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sweetspot

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

Finding the Sweet Spot

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

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

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

Revamping Your Viewpoint

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

Keeping Quality at the Forefront of Your Approach

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

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

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

 

smssurveys

In the world of SMS marketing, getting to know your audience is not just an important thing, it’s potentially the most important thing your brand can do. Unfortunately, plenty of campaigns fail to succeed on this front, thereby inhibiting their ability to make an impact in the mobile inbox. But what if you could combine the desire to learn more about your audience with the outreach that every brand craves? To find out how, let’s take a look at the power of SMS surveys and how this tool can help bridge the gap between your brand and the people that matter most to it.

How It Works

As the name would imply, the concept behind an SMS survey is fairly straightforward. In his look at this process, Liam Supple of Business 2 Community breaks down this approach into a few key phases. The first part starts with reaching out to your contact list and requesting some sort of information or response. Whether it’s insight into a new product or just learning a little more about your average customer, gleaning a little extra data from the survey is key to the operation. Finally, Supple points out that you’ll want to incentive the process with a reward for your loyal list members to make participating worth their time and effort. Coupons and exclusive offers work wonders on this front.

Why Bother with SMS Surveys?

Of course, at this point you’re probably wondering what you’ll get in return for firing off a well-planned and enticing survey to your shoppers. As John McMalcolm of USA Business Review explains, surveying your contact list comes with a plethora of benefits. First, there’s the sustained contact with these shoppers that keeps your brand at the forefront of the discussion.

However, if you’re looking for some more tangible benefits, McMalcolm notes that most surveys conducted via SMS channels generate a 98 percent open rate and a near 50 percent response rate, so it’s safe to say that you’ll generate enough data to truly paint an accurate picture of the people that make up your contact list.

On the logistics front, SMS surveys require minimal resources to reach consumers virtually instantaneously, creating a powerful confluence of viability and budget-friendly operations. Obviously costs can vary based on the size and scale of the campaign, but McMalcolm helps illuminate the fact that this – or any other – SMS program gives your brand some serious bang for its buck.

Building a Lasting Connection

So now that you know what SMS surveying is and why it matters to your brand, it’s time to talk about the best ways to pull off this practice and create a lasting connection with your audience. According to the team of experts at Marketing Sherpa, there’s several crucial steps that lead to the completion of this kind of campaign. Once you decide that this is the best route for your brand in terms of mobile marketing, it’s important to lay out your objectives. What do you hope to learn? Can this information change how you approach SMS marketing? These and many other questions need to serve as the cornerstone of your initial planning.

From here, creating the survey content and potentially exploring supporting channels comes next. Some members of your contact list won’t want to respond by text, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave them out of the loop. Directing this portion of your audience to social media accounts or web pages not only provides them with more options, it ensures that you have a higher response rate and a more accurate data set representing these shoppers.

Before you fire off this mobile survey, make sure you test it with a portion of your audience, as well as in-house. Just like marketed emails, getting this content right before handing it over to the public is vital to its success and helps keep your brand persona in tip-top shape. If you really want to go the extra mile, setting up a customer panel comprised of some of your most valuable audience members can help provide real-time analysis regarding your survey and any other SMS content.

Finally, and most importantly, incorporate all of the legal fine print regarding unsubscribe options and a generous reward for participation into the finished product. Both running afoul of the various SMS governing bodies and turning off your customer base with lackluster offerings can quickly lead to a campaign that falls flat on its face. However, if you’re able to put this breakdown of the survey process to good use, there’s nothing stopping your brand from making a lasting impression with these valued customers and learning a little more about them at the same time.

 

CTIASMS_guideline

Much like the CASL series of updates that rocked the email marketing world earlier in 2014, CTIA has completely changed the game for those looking to connect with customers via SMS messages. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry. With our in-depth look at the latest SMS guideline update, as well as the background storylines that led to this change, you’ll have all the info you need to keep your text campaigns running and successful throughout this change – as well as any others waiting beyond the horizon.

What Is the CTIA?

For those of you sitting at your office chair and wondering just what the CTIA is, the answer to this question is simple. Originally known as the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, CTIA is a nonprofit membership-based industry group that aims to provide uniform regulation and promote best practices across all wireless connections in North America. From helping guide the debate surrounding the proliferation of consumer data and net neutrality, to how to properly text consumers, CTIA covers a wide spectrum of issues that relate to businesses and organizations like your own.

What Sparked the Update?

Now that we’ve got the particulars of CTIA out of the way, it’s time to talk about why this governing body decided to switch things up in terms of SMS best practices. According to Natalie Gagliordi of ZDNet, the storylines behind this one focus on the role of net neutrality when it comes to the functions utilized by cellular devices. Essentially, the debate revolves around whether or not mobile carriers have the right to regulate the content they provide customers – specifically marketed messages and content originated via the Internet.

Additionally, January of 2014 saw the major mobile service providers – like AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile – agree to cease billing customers for short code messages that fall under the premium designation. Naturally, this move sent ripples throughout the SMS community on both the service provider and marketer side of the equation.

While there’s currently no end in sight to this particular discussion, or a clear cut understanding of all the ramifications of the major service provider short code shift that occurred in January of 2014 – CTIA hopes to cut off any drastic moves from other industry forces by guiding brands – like your own – with a specific set of best practices. This way, the world of SMS marketing can keep on rolling toward a happy confluence of great deals and eager customers who can’t wait for the latest update from the brands they care about.

Building a Plan That Promotes Compliance

So what exactly goes into maintaining compliance with CTIA’s new SMS guidelines? As Derek Johnson of Mobile Marketing Watch explains, it all starts with clearly identifying your brand at the beginning of the text transmission. Without this transparent approach, you could easily turn customers off who are unsure of the origin of this message. From here, explaining the particulars of the program – such as recurring deals or the frequency of messages – ensures that the reader knows exactly what they are getting into.

As for disclosures, CTIA suggests putting the request of consent and terms of usage somewhere in the body of the message. In Johnson’s recommended template, this info comes right after the call to action (CTA) – a position that’s definitely going to attract some attention from customers skimming over the finer points of the text. Finally, giving some real estate to messaging and data rates, as well as opt-out instructions, rounds out the process and gives your brand the ability to stay in line with CTIA’s guidelines and best practices.

Bracing for the Future

Of course, it wouldn’t be appropriate to gloss over the fact that CTIA doesn’t hand out fines or penalties based on those who fall out of compliance like the proponents of CASL and other email marketing anti-spam laws. However, it’s an ill-advised path to disregard these guidelines and best practices completely. With the discussion of net neutrality now incorporating mobile data and SMS operations, it’s only a matter of time before adhering to these enhanced methods becomes the common standard.

Additionally, keeping your offerings of the highest quality – based exclusively on value and transparency – is never a bad idea. Consumers respond to top tier selections when it comes to SMS marketing, so why not set high standards for your creative mobile content? Otherwise, don’t be surprised when you’re behind the times in terms of industry best practices and unable to stand out in a cluttered text message inbox.

 

Email-Marketing-Calendar

There’s no worse feeling than the regret that comes with missing out on a golden opportunity thanks to a disjointed or disorganized approach. While this definitely rings true for plenty of other facets of your business process, it takes on a whole new meaning when the discussion turns toward email marketing. In a world where ever message and viewer counts, you simply can’t afford to let potential conversions slip through the cracks and fall into the hands of other brands within your industry. With this in mind, let’s dig into how an email marketing calendar can help you kick this inefficiency to the curb and just what goes into a successful take on this tool. This way, you’ll always have an eye on important events and upcoming opportunities – something that’s sure to set you apart from your competition in the inbox.

Understand Where You Started

Before you dive headfirst into the future with reckless abandon, Nikki Ilchert of the Inman news agency suggests spending a little time reflecting on the past and gleaning any potential lessons from previous inbox outreach operations. By looking back at prior campaigns and initiatives, you can gain a better understanding of just where your brand comes up short in terms of marketed messages and missed opportunities with your inbox consumers. It might not be the most pleasant experience in the world, but at least you can write off the threat of making the same mistakes twice with a calendar built with these shortcomings in mind.

Set Your Goals

Once you’re done sifting through the past and figuring out where your brand comes from in terms of email marketing success and failures, it’s time to look toward to the future and where you want to see your brand head in the coming months. After all, that’s what this calendar is made for, right? The best way to go about this is setting realistic goals and benchmarks along the way. Whether you’re factoring in open and conversion rates, or just looking to boost raw contact list numbers over the coming year, you now have the basis to accurately measure and impose attainable goals now that you’ve given the past its due and adjusted your current outlook accordingly.

Identify Key Dates

Of course, no calendar is complete without taking the time to highlight key dates related to your brand’s products and services. Armando Roggio of Practical Ecommerce points to this activity as the next step in the process. Naturally the big holidays – like Christmas, Easter, etc. – are a great place to start, but chances are there’s plenty more dates your brand can’t afford to let fly under the radar.

For instance, if you’re in the business of selling sporting goods, pinpointing the Super Bowl or the Olympics as active dates is a good call when it comes to more specific opportunities. It’s probably going to take a little time finding each and every date worthy of building email content around, but with this guide in hand, you’ll never be left wondering what’s on the agenda in terms of inbox outreach.

The Frequency Dilemma

As for the days and weeks that aren’t necessarily noteworthy on their own, having an email marketing calendar can help you hit the appropriate frequency levels. Instead of working on guesswork and supposition, you’ll have a firm understanding of just how often you’re reaching out to consumers during the average week. From here, trimming down or giving the numbers a little boost is a decision your brand can make with confidence. The best part? As your audience shifts or trends change, you’ll have historic data covering monthly, weekly, and even daily activity backing up your adjustments in response to the inevitable ebbs and flow of consumer demographics.

Develop Your Content!

After all that, there’s only one thing left to do – develop your content based around the blueprint laid out by your email marketing calendar. You’ll find that seeing beyond the imminent and having a strong plan in place does wonders not only for your peace of mind, but also for your brand’s ability to make the most out of fleeting windows of opportunity.

Whether you’re gearing up for a major holiday push, or simply capitalizing on an industry specific event, with this tool now on your side, there’s nothing stopping your organization from taking control of the inbox in a big way. Considering that this channel doesn’t show any signs of losing its top spot in terms of digital marketing prowess, that’s a hard proposition to make for any brand that’s serious about its online presence.

 

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

B2B Emails Aren’t Always a Sales Pitch

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

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

Don’t Assume You’ll Always Have Their Attention

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

Landing Pages Are More Important Than Ever

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

Segmentation Still Matters

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

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

Look Beyond Simple Statistics

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

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

tips_tricks

 

While there’s no denying that was goes on inside of your emails matters quite a bit, the simple truth of the situation is that if you can’t convince these readers to stick around and check out your messages in the first place, it doesn’t matter what’s going on behind the open button. If you’re on the fence about the importance of the subject line in the email marketing process, look no farther than this stat from Nathan Safran of the Moz Blog.

According to Safran, 80 percent of readers don’t look any farther than the subject line of promotional emails. Essentially, if you can’t win the battle surrounding subject lines against your inbox competition, you’ve already lost the email marketing war. To ensure this fate doesn’t befall your brand, here’s some simple ways to spice up your stable of subject lines and really make a major splash with your audience moving forward.

Utilize the Right Amount of Brevity

The first thing you can do to give your subject lines a facelift is to simply trim off any excess fluff. As Pamela Neely of Web Marketing Today points out in her look at improving open rates, having a subject line that hovers between six and ten words produces the best response. Naturally, there’s more factors at play here, including the engaging nature of this content, but ensuring you don’t write a novel in this header is a great way to start off on the right foot. Considering that the Harvard School of Business’ Nancy Koehn reports that the average attention span for a human stands at eight seconds, a full one second less than a goldfish, opting for brevity is a decision that can truly pay dividends in the inbox.

Find the Right Words

Spam filters are redefining what’s acceptable in regards to subject lines, so Neely goes on to recommend treading carefully in this area. Some of the biggest offenders that can relegate your offerings to the trash bin include “help,” “percent off,” and “reminder.” While these offerings might seem innocuous at first glance, they are common tools of the less than savory sect of email marketing.

If possible, you’re much better off utilizing words like “announcement,” “alert,” and “free delivery.” If you can sneak in a “freebie” somewhere in the subject line, Neely notes that consumers respond exceptionally well to this type of inclusion. Obviously, subject lines are highly customizable and depend a lot on what you plan on promoting, but steering clear of the prime offenders is well worth the effort.

Making Good Use of Your Audience Information

Speaking of your target audience, chances are you’ve worked hard to learn as much as possible about these consumers, so why not put this information to good use? As D.J. Waldow of Entrepreneur magazine explains, adding flair and flavor to the subject line based on what resonates with these viewers is an excellent way to surpass the mundane offerings of other brands. For instance, if fashion is the primary focus of your industry, firing off an email with “A Dress For…” is a smart way to capture their interest and preview the contents of the message.

It might take some time tinkering with this customization considering our previous discussion surrounding brevity, but the best in the business know that if you can cater your subject lines to what matters most to the reader, you’ve entered a special spot in the email marketing world.

Say Goodbye to Guesswork

Additionally, Waldow points out that even if you think you have a great idea that embodies everything we’ve discusses so far, there’s no guarantees that this subject line can be successful until you test it against other variations. By split testing against other subject lines via select portions of your contact list, you can settle the discussion once and for all and leave the guesswork to other brands.

Aside from learning about the effectiveness of the test subject lines, utilizing this method can also tell you even more about your deliverability rates and potential steps for improvement. Considering how valuable your time is, employing the “two birds, one stone” approach can help optimize your time investment and improve the effectiveness of your overall marketing plans at the same time.

By combining these tips with what everything else you’ve learned about subject lines in previous articles, you’ll have everything you need to knock the digital socks off of your targeted customers when they see your messages. Naturally, you’ll still need to follow up with some powerful content in the body of the email, but at least you won’t have to worry about getting lost in the see of substandard offerings that flood the inbox anymore.

SubjectLines

 

Even if your familiarity with today’s digital marketing world is fleeting at best, it’s common knowledge that connecting with consumers via their inbox stands above the rest of the field. However, for the brands that really know how to spin the perfect email content, there’s so much more to the process. By connecting other marketing practices to your email campaign, you can tap into the extended reach, and results, of the multi-channel approach. To help get you to this point, let’s take a look at five of the best ways to transform a standard email marketing initiative into the crown jewel of an expansive program that traverses all of today’s most popular forms of digital media.

Learn More about Your Particular Audience

The first key to a great multi-channel campaign comes from learning more about your audience. While this might seem like generic advice at first glance, it’s all about knowing what devices and channels matter most to the people you’re targeting. As Jill Jones of Business 2 Community explains, the more you know about the behavioral patterns of these shoppers, the better your optimization efforts can become.

This concept hinges on the idea that your campaign can benefit from addition by subtraction. As you learn more about your audience, you can hone in on the channels that really matter and cut down the budget allocation of the less impactful alternatives. Whether it’s text marketing in a supporting role or connecting via social media, trimming the fat and focusing on the heavy hitters is the perfect way to enhance your multi-channel approach.

Consolidate Your Data Systems

Unfortunately, the more you dig into the habits and practices of these consumers across a variety of channels, the bigger a burden your data systems become. It’s not that this information isn’t useful, it’s just that you end up having so much to sift through that it becomes overwhelming. For this reason, Jessica Lee of ClickZ suggests that brands looking to conquer the world of multi-channel marketing take data consolidation and handling seriously.

By giving data its due and implementing appropriate systems for the storage and retrieval of this information, your organization can access information in real time and make the right calls when it comes to campaign management and direction. When compared with the alternative – clunky data referencing and inefficient decision-making – it’s easy to see the appeal of a fine-tuned and consolidated data system.

Keep Registration Flexible

By connecting via multiple supporting channels, such as telephone, text, and social media, you naturally move away from the “one size fits all” approach to signing up consumers to your email contact list. Because of this, David Kirkpatrick of Marketing Sherpa notes that brands utilizing varying platforms need to cater to these specific channels when building registration material – specifically sign-up sheets. For instance, keeping things short and sweet, while avoiding slang and abbreviations, works best when sending out supporting text messages, while the social media world, particularly Facebook, enjoys more formal sign-up sheets and registration forms that come built into the network.

Constantly Test and Evaluate Your Results

As your campaign gets in motion, don’t lose sight of the practices that you’d normally conduct in a regular email marketing program – specifically testing and evaluation. As Jay Acunzo of HubSpot explains in his post on the subject, just because you’ve switched up your approach doesn’t mean you should say goodbye to optimization and adjustments. Sure, there’s an increased amount of variables in the equation, but the basic process doesn’t change too much – monitor what works and what lags behind as often as possible and realign from there.

Leave Your Fear of Change Behind

The final key to multi-channel success focuses entirely on your mindset regarding movement between channels. Dan LeBlanc of Experian’s marketing resource blog highlights this mentality by pointing out that today’s consumer is constantly evolving and shifting in regard to platform preferences. With this concept at the forefront of your approach, it makes sense to remain fluid and adaptive when building supporting content for your email marketing campaign. While your data might suggest certain channels today, the next big technological or culture shift can render this guidance meaningless in the blink of an eye.

This doesn’t mean you need to discredit the value of consumer data completely, but rather keep your head up and your finger on the pulse of the latest industry trends. By doing this, along with the rest of what you’ve learned about building a powerful multi-channel approach, there’s nothing stopping your brand from expanding the reach of its next email marketing initiative to unparalleled heights.

Bullhorn

 

If you’re in the business of connecting with customers via marketed emails or SMS messages, you have probably heard that Canada’s new anti-spam legislation (CASL) is up and running this month. Of course, knowing that things have changed regarding marketing laws doesn’t do your organization much good if you’re not familiar with the new rules. With that in mind, let’s take a moment to do a quick crash course regarding the new legislation. From here, next week’s post on the subject will cover the basics of staying in compliance with the CASL as you roll out your next email or text marketing campaign.

Does CASL Affect You?

If you’re reading this article and you use email or SMS messages to connect with customers, the new anti-spam legislation directly affects how you conduct your operations on a daily basis. However, there are other facets of your business outlook that can also change based on the expanded coverage brought forth by this legal ruling. CASL also has specific regulations for any company that also installs software or programs on mobile phones or computers. Basically, if you have a branded app or download in addition to an email or text initiative, you’ll need to be extra careful as you move forward under this new system.

Express Consent

Now that we know who’s affected by this development, it’s time to look at the specifics of the regulations. First up is the concept of express consent and its role in the marketing process. At the core of every shady spam operation is the idea that quantity is better than quality. Naturally, the best way to boost numbers is to simply fire off emails to any address, regardless of whether or not the user wants these promotional messages. Under the new CASL laws, if you want to send an email, text message, or have your app installed on a consumer phone, express and documented consent is the only way to stay on the right side of the law.

Transparency In Transit

Outside of making sure everything’s crystal clear when it comes to asking for permission, the anti-spam legislation also takes aim at less than transparent communications. For instance, altering transmissions in order to have the message arrive at a different location is a major faux pas. Obviously, this is something that most legitimate brands aren’t interested in, but it’s still important to know about this technicality as it ties directly in with express consent and ensuring that the consumer always knows exactly what they’re receiving during a marketing operation.

False or Misleading Content

After covering how these messages arrive, the government’s new stance on the matter takes a look at what’s inside your messages. While this might seem a little nosy at first, the main issue here is that CASL wants to protect consumers from false or misleading emails and texts. Whether it’s slight embellishments or complete lies about products and services, hedging the truth for the sake of a great marketing push is a quick way to bring down sanctions and fines from the various branches covering the enactment of this new legislation.

Unethical Data Harvesting

The final big move from CASL covers unethical data harvesting during an electronic marketing campaign. Whether it’s prying into your audience’s personal life without their consent or keeping tabs via illegally acquired consumer data, this new set of legislation takes a firm stance on where morality fits into the marketing process. Additionally, infiltrating computer systems and installing programs without the knowledge and consent of the owner are also mentioned at length in this portion of the new legislation, giving the powers that be enhanced reach in the fight against unethical operations during the marketing process.

The Big Three

So what happens if you slip up and stick a toe over the CASL line? In this circumstance, be prepared to come in contact with at least one of the three government agencies responsible for enforcing the law. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has the power to issue monetary penalties to violators of this anti-spam law. In conjunction with this new ability, the Competition Bureau has the right to pursue potential misconduct and seek monetary penalties or criminal sanctions. Finally, an amended version of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act gives the Office of the Privacy Commissioner extended authority to investigate illicit marketing operations occurring via text and email.

Now that you’re familiar with all the ins and outs of who administers CASL and what it covers, be sure to check in next week as we delve into the best ways to stay on the right side of this legislation and still make a major impact with your SMS and email campaigns.

CASL - Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation

 

Although the medium has changed over the years, moving from the printed word to digital screens, one thing never changes – great marketing campaigns always evoke a powerful response from the audience. Naturally, the days of an eye-catching ad in the newspaper doing the trick are long gone. However, that doesn’t mean that your brand still can’t create a “customer journey” that truly connects with and inspires members of your contact list. To learn more about this concept and how to help your consumers get the most out of this process, let’s dig a little deeper into what the customer journey means in today’s online setting.

What Exactly Is the Customer Journey?

The customer journey encompasses everything that happens from the moment shoppers find out about your brand to when these individuals check out from your online storefront. While that might seem a little too “big picture” from some brands, you can also think of it as more of a mindset regarding the customer experience. Essentially, when they think of your brand and what it takes to learn about your products and services, as well as making a purchase, is it enough to make these shoppers come back for more? If your quick internal audit sends back an answer that is anything less than an overwhelming yes, there’s definitely some work to be done when it comes to your brand’s customer journey.

The Role of Email Marketing In the Process

So where does email marketing fit into this process? For all the military history buffs out there, this portion of your brand awareness initiatives serves as the vanguard – paving the way for the rest of your marketed material. In other words, a great marketing email acts as an open invitation to the viewers to take a journey with your brand. Naturally, for portions of your contact list, this journey has already started to some degree, considering that they have signed up for promotional emails in-store or online.

However, only a few tools in your marketing bag of tricks are as effective at adapting to the situation. With just one message, you can bring all of these separate individuals along the path, heading toward a continued relationship and some well-deserved conversions. The key is making the most out of this first impression. As tired and worn out as this cliché is, it still rings true in the digital marketing world; you only get one first impression, so you had better make the most of it.

Potential Bumps In the Road

Unfortunately, there are plenty of hazards along this road. If your brand isn’t careful, these missteps can turn what should be a strong point in your customer journey into a glaring weakness in no time. First up is a promotional email that’s full of design errors and sloppy layout choices. While your text content might be second to none, having an email that looks like it went through a digital blender before hitting the inbox is no way to start your customer journey.

As for the body of the email itself, think of this portion as the directions for the trip. If you offer up something that’s irrelevant or unclear, don’t expect much from an audience that doesn’t have time to read between the lines and figure out where to go. Additionally, if you’re firing off messages far too often like a GPS in overdrive, don’t expect a warm reception from customers who need a little break between emails.

Creating the Perfect Journey for Your Customers

To create the perfect customer journey for your email contact list, you’ll need to focus on making a great first impression, as well as guiding them with valuable content once things start shifting into high gear. One of the best ways to get started on the right foot is with a welcome email. This message can be just a short, friendly greeting, thanking the user for signing up and offering a few teasers for what’s to come if they stay subscribed. Not only is this polite, it helps set the tone for a friendly, warm relationship between your brand and the audience.

From here, don’t be afraid to branch out into related topics to keep your content fresh and exciting. For instance, reviewing safety tips and best practices for shopping on your site – and around the web – is not only useful, it helps give the audience the confidence to make a purchase if they were dealing with any concerns about Internet security prior to the email. Additionally, this approach also shows that not everything you offer will be sales related, giving your contact list plenty of reasons to stick around for the long haul as you continue to make this journey a great one with valuable email content that goes beyond the thinly veiled fluff offered by the competition.

Journey

 

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

A Prime Example of Going Too Far

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

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

Understanding the Thought Process

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

Finding Balance with Smart SMS Tactics

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

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

Protecting Your Brand Now and Into the future

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

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