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There’s no worse feeling than the regret that comes with missing out on a golden opportunity thanks to a disjointed or disorganized approach. While this definitely rings true for plenty of other facets of your business process, it takes on a whole new meaning when the discussion turns toward email marketing. In a world where ever message and viewer counts, you simply can’t afford to let potential conversions slip through the cracks and fall into the hands of other brands within your industry. With this in mind, let’s dig into how an email marketing calendar can help you kick this inefficiency to the curb and just what goes into a successful take on this tool. This way, you’ll always have an eye on important events and upcoming opportunities – something that’s sure to set you apart from your competition in the inbox.

Understand Where You Started

Before you dive headfirst into the future with reckless abandon, Nikki Ilchert of the Inman news agency suggests spending a little time reflecting on the past and gleaning any potential lessons from previous inbox outreach operations. By looking back at prior campaigns and initiatives, you can gain a better understanding of just where your brand comes up short in terms of marketed messages and missed opportunities with your inbox consumers. It might not be the most pleasant experience in the world, but at least you can write off the threat of making the same mistakes twice with a calendar built with these shortcomings in mind.

Set Your Goals

Once you’re done sifting through the past and figuring out where your brand comes from in terms of email marketing success and failures, it’s time to look toward to the future and where you want to see your brand head in the coming months. After all, that’s what this calendar is made for, right? The best way to go about this is setting realistic goals and benchmarks along the way. Whether you’re factoring in open and conversion rates, or just looking to boost raw contact list numbers over the coming year, you now have the basis to accurately measure and impose attainable goals now that you’ve given the past its due and adjusted your current outlook accordingly.

Identify Key Dates

Of course, no calendar is complete without taking the time to highlight key dates related to your brand’s products and services. Armando Roggio of Practical Ecommerce points to this activity as the next step in the process. Naturally the big holidays – like Christmas, Easter, etc. – are a great place to start, but chances are there’s plenty more dates your brand can’t afford to let fly under the radar.

For instance, if you’re in the business of selling sporting goods, pinpointing the Super Bowl or the Olympics as active dates is a good call when it comes to more specific opportunities. It’s probably going to take a little time finding each and every date worthy of building email content around, but with this guide in hand, you’ll never be left wondering what’s on the agenda in terms of inbox outreach.

The Frequency Dilemma

As for the days and weeks that aren’t necessarily noteworthy on their own, having an email marketing calendar can help you hit the appropriate frequency levels. Instead of working on guesswork and supposition, you’ll have a firm understanding of just how often you’re reaching out to consumers during the average week. From here, trimming down or giving the numbers a little boost is a decision your brand can make with confidence. The best part? As your audience shifts or trends change, you’ll have historic data covering monthly, weekly, and even daily activity backing up your adjustments in response to the inevitable ebbs and flow of consumer demographics.

Develop Your Content!

After all that, there’s only one thing left to do – develop your content based around the blueprint laid out by your email marketing calendar. You’ll find that seeing beyond the imminent and having a strong plan in place does wonders not only for your peace of mind, but also for your brand’s ability to make the most out of fleeting windows of opportunity.

Whether you’re gearing up for a major holiday push, or simply capitalizing on an industry specific event, with this tool now on your side, there’s nothing stopping your organization from taking control of the inbox in a big way. Considering that this channel doesn’t show any signs of losing its top spot in terms of digital marketing prowess, that’s a hard proposition to make for any brand that’s serious about its online presence.



2015 will be the year of social media. In fact, Jeremy Harris Lipschultz, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and contributor to The Huffington Post, suggests that nothing will influence online marketing operations more than how brands integrate these social platforms into the other facets of digital outreach. Considering that email marketing still stands supreme in terms of reach and conversion potential, it only makes sense to start with the bond between these two when building a plan that maximizes the gains of this rising social trend. To help get you up to speed and ready to reap the rewards of a more social 2015, here’s a few quick tips to strengthen the connection between this form of media and the content you ship off to customers.

Mixing Things up with Blasts and Shares

The first tip comes from Nicole Kroese of Business 2 Community and touches on the basic – but oft overlooked – practice of including social share links in your email marketing blasts and content. While it might seem like an obvious inclusion, plenty of brands fail to incorporate these simple buttons and hyperlinks into their content, which in turn results in missed opportunities for bolstering your social following while also enacting your standard email strategy.

If you’re shipping out webinars, white papers, or any other content that can go viral, you can help propel this content to viewership far outside of your established inbox audience by including a sweepstakes or giveaway promotion. People love the chance to win free stuff, so why not offer up something enticing in exchange for a like, share, or repost? This way, you’ll not only drum up some interest within your current community, but also enhance your ability to connect with viewers who might be unaware of your content and email subscription list.

Retarget Your “Cold Feet” Prospects

For brands willing to further entwine their email marketing operations with social media and digital marketing at large, Kroese goes on to suggest utilizing the powerful Facebook retargeted ad campaign tool when the time comes to attempt another conversion. By retargeting individuals that reached your landing pages after opening an email or social link but didn’t quite go all the way with a sale, you can advertise on the most relevant platform and keep your brand’s name in the discussion. There’s no guarantee that you’ll convert all of these shoppers who would otherwise slip through the cracks, but leveraging the power of social media and breathing new life into the deals and discounts found in your emails via a new medium is hard to pass up.

Make Unsubscribing a Positive

Not everyone stays subscribed to your email contact list, but that doesn’t mean you and these wayward viewers can’t stay in touch. As Pamella Neely of Web Marketing Today explains, just because someone doesn’t want to receive emails anymore, that doesn’t mean he or she is completely done with your brand. By adding in social like, follow, and favorite buttons on your unsubscribe confirmation page, you leave the door open for consumers that might just need a change of pace in terms of brand contact. Who knows? After enjoying your social content for a while, they might decide that it’s time for a change of heart and come back to the list. At the very least, you can keep your brand from completely being cut out of the picture.

Generate Web-Based Versions of Your Email Content

Similarly, building web-based versions of your email content is a great way to show these unsubscribed viewers what they are missing. Not only can your brand tweet, post, and share these deals and discounts as a way of promoting its email contact list and generating value, it also provides users with a way to share specific offerings with friends and family. In short, web-based clones of your email content extends the reach even farther of this already powerful tool.

Spotlight Exceptional Fans

Finally, any time you can add a little human element to your content, you’re doing something right. With this in mind, why not take the best posts, tweets, and other follower activity and add it into your email content? Having a “customer spotlight” section in your emails on a daily or periodic basis not only helps break up the “salesy” nature of many messages, it also gives people a chance to hear from their peers before accepting an offer. Combining this modern take on testimonials and other tips with your current content can help seal the deal and ensure you always extract the most value from email marketing and social media in 2015 and beyond.


We’re only days away from the turn of the New Year, so now’s a time for festivities and looking back on a job well done over the past year, right? While this is definitely true, it’s only part of the equation when it comes to ensuring the good times are always rolling with your email marketing operations. If you’re interested in keeping your brand one step ahead of the competition, you’ll need a smart approach to 2015. To help you along the way, here’s all you need to know about prepping your email marketing campaign for the coming year and beyond.

Give the Past Its Due

It’s hard to make improvements on the year gone by without a solid introspective look at your prior successes and failures, so Ayaz Nanji of the MarketingProfs research site suggests spending a few minutes giving your previous campaigns an honest assessment. Did you reach the desired contact list numbers you set forth at the beginning of the year? What about conversion rates and offer redemptions? Being open and straightforward with this review is the first step in improving your email marketing performance and setting attainable goals over the next 12 months.

Understand What Metrics Matter to Your Brand

Of course, when reviewing the past or projecting the future, it’s important to know just what metrics deserve your attention. With this in mind, Nanji goes on to identify the performance indicators that matter most to brands that enjoy success in the inbox. Not surprisingly, open rates stand out in this regard. After all, it’s hard to understand what’s going right or wrong within the message if people aren’t opening it up in the first place.

From here, click-through rates and conversion numbers help expand upon the success of your content, as well as point your brand in new or more effective directions during the creation process. Finally, with the constant emphasis on mobile usage, knowing which devices your customers prefer to check their email on can go a long way when the time comes to discuss formatting and design templates that promote viewability and a consistent user experience.

Reignite Your Storytelling Passion

Once you’re done on the technical front, it’s worth looking at the conceptual side of your approach to 2015. In her review of this angle of email marketing, Jackie Wright of the Phoenix Business Blog suggests giving customers that warm and fuzzy feeling via great storytelling. Your email content is a blank canvas, so why not take this opportunity to engage and connect with viewers in a way that goes beyond the simple sales pitch?

Not every message you fire off has to include a deal or discount, so don’t be afraid to sprinkle in some human interest or new stories. Anything that connects your brand to an eye-popping headline and an interesting read positions you for success in the inbox, so complimenting your standard offerings with these change of pace emails can definitely go a long way with your audience.

Consider Expanding Your Email Operations

Of course, there’s nothing saying that your brand can only implement a limited amount of strategies or approaches. As Avi Dan of Forbes magazine explains, 2015 is set to continue upward trends and be a big year for email marketing, so why not expand your operations and capitalize on the continued growth of this format? Whether you implement more seasonal campaigns or increase your reach and support of your contact list in other marketing areas, shifting a greater focus toward the most powerful marketing practice on the web is hardly a bad call when it comes time to set the coming year’s budget in place.

Whatever You Do Plan, Then Plan Some More

Regardless of which path fits your brand’s approach, Eric Hammis gives a hearty vote of support toward planning out each step of the process. While other forms of advertising and outreach might not require as much foresight, the truly successful players in the world of email marketing have an intricate and precise understanding of every facet of an upcoming campaign. This means that for new initiatives, both large and small, don’t be afraid to go overboard when it comes to the finer points of your content, the visual templates utilized by your organization, promotional materials, and everything else in between. Once you have this plan in place, as well as the rest of the information we’ve covered on hand, you’ll be in position to make 2015 the best year ever for your brand in terms of inbox outreach.



The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How The Globe and Mail kept the people of Canada up to date with the latest happenings of the G-20 Summit in Toronto.  

With global leaders descending on the city of Toronto in 2010 to talk about some of the most pressing worldwide problems at the highly important G-20 Summit, saying that this was a big time for the news industry is putting things mildly. For any reputable news source, like Toronto’s very own The Globe and Mail, keeping readers informed and in touch with the latest developments at this meeting was priority number one. However, waiting for the next day’s edition just wasn’t fast enough, so the team behind this trusted newspaper decided to take on a faster approach.

Developing a Winning Strategy

Knowing this, The Globe and Mail decided to develop a strategy that focused on real time connections with readers who couldn’t wait to find out the latest about the G-20 Summit – SMS messages. Aside from covering breaking news, traffic updates, protests, and everything in between via text messaging, The Globe and Mail also wanted to promote a deeper level of interaction with loyal readers and increase the reach of both its mobile website and email contact list. Lofty goals to say the least, but considering the raw power of SMS marketing, well within the reach of a brand willing to take the proper steps.

Making Headlines and Raising Awareness

So how did The Globe and Mail put this text system into place? To start, the team behind this campaign spread the word to loyal readers via the newspaper. Aside from traveling down this standard physical print route, The Globe and Mail also targeted its ever-growing online constituency via informative upgrades to the paper’s web page. At the heart of both promotional avenues was a call to action emphasizing the quick, simple, and easy nature of signing up for the SMS program, as well as the benefits held within.

Gaining Ground and Building for the Future

While the members of the G-20 Summit might not have left the meeting feeling any better about the pressing issues up for discussion, The Globe and Mail definitely came out of this major news event feeling good about its position with the Canadian people. After the weeklong affair came to a close, over 53,000 news alerts were sent out as part of the campaign. In total, 89 percent of alert subscribers originated via online awareness materials, leading to 52 percent of these individuals staying with the SMS program or joining the email marketing contact list in order to keep up with all the latest breaking news.

Plotting Your Own Course for SMS Results

Clearly, The Globe and Mail capitalized on the powerful confluence of an effective medium – text messaging – and a major international event – the G-20 Summit. However, even if your industry doesn’t generate headlines of quite the same magnitude, there’s still plenty to learn from this newspaper’s successful SMS run.

First up, don’t be afraid to tether your campaign to an event that matters to your audience. Keying in on these exciting times, and offering up a useful service or offer like The Globe and Mail did in regard to the G-20 Summit, can help set your brand apart and boost SMS interaction in a major way.

Once you’ve honed in on the right time to unveil your SMS campaign, spend some time spreading the word. Whether it’s via social media, your branded website, or even more traditional methods like print media, ensuring you raise awareness among your audience is key to the success of your text offerings. While you’ll still generate some buzz one way or the other, without maximizing this phase of the process it’s hard not to leave some opportunities for outreach and connection with customers on the table.

Finally, after your campaign is up and running, don’t be afraid to engage in a little crossover with your other operations. As we saw with The Globe and Mail, this top tier news source helped bolster its email marketing campaign while building a healthy SMS following. As long as you provide quality content and offerings during your text initiative, there’s no reason not to keep the good times flowing in the inbox as well.



Email marketing as a practice often has a home within the discussions focusing on the latest technological advances and advertising trends in the modern world. After all, this form of consumer outreach does take place in a virtual inbox that can be accessed from desktop and mobile devices around the world, so it’s understandable to view this marketing method as a cutting edge practice. Even so, some of the biggest names in the business, like The Huffington Post’s Christopher Lester, say that this method of connecting with the consumers that matter most to your brand isn’t just about engaging them in a tech-savvy manner. Instead, it also involves something far more primal.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how Lester and many of the other leader voices in the industry believe marketed messages tap into the more primitive aspects of our modern minds. This way, the next time you gear up for a campaign of your own, you’ll be able to incorporate every angle of this practice – from high tech to old school – into your process.

The Longstanding Effect of Powerful Imagery

To kick off his look at this subject, Lester notes that effective images in your email marketing operations add a layer of appeal that goes beyond pleasant aesthetics. In fact, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than standard text selections. Additionally, 90 percent of the data we process during the average day is visual in nature. Essentially, when pulled off properly, images found within marketed emails capture the attention of the viewer and makes the associated text message far more memorable.

Obviously navigating this terrain is a tricky task, but with a little help, you too can tap into the base appeal offered by images. As David Daniels of ClickZ points out, the best place to start is by finding out the sizing and data limitations imposed by your email service provider and building this creative content accordingly. From here, keeping your image content simple and straightforward, while positioning eye-capturing selections near the top of your top of your message and at other prominent points within the template, will help you make the most of the primitive attraction provided by this content.

Keying in on Impulse Reactions

Outside of the straightforward impact provided by images, Lester also explains that subject lines, “From” names, and preheader text can also illicit a powerful and impulsive response from viewers. The primary culprit for this gut reaction? The decision-making portion of the temporal lobe – the amygdala.

Basically, this portion of the brain reacts to sensory input at lightning speeds, helping the average person formulate appropriate plans in life and death scenarios. Naturally, checking your email during the day usually doesn’t come with those kind of high stakes, but that doesn’t stop snappy and engaging headlines that capture the attention of the reader or evocative preheader text from generating a reaction within the amygdala.

Obviously, honing in on the right “From” sender name is a subjective matter and relies on whether your brand wants to enact a formal or casual approach, but what about that goes into a great subject line or preheader? As Lori Dillow of Business 2 Community explains, keeping things witty and brief, while also honing in on keywords and phrasing that matter to your audience, can go a long way in this regard.

Great Emails Evoke Emotion

From a big picture point of view, Kelsey Libert and Kristin Tynski of the Harvard Business Review point to fact that email marketing in general evokes a variety of emotions. From the thrill associated with a limited time offer, to the desire to be a force of change when learning about a new charitable or non-profit calling, this medium for communicating with the masses covers a wider spectrum of emotions than virtually any other form of advertising.

The best part about all of this? Tynski and Libert come to the conclusion in their study that the opportunities for brands to capture these emotions via marketing operations like email campaigns are seemingly endless. As long as your organization is willing to keep in touch with its target audience and demographics, as well as commit to testing a variety of messages and themes within your inbox content, there’s no ceiling for the success of these messages. Considering everything you’ve learned about the primitive appeal of email marketing, it’s safe to say you won’t be disappointed if you get back to basics with your offerings and engender this more humanistic approach the next time you reach out to customers in the inbox.



A lot of the talk surrounding email marketing focuses on connecting with retail consumers and getting the word out about products and services to everyday shoppers. But what if your customers don’t exactly fit this mold? For businesses that primarily serve other businesses, the process takes on an entirely different, and sometimes complex, look. With this in mind, let’s dig into some powerful tips that can help keep your next business-to-business (B2B) campaign on track to be a major success.

B2B Emails Aren’t Always a Sales Pitch

The first tip covers an ideological mindset that plenty of brands stumble over when trying to enact B2B strategies in the inbox. As Douglas Burdett of Business 2 Community explains, utilizing email marketing in this manner requires a commitment to more than just pitching sales. Sure, offering up deals and discounts is a big part of the equation, but adding in some content marketing attributes to your approach can go a long way toward pleasing these email viewers.

For instance, highlighting snippets from your blog about breaking industry news, white papers that cover longstanding issues, and other powerful content can help turn your periodic messages into must-read material. Even if it’s something as simple as a newsletter linking to other major voices in your marketplace, having something outside of “salesy” content goes a long way with the corporate entities that make up your brand’s email contact list.

Don’t Assume You’ll Always Have Their Attention

Speaking of the contact list, Burdett goes on to point out that getting these companies into your digital rolodex is one thing, but don’t assume that this accomplishment is enough to keep them around. Having idle members is almost as bad as lacking members in the first place. Because of this, going out of your way to keep these organizations engaged is essential to the long-term viability of your campaign. Whether it’s via live webinars, regular social outreach, or a variety of other interactive activities that relate back to you email content, rubbing online elbows whenever possible is a great way to extend the effectiveness of your inbox initiative and hold onto the attention of these consumers.

Landing Pages Are More Important Than Ever

Of course, great email marketing doesn’t end in the inbox. If you want to truly turn your business-based viewers into customers, Simms Jenkins of ClickZ points out that you’ll need a killer set of landing pages. As the gateway between the inbox and your website, these pages work best when they go beyond the mundane and provide a treasure trove of content and information. Providing access to SMS contact lists, teasing promotional materials, and even offering up links to related blog posts and extended content all fit this approach perfectly. The big key here is that you don’t let this opportune space go to waste. When it comes to getting a leg up on the competition and roping in conversions, maximizing even the smallest of advantages pays off major dividends.

Segmentation Still Matters

In terms of knowing your audience, Jenkins also advocates the power of segmentation when engaging in B2B-oriented email marketing. Naturally, it might seem a little odd to implement this process; after all, we’re talking about businesses and not individuals. However, the same concepts apply, regardless of who or what constitutes your audience.

The more you know about these businesses, the more you can personalize and specialize your email content. You might not be able to learn as much as if your brand operated in the more conventional retail setting with specific consumers, but there’s still plenty to be gained by segmenting your audience. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if you receive a lackluster response when shipping out “one size fits all” messages.

Look Beyond Simple Statistics

Finally, the last tip you’ll need to start, or improve, is your journey in the world of B2B email marketing which comes from Barry Saunders of B2BMarketing.net and addresses the role of analysis in the process. While plenty of brands understand the basic statistics, like conversion rates and raw contact list numbers, the reality of the situation is that if you want to succeed, you’ll need to go beyond these fundamentals and get into some more specialized metrics.

From A/B testing the subject lines of your message, and everything else that comes afterward, to consistently reviewing the latest trends and spending habits of your audience, digging into as much data as possible positions your campaign to truly make a splash. When combined with the rest of what you’ve learned, the sky really is the limit for the hard work you put forth in the inbox.



For Canadian email marketers, 2014 will go down in history as one of the most interesting years ever. The launch of CASL in July rocked the digital landscape and changed the game forever. This, of course, was preceded by an absolute flurry of confirmation requests being sent to Canadians en masse, as organizations scrambled to salvage as many mailing list subscribers as possible. Let’s put aside the obvious irony: an anti-spam law causing a massive influx in the amount of email people received, with little value other than “click here to confirm”. In fact, it did result in organizations trimming the excess fat on their databases. This means that as organizations close out 2014, they have a much leaner and cleaner database comprising an audience that actually wants to be engaged. With a new rulebook and a refined (albeit smaller) database, how will email marketing change in 2015? In this article we’ll take a look at the trends to watch in 2015 as email celebrates it’s 43rd birthday (…for those scoring at home, the first email was sent in 1971).

List Segmentation 2.0

Gone are the days of treating everyone on a mailing list like they are the same. Organizations of all sizes are now realizing the amazing power a good mailing list can have when managed correctly. What previously seemed like one long, never-ending list of email addresses all lumped together in one glorious unsegmented and undivided group, is now a wealth of data ripe for the most meticulous of segmentation.

Every email address has a story, has buying habits, has interests, and has a certain way it reacts to different types of messages. In 2015 marketers are going to really focus on the persona of the email address (…well, really the person behind the address) to segment their data in new ways that allow for much better targeting.

Traditional marketing segments on the most obvious of categories such as age, gender, race, income, etc. But email marketers are going to dig way deeper in 2015 and build segments not only based on profile data, but on behavioral data too. Mailing list subscribers who click on links about “blue pants” will be added to behavioral segments for people who like the color blue and are interested in pants. At Elite Email we saw a rise in this type of segmentation across our Canadian clients in the back half of 2014 and the expectation is that this will continue to be a prominent trend throughout 2015.

Emails For Me, Not Emails For Everyone

As marketers build targeted segments, it will also pave the way for much more personalized emails in 2015. Organizations that currently send one main newsletter to their entire mailing list are going to shift to a model where multiple variations of that email are deployed. For some organizations, the differences may be rather small, while for others the email may be completely different. The underlying idea is that the email content needs to be specifically targeted to the segment that receives it to produce the greatest chance of engagement and conversion.

To email recipients this will be a welcome trend because emails that are received will be much more relevant to their unique interests. As an example, your local community center runs programs for everyone, from toddlers to senior citizens. They used to send out a newsletter to everyone covering “All Activities This Week”. Now, they’re going to send a specific email to each age bracket (after all, very few seniors are going to sign-up for a toddler music program… so it’s kind of a waste of email real estate to promote something like that!)

This does mean that email marketers are going to be investing more time throughout 2015 in terms of content creation and building out the emails. However, this is going to lead to a much greater ROI for organizations, because open rates and conversion rates will soar to new heights. This means that in 2015 organizations should be getting their email marketing staff to spend more time optimizing this critical communication channel.

Mobile First Mentality

The amount of organizations that still sent non-mobile friendly emails throughout 2014 is absolutely shocking. The statement “everyone checks email on their smartphone” would not surprise any marketer, and yet so many have not taken steps to provide a better mobile experience. This is a huge missed opportunity and something that will simply not be allowed in 2015. At Elite Email, every year the amount of emails opened on mobile devices has increased, then increased, and then increased some more. That trend is not likely to slow down. Currently every email sent from Elite Email is fully responsive, which means it looks perfect on desktops, mobiles, and everything in between. That will be the new defacto standard for 2015 and beyond.

Creating emails for mobile requires a different thought process. On a mobile device, marketers need to get used to their layout stacking to one column and familiarize themselves with how that impacts click-through rate and what displays ‘above the fold’. In addition to having a responsive mobile-friendly email, marketers will have to make sure that all the links in an email link to a responsive mobile-friendly landing page as well. 2015 will be the year when all points of engagement become as optimized for mobile as they are for desktops.

Tighter Messaging Between Email & Social for One Cohesive Messaging Strategy

In 2015, organizations are going to pay more attention to their cross-channel messaging to ensure greater integration with their communication strategy. Posts on social media will now be more in-sync and aligned with the messaging contained in their email. Organizations of all sizes will take a more holistic look at all their digital channels and craft content calendars that keep everything focused on shared common goals. The days of the social media person operating in a silo (separate from the email marketing person) are absolutely behind us.

As consumers access each of these digital channels on a daily basis, organizations will need to ensure not only that they have a presence on each network, but that it’s all part of the larger integrated strategy. The blog article, newsletter, tweet, Facebook post, and photos on Instagram and Pinterest must answer the question ‘how does this achieve our overall goal’. When all channels have a shared goal, the digital footprint of an organization will lead to greater conversions.

The future is bright for email marketers as that channel continues to drive the greatest ROI and highest level of engagement. The email marketer of 2015 is armed with a wealth of strategies that can drive goals and raise the bar of what is possible with this tried, tested, and true channel.

2015 Trends To Watch


The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How the Viking Cooking School started with a grass roots approach and built a powerful SMS contact list in no time.

Have you ever wanted to chase a culinary dream and learn to cook with some of the best chefs around? If so, chances are you fall right in line with the Viking Cooking School’s target audience. Unfortunately, reaching out to these aspiring food savants wasn’t always as easy as pie. With this realization guiding the way, let’s take a few minutes to see how Viking Cooking School whipped up the perfect SMS recipe, as well as what you brand can do to mix in a few tips and tricks as well the next time you try to connect with potential customers on the go.

The Basic Ingredients

At the heart of this campaign was a desire to reach out to kids, moms, dads, business professionals, and anyone else who enjoys the art of cooking and making a great meal for friends and family. Naturally, there’s was no better place to start than with past and current cooking students. From this point, honing in on potential new students helped lay the foundation for a successful and interactive SMS campaign.

Mixing Things Up

Of course, targeting the right audience is one thing, but spreading the word and generating sign-ups is an entirely different matter. To successfully accumulate the latter, the Viking Cooking School fired off an email blast to existing customers with a slew of exclusive offers and discounts. This practice helped stabilize the burgeoning contact list with individuals known to be interested in the services offered by this culinary learning center.

Once the wheels started rolling on the awareness phase of this campaign, the team behind this initiative posted in-school signage, enabled word-of-mouth promotion by instructors, and looked to traditional print advertising to help spread the word. On the digital front, revamping the school’s website with an informative opt-in widget helped capture curious visitors who might not have been aware of the physical campaign materials.

Raking in the Results

After a strong four months of testing at the Ridgeland, Mississippi branch, the Viking Cooking School proudly claimed control of an SMS contact list of close to 300 members. While this might not seem like much to some, the fact that this list contained a highly interactive audience should not go unnoticed.

For instance, a single text message to this group – costing just $15 to generate and ship – filled eight $79 spots in a class that would have otherwise been under capacity. If you’re keeping up with the math on that exchange, it’s a net gain of $632. Today, the Viking Cooking School now has two more of its 16 locations enacting SMS operations, with plans to implement the same strategy at the remaining branches as well.

Finding Your Own Path to SMS Success

Now that we’ve recounted the successes of the Viking Cooking School, it’s time to lay the foundation for your own inspiring SMS success story. To do this, let’s talk a little about what made this campaign so effective. First up is the fact that the Viking Cooking School utilized as many resources as possible to build a strong contact list. While some brands might assume that current and former customers aren’t the target demographic, this initiative proved that there’s nothing wrong with starting with these consumers before branching out to new potential customers.

Once you’re on track for a strong foundation, it’s time to leave no stone unturned when searching for new members for your SMS contact list. From traditional print advertising to online promotional materials, going the distance on all fronts is the best way to ensure you maximize the reach and impact of this texting operation.

Finally, don’t worry so much about raw numbers. We’ve covered SMS campaigns before that easily dwarf the Viking Cooking School’s 300 member list. However, few examples come close to the return on investment (ROI) generated by the texts offered by this institution. As long as you understand this and enact the strategies covered in this case study, you’ll be enjoying a massive boost on behalf of your brand via SMS marketing like the Viking Cooking School in no time.



Getting your current campaign up to par now obviously means a lot when it comes to the viability of your email operations in the short term, but what about preparing for tomorrow? In virtually any industry, having an eye on the future is the only way to keep the competition at bay. When it comes to the advantage garnered by successful email marketing operations, this practice is no different. To keep your brand on top now, and moving forward, let’s spend a little time talking about where leading inbox initiatives are heading and where your organization needs to be to take advantage of these trends.

Mobile Stepping out Front

At the top of the list regarding email marketing’s future is the continued emphasis placed on catering to the mobile viewership. Sure, this isn’t exactly a breaking news development, but as Elizabeth Carter of Charity Digital News explains, there’s no escaping the ongoing shift toward these portable platforms. The odds are that we’ll never see a completely mobile audience, but that doesn’t mean that the vast majority of the customers that matter most to your brand won’t someday view your content exclusively via their favorite tablets and smartphones. The message here is clear; if you want to stay relevant over the next several years and beyond, you better start focusing in on mobile email marketing optimization in a hurry.

Reducing Noise and Frequency

Additionally, Carter fully expects the sheer amount of marketed emails – especially the ones originating from charities – to drop in the future. For those who can’t help but assume this prediction correlates to a downturn or other negative issues with email marketing, you actually couldn’t be further from the truth.

The reason for this expected reduction hinges on the concept that nonprofits, and to a lesser extent corporate entities, will eventually take on a more “tactical” approach to message frequency in response to the overwhelming amount of emails hitting inboxes today. Essentially, Carter surmises that embodying a “less is more” mentality and focusing on fewer, high impact selections could help cut through the noise and offer an avenue to truly connect with viewers who might be feeling a bit of sensory overload when opening up the contents of their inbox.

Continued Regulation

While the tactical method is a matter worthy of debate, there’s no question that the future holds a continued emphasis on regulation and the fight against spam. Whether it’s the EU’s plan to have data protection and required opt-ins on the table by 2015 and in place by 2017, or the continued emphasis of CASL enforcement and other more local legal movements, the powers that be have a very clear message for the coming years – if you’re sending messages via email however you are sending out spam, you’ll need to start looking for a new way to connect.

Changing the Conversation

In terms of the conceptual approach to engaging email content, Ernie Smith of Associations Now feels that we’ve just begun to scratch the surface in terms of the connection between creativity and email marketing. For instance, Smith tosses around the idea of skipping out on the “institutional voice” and adopting an individual voice that speaks on behalf of your brand. Whether it’s working under the name of an in-house expert, or sponsoring content that originates from an outside industry thought leader, having a single voice do the talking in the inbox and leaving behind the sometimes cold and impartial corporate front, could create a more personal and conversational method of supplying exciting content to your target audience.

The Evolution of Design

Even if you’re not ready to drop your standard content creation and take on a radically new interpersonal approach, Smith still believes that there’s innovation to be had on the technical design and the message of your email. Instead of relying on designs created for dated programs and email service providers, the emails of tomorrow will focus on optimization and interactive designs built exclusively for modern platforms.

Obviously, taking this path comes with a certain amount of risk, especially considering our previous look at the roles of images and scripts in the inbox. However, the next brand that finds a way to incorporate a striking new design that plays by the rules and doesn’t bog down the viewer experience at the same time will undoubtedly take its audience by storm. Adding in the rest of what we’ve learned about the impending future of email marketing proves that the next step in the evolution of this approach could be a big one indeed.



Setting up a successful email marketing campaign often requires taking on a big picture outlook and gauging the situation from a variety of angles. However, this doesn’t mean that looking over the little things isn’t also part of the process. In fact, failing to keep the smaller moving pieces in line during your next inbox initiative is an easy way to watch conversions slip through the cracks and into the waiting arms of the competition. To ensure you’re never on the losing end of this affair, and you always have a leg up on these competitors, here’s five easy tricks for keeping your email microcontent in shape.

Squaring up the Subject Line

In her look at the proper use of microcontent, Kivi Leroux Miller of the Nonprofit Marketing Guide resource page notes that everything starts with the subject line. The biggest mistake brands make with this first piece of frontline content comes in the form of having only one or two options to test with during the campaign. If you really want to wow customers with the first thing they see, don’t be afraid to unload a multitude of options in order to find what resonates most with customers. It might take a little extra time testing these offerings, but once the results start rolling in, you’ll be glad you went above and beyond the bare minimum with your subject lines.

Sender Name Clarity

Additionally, Miller recommends cleaning up the next piece of microcontent on the frontline of the inbox experience – the sender name – before worrying about what happens behind the email fold. While there’s no one right way to approach your sender name, the big key here is to embody and engender trust among your readers. Whether this means adopting a persona on behalf of your brand like the United States Health Department’s “Get Covered America Team” or “Nona,” or simply using your corporate name for the sake of continuity, building an easily recognized sender name goes a long way toward maximizing your microcontent.

Making the Most out of Preheaders

The final portion of Miller’s frontline microcontent offerings – preheaders – stand as an oft untapped source of powerful engagement. Essentially, many of the brands aiming for a connection in the inbox let bland and unremarkable stock selections waste this tiny bit of pre-fold copy that holds a ton of potential. Instead of watching this opportunity fall by the wayside, spend some time testing and optimizing the preheader blurb. Sure, it’s often just one sentence, but in the ultra-competitive environment of the inbox, this seemingly inconsequential portion of the process could mean the difference between luring in a new reader to your content, or having this message join the rest of the unopened offerings that couldn’t quite get it done.

The Power of Social Sidebars

Once you’ve secured an open, there’s still plenty of opportunities for powerful microcontent to shine. According to Lauren Hall-Stigerts of the Marketing Gal blog, one of the best tools of this trade comes in the form of email sidebars – specifically via Gmail and the Google+ social network.

As Hall-Stigerts points out in her look at the power of the sidebar on the Gmail platform, this marketing tool incorporates recently shared photos from Google+ in the content. While this might not seem like much at first glance, the truth of the matter is that having these posts integrated into the sidebar offers a unique opportunity for additional branded content in your email marketing operations. Sure, it might take some creative timing and forethought to line everything up, but leveraging an underutilized promotional tool like the sidebar stands as yet another way to manage microcontent in ways that the competition just can’t comprehend.

P.S. – One Last Thing

Finally, nothing embodies the mindset of maximizing microcontent quite like sneaking one last shot in with a strong post script. As Sid Smith explains in his post for Marketing Profs, powerful post scripts come in many shapes and forms. From restating the key benefits of your promotional offer to providing additional informational and guarantees, the options are limitless. If you’re aiming for a time sensitive engagement, you can even create a powerful sense of urgency via a well composed post script.

The big point here is that this final piece of microcontent is a blank canvas. It’s up to your brand to find what fits best. With this mindset guiding your way, as well as everything else we’ve covered concerning the proper management of microcontent, there’s nothing standing in the way of your brand and its ability to maximize every piece of the marketing puzzle – even the seemingly inconsequential – as it works toward a great email campaign.


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