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In today’s email marketing landscape, mailing list numbers are nice, but if you don’t have the content to keep these consumers interested, don’t expect them to stick around for very long. As Elite Email’s president, Robert Burko, explained in a recent post on Marketo, brands must ensure that they emphasize value when fighting with the competition in a packed inbox setting. To help get you on your way toward this goal, let’s spend a few minutes looking over some of the more effective ways you can add value to your email content as you prepare to roll out a new series of marketed messages.

Avoid Stock Content

One of the biggest ways to turn off your audience is by offering up bland information that’s easily found with a quick Google search. While this is definitely easier than spending time creating unique, engaging brand content, it’s not the best way to build a marketing strategy. In the place of boring, worn-out offerings, Shawn Naggiar of the Content Marketing Institute suggests that brands should personalize the experience as much as possible.

In the case of your marketed messages, this goes beyond simply starting greetings with the reader’s first name and toward building content that fits their habits and styles. Whether it’s a sporting goods company using this space to tie in its products to the world’s greatest hiking locations or a restaurant offering up tips for the ultimate romantic dinner date, having content that speaks to what matters to your audience is one of the best ways to add value to the email experience.

Don’t Be Afraid of User Generated Content

One of the most effective ways to learn about a product or service is to connect with someone you know, like a friend of family member, and get his or her opinion on the item. Thanks to the Internet, there’s no shortage of even more unbiased reviews and testimonials. With this in mind, it only makes sense to bring the value of a second opinion directly to your email audience with user-generated content, according to Courtney Eckerle of Marketing Sherpa.

As you harvest these social media posts, customer testimonials, blog reviews, and even comments off your site, it’s important to get permission from the original author. If you’re running a little short on options, don’t be afraid to reach out to your audience and request feedback. If you stick to these honest customer opinions that support your offerings and avoid faking the process with staged reviews, you’ll give a significant amount of value to the audience from the source they trust the most.

Highlight the Big Points

The old sayings about time being the most precious commodity or resource might seem worn-out, but there’s still some truth in these statements. With this perspective, one of the most unique ways you can add value to your emails is not with the content you offer, but how you offer this content. To save your readers time and effort when they open up your message, Kate Kiefer Lee of Forbes Magazine suggests making your content “scannable.”

Short paragraphs, subheadings, bolded statements, and even image breaks that help highlight important points all do this job exceptionally well. If you’re planning on releasing a particularly long message in your next campaign, take a second to add a teaser with info on the content at the top of the email. This way, your readers can get right to the point and start sifting through the message for the portions that matter most to them.

Location Is Everything

One of the best tools in your email marketing bag of tricks is understanding the location of your target audience. Naturally, this is a little tougher for national or international brands to pull off, but if you’re honing in on shoppers in a certain city or region, this knowledge is good to use during your campaign. As Angie Zener of Marketing Land suggests, tailoring your content to add value in the form of local updates is a smart and savvy way to build an even better relationship with these consumers.

Whether your brand is sending out severe weather warnings during a particularly bitter winter, or you have the chance to remind customers to pick up sunscreen and sunglasses with a UV index update during those hot summer months, adding value in the form of localized message content is a smart way to add enhance the quality of your messages. While this, and the rest of the tips in this post, will require a little extra effort on your end, there’s no doubt that your audience will love this new approach that’s engaging and rich in meaningful content.



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

Avoid Multiple Columns When Possible

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

Placing Your CTA

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

Understand the Size Constraints of Mobile Screens

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

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

Thinking In Sections

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

Reaping Your Rewards

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



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 right approach to SMS messages and retail promotion turned Westfield Malls into a mobile marketing leader.

Regardless of whether you live on the shores of Nova Scotia or reside in sunny northern California, it’s always a treat to spend an afternoon at the mall. For residents of the latter location, Westfield Malls is one of the premier destinations for just such a shopping excursion. However, staying on top of the retail world doesn’t come easy. For the guys in charge of this chain, connecting with customers was essential to the sustained success of the malls, so the decision to roll out a smart and effective SMS marketing campaign came pretty easy. If you’re interested in learning more about how this retail giant rode an outstanding series of texts to increased customer activity in the participating stores, take a moment to read on and find out how you can put these lessons to good use for your brand.

A Different Approach

One of the most intriguing facets of this case study is that unlike the other companies and brands we’ve profiled, this campaign came from the center’s management and not from particular stores within the mall. Instead of letting the shops renting stalls within the mall fend for themselves as far as promotional materials went, the executives of the Westfield Mall management team decided that what’s good for these particular outlets was good for the center as a whole. With this big picture outlook serving as the foundation of its mobile marketing campaign, the advertising team was ready to make some waves with an audience that couldn’t wait to connect via their mobile phones.

Breaking down the Promotion Particulars

To start, the Westfield Mall chain pushed hard to generate substantial gains within its subscriber database. Via in-store promotional material and external outreach programs – namely local radio broadcasts and TV spots – the northern California audience soon became well aware of the buzz going on down by the local mall. At the heart of the promotion was a “text-to-win” event.

For those willing to join the contact list and receive promotional materials, a chance at winning a $1000 shopping spree was the grand prize. The best part? Westfield Malls used the SMS short-code “SPREE” as the lynchpin of the campaign to keep things simple and memorable for those willing to join in on the fun.

Understanding the Impact of Great Text Messages

After the dust had settled and the shoppers came out to the mall in droves, the people in charge of this campaign had plenty to be happy about. First off, over 6,000 new individuals joined the contact list during the event. While that’s great on its own, understanding that all of this occurred within just a week, adds an entirely different and impressive perspective to the increased subscriber number.

Today, all five locations of Westfield Mall enjoy increased foot traffic and extended reach via a stable and highly responsive mobile messaging contact list. For mall management and independent retailers within these centers alike, it’s hard to call this campaign anything other than a resounding success.

Building Your Own Powerful Campaign

So what can your brand learn from the Westfield Mall campaign about connecting with customers via powerful marketed text messages? Above all else, having a smart plan matters when you’re setting up your advertising operations. By putting the greater good before individual promotion, the people in charge of this initiative were able to create a situation that benefited those renting space within the chain’s retail space. This in turn created increased business for the malls as a whole, which was definitely music to the ears of those operating the outlets.

As for the actual texts you send out, don’t be afraid to keep things simple. Too often brands worry about wowing the audience with long prose and witty banter. While there’s nothing wrong with keeping your messages engaging and informative, remember that people are more likely to participate if you make the process easy and straightforward. A memorable or brief short-code, as well as texts that get straight to the point, can help round out everything else you’ve learned and provide all the tools you need to build the perfect messages for your next mobile marketing campaign.Wesfield



Chances are when you were a child, your parents sat you down and talked about the “golden rule” – treat others the way you want to be treated. As far as your daily interactions go, there’s plenty of merit to subscribing to this concept as you meet new people and connect with established friends and family. What might not be so obvious is that this, and some of life’s other tried and true staples for successfully navigating your social scene, also has a spot in your next great SMS campaign. To learn a little more about being polite, courteous, and effective with mobile marketing, let’s break down the five golden rules of texting with customers and what your brand can do to make sure it always stays in the audience’s good graces.

Make Your Message Clear

First up on the list of golden rules is leaving the text-speak behind. While it might seem hip and cool, chances are you have a better shot at offending your target demographic by using things like “ur” instead of “your” and not the other way around, according to Stuart Marburg of Australian newspaper The Age. To make your message clear and easy to read, write your texts in a simple, straightforward manner. A good way to test these texts is by asking whether you would take it seriously if it wound up in your inbox. If the answer’s anything less than a solid yes, it’s time to start revising the message and switching out the slang for plain English.

Be Considerate with Your Timing

Once your content is in good shape, the next step is not stepping on any toes as you start to plan when these text messages fire off. Again, an easy way to understand the importance of timing is to put yourself in the audience’s shoes. If you wouldn’t want messages popping up during the middle of the night or first thing in the morning as you try and wake up, they probably don’t want this either. If you’re dealing with a local audience, it’s easy enough to figure out appropriate timing. However, if you’re targeted consumers span several time zones, you’ll have to place an even greater premium on adjusting and staging automated messages to ensure that you avoid the faux pas of untimely and intrusive SMS marketing.

Skip the Fluff

Some brands try to turn marketed texts into novels as a way of artificially adding value for the audience. The truth is that customers aren’t interested in all of this fluff, as Susan Gunelius of Entrepreneur Magazine explains. Instead of long-winded and rambling messages, these shoppers want value in the form of straightforward and brief text offers. This doesn’t mean you have to completely cut out any of the friendly banter, just don’t let it interfere with the actual point of firing off these texts in the first place; to offer deals and discounts that not only entice the consumer to stop by your store, but also enhances the relationship between these shoppers and your brand.

Be Friendly

It’s important to note that skipping the fluff doesn’t mean you can’t take a moment to stop and say hi before diving into the meat and potatoes of your SMS pitch. Much like connecting with people face to face, there’s nothing wrong with being friendly and inviting to help kick a conversation off. If you have names attached to your contact list, adding these into your SMS messages with a salutation is a good start. For the brands that don’t have this info on hand or feel like this isn’t the right approach, simply starting off with a salutation at the top of the message is also an acceptable way to cut down the formality and make things more comfortable for your audience as your texts start to hit consumer inboxes.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Little Criticism

Finally, like plenty of life’s other endeavors, the odds of getting everything right with your first SMS campaign are pretty slim. With this in mind, it’s important to be open to criticism from your audience, according to Bob Bentz of iMedia Connection. While it might not be the most pleasant thing you do during your text campaign, listening to feedback and running A/B testing on your stable of messages is a powerful way to improve and refine your message. The benefit of keeping this form of communication open between you and your audience is that the more you connect with one another and work toward hitting all of the golden rules of SMS marketing, the better off both sides of this relationship will be moving forward.



If you’re in the business of connecting with customers via marketed emails or SMS messages, you have probably heard that Canada’s new anti-spam legislation (CASL) is up and running this month. Of course, knowing that things have changed regarding marketing laws doesn’t do your organization much good if you’re not familiar with the new rules. With that in mind, let’s take a moment to do a quick crash course regarding the new legislation. From here, next week’s post on the subject will cover the basics of staying in compliance with the CASL as you roll out your next email or text marketing campaign.

Does CASL Affect You?

If you’re reading this article and you use email or SMS messages to connect with customers, the new anti-spam legislation directly affects how you conduct your operations on a daily basis. However, there are other facets of your business outlook that can also change based on the expanded coverage brought forth by this legal ruling. CASL also has specific regulations for any company that also installs software or programs on mobile phones or computers. Basically, if you have a branded app or download in addition to an email or text initiative, you’ll need to be extra careful as you move forward under this new system.

Express Consent

Now that we know who’s affected by this development, it’s time to look at the specifics of the regulations. First up is the concept of express consent and its role in the marketing process. At the core of every shady spam operation is the idea that quantity is better than quality. Naturally, the best way to boost numbers is to simply fire off emails to any address, regardless of whether or not the user wants these promotional messages. Under the new CASL laws, if you want to send an email, text message, or have your app installed on a consumer phone, express and documented consent is the only way to stay on the right side of the law.

Transparency In Transit

Outside of making sure everything’s crystal clear when it comes to asking for permission, the anti-spam legislation also takes aim at less than transparent communications. For instance, altering transmissions in order to have the message arrive at a different location is a major faux pas. Obviously, this is something that most legitimate brands aren’t interested in, but it’s still important to know about this technicality as it ties directly in with express consent and ensuring that the consumer always knows exactly what they’re receiving during a marketing operation.

False or Misleading Content

After covering how these messages arrive, the government’s new stance on the matter takes a look at what’s inside your messages. While this might seem a little nosy at first, the main issue here is that CASL wants to protect consumers from false or misleading emails and texts. Whether it’s slight embellishments or complete lies about products and services, hedging the truth for the sake of a great marketing push is a quick way to bring down sanctions and fines from the various branches covering the enactment of this new legislation.

Unethical Data Harvesting

The final big move from CASL covers unethical data harvesting during an electronic marketing campaign. Whether it’s prying into your audience’s personal life without their consent or keeping tabs via illegally acquired consumer data, this new set of legislation takes a firm stance on where morality fits into the marketing process. Additionally, infiltrating computer systems and installing programs without the knowledge and consent of the owner are also mentioned at length in this portion of the new legislation, giving the powers that be enhanced reach in the fight against unethical operations during the marketing process.

The Big Three

So what happens if you slip up and stick a toe over the CASL line? In this circumstance, be prepared to come in contact with at least one of the three government agencies responsible for enforcing the law. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has the power to issue monetary penalties to violators of this anti-spam law. In conjunction with this new ability, the Competition Bureau has the right to pursue potential misconduct and seek monetary penalties or criminal sanctions. Finally, an amended version of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act gives the Office of the Privacy Commissioner extended authority to investigate illicit marketing operations occurring via text and email.

Now that you’re familiar with all the ins and outs of who administers CASL and what it covers, be sure to check in next week as we delve into the best ways to stay on the right side of this legislation and still make a major impact with your SMS and email campaigns.

CASL - Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation


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 a larger than life approach to SMS marketing helped Six Flags reel in young rollercoaster fanatics.

A day at the amusement park is one of the best ways to spend some time off during those hot summer months. For Six Flags in Maryland, this concept definitely held true, but something was lacking from its traditional summer turnout. To help boost attendance and connect with the young, tech-savvy side of its audience, this leader in the world of amusement parks turned to a strong blend of mobile marketing and smart planning. With that in mind, let’s strap in and ride along to see exactly how this plan turned Six Flags lagging summer attendance around over the course of the campaign.

The Power of Targeting

First up, Six Flags made it the mobile messaging initiative’s main mission to target the amusement park’s highest performing demographic – teenagers. At this point you might be wondering why a brand would focus on the audience members mostly likely to pay a visit to the park. The answer lies directly with surprisingly low summer turnouts from this group. To help get things back in gear, Six Flags decided to return to its roots and use the power of targeting via text messages in order reconnect with these younger park goers during the hot summer months.

Great Content Builds Great Results

Aside from focusing in on this specific group, they also knew that teens wouldn’t just jump at any mobile offer. To really connect with this group, Six Flags offered text-to-win contests, as well as mobile alerts regarding park information and weather updates. Even VIP ticket offers made the cut, ensuring that this younger, active audience had all the encouragement they needed to pay a visit during major events, like the park’s 4th of July festival, as well as all the regular sunny summer days.

Getting the Message to the Masses

As part of the push, Six Flags went all out on sign-ups and referrals to expand its contact list. At the base of the push was traditional avenues for opt-ins, like in-park customer service stations and signage. From here, radio spots and promotional content helped create more buzz about the interactive text program. Of course, when it comes to connecting with today’s teens, the smartest thing Six Flags did was to turn its social media accounts into the focal point of the campaign, providing this audience with everything they needed to sign-up directly on Facebook, Twitter, and all the other relevant social networks.

The Thrilling Results

So after all this hard work, what did Six Flags have to show for it? First off, during the three months of the program, participation within the brand’s existing text message system skyrocketed. In total, almost 5,000 subscribers decided to check out the offers on their mobile phones. That stat is great on its own, but the increased park attendance, as well as the admission, concession, and attraction revenue, this boost generated was even more impressive. As the summer text campaign came to a close, Six Flags hit all of these goals, as well as reinvigorated the demographic that mattered most. By reconnecting teen attendants, this campaign not only boosted sales in the short-term, but helped fortify the park’s long-term viability by creating a dedicated and interested text-based community.

Making Your Own Mobile Attraction

After reading all that, it’s clear to see that connecting with your audience via mobile marketing is a powerful tool in your outreach arsenal. Even if you’re not in the amusement industry, there’s still plenty we can pull from Six Flags’ example to help make your next campaign a major hit. First, know whom you need to target. Whether it’s teens or octogenarians, having the right audience members on tap is the best way to utilize your content.

Speaking of content, make these messages pack a punch. While simple coupons or discounts are definitely valuable, mixing in some great content or exclusive info definitely spices up the message and keeps your reader interested. If you can pull these two concepts off, as well as go all in on promoting your campaign across multiple channels, you’ll be well on your way to a thrilling marketing ride that ends with happy customers and a major boost to sales.



Happening every four years, the FIFA World Cup is an event unlike any other. Whether you’re a fan of this kind of football or not, it’s hard to deny the impact this tournament has on daily life around the globe. However, have you ever wondered what kind of effect events like the World Cup might have on your brand awareness via email marketing? While this might seem like an odd question to pose, a quick breakdown of the statistics surrounding marketing initiatives could radically change how you view the connection between sports and marketing in the context of making a splash via the inbox.

A History of Sports and Marketing

But wait, don’t the sporting and marketing worlds have a great history of working together? While the answer to this question is a definite yes, things aren’t always so cut and dry. Sure, plenty of campaigns have utilized sports icons and figures to deliver a powerful message, but that’s not the only overlap between these two platforms. In regard to email marketing, the truth of the matter is that mega sporting events aren’t always great to have going on in the background when you start firing off marketed messages.

Discovering a Digital Connection

While the average football friendly or exhibition game might not garner a noticeable bump in consumer interest, events like the World Cup can drastically warp the priorities and focus of your target audience. In a recent study covered by Amy Gesenhues of Marketing Land, the digital connection between these worlds generally isn’t very accommodating to the world of email marketing. In fact, special circumstances – like the World Cup, Super Bowl, and other major occurrences – can actually cause some serious harm to you open and conversion rates.

The main issue here is not that the sporting world hates promotional emails packed with value and substance. Instead, it’s simply that when the game is on, rabid fans don’t have eyes for anything else. Whether the match ends in a one-sided rout or goes to penalty kicks, expecting your audience to check their inbox or alerts is a recipe for unexpected disaster that can really sink your email marketing ship long before it sets sail.

A Look at the World Cup

The aforementioned study from Marketing Land and the World Cup focused on three countries; Mexico, Brazil, and the United States. In Brazil, click rates and email activity during football matches plummeted to 61 percent of the country’s standard activity. While that might not seem like much at first glance, imagine losing around 40 percent of your audience right after you hit send on your latest content. Mexico saw a similar drop, this time measured in raw percentage of clicks, going from the usual 9 percent of email clicks to just 5 percent.

The final country reviewed in this survey of the email marketing climate during the FIFA World Cup, the United States, showed a minimal dip in email activity during the game. However, the drop, measured between 1 and 2 percent total, still shows that in countries only recently experiencing the football or soccer craze, this event still had a negative impact on email activity during the match times.

Coming To a Conclusion

This one instance of reduced email activity underlies a major problem facing brands looking to make a move via marketing messages. Even though email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to connect with consumers, if your timing is off, you can’t expect much from this type of outreach. Naturally, you won’t always be facing down the World Cup, Olympics, or NHL Finals every day, but it’s still worth keeping these events in mind as you begin to roll out your last digital campaign that places a premium on what happens in the inbox.

Building a Smart Plan for Your Business

If you don’t want to watch your email marketing operations take a nosedive every time your favorite team scores the game winning goal, build a schedule that’s cognizant of what’s happening in the sporting world. This doesn’t mean keeping track of every preseason or regular season game. In fact, depending on your target audience’s location, it might mean taking out certain sports entirely from the equation. However, once you have your ideal consumer profile set up and certain sports highlighted as potential problems, you can start to build strategies with playoffs, championships, and other major events in mind. This way, you’ll never deliver great email content that goes unseen when the big game is on the line.



There’s no denying that email marketing is one of the fastest, most productive ways of making a splash with your audience. Unfortunately, all the great aspects of this channel can lead to opportunities for misuse and abuse, creating some serious ill will with your targeted customers. With that in mind, let’s take a moment to go over the seven “Deadly Sins” of email marketing and what your brand can do to avoid the temptation of falling into these traps.

Relying on Promotional Fluff

First up on the list is all about what’s going on in the body of your emails. While there’s no denying that these messages are promotional in nature, that’s no excuse for offering little to no value in your emails. In addition to the basic offers of discounts, coupons, and sales, be sure to add in content that relates with the reader and goes beyond the simple “buy this now” approach. Things like weekly newsletters and even previews of your latest blog post fit this niche perfectly. Not only will this save your readers from promotional fatigue, it’s also a great way to build a lasting connection that keeps your contact list healthy and full.

Forgetting about Your Mobile Customers

Once you have your message in order, making sure you go beyond desktop optimization is the next part of the process. While standard emails are still going to be the bread and butter of most marketing initiatives, not giving the mobile portion of your audience its due, is an easy way to miss out on a great opportunity for conversions. The worst part about falling prey to this marketing sin is that it really doesn’t take much effort to build a proper mobile message with the rise of templates and professionals who can help you along the way.

Poaching or Copying Content

Like pretty much any other facet of your business, taking the easy way out and copying or poaching content isn’t a strategy designed for the long haul. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with leaning on the work of others to build a message or flesh out an idea. However, continuing along this path without giving credit where it is due, is a one way street that leads straight to email purgatory and a dwindling fan base that’s less than thrilled with your brand’s marketing efforts.

Going Overboard with Email Word Counts

When it comes to the length of your message, more is better, right? While this sounds good on paper, the truth is that most readers don’t have all day to sit around and read a novel delivered directly to their inbox. To really connect with your audience, keep this promotional content short and to the point, leaving out filler and unnecessary information when possible. By saying goodbye to forced word counts and shifting your focus toward brevity and impact, your brand can go above and beyond competition that’s still stuck writing long after your emails start hitting consumer inboxes.

Failing to Adapt Your Content to the Cold, Hard Facts

Much like the original Deadly Sins, there’s no place for pride in a proper email marketing campaign. Although it might be a hard pill to swallow at times, few email initiatives start off perfect. As the results from your latest series come back, don’t be afraid to face the facts and follow the lead your customer data illuminates. Sure, it might not be the best feeling in the world to admit that your content needs a little tweaking. However, when it comes to increased conversions and brand awareness, putting pride on the side and adapting to the cold, hard facts is always in the best interest of your marketing goals.

Succumbing to Link Overload

When it comes to proper linking, you’re probably looking back up the list and wondering how this fits in with poaching or copying content. Essentially, if you reference or cite something, there’s nothing wrong providing a link back to the source. Where you can really get in hot water with your audience is turning half of your email into hyperlinks back to your site and landing pages. When wrapping up the final tweaks to your message before it goes live, try to keep the links to a minimum. Not only can you avoid link overload this way, you’ll also be able to use the limited number of redirects to really emphasize a call to action or time sensitive offer as your email hits its crescendo.

Disregarding Spam Laws and Regulations

Of course, the biggest sin any brand can commit when it comes to firing off promotional emails is to run afoul of the government’s anti-spam laws. With the recent changes in the Canadian spam regulation, it matters now more than ever to get things right the first time. Failing to stay on target not only damages your reputation with customers, it also can lead to some serious penalties and fines. Aside from keeping up with the latest developments straight from the source, having an expert opinion on your side can help you avoid this sin, as well as the rest, once you’re ready to start harnessing the power of email marketing.



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 Papa Murphy’s and a great mobile strategy created in the heart of Kansas quickly took the nation by storm.

If there’s one undeniable truth in the marketing world, it’s that text messages and pizza are a match made in heaven. From Papa John’s to Pizza Hut and Chuck E. Cheese, we’ve covered quite a few. However, none of the previous case studies approach this powerful bond quite like a different “Papa.” With that in mind, let’s dig into an extra deep dish helping of SMS marketing and learn just how Papa Murphy’s took the American Midwest, and later the country, by storm with some great mobile messages.

Understanding the Papa Murphy’s Approach

Unlike the other pizza restaurants you’ve read about, Papa Murphy’s offers a line of fresh “Take ‘N’ Bake” pizzas that compliment the great products offered in-store. Obviously, there’s nothing new about customers enjoying a pie straight out of the oven at home, but it’s important to understand every facet of the Papa Murphy’s approach in order to really appreciate how this SMS strategy help boost dine-in and take-out sales at the same time. Additionally, the group of customers targeted by this brand aren’t your typical plain cheese pizza supporters. One of the biggest selling points throughout the campaign was an emphasis on a variety of unique and tasty toppings that take enjoying a pizza with friends to the next level.

Setting the Stage for an SMS Breakthrough

At the core of Papa Murphy’s text campaign was a focus on the Kansas City market. From here, the chain would know just how receptive other portions of the United States would be to a similar, extended run of SMS messages. These text messages offered powerful discounts throughout the year, keeping customers excited and intrigued by the latest offerings from their favorite pizza restaurant. Everything from reduced rates on taco pizzas during Cinco De Mayo to daily specials covering fan favorites like chicken, bacon, and artichoke pies created a program that was irresistible to pizza fans in the area.

Outside of this greater goal, the pizza chain also decided to spice things up with how it generated leads for its mobile contact database. Instead of getting behind a single sign-up method, Papa Murphy’s tested the waters across a variety of platforms, including in-store pushes, mobile tents at civic functions, and online reminders for customers that showed interest in participating. Naturally, this “all-in” approach might seem like a bit of overkill at first glance, but you’ll soon see that Papa Murphy’s perseverance paid off in a big way once the final numbers for the campaign came to light.

Results Throughout the Year

So just how well did things turn out for Papa Murphy’s text program? To answer this question, let’s look at the redemption rates for a couple of the mobile offers fired off to contact list members. In regard to the $5 chicken, bacon, and artichoke pizza deal, mobile redemption rates hit 9 percent. On Cinco De Mayo, and later a “half-off” pizza holiday, rates rose above 11.5 and 12 percent, respectively. However, the big finale came from a simple $5 coupon for a three-topping pizza. At the end of the day, this seemingly generic offer reeled in 17.9 percent redemption rate.

As far as subscribers go, Kansas City alone brought the pizza chain 16,000 subscribers. Not too shabby, right? Well the numbers become even more impressive once you factor in the campaign’s extension into another 26 states across the U.S. In total, Papa Murphy’s generated 100,000 new contact list members from this series of mobile offers.

Finding the Right Toppings for Your Own SMS

So how can you follow in Papa Murphy’s footsteps and back up your own five-star mobile campaign? To start, keep things simple and straightforward with your text messages. Offers that are easy to digest and provide real value can win over even the toughest crowds. On top of this, don’t be afraid to explore every avenue when it comes to sign-ups. Papa Murphy’s exhausted these channels thoroughly, and the results clearly show that it was worth the effort. Even if your brand doesn’t offer something as tasty as pizza on the go, there’s no doubt that this recipe for SMS success can put your products in the spotlight and keep members of your contact list begging for more.



Although the medium has changed over the years, moving from the printed word to digital screens, one thing never changes – great marketing campaigns always evoke a powerful response from the audience. Naturally, the days of an eye-catching ad in the newspaper doing the trick are long gone. However, that doesn’t mean that your brand still can’t create a “customer journey” that truly connects with and inspires members of your contact list. To learn more about this concept and how to help your consumers get the most out of this process, let’s dig a little deeper into what the customer journey means in today’s online setting.

What Exactly Is the Customer Journey?

The customer journey encompasses everything that happens from the moment shoppers find out about your brand to when these individuals check out from your online storefront. While that might seem a little too “big picture” from some brands, you can also think of it as more of a mindset regarding the customer experience. Essentially, when they think of your brand and what it takes to learn about your products and services, as well as making a purchase, is it enough to make these shoppers come back for more? If your quick internal audit sends back an answer that is anything less than an overwhelming yes, there’s definitely some work to be done when it comes to your brand’s customer journey.

The Role of Email Marketing In the Process

So where does email marketing fit into this process? For all the military history buffs out there, this portion of your brand awareness initiatives serves as the vanguard – paving the way for the rest of your marketed material. In other words, a great marketing email acts as an open invitation to the viewers to take a journey with your brand. Naturally, for portions of your contact list, this journey has already started to some degree, considering that they have signed up for promotional emails in-store or online.

However, only a few tools in your marketing bag of tricks are as effective at adapting to the situation. With just one message, you can bring all of these separate individuals along the path, heading toward a continued relationship and some well-deserved conversions. The key is making the most out of this first impression. As tired and worn out as this cliché is, it still rings true in the digital marketing world; you only get one first impression, so you had better make the most of it.

Potential Bumps In the Road

Unfortunately, there are plenty of hazards along this road. If your brand isn’t careful, these missteps can turn what should be a strong point in your customer journey into a glaring weakness in no time. First up is a promotional email that’s full of design errors and sloppy layout choices. While your text content might be second to none, having an email that looks like it went through a digital blender before hitting the inbox is no way to start your customer journey.

As for the body of the email itself, think of this portion as the directions for the trip. If you offer up something that’s irrelevant or unclear, don’t expect much from an audience that doesn’t have time to read between the lines and figure out where to go. Additionally, if you’re firing off messages far too often like a GPS in overdrive, don’t expect a warm reception from customers who need a little break between emails.

Creating the Perfect Journey for Your Customers

To create the perfect customer journey for your email contact list, you’ll need to focus on making a great first impression, as well as guiding them with valuable content once things start shifting into high gear. One of the best ways to get started on the right foot is with a welcome email. This message can be just a short, friendly greeting, thanking the user for signing up and offering a few teasers for what’s to come if they stay subscribed. Not only is this polite, it helps set the tone for a friendly, warm relationship between your brand and the audience.

From here, don’t be afraid to branch out into related topics to keep your content fresh and exciting. For instance, reviewing safety tips and best practices for shopping on your site – and around the web – is not only useful, it helps give the audience the confidence to make a purchase if they were dealing with any concerns about Internet security prior to the email. Additionally, this approach also shows that not everything you offer will be sales related, giving your contact list plenty of reasons to stick around for the long haul as you continue to make this journey a great one with valuable email content that goes beyond the thinly veiled fluff offered by the competition.


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