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Some things are just destined to be together. If you’re in the business of connecting with customers via email marketing, you know that this practice, when paired with social media, is right up there with mustard and ketchup, Abbott and Costello, and all the other great tandems found throughout history. To make this bond even stronger, here are some creative and effective ways to build a better relationship between your marketed messages and the social outreach that compliments these offerings.

Don’t Forget the Social Buttons

One of the easiest ways to fortify this connection is by giving your readers a chance to share the great deals found within your emails. As DJ Waldow of Social Media Examiner notes in his piece on the subject, simply dropping in a button for Twitter, Facebook, or any other relevant network into your messages is a powerful strategy that provides new reach to your deals and promos. With each share, like, favorite, and retweet, your email ends up in front of an entirely new audience. Incentivizing this social promotion with additional discounts and offers gives your audience even more reason to let their friends and family members in on your latest message.

Generate Social Opt-ins

Waldow goes on to point out that your social media accounts hold an untapped reservoir of new contact list members. Unfortunately, these ready and willing consumers simply don’t have an easy way to get in touch with your brand’s email marketing campaign. To put an end to this unfortunate circumstance, use Facebook’s built-in sign-up feature to generate an opt-in page. This way, as word spreads about your campaign and all the great savings that end up directly in shoppers’ inboxes, these social networkers will have easy access to your next round of emails and you’ll have a whole new set of members to add to your brand contact list.

Run a Social Tie-in Contest

Regardless of the medium, there’s one universal truth in the marketing world; customers love giveaways. For this very reason, social media expert Jeff Bulas suggests on his personal blog that brands looking to build better harmony between email and social marketing should operate a sweepstakes via these networks. The benefits of running this type of outreach program are numerous.

First, you’ll generate a major boost in your social network activity, which is never a bad thing. From here, expect to see your opt-in rates go up as word spreads to every corner of the web about the free stuff your brand is handing out. Naturally, you’ll need to offer a prize that’s worth the time and effort put forth by these customers when they sign up, but that’s the easy part. One look at your contact list after the fact will give you all the motivation you need to really knock their socks off with an amazing giveaway.

Put a Social Spin on Your Subject Lines

It’s amazing what a great subject line can do for your email marketing campaign. Obviously, we’ve talked about optimizing these headers at great length, but when it comes to integrating your social strategy, there’s still a few thoughts to cover. Amy Birch of Social Media Today helps get the discussion rolling by covering this very concept in her article detailing great integration examples.

In her piece, Birch notes that fashion retailer New Look pushed customer responsiveness through the roof by using the simple headline, “Are You a Social Butterfly?” With this simple, straightforward, and incredibly powerful headline guiding the way, New Look was able to let contact list members know right away that this brand’s message was all about looking good in person, as well as on social media. Even if you’re not in the fashion business, a smart headline oriented toward social media can really help your brand strut its stuff.

Know Which Platforms Matter Most

The final tip for complimenting your email strategy with powerful social media tactics comes from Pamella Neely of Web Marketing Today. Neely explains that to really build a dedicated following that boosts inbox open rates and shares, you need to know which platforms matter most to your audience. While some brands might say Facebook and Twitter are just fine and go from there, if you really want to make a splash, this path of least resistance simply isn’t good enough. With Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+ all pulling plenty of subscribers, harnessing the power of all the options placed before your brand can really set it apart from the competition. If your organization can put this tip with the rest of what you’ve learned in this post, there’s nothing stopping your next email marketing campaign from reaching new heights, all thanks to a little help from the world of social media.

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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 perfect SMS lineup brought a local sports television show a major boost in viewership and customer interaction.

Who says that only the biggest brands can get in on the power of SMS marketing? As Kentucky Sports Television (KSTV) showed with a three-week mobile marketing campaign, sometimes it’s not about the size of the marketing bat you bring to the game, but how you swing it. To learn more about KSTV’s successful sports-oriented text initiative, let’s spend a few minutes breaking down the show’s strategy and what it might mean for your organization moving forward.

Honing In on the Right Audience

For KSTV, the whole point of reaching out to customers via mobile messages was to boost the interaction between the community and this sports talk show. Naturally, the people pulling the strings of this campaign knew that not everyone would be interested in learning more about the sports-related content of this program. Instead of wasting time appealing to the masses, KSTV honed in a very specific target audience – men, aged 18 to 45, in the Louisville, Kentucky area. By keeping the focus on this group, KSTV could begin to mold the perfect plan to increase interaction from this demographic.

Enacting a Powerful Game Plan

Once the sports program had its sights set on this group, it needed to hammer out its mobile marketing game plan. With this in mind, KSTV set out to create “The Ultimate Tailgating Experience.” At the heart of this concept was enticing these men to sign-up for the mobile contact list in exchange for a chance to win a plethora of goodies. Included in this prize package was a $150 gift card to the Kroger grocery store, a case of Rootie’s BBQ sauce, an event tent, a grill, and a wide selection of sports memorabilia. In short, everything a sports fanatic would need to enjoy tailgating before a major sports event.

To add a little icing on the cake, KSTV provided extra opportunities to win the event for those willing to opt-in to its mobile marketing contact list more than once. In total, 10 additional shots at the grand prize were up for grabs for the fans willing to “double opt-in.” If you’re unfamiliar with this process, it’s a method usually used to confirm a contact list membership request or as a gateway that unlocks premium services and features – in this case, extra chances to win.

The Final Score

After an exciting three weeks, KSTV was ready to crown a winner. Of course, the winner we’re talking about isn’t the guy that won the tailgating goodies, but rather the sports television program itself. For all of its hard work, KSTV received the greatest prize any brand utilizing SMS marketing could ask for – a massive jump in visibility and consumer interaction.

With several thousand local sports fans participating in the event, KSTV was already on the path to notching a mark in the win column. However, the simple fact that over 54 percent of the respondents agreed to future communications helped lay the foundation for a responsive and connected mobile community. Additionally, KSTV sifted through the data in the weeks following the sweepstakes to learn more about its target demographic. This information would prove valuable in future SMS campaigns and other outreach programs enacted by KSTV.

Maximizing Your Time at the SMS Plate

So now that the clock has reached zero on KSTV’s outstanding SMS campaign, it’s time to figure out what your brand can take from this case study and put to good use the next time it sets into the mobile marketing arena. First up, if you’re going to offer a prize package or sweepstakes, you better make it worth your audience’s time. To make this a little easier, follow in KSTV’s footsteps and spend some time learning a little more about your target demographic. This way, you know exactly what strikes their fancy when it’s time to promote the big event. Additionally, getting creative with your consumer interaction, like double opt-ins and extra sweepstakes entries, helps strengthen the bond between you and your audience. With these lessons learned from KSTV’s campaign, you’ll have everything you need to knock one out of the park the next time you step up to bat with your mobile customers.

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In a perfect digital world, once a consumer clicks on your subscribe button, he or she will always be ready and willing to check out your latest messages. Unfortunately, this dream scenario is far from reality. Sometimes, subscribers grow weary of your marketed emails and simply stop paying attention. To keep your target audience from hitting the snooze button any longer when it comes to your email marketing tactics, here are five strategies that will not only wake up a dormant contact list, but also revitalize your entire inbox approach.

Bringing Your Messages Into Real-time

One of the most exciting new takes on email marketing comes in the form of real-time interaction, according to Liz Rowley of Ad Exchanger. In her look at the programmatic side of email advertising, Rowley notes that some brands are using geo-location services to reconnect with disinterested contact list members.

Essentially, this process uses the viewer’s proximity to your store or shop as a trigger for custom email content. If the consumer passes within the location threshold, they’ll receive an exclusive offer or friendly reminder to stop by and see your latest offerings. When it comes to catching the attention of a wayward shopper, few strategies are as exciting or innovative as real-time outreach.

Offer Them a Chance to Unsubscribe

Yes, you read that subhead correctly. While offering your dormant contact list members a chance to unsubscribe seems counterintuitive at best and damaging to your strategy at worst, it’s actually a smart way to reconnect with users or streamline your marketing initiative. As Carol Stott of Marketing Profs explains, leaving these disinterested subscribers unattended could eventually lead to an unnecessary spam report. For any brand that wants to stay on the right side of the leading email service providers, you simply can’t let this happen.

Instead, send them a friendly reminder letting them know that they’re still members of your contact list. This could convince them to re-engage your brand and start participating in your inbox offers. If they go the other way and unsubscribe, at least you’ll have a more accurate list of contacts and a reduced chance at dealing with the damage that comes from a mistaken spam report.

Try out a New Design

Sometimes, the biggest way to breathe new life into your email marketing is to do a little design house cleaning. Even if you’re old templates and color schemes work just fine, changing things up a bit can spice up consumers relationships that have fizzled, according to Ellen Valentine of Advertising Age. This approach doesn’t mean you have to rethink your entire marketing strategy, but rather repackage your current content into a new and exciting format.

While there’s no guarantee that this will bring distant users back into the fold, it can’t hurt to build a few extra templates and layouts for your campaign. The worst-case scenario, if you can even call it that, is that your brand will have a little extra flexibility regarding design features moving forward.

Shift Your Focus to Mobile Outreach

For most brands, the vast majority of its contact list checks in via mobile devices. For this very reason, Amber Whiteman of Target Marketing Magazine suggests that you push your email marketing focus toward smartphones and tablets. By optimizing your messages for these devices, you can zero in on the platform that matters most to consumers. Naturally, if you data points toward an audience that’s primarily desktop-oriented, then this strategy really doesn’t hold much value. However, the reality is that very few brands fall into this category, and even the ones that do have plenty of other reasons to consider optimizing branded content for today’s mobile world.

Don’t Forget Who the Top Dog In Digital Marketing Really Is

The final strategy covered is a simple reminder that the best way to reconnect with customers that have slipped out of the loop is to keep your priorities in order. No business has an infinite marketing budget, so naturally certain cuts and allotments have to be made. However, getting too experimental and shifting your focus away from email marketing is never a good idea. Regardless of the latest fads or trends, the fact remains that branded emails are still the top dog in the marketing world.

To prove this point, Josh Constine of Tech Crunch highlights the fact that 62 percent of consumers prefer email marketing to other methods of receiving promotions. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with using other services and approaches in a complimentary role. However, not giving email marketing its proper due is still the easiest way not only fail at reconnecting with your email audience, but also lose whatever inbox following you still had.

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It doesn’t seem like all that long ago the notion of having a primarily mobile audience was unheard of. When it came to optimizing messages, it was all about maximizing the vast real estate found on the traditional desktop screen. Oh, how things have changed in just a few short years. Today, over 65 percent of all emails are viewed on mobile platforms first, according to J. O’Dell of Venture Beat. While there’s still a part of your contact list that feels more comfortable reading messages solely on a desktop, it’s a safe bet to say that the mobile portion of this list makes up the overwhelming majority. With this in mind, there’s no better time than now to hand out a few tips regarding mobile optimization. This way, the next time someone opens up one of your messages on the go, you’ll have all the tools you need to blow them away with great email content.

A Simple Message Says a Lot

Before doing anything else, the best thing you can do to maximize the potency of your mobile messages is to keep things simple. As Steve Dille of Marketing Land explains in his piece on optimizing mobile emails, certain smartphone apps, like Gmail and Outlook, have a tough time rendering complex layouts and designs. While it might not be the flashiest trick in your bag, going with a more conservative, text-based approach is your best bet to reach these customers. If you stick to your guns and keep sending out image heavy messages, don’t be too surprised when you see contact list numbers take a tumble in response to these jumbled and messy templates.

Size Matters for CTAs

Dille goes on to note that plenty of marketers think in terms of mouse pointers and not thumbs when it comes to setting up calls to action (CTA) in marketed emails. When viewed under the contemporary approach to optimizing content, this makes sense. However, in the mobile world, having a small CTA button is an easy way to kiss conversions goodbye. Think of it this way, how much patience do you have to fumble and fight with a button that’s hard to press, especially when misclicks could create even more problems in the form of opened links and scrolling pages? If you’re being honest with yourself, the answer is probably somewhere between little and none.

To overcome this issue, don’t be afraid to give a little extra real estate on the screen to the CTA. Even if it seems like this button stands out a little too much, the customers trying to click it and act on your offer will definitely be happy you took the time to put a premium on thumbs and not mouse pointers.

Don’t Forget to Make Links Mobile

Another issue that trips up plenty of marketers and brands comes with using links properly in marketed messages. The big problem here isn’t having links in your message – these additions definitely have a spot in many emails – but rather what type of links you use. According to Charles Gaudet of Forbes Magazine, the simple error of not directing users to your mobile site can ruin the impact of your marketed message. Much like clicking on a small CTA button, there are few things more frustrating than trying to view a desktop-enabled page on a small mobile screen. With this in mind, take a few minutes to double check your links before firing off your next email. It might seem like overkill initially, but you’ll be kicking yourself if you find out that potential customers ended up skipping your message because they didn’t feel like fighting with a regular page on their smartphone browsers.

Click-to-call Speeds Things Up

Of course, if you’re really in the business of making the conversion process a breeze for potential customers, then it’s probably time to consider adding in a click-to-call button on your marketed messages. As Jenny DeGraff of the Content Marketing Institute explains in her post regarding mobile optimization, the idea of talking with a trained professional is far more appealing that scrolling and clicking through digital sign-up and payment forms for many customers.

Naturally, for this method to really take off, you’ll need to have a sales team dedicated to handling the needs of mobile users. However, switching over the professionals you already have in place to take on this new approach really shouldn’t take too much training. From here, if you can round out the process with the rest of what you’ve learned about making the most of the continued emphasis on mobile devices, there’s little that can stand between your brand and a bright email marketing future that connects with users who are always on the go.

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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 Baxter Avenue Morgue connected with customers looking for the perfect Halloween scare via smart SMS messages.

For many people, there’s nothing quite like Halloween. While other holidays focus on bringing together friends and family for more serious reasons, this night is all about scaring the pants off each other. To help add an extra element to the fun and festivities, haunted houses, like the Baxter Avenue Morgue in Louisville, Kentucky, offer up delightfully ghoulish attractions. Unfortunately, when it comes to seasonal businesses with a short operational run, competition can be pretty stiff. With this mind, Baxter Avenue Morgue decided to go all in on a smart SMS plan in an effort to get a leg up on the rest of market. Even if your brand isn’t in the business of scaring its audience, there’s still plenty you can learn by taking a look at this haunted house’s frighteningly successful text message campaign.

The Basic SMS Plan

Baxter Avenue Morgue had one goal in mind when it came to setting up an SMS operation – engage it’s audience and set up future remarketing opportunities. To do this, the campaign decided to offer up a chance to win two free tickets to the attraction for anyone willing to join the haunted house’s mobile marketing contact list. All customers had to do was text the keyword BAXTER and wait for a new contest winner at the end of each week of the promotion.

Taking It a Step Farther with Targeting

However, no great campaign just fires off messages with reckless abandon and hopes for the best. Like plenty of other cases in this mobile marketing series, Baxter Avenue Morgue understood the importance of targeting. With this in mind, the haunted house chose to focus on teenagers and young adults in the Louisville and southern Indiana areas. Not only were these two portions of the local population into scary scenarios and thrills, they’re also some of the most active segments of the population when it comes to texting and mobile phone use. Basically, there’s little chance that an SMS message from the haunted house would go unnoticed by those who can’t stand being away from their phones.

Tuning Into the Right Channels

To get the word out on this campaign, Baxter Avenue Morgue picked up commercial spots during high volume television periods. Honing in on open commercial space during related programming, like AMC’s Fear Fest and ABC’s 13 Nights of Halloween, helped add a little extra punch to an already smart campaign approach. As information came in about these TV spots and correlated signup numbers, Baxter Avenue Morgue focused on optimizing its marketing budget by pulling weaker results and adding extra spots on successful networks and time slots.

The Final Numbers

Once the dust had settled and the campaign came to a close, the SMS campaign managers were ready to tally the results. In total, thousands of customers from the surrounding areas joined the mobile marketing list, giving Baxter Avenue Morgue a major boost in SMS contacts. From here, more than 50 percent decided to stick around and receive future messages from the organization. Considering that the commercial spots employed by the haunted house ran for only 15 seconds – a relatively short time to convey a call-to-action (CTA) – and that the value of the sweepstakes tickets were just $40 a pair, having such a positive and lasting response makes the results even more impressive.

Everything Your Business Needs to Scare Up the Same Success

So now that you know Baxter Avenue Morgue’s story, what lessons can you pull from this tale of mobile marketing success? To start, finding the right portion of your audience, and connecting with these individuals via the appropriate media, goes a long way. SMS marketing is more about quality than quantity, so don’t be afraid to focus on a select group, especially if these people are the most likely to convert by a wide margin.

From here, you don’t have to spend an arm and leg on marketing to make a splash if you have a smart strategy. This haunted house gave away one pair of tickets a week, hardly a king’s ransom by any stretch of the imagination, yet it still raked in thousands of new customers. With this lesson, and everything else you’ve learned from Baxter Avenue Morgue, you should have all the info you need to scare up some stunning results of your own the next time you send out a text.

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Fact is, when Google speaks, even if you don’t exactly like what you hear, you don’t have much choice but to listen. The world of email marketing learned this lesson once again with the unveiling of a new unsubscribe feature in Gmail on August 6, 2014. Although switching up the Gmail inbox interface in generally isn’t anything new, moving the button that handles taking people off of mailing lists certainly shakes things up quite a bit. To bring you up to speed with this change, as well as what it means for your marketing operations moving forward, here’s everything you need to know about Google’s revamped approach to unsubscribe buttons.

What Exactly Happened?

For casual Gmail users around the world, the change that’s sending waves through the email marketing industry is one that isn’t even all that noticeable. As the Gmail team explained in a post on Google+, the unsubscribe button will now “surface” or move to the top of the message, next to the name of the sender, if such a button exists within the body of the message. Of course, if you’re a marketer or brand looking to stay on the right side of CASL, there are no ifs, ands, or buts when it comes to unsubscribe buttons; either you have one or you run the risk of feeling the long arm of the law loom over your campaign.

Pushing Back Against Spam

So what does Google hope to accomplish by employing automated button placement in all incoming messages moving forward? As Konrad Krawcyzk of Digital Trends explains, this move is all about kicking spam to the curb for good. Instead of letting shady senders hide or bury unsubscribe buttons deep within the message content, the tech giant is taking the wheel on this issue and saying no to these less than transparent practices. However, it’s important to note that Google isn’t changing the basic makeup of messages; the incoming email still has to have an unsubscribe button, otherwise this change doesn’t do anything. However, it’s now easier than ever before for users of one of the most popular email clients on the web to turn off messages from spammers and legitimate brands alike.

Is the Sky Falling?

After reading all of that, your first reaction probably registers somewhere between disbelief and a sense of complete dread regarding the future of your brand’s marketed messages. However, it’s not nearly as bad as it initially sounds. Whether it’s creating tabbed dividers for promotional emails in the inbox or tweaking how images appear in the body of messages, Google’s made a name for itself when it comes to constantly breaking the mold in an effort to improve the user experience.

As far as this particular change goes, you might see a little dip in your subscriber numbers from this client now that the change is live, but as Anne P. Mitchell of The Internet Patrol notes in her coverage of the change, there’s definitely a silver lining to this development for affected brands. Instead of having users incorrectly flag your messages as spam, which does way more harm than just watching these users leave the contact list, readers can just end the relationship with a simple click.

Aside from refining your contacts by cutting out the people who probably weren’t going to convert anyway, this change could also help provide enhanced, and more accurate, click-through and open rates. For some ISPs, these ratios serve as the deciding factor between seeing your message land in the inbox with other legit offerings or languishing in the spam folder with the riff-raff.

Predicting Google’s Next Move

Unfortunately, there’s no real way to predict what’s next on Google’s agenda when it comes to fighting spam and, often inadvertently, changing the way you connect with your audience via email marketing. The truth is that when the guys pulling the strings at Gmail make a move, all you can do is sit back and watch. Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re completely helpless.

Regardless of what Google does, as long as you place a premium on quality and consistency in your messages, you’ll be just fine. These rules and changes to the structure of Gmail aren’t designed to ruin your campaign, but rather to ensure that quality content takes a place that’s far above spam in the inbox. As long as you stick to honest and powerful methods that keep you in this group, you’ll have everything you need to weather the storm if, and when, the next big change to this email client sets the newswires aflame.

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When it comes to connecting with your audience, if a picture’s worth 1,000 words, just how much value does video hold in your marketing aspirations? While plenty of brands have tried to answer this question, the road to incorporating video content into marketed messages is littered with horror stories and failed attempts. To help you unlock the true potential of this strategy, let’s take a moment to learn a little more about the role of video content in email marketing, as well as what you should and shouldn’t be doing once you’re ready to take the plunge and add this approach to your next campaign.

Navigating Murky Waters

The history of video content in marketed messages has been a rocky road to say the least. As Lynn Baus of Marketing Land explains, plenty of hurdles have kept this practice from truly becoming the golden standard in the industry. Whether it’s file sizing issues or the former need of plug-ins to run video, which in turn exposed consumers to malicious script from shady emails, plenty of brands have come up short with this kind of content in the past. In fact, these issues are some of the main reasons that The Wall Street Journal reported that only 25 percent of marketers currently use branded video content in emails today.

Understanding the Appeal

While the number of campaigns using video is definitely in the minority, the advent of modern technology that protects and enhances the consumer experience – such as HTML5 support in most email clients – and the potential for massive returns on investment (ROI) signal a major opportunity for brands that can pull this off right. In fact, eMarketer’s study on video in email marketing from 2013 highlights this opportunity. For campaigns willing to incorporate video content, 44 percent saw an increase in time subscribers spent viewing the email, while 41 percent noted that shares and forwards of this content rose significantly.

As for clickthrough and conversion rates, video content accounted for a boost of 55 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Finally, a 20 percent jump in dollars generated by each message puts the notion that video can help an already great marketed message in terms of cold, hard cash. Simply put, if you can pull this one of right, the sky is the limit for your ROI and brand awareness.

Getting Off to A Solid Start

Of course, like most things, hitting the nail on the head with your video content is easier said than done. Thankfully, There’s a few key tips that can really make the process more manageable. According to Karen J. Bannan of Advertising Age, plenty of campaigns look over the simple things when trying to incorporate video content. For starters, make it easy to find the video in your email. If it’s lost beneath a wall of text or improperly formatted, it’s not doing your readers any good.

From here, be careful with the quality of your video. Sure, shooting it on your smartphone during a lunch break might save you a few bucks now, but Bannan notes that the vast majority of your audience won’t bother sitting through even the first few seconds if it looks like a cheaply made home movie. Once you have this under control, don’t forget your call to action (CTA.) By using YouTube or another video service to host your content, some brands fail to include this as part of the actual video. Unfortunately, all this does is ensure that you miss out on conversions that would otherwise come from including even a simple CTA.

Fine Tuning the Process

Once you have the basics under control, there’s still room for refinement and improvement in the video content process. Digging a little deeper into the specifics starts with keeping the video short, according to Tom Burke of Business 2 Community. Staying concise and focused with your message is a powerful way to maximize your time with an audience that doesn’t have the desire to watch long form videos. From here, don’t forget to turn off the sound on auto-play videos. Few things are as annoying as a loud message blaring while you frantically search for the source in a new email message.

When you’re setting up the video on whatever hosting service you choose, avoid selecting a bandwidth greater than 200kB/second. More is definitely better in some circumstance, but pumping up the bandwidth usage on your video is a great way to bog down the loading process for your viewers. If you can piece together all of these little tips with your already stellar traditional email content, you’ll be well on your way to unlocking the potential boast that comes from adding powerful and effective video content to your marketed messages.

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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 great timing and a smart campaign put Route 66 Harley-Davidson on the fast track for SMS success.

Few things personify enjoying the freedom of the open road like hitting the highway on a Harley-Davidson. However, despite being one of the most iconic brands in the automotive world, the rise of manufacturers like Honda and Ducati have taken a serious bite out of the sales of Harley-Davidson dealerships, according to a report from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally’s “Rally News” blog. To battle back against these dipping sales, Route 66 Harley-Davidson in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma decided to get a little cozier with shoppers during the holiday season via smart SMS marketing. To see how this text message push brought the Christmas spirit to Route 66′s customers, and pumped up sales in a major way, let’s break down the dealership’s approach to mobile marketing and see what your brand can use for its next SMS campaign.

Building a Savvy SMS Plan

To start, the dealership wanted to play on the concept of the “12 Days of Christmas” by offering unique deals and specials to members of its mobile marketing contact list. Aside from handing out valuable discounts for those looking to pick up accessories or parts for their favorite bikes, the campaign made great use of the buzz surrounding the holiday season. For each of the 12 days that made up the campaign a text message made its way to the inbox of participating members, revealing a redeemable offer related to a product sold in-store.

To give you an idea of how this worked, let’s look at Leather Jacket Day. As the seventh day of the Christmas promotion, seven different styles of motorcycle Jacket were sold at a 20 percent discount. While it might not be “seven swans a swimming” like the original version of this tune, having a deal like that come straight to their phones was music to the ears of the bike fanatics that make up Route 66′s mobile contact list.

Going the Extra Mile

Of course, no top-notch SMS initiative is complete without a solid push to gain new membership. With this in mind, Route 66 Harley-Davidson pulled out all the stops when it came time to promote its 12 Days of Christmas campaign. Social media, in-store advertisement, and reconnecting with past customers who might be interested helped swell the ranks of the list and ensure that these offers didn’t go to waste. After spending some time bolstering its contacts, the dealership began to fire off these deals once a day, creating a sense of excitement and anticipation among the shoppers looking to pick up something special during the holiday season.

Reaping the Rewards

So for all this hard work, what did Route 66 Harley-Davidson gain? To start, the owners noticed a stark upswing in general foot traffic at the dealership, as well as the obvious gains in its SMS contact list. This increased amount of customers in the store naturally led to a significant boost in sales – particularly with the promoted items. On T-shirt Day, sales of these shirts jumped to 250 percent of the numbers posted on an average day. Helmet Day saw the same amount of these high dollar items sold in one business day as what the dealership sold for the entire previous week. While we could go on and on with the stats that support each day, you can already see that this campaign was nothing short of a massive success for Route 66.

Finding the Road to SMS Success for Your Brand

It might seem like all you have to do to follow in the footsteps, or tire marks, of Route 66 Harley-Davidson is to slap a few texts together and send them to your contact list. However, the truth is that there’s plenty that can go wrong if you don’t pull things off just right. To help propel you to the same heights, you’ll need to put an emphasis on offering deals that actually matter. Whether it’s discounting high dollar items or running specials on normally expensive services, finding a way to add value to the customer is key. Also, planning your campaign around upcoming events, like the holiday season, is a smart way to generate some extra buzz. If you can put these practices to good use, you’ll find yourself in the fast lane heading toward major SMS success in no time.

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It’s hard to argue with the fact that texting with your customers is at or near the top of the list when it comes to effective marketing strategies. Whether it’s Mashable’s Allegra Tepper noting that viewers open 98 percent of sent messages, or Rimma Kats from Mobile Commerce Daily reporting that consumers are 10 times more likely to redeem a mobile coupon when compared to a traditional options, there’s no denying that SMS marketing is a powerhouse for brands that pull it off right. However, like any other great thing, a few bad apples can spoil the whole deal for everyone involved.

To help combat this wave of illicit text usage, the Messaging, Malware, and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group, otherwise known as M3AAWG, has released a series of industry best practices to help steer brands away from the temptation of mistreating contact list members. With that in mind, let’s dig into the report and see what your brand needs to do to ensure that it stays on the straight and narrow, all while keeping the good vibes flowing with audience members.

What Is M3AAWG?

While all of this sounds nice, you’re probably sitting in front of your computer wondering what M3AAWG is and why this organization cares about your text marketing campaign. To answer the first part of that quandary, this organization is an open membership group that services the technologically oriented communications industries – in this case, anyone who plans to connect with customers via text. As far as the motives of this group, the goal of M3AAWG is to bring these related sectors together to combat messaging abuse – namely spam, viruses, and any other threat to the digital well being of consumers around the globe.

Laying the Foundation

To pave the way for this goal, M3AAWG released a comprehensive review of the issues facing the industry and its recommended feedback to these problems. At the heart of the report is the concept of making mobile marketing abuse unprofitable. By having regulatory bodies and laws, like CASL, bring the hammer down on those who stick a toe over the line that separates acceptable from illicit, M3AAWG hopes to curtail the threat of spam and other shady practices to unsuspecting readers. Aside from covering the threats faced by the text community, the report also covers safe Internet browsing and protecting business web domains.

Developing Industry Best Practices

To help realize this dream of a spam-free community, M3AAWG offers up some important best practices for brands like your own. Before your messages start hitting mobile inboxes, here’s a quick breakdown of M3AAWG’s recommended tactics, as explained by The Wall Street’s MarketWatch blog. First, limiting the number of messages you send, as well as notifying the authorities of any group soliciting black market bulk user information, can help separate your campaign from the ranks of generic spammers. Naturally, there’s nothing wrong with connecting with your audience regularly, but if you’re going overboard with multiple daily messages, you’ve definitely crossed over into the shadier part of the industry.

From here, resist the temptation of spam endorsements at all costs. While the idea of pumping up your contact list with new users is great at first glance, subscribing to these services, even if it is free, only propagates consumer abuse in the form of compromised personal information and illicit data harvesting. Additionally, letting your customers provide feedback with the 7726 (SPAM) system keeps your campaign honest and provides feedback from the viewers at the same time. The last recommendation is a call to action of sorts for the industry. Instead of just reading about text messaging best practices on blogs like this one, connect with others via comment sections, forums, and social media to help spread the word about doing business, and gaining results, the right way.

Is This the Same as CASL?

Considering all the coverage we’ve given CASL recently, you’re probably seeing a lot of similarities between that legislation and this industry report. The big difference here is that CASL is a law with severe penalties for those who decide to break it, while M3AAWG’s recommendations for best practices is simply the industry chiming in with its own take on the right way to connect with mobile shoppers. However, if you truly want to stay on the good side of the law, the overlap between these two offerings can help reinforce a strong approach to mobile marketing, according to Candice So of news outlet ITBusiness.ca. It might seem like a little bit of overkill at first glance, but keeping up with M3AAWG’s releases and staying on top of all the latest regarding CASL enforcement is a smart way to keep your campaign rolling smoothly and avoid the long arm of the law.

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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 Nimnicht Family of Dealerships brought great mobile messages to car shoppers down in Florida.

Cruising by the beach with the top down and the sun shining on a beautiful day seems like all the advertising a dealership would need to sell cars in Jacksonville, Florida. Unfortunately for the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships, playing on the appeal of the good weather and location just wasn’t enough. With a plethora of competitors using the same tactics to sway shoppers looking for a new car away from these affiliated dealerships, this group – consisting of authorized Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Wheego dealers – had to shift into high gear with a smart text campaign to beat the heat. To learn more about this strategy, let’s take a moment to break down the particulars of the campaign and how your brand can put these lessons to good use.

Setting the Stage for SMS Success

With car lots and service centers located on both sides of the St. Johns River, the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships already had the infrastructure in place to offer a great customer experience to the people of Jacksonville. However, plenty of businesses have had the same foundation, but couldn’t seal the deal due to insufficient customer awareness. To get the message out about the cars currently in stock, the people in control of this dealership group decided to kick things up a notch with a smart and engaging SMS campaign.

At the heart of this promotion was a “text-to-win” contest. Essentially, potential customers and anyone else interested in the Nimnicht brand were encouraged to fire off a text to the dealership for a chance to win a variety of prizes. To help get the word out, this campaign used available billboard space and online ad content, in addition to local TV and radio spots, to connect with the local population. With nearly 1.5 million people living in Jacksonville and surrounding areas, it’s easy to see why this dealership group exhausted every venue available when building its SMS contact list.

Going Beyond the Basics

However, all of this was just the first phase of the project. Once excited customers participated in the text-to-win promotion, the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships went above and beyond by rolling out a second initiative based off of these new members to the texting list. For those expressing interest in hearing about new car offers during phase one of the campaign, the next wave of messages helped connect these mobile consumers with sales professionals that were ready and willing to walk shoppers through the process of finding the perfect new or used car.

The Big Finish

While the idea of a multi-tiered text campaign might seem a little overbearing at first, the results this dealership organization produced tell an entirely different tale. In total, over 4,000 people signed up to experience the fun and interactive text-to-win portion of the SMS initiative. This stat is pretty impressive on its own, but the people running the campaign weren’t satisfied with just good enough.

From here, the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships indentified and pursued leads from within these interested customers. Of this second wave, 9.25 percent were workable leads, giving the sales force for this dealership group more than enough customers to keep them busy in the following months. In short, this campaign surpassed plenty of expectations, easily entering the ranks of other resounding SMS success stories.

Polishing Your Own Text Message Campaign

So now that you know the story of how the Nimnicht Family of Dealerships left its competition in the dust with great SMS messages, what can you do to make your next campaign go over just as well? To start, leave no stone unturned. Whether you’re doing radio spots or in-store promotions, getting the word out about your initiative and growing your list is extremely important. Once you do this, don’t be afraid to reconnect with your customers and go beyond the basics. As this dealership group demonstrated, having a plan with several layers that goes beyond signing people up is a powerful approach. With the Nimnicht example and some savvy SMS knowledge guiding you along the way, there’s nothing that can stop your next text message campaign from joining the other successful brands found within these case studies.

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