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quickideas

There’s nothing worse than sitting down and trying to put virtual pin to paper, only to wind up staring at a blank screen. Okay, so email marketing writer’s block isn’t on the same scale as the kind experienced by Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or any other famous author, but it can still be devastating to the viability of your email marketing operations. To keep you on the right track, here’s a few quick ideas that can help get your creative email content back on schedule and landing in consumer inboxes in no time.

Rework Your Welcome Email

Considering that most of the people reading this aren’t sure where to take the content of their next marketing message, why not take a step back and retool your opening letter to new contact list members? Sure, it might not be the direction you thought this endeavor would go, but as Pamela Neely of Web Marketing Today explains, few items are as important as your welcome email.

Whether it’s a new template or an update on what these subscribers can expect, this quick detour can help you shift your focus toward a creative development that’s just as important. Not only does this method ensure you don’t waste your time sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike, it can also help give you a chance to formulate a new idea regarding the content for your current contact list members.

Hijack the News

If this approach doesn’t work, you can always aim at utilizing current events and stories relevant to your audience in your next email. Known as “newsjacking,” the Content Marketing Institute’s Britt Klontz points out that this process can be a little tricky. Essentially, your brand will need to move in real time and capture the fervor and excitement surrounding a developing story. Whether it’s simply linking back to a news sources and bringing the issue to the attention of your audience, or making the most out of this approach by offering exclusive industry-based insight along with the generic overview, being current and relevant is the main appeal of the newsjacking method as it pertains to inbox operations.

Do a “Best of” Edition

Another tactic that can help alleviate the burden of coming up with unique content – while still offering quality and value to the viewer – is a “best of” edition of your newsletter or other email content. As the name implies, you’ll want to dig deep and find the best tidbits and nuggets from your previous messages. Naturally, relying on this tactic too often can come off as a little repetitive, but when used in moderation, this tool can help keep established members interested while simultaneously helping to catch up the newer viewers on your contact list.

Try to Go Viral

For the trendier brands out there, maximizing the rapid-fire nature of social sharing and its connection to the inbox presents the unique opportunity to “go viral.” In her look at this process, Kristie Lorette of the Houston Chronicle notes that more members of your contact list are likely to click that share, like, or favorite button if you include coupons, videos, or even exclusive information or tips that won’t find anywhere else. Of course, going viral is usually easier said than done, but if you have a unique presentation or truly one-of-a-kind experience to tether to your content, the process becomes significantly easier to accomplish.

Say Thank You

Finally, if all else fails and you can’t come up with anything else worth saying to your dedicated inbox following, there’s nothing wrong with taking a few minutes to just say thank you. These individuals are the veritable lifeblood of your digital operations, so making sure they know exactly how important they are to your organization is never a bad idea.

In fact, if you really want to go above and beyond on this front, keying in on contact list member birthdays, subscriber anniversaries, and other momentous occasions can help further endear your brand to your loyal following. Obviously, gathering this information and developing an automated system will require a little bit of extra work, but it can not only help fill in the gaps during email content locals, it can also earn your organization some serious goodwill – something that’s not easy to come by with most audiences.

Hopefully after browsing over these ideas, you’ll find exactly what you need to get back on track with your content development. At the very least, you’ll walk away from your computer with a stable of ideas that can serve you well the next time you’re feeling stuck and unsure of what to say to your email following.

 

directvsemail

Letting go of the past is hard – especially when faced with leaving behind the allure of comfortable methods in exchange for the promise of potential. Sure it sounds a little melodramatic at first glance, but this statement sums up the struggle facing many brands that are still on the fence that stands between direct mail marketing and its modern successor, email marketing. To help you find the channel that’s right for your company moving forward, let’s take a look at both sides of the argument and see what each option has to offer.

The Case for Direct Mail Tactics

Considering that direct mail’s the elder of the two approaches, it seems only fitting to start the discussion with this avenue of interacting with your customers. In his look at the benefits of direct mail marketing, Craig Simpson of Entrepreneur magazine points to a variety attributes that support this process, including a more personalized feel to marketed messages that arrive via standard mail, as well as potentially increased levels of trust and familiarity garnered via this marketing tactic. Additionally, the notion that email inbox overload exists and can inhibit the practicality of email marketing is also used as means of promoting the viability of direct mail marketing.

Standing Behind the Power of Email Marketing

Naturally, we respectfully disagree with Mr. Simpson and the reasoning behind his claims regarding the effectiveness of direct mail marketing – as do other industry thought leaders and prominent voices that understand the true value of email marketing. To help differentiate email marketing and support the notion that this method for reaching out to customers stands above direct mail and other options, let’s turn to Megan Totka of Small Business Trends and her look at some indisputable facts.

First up, Totka notes that 72 percent of adults send and receive emails via smartphone at least weekly, speaking to both the penetration of email acceptance and the fact that on-the-go mobile usage is the biggest thing in the marketing world – and only getting bigger. In fact, 68 percent of consumers name email as the preferred channel for receiving commercial messages.

If that’s not enough, Totka wraps up her research with two astounding facts regarding consumer activity in the inbox. In terms of conversions, 81 percent of online shoppers are more likely to make both digital and in-store purchases due to the impact generated by marketed emails. Finally, about one in five consumers read every email that makes its way into the inbox; primarily due to the desire to receive exclusive offers and content.

Of course, to reach these astounding performance plateaus, you’ll need to be at the top of your game. From streamlining the process via automation, to developing high quality content that responds to mobile platforms, the reality of the situation is that the inbox is a competitive arena, so making the most of your opportunities isn’t only a good idea, it’s essential to the lasting success of your brand in the digital world.

Which One’s Right for Your Brand?

So with all of that being said, it’s time to put the brakes on any other form of advertising and shift your entire budget toward email marketing, right? As great as that sounds to proponents of the email marketing world, the fact of the matter is that at the end of the day, no two audiences are the same, so there is a small chance that some alternative method – like direct mail – ends up as the proper answer.

Despite these unusual outliers, which stand few and far between in the global marketplace, the fact remains that few tools even come close to mirroring the power and reach generated by email marketing in the vast majority of instances. As Armando Roggio of the Practical Ecommerce blog suggests, it doesn’t matter what other strategies you employ – from direct mail marketing to putting up fliers in your local neighborhood – if you’re not trying to connect with these shoppers in the inbox, you’re probably losing out on a major chunk of sales.

In fact, Roggio puts the potential return on investment (ROI) via email marketing at $43 for every dollar spent, according to the Direct Marketing Association’s Statistical Face Book. Needless to say, you’ll be hard pressed to find this kind of ROI from virtually any other form of consumer outreach. At the end of the day, the choice to select one path over the other still rests on your shoulders, but hopefully with this information guiding the way, the discussion that leads to an appropriate marketing channel for your brand becomes a little clearer.

 

sweetspot

When it comes to stepping out in a crowded room, it generally helps to have a little something special up your sleeve. Considering the constant jockeying for position in the inbox and the fact that seemingly everyone has caught on to the power of email marketing in general, these golden opportunities are few and far between – to say the least. However, with the help of some recently released consumer data, as well as a few key tips and tricks, your brand could be on the verge of hitting the email “sweet spot” and taking your target audience by storm.

Finding the Sweet Spot

So what is this “sweet spot,” and why does it matter to your brand? According to a study conducted by The American Genius, a social media and business marketing news source, there’s one key misconception hindering most brand that make their way into consumer inboxes; the assumption that increased contact makes your organization come off as annoying.

This isn’t to say that email overload or oversaturation isn’t a real thing that has sunk campaigns in the past, but rather the demand for valuable marketed messages is a lot higher than most members of the community realize – especially during the various holidays in your area. To put it in perspective, the average consumer receives less than 10 emails a day, with major events – like Cyber Monday and Black Friday – pushing this number up to a reasonable 12. Additionally, opens during holiday seasons only drop from 22.8 percent to 22.4 percent, further dispelling the related myth that people don’t have time to open marketed messages during these busy periods.

Perhaps the biggest indicator that there’s room for growth in terms of email marketing volume is that fact that of the 10,000 marketed emails sent out during this study, only 63 elicited spam complaints; a number that’s far less than any other relevant inbox category and sure to ease the concerns of even the most cautious brands or marketers.

Revamping Your Viewpoint

Essentially, the moral of the story is pretty straightforward. The people that make up your target audience can’t get enough of great email content, so why not give them what they want? Naturally, this doesn’t mean you should institute a round-the-clock campaign that pings your contact list members incessantly, but that connecting a little more often – especially during the holiday season – is far from a bad idea. In fact, it could just be the key to taking your rightful spot above the competition as the most engaging and relevant content provider in the inbox.

Keeping Quality at the Forefront of Your Approach

Of course, being engaging and relevant does require that your content shine once the person on the other side of the screen takes a peek beyond the fold, so let’s cover a few key points to help you develop stellar emails that match this uptick in volume and outreach. First off, Jonathan Long of The Huffington Post suggests making personalization a priority. There’s nothing worse than receiving a ton of “fill in the blank” messages, so using first names, customer data, and anything else gleaned from your contact list information can help keep the relationship between your brand and these viewers from becoming too impersonal.

Additionally, Long also suggests keeping the conversation flowing by integrating reply tools and services into your content. While most other marketed messages wrap things up with the details regarding spam laws and unsubscribe options, consider sliding this info a little farther down the page and working in a request for all replies. From comments and concerns to general questions, letting these potential customers or loyal members of your brand community know that your virtual doors are always open for a little conversation goes a long way toward enhancing and preserving the familiarity that comes with an increased volume of offers and content.

Outside of maximizing the quality of your text content, Jimmy Daly of Marketing Land suggests giving your themes and graphics a little love as well if you plan on spending more time with your audience in the inbox. Whether you go with a minimalist approach or decide to be beautiful with sweeping color schemes, having a strong plan moving forward, and ensuring that this approach plays well with mobile devices, is the perfect way to round out your new approach. With these tips in hand, as well as a willingness to break the mold and tap into the currently underutilized sweet spot of email marketing volume and frequency, you’ll be well on your way to conquering the inbox in no time.

 

sixkeys

It’s no big secret that a strong subject line can stand out on the screen. In fact, plenty of industry voices point to this part of the marketed message as the most crucial point in the process. Unfortunately, simply acknowledging the need for a great subject line isn’t the same as crafting offerings that capture the attention of your audience. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the six examples of subject lines that stand out on a page – as explained by Business 2 Community’s Larisa Bedgood – as well as how your brand can incorporate these archetypes into your next winning campaign.

The Role of Curiosity

First up on Bedgood’s list is the concept of curiosity. Piquing the curiosity of the viewer on the other side of the screen derives its power from one fundamental truth – people generally can’t stand leaving a question or query unsolved. For instance, having a subject that starts with “you’ll never believe that…” and finishing with an outrageous claim fits this approach admirably. Naturally, you’ll need something truly stunning on the other side of the email fold to avoid a letdown, but if you build around this constraint, you’ll be the proud owner of an engaging and attractive subject line.

Fitting in a Question Mark

Much like statements that play on the curiosity of the reader, question marks naturally lead to a desire to see a resolution or ending to the topic. The best part about incorporating relevant and engaging questions into your subject lines is that once you’ve captured the attention of the reader, this base query helps foster and grow what can be a continuing discussion with your target audience – something any brand would be happy to add to its outreach initiatives.

The Name Game

Too often, brands on the right track for email marketing success speak to the audience as a whole, and not to each person on the other side of the screen. As Tim Ash of ClickZ points out, utilizing pronouns, like you and your, in your subject lines – and throughout the body of your message – helps turn the dialogue in the inbox into a true conversation, and not just a speech directed toward an ambiguous group of users. The big key here is finding a relevant subject that speaks to the audience and not just shoehorning in pronouns for little to no reason.

The Draw of Odd Numbers

If you’re looking to put your consumer or product data to good use on the subject line, Bedgood goes on to note that odd or irregular numbers do a great job of standing out in a crowded inbox. Subject lines that fit this mold – like “Why He Paid Yahoo $42,571.68…” – have a unique appeal that text only offerings just can’t replicate. As long as you can cite your sources or build a compelling argument for your product or service around these numbers, don’t be afraid to pull out the most eye-popping example you have on hand.

Parceling out Percentages

Even if you’re not in possession of a singularly astounding figure, percentages and other statistics help fill this void. Again, accuracy and context play a major role on this front, but the same concepts that create an attractive numerical subject line still hold true – the more head-turning the better. For the brands that do sneak their toes over the line and fudge a few statistics to build an artificially attractively subject line, be forewarned; if and when your audience finds out, you’ll never be able to truly regain the trust of these valued potential and current customers again.

Creating Action Due to Scarcity

Finally, the last example on the list taps into the idea that generating a reaction based on scarcity or time-sensitive information can create an immensely powerful response from the people that comprise your contact list. In his look at this concept, Pete Prestipinio of Website magazine explains that scarcity tactics can help “scare up” favorable responses from your audience.

Puns aside, the formula behind this approach is simple. People tend to procrastinate or waffle on important decisions, so putting a time limit or expiry date on your content and offerings can help get these individuals off the fence and heading to your web page in a hurry. Just like the rest of these methods, going overboard and labeling every email as “URGENT” isn’t the way to approach this process. However, sprinkling in this tactic, as well as some of the other options covered, could hold the key to sustained email marketing success via attractive and engaging subject lines.

 

quits_on_facebook

As far as social media goes, it’s hard to top the raw reach and power offered by Facebook. Sure, it might not have a complete monopoly on the market, but this platform still stands as the top dog when it comes to using social networks to generate consumer outreach. Of course, having everyone vying for the same spotlight can make it pretty hard to get noticed as you try and build a following. If you’re about ready to give up hope and call it quits with Facebook, take a few minutes to read over these quick tips and tricks that could help you get back on track for converting your social presence on this front into increased email contact list membership.

The Too Little/Too Much Dilemma

The first place to look if you’re struggling to make a dent in your target audience is how often you post on this network. As Jesse Aaron of Business 2 Community explains, regardless of whether you’re trying to promote your email content or just gain a few more likes, committing to posting too often or not enough can end your chances of making a splash before you even log in to your account.

Unfortunately, when it comes to frequency, there is no magic number to aim for as you map out your social schedule. Generally, you’ll need to gauge the feedback from your audience and key in on high traffic and activity times – a little more on this later – as well as watch for opportunities to stay relevant and current with breaking stories. Social media is all about having your voice heard, so slipping in some non-promotional posts and offering insight or reactions to trending topics can help you break down the frequency barrier and keep your audience interested.

Make Use of Facebook Analytics and Data

Speaking of your audience, Aaron goes on to point out that there’s no reason not to know quite a bit about these people, considering the ample suite of data and analytics tools built into the Facebook platform. Not only can this information help you decide when and what to post, but it also has the ability to help splash a little insight into your email marketing operations and message content. Naturally, there’s not always this kind of room for crossover, but as you learn more about your Facebook audience and find this potential overlap, you’ll see that this type of efficiency offers quite a bit of incentive to keep pushing forward with both your social and inbox operations.

Take Creativity to a New Level

In terms of your actual Facebook posts and shares, AdWeek’s David Cohen recommends that you let your creative side off of its leash and have a little fun. Holiday themed offerings, “behind the scenes” insight into how your company works during daily tasks or special events, and even sharing the occasional meme or funny picture, fits the bill. People come to Facebook to let off a little steam and enjoy some digital rest and relaxation, so try and be the fun brand from time to time. If you can do this, you’ll find there’s plenty of opportunities later on to provide a quick glimpse into what’s going on in the inbox.

Ask Questions

As you probably know by now, faking or manufacturing interaction with your audience isn’t just a tough task – it’s virtually impossible. If you want to try your hand at some authentic back and forth, Victor Luckerson of Time magazine has a surprisingly simple, and effective, suggestion; ask a question.

Simply skipping the “statement” posts and requesting a response from your audience in the form of a thought-provoking or intriguing question can help get your brand name trending. The best part is that as followers respond, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to engage each person and present an active persona on behalf of your organization.

Don’t Be Afraid to Give Your Brand a Little Boost

Of course, sometimes doing your best just isn’t enough to get over the hump in this highly competitive social arena. For this reason, Luckerson goes on to point out that there’s nothing wrong with picking up some targeted ads or even cross-promoting with already established entities. Both of these methods might force you to readjust your company’s marketing budget, but the return in brand awareness – and eventually email list gains – should make this investment more than worthwhile. Once you’re on the map, putting the rest of these tips to good use, and spreading the word about your email content, should become a decidedly easier affair.

 

supercharge

It’s one thing to build a contact list full of eager and excited customers, but maintaining and growing this list is any entirely different matter altogether. It might seem like a fairly innocuous statement at first glance, but for most brands it represents a problem that is both hard to handle and harder still to solve. With this in mind, let’s spend a few minutes digging into how loyalty programs – and the rewards held within these strategies – can help keep your contact list engaged and ensure customers are always ready to open your next great email.

The Basic Concept

If you’re currently just dipping your toes into the world of email marketing, it’s probably a good idea to start with a quick overview of how a loyalty program works. Essentially, this type of strategy offers some sort of incentive – a reward – to customers that either stick around as part of your list, participate in a certain campaign, or even go so far as to spread the word about your email content to friends, family members, and other interested parties. It definitely sounds simple right now, but you’ll soon see that pulling off this approach requires quite a bit of planning and strategy.

Understanding the Need for Loyalty Programs

Of course, there’s always the chance that if you’re doing okay now, why rock the boat, right? While good enough might get you by for some time, the truth of the matter is that customers want more from brands in terms of content and value than ever before. In fact, The Huffington Post’s Seamus Egan goes so far as to say that these loyalty programs have never been more integral to the success of brands in the inbox as they are right now.

Basically, loyalty programs divide companies like your own into two categories in the eyes of consumers – those that succeed, and those that either fail or simply don’t try to make a lasting impression. On the positive side of this spectrum are brands like Starbucks, which racked up a 26 percent increase in profit and 11 percent jump in total revenue thanks to a smart and well-planned approach, according to Egan’s review of email-based reward systems. For the 20 percent of business that don’t have loyalty programs in place, or the 62 percent that believe this practice is just too hard to pull off correctly considering their current circumstances, the outlook isn’t as bright and sunny as the one viewed by companies like Starbucks.

Making Sure You Have Your Facts Straight

If you’re not interested in being on the wrong side of the debate, ClickZ’s Tia Matsumoto suggests that you better get your facts straight before you go charging off into the inbox. From understanding the makeup of your contact list audience in terms of attributes and demographics to testing different content and incentives, there’s plenty of variables to master before you release your offerings to the public.

Specifically, Matsumoto goes on to point out the need for constant interaction and engagement as part of the core of this program. As Matsumoto explains, the number of loyalty programs initiated in the last several years is on the rise, but consumer engagement and retention have fallen significantly thanks to shortsightedness on both the content creation and data collection fronts.

Finding the Right Plan of Attack

Once you have your facts in order and you’re confident you know enough about your audience to build a loyalty or reward system based around the inbox, what’s next? As Courtney Eckerle of Marketing Sherpa points out, moving forward is all about differentiating your brand. For instance, Eckerle reports that Sony’s try at an email-based rewards program netted an astounding 300 percent increase in conversions, all thanks to a fairly novel approach – letting the customer spread the word on behalf of their brand.

By offering sizable rewards that ranged from $100 to $250 per new recruit to the dual email marketing/credit card campaign, Sony captured a huge segment of viewers that would otherwise have never heard about this media giant’s inbox offerings. Naturally, your business might not be able to operate on the same scale or offer the same rewards, but the point remains the same. Email marketing is all about value, so your rewards better keep up with this concept if you want to keep your audience interested.

Whether you offer coupons to loyal readers or swing for the fences like Sony, with this info in hand you’ll be able to build a reward program that both engages and retains the attention of the people that matter most to your brand. For companies of all shapes and sizes that place a premium on the inbox, that’s a pretty hard scenario to top.

 

social_reach

Whether you’re knee deep in a successful email marketing campaign or just testing the waters of texting with customers, blending in a bit of social outreach isn’t just recommended, it’s getting pretty close to being mandatory these days. But what if you could have your target audience pitch in and help spread the word about your latest offerings and promotions? As crazy as this dream scenario might sound, the truth of the matter is that if you get your email, text, and other digital marketing content on the right track, expecting the people that like, follow, and interact with your brand to help increase your social reach isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Images in the Inbox and Beyond

As Nicole Fallon of Business News Daily points out, getting your audience to react, respond, and share with their friends and family starts with eye-catching imagery. Naturally, graphic content has a place in plenty of email marketing programs, but if you really want to go above and beyond, consider developing these images with social sharing in mind.

From infographics to user-generated selections, images that either provide value or evoke a certain emotion ignite a special spark that rests inside each of these social butterflies. Once this desire has taken hold, it’s only a matter of time before the various networks and circles that connect these people to others online become a part of your growing brand audience via engaging, and shareable, imagery.

Make All of Your Content Shareable

Speaking of giving your audience a reason to share images, why not take the next step and make all of your content shareable? We’ve talked before about sharing your offers and discounts on Facebook, Twitter, and other networks as a way to grow your mailing list, but as Entrepreneur magazine’s Ann Handley explains, there’s something far more credible and compelling about making this experience a peer-to-peer affair.

If you’re just getting started on this front, adding social link plug-ins with simple reminder text, like “Click here to share this with your friends,” to your emails is a good start. For those looking for a slightly more advanced approach, consider turning related content, including white papers and presentations, into shareable selections or even rewards for those who participate in this new program. It might seem like a little extra work, but if you want your audience to help promote and enhance the reach of your brand’s message organically, it’s only fair you give them something worthwhile in return.

Understanding the Power of the Consumer Testimonial

Continuing on with the peer-to-peer theme is the concept that consumer testimonials can help enact this strategy as engaging and creative content. In his look at the usage of these user-based offerings, Paul Gustafson of the Content Marketing Institute notes that tethering a podcast to your email, SMS, or social content lets satisfied customers tell their stories in their own words. The best part about using this type of consumer content is that it not only helps keep your brand’s efforts from coming off as contrived, but these testimonials can serve as a major part of your content arsenal for as long as the relevant product or service stays in production.

Even if you don’t want to go down the podcast route, there’s still plenty of good tidbits and suggestions found within Gustafson’s article. First off, skip the sales pitch and focus on telling a story. Too many brands think of testimonials from the infomercial perspective, but the reality is that today’s content consumers would rather enjoy an honest and natural recollection that skips the fluff and speaks to them in a way that captures their attention.

Additionally, if you’re going to use a video or audio format for your testimonials, don’t skimp on the production values. Sure, your brand might not have the budget to turn this content into a major motion picture production before it hits the inbox and starts to spread among your audience, but using a scratchy mic or a low resolution camera is a quick way to invalidate and trivialize the message held within your testimonial.

Interact Across a Wide Variety of Platforms

Of course, the best way to turn your audience into a powerful marketing tool that operates on behalf of your brand independently is by going above and beyond in terms of interaction. This isn’t to say that putting your email or SMS content on the backburner is a good idea, but instead that taking every opportunity to connect on social sites, consumer review pages, and even in the comment section of your own blog posts can complement your operations and ensure that the people closest to your brand help spread the word to potential new customers across the web about your email, SMS, and social presence.

 

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.

© 2013 Elite Email Inc. Blog Admin