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prep_for_holiday

As crazy as it sounds to say out loud, the impending holiday shopping season – and all this means for your inbox operations – is truly right around the corner. Spooky Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving meals with the family, and pumpkin-spiced everything will soon be on the minds of everyone that makes up your target audience – whether you’re ready or not. With this in mind, let’s connect with some of the leading voices from around the web to ensure that you get off on the right foot with your email marketing campaigns as we head toward the autumn online shopping season.

Start Testing Your Landing Pages

In terms of getting your stable of digital content in shape for the holiday season, Carolyn Nye of Practical Ecommerce points out that it’s hard to go wrong with giving your landing pages a seasonal face lift. Considering that these pages often serve as the digital doorway that connects your email content to the virtual shopping cart on your site, it’s beyond important to get things right on this front.

So how does a brand shore up its landing pages in advance of the email marketing busy season that comes with the shift to autumn? According to Search Engine Land’s Mona Elesseily, staying descriptive and succinct is the key to success. Just like your inbox content, skip the fluff and get straight to the point regarding holiday sales and promotions when possible. A powerful seasonal call-to-action (CTA) goes a long way, so avoid airy language and make it a point to impart value and urgency upon the consumers who are in the process of transitioning from the inbox to your holiday-centric website offerings.

Add Triggered Emails That Target Early Fall Shoppers

Outside of spicing up your landing pages with a targeted and optimized seasonal slant, Nye also suggests trying out new triggers for your automated email responses. Yes, most brands have some form of “abandoned cart” event message, but standing out during this hectic and exciting time of the year requires so much more than a this kind of standard email offering.

Some of the most effective triggered emails offer guidance and suggestions, so use this knowledge to get a leg up on the competition. For instance, in the weeks leading up to a particular holiday, set up a trigger that promotes suggested and similar items for those early birds who start searching for deals well in advance of the typical sales cycle. At the very least, this approach ensures that your brand products and services end up in the digital conversation with your inbox audience early and often.

Know When Your Audience Starts Consuming Autumn-Oriented Content

Speaking of getting ahead of the competition, James Green of Marketing Land explains that your brand has a golden opportunity to shape and mold the aforementioned interactions by taking note of when and where your audience starts seeking out holiday-oriented content. While the obvious answer to this query comes in the form of “around Black Friday” or “the week before Christmas,” the truth of the matter is that you’re much better off going as deep into this process as possible.

Consumer data – both in the form of third-party sets and harvested first-party information from your site and social media pages – can tell this story in a precise and detailed manner. While other brands stick to the status quo, your organization can hone in on the weeks, days, and even specific times of the day, that serve as the crucial moments of audience interaction and activity.

Personalization Matters More Than Ever

The final tip from Green offers up the notion that success in the inbox this holiday season will rely upon personalization like no other before it. Essentially, more than 50 percent of online shoppers want their personal info to be used as a means of creating a better shopping and outreach experience, so it’s imperative that your brand use these tools to give the people what they want.

Everything from content tailored to holiday trends and activities in the shopper’s area, to simply using the person on the other side of the screen’s name periodically, is fair game within this practice. The big key here is that you do everything you can to make each message feel like it is unique and one-of-a-kind. If you’re able to accomplish this – as well as put to good use the rest of what you’ve learned here – then there’s no reason why this coming holiday season can’t be the catalyst for your best inbox initiative ever.

 

inbox_still_relevant

It’s the question that every person hates to ask – but inevitably does – as they get older each year: Am I still relevant? While staying hip and cool socially is a nice trait, it’s far from an essential endeavor. However, the roles are drastically reversed when it comes to the inbox.

Staying relevant with your audience is the key to great email content, so slipping up for even a short period of time could spell doom for even the most exciting inbox campaign. To ensure that failing out of favor with the people that matter most isn’t part of your email marketing story, here’s everything you need to know about what it takes to keep your inbox content relevant with today’s online shoppers.

Mobile Stands Above All

In his look at how to keep inbox content relevant with modern consumers from around the globe, Rohit Roy of MarTech Advisor points out that the most important piece of the puzzle comes in the form of mobile-friendly email content. With Venture Beat’s J. O’Dell reporting that over 65 percent of all emails sent end up viewed from a mobile device first, it’s easy to see that the need for mobile functionality is greater than ever before.

For those of you who need to do a little catching up on this front, there’s a few attributes that you can hone in on to bring your messages back to mobile relevancy. To start, make the switch to a responsive template that utilizes the “single-column” layout approach. This way, readers-on-the-go won’t have to struggle with a clunky or unwieldy email once your content ends up in their inboxes.

Additionally, it never hurts to put your call-to-action (CTA) at the very top of the screen. While this isn’t always the best idea for standard desktop content, ensuring that the CTA is easily found and highly clickable from the smartphone perspective is vital to the success of this message in the mobile world.

Reaching out to Your Customers

Mobile concerns aside, gauging the relevancy of your email marketing content also requires a willingness to take a firm look what you know about your audience. To put it in plain terms, if you’re not soliciting feedback from these individuals, as well as harvesting and analyzing data that focuses on browsing trends and habits, that it’s highly unlikely that you’re keeping up with the needs and desires of the people that matter most to your brand.

So how does a brand reach out to customers and use this interaction to maintain a relevant and fruitful position in the inbox? Social media is a great place to start. Even if you never post the first survey or feedback link, simply sitting down and listening to the conversations that occur within relevant hashtag discussions and other platforms can serve as an invaluable learning tool.

If you do decide to interact, then soliciting a response from the members of your social community can take this new understanding to an even deeper level. Whether you post email content to your profiles and test its ability to spread virtually, or you offer “Q&A” sessions that let contact list members sound off, maintaining an active position in the social world is one of the most effective tactics you can employ as part of the fight to remain relevant in the inbox.

Keeping up with the Latest Trends

The final key part of the discussion regarding your current relevancy to email contact list members – and your brand’s future prospects – comes in the form of reviewing your stance on the latest trends and breaking stories. As Adweek’s Marty Swant explains, the world of email marketing loves tackling new developments and trends, so it only makes sense for shoppers to want to associate with brands that have an active stance regarding these breakthroughs.

Delving into the world of real-time interaction and responsive message content, predictive analytics that aim to guess how your audience will change and adapt, and a willingness to learn from each campaign are just a few of the attributes that help paint the picture of a brand that has a progressive take on the email marketing process.

Naturally, you’ll also need to keep your eyes open for whatever other development stands on the horizon, but exploring the merits of these practices is a good place to start as you reclaim or maintain your brand’s inbox relevancy. Once you’ve paired this new mindset up with the rest of the information covered here, then you’ll have everything you need to answer the question of “Is your inbox content still relevant?” with a resounding “Yes!”

 

5_sms_keywords

It’s no big secret that great SMS campaigns rely on several attributes to truly fire on all cylinders. Proper timing, a strong message or indication of value, and playing by the rules of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) and other regulations all make the cut on this front. However, the greatest key to your success in the world of SMS marketing might not come from any of these practices, but rather via the selection of powerful and relevant keywords. With this in mind, here’s five quick and effective tips for picking SMS keywords that are sure to steal the show during your next mobile marketing campaign.

Focus on Versatility

At the top of the list for tactics that can help you pick the right SMS keyword, according to Business Review Canada’s Adam Groff, is focusing on a selection that is both versatile and flexible. While some might take this to mean picking a keyword with dual meanings, Groff explains that this is actually the act of placing an emphasis on a choice that has traction in other forms of marketing as well.

Versatile keywords can serve as the “cornerstone” that connects your SMS marketing with other advertising facets, so picking something that translates well to everything from in-store print to online ad spot purchases is vital to your success. As you mull over various keyword possibilities, stop and ask yourself “does this keyword fit other platforms as well?” If the answer falls into the affirmative category, then you have the beginnings of an immersive and complete SMS campaign that has the ability to span multiple advertising opportunities.

Pass the “Auto-Correct” Test

Outside of finding ways to tether your SMS keyword to other marketing endeavors, Groff also points out that your selection needs to pass the “auto-correct” test. Essentially, this test focuses on having your brand pick a keyword that is both free of special characters and not prone to changes via the various mobile messaging auto-correct systems. Generally, running potential keyword selections through tests on multiple mobile operating systems should help confirm that your choice is ready to take center stage on these devices as intended.

Connect Your Keyword to the CTA

Another major characteristic of a great keyword is the ability of this tool to slide in effortlessly into multiple calls-to-action (CTAs.) At the end of the day, a great SMS campaign leans heavily on its value proposition, so it makes sense for your keyword to fit into any coupons, discounts, or special offers held within these messages. The best part about making sure this developmental overlap exists is that your brand will be able to garner additional use out of this keyword, thus leveraging even more of the aforementioned versatility into the useful lifespan of this offering.

Short and Straightforward Goes a Long Way

One of the biggest slip-ups committed by brands looking to reach out via mobile devices, according to Derek Johnson of Mobile Marketing Watch, is the inability of these organizations to “trim the fat” off of potential keyword choices. Yes, you want these words or phrases to be descriptive, but sometimes this approach leads to excessive or clunky keyword offerings.

Johnson goes on to note that a better way of tackling this dilemma is to keep things short and sweet. Great keywords don’t scare off subscribers by being over-the-top or longwinded. Instead, they avoid multiple words when possible and serve as an attractive morsel that lures the reader into a longer viewing of the text message or a visit to your relevant landing page. In other words, the “less is more” concept is in full effect when it comes to choosing keywords for your next SMS campaign.

Make Your Keyword Memorable

The final tip on the list, also from Mobile Marketing Watch’s Johnson, points to the fact that your keyword needs to be memorable. Viewers only afford most messages a quick glance or two before closing their text apps, so it’s imperative that your keyword jumps off the page. Whether you choose a selection that easily identifies your brand, or you aim to stun the reader with something exciting and unexpected, the fact remains the same; if you’re not memorable, it won’t be long before your message is out of sight and out of mind.

Thankfully, with the tips covered here leading the way, your next SMS campaign doesn’t have to succumb to such a tragic marketing demise. Instead, you now have everything you need to find the perfect keyword for your marketing messages that is sure to take the mobile inbox by storm.

 

5_tips_video_content

For many brands and marketers, video content stands as a sort of “holy grail” when it comes to managing a winning campaign. Standing as both a prized inclusion in a marketed message and a source of seemingly endless frustration, successfully chasing this offering often comes with a myriad amount of concerns and setbacks.

However, generating great video content doesn’t have to follow this sometimes frightful and perilous path. With these five key tips in hand, your brand will be more than ready to take this challenge on and reap the rewards that come with a unique and engaging presence in the inbox.

Quality Is a Worthy Investment

When it comes to getting the most out of your video content, Karen J. Bannan of Advertising Age points out that placing an emphasis on quality is at the top of the list. While going down the budget route and skimping on editing and production values helps keep your bottom line protected in the short term, this approach is notorious for letting reach, impact, and – most importantly – conversion rates slip through the cracks.

Think of it this way: If you opened up an email regarding a product or service that you were considering purchasing and it looked like someone slapped this offering together in a few minutes, how would you respond? Now put you audience in this position and it won’t take long to see that investing in professional services or the development of in-house capabilities can go a long way in terms of generating quality video content.

Incorporate Your Call to Action

Bannan goes on to suggest that this content should not only serve in a supporting role for your call to action (CTA), but also incorporate the CTA itself into the video. People naturally gravitate toward video content, so why not merge the two and use this willingness to watch to help spread your message? Otherwise, you not only miss out on the powerful one-two punch generated by this approach, but you’re also banking on the hope that readers with notoriously short attention spans will both click on your video and read the containing message as well.

Put Your Video Front and Center

As far as the placement of your video goes, it’s hard to go wrong with placing the video front and center within your message. Obviously you’ll still want to keep sizing and proportion considerations in mind – especially for any templates that respond to mobile devices via altered dimensions. However, the alternative of burying this valuable and impactful inclusion deep within your content is far from desirable or beneficial.

Keep Things Short and Sweet

Jumping back to the notion of audiences with short attention spans, Marketing Land’s Michael Litt suggests keeping things short and sweet as you develop and finalize this forthcoming video content. This doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice quality or the core message of these offerings to stay on budget when it comes to time, but it doesn’t hurt to keep the specifics of optimal video length in mind as you lay out the framework for these selections.

In terms of actual run-time, your best bet is to go with a video that is between 30 and 60 seconds long. Otherwise, you run the risk of boring or confusing the person on the other side of the screen.

Litt does note that a key point worth mentioning here revolves around video content and its interaction with the phases of the “customer journey.” Essentially, consumers that are farther down this path or have a history with your company are more likely to consume longer content, so going over the 30 to 60 second range is okay if you’re dealing with a segment of experienced viewers.

Consider the GIF approach

The final piece of advice offered up by Litt tosses around the idea of skipping traditional video formats entirely. As crazy as this sounds initially, there’s actually a slew of benefits that come with saying goodbye to standard video content and converting these selections to the graphics interchange format (GIF.)

By going the GIF route, you can transform shorter content into more digestible snippets, all while reducing bandwidth and load time issues for your audience. Naturally, you’ll want to steer clear of this choice for longer offerings, but it’s an idea that’s at least worth considering if your content falls on the shorter end of the scale.

As you can see, making great video content does come with a significant investment of time and effort if you’re looking to do things the right way. However, with these tips in hand, your brand is now well on its way to building a powerful – and profitable – visual bond with contact list members from all walks of life.

 

inbox_rock_star

Regardless of the industry, it always seems like there’s that one brand or organization that has a way of stealing the show. Whether it’s taking center stage at an event or leading the way with innovative and fun advertising practices, it doesn’t take much to see why this company is always in the limelight.

While there’s denying that this position is an enviable one, there’s also no rule out there that says your brand can’t grab its own fair share of the adulation and attention offered up by adoring fans. If that kind of outlook sounds appealing to you, read on to learn more about what it takes to be a rock star in the inbox.

The Rock Star Mentality

The concept of the email marketing “rock star” originates with Loren McDonald of Media Post’s Email Insider blog. Essentially, McDonald points out that embodying this mindset means being great – and not just good – with everything you do in the inbox. From prepping content to delivering winning offerings on a regular basis, an email marketing rock star brand backs up its industry reputation with a steady stream of results.

The Tools of the Trade

So how do you get off on the right foot once you’re ready to take on your rock star persona? As McDonald goes on to explain, it all starts with the five tools of the trade that every winning brand needs:

  • Desire – Setting goals – and overachieving – in the inbox should be your top priority.
  • Commitment – Becoming a rock star doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hours of hard work to start reaping the rewards of a killer email marketing campaign.
  • Point of View – Skip the generic content and start taking a stand on the issues and problems that stand prominent in the everyday lives of your audience.
  • Focus – “Staying the course” with testing, analysis, and creative thinking is vital to this method.
  • Support – Behind every great rock band front man is a team of talented musicians and bandmates. As you start drumming up support for a deeper push into the world of email marketing, be sure that all of the other decision-makers and executives are on board for this program as well.

With these five attributes leading the way, it won’t be long before you start seeing each new email campaign as another gig on your continuing tour of inboxes across the web.

Keeping Your Audience Excited and Entertained

In terms of actual content, there’s quite a few ways to go about expressing the rock start mentality. For instance, Matt Janaway of Business 2 Community suggests utilizing a healthy dose of video and graphic content. Although going overboard on this front isn’t always the right call, you’ll be hard pressed to find an audience that doesn’t respond well to a few carefully chosen and expertly crafted visuals.

Outside of creating a visually stunning series of inbox content, Janaway always notes that there’s nothing wrong with flexing your muscles when it comes to industry expertise and knowledge. Publishing guides and adapting case studies for your next campaign both fit this mentality. Even doing a question and answer series that takes reader responses and provides your insight also works. The best part about this method is that it also serves as a catalyst for extended interaction and feedback with your audience – something that virtually every brand can’t get enough of these days.

Finally, every great rock star has a bit of an ego, so don’t be afraid to strut your stuff as you connect with readers from every corner of the web. This means discussing awards and accolades related to your products and services, as well as showcasing speaking content, media interviews, and other highlights from your interactions within the industry. The big key here is that being a rock star means funneling the potential from all of these opportunities into a distilled and powerful message for the inbox.

Staying a Rock Star for Years to Come

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, you’re not wrong. Because of this, it’s a good idea to consider the help of a team of trusted email marketing professionals. Just like a veteran band manager or team of seasoned “roadies,” having a group who knows how to navigate the world of email marketing on your side can make all the difference in the world. Once you have this crew in tow, the sky’s the limit in terms of how high your newfound stardom can rise in the inbox.

 

make_or_break

Email marketing is often viewed as a complex or overcomplicated member of the digital advertising community. While there’s definitely some merit to this statement, it’s also realistic to view this process as something that rests upon a small number of pillars or elements that can either make or break a campaign.

With the help of a recent piece from Cynthia Price over at Business 2 Community, now is the perfect time to highlight these three elements – automation, mobile design, and calls to action – and discover how best to succeed on each of these unique fronts. This way, the next time you fire up an email campaign, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to knock the members of your contact list off their feet with stellar inbox content.

Automation

At first glance, automation might not seem like that big of a deal when it comes to email marketing. Sure, it can save you a few minutes here and there throughout the day, but does it really have the power to make or break your campaign? According to Price, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” With the ability to boost click rates by 119 percent, automation is vital to the success of your brand in the inbox.

So how does an organization make the most of this tool? As the HubSpot Blog’s Erik Devaney explains, it all starts with keeping things simple and building off of a strong foundation. Appealing though it make be to dive headfirst into the world of automation, you’re much better off taking things slow and building up this system over a longer period of time. This way, you and your team of email marketing experts can test new strategies and automation techniques in a measured and efficient manner, all without feeling overwhelmed or confused by the advent of this approach.

Mobile Design

The next facet up on the list – mobile design – is fairly straightforward. Simply put, without a responsive design that adapts to the needs of on-the-go viewers, your brand is missing out on a massive boost in exposure from the 57 percent of consumers who won’t recommend a business to others based on the lack of a strong take on mobile email marketing.

A winning design for the mobile inbox requires a few key aspects in order to really attract the attention of the average contact list. In his look at this process, D.J. Waldow of Entrepreneur magazine suggests placing a preference on templates that shape and mold your content to fit the smaller screens of tablets and smartphones. Additionally, cutting down on the images, and thereby dropping load times significantly, can help keep these viewers focused on your message and not succumbing to increasingly shorter attention spans.

Above all of this, Waldow notes that it’s imperative for your calls to action (CTAs) to take center stage on these devices. Navigating mobile platforms can be tricky at times, so do your viewers a favor and make this button or link big, bold, and easily accessible when they are out and about on their mobile devices.

Calls to Action

Speaking of CTAs, this portion of the email marketing process stands as Price’s final element that can make or break your campaign. While we’ve talked about mobile CTAs in the previous section, it’s also important to give your desktop variations a little love as well. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when a healthy portion of your audience turns away from a CTA that’s stored deep within a clunky or cluttered email offering.

As Web Marketing Today’s Pamela Neely explains, a CTA that’s short, sweet, and to the point is a powerful asset in the inbox. Instead of showing off your verbal skills with longwinded prose, just jump straight to the point and tell these viewers why they should listen to what you have to say. You can also pick up some bonus points on this front if you incorporate a section that tells these viewers the best way to convert, all while keeping things short and built around a sense of urgency.

If you’re able take a CTA and instill it with these tactics, as well as putting the rest of what you’ve learned here to good use, then there’s nothing that can stand in the way of your brand as it masters each of the three elements that can make or break an email marketing campaign. From here, all that’s left to do now is to get to work on turning this newfound knowledge into an actionable approach to the inbox.

 

5_tips_more_interesting

Picture this scenario: You’ve hammered out all the technical details surrounding your marketed messages and you’re ready to get the ball rolling with your content creation. The only problem? What you’ve come up with this far for your message content flat out stinks.

As disastrous as this email marketing nightmare might seem, the truth of the matter is that you’re not the first brand to hit a roadblock when it comes to engaging and exciting content. To help get you back on track, here are five fast tips that are sure to make your emails more interesting and engaging.

Targeting Via Weather and Location

The first tip up comes from Blaise Lucey of Marketing Profs and focuses on adding a little local flavor to your email content. Lucey suggests that instead of firing off the same generic content to everyone on your email content list, break things down by location and customize your content for these various segments.

From commenting on the weather in different regions to tethering your products and services to local events, festivals, and other happenings, generating locally relevant content goes a long way with inbox viewers. The best part of this process is that once you do the heavy lifting that comes with acquiring contact list data and segmentation, you’ll have a consistent and stable source of information to rely upon for years to come.

Making the Most of Dynamic Web Cropping

Additionally, Lucey also notes that dynamic web cropping can help keep emails that spend some time as dormant selections in the inbox fresh and exciting. If you’re not familiar with web cropping, this method encompasses the process of pulling snippets from your web page and displaying these offerings in the body of your email content.

The dynamic take on this approach goes a step farther by using a rules and logic system to constantly update or change the content previewed based on a variety of factors. Consumer habits, list data, time of day, and a plethora of other inputs can serve as the impetus for this change, thereby keeping your audience excited and intrigued – even when they are dealing with older content.

Say Goodbye to Clutter

In some cases, a lackluster response from your audience doesn’t originate from boring or uninteresting content, but rather via oversaturation of these messages. For this reason, Matthew Torren of Entrepreneur magazine points out that taking a step back and critically evaluating your current stable of email offerings can help reinvigorate your connection with the members of your contact list.

Do you really need to fire off multiple messages a week to this group of readers? What about the frequency of that weekly newsletter? Sitting down with your preferred team of email marketing experts and distilling this content down to only the most vital and impactful pieces is a great way to help your brand return to “must-read” status.

Make a Connection with an Affiliate Brand

Outside of initiating a little introspection, Torren also explains that sometimes working with a related brand or affiliate can help recapture the attention of your audience. While most might view this tactic as cheap cross-promotion, Torren points out that it’s more about bringing relevant and engaging content to the forefront of your viewership’s awareness.

Industry thought leaders, high quality blogs, and other consumer-driven resources are great targets for this practice. The best part is that if things go well in the inbox, this new relationship with other influential brands can blossom into guest blogging opportunities and other endeavors that will in turn increase the reach of your products and services.

Reward Brand Loyalty

Finally, when it comes to generating a response from your email audience, Econsultancy’s Lucy Wilson reaffirms the notion that rewarding your followers for helping spread the word about your brand can go a long way. Naturally, what works depends entirely on the make-up of your contact list, but it’s hard to go wrong with freebies, coupons, and other tangible benefits for every click, social share, and new sign-up recommendation.

Obviously, there’s plenty more to discuss with the team behind your favorite email marketing platform when it comes to spicing up your emails in a hurry. However, trying out a few of these tips and tactics can help get the ball rolling on this process and ensure that your content always rises above the rest when viewers check out their most recent messages. For virtually any brand that’s struggling with building interest via email marketing, this outlook is definitely a hard one to pass up.

 

gmail_postmaster

If you’re new to the world of email marketing, then there’s one thing you need to learn in a hurry: When it comes to Google, you’d better be prepared to take note of every little move this industry leader makes. Whether it’s a shift in spam policy or a new feature, like the recently released Postmaster Tools, Google can radically change what works and what doesn’t in terms of email marketing operations – all in the blink of an eye. With this in mind, let’s take a minute or two to break down exactly what the new Postmaster Tools system means for brands like your own moving forward.

The Skinny on the Postmaster Tools

So what exactly falls under this new offering? According to the team behind Business Standard, Google Postmaster Tools is a new analysis platform that allows qualified high-volume senders to delve into viewership data that relates to email deliverability. More specifically, this tool helps pinpoint your brand’s reputation among consumers by analyzing how recipients sort and assimilate incoming messages.

Aside from tracking how many messages end up in the spam folder, Postmaster Tools also aims to clean up things on the end-user side of the equation. This “behind-the-scenes” update for members of the Gmail community offers enhanced spam filtration and detection, as well as improvements to the platform’s overall phishing protection. To put it simply, this new addition to the Google email portfolio is all about boosting both message quality from sending brands and user safety.

How It Works

In terms of functionality, Business 2 Community’s Collin Smith explains that Postmaster Tools uses a responsive and predictive system to better understand what end-users consider to be spam. With every report and filtration trigger, Google’s new offering will gather another crucial piece of email data that could help refine the parameters of acceptable mass email marketing.

When it comes to what you’ll see on your Postmaster Tools account, Smith provides a seven point breakdown of the defining metrics of the system:

  1. Spam Rate Dashboard – This calculation shows the volume of reported messages in a side-by-side comparison versus total emails sent to the inbox in question.
  2. Domain Reputation DashboardProvides information relating to whether or not the chosen domain is likely to end up tagged by Gmail’s spam filtration system.
  3. IP Reputation Dashboard – Much like the Domain Reputation Dashboard, this metric represents the likelihood of a particular IP to trigger a spam response.
  4. Feedback Loop – If your brand signed up for the Gmail Spam Feedback Loop (FBL), then this portion of the program will integrate relevant graphical information from that tool.
  5. Authentication Dashboard – Shows inbox traffic that has passed SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentications.
  6. Encryption Dashboard – Charts traffic in a comparison between transport layer security (TLS) encrypted traffic and all mail received from a target domain.
  7. Delivery Errors Dashboard – Smith notes that this tool, which covers rejected/temporarily failed traffic and all authenticated traffic, is a particularly useful addition to the portfolio of any brand that’s serious about email marketing.

Gauging Its Impact on the World of Email Marketing

Needless to say, even though Google didn’t exactly roll out the red carpet and announce the arrival of Postmaster Tools to the world with a ton of fanfare and excitement, this new platform is going to have quite the impact on the world of email marketing. In fact, Stephanie Mlot of PC magazine notes that this offering could stand as a vital tool in both the fight against spam and the desire to enhance the connection between brands and interested consumers.

Essentially, even though Mlot reports that only about .05 percent of wanted mail accidentally ends up in the spam folder, Google still feels that there is room for improvement on this front. Adding in the fact that punishing actual spammers with stricter regulations and filtration is also a part of the process doesn’t hurt either.

Keeping Your Brand on the Right Side of the Postmaster Divide

As with any update from Google, it’s always a good idea to give your operations a once over to ensure that you’re on the right side of this divide. Applying for access to the Postmaster Tools platform is a good start, but enlisting the help of a trusted team of email marketing experts can ensure that you understand and apply the information held within this tool. From here, you can move forward knowing that your content has the best chance possible to reach its desired target, all while playing by the latest set of rules that come out of Mountain View, California.

 

emojis_subject_line

There’s a lot of talk within the email community regarding the usage of slang and jargon within email content – specifically the subject line. Generally, the consensus from industry thought leaders is that these buzzwords, acronyms, and other colloquialisms don’t add much to the process when it comes to catching the attention of your inbox audience.

However, the rise of “emoji” usage on the web has added a new and intriguing dynamic to this conversation. To find out if it’s time to add these emotive icons to your email content, let’s jump into the discussion and see if there’s any merit to this new wave of expressing your brand’s intentions in the subject line.

What Is an Emoji?

If you’re scratching your head and wondering what the heck an emoji is, it’s probably a good idea to take a step back for a second and lay out a clearly defined understanding of this portion of the current Internet culture. This way, as you learn more about the potential power of these offerings, you’ll have all the info you need to keep the conversation within the proper context.

As Mashable’s Lyssa Goldberg explains, there’s a surprisingly deep level of meaning behind the modern take on emojis. Beginning in Japan, the area in which these icons were first popularized, emojis originally represented a certain emotion or concept related to this country’s youthful culture.

However, the last several years have seen the usage of these bite-size images skyrocket around the globe as more and more members of the Internet and social media aim to show their feelings and emotions in a more visual manner. In fact, the Unicode Consortium now stands responsible for the standardization of emoji encoding, thus ensuring that even though slight variations might occur from platform to platform, the meaning of each symbol maintains a universal basis.

Can These Additions Really Help Open Rates?

Now that you’re an expert on emoji meaning and history, it’s time to answer the big question: Can emojis really increase your open rates and give your subject line impact a healthy boost? According to article on LinkedIn offered up by digital marketing expert Moni Oloyede, the answer is a fairly strong, “yes.”

Essentially, adding in the right emojis to your subject line can help boost open rates by up to 15 percent. The big key here is that these offerings help overcome the natural inability of email marketing to properly express emotion within this short portion of the message. With the addition of emojis, facing an unclear tone of your messages doesn’t have to be a reality within your inbox campaigns anymore.

It is important to note that just because these selections have the potential to give your open rates a healthy bump, that doesn’t mean that incorporating emojis is always the right idea. In fact, Oloyede goes on to point out that emojis can come off as downright unprofessional in more formal inbox settings.

Picking out the Right Emojis for Your Future Messages

Before going overboard with these icons, consider your audience. For business-to-business (B2B) interactions, you’re probably better off keeping the emojis on the sideline. However, if you’re dealing with normal retail consumers, these tools could mean the difference between adding a human element to your brand or potentially coming off as bland or generic.

In terms of the most effective and impactful emojis, Ayaz Nanji of Marketing Profs found that a few big winners stick out from among the crowd. Specifically, after testing 214,000 different campaigns, the research offered up by Nanji shows that the “registered trademark” was the most used emoji by a large margin. As far as other heavily utilized emojis go, the “big-eyed happy face,” “smiley with heart eyes,” “heart,” and standard “smiley face” rounded out the top five most popular selections.

Obviously, these numbers simply represent a trend related to the volume of emojis found within relevant email campaigns. Even so, it doesn’t hurt to use this data as a basis for the foundation of your future incorporation of these visual assets into your subject lines.

From this point, you can continue to test and refine your chosen emojis – just like any other portion of the email marketing process – to ensure that you always provide the content that resonates most with your inbox audience. With this viewpoint leading the way, your newfound understanding of the role emojis play in the email marketing world could be the key to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the people on the other side of the screen.

 

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As email marketing heads into its teen years, it’s only natural for members of the community to want to talk about the evolution of this practice. Aside from the intriguing nature of this introspection, it also presents a unique opportunity to learn from a few lessons of the past. With this in mind, let’s take a few minutes to delve into the history of email marketing best practices, where this industry stands now, and how keeping a keen eye on where it’s heading in the future could be the key to sustained success for your brand in the inbox for years to come.

The Email Marketing of Yesteryear

According to Solomon Thimothy of The Huffington Post, the big draw for email marketing in the infancy of this process was to “cast a wide net” and hope for the best. As archaic or unrefined as this may sound, it actually was a relatively successful way to approach the rising importance of the inbox. After all, without the optimization tools of today, doesn’t it make sense for quantity to push quality to the backseat in these early days?

Additionally, this “spray and pray” take on earlier email marketing had little understanding of the need for content that addressed the needs and issues related to the lives of consumers. Instead, this time period was defined entirely by promotional content throughout every phase of the approach when reaching out to customers.

The Industry as It Stands Today

If that look into the past sounds a lot different from what you’re used to doing with campaigns of your own in the present day, you’re not wrong. Thimothy goes on to highlight the fact that email marketing has come a long way in terms of effectiveness and reach, all thanks to some major industry breakthroughs.

At the top of this list of innovations is the shift away from “one size fits all” email marketing and toward personalization. Essentially, marketers and the brands these professionals represent have learned over the years that sales pitches are a part of the process, but this practice needs to be supported by content that addresses pain points in a personal manner. The days of mass messages that show little emphasis on the user are long gone, replaced instead by content that’s driven by value, creates a personal connection, and are often fired off based on a triggered event.

Where’s This Practice Heading Next?

So now that we’re up to speed with the history of email marketing and caught up with this industry’s current progression, it’s time to talk about the question that’s undoubtedly at the forefront of your thoughts: What’s next for the world of inbox outreach? As Nicole Fallon of Business News Daily explains, the next step for email marketing relies upon the continued acceptance of “Big Data” and real-time responses as well as shifts within your target audience.

To put it simply, with seemingly every brand and industry across the web trying to get a foothold in the inbox, continued success moving forward relies heavily upon your willingness to stay relevant and in-touch with your audience. The best way to accomplish these goals? Having a steady stream of reliable data that tells the story of the people that matter most to your brand, as well as a way to translate this knowledge into actionable inbox content in real time.

Ensuring Your Brand Always Stays Ahead of the Curve

If all of this sounds a little cloudy, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Thankfully, one of the best ways to overcome this fear of the unknown and ride what Patrick Tripp of Inc. magazine calls an email marketing “renaissance” into the future is by arming yourself with a team of trusted experts who know how to forge ahead with cutting edge tactics.

From converting consumer data into contextually relevant content and imagery, to personalizing these offerings based on local factors like news stories and the weather, there’s nothing in the email marketing “rulebook” that says you have to travel this path all on your own. Even if you’re just looking to bounce a few ideas off of someone who has been around the block a time or two, aligning you brand with the right platform and professionals can ensure that you always make the most of the finite number of opportunities found within the inbox. Adding in the fact that email marketing has changed so much in the time it has been around, it only makes sense to do everything you can to put your best foot forward as this practice continues to grow and evolve.

© 2013 Elite Email Inc. Blog Admin