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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 Palms Resort and Casino switched up the status quo for text message campaigns by offering a once in a lifetime experience to contact list members.

While the saying “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” might be true for some things, when it comes to Palms Resort and Casino’s take on mobile marketing, the opposite couldn’t be more true. With a creative offer and a new take on what constitutes a great text message, this leading resort and casino situated in the heart of Las Vegas, right around the corner from the city’s famous “Strip,” is the perfect example of how going big when connecting with your customers can really pay off. To learn more about how Palms hit the mobile marketing jackpot, let’s take a deeper look at all of the pieces of this winning formula.

A Different Take on Text Interactions

At this point, you’re probably wondering what makes this case study so special. After all, if you’re new to getting in touch with customers on the go, chances are you’re only familiar with the basic concept of offering great deals in a simple, easy to understand text format. While there’s nothing wrong with this line of thought, Palms Resort and Casino found out rather quickly that it’s not the only way to really make a splash with viewers via text message.

Instead of sending out messages that included coupons or discounts, this casino and resort decided to swing for the fences with a mobile marketing sweepstakes. For users that agreed to add their phone number to the contact list, a chance at winning a free one-night stay, as well as dinner for two at the hotel, was the big draw. Considering that most shoppers are happy with simple deals that save them a few bucks on their next purchase, offering this kind of value as part of a text campaign proved that Palms was definitely willing to go big to generate some buzz for its brand.

Breaking down the Campaign Particulars

As part of the campaign, interested audience members did have to follow a few particular rules. First off, signs within the resort, as well as ads on TV and the web, instructed viewers to text “PALMS” to 74642 for more information. From here, the customers received confirmation of their entry into the sweepstakes, as well as a request for permission to continue receiving offers from the hotel and casino. After reading that, you’re probably thinking that most of the people who signed up simply skipped out of the contact list agreement after entering the sweepstakes. While some did follow this route, the results garnered by Palms once the dust settled just might surprise you.

Big Results for a Big Giveaway

The final tally for this mobile campaign gave the guys in charge of Palms’ marketing initiatives plenty to smile about. Once the sweepstakes ran its course and the hotel provided the prize package to one lucky winner, over 60 percent of the content participants had stayed on as mobile subscribers. At first glance, that might not seem like much, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the mobile sweepstakes process. However, the average sweepstakes contest only holds a 37 percent retention rate, emphasizing the fact that Palms Resort and Casino hit the big time with a well-planned and executed campaign.

What Your Business Needs to Know to Hit the Mobile Marketing Jackpot

So what can your business do to follow in this casino and resort’s footsteps as it works toward a great mobile marketing campaign? To start, if you want big results, you’re going to have to go big with the prizes or offers. Once you have an established contact list, keeping this audience interested with small deals and coupons is one thing, but getting their attention in the first place requires something especially exceptional or worthwhile. Additionally, keeping things simple in the sign-up process goes a long way as well. This isn’t trying to say something negative about your targeted consumers; it’s just that most people prefer offers and opportunities that are easy to follow and complete during the course of a busy or hectic day. If you can hone in on these two key principles during your text campaign, you’ll be well on your way to hitting the mobile marketing jackpot, just like Palms Resort and Casino.

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While it might be a touchy subject for some, the truth is that staying completely engaged and excited when operating an email marketing campaign can be a tall order. Combining the grinding nature of coming up with new content that piques consumer interest with the hurdles that come from finding balance between your web page content and marketed emails is enough to wear anyone down. With that in mind, if you feel like your messages and overall marketing approach could use a little pick-me-up, here are five simple ways to find new inspiration as you continue to offer great content to your audience members.

Stay In Touch with Industry Oriented LinkedIn Groups

First up on the list is industry groups found on LinkedIn. While this option focuses a little more on brands that deal with B2B marketing practices, with a little digging and some time spent sifting through the plethora of LinkedIn groups, this practice can help any email campaign find new options for upcoming inbox offerings. What makes this concept so powerful is that point of these groups is to promote discussion on hot-button topics that relate to your audience. After brushing up on the latest conversations happening in these groups, you can summarize the content or incorporate snippets into your emails, adding recognizable or reputable voices to your high quality content that really resonate with your readers.

Look to Support Forums for Hot Topics

Similarly, if your offerings and services aim to assist or improve a daily task or related item, checking out support forums related to the original product is a great way to figure out what the customer wants or needs in top tier email content. By browsing these forum pages, you’ll learn more about the latest issues your customers are dealing with, creating easy ideas for blog posts or any other offerings you promote via marketed messages. Sure, some of the language might be a little salty if the problem is especially frustrating, but there are few places better than support forums to find out what really interests your email audience.

Check In on Pinterest for New Design Ideas

Much like LinkedIn, Pinterest is one of the social networks that get lost in the shadows of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. However, if your brand isn’t keeping up with all the latest talk and pins on this image-based network, you could be missing out on some serious inspiration for new message content. Whether it’s browsing some of the most popular email marketing boards on Pinterest, or getting a little more specific by following the site’s most popular users that pin relevant content, this network has ample opportunities for providing direction if you need some new ideas. Even if it’s just seeing a new font you like for your blog or email headers, spending a little time browsing isn’t only fun, it’s also a great way to look at the marketing process from a variety of different angles.

Follow Along with Breaking Industry News

Of course, the biggest pitfall surrounding marketing of any kind is simply defaulting to the generic, and tired, content offerings that flood the web. For most brands, it’s clearly easier to write up boring email messages, blog articles, or social media posts that list “duh” knowledge at nauseam. Unfortunately, following this path of least resistance isn’t the best way to knock the socks off of your readers in the inbox or on your website. If you really want to generate content that supports your deals or simply gets your readers to come check out more on your blog, keeping up with the latest news in your industry is a must. Not only will this enhance your perspective for other aspects of your business, it also provides added insight and a well-researched background that helps you pack a little extra punch when you’re trying to make a point in your marketed messages.

Create Promotions That Focus on Blog Interaction

The final way to find new inspiration for your email marketing content is to just listen to your readers. While this might seem like common sense to take your cues straight from the source of your web traffic, actually getting in touch with these viewers is generally easier said than done. To help you revitalize your blog comment section and get the discussion rolling with your audience, consider creating an email promotion that rewards users that interact on your site; it’s no surprise that most web viewers love freebies and giveaways. This way, your brand not only generates some extra traffic and keeps customers excited, but it can also lay the foundation for future content ideas by watching the discussion evolve around what your audience finds most important.

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After reading that headline, you’re probably doing a double take. With virtually every blog and Twitter talking head espousing the benefits of getting personal with your text contact list, it might not make a lot of sense. However, there’s definitely a line that’s just waiting to be crossed by unsuspecting brands that don’t know when to put the brakes on the personalization tactics. To help you navigate the tricky landscape surrounding SMS marketing and personalization, let’s take a moment to look at what constitutes going too far in terms of personalization and what you can do to make sure your audience is never turned off when they see your company name in their inboxes.

A Prime Example of Going Too Far

Recently, the organizers over at Manchester’s Parklife in the United Kingdom found out that sometimes trying to make a mark with text messages can backfire in a big way. As part of its awareness campaign for parties starting up after the main Parklife event, the organization shot off a text message from “Mum” reminding the reader to be home for breakfast after the festivities. While this sounds like a cute and creative way of promoting these parties at first glance, some of the sadder parts of real-life quickly turned the campaign sour.

Unfortunately, plenty of the partygoers reacted negatively to the messages based on the fact that losing loved ones – particularly mothers in this case – is simply part of life. For those who no longer have their mothers in their lives, this message turned into a jarring and painful reminder of what they had lost. In some cases, receiving a text from “Mum” literally brought members of the contact list to tears. For those of us that have lost mothers too soon, it’s easy to understand the raw, emotional nature of this reaction.

Understanding the Thought Process

Obviously, this is not where you want to be with your messages moving forward. However, it’s hard to blame the Parklife organizers completely. On paper, it seemed like a smart tactic for breaking the monotony that comes with using a random string of numbers to spearhead your inbox offerings. However, that doesn’t change the fact that this faux pas put a huge damper on the event, leading to a wave of backlash on Twitter and Facebook, as well as culminating in an official apology from the organization. While time will eventually help soothe the wounds caused by this mental misstep, having this shadow hover over your brand, regardless of the intentions behind the process, is not something your brand can afford.

Finding Balance with Smart SMS Tactics

So does this mean you should say goodbye to personalized text messages and go back to the boring, generic staples that flood the rest of your audiences’ inboxes? Absolutely not. If you really want to make a positive impact on your consumers with these SMS offerings, you’ll need to learn to walk the tightrope between personalization overkill and an amount that’s just right. Thankfully, a few key tactics can steer your brand in the right direction while still maintaining a level of familiarity that cuts away unwanted brand anonymity.

First up is finding a replacement for “Mum” and other identifiers that are far too personal. While it might seem a little obvious, going with your company name is the easiest way to build familiarity and make things simple for your audience. This helps break down the barrier of anonymous texting, all while avoiding overstepping certain boundaries. Additionally, cutting out the text slang and abbreviations can also work wonders. In its place, focus on wording that makes your reader feel special, like “exclusive” or “limited.” Letting them know that you’re looking to reward them personally for signing up, while still maintaining a professional tone, is a powerful combo for SMS marketing campaigns.

Protecting Your Brand Now and Into the future

After reading through all of this, it’s clear that protecting your brand via SMS, while still firing off great content, requires a little thought and effort. However, a well-planned and properly personalized campaign can provide a massive boost to your brand in the short and long-term, ensuring that your hard work is well worth the effort. The key point to take away when it comes to SMS messaging, emails, and any other form of contact with your customers is that one of the most powerful things you can do is to simply step back and look at your content from as many perspectives as possible. This way, you can cut down on the risk of accidentally alienating your audience with a message that looked like a winner on the drawing board, but turned into a catastrophe in practice.

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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 our friends at Pizza Hut in the United Kingdom took SMS marketing to amazing technical heights with a creative campaign.

While it might seem like a crazy case of SMS déjà vu considering we’ve already covered Papa John’s campaign in England, this week’s case study takes us back across the pond to see how Pizza Hut used the mobile phone inbox to pump up sales in a big way. Naturally, you’re probably thinking that the overlap between these two studies should be pretty significant considering that both are about the connection between SMS strategies and delicious pizza, fresh out of the oven. However, if you take a few moments to read on, you’ll soon see that these two approaches to great text messages come from opposite ends of the spectrum, creating a unique take on what really gets an audience into their local pizza outlets.

Understanding the Goal

While the goal of any SMS campaign is to build up interest and excitement with customers on the go, Pizza Hut was also looking to draw some hard comparisons between texting with customers and more traditional methods of advertising – namely online and TV ad space acquisitions. At first glance, it might seem like there’s no comparison between these options considering the power behind the Internet and how much brands spend on television spots that reach millions of viewers. However, Pizza Hut decided to stick with the campaign and let the stats speak for themselves once the 15-month trial period came to a close.

Adding in the Geofence Concept

Of course, no great SMS case study hinges on just talking about the battle between text messaging and other marketing outlets. As part of a hi-tech approach to connecting with customers, Pizza Hut decided to set up a “geofence” that encompassed 340 locations in the country. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, a geofence is essentially a virtual signal net that tracks and targets customers that come within a certain range of the indicators – in this case, the Pizza Hut locations. While this might sound like something straight out of Star Trek, it was actually just a clever way to make use of GPS technology that’s already made its way into countless devices around the world.

Unveiling the Complete Program

For any member of the brand’s SMS contact list that came within a half mile of these restaurants, Pizza Hut sent a special text promotion inviting the customer to come in and enjoy a limited-time offer. Depending on the time and location, coupons and discounts on specialty items and menu staples all served as enticing deals. Considering that these customers were already in the neighborhood after leaving work or school with the kids, building a plan entirely off of location based marketing was clearly a clever way to break the standard SMS mold with some smart technology.

Reviewing the Results

Before going any farther, it’s important to note that Pizza Hut’s findings were adjusted to make a fair comparison with the other advertising channels. Lining up raw numbers between Internet ads and television spots that air to millions around the world isn’t fair when viewed against zooming in on the population surrounding these particular restaurants. Instead, the brand decided to normalize the findings and draw comparisons that are more accurate between the methods.

By itself, this SMS campaign ended up increasing incremental sales by 142 percent when compared to not connecting with customers on the go at all. Clearly, that’s a great result on its own, but it gets even better when you expand this discussion to include television and Internet options. After adjusting the stats for a fair comparison, Pizza Hut found that this advertising channel was 4.4 times more effective than TV spots and 2.6 times more effective than Internet ads. When viewed from that angle, it’s hard to deny the power of offering deals to people on the phones they never leave home without.

Is This Right for Your Business?

After reading this, you might think the only way to get the most out of your SMS campaign is to set up a geofence of your own and follow in Pizza Hut’s footsteps. While that’s definitely a good idea if you’re a technology buff with an ample marketing budget, the truth of the matter is that you don’t have to go this route if you want to connect with your customers. Even a standard text campaign that hits on the basics – offering a great and timely deal to your contact list – can get you over the hump and ensure that your audience always takes a moment to stop by when they’re in your neighborhood.

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Running an email campaign is a lot like taking a swing for the fences in baseball. When things go your way, the home crowd – in this case your online audience – cheers wildly as you round the bases and enjoy the increased traffic that’s flowing into your website. Unfortunately, as any email or baseball guru will tell you, stepping up to the plate, or inbox, with a perfect batting average is just a myth. The reality is that it’s foolish to not have a plan for when you’re in a slump. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some simple tips you can employ as part of an email marketing “win-back” campaign. This way, you’ll have everything you need to reignite those conversion numbers and get your audience back into action after the excitement of your initial push slows down.

Add in a Solid Offer

One of the quickest ways to get your readers back into your campaign is to throw out a nice offer. At the top of the list, actual savings – anything that falls into the “X dollars off” range on your products and services – performs nearly two times better than any other return deal. However, regardless of whether it’s a limited time discount or free content like an eBook download, offering anything specifically for the people who have fallen off your brands marketing bandwagon can help right the ship and get them back to eagerly awaiting your regular emails.

Don’t Shy Away From Hard Data

When it comes to brand awareness and decision-making, too many people that pull the levers and knobs behind the campaign rely on the concept of “gut instincts.” Sure, in plenty of industries having a strong hunch or read on the company can take you a long way, but email marketing is a much more stats driven affair. With numbers on open rates, inbox activity, and a slew of other metrics, pinpointing the exact segments of your audience that aren’t responding, as well as what these individuals like, has never been easier or more readily available. Because of this, let the stats do all the heavy lifting in your win-back campaign and follow their lead. Not only will this help increase your response rate, it can save you a ton of time and money developing and rolling out these messages.

Never Write Anyone Off

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to starting up one of these re-engagement initiatives is to assume that portions of your inactive audience are off limits. While it might seem like a long shot to get back in touch with the people who haven’t opened one of your emails in months, the truth of the matter is that win-back campaigns can drum up interest with customers who haven’t responded in up to 300 days. Basically, it’s never too late to get things rolling again, even with the most unlikely of candidates.

Not surprisingly, the same holds true for the time that comes after you fire off these win-back emails. As long as the reader hasn’t opted out, there’s nothing stopping you showing that persistence is a virtue with this group of out-of-touch consumers. Considering that you just might one day pique their interest enough to rekindle a connection with your brand, it’s well worth the effort of covering every nook and cranny of your contact list, no matter how unlikely the lead might seem.

Your Subject Lines Matter More Than Ever

If you’re familiar with a large portion of the posts on this blog, you’re well aware of just how powerful the subject line is when it comes to enticing customers to dig a little deeper into your marketed messages. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that having optimized and powerful headings in this area is crucial to a great win-back campaign. To help you get there, skip the caps button and generic terms, like “urgent” or “final notice,” and focus more on explaining just how valuable your offers for returning customers can be. This way, when your forlorn viewers sit down and start sifting through their messages, these emails can stick out on the preview pane for all the right reasons.

Build Toward a Follow-up

One of the biggest misconceptions about these types of campaigns is that once you re-engage your customers, you’re done with the work. Unfortunately, all this does is put you back into the same spot later on down the road. Instead of finding yourself in this endless engagement cycle, focus on working multi-level offers and follow-up requests into your campaign that keep your audience active and connected with your company. If you can do this, your customers will always have a great reason to keep your brand on their minds, ensuring that lost segments and lackadaisical contact list entries become a thing of the past.

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If you’ve read one blog about optimizing you’re marketed emails, it feels like you’ve read them all, right? With so much generic information floating around the web, the talk surrounding optimization has definitely grown a little stale. However, there’s one interesting part of the process that doesn’t seem to actually get much attention – the emergence of preview panes across mail platforms. Considering that this is the first look readers have at what you’re trying to show off, giving some serious attention to how your brand comes across in these little windows definitely makes sense. To help you make a great first impression in the preview pane, here are some smart tips for optimizing your messages when they take center stage on this limited screen real estate.

Put an Emphasis on Building Trust

Considering that the inbox can be a “Wild West” of sorts with so many scams and shady messages floating around, the best way to avoid having your emails hit the virtual trash bin is to make it readily apparent to your reader that the message they’re looking at is legit. This means showing off your brand logo and name prominently in a place that won’t be cut off in either vertical or horizontal preview panes. The top left corner of the message is your best bet if you’re aiming to keep things visible. By sticking to smart formatting like this, you can avoid turning off skeptical readers before they open your email.

Limit the Amount of Copy in the Preview Pane

While it might seem a little odd to skimp on the body of the message, having a solid brick wall of text in the preview pane isn’t the way to go about your email marketing campaign. Not only is this not an attractive way to showcase your deals and offers, it also cuts down on the chances of your audience seeing the really important parts of the message. Before firing off a new round of content, take a moment to think about everything that shows up in the preview pane. If you even have the slightest concern that something in this window might be extraneous, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and pull it. Otherwise, you could be kicking yourself when you realize that the first thing viewers see isn’t an enticing offer, but rather filler content that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

HTML is Your Friend

With 59 percent of users blocking images in their email clients, leaning heavily on external images isn’t a good idea in the preview pane. Sure, these images can help you track open rates, but they are most definitely suited for the body of the message. When possible, coding the portions of the message that popup in the preview pane with HTML is the best way to work around the rise of image suppression. Naturally, this might require a little extra work if you’re trying to keep your logo prominently displayed, but you’ll definitely be happy with results. After all, if you don’t like seeing those annoying red “X’s” that signify a blocked image in your inbox, what makes you think that your audience will like it when it comes to your marketed emails?

Avoid Link Overload

One of the most grievous faux pas your brand can inadvertently slip into is link overload. This means cramming excessive amounts of links into the space that shows up on a horizontal or vertical preview pane. Obviously, you’re going to need links to products, deals, or your homepage somewhere in the message. However, the real problem starts when all of these, and then a few more, end up crowding a preview page and turning it into a cluttered mess. Adding in that plenty of spam messages from shadier brands or scammers come jammed with links as well, doesn’t put your messages in good company that you’d be proud to keep anyways.

Focus on the Call to Action

Finally, the biggest thing your message can do in the preview pane is generate a powerful call to action. At the core of any marketing message that shows up in your audiences’ inboxes is an incentive to do something with your products or services. Whether it is a limited time offer or a handy guide for using these retail items in new and exciting ways, having a clear and concise call to action not only helps streamline your message as a whole, it also keeps your preview focused and enticing for viewers. Before worrying about images, content length, or anything else, making sure you have this fundamental piece of the puzzle in place in the best way to keep your message on track and give your readers all the reason they need to read on after the preview.

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All of us at Elite Email have been working hard for months & months to understand every component of CASL, which takes effect on July 1st, 2014. We have seen many organizations across Canada and abroad fully embrace these major changes that are rocking the Canadian marketing landscape. They are doing everything necessary to get fully informed and caught up with making sure their mailing lists are up-to-date and 100% compliant with CASL.

A few months ago we released our CASL Survival Guide and made it available in a variety of formats:

Since it’s release, it has been downloaded and accessed a tremendous amount of times and has helped countless amount of organizations gain a deeper understanding about what’s in store come July 1st. In addition, organizations around the globe are using our step-by-step action plan as outlined in the guide to ensure they are on the right path.

Here in Canada, this is not only being discussed in boardrooms and around the water cooler [do people still do that?] but on major news outlets as well.

In the past few months we have seen some of Canada’s largest publications and networks reference our CASL Survival Guide.

Yesterday, Global TV News stopped by our offices and and spoke to our CEO, Robert Burko, about CASL and the changes that lie ahead.

Click here to see the full story and the video on the Global News website.

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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 putting an emphasis on savings helped fuel increased opt-in rates for Lifetouch Portraits.

While it might be a little overused, there’s still some credence to the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to your mobile marketing strategy, the same can definitely be said about a great case study example. For that very reason, now is a great time to look at how Lifetouch Portraits switched things up a bit to grab additional opt-ins from an audience that was still on the fence about sharing text information with a brand. Whether your mobile campaign is well underway or you’re just learning about the benefits of reaching out via this channel to your customers, there’s plenty you can learn by taking a snapshot of Lifetouch Portraits’ success.

Approaching the Problem From a Different Angle

If you’ve kept up with this series of case studies, then you know that most of the brands we’ve highlighted have approached SMS growth via a roughly outlined set of rules and methods. Generally, the process goes something like this; the brand in question starts collecting phone numbers and opt-ins with the promise of a deal at a later date, then delivers in a big way that excites the audience. While there’s definitely nothing wrong with this strategy, Lifetouch Portraits decided that it had a better way of connecting with consumers on their mobile phones.

At the core of this approach was an upfront deal for interested shoppers. In exchange for opting-in to the program, customers received an immediate $5 off of any of the numerous photography services offered by the brand – no strings attached. Instead of having to wait for the deal, shoppers could sign up and instantly save some cash in-store or on the way to a photo shoot. Clearly, it’s hard to pass up on this kind of discount, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t come with a least a few questions surrounding this upfront approach.

Concerns about Opting out

At this point, you’re probably thinking that all customers did was sign-up, save a few bucks, and then opt-out as soon as possible. While there’s no denying that some people decided to measure their time on the contact list in minutes and not months, this course of action was not nearly as prevalent as you’d think. In fact, only about 2.3 percent of customers unsubscribed after snagging a quick discount with a brand that’s willing to offer front-loaded incentives as part of its mobile campaign. Generally speaking, it’s safe to say that if you do right by customers with your initial offer they’ll be more than happy to stick around and see what’s next on the list of great text deals.

Capturing the Moment of Success

So just how successful was Lifetouch Portraits’ SMS campaign? As part of the initial $5 discount push, this photography and development service saw text message opt-in rates jump by 163 percent during the campaign. In short, what was once a trickle of interest in what the company had to offer to customers on the go turned into a veritable flood of interested shoppers looking to save a few bucks on their next visit. After enjoying this initial surge of opt-ins, Lifetouch Portraits still commands an expansive and constantly growing audience that’s always excited to read about the brand’s next great text deal.

Figuring out Your Brand’s Strategy

Even if you’re brand is in a completely different industry, there’s plenty you can take away from this case study to help build your own successful, upfront text messaging campaign. The first part of the process is offering up a deal or discount that can really wow your audience. While the $5 savings might not seem like a lot from a big picture perspective, Lifetouch Portraits knew that frugal customers wouldn’t be able to turn away from this kind of meaningful savings on an upcoming purchase. After you decide on your own deal or discount to tie into the opt-in process, giving these customers a reason to stay subscribed is the next step. Recurring offers, informational content, and limited time discounts all fill this role more than adequately. Once you have these two pieces of the puzzle in place, you can sit back and watch your opt-in rate, and brand awareness, take off to previously unimaginable levels.

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While anti-spam laws aren’t anything new in the world of email marketing, Canada’s upcoming legislation is definitely popping up on plenty of radars in the industry. With some heavy-hitting regulations and some of the strictest wording marketers have ever seen, it’s definitely in your best interests to be up to speed with these changes. To help you keep your great messages reaching interested customers, let’s break down Canada’s new anti-spam legislation, as well as what your brand needs to do so that you have everything in order when these rules go live in July.

The Particulars of the Bill

At the heart of the bill, lawmakers here in Canada want to keep the world of marketed messages completely separate from the decidedly less savory emails that spawn from shady sources across the net. This means introducing legislation that cracks down on spam, hacking, illicit data harvesting, spyware, fraud, and pretty much any other breech of privacy that can happen via your audiences’ inboxes. For brands and marketers who end up on the wrong side of this law, the penalties levied by the government are nothing short of harsh.

In fact, senders that aren’t in compliance run the risk of facing fines that can reach a maximum of $10 million per each specific violation. Naturally, that’s a worst case scenario of the most extreme variety, but it’s a great way to explain just how serious the Canadian government’s penalty system is when it comes to cracking down on individuals and brands alike who misuse and abuse marketed or mass emails.

Why Is This Happening?

The reason for all of this is that more people than ever – over 3.9 billion last year to be exact – are using email to stay in touch, creating ample opportunity for both good and bad practices to occur in the inbox. While this is great for your business in terms of reaching out to customers who are interested in your products and services, it also means that hackers and spammers can also prey on these same people with clever deceptions and outright fraudulent activity. With that in mind, it’s hard to blame our government, and plenty of others around the world, for cracking down on those who employ shady tactics when trying to pull a quick one via marketed emails.

Making Sure You’re In Compliance

Considering that there’s no grace period for this new act, having everything in gear when July rolls around is crucial to the continued success and viability of your email marketing campaign. At the heart of the legislation is a shift from implied to express consent. Before, some brands simply took a customer’s interest in its products or services as enough consent to warrant email contact. However, that’s no longer going to be good enough. Instead, when this change goes live, express consent, in the form of an opt-in agreement, will be the new required minimum to start connecting with your audience.

It’s important to note that sending off emails after July 1 requesting this consent will actually be in violation of the new rules, so if you want to keep the government off your back, you’ll need to get to work on verifying opt-ins with your readers. A great way to do this is to go through your email list and see which entries have express consent and which ones might be closer to the implied side of the scale. Not only will this help you clean up your contact list and do a little housekeeping, but it can also help you roll out opt-in confirmations before the hammer drops on these types of messages.

Understanding the Ramifications of This Change

At first glance, all of this is a lot to digest in one sitting, but it speaks to a bigger change in the email marketing industry as a whole that’s well worth noting. Canada definitely isn’t the first country to crack down on the shadier side of this business sector, and it won’t be the last, so placing an emphasis on quality, and not quantity, is the only way to survive this transition. If your brand has simply slapped together messages and called it good enough up until now, that simply won’t fly anymore.

The best way to prosper, both now and after the new legislation goes live, is to attract readers with high quality content that adds value to the marketing experience. By going this route, you not only stay on the right side of the law, but you also give your audience a reason to stick with your email campaign. For brands that are truly looking to maximize returns on marketed messages, this part of the formula hasn’t changed, even if the rules surrounding it are going through some serious upheaval.

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Subject lines are the bread and butter of any great email marketing campaign. While outstanding content is a must if you want to make a splash with your audience, turning them off before they even click “open” is any brand’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the people on the other side of the screen. To help you avoid this calamity and clean up any offenders in your stable of marketed messages, here are 10 of the top offenders that have doomed countless emails to the virtual trashcan.

Free

First up on the list is a word that can’t help but sound the spam alarm for readers. While it might seem like a great idea to fit this word into your messages, the reality is that using “free” in the subject line is extremely common among scammers and spammers, who use this as a cheap tool when trying to pull a quick one on readers.

Stop

Having an email jump off the screen with the word “stop” is definitely a very particular experience for your audience – just not in the good way. There’s definitely plenty of merit behind the concept of disruptive marketing tactics, but issuing a command or trying to convince your readers to change their ways in this part of the message is not the right way to go about this process.

Donate

For the non-profits out there, email marketing is all about bumping up donations and awareness, so this one’s a little tricky. However, the key to still weaving the concept of viewers taking action into the content of your emails is to save “donate,” “charity,” and the rest of these keywords for after you make your pitch. Going the opposite way and placing this word in the subject line will simply put a halt to any momentum you could be generating for your cause.

LOL

A quick look at your Facebook or Twitter feed provides all the proof you need that “LOL,” “OMG,” and the rest of your audience’s favorite web slang are all still alive and well. However, that doesn’t mean these acronyms have a spot next to your brand name in the inbox. Keeping your messages and subject lines light and conversational is one thing, but don’t cross the line with slang that’s better suited for your personal social media pages.

Last Chance

While this entry is more of a phrase, it still deserves a spot on the list. “Last chance,” “act now,” and all the other call-to-action terms really shouldn’t be the focal point of the message header. Instead, use expiration dates and limited time offers in the body of your emails to get your audience in gear and visiting your web page or brick-and-mortar store.

Help

Much like “donate” and “charity,” “help” is a word that shouldn’t make its home in your email subject line. Again, taking a stand on an issue or advancing your cause via the actual body of your message is far more effective than using words or phrases that unfortunately come off as pleading or pushy in the subject section.

Reminder

Surprisingly, people don’t respond well to words like “reminder.” While it might not make much sense at first glance, this word invokes feelings of repetition, which in turn has a strong connotation with common spam tactics. This becomes even more apparent when first time messages bring this word into the subject line as a method of faking familiarity – a concept that’s not limited to just this entry.

FWD: or RE:

Like “reminder,” “FWD,” “RE,” and other traditionally automated tags can be surreptitiously added into the subject line to befuddle unsuspecting readers. Sure, being sneaky and trying to pass off your next message as a continued conversation might trick a few unsuspecting readers, but don’t expect your open rates to stay up for long once your audience catches on to this underhanded tactic.

Webinar

If you keep up with content marketing slang, it might seem like a no-brainer to throw in terms like “webinar” in your message headers. Unfortunately, there’s a very real disconnect between inbox open rates and emails that jam these words in the subject line. While drumming up interest for your content is never a bad thing, keep the particulars to the core of the message and let a simple, straightforward subject line stand on its own.

Awesome

Rounding out the list is perhaps the biggest blunder looking to derail your email campaign. Today’s marketing world is full sales pitches and message headers that try to pump up products with over-the-top wording and unnecessary superlatives. The worst offender of all of these words is, without a doubt, “awesome.” Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being proud of what your brand has to offer; just don’t fall for the trap of slapping “awesome,” “amazing,” “epic”, and all the other overused exemplary adjectives in front of every other word in your subject line.

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