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quickideas

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

Rework Your Welcome Email

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

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

Hijack the News

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

Do a “Best of” Edition

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

Try to Go Viral

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

Say Thank You

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

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

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

 

sms_mistakes

It’s no surprise that SMS marketing is often viewed as a layup, or “gimmie,” in terms of consumer outreach and influence. After all, people can’t put down their phones, so why wouldn’t this type of marketing stand as the path of least resistance when compared to other alternatives? Unfortunately, history is littered with simple shots and opportunities gone wrong, from Rutgers’ Myles Mack firing off this unbelievably bad shot, to the various blunders of His Airness, Michael Jordan. To ensure your brand never makes the SMS gag reel, let’s spend a few minutes talking about the five simple SMS mistakes you simply can’t afford to make as you move forward with your mobile marketing operations.

Forgetting the CTA

First up on the list of unforgivable mobile blunders is forgetting to include a call-to-action (CTA) in your message content. While some of you are probably staring at the screen and shaking your head with disbelief in response to that mistake, Rimma Kats of the Mobile Marketer points out that this issue pops up quite often in the world of SMS marketing. Naturally, you’ll want to support your CTA with solid details and message content, but try not to lose sight of just what you’re aiming for with this outreach. Otherwise, you could be the not-so-proud owner of a mobile marketing campaign that didn’t bother engaging its target audience and spurring these individuals to further action.

Succumbing to Generic Content

Additionally, Kats also hones in on the fact that generic or boring content is another prime issue afflicting many SMS messages. Sure, there’s something to be said for getting straight to the point, but this approach omits one crucial fact – customers who sign up for your contact list generally see a lot of other mobile content as well, so you better find a way to differentiate yourself in a sometimes crowded inbox. If you’re just one among many, standing out and making a name for your brand in the text message inbox won’t come easy.

Being Too Complex

Conversely, Business 2 Community’s Matt Baglia points out that cramming a novel’s worth of text into one of these messages isn’t exactly the right answer either. The beauty of the text message is that it’s a short and sweet way to connect with customers, so keep these attributes in mind as you build your content. A good rule of thumb is that if you can impart the same engaging and exciting message with fewer words, there’s no reason not to distill your content down to a more straightforward and simpler form. For the brands that find the middle ground between complex and generic solutions, SMS success and growth shouldn’t follow too far behind.

Thinking Everyone That Owns a Phone Is the Same

When it comes to getting to know your audience, Douglas Karr of the Marketing Technology Blog explains that, just like the people who open your marketed emails, not everyone who owns a phone is the same. If you’re familiar with list segmentation and targeting specific portions of your audience via email marketing or social media management, then this revelation should come as no surprise.

Naturally, the ways in which you differentiate viewers might be a little different – phone type, data plans, etc. – but the basic premise remains the same; if you’re able to build unique and personalized content for each portion of your audience, your campaign’s ability to convert these messages into sales and brand page visits should rise by a significant margin.

Skipping the Unsubscribe Details

Finally, Karr rounds out our list of unforgivable SMS mistakes with a look at the most egregious error committed by modern brands – failing to inform your audience about their mandated right to unsubscribe from your list. While the other follies found on this list can deal temporary damage to your reputation and ability to generate influence among your target demographics, skipping the unsubscribe details can put you firmly on the wrong side of the law.

From our anti-spam laws here in Canada (CASL), to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) sister legislation imposed by the lawmakers south of the border, the message remains clear; if you don’t give these readers a chance to say “no thanks,” expect some serious backlash. However, as long as you play by the rules, as well as take to heart the other solutions laid out by this list, there’s nothing that says your brand can’t exist and thrive in the world of mobile marketing.

 

supercharge

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

The Basic Concept

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

Understanding the Need for Loyalty Programs

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

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

Making Sure You Have Your Facts Straight

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

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

Finding the Right Plan of Attack

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

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

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

 

social_reach

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

Images in the Inbox and Beyond

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

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

Make All of Your Content Shareable

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

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

Understanding the Power of the Consumer Testimonial

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

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

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

Interact Across a Wide Variety of Platforms

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

 

Right_for_Your_Brand

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

How Does Automating the Email Campaign Process Work?

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

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

Is There Really a Reason to Add This Method?

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

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

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

Ensuring You Get the Most out of Your Automated Messages

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

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

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

 

Blizzardof2015

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

Connecting Current Events with Your Brand

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

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

Monopolizing the Moment

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

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

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

Putting Segmentation to Good Use

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

Having a Little Fun with the Social Craze

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

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

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

 

Five_Fast_Tips

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

Slip in a Promo Video

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

Send More of Your Best Messages

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

If You’re Not Being Social, Start Now!

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

Streamline Your Digital Process

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

Get Your First Impression Right

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

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

 

Texting_and_Customer_Service

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

The Particulars of SMS Messaging as a Consumer Service

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

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

Supporting This Shift

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

Making This Move Your Own

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

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

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

Going Above and Beyond for Your Customers

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

 

NFL_Teach

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

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

A History of Content

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

Making the Shift to the Modern World

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

Best Practices of the Pros

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

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

Scoring Big with Your Audience

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

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

 

ABCs_of_Email_Marketing

When it comes to looking back on your time in school, everything you’ve learned points back to one specific lesson – getting to know your ABCs. Sure, this might sound like an understatement or generalization, but it’s the truth; without these building blocks serving as the foundation of the educational process, how could you ever delve into history, literature, or even mathematics?

With this “building from the ground up” approach guiding the discussion, let’s dig into the ABCs of email marketing, as described by Daniel Faggella of Marketing Land. This way, much like the transition from earlier schooling to advanced studies in high school and college, you’ll have all the tools you need to growth and enhance your brand’s appeal in the inbox.

The Basics Concept Behind This Approach

So what exactly are the “ABCs of email marketing?” As Faggella explains, the “A” stands for aggregating your lists, while building on this overarching list and finding consistency in your inbox represents “B” and “C,” respectively. Essentially, the idea set forth here is that if you can hone in on these three facets of the process, you’ll have no problems enacting more in-depth strategies and methods. Additionally, simply ensuring your brand doesn’t succumb to the pitfalls associated with poor implementation also has a role in learning what goes into these ABCs.

Harnessing the Power of List Aggregation

Now that we’ve taken a look at the big picture, it’s time to zoom in each of the pillars of this approach, starting with list aggregation. In this scenario, properly aggregating your brand’s lists begins with viewing each of your addresses or contacts as a specific resource that can be broken up into nuggets of information and identifiers. Whether it’s geological data or personal information related to the consumer or the organization on the other site of the screen, having this content in hand can help you sub-segment your list and develop emails that lean heavily on optimized messages and lead generation.

While all that sounds great, it doesn’t explain the best way to aggregate and segment your existing contacts. If you’re looking for a few tips on how to get to this point, Sujan Patel of Search Engine Journal offers up some insight regarding segmentation and aggregation.

First off, compile your assorted lists and let this database serve as the starting point. From here, breaking up your list into popular segments – like customers who have or have not previously made a purchase – can help tell the story of your contacts. Naturally, the more you split and categorize these customers and followers, the more refined and detailed your aggregation and segmentation process will become.

Taking a Step Forward with List Building

Once you have a system in place, Fagella’s next portion of the email marketing alphabet, “B,” is all about building your list up. While this sounds like something that seems fairly straightforward, there’s one underlying truth that makes this process anything but easy – virtually every brand knows how important it is to be king of the email marketing hill. If you want to stand out from the competition, you’ll need to go above and beyond in terms of list building.

According to A.J. Kumar of Entrepreneur magazine, the best way to go about list building is by attacking this endeavor from a variety of angles. Whether you’re generating an opt-in page on your branded site or Facebook page, or making the request for email contact info an integral part of your checkout process, politely requesting access to the inbox early, and often, is the best way to cast a wide net and create a list that’s sure to power your operations moving forward.

Finding Consistency in All Phases of Your Email Marketing

Finally, consistency in all phases of your email marketing operation wraps up this fundamental, yet in-depth, approach to going about an email marketing campaign the right way. Email marketing isn’t just about what you send to the  customers inbox, so be prepared to take an all-encompassing approach that dips into the rest of your digital marketing efforts. Slipping in opt-in requests in guest posts on other industry sites, networking and building mentions or recommendations on social media, and simply pushing email marketing to the forefront of your operations online is the best way to extract the most value out of this process and promote consistency. Considering that connecting with customers in the inbox shows no signs of slowing down as the most powerful form of digital outreach, chances are you won’t find a better way to spend your time, effort, and web-based marketing budget.

© 2013 Elite Email Inc. Blog Admin