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There’s no time like the present when it comes to refocusing your email marketing practices on the constantly expanding mobile world. Whether it’s Business Insider’s John Heggestuen reporting that one in every five people in the world owns a smartphone, or the blockbuster announcement from Google regarding the release of the Inbox by Gmail app, the mobile side of inbox communications continues to demand attention. To ensure your brand doesn’t fall behind the times, and the competition, here’s five quick and easy tips from around the industry that can help you optimize your mobile email offerings.

Make Your Call-to-Action Button Easy to Use

One of the most infuriating things about reading an email that isn’t optimized for mobile viewing is struggling to click the call-to-action (CTA) button and redeem an offer. If you’ve ever been in this position yourself, you know that the frustration associated with this problem can quickly turn to email abandonment. To avoid watching potential conversions fall through the cracks, Christina Galbornetti of Target Marketing magazine suggests placing the CTA button “above the fold,” in an easy-to-click location. By separating this clickable URL from other portions of the message, you provide your readers with quick and easy access to your landing pages if they decide to redeem an offer and move forward with a conversion.

Avoid Poor Font and Text Choices

Galbornetti goes on to point out that the text and fonts used in your marketed messages also play a vital role in your mobile optimization endeavors. For instance, dark background tables with white knockout text ends up placing invisible content in front of your audience, thanks to the removal of colored tables by many email clients. Additionally, larger fonts can distort even responsive and adaptive templates, while red font coloring can quickly trigger spam filters. Before firing off any emails, spend a few minutes testing how your text selections render on mobile devices. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when your audience ships back and underwhelming response to unreadable emails.

Stick to Single Column Layouts

As far as the body of your email goes, Laurie Beasley of the Online Marketing Institute notes that double column layouts might look great on the desktop, but only cause headaches in the mobile world. At best, these offerings clog up precious small screen real estate, while at worst this type of layout ends up as an unintelligible mess. The better option, according to Beasley, is to focus on single column layouts. By doing this your message can render properly and maximize its usage of the limited smartphone screen with a clear flow of text and graphic content.

Let Go of the Click Mentality

Additionally, Beasley also suggests thinking with your fingers and thumbs, and not with the clicker of your mouse, when designing your mobile messages. To help you embrace this mentality, consider keeping any buttons and “tappable” content to a size at least as big as a 44 pixel square. Aside from this size minimum, keeping links and buttons to the center or left of the template also makes life a little easier on your mobile viewers. Finally, say no to hover and pop-out interactive elements that jam up the viewing process, as well as any wording that references clicking – like the oft overused “click here.”

Offer a Plain Text Version of Your Message

The final tip, from Erik Boman of Econsultancy, strips away the high tech setting of smartphones and opts for something that’s a little more back to basics; a plain text version of your message. While it might seem a little strange to not utilize all of the fancy bells and whistles that come with the modern mobile inbox, Boman explains that sometimes you’re much better off providing a simple alternative that helps keep the message clear for those using older equipment or readers who are less inclined to read graphic-oriented content.

The best part about the plain text alternative approach is that it doesn’t really tax your development resources. Simply including a link in your email, generally near the bottom of the page, to a browser-based version of the message that skips over all of the graphics and template features fulfills this tip and provides another angle of fostering and capitalizing on potential conversions.

Naturally, not all of these tips will fit your approach to developing a strong mobile front. However, between implementing some of the ideas and utilizing others as the basis for a little extra research and discussion, your brand will be well on its way to optimizing for the ever-growing mobile portion of its audience. Considering that the trends toward smartphone usage and checking email on the go show no signs of slowing down, this is right where your organization wants to be moving forward.

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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 Orange County Transportation Authority leveraged a smart SMS campaign to help keep the local community on track with the latest bus arrival times.

Few things in life are worse than missing the bus when you rely on public transportation to make your way around town. Not only does this mishap set you back on time, it can also cause a ripple effect that ruins the rest of your daily schedule. As one of the core portions of the Orange County Transportation Authority’s (OCTA) mission statement, minimizing the risk of this event for the residents of Orange, California was of paramount importance. To find out how the OCTA utilized a savvy SMS program to accomplish this goal, let’s break down the particulars of the organization’s campaign, as well as what this information could mean for your brand’s next text message initiative.

Getting off to a Rolling Start

Aside from the desire to help make relying information about this transportation system more accurate and efficient, the OCTA also had two other plans in mind – to develop a strong text-based connection with the patrons of the bus program and to cut down on the significant costs associated with providing route information to these individuals. As the team behind this program found in its initial audit, handling the 18,000 customer calls per week requesting arrival times cost this transportation authority nearly $144,000 per month. Adding in the expensive nature of amassing printed schedules and the toll this approach took on the local environment convinced the OCTA that the time for change couldn’t wait any longer.

In response to these concerns, the OCTA created the Text4Next program. As part of this system, bus patrons texted specific stop and bus route numbers to the short code “OCTAGO.” On the other end of the connection, the team at the OCTA had a scheduling system in place that responded to the query with a text containing the next three arrival times related to the targeted bus and stop.

Raising Awareness for Text4Next

Naturally, this system sounds great, but without the right backing, expecting the population of Orange, California to jump on board without any guidance was a bit unrealistic. To help raise awareness for Text4Next, the OCTA attacked the issue from two angles. The first approach, traditional marketing, included emails to the established email contact list for the organization, as well as a revamped website, brochures, and official press releases.

On the other side of the awareness campaign, the OCTA utilized guerrilla marketing tactics to help spread the word. As part of this outreach, the “Text4Next Street Team” wore branded t-shirts and connected with bus patrons at stops around the city. By doing this, trained “Street Team” professionals helped promote the system and provided valuable hands on demonstrations for the local population.

Racking up the Savings

So how well did the Text4Next program do in its mission to save the OCTA on costs associated with responding to consumer queries? A year after the program launched, this organization reported customer calls had fallen to a weekly average of 14,500, down from the initial 18,000. Additionally, the first month of the program saw over 7,000 messages from inquiring customers, while the 12-month mark saw this number jump to over 198,000. Considering that the average cost of a text hovers around $0.10 for the OCTA, compared to $2.00 per call into the consumer hotline, the Text4Next program, which is still going strong, has saved the organization more than $350,000 since its launch.

Riding the Bus to SMS Success

Even if you’re not representing a civil service or government outreach program, there’s still plenty of lessons your brand can learn by following in the OCTA’s footsteps. First, SMS messaging isn’t just an effective way to push up conversion numbers in a retail setting, it can help lower the financial burden of traditional communications as well. By simply replacing a dated method of handling customer inquiries with a smart system, like Text4Next, your brand can cut costs and save money.

From here, sometimes you have to go beyond traditional marketing to get the word out about your campaign. By taking on a guerilla approach like the OCTA did on behalf of Text4Next, your organization can reach an entirely new audience, which in turn adds even more power to your text outreach programs. Regardless of your industry, putting these tips to good use can radically change, and improve, the relationship you have with your target audience.

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The email marketing world is on high alert, all thanks to some major news out of the Google camp. As part of the tech giant’s continued emphasis on tweaking its email platform, Inbox by Gmail offers up a stunning new take on how viewers interact with messages in the inbox. While this mobile app update is currently in an invitation only phase, it’s never too early to start planning any campaign adjustments that can take advantage of this change. With this in mind, let’s spend some time going over the particulars of Inbox by Gmail, as well as what kind of impact it could have on your next email marketing initiative.

The best place to start this discussion is by talking about just what exactly Inbox by Gmail has to offer for those looking to change how they view messages of all shapes and sizes. As CNET’s Nicole Cozma points out in her breakdown of this app, Inbox by Gmail is all about bundling similar messages together and providing users with a variety of amenities and creature comforts.

The stock bundles include purchases, travel, and promos (the big one for the email marketing world), as well as the ability for users to generate a completely customizable bundle tailored specifically to their needs. Additionally, the messages found within each bundle can be sorted based on importance and relevancy, ensuring that nothing gets lost in the chaos of a cluttered inbox.

As far as the supporting cast of features goes, Cozma goes on to note that Inbox by Gmail comes with a plethora of options. Chief among these are a “snooze” button that hides messages until a later time, timed reminders, mass deletion and archiving of emails, and “pinnable” messages. The last feature keeps important offerings at the top of the page, regardless of how many new emails enter the inbox.

Understanding the Potential Implications

Naturally, this is a ton of new information to digest, so it’s hard to know how Inbox by Gmail will truly affect the world of email marketing. However, the experts at Forbes magazine have a few ideas in mind for what’s going to change moving forward. First off, with Inbox by Gmail currently only available for smartphone use, chances are that mobile optimization will take on an even greater emphasis than it already does in the development process.

Also, creating killer subject lines and preview panes will take on a whole new meaning, all thanks to the focus placed on these portions of the message via the new bundle screen. As for the “From” details of the message, avoiding opaque or indirect attributions is a must, as this information helps sort and rank bundled emails with similar offerings.

Finally, the team at Forbes points out that only the foolish won’t take great care to adjust and accommodate to the new precedent set by Inbox by Gmail. While Google claims this development serves only as an alternative to the traditional inbox setting, the same statement applied to the “tab” selections currently utilized by the standard Gmail interface. The moral of the story now hasn’t changed since then – Google doesn’t spend massive amounts of time and resources on new offerings, like Inbox by Gmail, if the plan isn’t to eventually have these changes take the place of former staples.

Building Your Strategic Response

So what can your brand do to stay one step ahead of the impending switch to Inbox by Gmail? To start, make sure your campaign doesn’t just support mobile optimization, it completely embraces this mindset. From responsive template designs to tailoring emails specifically for mobile viewing, giving readers a satisfying experience on this front is a great way to start off on the right foot.

Additionally, improving subject line writing, as well as learning more about “above the fold” marketing, can help you maximize the impact your messages have on viewers consuming this content via Inbox by Gmail’s new bundle preview pane. Outside of these concerns, simply remaining committed to offering value-driven and engaging content is your best way to thrive in an environment where Google wants to reward quality selections and punish those who still cling to spam tactics.

Thankfully, there’s still plenty of time to adapt and prepare for the big switch. By putting this information to good use and building your plan now, you can gain major ground against the competition and have a winning campaign waiting in the wings once Inbox by Gmail moves out of the invitation only phase and into the hands of millions around the world.

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With eMarketer reporting that over 1.75 billion people worldwide will have smartphones by the end of 2014, going the SMS marketing route probably looks like a slam dunk for virtually any organization. While the regular readers of our blog know that we’re more than partial to the process, that doesn’t mean that just jumping into this form of outreach headfirst is the only option in front of your business. In order to avoid a marketing calamity for your brand, let’s spend some time discussing the particulars of this process to find out if it’s really the right option for your organization moving forward.

The Evidence for SMS Success

Aside from the massive number of aforementioned people who can’t get enough of their phones, Brett Nuckles of Business News Daily points out that the case for texting with customers is strong, and only growing stronger. Essentially, the power of this tool begins with it’s engaging nature. By providing customers with actual discounts and promotions that they can put to use immediately, as well as the ability to opt-out at any point in time, text marketing gives consumers choices – something that most audiences prefer when compared to restrictive interactions and clunky traditional advertising methods.

Aside from the interactive side of SMS marketing, Nuckles goes on to note how inexpensive the entire process is for brands working on even the tightest marketing budget. Considering the shocking disparity in return on investment (ROI) between text messaging and other methods uncovered in our case study featuring Mobil1 Lube Express, it’s not just that text messaging is cheap, it offers a great bang for your buck as well.

Is It Always the Best Option?

So after reading that last section, you’re probably thinking that there’s very little in the way of a counterargument to the benefits of SMS interaction, right? The truth of the matter is that texting with your customers can definitely be powerful, but it is not in fact always the universal best solution for your marketing operations.

While a proper SMS campaign can offer up major benefits to your brand, the success of this approach relies entirely on your audience’s preferences. Before going all in on this type of initiative, take some time to learn a little bit more about your target demographics. It may seem unlikely, but there are consumer groups out there that don’t respond well to to this form of connection.

Finding the Right Approach for Your Audience

Most of the time you’ll find that there’s more than one right way to connect with targeted audience members. In fact, complimentary marketing campaigns, often take the best of a variety of approaches to generate a powerful and varied program of interaction.

For instance, if you’re already running an email marketing program, why not leverage this existing contact list to help foster and grow your SMS operations? By offering cross-platform benefits to these subscribers, you not only double your chances of interaction with this group, but also help lay the foundation for a new branch of your brand’s marketing endeavors. Naturally, this goes the same way for supporting a fledgling email marketing contact list or even drumming up some additional interest in your latest on-site content offerings.

The big key here is that SMS marketing, while not a universal slam dunk for every business, is powerful and versatile enough to fit into the vast majority of marketing situations. Whether it’s supporting other facets of your marketing practices or standing on its own, this process is usually hard to beat, assuming your audience isn’t hamstrung by an antiquated view of modern technology. Thankfully, by putting the information in this post to good use, as well as doing a little research into the habits and trends associated with your target consumers, you can feel confident that when it comes to connecting with these shoppers, you’re always following your brand’s best option.

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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 Immix Wireless took advantage of Central Pennsylvania’s love for SMS messaging and sports entertainment to garner increased engagement.

What’s more exciting than watching Triple H make his long awaited return to the ring on WWE Smackdown? For the people of Central Pennsylvania, the answer to this question came in the form of winning tickets to the show for free via a smart SMS promotion. Even if you’re not a fan of the WWE and sports entertainment in general, there’s no way you won’t be on your feet and cheering after you learn a little more about how Immix Wireless turned this event into an opportunity for SMS success.

Putting the Plan in Motion

While some of the other case studies covered in this series delve into the topic of building a new SMS contact list, the guys at Immix Wireless faced an entirely different problem. As a leading cellular service provider in Pennsylvania, this company obviously knew a thing or two about texting. However, the big problem facing this brand came in the form of reengaging a dormant mobile audience.

To overcome this issue, Immix Wireless’ team identified the upcoming WWE Smackdown event at the Sovereign Center in Reading, Pennsylvania as a prime foundation for a major SMS push. As part of this campaign, existing subscribers and new contact list members alike were invited to text in the keyword “WWE” for a chance to win four tickets to the big show.

Hyping Up the Match

To help spread the word and boost participation numbers, Immix Wireless advertised the promotion via several platforms. Aside from the in-store banners and posters found in the retail locations across ten counties in the region, this cellular service provider also notified existing contact list members via an early access push message. Additionally, an extensive social media and on-site digital campaign helped spread the word to those browsing the various virtual fronts operated by the brand.

The Final Count

After the final bell rang for the night and WWE Superstar Triple H made his much-awaited return to the ring, the lucky fan who won the tickets wasn’t the only person happy with the outcome of this campaign. In total, Immix Wireless enjoyed a participation rate just under 10 percent, in addition to adding a healthy dose of new members to its contact list. Considering that this promotion lasted only a week, this success story becomes even more impressive. Outside of the initial success offered by this program, Immix Wireless also gained the confidence to run larger, more extensive SMS campaigns based around future sweepstakes and giveaways.

Setting the Stage for Your Own Success Story

So now that you’re up to speed with the excitement and results surrounding Immix Wireless’ WWE-oriented SMS campaign, what’s next for your brand? For starters, this story proves that texting with your customers goes beyond the initial opt-in phase. While most brands tend to run powerful campaigns and then follow-up later with another push to boost subscriber numbers, Immix’s example transcended this practice and accomplished far more by reengaging current subscribers.

Naturally, you always want to find new members for your SMS audience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to offer high value messages and promotions to the people already on your list. Even if you’re not giving away tickets to one of the biggest sports entertainment events of the year, it’s still a smart call to start with your current subscribers and work your way out to new members. By doing this, your organization can stay at the forefront of these shoppers’ minds, all while continuing to expand its reach.

From here, the other major lesson provided by Immix Wireless revolves around the timing of the event. By running the campaign for only a week before the big event, this organization generated an astounding amount of interest and a sense of urgency among the local population that didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity. For the brands that want to send their audiences into a frenzy like the WWE fans during a Smackdown main event, combining this concept with a powerful giveaway and an approach that motivates subscribers, both new and old, is a clear recipe for success.

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By now you know that email marketing is one of, if not the, best ways to reach your target audience. However, do you really know if things are firing on all cylinders once your campaign gets in motion? To help answer this question, as well as ensure you always have the tools necessary to optimize your marketing strategy, let’s spend a little time going over the six performance metrics, sometimes referred to as key performance indicators (KPI), you can’t live without as you connect with consumers in the inbox.

Response Rates

First up is a pair of closely entwined metrics. As Lisa Cannon of Business 2 Community explains, when talking about open or click rates among your audience members, it’s hard to mention one without the other. Naturally, the open rate details the amount of emails opened during your campaign, while the click rate highlights the amount of viewers taking the plunge and visiting your site.

The reason it’s important to compare both of these metrics side-by-side is that doing so can illuminate potential issues within your email content. For instance, having a high open rate but coming up short with consumer clicks could point to a deficiency in your message content or promotional material. At the very least, keeping an eye on these metrics can help uncover potential weaknesses in your campaign before any lasting damage ruins your marketing initiative.

New Prospects

Another powerful powerful metric, prospect allocation, looks toward the growth of your contact list and helps map out future lead generation strategies. Unlike the generic total membership statistic, Cannon notes that prospect allocation looks at the rise and fall of new opt-ins during a set period, providing key insight into the progress of your campaign outreach and promotion. By comparing this number to historic data or even prior initiatives altogether, you’ll have a standard by which you can judge the success of current and previous methods of connecting with new audience members.

Unsubscribe Rate

Unfortunately, the other side of the new subscriber coin isn’t as fun to look over as you audit your campaign. However, keeping up with the amount of members that unsubscribe each month is vital to gauging your email marketing health. As Christopher Ratcliff of Econsultancy points out, this process can go far beyond simply watching this stat rise and fall.

To properly manage unsubscribes, Ratcliff suggests tweaking email frequency and content layout. Naturally, making a drastic switch on either of these fronts should only be done in the face of great turmoil, but that doesn’t mean making subtle changes to how often you send out emails, as well the design of the message itself, can’t pay off huge dividends. In the end, there’s no way to completely avoid unsubscribing contact list members, but that doesn’t you’re completely at the mercy of this metric.

Bounced Messages

As far as the actual transmission of your messages goes, few stats tell this story quite as well as your campaign bounce rate. Like the name implies, this KPI measures the deliverability of your emails in terms of “bounced” messages. To add a little extra insight into the discussion surrounding bounced messages, many campaigns split the metric into two separate categories.

The first, hard bounces, comes from having the wrong email address in your contact list and requires immediate attention. On the other hand, soft bounces simply denote a temporary error in the delivery process, like a downed server or full inbox.

“Send to a Friend”

One of the more intriguing metrics for keeping tabs on your email marketing campaign, the “send to a friend” rate, helps keep a track on the viral nature of your operation. In his post detailing key performance metrics, David Baker of MediaPost points out that this stat also comes with a more formal name – the viral rate. Regardless of how you care to label this metric, the point remains the same;

keeping track of the amount of shares, likes, and referrals your messages generate helps highlight the power of your email content, as well as the social factor that goes into the development of these offerings.

Total Revenue

Finally, as intriguing as all of these metrics may be, the evaluation process always winds up in the same place – revenue generated by your email marketing operations. At the end of the day, if this number isn’t up to par, changes always come next. Naturally, what changes need to happen often takes shape based on the results of the other metrics. However, when it’s all said and done, if you’re reeling in the conversions at a healthy pace and you can keep the trend going, there’s no denying that you have a firm grip on the direction of your inbox initiative thanks to utilizing the proper measuring tools.

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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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