assuming that content and email offerings only need to come in one flavor or style. The truth of the matter is that this misconception couldn’t be farther from reality. Email marketing – at its core – is a relationship that grows and evolves over time, so naturally your content and approach should do the same. To help catch you up to speed with the different phases of the shared consumer-brand lifecycle, let’s spend some take going step by step through these events.

The Early Lifecycle Steps

As Marketing Land’s Jordan Elkind explains, lifecycle email marketing starts out with welcoming new contact list members to the fold and providing them with the info they need to start interacting with your brand. Whether you deploy inbox greetings or finish off an online sign-up with a “thank you” page, making a good first impression gets the process going. From here, turning these members into customers comes next.

Often, your audience will diverge into two different segments or groups at this point. The first group covers those who go on to purchase a product or service, while the second consists of cart abandoners and others who simply come up short before committing to a sale.

Developing into the Middle Stages

While most talking heads might suggest that there’s not much going on in the “maintenance” or middle phases of the lifecycle approach, Elkind goes on to point out that these moments are teeming with potential for building a strong relationship with your brand’s audience. At the top of the list is transitioning one-time buyers into consistent customers.

From here, cross-selling and promoting related products and services, as well as offering loyalty rewards and acknowledging special events – think birthdays and holidays – comes next. In some cases, replenishment reminders and special promos on new products can also enter the picture. The big thing to keep in mind here is that the early steps of lifecycle email marketing are all about laying the foundation for a relationship, while the middle phases focus on the maturation of this connection.

Understanding the Later Phases

In terms of understanding the later phases of this lifecycle, you can boil the underlying concepts down to a singular idea – don’t let this relationship end, if at all possible. Instead of looking at these stages as the beginning of the end, think about how your brand can reignite the interest of these customers who are starting to drift away. Known as “win-backs,” these activities can cover anything from unique offers based on the longevity of the relationship to promotions aimed exclusively at snapping these inbox viewers out of inactivity and lethargy.

Ensuring You Always Match Your Content to the Appropriate Lifecycle Moment

So now that you’re well aware of the different phases of the lifecycle that dictates most email oriented brand-consumer relationships, it’s time to start talking about how to make the most out of these inbox opportunities. According to Zach Taiji of Social Media Today, it all starts with generating interest among your audience. By focusing on content that goes beyond simply financial motivations, your brand can keep excitement and engagement high – something that’s desirable on day one and anywhere beyond this point.

In a similar line of thought, there’s nothing wrong with utilizing the notion of a “burning platform.” Aside from providing a unique visual, this approach helps to keep your audience from falling into a funk and disregarding your email content. Essentially, if your most engaging content and enticing offers take on a time sensitive slant, then these viewers will be hard pressed to sit ideally by and let these opportunities slip away.

Finally, don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes. By keeping a keen eye on key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics, your brand can stay on top of the content optimization process. This way, with every click, open, and conversion logged on behalf of your email marketing campaign, you can ensure that the next customer entering into the lifecycle relationship has a better and more productive experience.

Naturally, there’s so much more that can go into enhancing your relationship with these shoppers over the course of a standard lifecycle. However, with a firm understanding of the unique phases that go into this overarching system – and a willingness to constantly optimize and evolve your approach – there’s nothing that can stop your brand from truly making a positive impact in the inbox with the people that matter most.

 

pinterest

It’s no big secret that social media is the hottest thing on the web – and a major factor in the success of plenty of email marketing campaigns as well. However, there’s still plenty of brands who think that if you’re not working with Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, then there’s little to be gained by blending these two powerful portions of the digital world together. To help dispel this myth, and provide you with a more visually engaging alternative to the social media “Big Three,” here’s a look at how and why utilizing Pinterest can help give your inbox initiatives a major boost.

Delving into the Power of Pinterest

To start this discussion off right, we need to answer the big question that serves as the foundation for the rest of this conversation – is Pinterest’s audience really big enough to worry about? As Marketing Land’s Martin Beck explains, the answer to this question is an overwhelmingly emphatic, “yes!”

With over 50 billion “pins” posted to date, Pinterest has experienced a growth rate of over 66 percent in the past year. Aside from becoming one of the most explosive platforms on the web in recent memory, this visually oriented site also draws well from consumers who are on the go, relying upon mobile devices for 80 percent of its traffic.

Is There Really Room for Overlap?

With millions of people logging in daily, there’s no denying that Pinterest is a hot commodity. However, is it really worth building a branded page and using this tool to raise awareness for your email campaign based upon what you know about your target audience? Again jumping back to Beck’s research can help provide an answer to this question.

As you’ve already seen, mobile audiences can’t get enough of the site, so if your base of consumers also conducts its business from smartphones and tablets, chances are there’s already plenty of overlap. Additionally, Pinterest continues to see growth among more youthful viewers and international visitors alike. If any of these attributes serve as part of your ideal consumer profile, it’s time to start talking about when – and not if – you should make the jump into this social platform.

Putting Your Brand in a Position to Succeed

In order to raise awareness about your email marketing operations, and in a broader sense your brand itself, you’ll need to have a smart and sound strategy leading the way. As Sujan Patel of Small Business Trends points out, if you want to tap into this platform that lays claim to over 50 million users, you need to make a strong first impression.

Just like your inbox oriented content, appearing professional and inviting is a big deal for new members to your social community. Picking a branded cover photo, completing your profile information, and sorting and organizing your pins via appropriate board labels and categories all work well toward this goal.

Once you have the foundation in place, it’s time to start talking about the content that’s worthy of being pinned to your page. Generally, you’ll want to find an appropriate blend of content that intrigues the person on the other side of the screen and offerings that help espouse your brand persona and ideals. By keying in on both of these fronts and providing a unique and active experience for this audience, your brand can build interest among these viewers and drive more traffic toward your email campaign sign-up pages.

Going the Extra Mile

If your brand really wants to go above and beyond in terms of reach and awareness, Social Media Examiner’s Debbie Hemley suggests cozying up with other major players in your industry. Interacting with influencers on Pinterest allows your brand to reap the rewards of recommended pins and mentions that end up in front of substantial audiences. Naturally, these connections can’t be forced – you’ll have to work toward a legitimate relationship with these established members of the community. But once a nod toward your email marketing list and other endeavors end up on one of these prominent pages, it won’t take long for you to realize that all of this hard work hasn’t been in vain.

By now, there’s no doubt that Pinterest can play a major role in supporting your email marketing and other outreach operations. As long as you put these tips and tactics to good use and keep your brand open to exploring new opportunities on this front, you can move forward with confidence knowing that your brand is getting the most out of this constantly growing platform.

 

future_proof

So you’re current email marketing campaign is up, running, and moving forward at full speed. Customers are responding to your content, conversion rates are through the roof, and life couldn’t be better, right? While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of your labor in the present, many industry experts – like Erik Harbison of The Huffington Post – warn against resting on your laurels for too long. With this in mind, let’s talk about the finer points of marketing tactic known as “future-proofing.” This way, as your brand outreach capabilities grow and mature, you won’t find yourself constantly wishing for a second chance at missed opportunities.

Is “Future-Proofing” Necessary?

Before going any farther, it’s important to understand why future-proofing is so necessary in today’s marketplace. After all, it’s hard to think of email marketing as being prone to missteps when it stands as one of the hottest commodities on the web. As Clickz’s Jeanne Jennings points out, open rates are indeed at the highest levels we’ve seen since 2007, but there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the statistics behind the email marketing boom.

Essentially, there’s no way to deny that more customers than ever are opening messages. But what happens afterward – a severe decrease in click-through and click-to-open rates – shows that brands who aren’t thinking ahead are slowly falling behind the curve. Because of this trend, it’s absolutely vital to be one step ahead of your competition in terms of giving the audience what they want.

Ask Questions Now to Build for Later

Now that we’ve shored up the concerns surrounding the need for future-proofing, it’s time to enact Harbison’s first step in the process – asking questions regarding your current operations. Without this foundation guiding the way, it’s virtually impossible to build a plan that spans far into the future of your brand’s inbox endeavors.

Specifically, the questions surrounding how your contact list membership heard about your brand, what – if anything – potentially kept these viewers from signing up to receive marketed messages, and how you could improve the process to serve as a strong starting point. From here, you can naturally refine the conversation and delve deeper into points of interest that your audience members bring to light during the initial discussion.

Take a Step in Their Shoes

While talking to your customers is definitely a step in the right direction, why not go even farther by experiencing the email campaign process from their prospective? By “walking in the shoes” of your audience, your brand can gain valuable insight into the inherent weaknesses and strengths of its current email operations.

It might seem a little bit over the top at first, but embracing the shopper mentality and honestly evaluating each phase of the email marketing experience – from signing up to the weekly routine and tie-ins with other forms of outreach – can truly open your eyes regarding what a list member experiences on a regular basis. Even if the results aren’t always easy to handle, it’s still in your best interests to get this knowledge out in the open so that your brand can rectify the situation and optimize the process for the future.

Think of Your Content as Assets

As the final piece of the future-proofing puzzle, Harbison suggests shifting your mindset when it comes to content. Essentially, most organizations think of these selections, from blog posts to YouTube videos, as replaceable cogs in the greater marketing system. Simply put, this viewpoint is far too shortsighted to be sustainable.

Content is the most valuable asset you have on your side when it comes to email marketing, so treat these offerings with the respect they deserve. Sure, putting in the time and effort to acquire customer testimonials or build a series of user guides and webinars, can be a strain on your work week and budget, but once you have these value-driven offerings on hand, you can always lean on them as needed.  The best part about all of this is that taking on this proactive approach helps you fire on all cylinders now and deep into the future. While the competition is left rehashing the same old boring content in their marketed messages, your brand will be exploring new and exciting territory that can truly engage the audience.

As you can see, having the ability to generate an impact now, while also securing your position in the inbox for years to come, truly makes the concept of future-proofing worth the time and effort needed to pull it off – regardless of your current industry standing and prospects.

 

email_fear

If you’re like most people, chances are you have at least one fear that knows just how to get under your skin. Whether it’s spooky noises in the middle of the night or spiders and all other manner of creepy-crawlies, these fears are just a part of being human. However, have you ever thought about what really scares you when it comes to your email marketing campaign? To help you face these frightening digital scenarios, and ensure you never become part of a nightmare in the inbox, let’s take a look at the four main fears brands must face, as explained by Miranda Paquet of Business 2 Community.

Taking the First Step

Naturally, the best place to start this discussion is with the hesitancy that many brands face when figuring out how to break into the email marketing scene. While it’s only natural to fear the unknown, the truth of the matter is that reaching out to consumers in the inbox is far from a risky proposition.

For instance, the experts at Marketing Sherpa report that many brands experience returns on their investments of up to 139 percent. In addition to the massive influx of consumer response represented by that eye-popping stat, 88 percent of business-to-business (B2B) marketers cite email as their most effective lead generation tactic. The moral of the story is that if you’re worried about taking on too much risk, you’ll be happy to know that an email campaign is far from an uncertain or volatile endeavor.

Juggling the Time Commitment

Once you’re ready to step into the inbox, Paquet notes that the next big fear faced by new members of the email marketing community revolves around the idea of being crushed by the time commitment that comes with this process. Obviously, there’s no denying that email marketing requires both time and effort to be successful. However, there’s nothing that says you have to shoulder this burden all on your own.

In terms of support, a strong platform from which to base your operations is a good start. This way you can take advantage of automated messaging and all of the other tools that help enhance email creativity and productivity. Outside of picking the right platform, having a team of experts and industry professionals on your side to answer questions and offer guidance doesn’t hurt either.

Saying Something Meaningful

Another major roadblock that businesses dread – and for good reason – is failing to say something meaningful to the potential customers viewing this content in the inbox. As Matthew Collis of The Huffington Post explains, the big key to generating the right message is to hit on relevant points. If you’ve ever opened up an email and said to yourself, “What the heck am I reading?”, then you know exactly why relevancy is such a big deal to this kind of marketing campaign.

Generating meaningful content requires an intimate knowledge of your audience. Their needs, desires, and daily problems should all serve as the basis of your content, but finding the right timing and context is just as important in your efforts to say something meaningful. If you can hone in on these major points though, there’s nothing stopping your brand from truly striking a chord with its inbox audience.

Finding a Way to Measure Your Impact

The final fear on Paquet’s list doesn’t focus on working up the courage to join the world of email marketing or the implementation of this approach, but rather how to tell if you’re getting your money’s worth out of a campaign. Unfortunately, the reason this fear turns into a problem for many brands is due to the conflicting nature of what constitutes success.

For some brands, success comes in the form of boosting sales and page traffic, while others simply want to promote participation in a unique or one-time event. Until you sit down and define what counts as a successful campaign, letting go of this fear and finding the right metric or measurement is a task that’s significantly harder than it has to be.

Naturally, there’s plenty of other email marketing fears that could potentially make a claim for a spot somewhere on this list – feel free to let us know if you think we missed something worth mentioning. That being said, if you’re able to kick Paquet’s four main concerns to the curb by embracing what you’ve learned thus far, then there’s nothing that can truly stop your brand from building a lasting and strong bond with the people that matter most.

 

behavioral_triggers

Pretty much any post from an email marketing news outlet or industry talking head always comes back to a single, core principle regarding this process; if you want to conquer the inbox, then you need to know your audience. With this nugget of knowledge serving as the centerpiece to so many email marketing campaigns, you’d think that a deeper understanding of behavioral triggers and how to capture the potential found within these events would be the logical follow-up topic.

However, the conversation often shuffles the value of playing off the audience’s actions to the backburner – or leaves the subject out of the discussion entirely. To find out why this surprising gap in marketing tactics and approaches exists, as well as what your brand can do to make the most out of the opportunities presented by this method, let’s spend a few minutes talking about the current and future roles of behavioral triggers in the world of email marketing.

The Facts Behind This Deficiency

According to David Moth of Econsultancy, the problem surrounding behavioral triggers isn’t just one of perception or hearsay. In the study quoted by Moth, researchers found that only 20 percent of brands and marketers make use of these events and opportunities at any given time. When compared to basic segmentation (76 percent), optimization for mobile devices (61 percent), and other leading tactics, it’s easy to see that behavioral triggers as an email marketing utility simply doesn’t get the respect that it deserves.

Figuring out the Root of the Problem

So if those who aim to connect with consumers in the inbox are aware of the value of building content around behavioral triggers, why aren’t they making the most out of these practices? The answer to this question lies within two distinct, but related issues plaguing the email marketing industry.

First is the notion that “good enough” is just fine in the inbox. While email marketing stands as the most engaging and powerful outreach tool on the web, that doesn’t mean that doing the bare minimum is the right call. Aside from this lackadaisical mentality, there’s also the realization that many brands simply shy away from the hard work that comes with exploring uncharted territory. The potential to fall flat with a new or innovative tactic is always there and strong enough to sway the decisions of a large number of industry movers and shakers.

Is the Marketplace Ready for Change?

Of course, it’s also important to point out that there is a growing undercurrent of change in the waters of email marketing. As Moth goes on to report, even though only 20 percent of those polled currently utilize behavioral triggers as a means to disperse relevant content to audience members, another 39 percent have plans to eventually take the plunge. It’s not the most overwhelming sign that change is imminent, but it offers up enough evidence to prove that eventually the marketplace will catch on to the opportunity found in this underemployed method.

Taking Advantage of the Cutting Edge

So now that we know that behavioral triggers as a means to prompt inbox content is underutilized and poised to start making a push into its rightful place of prominence at some point in the future, the next logical step comes in the form of finding a way to get a leg up on the rest of your competition. To kick start the discussion, let’s talk about some of the best ways to tether your content to audience actions.

According to a study conducted by Marketing Sherpa’s Courtney Eckerle, the strongest place to start is by responding to initial sign-ups to your email contact list. While this seems obvious, there’s still plenty of brands who simply don’t roll out the welcome mat for new members of the community.

From here, taking note of account inactivity and abandoned carts keeps this trend going. Depending on your products and services, you might be able to even slip in a triggered message here and there based on subscription cycles and the lifespan of your offerings. The big key is to build content and triggers based around the attributes of your audience.

As long as you can keep this ideal at the forefront of your approach, your brand should be able to get ahead of the curve and make the most out of the potential found within behavioral triggers and email marketing. If you’d like to learn more about behavioral marketing in general and its connection to the inbox, feel free to check out our in-depth look at this emerging segment of the email marketing industry here.

 

clickbait

A quick look at your social feed of Facebook or any other network probably shows a plethora of suggested links from friends and organizations that have titles along the lines of “You Won’t Believe…,” “This Shocking Secret…,” and “I Can’t Believe What Happened Next…” While these clickbait titles serve a role in today’s modern social media and greater Internet landscape, your brand could be in a world of trouble in the inbox if it’s relying upon these offerings in the subject line as it reaches out to customers. To ensure your brand puts an end to its clickbait disaster – or keeps it from ever starting up – let’s spend a few moments talking about why this technique fails and what audience members really want to see out of an email subject line.

Clickbait Explained

Of course, some of you are probably sitting at your desk wondering just what the heck clickbait is and why it matters to the Internet. In an effort to shed some line on this very quandary, Jiaxi Lu of The Washington Post offers up a strong explanation of the clickbait process and how it works.

Essentially, a clickbait title aims to provide the reader with as little information as possible in an effort to elicit views based on curiosity alone. While this is definitely an effective tactic for building bulk click numbers, Lu points out that these titles often lead the reader to an irrelevant or poorly composed offering that potentially had little to do with the ambiguous subject line, thus disenfranchising the viewer and promoting a poor user experience.

Why This Approach Falls Flat

But wait, isn’t the “curiosity gap” a viable method for developing engaging headlines for both the inbox and blog content? While this statement is true, the curiosity gap method still offers up some relevant info, instead of eschewing all pertinent content in an effort to prey upon browsing passersby that absolutely need to know what’s happening on the other side of the link. In fact, as a testament to this observation, Lu notes that Facebook is actively trying to tighten its promotional ranking systems for content in an effort to do its part in the fight against clickbait.

On the email marketing side of things, Marketing Land’s Matt McGee explains that it’s less about regulation from email platforms and more about consumers simply growing tired of these clickbait subject lines. In fact, McGee points to several commonly used clickbait phrases and the reduction in read rates tethered to these offerings to prove this point. For instance, “Secret of” led to an 8.69 percent reduction in message reads, “limited time” clocked in at a 3.05 percent dip, and “shocking” caused this rate to plummet by 1.22 percent.

Considering how important each and every reader is to your inbox campaign, taking even the smallest hit due to poorly constructed, clickbait headlines is simply unacceptable. If you’re serious about being a player in today’s marketplace, this kind of negative response has no place in your marketing equation.

The Secret to Crafting Impactful Subject Lines

Now that we’ve shattered the notion of clickbait headline usefulness, it’s time to get your brand up to speed with a proper guide to generating informative and engaging subject lines. According to Daniel Burnstein of The Content Marketing Institute, it doesn’t matter whether you’re building content for your blog or the inbox, you need a header that mixes the right amount of curiosity and information. You don’t want to give everything about your message away in the headline, but at least offer up something informative and exciting to pique the interest of your viewer.

If you’re unsure what exactly fits into this category, don’t be afraid to engage in some split testing with portions of your audience. Trying out a few different subject lines to get a feel for what these viewers like does add an extra step to the production process, but Burnstein notes that moving forward with confidence and certainty in your subject line development is definitely worth the extra work.

Finally, don’t get lured into the Upworthy or Buzzfeed “trap.” Just because longwinded, vague headlines generate views on these sites, that doesn’t mean that this approach is right for the inbox. Keeping things focused, short, and sweet gives your brand the best chance to catch the eyes of your audience members. Regardless of what industry you’re aiming to take by storm, letting these simple, yet powerful, guidelines lead the way is a recipe for success that will have your brand rocketing past the competition in no time.

 

more_leads_sms

The majority of talking heads on the web can’t wait to tell you about how great SMS marketing is in terms of boosting leads and sales among your audience – and they’re right on the money with this claim. However, offering up this common knowledge isn’t quite the same as laying out some tactics and methods for getting to the point of running a successful mobile campaign. In an effort to reverse this trend and get your brand on track for mobile marketing success, here’s five straightforward tips to help your current or future SMS campaign generate more leads.

Pair Your SMS Operations with Other Tools

If you’re already firing off mobile messages to your target audience, Matt Silk of Target Marketing magazine suggests pairing up your campaign with other powerful tools. In a supporting role, email marketing, social media management, and even paid on-site advertisements can help raise awareness about your SMS offerings and ensure that contact list numbers always reach their potential. Considering how important it is to leave no stone unturned, it makes sense to utilize these tools and funnel as many people as possible to your brand’s on-the-go offerings.

Get Cozy with Metrics

Outside of getting the whole marketing team in on the act, Silk goes on to explain that you could be leaving quite a bit on the table in terms of leads if you’re not constantly testing and optimizing your campaign. Essentially, embodying this approach means critically evaluating each portion of your campaign via metrics that aim to tell the complete and unfiltered story of what’s happening on the other side of the mobile divide.

From taking note of the difference between open and response rates, to tracking shares on social media and your overall return on this investment (ROI), there’s a variety of metrics available to your brand that can help shed light on areas that are in need of improvement. The big key here is approaching this optimization process with an open, honest mindset and a willingness to do whatever is necessary to extract even more value out of your SMS operations.

Keep Your Website Optimized

If you’re including links to your site in any message content, it’s imperative that your domain employ the latest and best practices covering mobile site optimization. Considering how often Google likes to change up its search ranking algorithm – just look at the impact caused by the latest update, “Mobilegeddon” – it’s safe to say that this approach requires quite a bit of dedication to truly pull off with any measure of success.

As Zak Becker of Business 2 Community explains, the mobile optimization debate boils down to two things; value and usability. If the pages you link to your SMS marketing operations are easily navigated and contain relevant, quality content, then chances are you’ll be in good shape, regardless of whatever minor tweaks and changes come down from Google’s Webmaster team.

Deploy SMS Campaigns at Industry Events

In terms of finding new ways to deploy your SMS offerings, Lisa Cannon – also of Business 2 Community – suggests promoting your mobile marketing campaign at relevant industry events. From trade shows and expos to consumer meet and greets, providing rewards and incentives to those perusing the event is a great way to give your contact list a healthy boost. The best part? As these event-goers disperse and head back to their jobs and communities, they can serve as ambassadors and help spread the word regarding this campaign to others on behalf of your brand.

Start Local, Then Build Outward

As far as getting a fledgling campaign off the ground goes, Cannon also notes that starting local and building outward is a strong tactic. Whether you utilize billboards and other physical advertising space, or pick up spots on local TV broadcasts, building a grassroots following – especially if you’re in charge of a smaller brand – is an effective way to ensure that this kind of outreach campaign has a stable foundation upon which to grow.

Naturally, not all of these tips will apply to your brand, simply because there is no “one size fits all” approach to SMS marketing. But if you’re able to run out at least a few of these selections, you should be able to put your organization in a position to succeed with the people that matter most. Considering how important it is to reach today’s shoppers as they’re out and about, having this process on your side can definitely stand as the key to growing and enhancing your business outlook.

 

new_outlook

Long considered to be standing on the verge of digital irrelevancy, Microsoft has spent the past several years completely reinventing its image and method of connecting with computer users – specifically when it comes to the suite of Microsoft apps. As part of this process, it’s only natural that Outlook, Microsoft’s branded email platform, undergoes a makeover of its own as the organization shifts toward the Windows 10 base operating system. With this in mind, let’s spend a few minutes talking about the impending changes to Outlook, as well as what your brand needs to do to stay in the limelight once this app takes center stage on devices around the world.

What’s New with Outlook?

In her look at the new and improved Outlook app, general manager of the Office Product Management team Julia White notes that the vast majority of the changes made to this program focus on touch oriented and mobile devices. Specifically, White points to an increased usage of mobile and touchpad devices that lack a keyboard or a mouse as the primary need for a newer, hipper take on one of the oldest email platforms around.

Aside from giving you and your audience the ability to control everything about the email process with the touch of a finger, there’s also the fact that the Windows 10 version of Outlook integrates another member of the app suite – Microsoft Word – into the mix. As this statement would imply, having Word capabilities built-in means that users of this platform have the ability to insert bullet points, pictures, and tables with ease, as well as read, sort, flag, and archive mail from a visually similar platform to the paired Word app. If you’re a fan of streamlined offerings and continuity, then the news regarding this universal interface approach to the suite of Microsoft apps is definitely music to your ears.

Understanding This Step Forward

As far as the reasoning behind this makeover goes, Marketing Land’s Kevin Gallant explains that several factors led to this new take on Outlook. First, with over 50 percent of all emails being opened on mobile, touch-enabled devices, it makes perfect sense for Microsoft to catch on to this trend and build a product oriented to the majority. In fact, failing to do so would place this tech giant firmly back into the center of the discussion regarding digital irrelevancy and dated practices.

Of course, it’s also important to note that this step forward is the latest example of Microsoft’s push into the mobile world. As Gallant reports, this service provider has already offered up iOS and Android apps that cater to mobile email users, just not on the level of the impending Outlook release. In many ways, this “new” Outlook is more of an improvement on the projects already set forth by Microsoft.

While these points definitely add weight to Microsoft’s decision to rejuvenate the Outlook system, Gallant wraps up his look with the most important reason for the switch – Google’s success on the mobile and desktop fronts. Like most other cutting edge tech developments, Google has staked its claim as an industry leader on these devices with its “Inbox” app, forcing others to follow along or fall out of favor with the online community. With this in mind, the choice for Microsoft was pretty clear; get in line with the times or end up as a digital anachronism.

Bracing for Impact

Now that you understand how and why Microsoft is tweaking the knobs on its Outlook platform, it’s time to get to the root of the next two logical questions – when is this update hitting consumer devices and what can your brand do to maximize its position once the new Outlook goes live? To answer these queries, let’s start with the timeframe debate first.

As Matt Egan of Tech Advisor points out, the current iteration of this mail retrieval, storage, and editing system is currently available to insiders for testing, with a commercial release arriving at some point this summer. Thankfully, this means you have some time to get things ready before your audience makes the switch.

Essentially, prepping for this renovated platform is all about ensuring your emails continue to promote quality and value to the reader. If you’re offering up meaningful content, as well as catchy headlines and “above the fold” selections that help draw in readers via the Outlook preview pane, you’ll be just fine when the time comes to start reaching out to these viewers who reside on the cutting edge of this new and improved Outlook app.

 

smallbusiness

As a small business, going toe-to-toe with the bigger names in your industry can seem daunting, or even impossible, at times – and for good reason. With multinational corporations and “Big Box” stores on seemingly every street corner, trying to rely upon limited resources can create feelings of hopelessness for even the most optimistic small business owners and managers. However, thanks to the rise of the modern digital marketplace – specifically email marketing and inbox campaigns – there’s no reason you can’t claim your fair share of the online consumer audience too. To put you on the right track for success, here’s the five email marketing tips that every small business needs to hear before starting up or revitalizing a campaign.

Be Wary of the Wide Net

In her look at developing campaigns for small businesses, Paula Chiocchi of Business 2 Community points out that casting the widest net possible isn’t always your best bet. Sure, gaining access to massive contact lists seems great at first glance, but doing so could cause your brand to lose out on its ability to generate meaningful, unique, and personalized content. As you develop your audience persona and grow your contact list naturally, it’s okay to take on larger and larger numbers of inbox followers – just be wary of creating a following that is too broad or loosely connecting to your brand.

Segmentation Tells a Better Story

Similarly, Chiocchi also explains that the segmentation of your audience further reduces the risks of embodying an approach that is too broad and helps optimize your campaign at the same time. If you’re unsure with how segmentation works, it’s not too hard of a concept to pick up.

Segmenting your contact list starts with compiling as much information on your membership as possible. From here, sorting and categorizing users based on this information provides the foundation for content development and refinement. By enacting this strategy, you can generate content that speaks specifically to each different category – otherwise known as a segment – thus maximizing the impact of each individual email.

Getting the Details Right

Unfortunately, when you’re gathering this information for segmentation and content development, there’s always room for error when people get involved in the mix. To mitigate this issue, don’t be afraid to ask questions at any point in the process. Delving into the particulars of content optimization with your team of email marketing experts will go a long way to ensure that the devil isn’t actually hiding in the details, which is a massive boon to companies of any size.

Figure out the Right Message and Send It!

In terms of stepping up to the plate and letting your content make a name for itself, plenty of smaller businesses experience a strong case of the inbox “jitters.” Despite all of this, as long as you’ve done your homework and generated relevant content, there’s no reason to assume the worse for your first run of emails. As Jonathan Long of The Huffington Post notes, relevancy is a big piece of the puzzle, so it’s okay to be confident in your content if you’ve utilized what you’ve learned thus far to create meaningful offerings.

As time goes on and you generate feedback and reactionary data, then it’s okay to get critical with your content and seek out new tactics and methods for reaching your audience in the inbox. Until then, focus on what you can control and don’t be afraid when the time comes to send the first message of your new campaign.

Always Be Willing to Expand Your Horizons

The final tip that should serve as guidance for small businesses – regardless of the current industry you call home – revolves around the notion of staying up to date with the best practices within the world of email marketing. Audience tendencies and desires can change with the wind, so avoiding the temptation to rest on your laurels is key to maintaining a strong hold on your status within the inbox.

Whether you’re connecting with industry experts for guidance and counseling on this front, or simply keeping up with relevant blogs and sites (like this one), maintaining a keen interest in what’s going on with email marketing is the only way to truly continue the trend of maximizing the potential of your operations. Considering how important this process is for a small business trying to make a mark on the web, keeping this mindset at the forefront of any campaign is always the right call.

© 2013 Elite Email Inc. Blog Admin