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Victor Green

 

After all your hard work creating and optimizing what you thought was the perfect promotional email, there’s nothing worse than checking in, only to see your open rates are deep in the tank. For many brands, this nightmare becomes a reality quickly, often for some of the most preventable reasons. If you’d like to skip the disappointment and keep your messages out of readers’ virtual trash cans, here are five easy mistakes you’ll need to avoid as you make your way toward a powerful, and successful, email marketing campaign.

Succumbing to Link Overload

Think of the last time you cleaned out your spam folder. Chances are the messages in this portion of your inbox ranged from the stereotypical – foreign royalty asking for a small donation in return for riches – to the downright odd. However, one of the common themes across most of these spam emails is an overabundance of links within the message body. With many spam filters honing in on link overload, if you want to stick around in the inbox, you’ll need to pick and choose your hyperlink battles. Try to keep your linking to a minimum if possible, focusing only on redirecting to landing and promotional pages. It might seem like a wasted opportunity to not link back to your page throughout the message, but based on the direction major email service providers are taking these platforms, it’s your best bet for dodging an unwarranted trip to the spam folder.

Unnecessarily Promotional Subject Lines

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that subject lines can make or break your chance at connecting with a customer in an instant. But what if your viewers never even get a chance to hear your promotion out because the subject line of your message makes it suitable only for the digital trash can? Unfortunately, overly promotional or overtly sales-focused headlines often earn a ticket straight to the spam folder. To put the brakes on this problem, tone down the numbers, capitalization, and forceful words – think “hurry now,” “open immediately,” etc. – so that your message doesn’t look like it belongs with the rest of the spam folder riff-raff. Instead, keep things simple in your subject line and focus on indentifying the valuable content held within your message. This way, you’ll avoid the wrong part of your audiences’ preferred email clients, in addition to giving them a great reason to keep reading on once they receive your email.

Emails with Too Much Text

While spam filters probably won’t screen your messages based solely on the length of content within, that won’t stop readers from marking incoming emails from your brand as spam after opening something that’s better suited for a library shelf. Essentially, readers only spend about 15 to 20 seconds on each message, so if you go overboard with the length of your message, it’s hard to expect a favorable response from your audience. Unfortunately, there’s no defined ideal message length, so the answer to this dilemma is a bit murky. A good rule of thumb to stand by if you’re unsure about the appropriateness of your email length is to ask yourself a simple question – if this message found its way to your inbox, would you take the time to read it? If the answer is closer to trashing it and blocking the sender than it is to an emphatic yes, it’s time to do a little trimming with your content.

Attachments Only Cause Problems

At first glance, this section probably sounds like it belongs on a dating advice site and not a post about keeping your emails from being caught up in a spam filter. However, if you really want to keep your marketed emails in the clear, skipping attachments is your best bet. Sure, it might seem like a great idea to attach that infographic or eBook you’ve worked so hard on to every email, but this is a major red flag for plenty of email service providers. Instead, after taking a little time in the message to explain the value of these offerings, let your selective links lead back to this content via landing pages. This way, you’ll skip the spam folder and boost site visits at the same time.

Know When Enough is Enough

Tenacity is often a key part in any marketing operation. However, when it comes to your email initiatives, constantly targeting and messaging people who have bounced repeatedly is a recipe for disaster. Not only are you building ill-will with someone who’s simply not interested right this moment, your brand could also face a spot on Gmail, Yahoo, or another email giant’s blacklist – something far worse than ending up in the spam folder. Thankfully, if you can toe this line, while also keeping up with everything else you’ve learned from this post, there’s nothing that can stop your next campaign from being a smash hit with interested audience members around the globe.

Inbox vs. Spam Folder

 

Sometimes, the morning seems to come just a little too early for your taste. Even though you know better, hitting that snooze button and trying to sneak in a few extra minutes before facing the day sure does feel good. While it might seem like a bit of a stretch, Google, ever the innovator in the digital world, potentially has plans to port this concept into your audience members’ inbox in the near future. If you rely on reaching out via email to spread your message about products, services, and deals, you’ll want to take a few minutes a learn a little more about Gmail’s “Snooze Button” and what it might mean for your brand moving forward.

What Exactly Would a Snooze Button Do?

First off, let’s explain exactly what this new feature in the Gmail inbox might do. To put it plainly, Google wants users to be able to use the Snooze Button as a way to check back in with messages at a later date. Instead of facing a decision on whether or not to read the email immediately, dump it in the virtual trash bin, or lose it beneath a tide of incoming messages, users can use this theoretical addition to the inbox interface to act on this item at a later date. No matter how long the user sets the “snooze” feature to hold the message – early reports claim that the duration of the feature can span from hours to weeks – once the allotted time limit ends, the message moves from an inactive status back to the top of the inbox with the other new entries.

Part of a Bigger Series of Changes

On its own, the Snooze Button is a clever tool that adds a new layer of inbox functionality to the Gmail graphic user interface. However, it’s important to note that it is just one of a slew of new features the tech giant is testing as it prepares yet another revamp of its email services. Aside from the ability to hold off messages for later, enhanced sorting features, like new tabs covering travel, finance, and recent purchases, are also currently in the works. Additionally, Google is also testing a new pinning tool, giving users a way to keep important messages, like time sensitive offers from your brand, at the top of the inbox with recently received emails.

The Reason Behind the Test

So why is Google messing with what most would describe to be a pretty good thing? The best answer to this is two-fold. First, when it comes to the inbox arms race between Gmail and its competitors, the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t really apply. To keep itself in the position of industry leader, Google is always looking for the next great thing. Second, and perhaps more important, is the fact that giving users the ability to customize the inbox and create a setting that is conducive to their lifestyles is what makes Gmail so attractive. If Google wants to keep the reputation of offering the most interactive and intuitive email experience, constantly testing new features is just par for the course.

Familiar Ground for Tech Savvy Viewers

Of course, if your audience is already on the tech savvy side of things, the concept of an inbox snooze button is probably nothing new to them. With the advent of Google’s Apps Script tool, Gmail users have been able to create their own custom features that offer this same functionality. Obviously, if you’re not familiar with editing and writing serviceable web scripts, this isn’t the easiest process in the world. However, it does show that the demand is there for such a feature, adding even more credence to Google’s testing of the Snooze Button and its potential role as a Gmail interface staple.

Is This a Good or a Bad Thing for Your Brand?

Now that you’re an expert on Gmail’s Snooze Button, it’s time to delve into the potential ramifications of this addition to the inbox in relation to your marketed messages. While first impressions might lead you to think that this might only serve as a way for users to put off your emails indefinitely, that’s probably not be the case. Having a readily available way to sift through the clutter and keep these offerings in plain sight could add a new dimension to your marketing outlook. Sure, messages that deliver time sensitive offers could experience a few bumps in the road, but anything that gives your users a chance to read your messages, even if it’s not right away, is still better than these audience members completely ignoring it in the first place or losing it among the avalanche of incoming emails to their inboxes.

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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 Palms Resort and Casino switched up the status quo for text message campaigns by offering a once in a lifetime experience to contact list members.

While the saying “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” might be true for some things, when it comes to Palms Resort and Casino’s take on mobile marketing, the opposite couldn’t be more true. With a creative offer and a new take on what constitutes a great text message, this leading resort and casino situated in the heart of Las Vegas, right around the corner from the city’s famous “Strip,” is the perfect example of how going big when connecting with your customers can really pay off. To learn more about how Palms hit the mobile marketing jackpot, let’s take a deeper look at all of the pieces of this winning formula.

A Different Take on Text Interactions

At this point, you’re probably wondering what makes this case study so special. After all, if you’re new to getting in touch with customers on the go, chances are you’re only familiar with the basic concept of offering great deals in a simple, easy to understand text format. While there’s nothing wrong with this line of thought, Palms Resort and Casino found out rather quickly that it’s not the only way to really make a splash with viewers via text message.

Instead of sending out messages that included coupons or discounts, this casino and resort decided to swing for the fences with a mobile marketing sweepstakes. For users that agreed to add their phone number to the contact list, a chance at winning a free one-night stay, as well as dinner for two at the hotel, was the big draw. Considering that most shoppers are happy with simple deals that save them a few bucks on their next purchase, offering this kind of value as part of a text campaign proved that Palms was definitely willing to go big to generate some buzz for its brand.

Breaking down the Campaign Particulars

As part of the campaign, interested audience members did have to follow a few particular rules. First off, signs within the resort, as well as ads on TV and the web, instructed viewers to text “PALMS” to 74642 for more information. From here, the customers received confirmation of their entry into the sweepstakes, as well as a request for permission to continue receiving offers from the hotel and casino. After reading that, you’re probably thinking that most of the people who signed up simply skipped out of the contact list agreement after entering the sweepstakes. While some did follow this route, the results garnered by Palms once the dust settled just might surprise you.

Big Results for a Big Giveaway

The final tally for this mobile campaign gave the guys in charge of Palms’ marketing initiatives plenty to smile about. Once the sweepstakes ran its course and the hotel provided the prize package to one lucky winner, over 60 percent of the content participants had stayed on as mobile subscribers. At first glance, that might not seem like much, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the mobile sweepstakes process. However, the average sweepstakes contest only holds a 37 percent retention rate, emphasizing the fact that Palms Resort and Casino hit the big time with a well-planned and executed campaign.

What Your Business Needs to Know to Hit the Mobile Marketing Jackpot

So what can your business do to follow in this casino and resort’s footsteps as it works toward a great mobile marketing campaign? To start, if you want big results, you’re going to have to go big with the prizes or offers. Once you have an established contact list, keeping this audience interested with small deals and coupons is one thing, but getting their attention in the first place requires something especially exceptional or worthwhile. Additionally, keeping things simple in the sign-up process goes a long way as well. This isn’t trying to say something negative about your targeted consumers; it’s just that most people prefer offers and opportunities that are easy to follow and complete during the course of a busy or hectic day. If you can hone in on these two key principles during your text campaign, you’ll be well on your way to hitting the mobile marketing jackpot, just like Palms Resort and Casino.

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While it might be a touchy subject for some, the truth is that staying completely engaged and excited when operating an email marketing campaign can be a tall order. Combining the grinding nature of coming up with new content that piques consumer interest with the hurdles that come from finding balance between your web page content and marketed emails is enough to wear anyone down. With that in mind, if you feel like your messages and overall marketing approach could use a little pick-me-up, here are five simple ways to find new inspiration as you continue to offer great content to your audience members.

Stay In Touch with Industry Oriented LinkedIn Groups

First up on the list is industry groups found on LinkedIn. While this option focuses a little more on brands that deal with B2B marketing practices, with a little digging and some time spent sifting through the plethora of LinkedIn groups, this practice can help any email campaign find new options for upcoming inbox offerings. What makes this concept so powerful is that point of these groups is to promote discussion on hot-button topics that relate to your audience. After brushing up on the latest conversations happening in these groups, you can summarize the content or incorporate snippets into your emails, adding recognizable or reputable voices to your high quality content that really resonate with your readers.

Look to Support Forums for Hot Topics

Similarly, if your offerings and services aim to assist or improve a daily task or related item, checking out support forums related to the original product is a great way to figure out what the customer wants or needs in top tier email content. By browsing these forum pages, you’ll learn more about the latest issues your customers are dealing with, creating easy ideas for blog posts or any other offerings you promote via marketed messages. Sure, some of the language might be a little salty if the problem is especially frustrating, but there are few places better than support forums to find out what really interests your email audience.

Check In on Pinterest for New Design Ideas

Much like LinkedIn, Pinterest is one of the social networks that get lost in the shadows of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. However, if your brand isn’t keeping up with all the latest talk and pins on this image-based network, you could be missing out on some serious inspiration for new message content. Whether it’s browsing some of the most popular email marketing boards on Pinterest, or getting a little more specific by following the site’s most popular users that pin relevant content, this network has ample opportunities for providing direction if you need some new ideas. Even if it’s just seeing a new font you like for your blog or email headers, spending a little time browsing isn’t only fun, it’s also a great way to look at the marketing process from a variety of different angles.

Follow Along with Breaking Industry News

Of course, the biggest pitfall surrounding marketing of any kind is simply defaulting to the generic, and tired, content offerings that flood the web. For most brands, it’s clearly easier to write up boring email messages, blog articles, or social media posts that list “duh” knowledge at nauseam. Unfortunately, following this path of least resistance isn’t the best way to knock the socks off of your readers in the inbox or on your website. If you really want to generate content that supports your deals or simply gets your readers to come check out more on your blog, keeping up with the latest news in your industry is a must. Not only will this enhance your perspective for other aspects of your business, it also provides added insight and a well-researched background that helps you pack a little extra punch when you’re trying to make a point in your marketed messages.

Create Promotions That Focus on Blog Interaction

The final way to find new inspiration for your email marketing content is to just listen to your readers. While this might seem like common sense to take your cues straight from the source of your web traffic, actually getting in touch with these viewers is generally easier said than done. To help you revitalize your blog comment section and get the discussion rolling with your audience, consider creating an email promotion that rewards users that interact on your site; it’s no surprise that most web viewers love freebies and giveaways. This way, your brand not only generates some extra traffic and keeps customers excited, but it can also lay the foundation for future content ideas by watching the discussion evolve around what your audience finds most important.

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After reading that headline, you’re probably doing a double take. With virtually every blog and Twitter talking head espousing the benefits of getting personal with your text contact list, it might not make a lot of sense. However, there’s definitely a line that’s just waiting to be crossed by unsuspecting brands that don’t know when to put the brakes on the personalization tactics. To help you navigate the tricky landscape surrounding SMS marketing and personalization, let’s take a moment to look at what constitutes going too far in terms of personalization and what you can do to make sure your audience is never turned off when they see your company name in their inboxes.

A Prime Example of Going Too Far

Recently, the organizers over at Manchester’s Parklife in the United Kingdom found out that sometimes trying to make a mark with text messages can backfire in a big way. As part of its awareness campaign for parties starting up after the main Parklife event, the organization shot off a text message from “Mum” reminding the reader to be home for breakfast after the festivities. While this sounds like a cute and creative way of promoting these parties at first glance, some of the sadder parts of real-life quickly turned the campaign sour.

Unfortunately, plenty of the partygoers reacted negatively to the messages based on the fact that losing loved ones – particularly mothers in this case – is simply part of life. For those who no longer have their mothers in their lives, this message turned into a jarring and painful reminder of what they had lost. In some cases, receiving a text from “Mum” literally brought members of the contact list to tears. For those of us that have lost mothers too soon, it’s easy to understand the raw, emotional nature of this reaction.

Understanding the Thought Process

Obviously, this is not where you want to be with your messages moving forward. However, it’s hard to blame the Parklife organizers completely. On paper, it seemed like a smart tactic for breaking the monotony that comes with using a random string of numbers to spearhead your inbox offerings. However, that doesn’t change the fact that this faux pas put a huge damper on the event, leading to a wave of backlash on Twitter and Facebook, as well as culminating in an official apology from the organization. While time will eventually help soothe the wounds caused by this mental misstep, having this shadow hover over your brand, regardless of the intentions behind the process, is not something your brand can afford.

Finding Balance with Smart SMS Tactics

So does this mean you should say goodbye to personalized text messages and go back to the boring, generic staples that flood the rest of your audiences’ inboxes? Absolutely not. If you really want to make a positive impact on your consumers with these SMS offerings, you’ll need to learn to walk the tightrope between personalization overkill and an amount that’s just right. Thankfully, a few key tactics can steer your brand in the right direction while still maintaining a level of familiarity that cuts away unwanted brand anonymity.

First up is finding a replacement for “Mum” and other identifiers that are far too personal. While it might seem a little obvious, going with your company name is the easiest way to build familiarity and make things simple for your audience. This helps break down the barrier of anonymous texting, all while avoiding overstepping certain boundaries. Additionally, cutting out the text slang and abbreviations can also work wonders. In its place, focus on wording that makes your reader feel special, like “exclusive” or “limited.” Letting them know that you’re looking to reward them personally for signing up, while still maintaining a professional tone, is a powerful combo for SMS marketing campaigns.

Protecting Your Brand Now and Into the future

After reading through all of this, it’s clear that protecting your brand via SMS, while still firing off great content, requires a little thought and effort. However, a well-planned and properly personalized campaign can provide a massive boost to your brand in the short and long-term, ensuring that your hard work is well worth the effort. The key point to take away when it comes to SMS messaging, emails, and any other form of contact with your customers is that one of the most powerful things you can do is to simply step back and look at your content from as many perspectives as possible. This way, you can cut down on the risk of accidentally alienating your audience with a message that looked like a winner on the drawing board, but turned into a catastrophe in practice.

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Running an email campaign is a lot like taking a swing for the fences in baseball. When things go your way, the home crowd – in this case your online audience – cheers wildly as you round the bases and enjoy the increased traffic that’s flowing into your website. Unfortunately, as any email or baseball guru will tell you, stepping up to the plate, or inbox, with a perfect batting average is just a myth. The reality is that it’s foolish to not have a plan for when you’re in a slump. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some simple tips you can employ as part of an email marketing “win-back” campaign. This way, you’ll have everything you need to reignite those conversion numbers and get your audience back into action after the excitement of your initial push slows down.

Add in a Solid Offer

One of the quickest ways to get your readers back into your campaign is to throw out a nice offer. At the top of the list, actual savings – anything that falls into the “X dollars off” range on your products and services – performs nearly two times better than any other return deal. However, regardless of whether it’s a limited time discount or free content like an eBook download, offering anything specifically for the people who have fallen off your brands marketing bandwagon can help right the ship and get them back to eagerly awaiting your regular emails.

Don’t Shy Away From Hard Data

When it comes to brand awareness and decision-making, too many people that pull the levers and knobs behind the campaign rely on the concept of “gut instincts.” Sure, in plenty of industries having a strong hunch or read on the company can take you a long way, but email marketing is a much more stats driven affair. With numbers on open rates, inbox activity, and a slew of other metrics, pinpointing the exact segments of your audience that aren’t responding, as well as what these individuals like, has never been easier or more readily available. Because of this, let the stats do all the heavy lifting in your win-back campaign and follow their lead. Not only will this help increase your response rate, it can save you a ton of time and money developing and rolling out these messages.

Never Write Anyone Off

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to starting up one of these re-engagement initiatives is to assume that portions of your inactive audience are off limits. While it might seem like a long shot to get back in touch with the people who haven’t opened one of your emails in months, the truth of the matter is that win-back campaigns can drum up interest with customers who haven’t responded in up to 300 days. Basically, it’s never too late to get things rolling again, even with the most unlikely of candidates.

Not surprisingly, the same holds true for the time that comes after you fire off these win-back emails. As long as the reader hasn’t opted out, there’s nothing stopping you showing that persistence is a virtue with this group of out-of-touch consumers. Considering that you just might one day pique their interest enough to rekindle a connection with your brand, it’s well worth the effort of covering every nook and cranny of your contact list, no matter how unlikely the lead might seem.

Your Subject Lines Matter More Than Ever

If you’re familiar with a large portion of the posts on this blog, you’re well aware of just how powerful the subject line is when it comes to enticing customers to dig a little deeper into your marketed messages. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that having optimized and powerful headings in this area is crucial to a great win-back campaign. To help you get there, skip the caps button and generic terms, like “urgent” or “final notice,” and focus more on explaining just how valuable your offers for returning customers can be. This way, when your forlorn viewers sit down and start sifting through their messages, these emails can stick out on the preview pane for all the right reasons.

Build Toward a Follow-up

One of the biggest misconceptions about these types of campaigns is that once you re-engage your customers, you’re done with the work. Unfortunately, all this does is put you back into the same spot later on down the road. Instead of finding yourself in this endless engagement cycle, focus on working multi-level offers and follow-up requests into your campaign that keep your audience active and connected with your company. If you can do this, your customers will always have a great reason to keep your brand on their minds, ensuring that lost segments and lackadaisical contact list entries become a thing of the past.

Email_Marketing

 

If you’ve read one blog about optimizing you’re marketed emails, it feels like you’ve read them all, right? With so much generic information floating around the web, the talk surrounding optimization has definitely grown a little stale. However, there’s one interesting part of the process that doesn’t seem to actually get much attention – the emergence of preview panes across mail platforms. Considering that this is the first look readers have at what you’re trying to show off, giving some serious attention to how your brand comes across in these little windows definitely makes sense. To help you make a great first impression in the preview pane, here are some smart tips for optimizing your messages when they take center stage on this limited screen real estate.

Put an Emphasis on Building Trust

Considering that the inbox can be a “Wild West” of sorts with so many scams and shady messages floating around, the best way to avoid having your emails hit the virtual trash bin is to make it readily apparent to your reader that the message they’re looking at is legit. This means showing off your brand logo and name prominently in a place that won’t be cut off in either vertical or horizontal preview panes. The top left corner of the message is your best bet if you’re aiming to keep things visible. By sticking to smart formatting like this, you can avoid turning off skeptical readers before they open your email.

Limit the Amount of Copy in the Preview Pane

While it might seem a little odd to skimp on the body of the message, having a solid brick wall of text in the preview pane isn’t the way to go about your email marketing campaign. Not only is this not an attractive way to showcase your deals and offers, it also cuts down on the chances of your audience seeing the really important parts of the message. Before firing off a new round of content, take a moment to think about everything that shows up in the preview pane. If you even have the slightest concern that something in this window might be extraneous, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and pull it. Otherwise, you could be kicking yourself when you realize that the first thing viewers see isn’t an enticing offer, but rather filler content that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

HTML is Your Friend

With 59 percent of users blocking images in their email clients, leaning heavily on external images isn’t a good idea in the preview pane. Sure, these images can help you track open rates, but they are most definitely suited for the body of the message. When possible, coding the portions of the message that popup in the preview pane with HTML is the best way to work around the rise of image suppression. Naturally, this might require a little extra work if you’re trying to keep your logo prominently displayed, but you’ll definitely be happy with results. After all, if you don’t like seeing those annoying red “X’s” that signify a blocked image in your inbox, what makes you think that your audience will like it when it comes to your marketed emails?

Avoid Link Overload

One of the most grievous faux pas your brand can inadvertently slip into is link overload. This means cramming excessive amounts of links into the space that shows up on a horizontal or vertical preview pane. Obviously, you’re going to need links to products, deals, or your homepage somewhere in the message. However, the real problem starts when all of these, and then a few more, end up crowding a preview page and turning it into a cluttered mess. Adding in that plenty of spam messages from shadier brands or scammers come jammed with links as well, doesn’t put your messages in good company that you’d be proud to keep anyways.

Focus on the Call to Action

Finally, the biggest thing your message can do in the preview pane is generate a powerful call to action. At the core of any marketing message that shows up in your audiences’ inboxes is an incentive to do something with your products or services. Whether it is a limited time offer or a handy guide for using these retail items in new and exciting ways, having a clear and concise call to action not only helps streamline your message as a whole, it also keeps your preview focused and enticing for viewers. Before worrying about images, content length, or anything else, making sure you have this fundamental piece of the puzzle in place in the best way to keep your message on track and give your readers all the reason they need to read on after the preview.

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While anti-spam laws aren’t anything new in the world of email marketing, Canada’s upcoming legislation is definitely popping up on plenty of radars in the industry. With some heavy-hitting regulations and some of the strictest wording marketers have ever seen, it’s definitely in your best interests to be up to speed with these changes. To help you keep your great messages reaching interested customers, let’s break down Canada’s new anti-spam legislation, as well as what your brand needs to do so that you have everything in order when these rules go live in July.

The Particulars of the Bill

At the heart of the bill, lawmakers here in Canada want to keep the world of marketed messages completely separate from the decidedly less savory emails that spawn from shady sources across the net. This means introducing legislation that cracks down on spam, hacking, illicit data harvesting, spyware, fraud, and pretty much any other breech of privacy that can happen via your audiences’ inboxes. For brands and marketers who end up on the wrong side of this law, the penalties levied by the government are nothing short of harsh.

In fact, senders that aren’t in compliance run the risk of facing fines that can reach a maximum of $10 million per each specific violation. Naturally, that’s a worst case scenario of the most extreme variety, but it’s a great way to explain just how serious the Canadian government’s penalty system is when it comes to cracking down on individuals and brands alike who misuse and abuse marketed or mass emails.

Why Is This Happening?

The reason for all of this is that more people than ever – over 3.9 billion last year to be exact – are using email to stay in touch, creating ample opportunity for both good and bad practices to occur in the inbox. While this is great for your business in terms of reaching out to customers who are interested in your products and services, it also means that hackers and spammers can also prey on these same people with clever deceptions and outright fraudulent activity. With that in mind, it’s hard to blame our government, and plenty of others around the world, for cracking down on those who employ shady tactics when trying to pull a quick one via marketed emails.

Making Sure You’re In Compliance

Considering that there’s no grace period for this new act, having everything in gear when July rolls around is crucial to the continued success and viability of your email marketing campaign. At the heart of the legislation is a shift from implied to express consent. Before, some brands simply took a customer’s interest in its products or services as enough consent to warrant email contact. However, that’s no longer going to be good enough. Instead, when this change goes live, express consent, in the form of an opt-in agreement, will be the new required minimum to start connecting with your audience.

It’s important to note that sending off emails after July 1 requesting this consent will actually be in violation of the new rules, so if you want to keep the government off your back, you’ll need to get to work on verifying opt-ins with your readers. A great way to do this is to go through your email list and see which entries have express consent and which ones might be closer to the implied side of the scale. Not only will this help you clean up your contact list and do a little housekeeping, but it can also help you roll out opt-in confirmations before the hammer drops on these types of messages.

Understanding the Ramifications of This Change

At first glance, all of this is a lot to digest in one sitting, but it speaks to a bigger change in the email marketing industry as a whole that’s well worth noting. Canada definitely isn’t the first country to crack down on the shadier side of this business sector, and it won’t be the last, so placing an emphasis on quality, and not quantity, is the only way to survive this transition. If your brand has simply slapped together messages and called it good enough up until now, that simply won’t fly anymore.

The best way to prosper, both now and after the new legislation goes live, is to attract readers with high quality content that adds value to the marketing experience. By going this route, you not only stay on the right side of the law, but you also give your audience a reason to stick with your email campaign. For brands that are truly looking to maximize returns on marketed messages, this part of the formula hasn’t changed, even if the rules surrounding it are going through some serious upheaval.

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Subject lines are the bread and butter of any great email marketing campaign. While outstanding content is a must if you want to make a splash with your audience, turning them off before they even click “open” is any brand’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the people on the other side of the screen. To help you avoid this calamity and clean up any offenders in your stable of marketed messages, here are 10 of the top offenders that have doomed countless emails to the virtual trashcan.

Free

First up on the list is a word that can’t help but sound the spam alarm for readers. While it might seem like a great idea to fit this word into your messages, the reality is that using “free” in the subject line is extremely common among scammers and spammers, who use this as a cheap tool when trying to pull a quick one on readers.

Stop

Having an email jump off the screen with the word “stop” is definitely a very particular experience for your audience – just not in the good way. There’s definitely plenty of merit behind the concept of disruptive marketing tactics, but issuing a command or trying to convince your readers to change their ways in this part of the message is not the right way to go about this process.

Donate

For the non-profits out there, email marketing is all about bumping up donations and awareness, so this one’s a little tricky. However, the key to still weaving the concept of viewers taking action into the content of your emails is to save “donate,” “charity,” and the rest of these keywords for after you make your pitch. Going the opposite way and placing this word in the subject line will simply put a halt to any momentum you could be generating for your cause.

LOL

A quick look at your Facebook or Twitter feed provides all the proof you need that “LOL,” “OMG,” and the rest of your audience’s favorite web slang are all still alive and well. However, that doesn’t mean these acronyms have a spot next to your brand name in the inbox. Keeping your messages and subject lines light and conversational is one thing, but don’t cross the line with slang that’s better suited for your personal social media pages.

Last Chance

While this entry is more of a phrase, it still deserves a spot on the list. “Last chance,” “act now,” and all the other call-to-action terms really shouldn’t be the focal point of the message header. Instead, use expiration dates and limited time offers in the body of your emails to get your audience in gear and visiting your web page or brick-and-mortar store.

Help

Much like “donate” and “charity,” “help” is a word that shouldn’t make its home in your email subject line. Again, taking a stand on an issue or advancing your cause via the actual body of your message is far more effective than using words or phrases that unfortunately come off as pleading or pushy in the subject section.

Reminder

Surprisingly, people don’t respond well to words like “reminder.” While it might not make much sense at first glance, this word invokes feelings of repetition, which in turn has a strong connotation with common spam tactics. This becomes even more apparent when first time messages bring this word into the subject line as a method of faking familiarity – a concept that’s not limited to just this entry.

FWD: or RE:

Like “reminder,” “FWD,” “RE,” and other traditionally automated tags can be surreptitiously added into the subject line to befuddle unsuspecting readers. Sure, being sneaky and trying to pass off your next message as a continued conversation might trick a few unsuspecting readers, but don’t expect your open rates to stay up for long once your audience catches on to this underhanded tactic.

Webinar

If you keep up with content marketing slang, it might seem like a no-brainer to throw in terms like “webinar” in your message headers. Unfortunately, there’s a very real disconnect between inbox open rates and emails that jam these words in the subject line. While drumming up interest for your content is never a bad thing, keep the particulars to the core of the message and let a simple, straightforward subject line stand on its own.

Awesome

Rounding out the list is perhaps the biggest blunder looking to derail your email campaign. Today’s marketing world is full sales pitches and message headers that try to pump up products with over-the-top wording and unnecessary superlatives. The worst offender of all of these words is, without a doubt, “awesome.” Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being proud of what your brand has to offer; just don’t fall for the trap of slapping “awesome,” “amazing,” “epic”, and all the other overused exemplary adjectives in front of every other word in your subject line.

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While it’s obvious that maximizing your email marketing campaign is a major part of growing and interacting with your audience, focusing only on this part of the process isn’t the best way to boost your brand’s web traffic. Sure, a great initiative starts with strong messages that get the shopper on the other side of the screen to click your link – but what happens once these viewers end up on your page? In addition to this group, what about the browsers who make their way to your site via Google or the other top search engines? To help you clean up your site and ensure customers have a great experience once you reel them in, here’s some of the top SEO faux pas out there and how you avoid them with a few simple and easy tips.

Incorrect Copy Phrasing

One of the simplest mistakes you can make with your site is having a web copy that doesn’t translate well to the viewers interests. For instance, skimping on descriptive language is a major slip-up. Matt Cutts, Google’s head honcho when it comes to SEO practices, gave a great example by comparing a page that contains “Mt. Everest Height” to one that includes “How high is Mt. Everest?”

While the difference might seem subtle, the implications of the gap between the two are pretty big. The former is bland and generic, while the second poses a question that connects with your reader’s interests. To fix this, give your copy a once over and look for areas where more expansive wording could help flesh out the content in a positive. Aside from making a bigger impact on your viewers via email, doing this also has the added benefit of helping increase page visibility via Google’s recent shift toward favoring this type of formatting.

Broken Links

Another little issue that can cause some big problems is broken or incorrect linking to the other parts of your page. Naturally, interested readers will need to navigate to the different sections of your site to learn more about your products or services, so making sure these pathways always work is a good idea. Otherwise, you’ll end up putting your customers in a frustrating situation we’ve all experienced before – wanting to view a site, but facing down a broken link that stops this excitement dead in its tracks.

Meta Tag Duplicates

Taking things a little more toward the technical side of strong SEO tactics is the role of meta tags on your pages. The problem with this portion of the page is that many brands simply slap some generic tags on every page and call it a day. Unfortunately, all this does is create duplicate tag entries that do little to separate the actual content of your page. While this isn’t the end of the world as far as email generated visits, these duplicate tags can cause lasting damage for web crawlers looking to index your site. There’s nothing wrong with reusing terms in the meta tag section, just make sure you’re doing your best when it comes to describing what’s actually on the page.

“Click Here” Anchor Text

When it comes to the anchor text for your links, sometimes less isn’t always more. For instance, look at the links in this article. All of the anchor text helps describe what to expect once you’re redirected to the linked page. Unfortunately, plenty of pages decide to simply use generic terms like “click here” as a way to call viewers to action. However, you’re far better off making your anchor text as descriptive as possible – without making these links too unwieldy or awkward. Again doing this is good for the fluidity of your web page, as well as how your site fairs when it comes time for Google to rank it among the masses of others employing less than stellar anchor text practices.

Pages without Titles or Descriptions

The last major faux pas on the list is failing to take a few minutes to fill out the title and description section for your pages before you publish them. Not only is this practice easy to handle and a major asset for sorting and cataloging pages on your site, but it helps avoid an unsightly lack of text on any related search result pages. Considering that this snippet can say a lot about what to expect on your page for viewers coming across your content this way, don’t be afraid to put a little thought into what goes into the description. This way, regardless of whether your page visits come from great emails or any of the big name search engines, you’ll have everything in order as far as all the SEO tweaks go.

SEO

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