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For most email marketing practitioners, it’s all about staying hip and current with your inbox content. Tips on being conversational, relevant, and engaging have flooded the web, leading plenty of brands to fire off messages that look more like emails between old friends and less like marketing offerings. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, that doesn’t mean it’s always the right way to approach email marketing and brand outreach. With a growing push for more official, professionally composed newsletters gaining steam in the industry, now might be the time for your company to switch up its style and partake in a little brand journalism the next time you fire off a marketed message to your audience.

The Current Case for Newsletters

So why exactly are branded newsletters back on the upswing? According to Klint Finley of TechCrunch, you can thank the rise of celebrity bloggers for this renewed interest in more structured email content. By making this content exclusive to the email audience, these digital thought leaders and personalities have drummed up some serious hype for the format. Essentially, it’s the tried and true method of taking something popular, in this case pop culture or industry oriented content, and telling people the only way to indulge in it is by signing up for the “secret club” – in this case the email contact list.

The Benefit of This Approach

Even if your brand isn’t generating the same traffic as the biggest blogging names on the web, that doesn’t mean you can’t ride this wave of excitement as well. Finley goes on in his report on newsletters to note that for those able to pull off a successful email newsletter, there’s plenty to look forward to. First up is the increased control in the content dissemination process. Instead of saving your best copy for the company blog and hoping it makes its way around the web, brands that have a killer newsletter can leverage the most influential platform – the inbox – to spread the word on these top tier offerings.

Additionally, there’s the simple fact that readers pay more attention to what’s going with their emails. We could bore you with a mountain of stats regarding the power of this channel, but Finley’s discussion regarding author Warren Ellis’ contact list provides a much more personal example. Essentially, for each newsletter Ellis sends out, he averages around 5,000 opens. When you consider that his total contact list sits at 6,865, that number really starts to carry some weight. To put it simply, newsletters are in a great position to take advantage of the demand for more detailed content.

Everything You Need to Make a Successful Newsletter

So now that you’ve heard the case for trying out newsletters, it’s time to talk about what goes into an optimized take on this content. To start off, Forbes Magazine’s Kate Kiefer Lee suggests spending some time working on your brand message. It’s definitely not the flashiest part of the process, but if your newsletters come out as disjointed sections with random facts inserted at varying intervals, you’ll be wishing you took the time to hammer out a clear, distinct theme to your content.

Once you have your brand message in order, Lee goes on to point out that the best newsletters are “scannable.” Naturally, not all of the content you offer is relevant to every single reader, so breaking it up into easily digestible, but related and interwoven, sections is a great way to offer an attractive experience for your audience.

The next step, according to Summer Luu of Business 2 Community, is all about timing. Even the best newsletters in the world don’t stand much of a chance if you’re firing them off during odd hours or lulls in audience activity. While it might seem easy to just fit these emails into your schedule and call it good, you’re much better off devoting some time to researching the peak hours and behavioral habits of your audience. This way, your approach can focus more on the data supporting appropriate timing, and less on convenience and the path of least resistance.

Finally, Luu offers up the last key piece to a great newsletter – attention to detail. Whether it’s proofreading or double-checking linked materials, anything you can do to put a little polish on your content goes a long way to making a splash with discerning readers. With so many great options flooding consumer inboxes these days, even the smallest upgrades that come from focusing on the little things could mean the difference between revolutionizing how you interact with your audience and watching the competition steal your thunder with higher quality content.

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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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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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Whether you’re new to the world of email marketing or a seasoned veteran spearheading your brand’s latest campaign, there’s one thing that always stays the same – good enough won’t get you very far. With so many companies offering great email content, resting on your laurels is a quick way to fall behind the pack when it comes to your email templates and message content. To help you avoid a campaign that falls flat on its face, here are some quick tips that can help ensure your templates and messages are responsive and evocative moving forward.

Avoid Multiple Columns When Possible

Starting off the list is the basic structure of your template. By skipping multiple columns and sticking with a single text column approach, you can standardize your templates and ensure consistency between your desktop and mobile variants, according to Andre Lejeune in an article on Chief Marketer. This approach comes from two different perspectives. First is the fact that multiple columns are often hard to render and read comfortably on a mobile screen. From here, your brand really can’t afford to disregard its mobile constituency, as all signs point to smartphone and tablet usage continuing its meteoric rise in relevancy. Because of this, the best plan of action is finding a happy medium between the two and a unified template that’s responsive on both platforms.

Placing Your CTA

With the single column approach, you can continue to build a powerful template by reserving premium screen space at the top of the template for the call-to-action (CTA.) As part of the responsive approach, it’s important to engage your readers quickly, lest they lose focus and click over to the next promotional message in the inbox. By putting the CTA button or blurb at the top of the template, you offer a high impact piece of content that supports the body of the message and piques the viewer’s interest to continue reading, eventually leading into potential conversion territory by having them visit your page. When compared to the old approach of sticking the CTA at the bottom of the message, it’s easy to see that keeping things upfront and straightforward is a more proactive way to illicit a response from your audience.

Understand the Size Constraints of Mobile Screens

Continuing with the mobile theme, it’s important to keep interactive design fluid on smartphone and tablet platforms. While your desktop templates might be full of nifty graphics and buttons, these additions often don’t translate well to the small screen, even if you’re using the one column approach. If you absolutely need graphics in your marketed messages, consider building in the option to hide this secondary content. As The Business Journals’ report on the subject explains, keeping load times down and emails brief is a smart way to boost the response from your targeted demographic.

In regard to buttons, navigating these waters can be a little trickier because hiding this interactive feature can marginalize your CTA. For the buttons on your mobile platform to function properly, use them sparingly when possible and provide ample space on the template between interactive features to help mitigate the risk of unintentional clicks. Not only will this keep your click rates honest, it’s also key to avoiding a frustrated set of readers that can’t properly navigate or use your marketed message.

Thinking In Sections

Outside of some of the technical considerations surrounding the responsive approach, it’s also important to understand the big picture design implications of this strategy. At the heart of a responsive template is the idea that messages and visuals separated by segments are far easier for your audience to enjoy and view. Whether it’s split into block sections of the column, or breakaways explaining related deals, having defined borders and positioning helps present a more palatable email for consumers who don’t have time to sift through a single block of text.

Reaping Your Rewards

Now that you’re an expert on bringing your templates up to speed with modern trends, it’s time to look at some of the benefits you can expect from making the switch to the responsive design approach. As Cara Olson of Marketing Land explains in her case study on responsive emails, messages that don’t render well on desktops and mobile devices due to improper design are deleted immediately 70 percent of consumers. On the flip side, responsive templates generate more views, clicks, and conversions when compared to traditional message layouts. From this perspective, and with the tools to build a great responsive template in hand, there’s no reason your brand should ever send out a bland marketed message again.

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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

 

All of us at Elite Email have been working hard for months & months to understand every component of CASL, which takes effect on July 1st, 2014. We have seen many organizations across Canada and abroad fully embrace these major changes that are rocking the Canadian marketing landscape. They are doing everything necessary to get fully informed and caught up with making sure their mailing lists are up-to-date and 100% compliant with CASL.

A few months ago we released our CASL Survival Guide and made it available in a variety of formats:

Since it’s release, it has been downloaded and accessed a tremendous amount of times and has helped countless amount of organizations gain a deeper understanding about what’s in store come July 1st. In addition, organizations around the globe are using our step-by-step action plan as outlined in the guide to ensure they are on the right path.

Here in Canada, this is not only being discussed in boardrooms and around the water cooler [do people still do that?] but on major news outlets as well.

In the past few months we have seen some of Canada’s largest publications and networks reference our CASL Survival Guide.

Yesterday, Global TV News stopped by our offices and and spoke to our CEO, Robert Burko, about CASL and the changes that lie ahead.

Click here to see the full story and the video on the Global News website.

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The world of email marketing is far from static or stagnant. In fact, it seems like a single day doesn’t pass without some new development shattering what we think we know about connecting with customers via their inboxes. Recently, AOL decided to keep up with this trend by dramatically altering how they handle email verification and spam for incoming messages to its user base. If you plan on promoting your brand and shipping out offers and discounts to your customers via email, you’ll want to stick around and find out exactly what AOL changed, and what you need to do to make sure you don’t end up with a logjam of bounced messages coming back from this ISP.

The Big Changes

In a blog post detailing the move, AOL unveiled the particulars of this email verification change. Basically, emails that claim to originate from the ISP’s servers must undergo a series of checks that ensure these messages actually fit the bill regarding credentials and authenticity. If it turns out that these messages simply use an @aol.com in its address but originate from a different server entirely, then all bets are off once AOL’s system starts sending up the red flags. Messages that fail this check will bounce right back to the sender, making sure that the email never comes close to the intended recipient’s inbox.

AOL’s Logic Behind the Move

So why is AOL completely changing its policies regarding server verification? While some might think it’s a direct shot at the email marketing industry, the truth is that promoted messages are simply a unintended causality in this ISP’s continued efforts to fight back against spammers and their illicit messages. Near the end of April, AOL users became the target of a widespread spam attack, leading to numerous compromised accounts and even more junk messages making their way to new mailboxes. To help stop the problem at its source, the ISP decided to shut down one of the biggest tools in the spammer’s kit: Spoofed messages that edit the outgoing address. Unfortunately, if your brand is also using this technique for legitimate purposes, chances are you’ll need to rethink how you reach out to customers before your messages start showing up in these customers’ inbox again.

A Growing Precedent

Of course, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened for those who dabble in email marketing. Recently, we covered the news and offered some insight on a similar change unveiled by Yahoo. Not surprisingly, the circumstances leading to this action were eerily similar between these two ISPs, so seeing both platforms come to a similar conclusion makes sense. Again, this growing precedent isn’t a knock on email marketing so much as it is the mistakes of a few – think spammers and others trying to pull a quick one on unsuspecting viewers – ruining a good thing for you and the customers who enjoy checking out your latest offer or discounts.

The Future of ISP Interactions

Until service providers can find a way to eliminate spamming and junk emails that hit the inbox stuffed full of viruses and shady links, chances are that these new verification checks are going to become the norm in the email industry. While there’s no guarantees that Gmail, Hotmail, and the other big names out there will definitely follow in AOL’s footsteps, if spammers start to put more pressure on the ISPs that haven’t made the switch, you had better believe it won’t take these platforms long to shut down spoofing and legitimate usage of these domain names alike.

Redefining Your Mailing List Strategy

Before you do anything else, the first change to your strategy is one that needs to happen ASAP if you rely on an @aol.com outgoing address – stop sending messages that are just going to bounce right back to your platform. From here, switching up your domain to one of the other free options out there, like Gmail or Hotmail, can help alleviate your issues in the short-term. However, as you can see, there’s a definite argument that one can make for all of the major email ISPs to eventually follow AOL and Yahoo’s lead on this issue.

To protect your email marketing operations in the long-term and make sure your messages always hit the consumer inbox on time, consider going with a domain name you either own or operate. This way, you’ll never have to worry about internal changes coming from AOL or any of the other big names directly affecting your ability to stay in touch with an audience that’s eagerly awaiting your next email.

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The past few days have been pretty tumultuous for the email marketing world, and that’s putting it lightly. In a surprising move, Yahoo decided to switch up how it handles email verification, leading to a major headache for brands that use this domain to send out promotional messages to customers. If this is news to you, don’t worry – it is to most of the rest of the industry as well. To help catch you up to speed, here’s a quick rundown of what happened and what you need to do to make sure you stay in contact with every member of your mailing list.

What Happened Exactly?

As part of a new approach to email, Yahoo augmented its Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) reject policy. Basically, that’s a fancy way of saying that emails sent to the people on your list en masse from an @yahoo.com address – or the @yahoo.ca, @ymail.com, and @rocketmail.com variants – might get bounced or rejected under the new authentication policy. The reason why? Because they’re coming from an outside platform and not directly from Yahoo’s servers. Currently, the known providers bouncing these messages include Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, and Comcast.

Why’d Yahoo Do This?

Yahoo did this to break mailing lists and ruin email marketing, right? Not exactly. While it is a bit of a roadblock for brands currently using these addresses, this wasn’t the plan behind the change. Actually, Yahoo’s reason for making the switch centers on spoofing attacks made against its millions of users – the mass amount of bounces is an unfortunate side affect that’s part of a larger plan for enhanced security. From that perspective, it’s pretty hard to blame Yahoo, but it doesn’t make it any easier for companies to deal with the fact that these emails are now running right into an authentication brick wall.

Protecting Your Mailing Lists Moving Forward

Now that you’re all caught up, it’s time to build a rebound plan and get back in touch with your audience. First on the list – stop sending out emails with a Yahoo reply address. These messages never make their way to your mailing list members’, as they will only continue to bounce. Once you’ve got this under control it’s time to make a switch with which domain you use.

If you’re thinking short term, there’s plenty of free options out there that don’t currently set off the Yahoo red alarm, like Hotmail or Gmail. However, there’s no guarantee that Yahoo’s new DMARC configuration isn’t the start of a new trend among all the major email players. To permanently protect your ability to show up in your subscribers inboxes, you’re going to have think a little more long-term. What this means is going with a domain that you own or operate to prevent any future hiccups like the one inadvertently caused by Yahoo’s attempts to cut down on all the real junk mail.

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6 Simple A/B Tests to Optimize Your Conversion Rate

Picture this scenario: Your email marketing campaign has started to see success in redirecting customers back to your site, but you feel like you could do better. So what now? If you’re looking for a useful tool to help decipher the best methods of gaining customers and increasing revenue, A/B testing is the way to go.

Of course, this process comes with a learning curve and a little trial and error to see what produces the best results. But when combined with a smart email marketing campaign, A/B testing can make a big difference in your online visibility. Think of it this way – the A/B test is like a science experiment. You ask yourself a question, create a hypothesis and test it out. If one version gets noticeably better results than the other, you know you want to continue with it.

Experiment with Your Call to Action

Start with a call to action, or CTA, that’s either on your home page or part of an email campaign. Typical CTAs include “buy now,” “get started,” or any other action that’s used to help get the user to interact with your promotional content or products. Web Designer suggests considering things like size, color, placement and clarity. Remember that you want your CTA to stand out and be easy to find, otherwise you can’t expect much of a response. Making it impossible to miss can come off as too pushy though, so you need to be careful to strike the right balance. Choosing the right color can be just as important. Marketing expert Paul Olyslager points out that colors evoke certain emotions and can therefore impact your conversion rate, so choose carefully.

Perhaps the biggest thing to consider when running an A/B test with your CTA is clarity. An effective CTA must be easy to interpret. Avoid vague terms, and include specifics like outcomes or timeframes.

Free Trials in the Place of Buy It Now

Shoppers naturally feel hesitant when considering a purchase from a site they are unfamiliar with. No one wants to spend money on a product they don’t like. To help combat this, try offering a free trial. Since there are no strings attached, shoppers will have a serious incentive to give your products a chance. If they don’t like the product, there’s no harm done and you’re likely to still build some good will you can capitalize on later. If they do like it, they can go on to purchase it after the trial. Naturally, this won’t work for certain products and services, but if you can support this process, it’s worth testing to see the impact it will have on your conversions.

Add a Trust Symbol

Savvy browsers are cautious when it comes to supplying websites with personal or financial information. We’re all aware of the perils of viruses and scams, so you can’t fault your shoppers for being careful. If you’re having trouble getting visitors to purchase what you’re selling, make sure the icon for your sites security is easily visible to reassure them that your site is legitimate and that you have taken the necessary precautions to safeguard their financial information. This can be a major selling point, especially if your products range on the pricey side. Showing off your security features reliably increases conversion rates and gains you return traffic from shoppers who feel comfortable on your pages and with your email marketing plan.

Include Opinions and Testimonials

Make room on your website for customer reviews and testimonials. Seeing what other people thought of the product, how it benefited them, or even the downsides can help potential customers weigh their options and feel more confident about the purchase. Perhaps the best part of testing out this process in conjunction with a strong email marketing operation is that having unsolicited testimonials that talk up the benefits of your products and services can do more for your brand image than other forms of advertising.

Tweak Your Headlines

Catchy headlines will draw attention to what you have to offer. More traffic means more opportunities for customers and increased revenue for your business. Headlines that draw attention may use numbers, keywords, or words that trigger an emotional response. Putting your headline into “how-to” or question form can also intrigue your viewers. Of course, avoiding the dreaded “run-on” headline is key to getting the most out of your first impression.

Don’t Ask Too Many Questions

Very few people actually look forward to undergoing long or tedious forms. If it is too much work to contact you, find out information or make a purchase, then the only thing that you can count on is more people skipping over your site and heading straight to your competitors. Keep your website forms simple and straight to the point. Having forms available on your website is essential to your business, but try not to overuse and abuse these tools. Test to figure out exactly what is needed for your customers to be able to communicate with you clearly and for you to be able to accurately meet fulfill their orders.

No website is perfect. Once you have a great email marketing plan, combine it with a great landing page and website. A/B tests will let you see what works and what doesn’t, so you can increase conversions and traffic rates. Using them regularly to refine your approach will help you keep your online marketing campaigns in peak condition.

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Google is perpetually looking to break the mold when it comes to allowing users to connect with each other. However, the tech giant may have stirred up the pot in a big way with a recent announcement that focuses on its burgeoning social network and one of the most popular email services on the web. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, brushing up on this development and how it affects the world of email communications, before the change goes live, is a smart idea for anyone who uses these tools or has an interest in the email marketing industry.

So What Happened Exactly?

In a recent blog post, Google announced a new social media feature for Google Plus. The search engine leader plans to add the capability to email anyone on the Google Plus network, as long as they also have an existing Gmail address tied to their accounts. For those who have been around the social media scene for a while, Google tried this before with its previous social media system, Buzz. While Buzz didn’t blow up and take the Internet by storm as the company would have liked, the networking landscape has changed drastically since that time. Before this functionality goes live, Google plans to email Gmail and Google Plus users to let them know how this new avenue of access may potentially affect their ability to connect and socialize with others who use these services.

How Will It Work?

While it looks fairly simple at first glance, Google has several caveats that affect how you can utilize this service, according to a breakdown from the New York Times Tech blog, Bits. To start, simply typing in someone’s name in the email entry field on Gmail won’t get you on your way to connecting with new friends. Before you can contact these individuals, you’ll have to “follow” them on Google Plus. Once you click the follow button on the person’s profile, which doesn’t require his or her permission, feel free to shoot off an email from your Gmail account by typing the person’s name into the recipient field.

There are a few other things to keep in mind once you send off an email. First, the receiving party’s email address won’t be visible to you unless he or she decides to respond. Additionally, the emails that originate from Google Plus won’t end up in the “Primary” inbox tab in Gmail. Instead, recipients will find these messages under the “Social” tab with other transmissions from social networks and similar properties. Additionally, opting out of the process is also an option. By selecting the “General” tab under the Gmail settings section of the inbox, you can turn this feature off and avoid unsolicited emails entirely.

Why Google Thinks This Is a Great Idea

There are a few other things to keep in mind once you send off an email. First, the receiving party’s email address won’t be visible to you unless he or she decides to respond. Additionally, the emails that originate from Google Plus won’t end up in the “Primary” inbox tab in Gmail. Instead, recipients will find these messages under the “Social” tab with other transmissions from social networks and similar properties. Additionally, opting out of the process is also an option. By selecting the “General” tab under the Gmail settings section of the inbox, you can turn this feature off and avoid unsolicited emails entirely.

Why Others Aren’t So Excited

While the search engine and social media leader might be excited, it’s not unexpected to have a few naysayers pop up around every major announcement. As noted in the aforementioned NY Times blog, the fear of this new feature compromising user privacy is apparently an issue to some. While Internet privacy is a very serious issue and not something to simply brush aside, reading the official blog release on the subject illuminates two key points on this subject. First, simply not responding to entries that fall into the social tab is completely acceptable. Second, the aforementioned opt-out feature exists in this new structure to allow those not looking to make new connections a chance to turn off this functionality and close the doors to outside communications if they so choose.

What It Means in the Long Run

So what does this mean for email communications moving forward? To start, if adoption of this new program enjoys sustained success, expect other major players in the email and social media industries to follow the lead and build connections of their own. Even if this doesn’t happen, simply having one of the leaders in this sector bridge the gap opens up some great opportunities for individuals and organizations looking to reach out to others with similar interests or shared needs.

To wrap things up, this latest innovation from Google has the ability to revolutionize how users of Gmail and social media connect. By offering an optional service to forge new contacts, marketers and individuals alike can reach out to one another and exchange information voluntarily. Naturally, privacy is a big issue when it comes to meeting new people on the Internet, and many will undoubtedly want to opt out before the emails start flowing in. However, Google has clearly offered enough flexibility and options to make this a lasting and potentially beneficial change to how you interact with others in virtual space.

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