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For most email marketing practitioners, it’s all about staying hip and current with your inbox content. Tips on being conversational, relevant, and engaging have flooded the web, leading plenty of brands to fire off messages that look more like emails between old friends and less like marketing offerings. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, that doesn’t mean it’s always the right way to approach email marketing and brand outreach. With a growing push for more official, professionally composed newsletters gaining steam in the industry, now might be the time for your company to switch up its style and partake in a little brand journalism the next time you fire off a marketed message to your audience.

The Current Case for Newsletters

So why exactly are branded newsletters back on the upswing? According to Klint Finley of TechCrunch, you can thank the rise of celebrity bloggers for this renewed interest in more structured email content. By making this content exclusive to the email audience, these digital thought leaders and personalities have drummed up some serious hype for the format. Essentially, it’s the tried and true method of taking something popular, in this case pop culture or industry oriented content, and telling people the only way to indulge in it is by signing up for the “secret club” – in this case the email contact list.

The Benefit of This Approach

Even if your brand isn’t generating the same traffic as the biggest blogging names on the web, that doesn’t mean you can’t ride this wave of excitement as well. Finley goes on in his report on newsletters to note that for those able to pull off a successful email newsletter, there’s plenty to look forward to. First up is the increased control in the content dissemination process. Instead of saving your best copy for the company blog and hoping it makes its way around the web, brands that have a killer newsletter can leverage the most influential platform – the inbox – to spread the word on these top tier offerings.

Additionally, there’s the simple fact that readers pay more attention to what’s going with their emails. We could bore you with a mountain of stats regarding the power of this channel, but Finley’s discussion regarding author Warren Ellis’ contact list provides a much more personal example. Essentially, for each newsletter Ellis sends out, he averages around 5,000 opens. When you consider that his total contact list sits at 6,865, that number really starts to carry some weight. To put it simply, newsletters are in a great position to take advantage of the demand for more detailed content.

Everything You Need to Make a Successful Newsletter

So now that you’ve heard the case for trying out newsletters, it’s time to talk about what goes into an optimized take on this content. To start off, Forbes Magazine’s Kate Kiefer Lee suggests spending some time working on your brand message. It’s definitely not the flashiest part of the process, but if your newsletters come out as disjointed sections with random facts inserted at varying intervals, you’ll be wishing you took the time to hammer out a clear, distinct theme to your content.

Once you have your brand message in order, Lee goes on to point out that the best newsletters are “scannable.” Naturally, not all of the content you offer is relevant to every single reader, so breaking it up into easily digestible, but related and interwoven, sections is a great way to offer an attractive experience for your audience.

The next step, according to Summer Luu of Business 2 Community, is all about timing. Even the best newsletters in the world don’t stand much of a chance if you’re firing them off during odd hours or lulls in audience activity. While it might seem easy to just fit these emails into your schedule and call it good, you’re much better off devoting some time to researching the peak hours and behavioral habits of your audience. This way, your approach can focus more on the data supporting appropriate timing, and less on convenience and the path of least resistance.

Finally, Luu offers up the last key piece to a great newsletter – attention to detail. Whether it’s proofreading or double-checking linked materials, anything you can do to put a little polish on your content goes a long way to making a splash with discerning readers. With so many great options flooding consumer inboxes these days, even the smallest upgrades that come from focusing on the little things could mean the difference between revolutionizing how you interact with your audience and watching the competition steal your thunder with higher quality content.



In today’s email marketing landscape, mailing list numbers are nice, but if you don’t have the content to keep these consumers interested, don’t expect them to stick around for very long. As Elite Email’s president, Robert Burko, explained in a recent post on Marketo, brands must ensure that they emphasize value when fighting with the competition in a packed inbox setting. To help get you on your way toward this goal, let’s spend a few minutes looking over some of the more effective ways you can add value to your email content as you prepare to roll out a new series of marketed messages.

Avoid Stock Content

One of the biggest ways to turn off your audience is by offering up bland information that’s easily found with a quick Google search. While this is definitely easier than spending time creating unique, engaging brand content, it’s not the best way to build a marketing strategy. In the place of boring, worn-out offerings, Shawn Naggiar of the Content Marketing Institute suggests that brands should personalize the experience as much as possible.

In the case of your marketed messages, this goes beyond simply starting greetings with the reader’s first name and toward building content that fits their habits and styles. Whether it’s a sporting goods company using this space to tie in its products to the world’s greatest hiking locations or a restaurant offering up tips for the ultimate romantic dinner date, having content that speaks to what matters to your audience is one of the best ways to add value to the email experience.

Don’t Be Afraid of User Generated Content

One of the most effective ways to learn about a product or service is to connect with someone you know, like a friend of family member, and get his or her opinion on the item. Thanks to the Internet, there’s no shortage of even more unbiased reviews and testimonials. With this in mind, it only makes sense to bring the value of a second opinion directly to your email audience with user-generated content, according to Courtney Eckerle of Marketing Sherpa.

As you harvest these social media posts, customer testimonials, blog reviews, and even comments off your site, it’s important to get permission from the original author. If you’re running a little short on options, don’t be afraid to reach out to your audience and request feedback. If you stick to these honest customer opinions that support your offerings and avoid faking the process with staged reviews, you’ll give a significant amount of value to the audience from the source they trust the most.

Highlight the Big Points

The old sayings about time being the most precious commodity or resource might seem worn-out, but there’s still some truth in these statements. With this perspective, one of the most unique ways you can add value to your emails is not with the content you offer, but how you offer this content. To save your readers time and effort when they open up your message, Kate Kiefer Lee of Forbes Magazine suggests making your content “scannable.”

Short paragraphs, subheadings, bolded statements, and even image breaks that help highlight important points all do this job exceptionally well. If you’re planning on releasing a particularly long message in your next campaign, take a second to add a teaser with info on the content at the top of the email. This way, your readers can get right to the point and start sifting through the message for the portions that matter most to them.

Location Is Everything

One of the best tools in your email marketing bag of tricks is understanding the location of your target audience. Naturally, this is a little tougher for national or international brands to pull off, but if you’re honing in on shoppers in a certain city or region, this knowledge is good to use during your campaign. As Angie Zener of Marketing Land suggests, tailoring your content to add value in the form of local updates is a smart and savvy way to build an even better relationship with these consumers.

Whether your brand is sending out severe weather warnings during a particularly bitter winter, or you have the chance to remind customers to pick up sunscreen and sunglasses with a UV index update during those hot summer months, adding value in the form of localized message content is a smart way to add enhance the quality of your messages. While this, and the rest of the tips in this post, will require a little extra effort on your end, there’s no doubt that your audience will love this new approach that’s engaging and rich in meaningful content.



Saying that Gmail is kind of a big deal to your email marketing operations is like saying that it might get a little rainy during a hurricane. With over 425 million users, including 5 million businesses, and 66 of the world’s top 100 universities, chances are that a big chunk of your email contact list is dedicated to reaching out to Gmail’s vast base of users. Because of this, making sure you know how to tailor your messages and target these customers is one of the biggest hurdles standing between your brand and an audience that is more than willing to keep in touch. To help you along the way, here are five great tips for connecting with the millions on Gmail, regardless of how big your contact list is currently.

Avoid Constantly Changing Sender Addresses

Having a “From” address that is all over the place is not a smart way to make a good impression on these users. The main problem here is that most email users equate a constantly changing From address as a highly spammy tactic. While some marketers do incorporate constantly shifting sender addresses, this isn’t exactly the company you want to keep when it comes to your brand’s outreach. Instead, stick with a stable and easily recognizable address. This way, your audience can view your emails more like a message from an old friend and less like a shady scam sent by a spammer.

Don’t Go Overboard on Shortened Links

Speaking of spam tactics, one that often finds its way into the world of email marketing is shortened links. While there is nothing wrong with slimming down your message with a shortened link or two, having a message full of these sometimes cryptic looking additions can leave your Gmail users wondering if this message is full of digital landmines that they’d rather not navigate. Instead, keep things simple with only a few links and let the body of your message speak for itself. This way, Gmail users don’t get the wrong idea and blacklist your message before finishing the first sentence.

Keep up a Reliable Headcount

Another smart way of targeting Gmail users is simply knowing how many you have on your list. While this might seem like a “duh” statement at first, there is a lot of info you can glean from an accurate headcount. Comparing Gmail usage to other providers gives you the basis you need to properly interpret analytics. For instance, since Gmail caches images to keep user information private, and you potentially have a large number of Gmail users on your list, viewer location and other tracking statistics may be way off base if you are assuming the numbers accurately represent your entire audience. Should this be the case with your current system, having a revelation like this regarding your Gmail users can not only help you plan around gaps in information regarding this audience, but also gives you the added benefit of refining the numbers supporting the other portions of your email contact list.

Understand the Real Power of Segmentation

Plenty of email marketing “experts” like to talk about segmentation, but chopping up your audience by email service providers isn’t exactly being thorough. The best way to segment your users, specifically those who stick with Gmail, is to sort your list by interests. Whether you find this information via surveys or by tracking activity on your page once users click your links, having this knowledge on hand gives your list a new sense of definition that can drastically improve your targeting process. Considering that really connecting with your customers is the name of the game in email marketing, it only makes sense to put a little more effort into the process than just checking off whether they use Gmail or some other service provider.

Do You Really Know How Deliverable Your Emails Are to Gmail Users?

To wrap things up, the biggest way you can enhance your targeting and success with Gmail users answers a pretty simple question – are they even reading your messages? With over 85 percent of the world’s email traffic considered malicious in nature, it can be pretty hard to get users to even give you a chance to move this message out of the spam folder on Gmail and into their inbox tabs. By tracking placement rates, you can see where your message ends up 7 days a week, clueing you in on a sudden shift in the wrong direction – namely toward the virtual email trash can – and giving you a chance to retool these messages toward more relevant and desired content that entices Gmail users to give your brand a second look.



Everyone who has a stake in the world of email marketing loves to talk about the “power” of reaching out to customers in their inbox – but where are the hard facts backing this up? If this is your first go round with tailoring messages toward a specific audience, there’s plenty of stats, known as key performance indicators (KPIs), that can help you sift through all this talk and find out what’s really working and what might need a little bit of tweaking before the next email campaign. Instead of wasting your time listing off dozens of KPIs that may or may not have some bearing on how you gauge success, here are the five crucial stats that not only apply to any email marketing initiative, but also do the best job showing off exactly how well things are going once your messages hit the audiences inbox.

Gross Sales

First on the list is the gross sales stat. While it might seem pretty obvious, there are few performance indicators that make it easier on you when you need a quick and simple method for figuring out what’s working and what’s not. The whole process for evaluation goes a little something like this; email campaign starts and sales go up, then you’re doing something right. If sales stay the same or dip, it’s time to bring things back to the drawing board and retool your plan. Naturally, this is cutting out a ton of variables – changes in the industry, new product releases, etc. – that can shift sales one way or the other, but it’s a great indicator to start the evaluation and lends itself well toward digging into the more specific measurements.

Site Traffic

Another KPI that takes a look at the big picture is site traffic. Like the name implies, this one’s all about taking note of visits to your site from repeat customers and new shoppers alike. While most companies just glance over the totals for this site metric, doing so could cause you to miss out on some highly valuable info every time you don’t spend more than a few seconds looking into this stat.

Understanding the nature of the visit helps you break down performance by going beyond the plain old “good” and “bad” labels. Instead, looking into how many new or unique visits come in, or how often repeat visits occur with known customers, helps explain your sites traffic in terms of what segments you do well with and what segments might need a little extra attention. Depending on your products and services, looking beyond the surface of this KPI can really give you the insight needed to knock the customers’ socks off with your next set of emails.

Click Rate

Going a little deeper, click rates can help you sort traffic into different groups via the source – who’s coming in from your emails, from social media, Google search pages, etc. – in addition to frequency and the type of visit.

With this information in hand, you can determine if a link was compelling enough to warrant a click, and if users are responding to certain landing pages more than others. On top of all this, by having the raw numbers in hand and comparing them with the metrics from your other outreach avenues, you can really gauge exactly where your emails stand in your entire marketing initiative.

Bounced Messages

Stepping away from KPIs that are mostly used to show how good things are going with your emails, here’s one that can help uncover a big problem that might be undermining all of your hard work – bounced messages. Companies that experience high bounce rates are dealing with a contact list that’s full of incorrect or deactivated email accounts, both of which lead to undeliverable or “bounced” messages. If you’re working with a marketer or software that has the right tools, simply setting up your system to automatically ditch these duds as soon as they bounce will go a long way to clean up your list and more importantly increase your ROI.

Churn Rate

The final KPI that should be an essential part of your next email marketing evaluation pulls a little bit of inspiration from some of the others on our list. The churn rate of an email marketing campaign keeps track of the number of people who decide to opt-out of your contact list. Obviously, in a perfect world you wouldn’t see any; however, it’s just part of the marketing process, so turning a blind eye to it can only hurt your options moving forward. Instead, staying aware of your unsubscribes, as well as how they stack up to new and sustained contacts, can give you a great overview of where your outreach stands – especially when you pair it up with the other leading KPIs found on this list.



By now, you know that email marketing and social media are two peas in a pod when it comes to reaching out to your audience. Whether it’s one of the countless marketing blogs out there telling you how great these two are together or your own personal experience doing a little brand promotion work, it’s not exactly the best kept secret in the industry. However, what plenty of talking heads fail to cover is exactly how you can put this connection to good use and grow your email contact list without a lot of extra effort. Thankfully, all you need to do is take a few minutes and look over these must see tips to get the ball rolling on your next big email marketing push.

Use Facebook’s Built-in Apps to Make an Email Opt-in Form (and Don’t Forget to Promote It!)

One of the absolute best synergies between social media and email marketing comes from the biggest social platform in the world. As part of its extensive app library, Facebook gives your brand the opportunity to setup an email opt-in form right on your page. While this might not seem like much, think back to the last time you were browsing a page and had to click an external link to check out an article or sign-up for something; chances are you probably just kept scrolling down because you didn’t want to leave the Facebook page or app on your phone. Your customers have the same mindset, so make it easy on them with a sign-up sheet that keeps them on Facebook. Once you have it up and running, don’t forget to post about it so that it pops up in their newsfeeds.

Each Social Site Deserves a Little Extra Attention

In a world where everything is automated and lumped together for convenience, it’s easy to be lazy and approach your social media engagement in broad and generic strokes. So many platforms give you the ability to post to all sites at once, so why not do this and save a little time? While this sounds good at first, the reality is that different people prefer different networks, so using the same method to promote your list across all of them isn’t your best bet.

Much like your email templates that have links and icons for each network you post on, instead of just one option, your promotional messages should also mix things up to entice different portions of your audience. While this does mean that you’ll need to test and tweak the different parts of your posts to see what Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. viewers like, the sign-ups you get in return will make you happy you didn’t take the easy way out and just click “post to all.”

Free Stuff Is a Great Motivator

If after all this you’re still having trouble with sagging contact list numbers, don’t be afraid to do start handing out some freebies. While you might not want to make this your go to plan, it doesn’t hurt to have some giveaway ideas in store for the times when you need to inject some new life into your audience’s enthusiasm. After all, nothing gets the online crowd buzzing more than a post offering goodies or discounts to those who take a minute to sign-up. If you really want to go deep on this strategy, adding in a small bonus for those who like or retweet your offer will have it popping up on potential new customer newsfeeds in no time.

Give Your Users a Chance to Sound off

With the rest of the tips on this list focusing on how you can make the sign-up experience enticing for customers, this one shifts the balance of power in the other direction a little bit. Customers love giving feedback, so why not give them a chance to speak their minds and let your brand know exactly what they like and dislike about your email campaigns. It doesn’t have to be an open Facebook post or Google+ community discussion, but linking back to feedback forms and customer support email accounts on your social media pages offers a direct line to the people you’re trying to connect in the first place.

Don’t Forget the Secondary Networks

The final tip that can really grow your email list doesn’t have anything to do with Facebook or Twitter. While these guys are definitely the top dogs when it comes to social media, that doesn’t mean they are the only players in the game. Working with Pinterest, LinkedIn, and the other up and coming platforms can help you tap into a user base that might not connect very often on the bigger networks. Additionally, getting creative and doing things like saving your email offers as pins on Pinterest can help push your brand image ahead of the competition. When it comes to email marketing and social media, isn’t that where you want to be with your audience?



Watching young minds develop and flourish as they enter the working world is the goal of any academic institution. Well, that and bringing in enough donations to keep the doors open for the next group of tomorrow’s great thinkers. If your college or university needs a boost to get donations rolling back in, take a few minutes to look over some tips that, when paired with an email marketing campaign, can get those wallets open and get your alumni reinvesting in their beloved alma mater.

Treat Your Student Mailing List the Same Way

The first place to start is with the group that hasn’t even walked across the stage on graduation day yet. While it might seem a little odd to target students, what better way to build your alumni mailing list than to bridge this gap? You already have all of this contact info, so working in content and messages that help promote donations and gifts back to the university in weekly student updates and other newsletters is a great way to plant the seed. While not all of these undergrads will make it all the way in the four (or five) years it takes to get a degree, having this concept become a part of the culture once they enter the real world can keep the money flowing back to your school.

Anecdotes Can Be Pretty Powerful

In a similar vein is making things a little more personal with anecdotes from past students. While posting a five page interview with a recent graduate in your next email might be a little overboard, having blurbs or small sections of your regular messages that quote or reference successful alumni who donate can send a powerful message. In fact, major universities like Rice have used a program that takes on the same style to bump alumni participation rates, especially in the new and lapsed categories. Adding in a donation matching program further spiced up this reinvigorated campaign, but that really only works if you’ve got the extra funds (or a few very generous donors) to back up the increased surge in donations.

Break Things Up by School

Another clever way of optimizing your email marketing campaign, particularly if your budget’s a little on the tight side, is to focus on increasing donations for the schools that need it most within your university. By honing in on the different sections of your institution, you can help pump funds back into the programs that are struggling or that just haven’t found the right way to connect with their alumni. Part of this process is moving your email content from the general and focusing more on what each of these schools will do with the funds. Think of it this way – if an art grad sees that her donation will help fund a new studio for the school of arts, she’s more likely to pitch in than if you simply send out a generic email that doesn’t show where the money is going.

Offer Giving Levels

One of the biggest reasons people don’t donate to their alma mater is because they think it’s going to cost an arm and a leg. Depending on which school you went to, this might not be too far from the truth. However, your institution can curb this concept and rebuild flagging alumni donations by offering up different “giving levels.” This strategy works by incorporating different donation levels – which you can set to whatever values you think are fair – into your promoted emails and website. This way, instead of letting people assume they need to fork over huge amounts of cash, you give them the opportunity to give smaller and larger amounts. While it might not seem like much, securing all the small donations that would have otherwise never come your way can add up fast.

Tie-in Your Messages to the Rest of Your Alumni Program

Once you’ve covered the previous tips, the final member of the list brings everything full circle. Heading back down to Texas for this example shows that Rice isn’t the only school looking to revolutionize the alumni donating process. Texas Christian University (TCU) has a plan in place that it hopes will surpass Rice by building a complete marketing process. Basically, if you want to follow in TCU’s footsteps, your email marketing campaign needs to compliment everything else that’s going on around campus. From movies shown at orientation to keeping donations on the minds of current and former students via direct mail, email, and social media, a full service campaign with promotional emails at its core can help lock down these funds for years to come.



Sometimes we let the discussion on this blog get a little too meta, covering topics and reports that assume you have years of experience in the email marketing business. However, if you’re just looking for something a little more introductory to get your feet wet before taking the plunge into a full-on campaign centered around emailing interested customers, we’ve got you covered. With the help of a great study on the subject, as well as a few other resources that offer some seriously potent insight, you can get up to speed in no time and see just how important email marketing is to your brand awareness.


The first pillar, which also happens to be the most obvious, focuses on what your message actually says to the reader. Of course, shooting off an email that makes you and your customers sound like old pals getting back in touch – all while sneaking in a sales pitch – is easier said than done. Thankfully, there are a few simple tips that can help get your message across and beef up your email content in a big way.

To start, give your readers something they actually want. Is your newsletter just thinly veiled product links and descriptions? Chances are you’re not going to get very far with that kind of approach. Instead, tie your offerings into things that relate to your reader’s daily life if possible. Making things fun and conversational never hurts either – but more on that in just a little bit. Perhaps the biggest way to make great content is to make your message scalable by the viewer. Your audience is just as busy as you are, so make it simple for them and put an emphasis on the big points. From there, they can go the extra step and read a little deeper if you caught their attention.


Getting back to that whole conversational thing brings us to the second pillar – personalization. If you can swing this one, expect open rates to jump by 29 percent when compared to the standard mass message approach. Just remember that personalizing your messages and adding a conversational tone can go wrong in a big way if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you want to avoid coming off like a creep, don’t go overboard with the name dropping. While it might seem like a great idea to have your emails insert the viewer’s name for “X” throughout the message, all you’re doing is making what could be a great newsletter or promo turn into the most awkward email your audience members have ever opened. That’s not a reputation you want attached to your brand no matter how good your prices are.


Last, but not least, is matching up your messages with the right audience at the right time. This process, called segmentation, looks pretty complex at first glance, but is a breeze once you set your mailing list forms up right. Basically, think back to any form you’ve filled out recently online. While it might not have meant much to you to tell the site your gender, location, and any other vanilla info, this stuff goes a long way when splitting up your audience into little groups. Digging a little deeper and asking simple questions related to your business gives you all the knobs and levers you need to push out your various emails to the right screens at the perfect time.

In many ways, you can use this data to make personalizing your emails go beyond “Hi, (insert name here).” Think of it this way; if you sell car parts and ask for the type of vehicle on the subscriber form, you can drop in a little nod to the car by asking how it is in the email. For all the brand diehards out there, asking how the Chevy, Ford, etc. is running to kick off the email adds a nice little touch that can reel them in for the rest of the pitch.

Bringing It All Together

Naturally, these three pillars are just the beginning of email marketing. Just like anything else, once you’ve mastered the basics, there is always more you can add to go the extra mile. To hit the ground running though, you really can’t go wrong by hammering out great, personalized content that segments your audience into manageable, unique groups. From here, the sky’s the limit for where your email marketing campaign can go as you learn to tweak all the moving parts of the process and score a win with your target viewers.



Email Marketing Fuels Social Media Campaigns

Email marketing and social media are keys to online business success. This is true for both small and large businesses alike; the problem most have is effectively integrating the two.

Many use social media to drive traffic to landing pages and signup forms in order to build their email lists. From there, they start their email marketing campaigns. This is effective, but email can also be used to help fuel a social media campaign.

Here are five tactics to make email a driving force for successful social media campaigns.

Include Social Components In Email Newsletters

Elite Email allow social profiles to be included in each email template. When setting up a newsletter, including social profiles does two things:

  1. It allows the recipients of an email to share it with their friends on their preferred social networks.
  2. It also gives recipients an opportunity to connect with a brand on social media by following that brand’s account or page, opening an additional channel for communication and engagement.

As the online space becomes more crowded, competition for attention is fierce and brands need to take every opportunity available to them to get in front of their target customers. When someone who has already opted in to receive emails chooses to follow and engage with a brand on social media, it increases the chances that they will help to spread that brand’s messages to their social contacts.

This is the online equivalent to word-of-mouth advertising. People still trust the recommendations of their friends more than any other form of marketing.

The other way to make emails social is to include hash tags. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook all make use of the hash tag feature to keep up with a particular topic. If a brand is launching a new campaign with a heavy emphasis on social media, they should have a topic picked out that they will create a hash tag for.

It could be the topic itself, or a related word or term that fits that topic. Whatever it is, it should be included along with graphics and videos in emails to encourage sharing, the use of hash tags and further engagement.

Give An Idea Of What People Can Expect On Each Social Site

When sending an email with the intention of boosting a social media campaign, users may want to know what will be different from the normal email and website content they are used to.

Creative emails may include videos, images or gifs that show users what they can expect to find on social media. It may be a contest, special deals and offers only shared with followers on social media, or even non-promotional content meant to build a brand.

It doesn’t really matter what the campaign entails. The only thing that matters is that people know what they are about to see, and that it is interesting enough for them to engage with it.

For most people, choosing to engage with a brand on social media is a step lower in terms of commitment than giving their email address. They are most likely already getting a steady stream of emails on a daily basis and can get overwhelmed.

Taking the opportunity to lighten things up and provide some sort of incentive to engage socially is a great idea. Not only does it change the dynamic of the brand-customer relationship, it also gives brands an opportunity to get more personal feedback on what is working and what isn’t.

Tell People What You Want Them To Do

A strong call-to-action is often the missing element in getting a conversion of any type. People don’t always know it, but they need to be told what to do.

If a brand includes social sharing with their email newsletters, they should tell users exactly what to do. Including a call-to-action in the email with directions to like a brand on Facebook, tweet an email newsletter to their friends, use a hash tag for discussions or follow on Instagram is a surefire way to increase social activity between target customers and brands.

Don’t just include icons or use a short line like “This email can be shared” at the end of a paragraph or at the bottom of a newsletter. Use clear instructions like “This email can be shared with your friends, click the Twitter icon to tweet it now.”

While it would seem that most people online would know what to do, many don’t. And those that do will often look past the sharing icon and eventually close the email. Tell them what to do and they are more likely to do it.

Make Your Landing Pages Social

Since most email is sent with the intention of getting the recipient to click a link to take them to a landing page, those pages need to be social media friendly as well.

Instead of including the sharing icons at the top of each post or in a scrolling bar to the side, begin each page with a social call-to-action. There may be an incentive, such as unlocking content on a blog post or getting access to a discount code. Likewise, there may be no incentive and simply the direction to share with friends. By building your Facebook and social media profiles (there are many companies that help with this), and by optimizing your landing page call to actions, you will improve your conversion rate significantly.

Each campaign is different, but if the purpose of a particular email or sequence of emails is to fuel a social media campaign, then each action a user takes should reflect that.

Use Email To Test Headlines

Headlines are vital to attracting visitors, getting email opens and earning social shares. The best usually evoke some form of emotion or pique curiosity.

If a business already has a large email subscriber list in place, they may want to test a sequence of emails on a topic related to their social campaign with different types of headlines.

From here, they can track open and click-throughs to determine what works best for their audience. People in different markets will respond differently to each type of headline. Some will open and click-through for headlines that appear urgent. Others will respond best to headlines posing a question. Some may even respond favorably to controversial topics included in headlines.

The key is to set up a sequence of emails leading up to a campaign and to track which headline received the most action. Once that data has been gathered, more effective headlines can be written for a social media campaign.

Bonus Tip

Use email to hint at something new on the horizon. It is not important to tell people that a new social campaign is starting, but to hint at something new and fun to watch out for.

This curiosity builds suspense and interest. These help to keep a brand in the minds of their audience, helping to ensure that whatever it is they do, people will take action o it once that new thing that has been hinted at actually happens.

Integrate All Channels To Maximize Success

Instead of focusing on one area as the main marketing focus, brands need to know how to use each one to fuel the other. Effective email marketing can drive social, just as effective social marketing can help fuel email.


Today we have a guest blog post from my very good friend and seasoned email marketing veteran, Aubrey Stork.

Like other Email Marketers, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into finding fun and unique ways to build the opt-in subscriber lists for various organizations.  The truth of the matter is, if you don’t continue to deliver on your promise, all your list-building efforts are for not; your list will erode as quickly as you can say “See ya later alligator!”

Please Don't Unsubscribe

While some still use shady methods to minimize opt-outs like hiding the opt-out link and creating convoluted processes, retaining subscribers is best done through proper opt-in practices, optimal sending frequency and ensuring value is delivered with each and every communication.

Here are some of the biggest factors contributing to unsubscribes:

1. Shoddy Opt-in Process

Permission is paramount.  While this point has been driven home for years, it’s still prevalent with many organizations who simply add addresses they think should be added to their mailing lists without proper permission.  Marketers: list size is only one measurement of success.  If your mailing list is massive, but no one on your list cares about what you have to say, what’s the point?  Sending your message to those who haven’t opted-in not only goes against worldwide email best practices and is in direct violation of the E-Privacy Directive (and shortly CASL/FISA/Bill-C-28 in Canada), but it’s also a great disservice to your brand and will result in higher opt-out rates.

Single opt-in’s can also be an invitation for illegitimate sign-ups, so implement a double-opt in to maintain the integrity of your list.  Though on the surface, marketers see the double opt-in as an impedance to the process, it’s actually a fantastic opportunity.  Your new subscriber is more likely to open your double opt-in and welcome email than any other communication through your entire email relationship.  Take advantage and use these pieces as up-sell and profile-development opportunities.

2. Unfulfilled Promises

Sign-up now and get a free week membership!

Sign-up now to access your free white paper!

Sign-up today and receive a $50 gift card!

These incentives may be enough to get the opt-in, but it does little to set the expectation for the ongoing email relationship and may therefore translate to poor subscriber quality.  Tell the potential subscriber how you’re going to continue to provide value.  Include the ongoing promise in the call-to-action.  For example, “Sign-up now to access your free white paper and receive exclusive access to research every quarter!”

During the sign-up process, include a link to your latest newsletter to demonstrate that you’re living up to your promise and continuing to offer value to subscribers.

3. Wrong Frequency

Frequency is a balancing act.  With consumers being exposed to as many as 5,000 brands each day, you don’t want to inundate your subscribers with information too frequently, but you need also need to stay present so that they don’t forget who you are and the value you bring.

Some studies show that a communication every 3-4 weeks is ideal, however; this really depends on your business, your customers/subscriber base and your content.

One of the key benefits to email is the ability to run tests and get quick, accurate results.  So, see what difference a week makes with your subscribers and try testing frequency:  Take 2 samples of your database.  Send to 1 sample a week in advance of your regular sending time.  Send to the other sample 1 week after your normal sending time.  See how they compare to the rest of your subscribers.  Were the open rates higher?  How about the click-through rates?  If there’s no significant difference, keep this going for a few months (4-6 months should begin to show some variance).  Continue this sort of test to further refine and find the optimal frequency foryour subscriber base.*

Your optimal frequency can also be driven by content, which brings us to the next point…

4. Poor Content

While still considering all of the above, if you have an engaged audience who recognizes the value of your email, frequency will matter less than an exchange of valuable content.  The biggest factor driving opt-outs is irrelevant or too much content within a given communication.  Another key benefit of email is the ability to easily target your message.  Make sure everyone your sending to will care about what you have to say: target your messages accordingly.

If you’re trying to maintain a certain frequency but you don’t have content to pique the interest of everyone in your database, consider the following:

  • Add dynamic content to ensure that regardless of the story/stories being featured, there’s something individually pertinent to each recipient.  For example, if you’re a Realtor and you’re sending information to your client base on increasing rates, someone who just locked into their mortgage for 5 years may not be interested, however; if you can highlight homes in the specific recipient’s area, this will provide value to the subscriber.  Or, if you run a gym you could include an exercise of the week that’s tailored to the type of workout the recipient does (cardio, weights, classes, etc.) alongside your primary message.
  • Include polls.  If you include a poll, regardless of the editorial content, you’re providing something for your subscriber to engage with, not to mention that polls can build on your recipient profiles which can in turn help you continue to refine and tailor your content.
  • Include social feeds.  Similar to polls, this could be another way to engage your subscriber.  Even if your recipient doesn’t relate to the content in your current newsletter, the communication is an opportunity to build brand ambassadors in the social space.  Get them involved by showing the latest – and most compelling – conversations about your organization on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

If you have the opposite problem, too much content, organize it dynamically or target reordered variations of your message based on the recipient’s profile or past interaction(s) with your newsletter(s).  In any case, keep the content within your newsletter to a minimum.  Include teaser-text and link out to the full story, not only to keep the message clean and clear, but also to be able to accurately measure engagement and better understand the kind of information most important to your subscriber.

Over and Out

Building a high-quality subscriber base can be tough work, so be sure to treat every communication as a privilege and not a right in order to continually engage and retain your subscribers.  Leverage the power of email with testing, personalization, segmentation and dynamic content to refine your efforts.  Above all, never forget about the promise you made when your subscriber signed-up; ask yourself if each recipient will find value in your email before hitting send.

 *This is a simple test method that requires all other variables to remain consistent (i.e. content, day and time deployed, other communications with your organization, etc.)

For 10 years, Email Strategist Aubrey Stork has been making meaningful connections with customers, clients, prospects and donors through email. His strategic approach blends the experience of bringing both technical and creative solutions to many of the world’s most recognized brands.  As a trusted partner, you can count on Aubrey to deliver strategic email solutions that effectively address your unique business challenges.

Is your audience disengaged?  Is your share of wallet what it could be?  Are you caught in a cycle of expensive customer acquisition due to high churn?  Connect with Aubrey today to learn how your business challenges might be effectively and efficiently addresses with email.

© 2013 Elite Email Inc. Blog Admin