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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.



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.



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.



For all of the personal trainers, plumbers, or freelance IT gurus out there, making a name for yourself seems like a hopeless proposition at times. After all, there’s a plethora of options consumers can choose from, in addition to your brand’s need to hone in on local demographics. However, just because you have your sights set on a different target audience than all of the major global brands that utilize email marketing successfully doesn’t mean that you also can’t put this powerful process to use. To help your service-based business get the most out of email marketing, here’s five smart tips that will have you sailing past the competition in the inbox in no time.

Focus on Yourself

The best place to start when forging ahead with email content is yourself. As narcissistic as this tip might sound, Kim T. Gordon of Entrepreneur magazine explains that one of the most important selling points when offering a service is letting the customer learn a little more about you. Whether it’s providing these individuals with a look into your quality control steps, or focusing on your experience in the industry, mixing in this kind of content into your welcome and marketing messages goes a long way toward maximizing the comfort of your potential customers.

Cross Promote Your Other Content

In keeping with this theme, Gordon goes on to point out that promoting your other content in the inbox continues what you’ve already started in terms of trust building among your audience. “How-to” videos on your YouTube channel, social media Q&A sessions, and old-fashioned blog posts all fit this billing and ensure that you establish yourself as a trusted and reputable source for information and services. The best part about this approach? Taking the time to mix in your other content and outreach programs expands your inbox offerings and helps avoid stagnant or repetitive marketed messages.

Go Beyond Splash Offers

Of course, sometimes simply building in additional content to your offers just isn’t enough. For service-based individuals, a lasting and deep bond in the inbox means repeat customers. To achieve this continued relationship, it’s time to go above and beyond in terms of your emails that don’t contain offers or discounts. Well wishes for upcoming holidays, birthday e-cards, and any other personal moment you can hone in on is a great way to show that you care about more than just the next sale. In ultra-competitive industries, the goodwill built in this manner can be worth far more than its weight in gold.

Incorporate Brand Reviews from Peer-Oriented Sites

As important as it is to tout your skills and services, Jeff Sexton of Web Marketing Today explains that in many cases, you’re better off letting someone else speak on your behalf. Sometimes this means adding in links to your brand pages on Yelp, Angie’s List, and other local peer sites and letting your inbox viewers do a little digging before committing to the deals and discounts offered within your marketed messages. However, if you can utilize reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers and users of these sites, you’ll have a powerful asset on your side as you connect with wary and speculative customers still sitting on the fence.

If you really want to get creative with peer-oriented review content, Sexton goes on to suggest utilizing product reviews covering your tools from Amazon and other online retailers. By doing this, you’ll be able to erase any doubts your customers might have about low quality or insufficient materials on the job.

Make the Most of Visual First Impressions

Finally, Sexton recommends that you take some pride in the visuals that go with your marketing pitch – in the inbox and anywhere else online. You only get one chance to make a stellar first impression, so why not get the most out of this process with aesthetically pleasing templates and graphics? Sure, at the end of the day you need to impart value and a certain level of confidence to the customers considering your services, but it’s hard to expect them to read beyond the break if your email comes off as rudimentary or disorganized. With this tip in hand, as well as the rest of what you’ve learned, you’ll be well on your way to serving new customers in your area in no time.



A lot of the talk surrounding email marketing focuses on connecting with retail consumers and getting the word out about products and services to everyday shoppers. But what if your customers don’t exactly fit this mold? For businesses that primarily serve other businesses, the process takes on an entirely different, and sometimes complex, look. With this in mind, let’s dig into some powerful tips that can help keep your next business-to-business (B2B) campaign on track to be a major success.

B2B Emails Aren’t Always a Sales Pitch

The first tip covers an ideological mindset that plenty of brands stumble over when trying to enact B2B strategies in the inbox. As Douglas Burdett of Business 2 Community explains, utilizing email marketing in this manner requires a commitment to more than just pitching sales. Sure, offering up deals and discounts is a big part of the equation, but adding in some content marketing attributes to your approach can go a long way toward pleasing these email viewers.

For instance, highlighting snippets from your blog about breaking industry news, white papers that cover longstanding issues, and other powerful content can help turn your periodic messages into must-read material. Even if it’s something as simple as a newsletter linking to other major voices in your marketplace, having something outside of “salesy” content goes a long way with the corporate entities that make up your brand’s email contact list.

Don’t Assume You’ll Always Have Their Attention

Speaking of the contact list, Burdett goes on to point out that getting these companies into your digital rolodex is one thing, but don’t assume that this accomplishment is enough to keep them around. Having idle members is almost as bad as lacking members in the first place. Because of this, going out of your way to keep these organizations engaged is essential to the long-term viability of your campaign. Whether it’s via live webinars, regular social outreach, or a variety of other interactive activities that relate back to you email content, rubbing online elbows whenever possible is a great way to extend the effectiveness of your inbox initiative and hold onto the attention of these consumers.

Landing Pages Are More Important Than Ever

Of course, great email marketing doesn’t end in the inbox. If you want to truly turn your business-based viewers into customers, Simms Jenkins of ClickZ points out that you’ll need a killer set of landing pages. As the gateway between the inbox and your website, these pages work best when they go beyond the mundane and provide a treasure trove of content and information. Providing access to SMS contact lists, teasing promotional materials, and even offering up links to related blog posts and extended content all fit this approach perfectly. The big key here is that you don’t let this opportune space go to waste. When it comes to getting a leg up on the competition and roping in conversions, maximizing even the smallest of advantages pays off major dividends.

Segmentation Still Matters

In terms of knowing your audience, Jenkins also advocates the power of segmentation when engaging in B2B-oriented email marketing. Naturally, it might seem a little odd to implement this process; after all, we’re talking about businesses and not individuals. However, the same concepts apply, regardless of who or what constitutes your audience.

The more you know about these businesses, the more you can personalize and specialize your email content. You might not be able to learn as much as if your brand operated in the more conventional retail setting with specific consumers, but there’s still plenty to be gained by segmenting your audience. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if you receive a lackluster response when shipping out “one size fits all” messages.

Look Beyond Simple Statistics

Finally, the last tip you’ll need to start, or improve, is your journey in the world of B2B email marketing which comes from Barry Saunders of B2BMarketing.net and addresses the role of analysis in the process. While plenty of brands understand the basic statistics, like conversion rates and raw contact list numbers, the reality of the situation is that if you want to succeed, you’ll need to go beyond these fundamentals and get into some more specialized metrics.

From A/B testing the subject lines of your message, and everything else that comes afterward, to consistently reviewing the latest trends and spending habits of your audience, digging into as much data as possible positions your campaign to truly make a splash. When combined with the rest of what you’ve learned, the sky really is the limit for the hard work you put forth in the inbox.



At the heart of developing an email marketing campaign is an emphasis on solid fundamentals and the creation of valuable and engaging content. However, once you take these attributes and apply them to real world situations, the path to success becomes a considerably rockier road. This resonates even more if you’re brand hasn’t always had the best reputation when it comes to what goes on in the inbox. Thankfully, with a solid plan in place, you can dig yourself out of this mire and finally capture the true power that comes with being a reputable email marketing entity.

Does Your Brand’s Reputation Really Matter?

Of course, there’s no doubt that some of you on the other side of the screen are probably a little wary about where something as subjective as reputation fits into the bigger picture. After all, we do spend quite some time hashing out the intricacies surrounding advanced tactics and the implementation of metrics and data in the world of email marketing. However, not giving the presentation of your brand and its reputation the proper due is a quick way to come out on the short end of the marketing process.

As George Bilbrey of Media Post explains, reputation matters more than ever in today’s email marketing landscape. In fact, Bilbrey believes that the impact of reputation in the decision to open emails has never been higher. For the established and reputable brands, breaking through the often congested inbox becomes a much more manageable affair. Don’t believe this? Try getting your message across on the other end of the spectrum and it won’t take long to see that consumers, and their email service providers, see more than just the offers, discounts, and content held within the body of your message.

Honing in on the Prime Suspects

So what makes a brand lose credibility with an audience? While the answer to this question comes in a variety of forms, it all starts with the reputation of your domain and the IP address from which the email originates. In his look at how these two pillars of brand reputation in the inbox work, Business 2 Community’s Chris Arrendale points out that email service providers continue to segment and isolate ill-reputed senders to the spam folder with increasingly effective tactics. This means that auditing your site and ensuring it matches up with other industry leaders in terms of functionality and safety is a must.

Additionally, having images in your emails can cause a plethora of reputation problems. This doesn’t mean that fitting in these visual aids is always a bad call, but rather hosting these selections off-site at a disreputable domain, or keeping them in-house on a server that’s prone to crashing, can sink your reputation and ability to successfully capture the attention of wary email customers.

On top of all of this, enacting “spammy” tactics that once stood as yesteryear’s best practices can also derail your deliverability. Whether it’s taking on a message frequency that steps beyond an appropriate amount or implementing misleading and obtuse subject lines, abiding by these methods can often be just as detrimental to your campaign as the rest of the aforementioned reputation issues.

Protecting Your Brand Moving Forward

Now that we have you up to speed on the importance of reputation, as well as what causes customers to turn the other way, Tom Sather has some great ideas for regaining lost ground on this front. First up, make sure you’re aware of every step of the marketing process. Simply assuming that you’re brand has a spot in the ranks of the reputable sets a dangerous and inaccurate precedent for the rest of your operations.

From here, working with a trusted service provider and getting your hosting practices in order can eliminate plenty of deliverability and content issues. If you’ve been around the block before you might think you’re doing okay, but there’s nothing that compares to having the helping hand of an expert when you’re trying to lower blocked message rates and inbox viewer complaints made to Internet service providers (ISP.)

The last piece of the reputation puzzle focuses on keeping your email contact list in top shape. While more is better in many cases, invalid or inaccurate addresses can distort your consumer data and contribute to deliverability and reputation issues. Additionally, trimming off the less active portions of this list can also help lower the risk of blocked and flagged messages. Obviously, watching this shift back in the right direction won’t happen overnight, but at least with this information in hand, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing you’re doing everything needed to get your reputation in the right place.



The holiday season is all about spending time with family, experiencing the joy of giving and receiving presents, and, most importantly, all of the great food you can’t help but indulge in. Since our friends to the south are heading toward their Thanksgiving, and Christmas is right around the corner for everyone, there’s no time like the present to spend some time whipping up the perfect email marketing recipe for success. This way, after you’ve enjoyed the fine offerings of the holiday season, you’ll have all the ingredients you need to build a winning approach to connecting in the inbox that stretches well beyond the New Year.

The Right Foundation

Before jumping into any other part of the recipe, it’s important to start with the right “cookbook.” As Vikas Lalwani of Entrepreneur explains, in the world of email marketing, this means coming up with a strong objective that helps guide and direct your outreach initiative from start to finish. Whether your goal focuses on boosting site traffic via email marketing or building and maintaining a healthy subscriber list that you can rely on far into the future, having a solid foundation for your campaign helps streamline the process and improve the overall efficiency of your operations.

A Strong Subject Line

Once you have a strong objective helping shape your campaign, it’s time to jump into the first bite of the email marketing process – the always important subject line. To find the right subject line, Lalwani goes on to suggest spending some time looking at your email content from the point of view of your subscribers. By embodying this mindset, you can key in on what piques the interest of these viewers and start testing potential offerings from this vantage point. Considering that Lalwani reports 47 percent of readers decide whether or not to read an email based on the subject line alone, there’s nothing wrong with pointing in some serious effort perfecting this portion of the recipe.

Appealing Body Content

As far as the content of your message goes, the experts at Business 2 Community point out that you can’t go wrong with placing an emphasis on personalization and value. By tailoring your message to each reader with the information garnered via your contact list sign-up sheet, your brand can develop a unique and engaging experience that stands out in a cluttered inbox. Adding in that shoppers are always looking for a good deal stands as plenty of reason to provide valuable promotions when building your stable of great email messages.

Enticing Email Layouts

Of course, enticing text content doesn’t go over so well if it’s wrapped up in a boring or confusing package that’s hard to read. For this reason, one of the most important facets of the successful email marketing recipe hones in on your email design and layouts. By developing ascetically appealing presentations that help promote your message and keep the reader’s eyes flowing to your call-to-action (CTA), these emails can pack a dynamic one-two punch of content and visuals that is sure to knock your inbox audience off of its collective feet. Just be sure to spend some time delving into the arena of mobile and responsive design as well. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating a large portion of your targeted demographic with unwieldy selections that don’t render properly on these devices.

The Secret Ingredient

The final ingredient that goes into the recipe for a stellar inbox initiative actually doesn’t have a spot in your email content at all. Instead, Carolina Di Pietro, also part of the Business 2 Community team of industry experts, recommends that any brand serious about making a splash via email marketing and other digital outreach programs spend some time sprucing up its landing pages. The main reason for this “secret ingredient” comes from the fact that many organizations develop great inbox content, but let numerous conversions slip through the cracks thanks to a substandard on-site experience.

To avoid this unwanted outcome, don’t be afraid to redesign and streamline your stable of landing pages. Whether you revamp your visuals and content, or implement a more interactive digital design, spending some time bringing this gateway to your online storefront into the modern era can help your brand better accommodate desktop and on-the-go shoppers. Naturally, this isn’t a process that happens in the blink of an eye, but seeing the boost in site traffic and conversions that come from complimentary landing pages is more than enough motivation for brands looking to whip up an email marketing recipe that puts the competition to shame this holiday season.



By now you know that email marketing is one of, if not the, best ways to reach your target audience. However, do you really know if things are firing on all cylinders once your campaign gets in motion? To help answer this question, as well as ensure you always have the tools necessary to optimize your marketing strategy, let’s spend a little time going over the six performance metrics, sometimes referred to as key performance indicators (KPI), you can’t live without as you connect with consumers in the inbox.

Response Rates

First up is a pair of closely entwined metrics. As Lisa Cannon of Business 2 Community explains, when talking about open or click rates among your audience members, it’s hard to mention one without the other. Naturally, the open rate details the amount of emails opened during your campaign, while the click rate highlights the amount of viewers taking the plunge and visiting your site.

The reason it’s important to compare both of these metrics side-by-side is that doing so can illuminate potential issues within your email content. For instance, having a high open rate but coming up short with consumer clicks could point to a deficiency in your message content or promotional material. At the very least, keeping an eye on these metrics can help uncover potential weaknesses in your campaign before any lasting damage ruins your marketing initiative.

New Prospects

Another powerful powerful metric, prospect allocation, looks toward the growth of your contact list and helps map out future lead generation strategies. Unlike the generic total membership statistic, Cannon notes that prospect allocation looks at the rise and fall of new opt-ins during a set period, providing key insight into the progress of your campaign outreach and promotion. By comparing this number to historic data or even prior initiatives altogether, you’ll have a standard by which you can judge the success of current and previous methods of connecting with new audience members.

Unsubscribe Rate

Unfortunately, the other side of the new subscriber coin isn’t as fun to look over as you audit your campaign. However, keeping up with the amount of members that unsubscribe each month is vital to gauging your email marketing health. As Christopher Ratcliff of Econsultancy points out, this process can go far beyond simply watching this stat rise and fall.

To properly manage unsubscribes, Ratcliff suggests tweaking email frequency and content layout. Naturally, making a drastic switch on either of these fronts should only be done in the face of great turmoil, but that doesn’t mean making subtle changes to how often you send out emails, as well the design of the message itself, can’t pay off huge dividends. In the end, there’s no way to completely avoid unsubscribing contact list members, but that doesn’t you’re completely at the mercy of this metric.

Bounced Messages

As far as the actual transmission of your messages goes, few stats tell this story quite as well as your campaign bounce rate. Like the name implies, this KPI measures the deliverability of your emails in terms of “bounced” messages. To add a little extra insight into the discussion surrounding bounced messages, many campaigns split the metric into two separate categories.

The first, hard bounces, comes from having the wrong email address in your contact list and requires immediate attention. On the other hand, soft bounces simply denote a temporary error in the delivery process, like a downed server or full inbox.

“Send to a Friend”

One of the more intriguing metrics for keeping tabs on your email marketing campaign, the “send to a friend” rate, helps keep a track on the viral nature of your operation. In his post detailing key performance metrics, David Baker of MediaPost points out that this stat also comes with a more formal name – the viral rate. Regardless of how you care to label this metric, the point remains the same;

keeping track of the amount of shares, likes, and referrals your messages generate helps highlight the power of your email content, as well as the social factor that goes into the development of these offerings.

Total Revenue

Finally, as intriguing as all of these metrics may be, the evaluation process always winds up in the same place – revenue generated by your email marketing operations. At the end of the day, if this number isn’t up to par, changes always come next. Naturally, what changes need to happen often takes shape based on the results of the other metrics. However, when it’s all said and done, if you’re reeling in the conversions at a healthy pace and you can keep the trend going, there’s no denying that you have a firm grip on the direction of your inbox initiative thanks to utilizing the proper measuring tools.



Our society can’t get enough of putting a ranking or a value on everything. Whether it’s comparing the best NHL prospects too early or finding the best spot to eat lunch with your friends, the idea of having a clear “best” option seems to be universal across every facet of life. When it comes to email marketing, our industry is no different. Every brand wants to have the best marketed messages in place before connecting with contact list members. But is there really one right way to do everything with your emails? To find out, let’s spend some time breaking down some of the major pieces of the greater email marketing process to answer once and for all what goes into “the best” content hitting the inbox across the web.

Perfect Email Text Content

First on the list, the content found within your messages, is arguably the most important part of any email marketing campaign. However, with each series of messages developed for your audience, it’s impossible to lay out a universal plan for success that fits every brand perfectly. Instead, the best content comes from tailoring the viewing experience to what resonates most with your readers.

As Courtney Eckerle of Marketing Sherpa explains, relevant content is the key to making a mark on this front. By spending some time learning about the desires, concerns, and needs of these readers, your brand can then generate impactful and engaging content that both addresses these issues and helps promote your deals and offers in ways that go beyond standard pleas for business.

The Right Send Time

Much like the particulars surrounding the content of the message, timing is also a subjective part of the process that depends entirely on what works for your targeted audience. In his look at the importance of timing, David Moth of Econsultancy reports that finding the optimal times to send out these emails doesn’t come from some guide online, but rather via thorough testing.

By exploring different send times that span both day and night, your brand can pinpoint the exact moment that garners the most views, providing a serious competitive advantage over other organizations that don’t bother with testing this parameter. Considering that Moth goes on to note that only 49 percent of businesses undertake this process, that’s quite a bit of ground you can gain on others in your industry.

Superlative Subject Line Length

While most of the rest of the work that goes into embodying the best practices found in email marketing doesn’t come with a clear cut answer for all brands, optimal subject line length actually goes in the other direction. According to a study highlighted in Ayaz Nanji’s post on Marketing Professors, the most effective length for subject lines falls in the six to ten word range. With the average open rate standing at 21 percent, this length blew past both longer and shorter offerings in terms of performance and reliability.

Oddly enough, Nanji explains that more than half of all brands utilizing email marketing outreach incorporate subject lines that end up being between 11 and 15 words long. If your messages currently sit in this range, it’s time to get tough with the edits and trim down this word count to a more manageable, and effective, total.

Developing an Unstoppable Call-to-Action

The final piece up for discussion, the call-to-action (CTA), returns to the predominately subjective trend found within the world of email marketing. In a review of examples of individually great CTAs, Chris Hexton of Marketing Land points out that it’s easier to trim away what doesn’t work for your brand when compared to focusing on a universal “one size fits all” answer to the this challenge.

To start the process, ask the question of whether or not your CTA promotes a need for urgency and action on the viewer’s end of the promotion. Readers respond well to direct propositions that explain why they should make a visit to your site, so don’t be afraid to point out exactly why dropping everything else and clicking the redirect button is the best thing your audience can do with their time. In fact, Hexton goes on to explain that repeating your CTA throughout the message might not be right for every brand, but it’s an effective tactic in many circumstances. Again, testing goes a long way to uncovering what’s right for the readers that matter most to your organization.

Even though the cookie cutter option doesn’t always exist for each part of the message, there’s definitely enough evidence to point you in the right direction for success now that you understand the true nature of what goes into the best email marketing practices. With this realization on your side, as well as a few quick and effective tips, you should have everything you need to maximize the impact of your limited time on screen in the inbox.



Who says that email marketing is only for the big boys? Whether you’re just starting out or you have established your small business firmly in the local community, having a great email marketing plan can give your company a serious competitive advantage. To help you wow your digital customers the next time your messages reach the inbox, here’s all the pieces that make up the secret to email marketing success for small businesses.

Build a Content Game Plan

While some small businesses get hung up on the technical side of developing great emails, your best bet to build a successful foundation is to start off with a content game plan. From here, you can worry about templates, analytics, and all the other things that take place during campaign optimization and refinement. If you’re in need of a little guidance for a content game plan, Chris Rancourt of The Business Journals suggests starting off with a weekly newsletter.

This type of content might not be the flashiest way to enter the market, but it offers a stable, consistent platform to connect with customers and provide them with valuable content and offers. Additionally, small businesses that properly utilize this channel can further leverage this inbox access by showing off upcoming products and exclusive insider information to participants – both of which add even more value to your small business newsletter.

Play to Upcoming Events

Another way to bridge the gap between you and your customers, while still staying competitive with the bigger brands in your industry, is by maximizing your seasonal relevancy. As Steve Dille of Marketing Land explains, having email content that focuses on the time of year shows your customers that you’re willing to go beyond the standard “promo” messages and actually put some thought into your marketing messages.

While Christmas, Thanksgiving, and all the other major players definitely make the seasonal relevancy cut, that doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the smaller, local traditions in your area. In fact, capitalizing on these events, like city festivals and upcoming concerts, gives you a decided advantage that national and international brands simply can’t replicate.

Get to Know the Spam List

This tip is really for businesses of any size, but it’s still well worth your time if you’re running a smaller outfit. With Gmail and the rest of the email service provider world segmenting your inbox into primary and secondary sections, it’s more important than ever before that you know which spam words can earn your emails a one way trip into the digital trash can, according to Matthew Collis of Huffington Post.

Plenty of the entries on this list are the usual suspects. “Free,” “urgent,” “sales,” and “act now” all headline the spam word gallery. However, some less obvious options, like “click” and “legal,” also put a big red flag on your email operations. If you’re unsure about a certain word, don’t hesitate to connect with your email marketing service provider. This way, you can avoid joining the less than savory crowd that calls the spam folder home.

Think Mobile

The days of email access exclusively coming from the desktop are long gone, so putting an emphasis on mobile viewers matters now more than ever. As Kate Kiefer Lee of Forbes Magazine points out, 63 percent of North Americans and 41 percent of Europeans would either delete or ignore a marketed email if it’s not optimized for mobile devices. Even if your audience isn’t as a big as the national and international brands, it’s still important to cater to these readers.

To keep the attention of these members of your audience, spend some time developing mobile messages that fit the smaller screen. Whether it is cutting all nonessential imagery or adopting a vertical layout that puts your call-to-action (CTA) front and center, making it easy to view these emails from smartphones and tablets is a crucial part of making a splash in the inbox.

Test Often

The final secret to email marketing success as a small business comes with some good old-fashioned hard work. Understanding what your email audience wants isn’t always easy, so be prepared to test variations of your message early and often. A/B testing, consumer polling, and a variety of other practices hold the key to developing a consumer profile that fits these customers. With this constantly evolving profile in hand, as well as the rest of what you’ve learned about email marketing, there’s nothing stopping your small business from joining the ranks of the biggest names in the business with a powerful and responsive campaign.


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