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valentine_email

When it comes to romance and getting a little closer to that special someone in your life, few holidays even come close to comparing to Valentine’s Day. However, did you know that Valentine’s Day also accounts for $13 billion in retail and online sales every year? For this reason, Douglas Karr of the Marketing Technology Blog and plenty of other industry experts point out that if you’re brand isn’t also trying to cozy up customers in the big lead up to this holiday, it’s time to switch up your approach. With this in mind, let’s dig into a few tips and tricks that are sure to get your campaign ready for Valentine’s Day.

Create Content for Everyone

First up is the realization that Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples. As Karr goes on to explain, over 60 percent of people plan to pick up holiday gifts for friends and family members as well. Adding in that 45 percent who also buy Valentine’s gifts for their pets, shows that there’s plenty of space for brands to build an email marketing campaign during this holiday, even if you’re not dealing in “romantic” products and services. Basically, as long as you have a great discount or offer to fire off – or even some informative or engaging content – there’s no reason not to connect with your contact list in the inbox when February 14th rolls around.

Timing Is Everything

As far as when you should send out your emails, The Huffington Post’s Gabriel Shaoolian points out that timing is everything, but it can be a little tricky. If you want to get the most out of your content, try and send out your emails a day or two before the big holiday. If you wait until Valentine’s Day itself, or you jump the gun and send out an email four or five days in advance, your brand will have a hard time maximizing the impact of this content. Additionally, offering up “last minute” delivery and purchase discounts can help impart a sense of urgency among your audience and help make timing an even bigger part of your campaign process.

Have a Little Fun with Templates and Designs

Outside of pinpointing the proper timing, Shaoolian also suggests that if you want to boost the return of your Valentine holiday marketing investment, don’t be afraid to get into the spirit of the season with festive templates and designs. From the traditional cherubs and hearts, to themed version of your branded images and logos, fixing up your inbox content with shades of pink, red, and white can really get your audience into the spirit of the season.

For those brands willing to go the extra mile, Valentine’s Day graphic content can also take on a decidedly interactive flair. Embedded games, animations, and personalized messages all fit this billing and ensure that your brand provides a unique and custom experience that sets your message apart from the rest of the fluff found in the inbox.

Pairing up with Other Brands

Valentine’s Day is all about enjoying relationships with others, so why not use this time to create unique deals with related products and service providers – or even “deal-of-the-day” outlets like Groupon? As Kay McFadden of Inc. magazine explains, this process not only helps connect your brand to the holiday if it’s not exactly oriented toward this seasonal event, but it can also set the stage for future advertising and promotional partnerships. The best part about this approach is that customers love value, so few things you can do are more effective at reaching this goal than giving these consumers combined options and increased discounts.

Share the Fun on Social Media

Finally, use this special time of the year to be a little more social with your audience. Building relationships with these shoppers from around your city, the country, and even the globe isn’t easy, but breaking the ice with a fun Valentine’s offer makes the process a little more palatable. Even if it’s something as simple as posting your email content for the week to Twitter, Facebook, or any other platform, showing that you’re willing to reach out on this special holiday is a great step forward in terms of brand awareness and social outreach.

Naturally, this is a lot to take in all at once, but with these tips guiding the way, there’s no doubt that you’ll be having a blast with everyone on your contact list and enjoying all that Valentine’s day has to offer in the inbox and beyond.

 

Right_for_Your_Brand

Automation is a touchy subject in many industries. On one hand, embracing the “set it and forget it” concept leads to the idea of more free time to pursue other goals and priorities. However, just as many brands and marketers see this process as one that could lead to poor content generation and flagging results. The reality of the situation – at least in terms of email marketing – is actually quite different than either of these outcomes. To help shed some light on just how automation works in the inbox, as well as whether or not it’s the right call for your next campaign, let’s spend a few minutes covering this method and just what it has to offer for your brand moving forward.

How Does Automating the Email Campaign Process Work?

The best place to start when it comes to deciding whether automation is right for your operations is by answering the single most important question for those who are new to the process – how exactly does automating an email marketing campaign work? As Stephen Fairley of The National Law Review explains, automation relies on three key steps.

First, the prospective viewer triggers your automated campaign by doing something related to your marketed content. Whether this is signing up for an account on your site and going all the way to the checkout, but not quite making the purchase, or applying for access to exclusive content, the need for interest still remains the same. After this happens, your previously generated content automatically fires off based on a predetermined pattern of email frequency and timing in order to help capture a conversion or connection that would otherwise fall through the cracks.

Is There Really a Reason to Add This Method?

If you’re already sending out a newsletter or other routine mailing content to a healthy contact list, you’re probably wondering if adding automated operations to whatever other outreach methods you currently conduct is really worth the effort. In his look at this particular debate, Douglas Karr of the Marketing Technology Blog points out that few things even come close to rivaling the power of automated email outreach when it comes to connecting with new browsers and consumers.

As far a raw benefits go, automated email operations have a 53 percent higher conversion rate on average when compared to the alternative of letting these leads slip away. Additionally, automation also helps boost sales quota achievement rates by a healthy 9.3 percent in most scenarios.

However, aside from simply giving a bump to your bottom line, automated email marketing helps capture a different segment of your audience that might not know about your weekly newsletter, or the monthly deals that only subscribers can redeem. By having a game plan in place for the casual visitor – specifically one that doesn’t require a unique response each time it triggers – you can develop your contact list even more, or start from scratch entirely if your brand is new to this type of outreach.

Ensuring You Get the Most out of Your Automated Messages

Now that you’re up to speed on how this process works, it’s time to dig into the particulars of what goes into a great automated system. According to Mathew Sweezey of ClickZ, it all starts with data. If this sounds like a recurring theme in the email marketing world, you’re not wrong. Without great data leading the way, it’s virtually impossible to know who to target, when to target these viewers, and what kind of email content piques their curiosity.

Once your data is in order, Sweezey goes on to point out that focusing on your end goal can help shape the rest of your operations. Are you looking to garner a renewal of service or entice a forlorn shopper with an exclusive deal that gets them back on site? What about simply building a rapport with these shoppers and bolstering your email newsletter content list? Regardless of why you’re utilizing automated email content, the big key here is having a goal in mind as you develop these triggered offerings.

Finally, don’t be afraid to use this outreach opportunity to promote and support the rest of your digital marketing operations. Email marketing will always be the centerpiece of your tactics – mainly because of the highly effective nature of the process – but giving a shout out to your social channels, blog, and any other related field can go a long way toward firing on all cylinders in terms of web-based outreach. With these best practices in hand, as well as better understanding of just how automated email marketing works, you can now make a smart and strong decision that puts your brand in a great place with the people that matter most.

 

Blizzardof2015

With over 50 million people feeling its frigid wrath, the #BlizzardOf2015, #Juno, and whatever other social media hashtag name you prefer was a major news story this past week – and that’s putting it mildly. However, the big story here isn’t the inclement winter weather – that’s nothing new here in the aptly named Great White North – but rather the effect this storm had on the world of email marketing. To take a look at just what was going on in the inbox while people across North America were snowed under, let’s dig into the particulars of a few of the more intriguing storylines that emerged from this wintry weather phenomenon.

Connecting Current Events with Your Brand

While most people probably aren’t looking forward to spending a few days bunkered down and waiting out a big storm, businesses in relevant industries saw this snowfall as the perfect opportunity to help position themselves as both current and relevant in the inbox. For instance, Sara Castellanos of the Boston Business Journal points out that the fashionable What to Wear email list saw a major jump in sign-ups during the storm.

Essentially, What to Wear offers apparel recommendations based on the subscriber’s location and forecast, so boosting outreach and capitalizing on the fervor surrounding the impending blizzard was the equivalent of an email marketing lay-up. Even if you’re not in a weather related field, the point here is still clear; being part of the discussion surrounding current events is a great way to stay in the limelight and connected with your targeted audience.

Monopolizing the Moment

Much like prepping for an upcoming event, making the most out of the moment in real-time can also lead to success. As Business 2 Community’s Katherine Boyarksy explains, there’s plenty to be gained by literally seizing the moment. Sure, firing off an email that’s not part of your scheduled run does add a bit of a time crunch on your end, but going above and beyond in this fashion speaks to your inbox customers in a major way.

From offering up free white papers and eBooks to read while being snowed in, to a flash sale on high heels to help pass the time, Boyarsky notes that quite a few players in their respective industries reaped the rewards that come with taking advantage of the moment. If you want to follow in the footsteps of these innovators, try to keep a keen eye on the latest headlines and constantly ask yourself, “would talking about this make a good email?”

Often the answer will be no, but for those special times when you find the right story, you’ll be ready to take charge with a strong content plan that’s sure to dazzle your customers in terms of timeliness and engagement.

Putting Segmentation to Good Use

Of course, all of this goes right out the window if you commit an inbox faux pas and email irrelevant content to a portion of your contact list. For this reason, the discussion inevitably turns back to data – particularly geographically relevant information. Many current events are localized, so ensuring that you don’t inundate your loyal constituency with content that’s meant for people on the other side of the country is not only recommended, it’s vital to the health of your email marketing operations. If you can’t stay on top of this part of the process, don’t be surprised when the feedback regarding your latest message makes your brand feel like it’s snowed under by a heavy downfall of negativity and ill will.

Having a Little Fun with the Social Craze

Finally, the last lesson learned from the #BlizzardOf2015, coming again from Boyarsky’s look into the subject, takes a look at the lighter side of this massive weather event – having a little fun on social media. By now it’s no secret that email marketing and social media go hand-in-hand, so why not boost the visibility of your contact list via some fun and engaging social outreach?

In the midst of this snowy downfall, Boyarsky notes that a wide variety of fun hashtags and posts made the most of this otherwise dreary situation. From one fashion companies clever play on words, “Juno what to do,” to posting relevant info in the #snomageddon2015 stream of tweets, the examples of smart social interplay between brands and consumers are both plenty – and entertaining.

So now that you’ve learned a little more about the email marketing craze surrounding the #BlizzardOf2015, it’s time to prepare your brand for the next major chance to score a current event victory with your audience. Whether it’s tomorrow or a month from now, you’ll be happy you were ready and willing to maximize this special time in the inbox and on social media.

 

Reached_a_Plateau

Email marketing is big business – there’s no arguing this point. However, just because the power of connecting with customers in the inbox is common knowledge, that doesn’t mean questions regarding the current state of this tactic aren’t still popping up from time to time on the web. After all, it’s not like email marketing is a spring chicken in the digital marketing world these days.

However, has email marketing reached a plateau in terms of innovation? If not, what’s the next step? Will these potential changes affect my brand? While these questions definitely lead to a tough discussion, that doesn’t mean we can’t work through the clutter and find the answers your company needs to keep pressing the advantage with refined and engaging inbox content.

Breaking down the Argument

As Jordie van Rijn of MediaPost’s Email Insider Europe blog explains, there’s definitely a case for stating that email marketing has reached a plateau – at least on the productivity front. Essentially, this statement comes from the fact that any digitally connected brand understands that funneling resources into this process can yield significant results.

While the power of email marketing is definitely not in question, the discussion naturally turns to whether or not there’s any room left for growth or development in terms of effectiveness and productivity. The answer to this question rests solely on what design spaces and new methods brands are willing to explore in order to find untapped potential and growth.

Making a Case for Innovation

In his look at recent innovations and growth, iMedia Connection’s Christopher Marriott notes that brands on the cutting edge are definitely willing to go the extra mile in terms of testing uncharted inbox territory. From clever abandoned cart messages that aim to capture unclaimed conversions via head-turning graphics, to feedback requests that play on the basic human desire of wanting to feel important and included within a select group, there’s no denying that organizations around the world and across a variety of markets have pushed the boundaries on both the conceptual and graphical levels.

What’s Next?

So now that we know innovation is part of email marketing’s recent history, it’s time to decide whether there’s still room to grow moving forward. According to Bola Awoniyi of Econsultancy, the next five years could see quite a few innovations. Naturally, there’s not nearly as much room for growth and change as there was in the days of email marketing’s infancy, but that doesn’t mean the industry is completely stale.

At the top of Awoniyi’s list is the concept of the completely personalized email. Obviously, personalization is already a hot topic, but surprisingly it’s not completely accepted in all circles. Considering the power that comes with speaking directly to the consumer, it makes sense that this stands as one of the next big changes to the status quo.

Additionally, there’s also the chance that innovation related to marketed messaging doesn’t happen in the inbox at all, but in related fields that support this tactic indirectly. The idea of “going wide” with email marketing and promoting across multiple channels has already gained some traction, but how far are brands willing to take it? Could the hallowed ground of traditional TV spots even become a place to spread the word about mailing lists? It might seem outlandish now, but if inbox initiatives continue to rise in prominence, don’t be surprised if this dream becomes a reality in the near future.

Getting Your Brand Ready for the Future

There’s no doubt that this is a lot to consume in one sitting, but it’s still a topic that matters a great deal to your brand. Email marketing isn’t about yesterday’s best practices, but rather taking advantage of the potential of tomorrow before your competition beats you to the punch.

The best way to prepare for these opportunities? Ensure that there’s no cracks in the foundation of your campaign. As Seamus Egan of Entrepreneur magazine explains, if you want to score big with email content, start by working your way from the ground up. Making good use of winning subject lines, relevant content based on consumer data, and smart timing and email frequency all position you to stand as an early adopter if – and when – the next big thing pops up.

Considering how important it is to be a step ahead, enacting this strategy, in addition to keeping everything else you’ve learned here in mind, should stand as a priority during any upcoming campaigns that connect your brand to the valued customer on the other side of the screen.

 

As with every year, Super Bowl XLIX was half about the actual game and half about the commercials. Well, actually, this year we’ll have to carve out 5% for talk about deflated balls.

While the game itself was epic and probably among the best in recent memory, we also saw marketers bust out some great creativity and big budgets for their moment in the spot light.

Here at Elite Email we were going to run a Super Bowl ad but due to an error in an Excel spreadsheet, we forgot to budget the $4,000,000 required to do so! =)

But, just because we didn’t have an ad doesn’t mean we shouldn’t showcase all the others because the big game is truly where you see some of the best marketing material.

As we do every year, here is the round up of Super Bowl 2015 commercials.

Personally, I think some were great and some really fell short, but you can be the judge for yourself!

Happy watching!

BMW i3: Newfangled Idea

This one was probably my favorite!

Doritos: When Pigs Fly

Doritos: Middle Seat

Bud Light: Coin – The Pac Man Super Bowl Spot

Wix.com: #ItsThatEasy

Mercedes: Fable – The Tortoise and the Hare

Loctite Glue: Positive Feelings

Jeep: Beautiful Lands

Skittles – Settle It

Budweiser: Brewed the Hard Way

Snickers: The Brady Bunch

Mophie: All-Powerless

Sprint: Sprint’s Super Apology

Kia: The Perfect Getaway

T-Mobile: Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman

Microsoft: Estella’s Brilliant Bus

Carl’s Jr.: Au Naturel

Always: #LIKEAGIRL

Disney: Tomorrowland

Dodge: Dodge Wisdom

Pitch Perfect 2: 2015 Super Bowl Commercial

Toyota Camry: My Bold Dad

Microsoft: Braylon O-Neill

GoDaddy: Working

Fast and Furious: Furious 7

Fiat 500X: Blue Pill

McDonald’s: Pay with Lovin’

Nissan: With Dad

Avocados from Mexico: #FirstDraftEver

Weight Watchers: All You Can Eat!

Dove Men + Care: #RealStrength

GrubHub: Because Burrito

NO MORE

Coca-Cola: #MakeItHappy

Terminator – Genysis

Budweiser: Lost Dog – the Bud Puppy

Carnival Cruise: 2015

Lexus: Make Some Noise

T-Mobile: #KimsDataStash

Victoria’s Secret

 

Super Bowl 2015 Commercials

 

 

 

Five_Fast_Tips

There’s nothing worse than feeling strained for time with a million things left to do on your agenda and a rapidly dwindling work week. Unfortunately, just because you’re in a rush, that doesn’t mean all of these obligations will wait patiently in line while you sort things out one by one. To help free up some of your time, and keep your brand on track for success in the inbox, here’s five fast tips that can give your marketed messages a much needed boost. These simple strategies won’t completely overhaul a flagging or failing campaign, but if you’re just looking to spruce up your emails until you have time to really dig into a redesigned approach, these tips should be more than capable of bridging the gap.

Slip in a Promo Video

To start things off, what better way is there to breathe new life into stale or boring email content than with a great promotional video? As Chad Brooks of Business News Daily explains, this simple addition to your standard email offerings can boost your return on investment (ROI) by up to 40 percent, and help click-through rates spike by as much as three times your average volume. This approach might sound like a lot of work, but if you already have previously used video content lying around, or a dedicated brand YouTube page up and running, repurposing these digital assets becomes a significantly less time consuming affair.

Send More of Your Best Messages

One of the most overlooked tools at a brand or marketer’s disposal are the analytics that come with these forays into the inbox. Essentially, you will often have a virtual plethora of data on hand, so put this info to work and find out what’s causing the best reaction from the people on the other side of the screen. Once you’ve honed in on the best options in your arsenal, whether via open rates, redemption numbers, or any other indicator, simply shift your focus to these messages in the form of increased outreach. It’s not a surefire way of getting the most bang for your buck – especially considering the volatile nature of certain audiences – but it’s hard to argue with the logic that comes from leaning on your most productive offerings.

If You’re Not Being Social, Start Now!

Additionally, Brooks points out that there’s absolutely no reason to not include social media buttons within your email content. Alongside email marketing, social media is one of the most powerful mediums when dealing in audience outreach, so combining the two can be a major victory for your brand. The best part? It only takes a few minutes to include the like, share, tweet, and favorite buttons into your message template. Once you have these additions in order, you can watch your optimized content go viral in front of an entirely new audience.

Streamline Your Digital Process

For those brands looking to handle two problems with one solution, Kivi Leroux Miller of the Nonprofit Marketing Guide research site suggests fixing up the consumer path to checkout for when you actually get these inbox viewers on site. Not only will this help boost conversion rates from the shoppers that originate via your email marketing operations, this approach also helps you improve your odds with the consumers that wonder in from other places around the web. As far as optimizing your time expenditure goes, this overarching tactic can definitely help you on a variety of fronts.

Get Your First Impression Right

Finally, if there’s one portion of the email marketing process you give a few minutes of your time to, Miller explains that it has to be what your audience sees above the fold. Whether it’s your “From” address or the subject line of your marketed message, the few characters that make up these selections go a long way toward getting an open as the reader quickly glances over each new inbox entry.

To succeed in these two areas, make sure the “From” byline clearly identifies your brand or other associated persona, as this builds familiarity with your viewership. On the topic of subject lines, being straightforward, catchy, and informative is the best way to snag a view and boost your email marketing results without a ton of work. If you can incorporate these ideas, as well as the rest of what you’ve learned, then you’ll be well on your way to generating some serious buzz with your emails, even if you don’t have all the time in the world to dedicate to improving this branch of your marketing operations.

 

Texting_and_Customer_Service

When you think of great customer service, chances are some blend of interpersonal conversation, intimate knowledge of the product or service in question, and a willingness to go above and beyond for the consumer help establish an acceptable ideal for this process. While there’s definitely merit to championing all of these points, it’s also important to understand that with every modern advancement via mobile technology, the consumer experience is moving farther and farther away from just what happens within the doors of your brick-and-mortar shop. With this in mind, let’s talk about how adding in a few customer service features to your SMS marketing operations could give you a crucial advantage over the competition that’s still stuck focusing on the best practices of the past.

The Particulars of SMS Messaging as a Consumer Service

If you’re familiar with how SMS marketing works, chances are you’re probably wondering just how this medium actually helps enhance the service offered to your customers. Sure, you’re already offering deals, discounts, and vital product information via text, but what else can you really do to make this connection even better?

According to Michael Essany of Mobile Marketing Watch, it’s all about answering the questions and inquiries that matter most to these shoppers. Whether it’s offering account balances and notifications via text, or firing off sales confirmations and fraud warnings, utilizing texts to handle any problems that would require the helping hand of a customer service professional is the key to deploying this SMS “trump card” on behalf of your brand.

Supporting This Shift

Obviously, all of this sounds nice, but is making this move really what your customers want? If the information offered up by T.J. McCue of Small Business Trends is any indicator, the answer to this question is an emphatic yes. Essentially, there’s nothing your customers would rather be doing than texting – especially when compared to more traditional methods of reaching out to brands and organizations. Considering that text messages have a 98 percent read rate, in addition to the fact that consumers read most of these texts within 15 minutes, it’s safe to say that there’s plenty of extraordinary data to back up such an extraordinary claim.

Making This Move Your Own

Logically, now that we’ve set up the reasons why customer service deserves a complimentary role beside your standard SMS marketing tactics, it’s time that we tell you how to implement this system. Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” method or process that translates to every brand. With each audience you add into the mix, as well as an ever increasing number of products and services with their own problems and concerns, the formula for success becomes even more muddled and convoluted.

However, that doesn’t mean you’re completely in the dark when it comes to establishing a customer service texting system that goes hand in hand with your brand’s other text operations. As Kern Lewis of Forbes magazine explains, your best bet to adding text messages to your customer service repertoire and giving these shoppers what they want is by starting with the big picture, specifically in terms of service, and working your way up from there. By doing this, you can build peace of mind and spread quality service among the loyal shoppers that rely upon your brand.

For instance, as you delve into the consumer data surrounding your audience, think about what problems and issues face these individuals on a daily basis, as well as how you could eliminate these concerns with a simple text. Even if you have to get a little conceptual with your thinking by putting yourself in their shoes from time to time during the development of this system, you’ll still find that all of this hard work is well worth your time and effort.

Going Above and Beyond for Your Customers

Of course, this is simply the beginning of the steps that go into integrating customer service into your text operations. As great of a start as this discussion has been in terms of getting you acclimated to this new take on two formerly disconnected services, if you want to stay one step ahead of the competition on this front, you simply can’t stop here. Whether it’s increasing your marketing efforts and spreading the word about this new take on customer service within your target demographics, or testing out new features and offerings from time to time, avoiding the temptation to rest on your laurels is the key to sustained success on both the SMS and customer service fronts.

 

NFL_Teach

For our friends down south, and the NFL fans here in Canada, it’s almost time for the big finale to one of the most exciting seasons of professional football. Like any other Super Bowl, this year’s version is rife with storylines. Can Tom Brady and Bill Belichick claim a fourth title amid the “deflate-gate” allegations? Will Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks repeat? Why is the NFL so good at email marketing?

That last question might seem a little bit out of place at first glance, but the truth of the matter is that few organizations pull off inbox initiatives quite like the NFL. To prove this point, and help dig into some lessons your own brand can apply to its marketed messages moving forward, let’s discuss the finer points of just how this $45 billion organization keeps the hits coming via email.

A History of Content

Before going any farther, it’s important to understand that the NFL’s marketing prowess – across any format – isn’t some recent development. In fact, As Paul Camarata of the NFL Films blog explains, this sporting association has given the fans exactly what they wanted since 1962. Of course, back then the focus was on documenting the emergence of this eventual global phenomenon with a branded film studio, as well as keeping loyal followers abreast of games in other television markets and regions. Regardless of the reasons why, the point is that the NFL has never been shy about adopting the most powerful communication mediums and leveraging these tools in an effort to constantly connect with the fans.

Making the Shift to the Modern World

Naturally, the focus of these marketing operations has shifted quite a bit over the years. While NFL Films and the documentary style approach still holds a firm place in the NFL’s pantheon of marketing methods and programs, Steve Dille of Marketing Land points out that nothing compares to the fan engagement generated by this sports league’s email marketing approach. Considering the sometimes stubborn stance of the league to reassess rules, regulations, and the advent of technology into the game itself, this willingness to adopt the power of email marketing might come as a surprise to some. However, don’t be fooled; at the heart of this success is a willingness to bridge the gap with fans and bring the content they want to them in a hip and modern setting.

Best Practices of the Pros

We’ve spent quite some time telling you how great the NFL is at email marketing, but what exactly is this organization doing that works so well? As Dille goes on to explain, it’s about reaching the fans – all of them. The NFL has a sizeable audience, but it takes great pains to segment, catalog, and sort these individuals into meaningful groups and demographics. Naturally, having 32 distinct teams to help divide up this ravenous fan base into defined segments does give the organization a bit of a head start, but this attention to detail still goes above and beyond the bare minimum by a significant degree.

In terms of actual email content, the NFL’s newsletter is second to none. In fact, Marketing Sherpa named this facet of the campaign as one of the leading reasons it bestowed its top email marketing program award upon the NFL in 2013. From the perspective of a brand that’s trying to follow in the NFL’s footsteps, the best part is possibly the fact that this organization utilized an on-site sign-up survey to not only track new contact list members, but also learn more about these email patrons via a quick sign-up survey.

Scoring Big with Your Audience

Obviously the NFL has a massive marketing budget that few brands can match, but Dille wraps up his look into the subject by pointing out that this league’s most recent success – including an impressive 121 percent increase in email opens over last year’s total – comes from just a few key traits.

First off, great content is a must. Even if you’re not looking to fire off an award-winning newsletter, put some thought into your content. If you wouldn’t bother to sit down and read it, why should your audience? From here, getting on board with the latest trends, including the constantly growing mobile craze, can help you stay ahead of the game and stand as a trendsetter like the NFL. Finally, if you’re able to integrate services in a cross-channel manner – like this organization did with its sign-up survey – don’t be afraid to double dip and learn even more about your audience. Once you have this info in hand, as well as the rest of what you’ve learned from the NFL’s playbook, you’ll be ready to march down the field and score a game winning drive for your email marketing campaign in no time.

 

Does_Size_Matter_Email_Marketing

In terms of email marketing, few things are worse than watching your message end up in the spam folder or bounce back. Unfortunately, sometimes the cause of this isn’t related to a potentially damaged reputation or obtrusive marketing tactics. Instead, it’s something far more manageable and mundane – the size of your content. In fact, ClickZ’s Jeanne Jennings reports that up to 19 percent of emails succumb to deliverability issues during an average campaign.

To avoid this simple, yet debilitating, faux pas, let’s talk a little bit about the relationship between email size and deliverability, as well as what your brand needs to do keep things in order and on target in the inbox. This way, you’ll never have to experience the frustration of an email that either can’t be delivered or rendered on screen by your valued viewership.

Learning When Size Affects Deliverability

Before going any farther, let’s cover the instances that size can – and will – affect the deliverability of your messages. The obvious place to start is with the maximum space offered per message by email service providers. This data limit can vary from platform to platform, but each provider lists the maximum email size online. For instance, Gmail, AOL, and Yahoo stop delivering messages at 25 MB, while smaller services, like Zoho Mail, limit each email to 12 MB. It might seem like a ton of data as you sit at your desk and read this blog, but the reality of the situation is that hitting these limits can be a problem, and it can happen quicker than you think thanks to the rise of image-laden messages.

However, simply staying under these limits is not enough. Some spam filters trigger based on size (capturing messages that stray even over small limits like 100 KB), template rendering, and the file type of attachments – in addition to actual content – so developing messages that work within these confines also comes at a premium for brands that are serious about making an impact in the inbox.

The Other Piece of the Equation

So now that you know just how much size matters, it’s time to chop up your current content and ship it out in a new trimmed and minimalist form, right? Not exactly. As Graham Charlton of Econsultancy explains, failing to give the content in your messages its due, or slipping too far away from this content due to size concerns, can also hinder deliverability. Essentially, when it comes to keeping deliverability rates high, you’re walking a tightrope, balancing size constraints in one hand and the need for desirable and engaging content and imagery in the other. Leaning too far either way is sure to spell disaster for your campaign.

Finding Balance with Your Content

At this point, you’re probably digesting this information and wondering just what it takes to get the best of both worlds in terms of size and content. While there’s definitely some hard work ahead of you, it’s far from an unmanageable task. To start, Christina Galbornetti of Target Marketing magazine suggests aiming for a template that measures between 450 to 500 pixels in width to help keep size concerns to a minimum if you want to target both desktop and mobile viewers. If you’re willing to incorporate two different templates – which is recommended as part of your audience segmentation – consider having one template designed for desktop viewers that sits at the slightly higher end of this spectrum and one on the lower side for mobile viewers.

When it comes to images, Galbornetti goes on to point out that adding these data intensive object for no better reason than to create a flashy message is a bad idea. There’s nothing wrong with imagery in emails, just don’t go overboard. For those graphics you do use, try to limit each image to a size of 20 KB or less. This way, you can avoid the harsh penalty imposed by certain spam filters.

Finally, the Content Marketing Institute’s Jenny DeGraff makes a strong point regarding the role of layouts and calls-to-action (CTAs) in the size debate. Basically, if you can stick to a single column approach, especially on the mobile front, as well as keep your CTAs in an easily visible spot at the top of the message, you’ll put your brand in a good position to blend these two opposing concerns and keep the most important content held within in the limelight while still being cognizant of size concerns. From here, all that’s left to do is watch your deliverability rates go up as the competition still struggles with oversized emails and spam filter problems.

 

5_Quick_Tips_Google+

Social media and email marketing go together like peanut butter and jelly, Bonnie and Clyde, two peas in a pod, and virtually any other simile or metaphor you can come up with off the top of your head that relates to great pairs. It’s well-documented and far from earthshattering in terms of news potential, but there’s no way to skirt around the facts. However, what is a little surprising is the fact that Google’s favorite social project does fly under the radar a bit in terms of exposure – at least when compared to the amount of attention given to Twitter and Facebook. To help give your brand a competitive advantage over other organizations that are still fighting for dwindling share and reach on these other networks, let’s take a look at five quick tips that can help you become a big name on Google+.

Get Familiar with Gmail/Google+ Messages

One of the biggest things going for Google+ is the extended reach it offers for active members of the community. As Danny Sullivan of Marketing Land explains, Google+ users, including your brand, can send messages to anyone else on the network. While this message does show up in the social tab of the new Gmail interface, it provides an extra avenue for communication with individuals who might not be aware of your email offers and discounts. Adding that it helps promote your brand’s standing on this ever-growing network doesn’t hurt either.

Make the Most of the People Widget

After you start building up a list of followers on Google+, you’ll find that your posts start popping up in the people widget section of the Gmail interface. As Frederic Lardinois of TechCrunch points out, highlighting recent posts and comments in this portion of the inbox serves as additional marketing real estate for your brand. Essentially, if you plan out your social media content with this concept in mind, you can create a deeper and lasting bond with your contact list that blends Google+ posts and the deals and discounts held within your current email content seamlessly.

Keep an Eye on Influencers

Of course, sometimes people don’t want to experience a deluge of marketing offers when they open up their inbox in the morning. With this in mind, Forbes magazine’s Kate Harrison suggests keeping an eye on influencers and developing content and social outreach that leans heavily on these major industry voices.

The end game for this method is two-fold. First, simply watching for relevant or interesting posts and links from these individuals on Google+ helps improve the quality of your email content. Additionally, if you can leverage your emerging position on this network into a relationship with these influencers, then mentions, recommendations, and exclusive content that your competitors can only dream of could stand as a well-earned reward for your hard work.

Understand and Utilize Google+ Analytics

Harrison goes on to note that for brands looking at any form of online outreach, from email to social and other digital strategies, the audience analytics offered by this social network are second to none. For instance, the “post ripple” feature tracks virtually every facet of a given submission to the platform. From distribution channels to top influencer interaction and sharing velocity, taking note of how users interact with this content can help shape and mold your email message moving forward.

Think of it as an alternate form of A/B testing. If something ignites your social circles on Google+, chances are it has a home in your next marketed message. Similarly, if you have a recent offer in the inbox that is doing well, there’s no reason not to double up and hit your social audience for even more conversions and brand awareness.

Optimize Your Profile

Finally, it’s no big secret that Google is the biggest name in the search engine business, so it makes sense to optimize your profile and rank higher on relevant result pages. Filling out all relevant entries, keeping your profile content up to date, and using accurate imagery all help kick this process into high gear. If you want to go to the next level, Cindy King of Social Media Examiner recommends using your profile to claim authorship for any original works generated on behalf of your brand.

Even if it’s just a simple industry white paper or report, connecting your social presence to these high value pieces of content can help increase the reach of your online persona. This, in turn, should help funnel even more interested consumers into your contact list, which means all the world for brands that are serious about taking the inbox by storm.

© 2013 Elite Email Inc. Blog Admin