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emailtax

Back on April Fool’s Day, our friends to the south had quite the commotion arise around the purported inclusion of an email tax to their current tax code. While this article was nothing more than another digital gag on a day full of such fun and silly offerings, it did bring up quite an intriguing question – should email transmissions actually be taxed by legislative bodies around the world? To answer this question, let’s take a look at the original article, the industry response, and what would actually happen to brands like your own if emails – both marketed and personal – fell under the umbrella of taxation.

The Source of the Commotion

As part of her long line of fun April Fool’s Day posts, Kelly Phillips Erb of Forbes magazine tackled the faux subject of an email tax; something that undoubtedly strikes fear into the heart of any organization or individual that makes a living via inbox operations and outreach. Specifically, the article suggests that the U.S. Congress would be willing to repeal the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) and place a small transactional cost upon each message set to domains residing within the States. Naturally, governmental domains and similarly linked addresses would be exempt from the new tax, with the proceeds generated by this process going toward a renewed effort to pay down the U.S. budget deficit.

Gauging the Impact of an Email Tax

For the sake of fun and curiosity, let’s suspend our disbelief and spend a minute breaking down the math surrounding this kind of development. Assuming that this theoretical act would cause a domino effect here and abroad in response to the actions of the U.S. congress, the burden generated by even a minimal tax would be astronomical.

To prove this point, simply look at the raw number of messages sent every day. As Business 2 Community’s Lisa Cannon points out, this figure currently sits at about 122,500,453,020 messages sent – per hour. If the average tax burden on individual messages averaged out to around one cent globally, then governments around the world rack up over $1.2 billion in tax revenue per hour. Naturally, this is an astounding figure and far from an exact representation of what an email tax would shape up to be, but it helps illustrate the point very clearly – taxing what comes and goes from inboxes around the world is the very definition of big business.

Understanding the Industry Response

According to Chad White of Media Post, this scenario is scary, unrealistic, and entirely unnecessary due to the de facto email tax currently imposed on marketers and brands by consumers. While White’s tax doesn’t take on the form of a monetary burden, it represents the gap between the value of the viewer’s time and the value of the content held within the message in question.

Essentially, if you’re sending low-value, high filler content to your audience, it’s only a matter of time before the “consumer tax” – spam complaints, low open rates, and poor feedback – bankrupt your email operations. It might not be readily apparent, but under White’s understanding of the current inbox landscape, this self-taxation system helps ensure that spam offerings fall out of favor fast and email content continues to enhance and enrich the person on the other side of the screen.

Is This Something to Worry about?

At this point, it’s okay to take a step back and enjoy the idea of an email tax exactly as it was meant to be; a fun, industry joke. Sure, there’s always some outside chance that emails could eventually come under a specified tax system here or abroad, but that day isn’t even close to being on the horizon.

While the old days of the Internet “Wild West” might have benefited from such a system, the modern digital world offers much more incentive to avoid spamming consumers as part of the built-in inbox economy. Does spam still exist? Sure. But the number of illicit senders continues to plummet as more and more brands offer up relevant, value-driven offerings to email viewers. Adding in the continued push for net neutrality and a “free web” ideal doesn’t hurt either.

For now, you’re much better off worrying about avoiding White’s consumer-based tax by employing industry best practices and content tactics. This way, even if the absolutely unlikely happens and we see an email tax at some point far in the future, you’ll still have a huge impact in the inbox once you make your way through whatever minor tolls pop up.

 

realestate

Saying that it pays to have a strong connection with your clients as a real estate agent is like saying that the sun can get a little bright from time to time if you look directly at it. Understatements and analogies aside, the reality of the situation is clear – without a way to stay in touch your clientele keeping your business on track becomes near impossible.

The only problem with all of this is that dated practices, like neighborhood fliers and phonebook listings, simply don’t cut it anymore. If you want to be at the forefront of the real estate discussion in your region, it’s time to get your email marketing operations into high gear and off the ground in a hurry. With this in mind, let’s spend a few minutes covering some key tactics that are sure to set your agency’s campaign apart in the inbox.

Understand the Impact of Email Operations

Perhaps the best place to kick off the discussion is with a quick overview of the importance of being active via email marketing. This way, you won’t face any lingering questions regarding the necessity of the email approach. As the National Association of Realtors explains in its field guide review, an astounding 92 percent of home buyers currently look to digital sources as part of the purchasing process. Additionally, 76 percent end up acquiring a home after learning about it online, with 43 percent using this method of learning about homes as the gateway to their first purchase. To put it bluntly, if you were on the fence about reaching out with a strong digital presence, you’re letting countless sales slip through the cracks by sitting on the sidelines.

Quality Comes First

Now that we’ve established how vital being active online is, let’s talk about what goes into maximizing your position within the inbox and capturing even more leads. According to Kathryn Royster of Inman, succeeding on this front starts with quality content. While taking the easy way out and spamming your contact list with a bunch of messages that are low on quality and high on filler might seem fine at first, the truth of the matter is that the inbox is a highly competitive place, so this substandard approach won’t get you very far. A good rule of thumb that can keep you on track with this ideal is for each message to contain at least 80 percent useful content, such as information regarding homes and purchasing best practices, and no more than 20 percent promotional material regarding your brand or agency.

Being Visual Goes a Long Way

Additionally, Royster also suggests getting visual with your emails. Listing off housing information alone in the body of a message can come off dry or boring, so why not incorporate a few images or other striking visuals as a means of enhancing your content? If possible, keep your centerpiece image or video “above the fold” – the area of the message that shows up in the preview pane of Outlook, Gmail, etc. Doing this ensures that your high impact visual content doesn’t get lost in the fray and stands out as viewers browse through their new and saved messages.

Avoid the “Get Rich Quick” Approach

On the subject of accelerating the growth of your mailing list, Vinny La Barbera of the Real Estate Marketing Blog recommends forgoing the “get rich quick” options. As enticing as it may be to purchase a premade list of addresses or other similar product, the odds of these accounts being both active and relevant are rather marginal. That’s not to say that no such product exists or wouldn’t be able to offer up some sort of value to your agency, just that you’re much better off building your reach and influence in the inbox via organic, proven methods, like the ones listed above.

Play by the Rules

Of course, none of these tips regarding how you connect with customers matter if you’re caught breaking the stringent rules and regulations that govern the world of email marketing. Naturally, what constitutes an offense can vary from region to region, but digging into the CASL here in Canada or any other relevant laws and legislation, can go a long way toward protecting your organization. Considering that massive fines, penalties, and the ill-will of your prospective audience is at stake, taking the time to become well-versed on these matters – or working with someone who knows how to navigate these rulings – could mean the difference between succeeding in the inbox or watching your brand’s dreams go up in smoke.

 

email_marketing_2020

For the regular readers out there, there’s no doubt that we’ve spent plenty of time forecasting the growth of email marketing from month to month, or even from year to year. But what about when the conversation shifts toward a future that’s a little far away – say, five years? If you’re interested in taking a peak at the potential future of this powerhouse practice, pull up a seat and let’s connect with some voices from around the web who can help us decipher what inbox campaigns will really look like in the year 2020.

Enter the Fully Integrated Ideal

In his look at this subject, David Moth of Econsultancy pinpoints integration as the focal point of email marketing’s distant future. While the web is awash with blogs and posts telling you how important social, SMS, and other channels are in an overlapping capacity, Moth suggests that there’s still quite a bit of ground to make up on this front. However, by 2020 the over 440 respondents to his survey believe that the lines between email marketing and these other platforms won’t just be blurred, they’ll be completely nonexistent for the major brands and players within the inbox.

Additionally, Moth’s polling of members of the industry also note that in five years or so, this multi-channel method will be accompanied by platforms that embrace a “one size fits all” mentality. Instead of having to switch between your email campaign accounts and social media profiles, the future digital landscape will be all about convenience and expedience. You’ve probably already noticed this with the built-in social plug-ins that allow your email content to go viral, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the universal marketing tools being developed for brands like your own.

There’s No Future Without Automation and Personalization

For the final piece of Moth’s futuristic forecast, he and the other industry voices polled within the survey point to automation and personalization as moving from cutting edge tactics to industry best practices. In today’s inbox, slipping in a nod to your audience members based on contact list data and harvested info is seen as unique way to stand out and build a strong bond with the person on the other side of the screen. However, it won’t be long before customers expect brands to always follow in this path or risk the threat of a disinterested base of viewers.

The same goes for automation and the other side of the equation. It doesn’t take a master email marketer to understand that as campaign platforms continue to integrate and optimize automated tools, brands like your own will come to expect these services as the status quo. Those platforms that lag behind are sure to suffer in terms of usage and viability.

Video Will Be a Major Player

As far as actual content goes, Zach Watson of iMedia Connection pegs video content as the future of email marketing, so don’t be surprised if your audience starts clamoring for this kind of offering in the come years. This concept makes sense for a variety of reasons. First, as base hardware capabilities and Internet connections continue to grow stronger and more prevalent, the strain these selections put on the user’s devices, as well as the frustration that comes with content that’s slow to load, should drop dramatically. Additionally, utilizing video content plays heavily into the notion of interconnected marketing strategies since this approach works well on social platforms like Facebook and YouTube, as well as in the inbox.

What Email Marketing Won’t Be in the Future

While all of these developments speak to the wonders of email marketing’s future, it’s also worthwhile to talk about what email marketing won’t be down the road. Despite the insistence of some corners of the web, email marketing is far from becoming redundant or standing as a digital anachronism.

Are there other types of marketing strategies that work well with certain audiences? Sure; just look at SMS marketing as a great example for this side of the argument. However, this doesn’t mean that email marketing shouldn’t have a place in your outreach strategy moving forward. Until a future appears on the horizon that shows email marketing as declining – something that’s hard to imagine in 2020 or beyond – your best bet is to continue pressing your advantage in the inbox and giving your valued customers the kind of content that truly speaks to what they want.

 

questions_answers

The world of SMS marketing offers a plethora of powerful ways to connect with your customers, but sifting through the murky nature of this process and finding true value and potential isn’t always easy to come by, regardless of your experience within the marketplace. In fact, if you’re not careful, you could squander this once bright opportunity. To ensure you’re always on the good side of your audience when they’re on the go, let’s talk about the five optimization questions that demand answers as you seek to refine and improve your mobile marketing operations.

How Clear Is Your Call-to-Action?

First up on the list is engaging in an honest evaluation of your call-to-action (CTA.) As John Boitnott of Inc. magazine explains, being straightforward and clear on this front is a must if you’re serious about building a strong connection with your customers. While it might feel a little awkward to develop CTAs that get straight to the point, just keep in mind that these viewers are often pressed for time, so wading through paragraphs of “salesy” fluff to get to the juicy offer or deal isn’t going to instill a ton of goodwill with these consumers.

Is Your Content “Urgent?”

Much like cutting to the chase with a clear and concise CTA, there’s also the fact that consumers are bogged down with a million and one other things on their mental “to-do” lists, so ensuring that your content comes off as urgent is a great way to climb up the priority ladder. Now, this isn’t to say that you should spam your mobile readers with looming threats regarding deadlines. However, it doesn’t hurt to gently remind them of the limited duration of the deal, as well as the benefits of acting in an expedient manner when it comes to your brand’s offers.

Does Your SMS Campaign Connect to Social Media and the Inbox?

If there’s one thing you need to take away from this discussion of SMS operations, it’s that integration is perhaps the most powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. As Boitnott goes on to point out, leading with a text and following up with inbox outreach or a request for social likes, shares, and follows can truly revolutionize your relationship with the members of your contact list. Not only does this keep you in the conversation long after the text has been opened, it also ensures that you maximize the value of your related email and social marketing endeavors.

Where Should Frequency Fit Into the Picture?

Another major question regarding SMS optimization, according to Jason Clegg of Social Media Today, focuses on how often you should be reaching out to customers via this platform. Unfortunately, the answer to this question resides firmly between “often enough” and “not too often.” While this isn’t exactly a scientific range, you can let audience data – like feedback and surveys – help guide the way as you tweak the knobs on this variable. If you’re starting off completely from square one, Clegg offers up the suggestion that a friendly once a week offering is a good place to start. From this point, you’ll be able to increase or decrease frequency based on the reaction from your growing list of mobile shoppers.

Are You Thinking Outside the Box?

Finally, the last question offered up – how you approach SMS content moving forward – is intentionally left open ended. As Clegg explains in his closing statements on this topic, thinking outside of the box is vital if you’re planning on staying ahead of the completion in terms of reach and optimization. After all, the whole idea of optimizing any sort of marketing practice, SMS included, isn’t about running through the process once and calling it good.

To help get your creative juices flowing, consider how you can add value to the text experience for your readers. Whether you’re text-blogging a live event, offering up order confirmations for digital purchases, or even using this medium as a way to remind contact list members of upcoming appointments, it’s easy to see that going beyond the simple “buy this product” text is definitely a doable affair.

The big key here is finding a niche that separates your brand from the competition and offers up something unique to these vital members of your burgeoning mobile community. If you can do this, as well as put the rest of what you’ve learned here regarding SMS optimization to good use, there’s no reason your brand can’t continue to grow and evolve as the world of text marketing does the same.

 

VisitGuernsey

With a population tipping slightly over 65,000, the quiet island of Guernsey – located in the heart of the English Channel – doesn’t often do enough to warrant making international headlines, even on the slowest of news days. However, if you’ve been keeping up with the latest stirrings in the world of email marketing, you know that the tourism board of Guernsey has found itself in some hot water regarding spam allegations. To find out what really happened with the VisitGuernsey domain, as well as what this continued hard stance on spam backlash means for your brand going forward, let’s delve into the particulars of this breaking story from a variety of different angles.

Breaking down the Claims Against VisitGuernsey

According to the reporting team over at BBC News, the allegations against the VisitGuernsey domain, and thus the Guernsey Commerce and Employment Department as well, all stem from an investigation led by international anti-spam company Spamhaus. Essentially, this regulatory agency claims that the organization in question operates a “spam trap” address and floods unsuspecting inboxes with an illicit amount of unsolicited junk emails.

After reaching out to the operators of the VisitGuernsey address with a request to cease these potentially unsavory operations, Spamhaus has now taken its complaints to governmental bodies and enforcement organizations on both sides of the Atlantic. Should these claims turn into hard evidence, it’s safe to say that the penalties and negative press generated by this development will impact VisitGuernsey’s domain credibility – and bottom line – in a major way.

The Official Response

After reading all of that, it’s hard not to take on a grim outlook regarding the fortunes of this potential spam violator. However, this doesn’t mean the VisitGuernsey site and its operators are going down without a fight. As John McCarthy of The Drum explains, the team that represents the island of Guernsey and its inbox campaigns insists that they’ve done nothing wrong in terms of email marketing best practices and the usage of spam tactics. Specifically, Emma Martins – the Data Protection Commissioner for Guernsey – has gone on record to claim that no one who received emails from this domain did so without express consent or the ability to opt out at any point in the process.

An Intriguing History

Of course, perhaps the most intriguing part of this growing email marketing soap opera is the fact that Guernsey was once known as a bastion of anti-spam awareness. In another report from the experts at BBC News, this time dating back to January of 2006, we learn of the story of Nigel Roberts and his crusade against spam operations.

After winning a legal case against a British media firm that sent him daily spam messages, this Guernsey businessman set up a reporting site, Spam Legal Action, that’s designed to provide frustrated consumers with an outlet for bringing spammers and other shady organizations to justice. Considering that Spamhaus was directly involved in the formation of Roberts’ site, there’s naturally a lot of intrigue surrounding this complicated story of a once strong player in the anti-spam world potentially being led astray and losing sight of how to properly connect with customers in the inbox.

Looking Toward the Future

Regardless of whether or not the people behind Guernsey’s email marketing operations end up taking on penalties, fines, and all other manner of punishments, there’s one important lesson here that every brand and marketer needs to take note of going forward. No matter where you’re from or how large or small your campaign is, the global conversation regarding email marketing is decidedly against the spam side of the business. If you take up these practices, you won’t be able to hide from the long arm of the law forever.

This might sound a little dramatic initially, but the sooner you and your team of email marketing experts understand this realization, the sooner you can get down to working within the guidelines of the law. From brushing up on CASL or any other regional anti-spam regulations, to connecting with an organization that can guide you step-by-step through the process via the interpretation and implementation of industry best practices, arming yourself with this kind of knowledge is the only way to extract the maximum amount of value from email marketing, all while playing by the rules. For brands covering virtually any industry, it’s easy to see why going this route and avoiding the temptation to step over the line into the grey area traveled by VisitGuernsey and other domains is the right call for your organization as it makes its way toward a strong position within the inbox.

 

global_market

In the past, we’ve spent plenty of time talking about how small and regional businesses can utilize SMS marketing to capture enhanced interaction and sales with relevant audiences. And for good reason; just see any of the numerous case studies on this blog if you’re a newer member of the community who wants to do a little catching up.

Despite this previous inclination to keep things focused on the smaller and medium portions of the industry, the push for global SMS operations continues to grow stronger and more prevalent, demanding an increased need for guidance on this front. With this in mind, let’s take a moment to highlight the problems facing brands looking to go global with SMS marketing, as well as what your organization can do to avoid these issues and capture the immense amount of reach and awareness awaiting those who understand what goes into taking the world by storm via stellar mobile campaigns.

Problems on a Global Scale

According to the staff over at Venture Beat, the substantial benefits and leverage generated by global SMS operations are gated behind an equally impressive series of issues and roadblocks – specifically technological limitations, varying regional rules and regulations, and a lack of proper guidance for brands navigating this path to SMS success.

As far as the technology side of things goes, the team behind this report explain that taking your SMS approach global can hinder your ability to tap into the “instant” nature of this communication process. Essentially, unreliability of select carriers, as well as off-beat filtering and incorrect delivery confirmation systems, can all wreak havoc on the tech side of your mobile marketing campaign.

The rules and regulation portion of this discussion is a little more cut and dry. While you’re probably familiar with CASL and the other regulatory articles covering the interaction between brands and consumers here in Canada, it’s hard to say the same for the over 190 countries that cover the rest of the globe. For example, if you’re sending messages to contact list members in India, you’d better know that anything between 9 P.M. and 9 A.M. is off limits, regardless of the time difference. Failing to understand these differences – from the substantial to the minute – is a fast way to face penalties or sanctions from governments abroad.

In terms of the need for professional guidance, think of it as a culmination of these stated problems and everything else facing down your brand within the global marketplace. Basically, while there’s nothing stopping you from going this route on your own, if you try and dip your toes into the world of global SMS operations alone, be prepared for the rigors that come with a steep learning curve.

Building a Smart Response

So how can you overcome these hindrances and successfully capture the attention of potential shoppers around the world? You really have two options for answering this question. Your first option is to be prepared to commit to the countless hours that it takes to become an SMS expert who can stay up to date with the latest news and trends from around the globe.

If this doesn’t sound too agreeable with your already busy schedule, then it’s time to connect with an established team of experts. As the writers over at Venture Beat explain in their wrap-up of the discussion, taking this route not only limits your exposure to unnecessary risk, it also ensures that you maximize your impact and reduce the strain this process places on your current business operations – something that’s definitely a welcome relief if you’re already facing down a mountain of tasks and responsibilities back at the office.

Preparing for the Future

Even if you’re not quite ready to jump into the waters of global SMS operations, it’s important to understand that the world continues to move toward an interconnected marketplace, so it’s only a matter of time before your physical and digital audiences converge in this growing shared space. In fact, researchers over at Transparency Market Research report that by the year 2020, the global SMS market will account for over $70 billion in revenue; a substantial jump from the $53.07 billion tallied up in 2013.

The moral of the story is that while your business might be focused on connecting with the local community via SMS now, it’s never too early to start planning for the eventual shift toward global mobile marketing campaigns. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when your more forward-thinking competition beats you to the punch and reaches out to these customers, regardless of where they call home.

 

letterman

At first glance, it might seem a little nonsensical or downright silly to connect late night legend David Letterman to the world of email marketing. However, the truth of the matter is that following in David Letterman’s lead – especially now that he’s calling it a career after over 45 years of being in the business – makes plenty of sense. With the help of Entrepreneur magazine’s Seamas Egan guiding the way, as well as several other leading voices in the industry, you too can put the powerful lessons learned from the longest-tenured late night talk show host in history to good use the next time your brand takes the virtual stage in the inbox.

Nail the Opening Act

Atop the list of email marketing lessons garnered from this career, Egan notes that no one – from Carson to Leno – captured the opening act quite like Lettermen. Considering that this portion of the show sets the stage for the following segments, it’s easy to see how being the best in the first few minutes goes a long way.

So how can your brand mimic this strong point of Lettermen’s approach? Take the inbox by storm with top tier subject lines. As the “opening act” of a campaign, subject lines take on a place of importance that either makes or breaks everything that follows. To maximize this part of the process, Jenna Goudreau suggests keeping things short and sweet.

By skipping out on the filler words and focusing on brevity, you can distill your subject lines down to the most important, exciting, and engaging nuggets. The alternative – a header that falls flat on its face thanks to a clunky delivery – stands as the email marketing equivalent of one of the few opening act jokes on The Late Show that left the audience hearing crickets.

Stay Current with the Latest Headlines

Aside from nailing the opening act, another focal point of virtually every edition of The Late Show included poking fun at current events. While your brand may not be able to fire off zingers at the latest headlines like Letterman, that doesn’t mean your emails can’t capitalize on the interest generated by taking note of current events.

From the latest industry news to relevant social and entertainment trends floating through your audience, building content around these stories goes a long way toward positioning your brand and its newsletters or regular emails as a valued source of insight into these topics. The best part about this approach is that, as long as you offer up links and a gentle reminder to your inbox audience, it can also help drive traffic to your related blog and site content.

Sure, keeping up with current events definitely requires a lot more work than just sticking to the status quo, but when it’s framed with this perspective, it’s easy to see why this process is well worth your time and effort.

Understand and Appeal to the Audience

Finally, the fact that David Letterman’s career currently spans multiple decades on the same platform is a testament to the fact that, even though times change, this leading TV personality has always appealed to the right audiences – even to the point of shifting the focus of the show toward younger generations when necessary.

If you’re brand wants to be a long-term player in the inbox, you could do a lot worse than taking this page out of Letterman’s book. Of course, figuring out who to market toward with your email content is often easier said than done, especially if you’re not familiar with the particulars of your current target audience.

As The Huffington Post’s Matthew Collis notes, understanding what appeals to your audience starts with segmenting your current content list. By categorizing and compiling location, personal, and interest data that’s accumulated during the sign-up process, you can give your brand a significant boost toward finding the right content angle and presentation. Adding in a relevant “Big Data” set based around this burgeoning consumer profile does up the costs associated with pinpointing your ideal audience, but definitely keeps this optimization trend moving forward.

By putting these tips to good use, as well as everything else we’ve covered here, there’s no doubt that your organization can rise to the top of the ranks in the inbox, much like Letterman has done over the past several decades within the late night television scene. Considering his substantial resume and legacy, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better path to follow as your brand makes a name for itself among customers via savvy email marketing operations.

 

saturation

It’s no big secret by now that seemingly everyone has a mobile phone. In fact, the reason why you’re reading this blog post probably stems from the fact that you want to reach out to potential customers via these very devices. The only problem? So does everyone else in your industry.

For some brands, the concerns surrounding this saturation of options for consumers is great enough to warrant hesitation about entering the SMS market. To ensure you don’t make the wrong call on this front, let’s break down the mobile marketing landscape as it stands now, as well as whether or not there’s really enough room left for your brand to make a splash via savvy text messages.

The Current State of the Industry

To say the amount of mobile phones in North America – and the world at large – continues to grow at a steady rate is like saying that Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt is kind of fast. In fact, Mobile Marketing Watch’s Michael Essany reports that 90 percent of adults in this region own a mobile phone, with an additional 60 percent of these devices falling into the smartphone designation.

Abroad, this trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. According to the team at the Mobile Marketing Blog, mobile phones currently outnumber the earth’s population, with more people owning a mobile phone than those who own toothbrushes. Dental hygiene concerns aside, there’s also the realization that 371,000 babies are born in a day, compared to 378,000 iPhones sold in the same timeframe. To put it bluntly, people love their phones and there’s no sign of this reality fading away any time soon.

Is the Amount of Competition Too Great?

With this demand helping put things into prospective, it’s easy to see why so many brands tip their hats into the SMS discussion. However, just because companies from around the world are targeting and reaching out to the same customers as your organization, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically behind the curve in terms of potential and the ability to capture unclaimed conversions among these segments.

As the report from the Mobile Marketing Blog goes on to explain, the amount of money spent on mobile operations accounts for less than one percent of the average marketing budget. Essentially, the mobile marketplace is crowded, but most companies continue to undervalue this portion of the brand outreach and awareness process. If you’re willing to take note of this gap and put forth the necessary effort, there’s nothing stopping your organization from giving these consumers exactly what they want and reaping the rewards of your hard work.

Standing out in a Crowded Room

So just what goes into a great text message that stands out in a cluttered mobile inbox? In his look at the “road map” to great SMS messages, Douglas Karr of The Marketing Technology Blog narrows the discussion down to six crucial attributes. At the top of this list is creating an offer that’s actually valuable. If you’re offering your contact list a pittance compared to the competition, it’s hard to expect a positive response. Another key point on this front is to make the offer exclusive. It’s hard to develop a following via SMS if your targeted consumers can capture this same opportunity on numerous other platforms.

Once you have your offer in place, don’t be afraid to start your message off with the offer front and center, in addition to placing a direct call-to-action (CTA) in a similar position of prominence. People do read virtually every text sent their way, but just like an marketed email, you don’t want to waste the time of your audience with frivolous content.

Speaking of timing, if you can build a sense of urgency into your text, Karr pinpoints this as a crucial victory for your brand. Should a consumer not feel the need to act immediately, this lethargy regarding the offer can quickly turn into permanent inaction – something that’s definitely not good for SMS outlook.

Finally, don’t be afraid to mention your brand name early and often. Familiarity is a big concern for today’s typical shopper, so ensuring that these members of your contact list always know the origin point of the message is a great way to assuage any issues on this front. When paired with the other info laid out by Karr, as well as your newfound understand of the crowded – yet manageable – nature of the modern SMS scene, there’s no reason why your brand can’t tap into the plethora of potential that’s still out there via powerful mobile marketing operations.

 

biggest_names

Email marketing is a big deal; any industry blog on the web will tell you this until your ears fall off. Additionally, there’s countless “tips and tricks” articles that do little more than write up instructions for email content that barely go beyond the basics – something that’s hardly must read material for brands like your own.

To help you look at this process from a different, more intriguing angle, let’s dig into some lessons garnered straight from the biggest names in the online retail world. With marketing budgets that seem to never end and bottom lines in the billions, it won’t take long to see why the tactics and methods employed by these businesses carry a lot more weight than the vague or abstract offerings which overrun other blog posts and industry articles.

Understanding Your Lead “Niche”

If you’re looking for an eCommerce giant to follow in the footsteps of when it comes to email marketing, the Young Entrepreneur Council – by way of Forbes magazine – points out that it’s hard to start the discussion anywhere but with Amazon. As one of the biggest names on the web, Amazon captures an outstanding amount of leads via an often overlooked inbox tactic – the purchase follow up.

Basically, instead of firing off generic email blasts that offer up bland content, Amazon looks at what the user on the other side of the screen purchased and offers up a few quick and simple suggestions. It might not seem like much, but checking in periodically and showing your customers that you understand what they’re interested in, as well as saying, “Hey, you might also like this!” goes a long way to keeping your brand relevant and connected with you repeat consumer audience. If it’s good enough for Amazon, a company that generates around $68 billion in sales a year according to Insider Monkey, this straightforward tactic should probably have a place in your approach as well.

Spring for the Extras

In addition to keeping in constant contact with your audience and suggesting related offerings, the team over at Forbes notes that Wayfair, a major online home retailer, approaches inbox outreach from a different, but equally effective angle. Instead of waiting for the consumer to make a purchase, Wayfair – a company that raked in over a billion dollars of digital revenue in 2014 – enlists a variety of deals and discounts as part of its email marketing operations.

From discount codes to coupons and buy-two-get-one-free style offerings, Wayfair constantly optimizes and evaluates the incentives offered to prospective customers. As long as you’re willing to engage in split testing and listen to other audience feedback as you try out different types of email marketing “extras,” there’s nothing stopping your brand from taking a page out of Wayfair’s book and building a strong relationship with these customers at the beginning of the outreach process.

Place a Priority on Consumer Knowledge

Perhaps the most important shared factor found in the approach of these multi-billion dollar brands comes in the form of list segmentation and awareness of consumer data. On this front, few organizations come close to the insight and level of detail implemented by outdoor clothing provider L.L. Bean.

As the Young Entrepreneur Council goes on to explain, L.L. Bean utilizes an outstanding amount of harvested consumer data to ensure that relevant ad content always ends up in the right inbox. For example, this brand understands that if you’re a woman in Alberta who just bought a pair of hiking boots, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll desire the same type of content and promotional offers as a guy who just purchased cargo shorts in Florida. Delving into the details might seem marginal at first glance, but from this perspective, it’s hard to argue against the notion that data and relevancy go hand-in-hand.

Don’t Be Afraid to Go All-in

So now that you’ve taken a peek into the workings of a few billion dollar digital brands, it’s time to revitalize and renew your investment in the email marketing process before it’s too late. From engaging offerings and relevant content to a deep understanding of the people that make up your audience, the blueprint is there if you’re willing to take a lesson from some of the best in the business. If you’re not willing to go all-in with your digital outreach and inbox operations, Ajay Agarwal of Tech Crunch points out that the rest of the Internet’s numerous retailers are ready and willing to literally dump billions of dollars into similar projects in order to leave you and the other brands who are still on the fence long behind.

 

whitehouse

For our friends in the south, the coming year is bound to be one full of exciting twists and turns within the political landscape. As the Oval Office takes on a vacancy and a variety of prominent figures aim for this coveted spot behind the presidential desk, there’s no doubt that TV spots, web ads, and radio pitches espousing the virtues of these candidates will soon be out in full force. But what about the seemingly underutilized potential found within the phones of targeted voters? To find out if politicians are ready to start texting their constituents, and if this rising trend could set the precedent for a global shift into politically-oriented mobile marketing, let’s find out once and for all if SMS really has a spot awaiting it in the White House in 2016.

Setting a Precedent with Ted Cruz

As far as the 2016 presidential election goes, Ted Cruz is a trendsetter on a few different fronts. First off, he’s the first politician to openly put his or her name up for consideration for this position – something that often comes with quite a bit of fanfare and risk. While this move itself is worthy of a few headlines on its own, the reason why we’re talking about this Republican senator from Texas is because his campaign has gone all-in on SMS marketing.

In her look at the announcement ceremony surrounding his presidential bid, Molly Brown of Geek Wire points out that while Cruz’s political party isn’t exactly known for breaking the mold in terms of technology and tactics, the usage of this mobile connection definitely puts the senator in exclusive company. Specifically, Brown likens the request for new contact list members at this social function to current American President Barack Obama’s then revolutionary utilization of social media outreach during the 2008 election season.

A Simple and Straightforward Approach

At first glance, simply asking for the people in attendance to take out their cell phones and text the word “Constitution” or “imagine” to the short code 33733 doesn’t sound all that advanced or groundbreaking in terms of SMS marketing tactics – and it really isn’t. What is groundbreaking is that Cruz could be the first modern politician to reliably garner the mobile phone numbers of prospective voters; something that’s becoming increasingly more in demand among civic leaders around the globe.

Adding on that those who participated in this initial push received a mobile-friendly link back to Cruz’s campaign site, which came with a request for donations and feedback, further enhanced the potential for a positive interaction with this audience. To put it simply, Cruz might have just set the gold standard among politicians in virtually any region when it comes to reaching out to voters and garnering vital audience data.

Untapped Potential

Of course, it’s completely understandable to question whether or not mobile marketing really matters all that much for politicians. After all, just because Cruz was willing to break new ground, that doesn’t mean this method is a surefire success in general for those who spearhead or work within political campaigns.

According to Michael Barris of Mobile Marketer, if you want to really answer this question, just ask the audience targeted by these aspiring leaders of tomorrow. In a study conducted by this news agency, Barris found that one in five respondents viewed texting as the best way to learn more about political campaigns, but only 10 percent had every actually had a politician take them up on this open offer. Basically, the modern voter likes the idea of connecting with candidates on the go, but the number of politicians willing to embark upon this route is surprisingly low.

Mapping out the Future Bond Between Politics and Mobile Marketing

Regardless of whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, or a member of the Liberal or Conservative parties here in Canada, the writing on the wall is clear – the next evolution of political outreach should take place on the mobile front. Naturally, the details aren’t set in stone, so a willingness to test and experiment is a must if you plan on maximizing the impact of these messages. However, for those who figure out the right frequency, content, incentive packages, and other details that comprise a stellar political text, the potential for growth and productivity via this channel is seemingly limitless. From local politicians to those seeking national offices, this kind of arrangement – and the reach among voters that comes with it – is hard to pass up in favor of less effective tactics and methods.

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