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inbox_audiences

While the inbox might seem like a safe place to connect with your base of customers and build lasting bonds, there’s always a few bad apples out there who are more than willing to ruin this opportunity via scams and other underhanded tactics. In fact, these less than savory forces have gotten even more aggressive as of late by utilizing increasingly effective phishing schemes.

Unfortunately, this means that consumers are more wary than ever before as they continue to face down these external threats – which in turn leads to viewers who are less accepting of your inbox outreach. With this outlook guiding the conversation, here’s a quick look at the current concerns plaguing the average email marketing audience member, as well as what your brand can do to overcome this wariness and regain the trust of these valued customers.

Mapping out the Rise of Phishing Scams in the Inbox

To start off this discussion the right way, it’s imperative that you understand exactly what’s going on in terms of phishing threats in the inbox. According to a report from the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), phishers have increased their efforts significantly over the past year as far as engineering both consumers and business entities into leaking sensitive information – credit card information, domain access credentials, etc.

More specifically, the APWG report notes that about a third of all computers globally were infected – often via the inbox – at any given point in 2015. On the corporate operations side of this issue, the amount of Business Email Compromise (BCE) scam attempts rose by an astounding 270 percent.

Oddly enough, the United States served as the leading origin point of these scams in eight of the nine months analyzed. This unique shift has naturally led to plenty of confusion among inbox audiences that expect poorly executed attempts (e.g. the “Nigerian Prince” email scam) from criminals in third-world countries and other remote locations.

Understanding the Consumer Response to This Trend

To say that many customers have become wary of unusual or unfamiliar emails – even from the most reputable brands – is putting things lightly. Of course, it’s hard to blame anyone that’s been overwhelmed by a deluge of scams in his or her inbox for being apprehensive.

That being said, email marketing can still be one of the most effective method of connecting with consumers. Your brand just has to work a little harder in terms of building trust and familiarity if it wants to buck this trend and recapture the attention of these wary inbox contact list members.

Crafting a Plan to Regain the Trust of These Audience Members

So what does a plan for regaining the trust of your target audience look like? The process starts with clearly identifying your brand in the “From” field of an incoming email, as well as laying out what your content intends to cover in the subject line. Vague or confusing entries within either of these portions of the marketed message in question are sure to make a poor first impression and raise the alarms of the consumer viewing this offering.

Once you have these key pieces of the first impression puzzle in order, the team from the Marketing Experiments blog suggests placing an emphasis on espousing the truth within your content. It might seem like an appealing tactic to “bend” the truth a little bit when hammering out the details of your email copy, but being caught red-handed engaging in non-transparent marketing in the inbox can damage your brand’s reputation permanently.

Going a step farther, there’s nothing wrong with letting someone else do the bragging for your business. Outside of serving as an attractive and powerful addition to your marketed message, including social proof and testimonials gives the wary individual on the other side of the screen some reassurance from the most trustworthy source possible – other satisfied consumers. At the very least, heading down this path ensures that your brand doesn’t leave its current contact list membership feeling nauseous due to an endless flood of over the top and thinly-veiled self-promotion.

By now, the message here should be pretty clear: Earning the trust of an audience that has faced down countless phishing threats in the inbox – and throughout the rest of the digital world – requires a commitment to hard work and patience. Thankfully, with a deeper understanding of this issue and the aforementioned trust-building tactics leading the way, you can move forward with confidence as you continue to foster a lasting bond with the people that matter most to your brand.

 

wareables

Even if you don’t consider yourself a tech-savvy member of the digital community, chances are you’ve noticed someone walking through your office, grocery store, or other public place with an Apple Watch, Pebble, or other “wearable” piece of tech. From this perspective, it makes sense for these wearables to seem like nothing more than trendy fad or passing infatuation within the consumer tech marketplace.

However, this cursory understanding of the situation is far from an accurate outlook. To ensure that you don’t fall behind and miss a golden opportunity to tap into the fervor surrounding wearables, let’s break down this trend, as well as what your brand needs to do to if it plans on building winning offerings for this platform.

What Exactly Is a Wearable?

If you’re not exactly familiar with what constitutes a wearable, then it’s probably a good idea to take a moment and review the particulars of these mobile offerings. Otherwise, trying to craft your email content with these devices in mind can end up being a lesson in futility.

The term “wearable” covers Google Glass, Apple Watch, and any other peripheral device that connects to a tethered smartphone, or its own independent wireless or cellular Internet connection. In other words, if there’s a “smart” version of a classic wardrobe addition – think watches, bracelets, and glasses – then it falls under the wearable designation.

A Look at the Wearable Trend

As far as the spread of wearables goes, Business 2 Community’s Liz Willits explains that 2016 looks to be a banner year for consumers to adopt these devices. Specifically, over nine percent of all adults will have smartwatches and check their email accounts on these devices by the end of the year. Adding in the other types of wearables only serves to push this percentage to even more impressive heights.

Of course, this slice of your overarching email marketing audience won’t compare to the desktop and smartphone contingencies in terms of shear purchasing power – for the time being. However, the continued upward momentum and growth within the wearable movement isn’t something your brand can ignore if it wants to retain its spot as a major player in the inbox.

Making the Most of the Wearable Opportunity

Now that you’re an expert on the rise of wearables within your targeted demographics and consumer segments, it’s time to start talking about how best to shape and mold your marketed messages for these viewers. According to Wynn Zhou of Memeburn, this process starts by understanding the tendencies of the average wearable contact list member. Zhou points to the following series of interactions as the baseline experience for consumers that rely upon smartwatches and other wearables:

  • Scanning and prioritizing emails on the wearable comes first.
  • Reading and interacting with only the prioritized messages.
  • If further interaction is necessary to complete a purchase or gather more information, the wearer switches to his or her desktop, laptop, or smartphone device.

As far as successfully navigating the scanning and prioritizing phase goes, Zhou explains that your marketed email content must enact a functional “wearable email design.” An email that fits into this design space relies upon an effective subject line and preheader text that takes advantage of the smaller dimensions of the device screen. Failing to do so can quickly relegate your offering to the lower positions on the consumer’s priority hierarchy.

Once your targeted customer is sent content with a concise and engaging headline and preheader selections, following up plain text body content is almost always preferable to emails that rely upon Flash-based designs and other advanced templating. It is important to note that this isn’t the same as simply implementing a responsive design for mobile and desktop segments. Responsive emails have plenty of precedent from established testing and other research for these platforms, while wearable design is still firmly in the realm of virgin marketing territory.

If your brand is willing to explore this uncharted landscape and take on a cutting edge role, then Zhou suggests experimenting with inventive features as a way to differentiate your outreach efforts. Most notably, voice control functionality and geolocation services stand out as powerful inclusions in the “further interaction” portion of this outreach process.

At the end of the day, there’s still so much that we don’t know about this take on email marketing. From what will stand as wearable best practices, to just how much market share this trend will end up laying claim to, numerous questions remain unanswered as 2016 starts to get underway. However, with the new understanding you’ve garnered here leading the way, your brand has all the tools it needs to maximize its potential as a major player in the emerging wearable email marketing arena.

 

email_marketing_resolution2016

With 2016 right around the corner, we’ve officially entered the part of the holiday season where commitments to eat healthier, pursue a new hobby, and other declarations are out and about in full force. While most of these New Year’s resolutions are nothing more than wishful thinking, there’s no denying that a fresh start can be a powerful way to get back on track for happiness and success.

In the world of email marketing, all of the above sentiments regarding resolutions definitely carry some weight. With this in mind, let’s take a moment to talk about some of the best resolutions you can make for your inbox operations in the New Year, as well as what it takes to make these commitments truly come to life.

Embrace the “Less Is More” Concept

At the top of the list of effective New Year’s resolutions for brands that operate in the inbox – according to Stephen Dietrich of Venture Beat – is aiming to reinvigorate your commitment to the “less is more” approach. Dietrich notes that far too many organizations simply don’t know when enough is enough, so make it a point to reconsider your stance on email quantity and frequency as you hang up a new calendar.

Instead of assuming that flooding the inbox is your best bet for securing a conversion, let 2016 be the year in which you place an emphasis on quality and avoiding spam tactics. Doing so can ensure that you don’t annoy your email marketing audience and leave the concerns surrounding marketing fatigue and backlash in the past.

Make the Most out of Email Personalization

Additionally, Dietrich also suggests that any brand still relying upon generic mass email blasts that target the organization’s entire contact list need to make a change for the coming year. The big key here is that even the smallest amount of personalization can improve open rates by up to 22 percent.

The customer of 2016 demands a unique user experience in the inbox, so leveraging the power of names, locations, and purchasing habits via your contact list and consumer data is a must. The more specific your brand is willing to get with each silo or segment of its audience, the more likely you are to generate a truly meaningful – and profitable – connection with these valued shoppers.

Play into the Power of Seasonality

Business 2 Community’s Ben Smith points out in his look at working New Year’s resolutions into your email marketing operations that there’s no reason why you can’t build content that plays into this – and other – seasonally relevant events. Odds are that the vast majority of your contact list is currently working out resolutions of their own, so why not tailor upcoming content to these concerns, desires, and commitments if possible?

The best part about this approach is that it doesn’t have to end with inbox copy that relates to the New Year’s resolutions of the person on the other side of the screen. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Canada Day, and plenty of other major holidays are all perfect opportunities to engender your brand to these viewers via seasonally relevant offerings and content.

Take More Chances with Your Email Operations

Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things in the inbox in 2016. With three out of every four viewers expressing frustration at generic marketing messages, the time is ripe for brands like your own to win over these jaded or disgruntled masses with something new, exciting, and different in the inbox.

Of course, trying out creative takes on the email marketing process is often far easier said than done. Fortunately, with the help of A/B testing, you can explore different and unique opportunities via a measured and precise approach. As you find tactics and topics that resonate with a slice of your audience via this split testing method, you can expand this portion of your operation and expose new portions of your contact list to this emerging practice. In other words, taking more chances the right way mitigates risk and enhances your ability to generate a positive impact with these viewers.

With the past year coming to a close and the holidays winding down, the most important thing to understand is that no matter how great 2015 was for your brand in the inbox, 2016 can always be better if you commit to going above and beyond your current standing. All that’s left to do now is answer one final question: What’s your email marketing New Year’s resolution going to be for 2016?

 

turning_to_darkside

With “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” hitting the silver screen, breaking film industry records, and reaching $1 billion in sales globally faster than any other movie in history, it’s safe to say that the battle between the light side and the dark side of the Force is spreading to virtually every facet of our modern lives. Surprising though it may seem initially, the inbox is no exception to this rule.

To ensure that you’re brand isn’t swayed by the temptations and promises offered up by the “dark side” of email marketing, let’s cover everything you need to know about doing right by Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL), your audience, their email service providers, and the other forces of good that are found in the inbox.

Avoid the Appeal of Assumptions

To start this discussion off right, Jordan Elkind of Marketing Land suggests that your brand do it’s best to avoid letting assumptions and “gut feelings” dictate your decisions in the inbox. Years of experience and confidence in your understanding of the target audience can help guide your content and timing decisions, but don’t let this assumed knowledge get in the way of facts and key performance indicators (KPIs.)

Audience tendencies can – and will – shift, so you need to be prepared to roll with these changes as needed. New and innovative techniques for inbox outreach also pop up from time to time, so having the flexibility to test your own boundaries and explore these options helps guarantee that the quality, and impact, of your marketed messages remains at peak levels.

Understand That Quick and Easy Isn’t Always Right

Yes, facing down the grind of crafting new content, implementing personalization, or handling opt-out requests can feel like a daunting process at times. However, embracing the patience and steadfast nature shown by the likes of Yoda, Luke, and the rest of the Jedi Order as you say “No thanks” to spam and the other “easy way out” options is always the right call.

Aside from maintaining a sense of goodwill with your audience, skipping out on these less than savory tactics ensures that you always stay in the good graces of the enforcing arm of CASL. Considering that the fines and penalties offered up by this regulatory agency can reach into the $10 million range, this process isn’t just about protecting your reputation, it’s also the key to securing the future of your business.

Be Considerate of All Platforms

As Becky Waring of PC World points out, the variety of platforms utilized by your audience demands a response that goes beyond a singular or “one size fits all” approach. Much like the countless lifeforms that make up the galactic community in the “Star Wars” universe, each portion of your audience experiences your content from a different perspective or viewpoint.

The difference between Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, and other platforms can be vast – and that’s not even addressing the needs of the desktop and mobile portions of these audience segments. Fortunately, by considering the unique requirements and capabilities of each of these platforms, you’ll be able to cater your content to the technical limitations of these segments (screen space, image restrictions, etc.) and develop a stable of marketed offerings that promote a quality experience for the entirety of your contact list.

Don’t Barge into the Inbox Without Permission

Finally, if your entrance into the inbox is reminiscent of Darth Vader’s famous boarding of the Rebel ship at the beginning of “A New Hope,” then it’s time to rethink your take on how to forge connections with new audience members and garner consent. Specifically, charging headfirst into this private digital space without permission is simply unacceptable.

Aside from the fact that unexpected marketed emails can be a jarring – and unwanted – experience for this potential audience member, your brand is also entering territory with this practice that is firmly unacceptable by CASL standards. In other words, only connecting with those viewers who opt-in to your email marketing operation stands as a far better option than simply barging in without permission.

As you can see, the path to the “dark side” of the world of email marketing is actually an easy route to travel down if you’re not careful with how you conduct yourself in the inbox. Fortunately, with everything that you’ve learned here leading the way, there’s no reason why your brand can’t play by the rules and enjoy all of the benefits that come with a successful and well managed email marketing campaign.

 

5tips_email_frequency

How often you send emails to your contact list can be an unnecessarily touchy subject. Letting too much time pass between your messages causes viewers to forget about your brand, while falling on the other end of the spectrum and spamming your audience can lead to plenty of negativity and backlash. If you’d rather just find the perfect frequency for your sending cycle and avoid these unwanted extremes altogether, then join us as we cover five smart – and effective – tips that are sure to help you make the right call on this front.

Review Your Customer Journey

When it comes to finding the perfect frequency for your messages, Derek Harding of ClickZ points out that it’s hard to go wrong with an audit of your customer journey. The idea behind this method rests on the fact that not every brand approaches the customer experience from the same perspective, so it’s important to understand exactly what your consumers go through as they work their way toward the virtual checkout.

Does your target audience repeatedly check in for sales and discounts? Perhaps these viewers abandon the cart multiple times before finally agreeing to a purchase. By understanding these different steps or phases in the process, your brand can pinpoint the most crucial moments of the customer experience and decide how often – and when – it should send marketed messages based around these events.

Consider Your Product Lifecycle

In a similar line of thought, Harding also notes that your product lifecycle can play an important role in determining the frequency of your inbox outreach. For instance, if customers only need to renew their supply of your product once every six months, a weekly reminder to stock up probably isn’t the most effective way to keep these users engaged.

Instead, focus on making the most out of the stretches leading up to the moment of renewal with poignant and engaging inbox content. Whether this occurs once a week or once a year isn’t important so long as your brand offers up frequent messaging and outreach during these “high visibility” times.

Embracing Split Testing

Like every other portion of the email marketing process, Econsultancy’s David Moth explains that frequency is also improved and enhanced via extensive testing. Specifically, Moth suggests trying multiple frequency cycles within different segments of your contact list to confirm or deny your assumptions about the needs and desires of these viewers.

By offering up varied takes on the frequency dilemma to these cross sections of your audience, your brand is able to peel away incorrect options and plans until it comes to the correct take on message timing and quantity. Going a step further, embracing this split testing approach also gives you the power to install frequency plans for each customer “silo” on your contact list – something that can easily differentiate your endeavors in the inbox from other organizations that simply aren’t willing to take such a specialized route.

Make the Most out of Seasonality

If your products and services play into the seasonal nature of the calendar year, then taking this attribute into consideration can also help you hone in on the perfect plan for email frequency. The big thing to understand here is that the needs of many audiences aren’t static throughout the year, so keying in on the peaks and valleys of demand throughout this time period allows your brand to develop a frequency response that shifts and molds to these fluctuations accordingly.

Additionally, giving seasonality its due can also open up the possibility of more engaging and interactive content based on these seasonal changes. It might not seem like much now, but customizing your content based on the time of year – and increasing the frequency accordingly – is one of the most powerful one-two punches in the email marketing playbook.

Put an Emphasis on Quality and Not Quantity

Finally, don’t be afraid to scale back on the quantity of your messages if this piece of the puzzle is negatively affecting the quality of your offerings. While it’s important to keep volume up if the aforementioned frequency tips and tactics dictate such a response, sending off subpar content is a quick way to undo all of the hard work you and your team put into solving the frequency equation.

However, if you’re able to find a proper balance between quantity and quality – all while putting to good use the rest of what you’ve learned here – then there’s no reason why your brand can’t find the perfect frequency for its messages and make a lasting impression with the people that matter most.

 

onfleek

To the Millennial generation, being “on fleek” is all about offering up something that is “on point” or to do something in the right way. In other words, if the youthful portion of your audience offers up the “on fleek” commendation, it’s safe to say that your brand is winning in the inbox.

Considering that Forbes magazine’s Dan Schawbel reports that North American Millennials currently lay claim to over $200 billion in purchasing power – a figure that is only trending upward – it’s far from a bad idea to start thinking of your email marketing efforts via this kind of lingo. With this in mind, here are five tactics that can help your brand offer up inbox content that’s “on fleek” and appealing to this increasingly influential generation.

Start with an Authentic Approach

As Schawbel explains, there’s no point in going any farther with this discussion if your brand isn’t willing to be authentic with its marketing endeavors – especially in the inbox. Millennials crave a genuine connection with organizations like your own, so it’s imperative that you strive for honestly and transparency in your inbox offerings.

If everything you fire off to the inbox is a sales pitch that does little to show you actually care about this segment of your audience, don’t’ be surprised when the response is less than stellar. However, if you really put the time and effort into embracing the culture and concerns of this group – as well as molding content around these considerations – then forging a lasting bond should come as second nature.

Individual Interaction Goes a Long Way

Going a step farther, Cory Munchbach of Target Marketing magazine points out in her look at what it means to be “on fleek” via your brand’s marketing operations that individuality is a big deal to this generation, so you’ll be hard pressed to go wrong with a healthy dose of personalization. The truth of the matter is that repurposing old messages or offering up generic emails won’t fly with the Millennials.

Instead, your brand needs to leverage contact list insight, device properties, and other key individual identifiers to capture the attention of these viewers. The more customized you can make your content around their individual experiences, the more likely you are to truly win over this sometimes standoffish audience.

Automation Helps a Lot on This Front

Of course, building a unique inbox experience for every single Millennial member of your contact list simply isn’t realistic if you’re working on this process all by yourself. Fortunately, David Baker of Media Post’s Email Insider blog points out that automation helps a ton on this front.

Essentially, if your brand is able to predict a customer path or inbox experience reliably based on consumer data, go ahead and automate the process if possible. The more mundane pieces of the puzzle that you can put in the hands of software or your email marketing platform, the more time you have to find new and inventive ways to reach out via the inbox to this group.

Relearn Your Data

Speaking of your consumer data, Baker goes on to suggest that it’s a good idea to throw out everything you think you know about Millennials and start from scratch. Just like trying to decipher the meaning of “on fleek” when you read the headline for this article, truly learning about this segment of your audience requires a commitment to understanding their culture.

The big key here is to test and retest your content constantly. By subjecting these offerings to recurring A/B testing, as well as building a strong presence on social media, your brand can develop a more complete picture of the Millennial experience that actually provides insight into what evokes a response from these young men and women.

Commit to Constant Change

Finally, if you really want to offer up an experience that’s “on fleek,” it’s time to commit to embracing constant change as you navigate the always shifting landscape of Millennial culture. With every new day bringing on a new trend, catchy phrase, or other hot topic to the forefront of the discussion, the reality of the situation is that the only thing that stays the same with Millennials is change.

However, if you’re able to embrace this ever-evolving culture – and put to good use the rest of what you’ve learned here – the sky’s the limit in terms of your brand’s ability to resonate with a demographic that continues to grow in influence. All that’s left to do now is ask yourself if you’re ready to send out a marketed message that’s truly “on fleek.”

 

vip-treatment

As Kim Walsh-Phillips recently noted in an article for Entrepreneur magazine, the Walt Disney Company does a great job of setting the bar when it comes to the VIP treatment of customers and visitors. In fact, it’s not entirely unreasonable to claim that no other corporation or major entity even comes close to matching this brand’s efforts on the VIP front.

So what does all of this talk about going above and beyond with customers have to do with the inbox? According to Walsh-Phillips, businesses that aim for Disney’s high standard of consumer amenities and features have a unique opportunity to truly dominate in the world of email marketing. With this in mind, let’s spend a minute talking about how your brand can take a page out of Disney’s book and bring the VIP experience to the members of your contact list.

Each Person Deserves a Unique Experience

Walsh-Phillips kicks off the discussion by pointing out that visitors to any of Disney’s major parks receive a “one-of-a-kind” experience that creates lasting memories. As a brand that’s trying to stand out in the inbox, your offerings should strive to provide the same kind of unique feel for the person on the other side of the screen.

Personalizing messages with contact list information helps get the ball rolling on this approach. From here, don’t be afraid to implement segmentation and content that speaks to each of these portions of your audience. Building multiple variations of a message that touch on different points and motivations can reinvigorate the response from your contact list and ensure the maximum amount of reach and coverage for your content.

Consistency Is Key

It’s not very often that a ride at a Disney run park goes offline, nor is it all that common for a member of the Disney staff to break character. The reason for this commitment to consistency is the fact that consumers don’t like services or relationships that stop and start abruptly.

As you develop email content, it’s a good idea to set forth a schedule and do your best to stick to this framework as you start rolling out inbox offerings. Consistent timing and sustained content quality helps ensure that your viewership remains engaged and limits the damaging effects of sporadic attempts at email marketing.

Embrace Pop Culture Trends

From building up fervor for an impending movie release on social media, to integrating references to other properties and trends within its commercial content, the production and marketing side of Disney definitely knows how to embrace the constantly shifting landscape of modern pop culture.

In her look at the process of merging pop culture and email content, Nicole Fallon of Business News Daily notes that this method is perhaps one of the most effective – and underutilized – tools in the average brand’s email marketing arsenal. Yes, finding connections between your business and the latest big TV show or conversation on Facebook does require a dedication to sifting through this portion of the digital world. However, including selections that reference a trending topic or sound off on a popular discussion serves as a powerful way to differentiate your brand from other inbox competitors who simply can’t be bothered to go above and beyond the bare minimum.

Give Your Audience Options

For the last lesson of how Disney provides a VIP experience for its customers, you have to look no farther than the various types of parks one can explore when he or she visits a Disney property. From Epcot and Animal Kingdom, to Typhoon Lagoon and ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex, this organization serves up additional theme options that give the visitor something different than the standard Disney experience.

Great players in the inbox scene can embody this kind of approach via leveraging multiple types of content and message offerings. Image-rich selections that pull from Instagram and other visual networks, newsletters, or even “behind the scenes” looks at your company’s daily operations all provide the viewer with the chance to break the status quo and experience something different. The only boundary on this front is your brand’s willingness to be creative as it strives to offer up a growing ensemble of email marketing options.

The truth of the matter is that few organizations can keep up with Disney’s take on VIP treatment for customers and park visitors. Even so, by aiming for this golden standard with your email content, your brand can follow in some pretty impressive footsteps as it continues to grow and expand its bond with consumers in the inbox.

 

do-donts-startup

Watching your startup grow and prosper is one of the most hectic, stressful, and rewarding experiences possible as an entrepreneur. However, failing to properly manage your organization’s presence in the inbox not only stymies the potential for growth and development of your company, it can also serve as the misstep that leads to the untimely demise of your business goals before they ever really get a chance to get going. If this doesn’t sound like the kind of future you want for your startup, let’s spend a few moments going over the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of email marketing for this type of business venture.

The Do’s

The following “Do’s” should serve as the basis for your startup’s email marketing operations. While there are many other facets to this process, you’ll be hard pressed to go wrong if you build the foundation of your inbox outreach around these effective concepts and guidelines.

Do Start off with a Catchy Subject Line

As Larry Alton of Business 2 Community explains in his look at this piece of the startup puzzle, catchy subject lines offer a plethora of rewards for the entrepreneurs and brand managers who take the time to craft these “lead-off” inclusions within the email marketing process. A powerful subject line gets straight to the point by skipping over fluffy or needless wording and offering up a preview of what comes with an open of the message. Alliteration, humor, and other creative inclusions can help score some bonus points with your audience, so try to think outside of the box as you develop the subject lines that represent your email content.

Do Say “No Thanks” to Spam Tactics

In terms of sending out content to your contact list, be wary of the appeal of spam tactics. On the surface, bombarding your audience with incessant messages or firing off selections to users who may have already opted-out of your contact list seems like a free shot at conversions. However, adopting this mindset is an easy way to run afoul of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) and rack up steep fines and penalties.

Do Be Willing to Branch out into Multiple Types of Inbox Content

Once you start offering up content in the inbox, it’s important to understand that not everything has to be a sales pitch. In fact, your contact list will quickly tune you out if this is all your startup has to offer. Mixing in human interest stories, holiday-inspired emails, and other non-sales oriented messages helps endear your fledgling brand to these consumers that want to experience something more than just a thinly-veiled attempt at a conversion.

The Don’ts

On the other side of the equation, the “Don’ts” are practices and methods that cause nothing but trouble for startups. Falling into any one of these traps is a quick way to turn off your email marketing audience and cause lasting damage to your base of potential future customers.

Don’t Forget the CTA

The call-to-action (CTA) is the centerpiece of any great email marketing campaign, yet plenty of newer players in the inbox scene forget to include this asset in their messages. A great CTA is easily identifiable, positioned in a place of prominence, and induces the viewer to click on a button, link, or other actionable inclusion within the email.

Don’t Assume You Know Everything about Your Audience

Failing to give data its due when it comes to email marketing – or any other form of digital outreach for that matter – is an online faux pas that’s not easily overcome. Fortunately, Lynn Baus of Marketing Land points out that with the influx of third-part data sets and the emergence of data harvesting tools on social media and other virtual channels, building a data-centric approach is easier than ever for startups. Having this kind of insight into your audience on your side ensures that you always provide relevant and impactful content in the inbox, even as the needs and desires of these individuals shift and change.

Don’t Buy into the “Set it and Forget it” Email Marketing Model

If there’s absolutely one “Don’t” that your startup needs to avoid at all costs, it comes in the form of falling prey to the assumption that email marketing is a static affair. Audiences change over time, as do best practices and cutting edge outreach methodology, so it’s imperative that your brand always keep a finger on the pulse of the latest news and developments within the email marketing world.

At the end of the day, email marketing – for startups and established brands alike – requires plenty of hard work and effort to pull off successfully. Thankfully, with these “Do’s” and “Don’ts” leading the way, you can rest easy knowing that your startup is getting off on the right foot as it builds lasting relationships with the people that matter most.

 

73_percent

Three out of every four companies experienced deliverability issues in the past year.

After reading an eye-popping stat like that, chances are you’re shaking your head in disbelief and doing a healthy double take as you try to process the meaning behind this stunning revelation. After all, isn’t email marketing supposed to be the only “surefire” way to reach out to members of your target audience members on a regular basis? While there’s definitely some truth in that viewpoint, the reality of the situation is that far too many brands fall into the trap of deliverability issues. To ensure that you’re not a member of this unfortunate segment of the email marketing community, let’s cover the root of this problem, as well as what you need to do to shield your upcoming campaigns from the threat of falling flat in the inbox.

Digging into Why Marketers and Brands Fail on the Deliverability Front

As the team from Media Post’s Email Marketing Daily blog explains, the discussion surrounding this stark rise in deliverability issues all stems from a report issued via the Experian marketing research team. In this report, the experts at Experian found that an overwhelming majority of companies and marketers – 73 percent to be exact – struggle with delivering marketed messages to their target consumers.

The cause for this disturbing trend all comes back to the utilization of inaccurate audience data. Essentially, as campaigns become more and more specialized and focused on unique subjects and personalization, the need to implement data-driven email marketing tactics rises significantly. However, leaning more and more on data means that any hiccups, errors, or inconsistencies becomes even more impactful on the end result of an inbox outreach promotion.

In other words, data matters more than ever before in the history of email marketing, so if you’re relying on incorrect or inaccurate information, chances are you’re doing more harm than good when it comes to giving consumers what they really want. It’s an unfortunate scenario that’s completely avoidable for brands that are willing to take the implementation of data seriously.

Making Sure You Don’t Succumb to the Same Issues

If you’re interested in being the one brand out of every four that doesn’t face down deliverability issues thanks to the poor usage of data, then it’s a good idea to enact a sound data harvesting, management, and storage strategy. At the top of the list for this approach is the validation of new email address entries to your contact list.

As mundane as a small error during the sign-up process might seem, failing to accurately acquire contact info guarantees a deliverability issue between your brand and this unique consumer. Thankfully, setting up confirmation requests and notifying the contact member of a discrepancy during sign-up ensures that you eliminate the threat of incorrectly collected data from your email marketing experience.

Additionally, investigating hard and soft bounces, as well as regularly testing your contact list for duplicate entries, can also help cut down on deliverability issues. Not every problem stems from a bounce event or multiple submissions to the same address, but taking the time now to uncover a consistent trend on either of these fronts gives you and your team the ability to put an end to a growing data problem before it truly evolves into a full-scale email marketing issue.

From here, FierceCMO’s Drew Woolley suggests placing an emphasis on learning more about your tracking metrics as a way to round out this process. By familiarizing yourself with the various key performance indicators (KPIs) that represent your brand’s interaction with a target audience, you can better analyze this information – which in turn helps you draw sound, data-driven conclusions from this insight.

Specifically, take some time to get to know how open, conversion, and click-through rates relate to the response generated by your audience. Misunderstanding these connections during the planning or review process often ends up hindering your ability to key in on appropriate timing, personalization, or even subject decisions – something that stymies both deliverability and the raw impact of your inbox content.

As you can see, deliverability issues caused by the mishandling of data are a real threat to the email marketing endeavors of brands like your own. Fortunately, with a deep understanding of this data issue leading the way – as well as having the right approach for how to fight back on your side – there’s no reason why you can’t rise above the growing tide of deliverability concerns and truly enjoy the benefits that come with properly implemented email marketing operations.

 

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Regardless of whichever industry your brand calls home, virtually every company can agree on at least one thing – having a lead “go cold” feels terrible. However, just because you’re facing down a dormant connection with a potential customer doesn’t mean that you’re completely out of luck. With the following tips and tactics leading the charge, you can rest easy knowing that your brand has all of the tools it needs to bring even the coldest lead back to life via a healthy dose of email marketing CPR.

Segment Your List According to Subscriber Behavior

To kick this process into high gear, The Huffington Post’s Larry Alton points out that learning more about your audience and their behavior is vital to the success of this approach. Specifically, Alton suggests segmenting and defining each portion of your contact list based on their unique needs, desires, and habits. Sign up date, location-based data, and behavioral history – or lack thereof – all fit into a successful take on contact list segmentation.

While this might not seem like a proactive stance on bringing leads back to life and fostering new opportunities initially, that mindset couldn’t be farther from the truth. Having a fundamental understanding of what resonates with these contact list members ensures that you build and craft marketed messages that actually generate a response – and a conversion later on down the road. Without this foundation, you’re doing little more than taking shots in the dark as you try to recapture cold leads.

Build an Enticing “Drip” Campaign

The next step to leveraging this segmentation insight comes in the form of creating a “drip” campaign that appeals to each unique silo of audience members. If you’re not familiar with this particulars of this approach, a drip campaign usually consists of multiple messages that trigger based on the activity of the person on the other side of the screen.

Naturally, you’ll need to start with a personalized message that hones in a subject that relates to your segmentation data. From here, enticing the viewer with automated emails and special offers throughout the various stages of this reemerging relationship helps pave the path to renewed interaction.

Redesign and Enhance Your Emails

As for your newsletter and other standard email assets go, Jonathan Pavoni of the HubSpot Blog suggests giving these offerings a redesign. By enacting this strategy, you can catch the eye of your dormant lead, all while fostering more activity from the rest of your contact list as well.

So what makes for a great newsletter or email template redesign? Pavoni zeroes in on the following five aspects as key members of the overhaul process:

  • Subject Line – Focus on a subject line that requests an action or addresses a significant problem, concern, or topic.
  • Brevity – Nobody wants to read a novel in their inbox. Keep things short and concise as a way to engage these fringe leads.
  • Imagery – Reinforce the message of your content with a powerful image or graphic; just don’t go overboard and bog down load times via multiple inclusions.
  • Social Integration – Incorporate buttons for Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, etc. Giving your viewer options to share and discuss your content on their favorite network is a powerful way to boost interaction.
  • CTA – Show these leads how to take the next step and connect with your brand via a powerful and straightforward call-to-action (CTA.)

Following these guidelines does require some effort and hard work on your end of the equation. However, the reaction from the cold lead portion of your inbox audience is well worth the time and energy that goes into a dedication email content redesign.

Ask for Referrals or Other Interaction

Finally, don’t be afraid to send off a request for interaction or even a referral for other interested consumers to this segment of your contact list. It might seem like a crazy “swing for the fences” approach initially, but RIS Media’s Patty McNease explains that enacting this strategy is actually a surprisingly effective way to keep your brand at the forefront of the conversation and generate a meaningful response. At the very least, this method shows viewers that you’re more than willing to reach out even when the discussion trails off at times.

Facing down dead leads in the inbox is never a fun experience. However, with everything you’ve learned here helping to reignite this once lost spark, your brand should having no trouble regaining the attention of these wayward consumers and forging a relationship that’s not only active, but enriching for both participants as well.

© 2013 Elite Email Inc. Blog Admin