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For those who know Google, it’s not surprising to see the tech giant switching things up once again when it comes to how people use it’s hyper popular email service. While the changes to Gmail, dubbed “Gridview,” still might be in the trial stages, it never hurts to keep up with all the latest developments to ensure that you and your emails aren’t caught off guard once things go live. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the particulars on Gridview and how it affects the way your audience interacts with your messages once they open up their Gmail inbox.

Bringing You up to Speed

At this point, if you haven’t heard the news, you’re probably wondering what Gridview is in the first place. Basically, after partitioning the user inbox into three basic tabs last year, the Gmail team now has plans to spice things up for the one that matters most to your brand. With the new changes to the promotional tab currently in testing, Google hopes to make it easier for your marketing messages to show off your sales pitch, all while creating a more pleasing and enjoyable experience for the audience as well. Of course, to get to there, you’ll have to make a few tweaks to how you approach your message, but we’ll talk a little more about that later.

Breaking down the New Layout

As the name implies, Gridview’s doing away with the old-fashion list of messages and making things a little more visual. Instead of having featured images buried in the message, this part of your message now takes center stage on the viewer’s screen, along with a brief subject line that helps explain what the message is all about. In addition to these two portions of the new Gridview layout, you’ll also have your brand name and a “sender image” – think company logo – built-in this email tile. Along with all other promotional emails coming in to the viewer’s inbox, this should make for a colorful new way for shoppers to check out the latest deals with their morning cup of coffee at the very least.

So What’s the Big Deal?

Of course, Google’s not just rolling out an entirely new setup just to keep its name in the news; it already has plenty of other major developments to ensure it’s always the top name on the web. Instead, this rollout serves two purposes. The first is to continue to make Gmail the most innovative and attractive email option out there. While Google might be the top dog when it comes to search engine status and general web influence, there’s plenty of other email providers out there that offer a great product, so keeping up with the competition is a very real motivating factor on this front.

The second and perhaps even more important, is to keep providing support and visibility for Google+. While this network might never rival Facebook, Google’s not backing down from the fight any time soon. If you want to upload a sender image to represent your company, you’ll need to have a verified Google+ page that’s tied to the domain you’re sending messages from. Clearly, this is just the latest in a long list of clever ways that Google is trying to encourage companies to keep using the social network and guarantee that it holds at least some Internet relevancy.

Making Sure You Get the Most out of Your Emails

So now that you’re well aware of what’s going down with the promotional tab on Gmail, how do you make sure you’re emails stand out in a sea of beautiful images and alluring subject lines from competitors? To start this discussion, keep in mind that you have to play by Google’s rules if you want to pull this off. Your sender name should be less than 20 characters total, and your featured image needs to be at least 580px by 400px.  Additionally, if you go over 75 characters on your subject line, expect this part of your square on the grid to come in truncated. From here, you can get back to optimizing subject lines and rolling out great content like you do under the current system.

Is Gridview Here to Stay?

Naturally, some in the industry might be a little skeptical about whether or not Gridview is the real deal, considering it hasn’t even made it to live inboxes yet. While it’s true that this new layout’s still in testing, it’s hard not to imagine Google making this the go-to way to display the promotional tab, considering its track record for pushing the envelope. If this does become the norm, chances are you might see a dip in the importance placed on traditional testing, and the focus then shift toward maximizing the value of the new featured image approach. Whatever happens, it should be exciting to see what kind of splash Gridview makes in the email marketing world and what Google might have up its sleeve for the next big inbox innovation.

Grid_View

 

The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How great deals and the right strategy gave National Wholesale Liquidators a much needed sales boost and kept bankruptcy at bay.

Who doesn’t love a great deal? For pretty much any shopper (you and I included) the thought of getting the best price on something you want is just too good to pass up most of the time. While this is just stating the obvious about you and your audience, what happens if you want to promote some great offers, but you can’t get your message to the customers the right way?

National Wholesale liquidators, a 12-location discount chain, faced the same problem. Lucky for you, the guys that pull the strings over at National Wholesale saw the light of SMS marketing and laid out a great blueprint for your organization to follow if you want to bring in shoppers just like they did. To find out how this unfolded, take a moment to learn more about the chain’s journey from bankruptcy to packed stores and where mobile marketing fits into the big picture.

An Eye on Growth

After that last sentence, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why should I listen to a story about a company that was in the tank?” While that’s pretty fair at first glance, a deeper look lets you in on the whole point of this case study – National Wholesale Liquidators turned its fortunes around thanks to a revamped business approach that included a great SMS marketing plan. By putting the focus back on what customers want most – great savings – and connecting with them via text message, this company changed the status quo and made the forecast for their future look a lot sunnier than it had not too long before.

Bridging the Gap

So now that we know National Wholesale had the right idea with SMS marketing, how exactly did the company roll out this plan? To start, simply having a snazzy message with pricing and an opt-out code wasn’t enough. To get the word out on this deal, the stores advertised the new text subscriber program in-store, online, and via regular marketing – think newspapers and local magazines. From here, the rest was all about staying in contact with eager shoppers as the sales rolled in.

As part of the messaging list, National Wholesale kept in touch with shoppers by shooting off messages regularly that offered deals and savings in-store. To kick things off with a bang, first time subscribers got $5 off any purchase over $25 on the next visit. Interestingly enough, shoppers who picked up this offer actually spent around $45 on this visit, compared to just a $25 average from those who didn’t sign-up. While that kind of instant boost from bargains means good things for your stores right away, National Wholesale found out that sticking with the program pays off big in the long-term.

Big Time Gains

Just how big? Try 50,000 subscribers and still growing big. Considering that there’s only 12 National Wholesale Liquidators stores out there, that number is absolutely astounding. Today, the days of stressing over bankruptcy and wondering if they can keep the doors open are long gone as this chain continues to go strong with a rabid fan base that is always ready and waiting for new deals. Regardless of whether you’re a local mom and pop outfit or a national powerhouse, having that kind of return and longevity for simply sending out some texts is hard to turn away from.

Following National Wholesale Liquidators’ Lead

Okay before we go any farther, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to “simply sending out some texts.” You might interpret this statement as going with the quantity over quality approach, but that’s not really the whole story. While building your subscriber list is definitely important, following the lead of National Wholesale Liquidators will require a little bit of polish on the actual message content. To really hit the consumer the right way, having a simple, easy to read message that shows you put some thought into what you send out can go a long way with your audience. With this on your side, you can put the lessons from this case study to good use and expect a nice response in the short and long-term as your customers put your deals to good use.

NWL

 

You asked and we listened!

We are happy to announce that this past weekend we rolled out a new release to all customers that includes Google Analytics integration.

Elite Email Integrates with Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful website analytics tool used by many website operators (…and it’s what we use here at Elite Email, too!).

By viewing the reports on Google Analytics you can get deep insight into your traffic sources, conversion rates, and a whole lot more. You can then use this information to make important and useful modifications to your website to better achieve your goals. For more information about Google Analytics, visit http://www.google.com/analytics/ .

One really handy tool within Google Analytics is the ability to measure specific marketing campaigns & sources. This way you can separately measure the results of your search engine marketing campaign, banner ads you are running, email newsletters you are sending, etc, etc.

For example, instead of just seeing how many people across all your website traffic converted for one of your goals (such as buying a product), you can actually drill-down and see how many people from a specific marketing initiative resulted in that goal conversion. This lets you better understand what is effective and what is not, in addition to how to make improvements.

By integrating your email marketing with Elite Email to Google Analytics we have extended the story of your email newsletter a lot further…

Before you could always see how many people were clicking on links in your email (in addition to who clicked, when they clicked, where they were located when they clicked, etc, etc), but now you can actually use the Google Analytics information to see what happened once they were on your website. Did they buy the product you were advertising? Did they explore other parts of your website? Did they just leave right away? These are all good questions to ask, and now you can get easy answers!

When you create a new email, you can enable Google Analytics on step 4 (Email Settings) by checking the box as seen below:

Enable Google Analytics for your Email

Enable Google Analytics for your Email

By default, the Campaign Name will be the name you had given this specific email, but you can easily change it to anything you want.

This campaign name will later appear in Google Analytics. If you want to measure activity from just this campaign, then make sure you give it a unique name so you can tell it apart from other campaigns you are running through Elite Email and other sources.

When someone clicks on a link in your email, we will automatically associate it with the following properties:

Source: Elite Email
Medium: email
Campaign: (Whatever you had entered)

You can view the data and filter the results based on each one of these properties. So, you can see all the goal conversions you have received from ‘email’ or you can see how many goal conversions you received from a specific campaign.

Keep in mind, that Elite Email updates your data in real-time, but Google can take a little longer. So, don’t be worried if you see a ‘click’ from Elite Email but nothing in your Google Analytics account yet.

If you do not enable Google Analytics then there will be no change to your email at all and everything will be the same as it has always been. Also, don’t worry if you enable Google Analytics but link to a website that doesn’t use it, everything will still be fine.

As an added convenience, you can establish whether Google Analytics should be enabled or disabled for new emails by going to the “Settings” section in your account.

We’re really excited about this new feature and we hope you are, too!

 

The G.I. Joe cartoon series that ran in 1985 – 1986 would always end with a public service announcement that had the catch phrase “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle“. (See videos)

Was G.I. Joe our inspiration for the new bounce dashboard that we released to all our customers over the past few days…? No, it probably wasn’t. But, the concept is “knowing is half the battle” was definitely part of the equation.

Our goal at Elite Email is to not only help you send great looking emails, but also get deep insight into your email marketing performance. With this insight, you cannot only evaluate how you did, but learn how to improve for the future.

A couple months ago we released our brand new Reports section, which many customers have called the ‘best email marketing reports they have seen with any email service provider… ever’! This is a compliment we greatly appreciate, but it doesn’t mean we were able to sit back on our heels because we’re always pushing hard for MORE.

The new Bounce Dashboard, which is now available to all Elite Email customers, provides an in-depth view of all the undeliverable emails (bounces) that resulted from your email.

You can now drill down into your hard bounces, soft bounces, and other (undefined) bounces.

Elite Email Bounce Dashboard

You can even go a step further and view the reasons why an email resulted in a soft bounce.

Elite Email Soft Bounce Dashboard

As always, you can view the list of email addresses, export the data (into Excel), create new interest groups or block all the bounced addresses by adding them to your “Do Not Mail” list.

The new bounce dashboard also features many charts & graphs to provide a visual representation of your results.

Elite Email Bounce Charts

You can access the Bounce Dashboard by clicking the “Bounce Reports” link on the navigation menu or by clicking the number of bounces on your standard email report.

When the Bounce Dashboard first loads it will show your most recent emails, but you can use the Email Finder to locate the bounce data for any past emails you have sent.

Remember, it is a good idea to clear your bounces so you are not constantly sending to undeliverable email addresses. This will help your overall sending reputation.

 

Do you ever get the feeling that some of your contacts are sitting by their computer eagerly waiting for your email while some other contacts might take a glance at it if there’s nothing better to do?

All of us in email marketing would like to think that each one of the contacts on our mailing list is super incredibly engaged with our content, but we know that’s not the case.

Engagement is a key driver of success when it comes to email marketing, but how can you demystify who is highly engaged and who is not?

Elite Email has a handy report in the Report Wizard that makes this pretty easy. It’s also highly flexible so you can determine exactly what would define a highly engaged contact, a moderately engaged content, etc, etc.

Within the Report Wizard in the OPENS section you will find a report named “Opened X Amount of Times”. This same report exists in the CLICKS section and is named “Clicked X Amount of Times”.

Depending on how you wish to measure engagement, you can select the opens or clicks report…. or both!

Opened X Amount of Times
Once you have selected the report, you will see a drop-down menu beside the text “Only show contacts who opened the email this many number of times:”.

Here you can select a specific number of opens (or clicks) or choose one of the ‘greater than’ options (such as “>3″) to cover a larger range.

Opened X Amount of Times - Settings

After making your selection, the report will regenerate and only show you the contacts who meet your criteria. So, if you only want to see people who opened your email more than three times, select “>3″.

You can then use all the features in the Report Toolbox to segment all these highly engaged contacts.

For example, you can create a new interest group named “Most Engaged” and add all these people into the new group. This way you can send these specific contacts special emails that only go to them, as opposed to your whole mailing list.

This type of fine-grade targeting that separates out engaged contacts from non-engaged contacts is just another way you can use reports to further expand on your email marketing efforts.

 

About a month ago we fully released our brand new reports & analytics section. Since then we have received countless emails, calls and live chats from people saying just how much they love all these new features. (Needless to say, this has permanently put smiles on all our faces since we worked very hard on this!)

But, the celebration did not last long because we know that our work on Elite Email is never done. There’s always more new and exciting features we can build to help our customers enhance their email marketing.

And, as always, our best source of ideas and guidance for what we should do next is our customers!

We have been listening closely to the requests coming in since we released the new reports section and noticed that many people wanted to have a report that would show them everyone who did _not_ open their email.

They wanted an easy way to see at a glance which contacts were not engaging with their email. This way they can send a targeted follow-up, optimize their mailing list based on engagement, etc, etc. There are many reasons this report could be useful. But, internally we only needed one reason to build the report; our customers wanted it!

So, I am happy to say that we have released a new “Did Not Open” report that you can access from the Report Wizard starting today for all customers.

Report Wizard: Did Not Open

You can now see exactly who did not open your email. Using the report toolbox, you can save these contacts as a new group (which makes it even easier to send a follow-up), export the data, print the report and more.

Keep in mind, if you want to really drill down into your opens, you can couple this new report with the “Opened X Amount of Times” and see exactly who is opening your email and how often.

 

Today is an exciting day because we have removed the ‘beta’ label from our new Reports section, which means it is now available in full force with all its analytics glory!

On behalf of the team Elite Email Team, I want to send a big thank you to all our customers who provided great feedback over the past several weeks and even helped track down a few small bugs that our QA Team had missed during their extensive testing.

Overall, the feedback we have received since we made this available in ‘beta’ has been incredible. We knew our customers would like this (after all, it was based on everything they had asked us for!), but the positive response truly exceeded our expectations.

We had one hotel chain send us an email saying our new reports section (specifically the Geo-Reports) was the best thing since sliced bread…. and, while we didn’t know we were competing with sliced bread, we’re sure glad that we’re operating at that level. =)

From today onwards, when you click on “Reports” within your Elite Email account, you will be brought directly to the new reports.

For those that still want access to the old reports section, you can go under the “More” drop-down menu and select “Classic Reports”. We’ll leave this online for a couple of months just in case anyone still prefers the old reports section.

In conclusion, enjoy the new reports and stay tuned for more exciting upgrades coming down the pipeline!

 

One of the new features that we unveiled in the current ‘beta’ release of Reports is the Contact Activity Report.

This exciting new feature allows for detailed precise tracking of a specific contact’s activity for one of your emails.

You can enter your contact’s email address and see exactly how they interacted with your email. It will show you when they opened it, clicked on a link, forwarded it to their friend, unsubscribed, and more.

Contact Activity Report: SearchAlthough most Elite Email customers tend to look at overall reports to measure the engagement with their email, sometimes it is useful to roll up your sleeves and dig down deep into the nitty-gritty details of what a specific person did.

This is also useful if you have specific “VIP Customers” or other mailing list subscribers that you are particularly interested in. You no longer have to search through the overall reports to see if that important person is listed. You can simply type in their email address and get a full report presented cleanly on your screen (… and it’s updated in real-time!).

Contact Activity Report: Results

In addition, when you are viewing overall reports within the Report Wizard, you will see a “View Activity” link beside each contact’s email address. Clicking on this link will allow you to jump to the contact activity report for that person.

So, if you’re looking at an opens report, see a contact listed and think “HMMM… I wonder if this contact also clicked a link or forwarded it to their friend…” you can now easily find out!

Contact Activity Report: Links in Overall Reports

 

Over the past few days we have been rolling out the brand new & improved “Reports & Analytics” section of Elite Email.

We started the roll-out on the east coast of North America and have now completed the deployment for all customers internationally.

We are very proud of the new reports section and believe it takes your email marketing analytics to a whole new level. You can now get deeper insight into your email engagement, more easily identify trends, and follow along with the action with the Elite Email Ticker.

We have released this in BETA because there are still a few kinks we are ironing out. But, we simply couldn’t wait any longer because we were just bursting with excitement to get this into the hands of all our customers. The few remaining loose ends are being wrapped up and most people probably would not even notice them. Once everything is absolutely perfect & flawless we will remove the old legacy reports and remove the ‘beta’ label.

Don’t worry though, all your historical statistics have been migrated to the new system so you won’t lose anything at all.

We have done our best to make some of the new features such as Geo-Reports work for your older emails as well. Making everything work retroactively was a challenge and resulted in a lot of horsepower being devoted to processing millions upon millions of opens, clicks, etc… but we are really happy with the results.

Over the past couple of weeks I have provided previews of some of these new features on the blog. Since there are so many new features, I have truly only scratched the surface. In the days and weeks ahead, I will dive into some of these great new features in more detail.

Until then, all our customers can begin exploring these new features by going to the REPORTS tab and clicking the “Want a sneak peek at our new reports” button.

As always, please be sure to email us with your thoughts and feedback!

Retroactively

 

We’ve been talking a lot lately about some of the new features that will be released shortly in our new & improved “Reports” section and today I’m going to unveil something I haven’t mentioned before.

As you know, Twitter is popular. If you are gasping at that statement, then I urge you to move out from under that rock you’ve been living and find better accommodations! :)

People are getting used to receiving their news and updates in short little snippets and in real-time.

This is what prompted us to create the “Elite Email Ticker”.

The Elite Email Ticker resides on the new Reports homepage and is a running feed of all the interactions with the emails you send out.

As soon as anyone opens your email, clicks a link, forwards it, unsubscribes, files a complaint (yikes!) or interacts with it in any other way, it will hit your ticker newsfeed.

This is a sample of what it will look like on the main Reports Dashboard:

Elite Email Ticker: Real-Time Email Interactions

You can easily refresh the data to make sure you are looking at the latest activity or for even more details you can launch the Elite Email Ticker in full-screen mode.

There are several ways you can use this information depending on your specific needs. For some people this may just be a cool way of watching the interactions happen and for others this may be used as a sales tool.

Let me give you an example that is actually from one of our customers (even though I’ve changed the name and product for privacy reasons):
John sends out an email announcing that he has brand new state-of-the-art super insanely ultra-cool widgets. (Yep, we’re all excited about those widgets!) He schedules the email to send at 9:30am and beings to watch the ticker. As soon as he sees that william@example.com has clicked the link for more information about widgets, he can easily click on William’s address to pull up his whole profile. Since John uploaded phone numbers and information about his customers, everything he needs is right at his fingertips. He can call William to try to close the sale since he knows that William is a super hot lead right now.

Of course, I’m not saying you should call every customer, nor am I saying it’s feasible to sit and monitor the ticker all day long. But, this is just one idea… there are many others!

How will you use the Elite Email Ticker? We’ll have to wait and find out!

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