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why_emails_bounce

Despite your best efforts, bounced emails can – and will – happen from time to time; it’s simply a part of the email marketing process. However, just because bounces come with the territory sometimes, that doesn’t mean that these unwanted occurrences have to derail your campaign.

With a proper understanding of what causes hard and soft bounces, as well as a smart game plan in place for counteracting these problems, there’s no reason to fear for your sender reputation. To prove this point and help you eradicate the threat of bounced emails from your upcoming inbox campaigns, let’s take some time to talk about the top five reasons behind these bounces, as well as what you can do to put an end to these problems for good.

You Don’t Have the Right Contact Info

At the top of the list, according to the Houston Chronicle’s B. Steele, is failing to have the right contact info on hand. As unexciting as this explanation may seem initially, the truth of the matter is that simple typos and other administrative errors can wreak havoc on your ability to avoid bounced messages.

Fortunately, the fix for this issue is simple and straightforward. Regularly pruning bounced message recipients from your list and giving your contacts the ability to update and confirm their email address information as needed can negate much of the threat that comes with incorrect or inaccurate membership data.

Your Message Content Triggers a Spam Filter

Even if you’re not doing anything underhanded or dastardly in the inbox, getting bounced by a spam filter can happen occasionally. Usually, sales-oriented language and nonsensical wording – things you’d expect to see in a spam message – are the major culprits on this front.

However, if you’re not overtly spamming your contact list, shoring up your actual message content and minimizing the impact of this issue can be a little tricky. Different email service providers can pinpoint different words and phrases as “spam-worthy,” so you’ll need to note the attributes of your bounced content and test new and different iterations within these the various service provider segments of your inbox audience.

The Person on the Other Side of the Screen Is Dormant

Having the person on the side of the screen maintain a dormant state can also lead to plenty of bounced messages and undelivered emails. From autoreplies to vacation settings, there are plenty of scenarios in which the service provider will return a message not because of any wrongdoing on your end of the equation, but rather because of the preferences of the contact list member in question.

While you can’t force through a message under these circumstances, you can keep an eye out for repeat offenders. Once you have a spotlight on these problematic contact list members, you can choose to either stop sending emails for a period of time to this segment or purge them entirely.

Your Target Contact List Member Has a Full Inbox

As the HubSpot Blog’s Ginny Soskey points out, sometimes the answer to a bounced email is as simple as a full inbox. It might sound ridiculous initially, but you’d be surprised at how often this issue can rear its ugly head and cause problems with your message deliverability.

Regrettably, your options on this front are limited in much the same way as when you’re dealing with a dormant contact list member. You can either give this individual some time to clear out space in his or her inbox, or remove them from your list entirely and see if they rejoin at a later date.

The Email Server in Question Is Down (and Other Technical Difficulties)

The final inclusion on the list tackles this problem from a decidedly technical standpoint. From server downtime to issues with the contact list member’s preferred service provider, technical difficulties can hinder deliverability and bounce messages back to your email marketing platform.

The best way to combat this kind of issue is by adopting a little bit of patience into your approach. If you suspect that a technical error is cutting you off from a portion of your audience, then give the framework behind this connection a few hours – or even days – to come back up. Doing so could mean the difference between experiencing avoidable bounces and returning to a stable pathway of communication with your valuable contact list membership.

With this new perspective guiding the way, it’s pretty easy to see that the reason behind a bounce come from a variety of sources and issues. Thankfully, with this new insight on your side, you can get to the bottom of these problematic events and keep your bounce rate low as you continue to leverage the power of the most effective channel for consumer outreach on the web.

 

think_like_expert

 

A common refrain found on plenty of email marketing blogs from around the web implores you and the rest of the reading audience to “think like an email marketing expert.” On the surface, this sounds like a great idea and one that’s sure to enhance your reach and impact in the inbox.

The only problem? Thinking like an expert in this – or any other – field requires countless hours of experience managing the process, as well as an acute understanding of current trends and best practices. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to tackle this process from a different, more effective angle.

Instead of aiming to immediately become an email marketing expert – something that simply isn’t feasible – we’ll instead cover the finer points of how to start thinking like a seasoned veteran of this industry. This way, you can move forward with a strong fundamental take on the inbox outreach process, as well as how best to enhance and expand your understanding of the email marketing landscape.

Understand Your Campaign’s Unique Pain Points

The first key facet of the expert mindset, according to Anum Hussain of the HubSpot Blog, comes from a willingness to search out and recognize your brand’s specific pain points. Without this viewpoint leading the way, it won’t be long before you find that improving – or even simply maintaining – your standing in the inbox becomes a task of Herculean proportions.

In some cases, failing to understand the need for pain point recognition can also lead to damaging choices and decisions that come with lasting negative ramifications. Specifically, Hussain points to purchasing email contact lists, shoddy message design, and skipping over segmentation as symptoms of this pain point issue.

Unfortunately, pain points aren’t universal across all brands, so taking on this expert mentality doesn’t just come from looking for certain common problems, but rather by adapting and molding your review of your current operations to the parameters of your situation. A true expert is willing to put forth the time and effort needed to honestly evaluate their campaign, as well as move forward with these concerns and findings leading the way.

Commit to Constant A/B Testing

Another key facet of an “expert mentality” comes from placing an emphasis on testing every piece of the email marketing puzzle. From subject lines and timing, to message frequency and embedded calls-to-action (CTAs), every decision, component, or asset found within your outreach process deserves to come under a high level of scrutiny.

Does this method end up requiring a significant amount of time, effort, and hard work from your end of the equation? Of course it does. However, experts in any field or industry understand that excellence only arises from constant improvement and innovation; things that only can only be brought to light via the insight generated by regular A/B testing.

Embrace the Power of Automation

Speaking of hard work and effort, Neil Patel of Search Engine Journal points out that the best email marketing experts around also know how to cut down on this workload via automated tools like autoresponders and triggered messages. Essentially, adding an appreciation of automation not only helps you manage a campaign like an expert, it also gives you the tools needed to expedite the process and free up your time to address other issues and practices.

It is important to note that automating for the sake of automating can be just as destructive as the gains from properly implementing these tools are beneficial. Fortunately, if you apply this expert understanding to the process and embrace automation responsibly, then you can maintain a high level of consistency within your inbox-based services and offerings.

Don’t Be Afraid to Reuse and Recycle

Finally, email marketing experts aren’t afraid to reuse and recycle valuable content. Whether you’re pulling from curated content on social media, or simply repurposing an old email for a new campaign, there’s no reason not to extract even more value out of already crafted selections.

Again, the big key here is that an email marketing expert isn’t afraid to work hard at his or her craft. However, if there’s an opportunity to lessen the workload and generate extra value along the way by reusing or renovating old content, then there’s nothing wrong with leveraging this kind of approach.

At the end of the day, becoming an email marketing expert isn’t something that happens overnight – there’s no point in thinking otherwise. Thankfully, with everything you learned here leading the way, you can confidently take the first step toward achieving this mindset and reaping all of the rewards that come with an expertly managed email marketing campaign.

 

presence_on_google

To truly leverage the power of your email marketing operations, it’s vital to have a strong presence within the world of social media. Otherwise, you could find that your brand is leaving something on the table in terms of reach and visibility from these outreach initiatives.

While Facebook and Twitter often dominate this conversation, the reality of the situation is that you have plenty to gain by also promoting and sharing your email content to Google’s favorite social network. To ensure that you’re making the most out of your branded presence on Google+ and building the biggest possible audience of potential contact list member converts, let’s take a moment to talk about the finer points of tapping into the power of this social media platform.

Build a “Mini Blog”

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Google+ posts often function more like miniature blogs, so Cyrus Shepard of the Moz Blog points out that you need to tackle these offerings with a different mindset. Failing to do so could end up decreasing the visibility of these posts among your target audience significantly.

For starters, each post needs to have a properly crafted headline. Much like the subject line of a marketed message, this leading statement lets the reader know what to expect. Additionally, strong headlines also tap into the search engine optimization (SEO) benefits of Google+ by ranking higher on relevant search result pages.

From here, Shepard goes on to explain that formatting also plays a key role in this social blogging approach. Incorporating lists, bullet points, and long format content can do wonders for the impact generated by these offerings. If you’re feeling especially adventurous on this front, you can build excitement for these longer selections by teasing upcoming subject matter in your weekly newsletter or other periodic emails.

Research Your Hashtags

Talking about hashtags in relation to your presence on Google+ seems redundant initially, especially because Twitter and Facebook also utilize these assets on their respective social channels. However, digging a little deeper reveals that Google’s network puts these tagging tools to use in an entirely different manner.

On Facebook and Twitter, hashtags serve to sort and segment conversations. Google+ offers up similar hashtag functionality, but goes well beyond this segmenting by also referencing other related tags and topics, in addition to utilizing these choices for SEO ranking purposes. By choosing relevant tags for your posts and exploring their connections with other selections, you can expose entirely new audiences to your content and foster relationships that would otherwise never have had a chance to lead to an email contact list sign-up.

Keep a Tight Posting Schedule

In her look at how best to maximize your time on this network, Cindy King of Social Media Examiner explains that the people who make up your Google+ circle – much like your inbox audience – prefer consistent and regular postings over sporadic or loosely scheduled content. This means that you need to run a tight posting schedule if you truly want to maximize your reach on Google+.

Naturally, the preferred timing of your scheduled posts relies entirely upon your consumer insight and the preferences of this audience. Once you’ve figured out the best times to post, you can use a plug-in like Do Share to keep the content flowing and on schedule even when you’re away from the computer.

Mix Things Up with Your Google+ Audience

As far as your actual time spent on this network goes, King goes on to note that adopting a willingness to mix things up with your audience and interact with this community on a regular basis is vital to the success of your social outreach program. From “plussing” user comments and relevant content, to sharing your expertise within Google+ groups and conversations, being active on this social media channel guarantees that your brand has a strong forward-facing presence. The alternative – spamming links and content without any sort of genuine interaction – simply can’t hold a candle to this natural and engaging approach.

The truth of the matter is that creating reach on Google+ and raising awareness for your endeavors in the inbox requires a healthy amount of digital elbow grease from your brand – there’s no point in denying this reality. From developing a habit of regularly posting quality content, to spending time rubbing elbows with members of this community, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot that goes into this process. However, with everything you’ve learned here on your side, there’s no reason why you can’t begin building a winning presence on this network today.

 

3_defining_characteristics

Whether you looked on in awe as “The Great One” – Wayne Gretzky – took command of the ice and captured multiple Stanley Cups, or you simply enjoy sitting back and soaking in the work of Mozart or another titan of the musical world, it’s hard not to appreciate excellence in action. Surprising though it may seem initially, there’s no denying that this concept of the “golden standard” holds true for the world of email marketing as well.

So just what does a leader of this caliber look like in terms of email marketing? According to Econsultancy’s Jeff Rajeck, there are three defining characteristics that serve to differentiate the industry players which make up this elite company. To learn a little more about these indicators, as well as how your brand can follow in the footsteps of the email marketing world’s finest, let’s spend a few minutes talking about the three things that the best brands do in the inbox.

Think Big Picture with Strategy First, Then Tactics

The first characteristic up on Rajeck’s list is a willingness to embrace an overarching, “big picture” email strategy instead of just the tactics, tips, and tricks that boost engagement. Yes, these components are crucial pieces of the puzzle, but simply enacting these offerings without a guiding perspective marginalizes the effectiveness of your email marketing operations.

If you’re worried that your current inbox outreach program is merely a mixture of disparate tactics that lack a cohesive direction or ultimate goal, consider sitting down for an in-house strategy session or reaching out to your trusted team of email marketing experts. This way, you can answer the questions related to why you wish to connect with your audience in the first place, and then map out a series of focused tactics and strategic moves that work together to achieve this desired result in an effective and efficient manner.

Let Customer Behavior Trigger Your Email Content

As you start to hammer out the details of your newly optimized email marketing strategy, Rajeck points out that if you want to stand with the elite members of this portion of the online community, then incorporating triggered emails based on the behavior of your customers is a must. The big key here is that you need to be willing to look beyond the basic “abandoned cart” triggered email and let your customer data lead you to new and engaging triggered content opportunities.

For instance, the HubSpot Blog’s Ellie Mirman suggests considering the following triggered events as scenarios worthy of inclusion into your reactive email marketing strategy:

  • Mentioning your brand on social media.
  • Downloading an eBook or other long format piece of content.
  • Viewing consumer “pain point” content or other targeted elements on your site.

These highly engaging events are often underused and definitely deserve a least a spot in the discussion as your brand solidifies its stance on upcoming triggered email content.

Commit to a Clean List

The final attribute spotlighted by Rajeck comes in the form of maintaining a healthy and vibrant contact list. More specifically, you’ll need to commit to regular cleaning sessions that eradicate unengaged and unresponsive list members, all while adopting a “less is more” mentality.

If you’re like most people, this statement naturally leads to a few follow-up questions relating to how best to engage in healthy list cleaning and upkeep. According to Jonathan Long of The Huffington Post, it all starts with creating multiple segments or targeted groups within your greater contact list. It is important to note that dividing list members based on engagement, demographic data, or some other metric is entirely up to the preferences of your brand.

However, once you have your preferred segmentation tactic in place, you can begin to prune the inactive or ill-fitting members of this list, thereby creating a higher quality and more responsive bank of contacts. Additionally, having a properly segmented and organized email marketing contact list makes adhering to Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) and handling opt-outs in a timely fashion a considerably easier affair.

At the end of the day, standing toe-to-toe with the leading email marketing players in the digital world requires a serious commitment to excellence. From devoting time and energy into figuring out an overarching strategy that fits your brand needs, to becoming a proactive caretaker of your contact list, there’s plenty of hard work and effort that goes into this process. Fortunately, with this overview serving as the foundation, you can build toward a spot of your own among these email marketing giants and reap the reward that come with top tier inbox outreach operations.

 

sms_golden_rules

The practice of SMS marketing is often viewed as a purely high reward proposition – and for good reason. With mobile device usage continuing its meteoric rise in terms of acceptance and adoption, as well as the preference of many target audiences to connect via this channel, it makes plenty of sense to consider SMS marketing as a “can’t miss” inclusion in your greater outreach game plan.

However, the truth of the matter is that you can easily come up short on this front and let all of this potential fade away if you’re not considerate of the needs of the person on the other side of the screen. If you’d rather not fall prey to this easily avoided situation, let’s spend a few minutes talking about the golden rules of SMS marketing and you can implement these guidelines in your next campaign.

Nail Down Your SMS Offer

As Matt Baglia of Business 2 Community explains, the golden rules of SMS outreach are all about doing right by your audience and creating the best experience possible for these valued consumers. With this in mind, there’s no better place to start the discussion than with your core offer or value proposition.

Specifically, Baglia notes that if you want to create a lasting and enjoyable experience for your viewers when they open your texts, you’ll need to key in on the following points:

  • Aim for an Irresistible Offer – You don’t have space to write a novel in your SMS message, but utilizing enticing wording and building excitement is crucial to the process.
  • Keep Your Offer Exclusive – Duplicate or identical offers on social media and other channels can be a real buzz kill for viewers and diminish the sense of urgency created by this offering.
  • Don’t Skimp on Value – People except substantial value, so provide a high quality coupon or deal that goes well above the bare minimum.

If you can nail down these fundamental pieces of the SMS offer puzzle, then applying the rest of the golden rules should feel like second nature as you tweak and refine your mobile offerings.

Get to the Point with Your Message

Going a step farther regarding your actual text body content, Mickael Bentz of Adobe’s Digital Marketing Blog suggests taking the “short and sweet” approach. Most service providers cap single texts at 160 characters, so aiming for this character limit is preferred as you start planning out your message.

Should you fail to adhere to this guideline, you open yourself up to firing off a message that arrives in two or more pieces. While this doesn’t seem so bad at first glance, dealing with multiple notifications, messaging fees, and even just disjointed content can all draw the ire of audience members who expect more from marketed texts.

Don’t Mess with “Txt Spk”

Stuart Marburg of The Sydney Morning Herald also notes that utilizing colloquialisms, lingo, and other “txt spk” is far from desirable. While there is something to be said for trying to speak the language of your audience and promote a friendly connection, creating a true sense of urgency and imparting the details of an offer becomes far more convoluted or informal with “lol” and other slang cluttering up the message.

The reality of the situation is that staying formal and concise is far more impactful. Yes, it’s okay to have a little fun and spice up your content with humor from time to time, but respecting the parameters of the customer-brand relationship is vital to staying in-line with the golden rules of SMS marketing.

Be Cognizant of Text Timing

The final golden rule covers the need for punctuality and awareness of time zone differences in the mobile inbox. Usually, sticking to messaging your audience only between 9 A.M. and 9 P.M. is a good place to start when laying out the borders of your acceptable texting time-frames.

Of course, your unique audience needs, preferences, and time zone restrictions can augment this standard viewpoint significantly. Because of this realization, you’ll need to put your consumer data and harvested responses – surveys, feedback forms, etc. – to good use to tweak and optimize your particular text timing conventions.

If you’re able to handle these timing considerations appropriately, and address the other rules and guidelines covered in this post, then there’s no reason why your next text message campaign can’t be your best program yet. The only question left to answer now covers whether or not you’re ready to follow the golden rules of SMS marketing and take your audience by storm in the mobile inbox.

 

stagnant_rates

Dealing with stagnant – or even dipping – email deliverability rates is one of the most disheartening experiences possible to slog through for both seasoned veterans and new members of the email marketing community alike. Unfortunately, with Jess Nelson of Media Post’s Email Marketing Daily blog reporting that deliverability rates fell by as much as four percent worldwide in 2015, far too many brands are currently facing down this unwelcome reality heading into 2016.

If your recent deliverability rates reside in this stagnant or sagging company, don’t worry – there’s plenty of time to rebound and return to a more engaged and efficient standing in the inbox. To help you along with this email marketing restoration, here are five ideas that can enhance and improve your deliverability outlook moving forward.

Focus on Quality and Not Quantity

The first tip for improving email deliverability rates is all about focusing on the quality of your inbox offerings, and not on how often you send these messages. As Nelson goes on to explain, poorly formatted emails ensure that your content ends up getting caught by the spam filter, while a sub-standard opt-in process inhibits your ability to pair up relevant subject matter with your greater inbox audience.

Fixing the first issue and cutting down on avoidable errors is fairly straightforward; take some time to review and proofread your content multiple times before hitting that “send” button. As far as cutting down on awkward or irrelevant inbox connections, being choosy with your membership criteria ensures that you have a contact list chock full of responsive and engaged readers and not disinterested or tangentially related individuals.

Purge Hard Bounces after the First Bounce

When it comes to bounces, Pamella Neely of Web Marketing Today suggests that letting hard bounces stick around is one of the quickest ways to drop your deliverability rate in the tank. Instead, you’re much better off purging these hard bounce addresses after even just one such bounce.

The reason behind this “scorched earth” policy relating to hard bounces rests solely on the fact that the big email service providers – Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc. – all keep track of these events and suppress delivery of all of your emails if you trigger too many bounces. The numbers on how many it takes to end up on the wrong side of these service providers can vary based on the company and the situation, so you’re simply better off removing these outdated addresses as soon as possible.

Avoid Spam Traps at All Costs

Much like the closed or inactive addresses that serve as the source of hard bounces, accounts that have been taken over by service providers and converted into spam traps also represent a potentially covert threat to your email deliverability rates. If you don’t want to watch your Sender Score drop by up to 20 points after getting caught in one of these easily avoidable traps, the solution is actually pretty simple: Don’t buy an email list from a third-party source and enact good contact list hygiene by removing all contacts that haven’t been active for more than six months.

Personalize the “To” Section of Your Emails

One of the smallest – yet most effective – ways to boost deliverability comes in the form of personalizing the “To” section of your outgoing messages. In his look at this process, Justin Zhu of Marketing Land explains that service providers prefer seeing the actual name of the recipient in this field when compared to a base email address since this distinction helps solidify the fact that your brand is reaching out to individuals who have clearly given consent to receive your marketed content.

Consider IP Bonding

The final suggestion to make its way on the list – again from Zhu – posits that IP bonding enhances deliverability by removing the limitations of utilizing just one IP address. If you’re not familiar with the term, IP bonding refers to the tactic of harnessing multiple IP addresses to send large quantities of marketed messages.

The key takeaway here is that leveraging multiple addresses during a large outpouring of emails diversifies your reputation and speeds up the process, all while circumventing the cap on individual connections that some service providers place on incoming messages and inbox content.

Naturally, what works and what doesn’t for your brand depends entirely on your unique situation and prior deliverability history. Even so, with these tips and tricks leading the way, there’s nothing that can stop you and your future email marketing campaigns from taking the first step toward a more engaged and efficient stance on deliverability.

 

too_much_stress

If you’re like most members of the current email marketing world, the idea of negatively impacting the psychological health of the person on the other side of the screen is something you’ve never even considered. After all, every email or newsletter you send out is simply trying to enrich and engage these valued audience members, right?

While your intentions might be in the right spot, the reality of the situation is that your plan could be inherently flawed and potentially harmful. To ensure that your emails aren’t generating unnecessary levels of stress for contact list members and are always seen as a welcome arrival in the inbox, let’s spend a few moments covering the surprising findings from a new study conducted by the team at the Future Work Centre in London.

Breaking Down the Future Centre Findings

As part of a study of 2,000 workers in the United Kingdom, the workplace psychology research team from the Future Work Centre found that checking email late in the evening and early in the morning generated excess stress among participants. Additionally, automatic push notifications further exacerbated the problem when compared to simply checking emails at set times or intervals.

On the surface, discovering that receiving an inbox full of emails at odd hours creates a stressful reaction isn’t all that groundbreaking. However, the truth of the matter is that the problem runs much deeper in terms of the lasting implications. Feeling pressure to answer or acknowledge these “off the clock” messages for both private consumers and company representatives – the primary target of business-to-business (B2B) email marketing campaigns – can negatively affect an individual’s mental health from a long-term outlook.

The big key here is that sustained stress – from any source and not just marketed messages that come at irregular hours – is a toxic inclusion of a regular routine. Workplace productivity, personal happiness, and even relationships with friends, family, and other loved ones can all suffer when a person is exposed to high levels of stress for long periods of time.

Rethinking Your Email Approach

So what’s a brand to do if it doesn’t want to create stress and promote an unhealthy mental outlook for its customers, but still aims to tap into the power of email marketing? According to Newstalk’s Adrian Collins, the only way to truly overcome this hurdle is by rethinking your approach to email marketing.

One of the best ways to go about this revamped approach is by considering the role of an email marketing “curfew” within your current inbox operations. Taking into account time zone differences and setting limits for when triggered and scheduled messages can fire off does take a little extra work on your end of the equation, but these preventative measures help minimize the chances that your brand ends up bombarding valued target audience members with late night and early morning offerings.

From an optimization perspective, there’s a real possibility that working out a new approach to your email timing could help your campaign win on two fronts by also serving as a way to improve interaction and increase conversions. Specifically, Econsultancy’s David Moth reports that email open rates increase after 12 P.M, while peaking between 2 P.M and 5 P.M.

This means that your brand can boost opens simply by honing in on these more agreeable timeframes. Naturally, you’ll need to test and tweak these numbers a bit to find the time slot that fits your target audience, but this guideline can definitely get your next campaign off on the right foot in terms of addressing the email marketing stress dilemma.

Taking This Mentality a Step Farther

Once you have your email marketing operations heading toward a more stress-free sending schedule, it’s a good idea to keep the ball rolling and consider what else you can do to help alleviate this kind of negativity among your contact list membership. Asking some tough questions – “Am I sending emails too often?” “Is my content overly aggressive or ‘pushy?’” and other poignant queries about the consumer experience – guarantees that you have a meaningful understanding of what’s happening with your messages once you hit the “send” button.

There’s no denying that adopting an approach that limits the stress factor for your audience is far from an easy affair. However, with all that you’ve learned about this issue – and how to counteract it in a meaningful and relevant manner – guiding the way, there’s no reason why your future marketed messages can’t invoke a substantially more positive and healthy response among your target audience moving forward.

 

wins_inbox

For most of the email marketing world, it’s no big secret that building awareness for a charitable cause and leveraging the power of the inbox are two practices that go hand-in-hand. However, if you’re new to the scene and not quite sure where to start on behalf of your nonprofit organization, this process can be more than a little daunting.

If this outlook describes your current situation and mindset, the truth of the matter is that you actually have nothing to worry about. By following the tactics and tips we’ve offered up below, you’ll have all the tools you need to make sure that the first fundraising email you fire off to the inbox wins over its target audience in a hurry.

Succinct Content Scores Well

As you sit down and put digital pen to paper in an attempt to provide insight into your cause, Caron Beesley of the Nonprofit Hub suggests that you do your best to keep things brief when it comes to your email copy. Specifically, you’ll want to aim for the 10 to 15 second viewing window – 180 to 250 words usually cover this time spam – as a rule of thumb. If you go beyond this succinct framework, don’t be surprised when you lose these viewers to boredom or waning interest.

From a bigger picture perspective, this email offering is simply meant to pique the interest of the person on the other side of the screen. Focus on getting their attention, then save the details for when these future donors click-through to your nonprofit website or landing page.

Appeal to the Heart with Evocative Imagery

In terms of other inclusions in your first fundraising email, Beesley goes on to explain that it’s hard to go wrong with evocative imagery that helps pull on the heartstrings of your audience. Anything that can help show the charity of your contact list in action is worthy of consideration as you angle to generate more donations and support.

The big key here is to avoid the temptation of going overboard with graphics. A healthy portion of your audience will be on mobile devices when viewing your content, so keep load times and viewability in mind as you include images and plan out the design of this inbox offering.

Add Some Power to Your Subject Line

For many initial outreach efforts via this channel, getting that first click on the “open” button is the most difficult part of the process. However, the team from the Nonprofit Marketing Blog point out that honing in on the right words and phrases in your subject line can help boost open rates and ensure that this introductory fundraising message has its time in the spotlight.

The words that most often help a nonprofit message generate an open include:

  • Newsletter
  • Issue
  • Digest
  • Edition
  • Posts
  • Survey

As you can see, words that indicate recurring updates and the ability to interact with a charitable cause are strong inclusions. The upside of going this route is that utilizing these terms also helps promote a consistent experience as you build this initial offering into a stable force within the inbox.

Timing Matters More Than Ever Before

Finally, don’t discount the role of timing as you prepare to unveil this first fundraising message to your audience of future donors and charitable supporters. While most nonprofits might view this event as an exploratory offering or a way to “test the waters” before truly getting serious about building a response from contact list members, there’s no reason to leave anything – including optimal timing – on the table.

The team from the Nonprofit Marketing Blog goes on to note that fundraising emails sent between 6 A.M. and 7 A.M. generate the greatest amount of opens and clicks. Other periods or time slots might work better for your specific audience (don’t be afraid to do a little A/B testing later on down the road), but your best bet is to aim for this portion of the day if it’s your first time reaching out in the inbox.

Pressing the “send” button and watching your initial fundraising email speed off to the inboxes of potential donors is an exciting – and stressful – experience; nobody can deny the gravity of this situation. Thankfully, by taking the time to implement the best practices and guidelines offered up in this post, you can tackle this challenge with confidence and the knowledge that you’ve done everything you can to spread the word about your cause and make the most out of this golden opportunity.

 

email_lead_generation

Not every email that lands in a target viewer’s inbox logically ends up with a cartful of purchases at your brand’s virtual checkout. In fact, depending on your motives and business prospects, there are plenty of scenarios where this goal isn’t even the point of the outreach process in the first place.

What is universal across the email marketing landscape is the need for companies and organizations to generate leads. From eBook downloads to garnering attendees for your upcoming webinar, leads come in a seemingly endless variety of shapes and sizes across virtually every industry.

With this in mind, we’d like for you to join us as we look into exactly what it takes to build a better connection between email marketing and lead generation. This way, you’ll have all the tips and tactics you need to harvest more leads than ever before during your next outreach campaign.

Incorporate “Action” Phrases and Words into Your CTAs

As far as boosting the raw lead generation potential of your emails goes, the HubSpot Blog’s Jonathan Pavoni explains that few inclusions compare to a great call-to-action (CTA.) However, not just any plain CTA will do; you need to incorporate phrases and words that stir your audience to action.

Pavoni notes that the following “action” phrases and words serve as prime examples of this approach:

  • “Attend”
  • “Try now”
  • “Register”
  • “Read”
  • “Download”

Naturally, which inclusions you add into your email CTAs will vary based on the situation and your audience. The big key here is that even if you deviate from this quick list of examples, you still need to find a way to clearly and concisely request an action or response from your reader – all while showing them the benefits that come with your highlighted eBook, case study, webinar, video, etc.

Embrace a “Divide and Conquer” Mentality

Not all lead generation tactics are created equal; this is just a fact of life in the world of email marketing. So does this mean you’re stuck using only the same CTAs, images, subject lines, and other key components across each segment of your inbox audience? Absolutely not.

Business 2 Community’s Joel Goldstein notes that personalized and appropriately individualized emails are 15 percent more likely to be opened, so take the time to put your consumer data to good use. Breaking up your emails and adding in special touches for the various segments and demographics within your contact list ensures that the lead generation potential for each of these categories remains at, or near, peak levels. In other words, don’t be afraid to “divide and conquer” each portion of your email marketing audience with multiple specialized iterations of the same promotional message.

Keep Your Facts on the Straight and Narrow

Goldstein goes on to point out that misleading people is about as big a mistake as a brand can commit in today’s inbox. Even the smallest fib or white lie in the subject line or content can completely ruin your company’s credibility and lead to some seriously stiff backlash on social media and other channels.

A better course of action is to skip anything intentionally misleading or aimed at generating a cheap click. If possible, get straight to the point with accurate, concise, and brief content. The more direct and engaging you can be while crafting subject lines and body copy, the higher your odds of scoring a meaningful click and converting this initial interest into a fully-fledged lead.

Keep the Good Vibes Rolling with a Winning Landing Page

The final tactic needed to build a better bond between your email marketing operation and lead generation prospects doesn’t actually have anything to do with what happens in the inbox. Instead, this piece of the puzzle focuses on backing up all of your hard work with a winning landing page experience.

To overcome the pitfalls of poor landing page offerings and keep the good vibes you generated in the inbox flowing, Target Marketing magazine’s K.C. Motamedy suggests building content that gets straight to the point with relevant information about the offer or content of the related email. Don’t just dump the user onto your homepage or stuff a bunch of generic content onto an improperly structured landing page.

If you’re able to embrace this concept – and incorporate the rest of what you’ve learned here – then there’s no reason why your brand can’t take its lead generation capabilities to previously unimaginable levels. The only question left to answer now is whether or not you’re ready to put this newfound insight into the email marketing process to good use.

 

fatthumbs

As everything from reading over the latest news stories to checking one’s email moves to the mobile sector of the digital world, there’s a growing problem that’s causing headaches for brands and consumers alike – the “fat thumbs” dilemma. While this might sound like a funny take on a not so serious issue, the truth of the matter is that failing to address this content development and user interaction concern could end up severely inhibiting the potential of your business to generate conversions in the inbox. If this doesn’t sound like an outcome that you want any part of, let’s take a moment to catch up on the particulars of the “fat thumbs” dilemma, as well as how best to build email content that enhances the experience of your mobile audience.

What Is the “Fat Thumbs” Dilemma?

Ben Frederick of Media Post’s Mobile Marketing Daily blog points out that, as the name implies, the “fat thumbs” dilemma is all about consumer frustration during the utilization of mobile devices and cramped screen space. Specifically, this issue addresses the intersection of two digital trends that directly relate to the world of email marketing: Smaller mobile technology and more on-screen features.

Each new wave of mobile device aims to jam more features and functionality into precious screen real estate, all while this viewing space often grows smaller and more cramped. When paired with banner ads, email-based images, clickable calls-to-action (CTAs), and the plethora of other inclusions that end up comprising the average marketed message, it’s no wonder that even those members of your brand audience with the most slender fingers and thumbs sometimes struggle with email navigation and touchscreen interaction.

Gauging the Impact of This Screen Space Issue

In terms of the actual hard numbers behind the “fat thumbs” trend, Nic Newman of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism notes that about 30 percent of consumers surveyed actively avoid digital content – including emails, webpages, and apps – where ads or other on-screen features interfere with the user experience.

Going a step farther, this growing concern has caused major online players like Google to adapt and change how they foster consumer interaction with these sometimes frustrating pieces of the mobile puzzle. In other words, if Google is taking the “fat thumbs” dilemma seriously with its display ads and other digital functionality, then it’s probably time that your brand did the same with its email marketing operations.

Building Email Offerings That Enhance the User Experience

Fortunately, jumping back to Ben Frederick’s post for the Mobile Marketing Daily blog shows that if you’re already invested in the email marketing process, then you’re significantly ahead of the game when it comes to dealing with this screen space and mobile interaction issue. Frederick reports that a survey from the Omnicom Media Group found that email was the most effective channel for mobile marketing – even surpassing Facebook newsfeed offerings.

Of course, simply telling you that email marketing is an effective way to connect with consumers while overcoming the “fat thumbs” dilemma doesn’t get you very far; it’s also important to provide you with specific tips and tactics for optimizing your content with these considerations in mind.

From this perspective, Phil Frost of Web Marketing Today suggests that there’s no better place to start than with a commitment to keeping things simple. As great as flash plugins and other graphic heavy inclusions might seem initially, these additions only serve to clutter and constrict the mobile experience for this portion of your following.

Outside of sticking to a basic design template and straightforward body content, try to keep your CTA in a place that’s easy to interact with and click when the viewer is ready to accept your deal. The top of the message is usually the best placement for a CTA, as this location ensures that the person on the other side of the screen can get straight to the point and take the next step in the conversion process in a timely manner.

Finally, before hitting the send button on your next mobile email marketing campaign, take a moment to test out this offering on your own smartphone or tablet. Spending a few minutes with your email from this perspective and gauging your own ability to navigate the message can tell you quite a bit about how this content will do once it’s in the hands of your valued audience members. If you’re able to enact this strategy, as well as put the rest of what you’ve learned here to good use, then there’s no reason why your brand will have to succumb to the threat of the “fat thumbs” dilemma moving forward.

© 2013 Elite Email Inc. Blog Admin