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dosdontssms

Like any great innovation, the road to SMS marketing that you’re familiar with today is littered with the failures and successes of those who came before your brand. Of course, these lessons learned don’t just make for interesting conversation, there’s actually quite a bit you call pull from the past to ensure that you always maximize your mobile impact moving forward. With this in mind, let’s dig into a couple SMS bests practices and faux pas so that the next time you fire off a message to your loyal following, you’ll have everything you need to represent your brand in the best way possible.

Do Figure out Your Frequency

Starting off with the positive side of the discussion, Rimma Kats of Mobile Marketer explains that hammering out the questions regarding frequency should be at the top of your “to do” list. While there’s no standard number of daily or weekly messages that applies to every single branded audience, that doesn’t mean you should approach this part of the process with nothing more than a cursory review of the subject.

Essentially, you’ll want to avoid the extremes of the messaging spectrum. Too many messages and you’ll come off as overbearing; too few and you risk irrelevancy. Naturally, these aren’t the tightest parameters, but using this system as the basis and mixing in some split testing and survey techniques can help you continue to refine your frequency as you get to know your audience more over time.

Do Understand the Two-Way Street Paradigm

Kats goes on to explain that brands and marketers alike need to understand that mobile marketing is very much a two-way street. Too often SMS marketing comes off as robotic or impersonal because brands simply bombard consumers with deals and offers, leaving no room for interaction. However, the best campaigns in the world go beyond this basic methodology and not only accept customer feedback, but encourage it.

Think of it this way; by keeping your communications open – either via regular surveys, an active social media presence, or some other open channel – you cannot only produce a better SMS product, but enhance the return on your investment by getting tips and suggestions straight from the people opening your texts. It seems so obvious when laid out in this manner, but plenty of brands struggle with the idea that SMS marketing truly thrives when both sides of the transaction get a voice in the conversation.

Don’t Think Brevity Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

On the “don’t” side of things, Business 2 Community’s Liga Bizune has a few suggestions that could save you from an SMS disaster. First off, don’t assume that brevity is always a bad thing. Trying to explain everything, down to even the tiniest detail, not only overwhelms the reader, but terms the expedient and fun affair of opening a text message into a laborious chore. It doesn’t take a mobile marketing expert to know that this is a decidedly bad situation.

Instead, embrace brevity and leave your consumers hanging on the edge of their seats with enticing content. Not only does this process keep your readers on the go interested and waiting for your next correspondence, it can also spur them on to come check out your brand website or connect with your organization on social media – a win-win scenario regardless what you’re selling.

Don’t Assume Segmentation Is Only for Email Marketing

Outside of getting the wrong idea about brevity and refined message content, Bizune also notes that assuming everyone wants the same type of content in the first place is also incorrect. If you’re already operating an email marketing campaign, you know about the power of segmentation. Even if you’ve never sent an email in your life, the idea is fairly straightforward to understand.

Different portions of your audience like different things, so tailoring your content to each portion – or “segment” – can help you maximize the power of an already effective system. It takes a little time and effort to delve into the particulars of these varied individuals, but it’s well worth the work to reap the rewards that follow.

Naturally getting to know your audience in greater detail and creating text content meshes well with surveying and other interactive tactics, so deploying this mindset, as well as the rest of what you’ve learned, should keep you on the right track for success and increased awareness in the SMS inbox. Even if you’re on the first step of your journey, you’ve made this trek significantly easier by learning more about what does and doesn’t work from others who have already traveled down this road.

 

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

The Role of Curiosity

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

Fitting in a Question Mark

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

The Name Game

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

The Draw of Odd Numbers

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

Parceling out Percentages

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

Creating Action Due to Scarcity

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

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

 

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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.

 

Reached_a_Plateau

Email marketing is big business – there’s no arguing this point. However, just because the power of connecting with customers in the inbox is common knowledge, that doesn’t mean questions regarding the current state of this tactic aren’t still popping up from time to time on the web. After all, it’s not like email marketing is a spring chicken in the digital marketing world these days.

However, has email marketing reached a plateau in terms of innovation? If not, what’s the next step? Will these potential changes affect my brand? While these questions definitely lead to a tough discussion, that doesn’t mean we can’t work through the clutter and find the answers your company needs to keep pressing the advantage with refined and engaging inbox content.

Breaking down the Argument

As Jordie van Rijn of MediaPost’s Email Insider Europe blog explains, there’s definitely a case for stating that email marketing has reached a plateau – at least on the productivity front. Essentially, this statement comes from the fact that any digitally connected brand understands that funneling resources into this process can yield significant results.

While the power of email marketing is definitely not in question, the discussion naturally turns to whether or not there’s any room left for growth or development in terms of effectiveness and productivity. The answer to this question rests solely on what design spaces and new methods brands are willing to explore in order to find untapped potential and growth.

Making a Case for Innovation

In his look at recent innovations and growth, iMedia Connection’s Christopher Marriott notes that brands on the cutting edge are definitely willing to go the extra mile in terms of testing uncharted inbox territory. From clever abandoned cart messages that aim to capture unclaimed conversions via head-turning graphics, to feedback requests that play on the basic human desire of wanting to feel important and included within a select group, there’s no denying that organizations around the world and across a variety of markets have pushed the boundaries on both the conceptual and graphical levels.

What’s Next?

So now that we know innovation is part of email marketing’s recent history, it’s time to decide whether there’s still room to grow moving forward. According to Bola Awoniyi of Econsultancy, the next five years could see quite a few innovations. Naturally, there’s not nearly as much room for growth and change as there was in the days of email marketing’s infancy, but that doesn’t mean the industry is completely stale.

At the top of Awoniyi’s list is the concept of the completely personalized email. Obviously, personalization is already a hot topic, but surprisingly it’s not completely accepted in all circles. Considering the power that comes with speaking directly to the consumer, it makes sense that this stands as one of the next big changes to the status quo.

Additionally, there’s also the chance that innovation related to marketed messaging doesn’t happen in the inbox at all, but in related fields that support this tactic indirectly. The idea of “going wide” with email marketing and promoting across multiple channels has already gained some traction, but how far are brands willing to take it? Could the hallowed ground of traditional TV spots even become a place to spread the word about mailing lists? It might seem outlandish now, but if inbox initiatives continue to rise in prominence, don’t be surprised if this dream becomes a reality in the near future.

Getting Your Brand Ready for the Future

There’s no doubt that this is a lot to consume in one sitting, but it’s still a topic that matters a great deal to your brand. Email marketing isn’t about yesterday’s best practices, but rather taking advantage of the potential of tomorrow before your competition beats you to the punch.

The best way to prepare for these opportunities? Ensure that there’s no cracks in the foundation of your campaign. As Seamus Egan of Entrepreneur magazine explains, if you want to score big with email content, start by working your way from the ground up. Making good use of winning subject lines, relevant content based on consumer data, and smart timing and email frequency all position you to stand as an early adopter if – and when – the next big thing pops up.

Considering how important it is to be a step ahead, enacting this strategy, in addition to keeping everything else you’ve learned here in mind, should stand as a priority during any upcoming campaigns that connect your brand to the valued customer on the other side of the screen.

 

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.

 

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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.

 

We’re only days away from the turn of the New Year, so now’s a time for festivities and looking back on a job well done over the past year, right? While this is definitely true, it’s only part of the equation when it comes to ensuring the good times are always rolling with your email marketing operations. If you’re interested in keeping your brand one step ahead of the competition, you’ll need a smart approach to 2015. To help you along the way, here’s all you need to know about prepping your email marketing campaign for the coming year and beyond.

Give the Past Its Due

It’s hard to make improvements on the year gone by without a solid introspective look at your prior successes and failures, so Ayaz Nanji of the MarketingProfs research site suggests spending a few minutes giving your previous campaigns an honest assessment. Did you reach the desired contact list numbers you set forth at the beginning of the year? What about conversion rates and offer redemptions? Being open and straightforward with this review is the first step in improving your email marketing performance and setting attainable goals over the next 12 months.

Understand What Metrics Matter to Your Brand

Of course, when reviewing the past or projecting the future, it’s important to know just what metrics deserve your attention. With this in mind, Nanji goes on to identify the performance indicators that matter most to brands that enjoy success in the inbox. Not surprisingly, open rates stand out in this regard. After all, it’s hard to understand what’s going right or wrong within the message if people aren’t opening it up in the first place.

From here, click-through rates and conversion numbers help expand upon the success of your content, as well as point your brand in new or more effective directions during the creation process. Finally, with the constant emphasis on mobile usage, knowing which devices your customers prefer to check their email on can go a long way when the time comes to discuss formatting and design templates that promote viewability and a consistent user experience.

Reignite Your Storytelling Passion

Once you’re done on the technical front, it’s worth looking at the conceptual side of your approach to 2015. In her review of this angle of email marketing, Jackie Wright of the Phoenix Business Blog suggests giving customers that warm and fuzzy feeling via great storytelling. Your email content is a blank canvas, so why not take this opportunity to engage and connect with viewers in a way that goes beyond the simple sales pitch?

Not every message you fire off has to include a deal or discount, so don’t be afraid to sprinkle in some human interest or new stories. Anything that connects your brand to an eye-popping headline and an interesting read positions you for success in the inbox, so complimenting your standard offerings with these change of pace emails can definitely go a long way with your audience.

Consider Expanding Your Email Operations

Of course, there’s nothing saying that your brand can only implement a limited amount of strategies or approaches. As Avi Dan of Forbes magazine explains, 2015 is set to continue upward trends and be a big year for email marketing, so why not expand your operations and capitalize on the continued growth of this format? Whether you implement more seasonal campaigns or increase your reach and support of your contact list in other marketing areas, shifting a greater focus toward the most powerful marketing practice on the web is hardly a bad call when it comes time to set the coming year’s budget in place.

Whatever You Do Plan, Then Plan Some More

Regardless of which path fits your brand’s approach, Eric Hammis gives a hearty vote of support toward planning out each step of the process. While other forms of advertising and outreach might not require as much foresight, the truly successful players in the world of email marketing have an intricate and precise understanding of every facet of an upcoming campaign. This means that for new initiatives, both large and small, don’t be afraid to go overboard when it comes to the finer points of your content, the visual templates utilized by your organization, promotional materials, and everything else in between. Once you have this plan in place, as well as the rest of the information we’ve covered on hand, you’ll be in position to make 2015 the best year ever for your brand in terms of inbox outreach.

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Email marketing as a practice often has a home within the discussions focusing on the latest technological advances and advertising trends in the modern world. After all, this form of consumer outreach does take place in a virtual inbox that can be accessed from desktop and mobile devices around the world, so it’s understandable to view this marketing method as a cutting edge practice. Even so, some of the biggest names in the business, like The Huffington Post’s Christopher Lester, say that this method of connecting with the consumers that matter most to your brand isn’t just about engaging them in a tech-savvy manner. Instead, it also involves something far more primal.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how Lester and many of the other leader voices in the industry believe marketed messages tap into the more primitive aspects of our modern minds. This way, the next time you gear up for a campaign of your own, you’ll be able to incorporate every angle of this practice – from high tech to old school – into your process.

The Longstanding Effect of Powerful Imagery

To kick off his look at this subject, Lester notes that effective images in your email marketing operations add a layer of appeal that goes beyond pleasant aesthetics. In fact, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than standard text selections. Additionally, 90 percent of the data we process during the average day is visual in nature. Essentially, when pulled off properly, images found within marketed emails capture the attention of the viewer and makes the associated text message far more memorable.

Obviously navigating this terrain is a tricky task, but with a little help, you too can tap into the base appeal offered by images. As David Daniels of ClickZ points out, the best place to start is by finding out the sizing and data limitations imposed by your email service provider and building this creative content accordingly. From here, keeping your image content simple and straightforward, while positioning eye-capturing selections near the top of your top of your message and at other prominent points within the template, will help you make the most of the primitive attraction provided by this content.

Keying in on Impulse Reactions

Outside of the straightforward impact provided by images, Lester also explains that subject lines, “From” names, and preheader text can also illicit a powerful and impulsive response from viewers. The primary culprit for this gut reaction? The decision-making portion of the temporal lobe – the amygdala.

Basically, this portion of the brain reacts to sensory input at lightning speeds, helping the average person formulate appropriate plans in life and death scenarios. Naturally, checking your email during the day usually doesn’t come with those kind of high stakes, but that doesn’t stop snappy and engaging headlines that capture the attention of the reader or evocative preheader text from generating a reaction within the amygdala.

Obviously, honing in on the right “From” sender name is a subjective matter and relies on whether your brand wants to enact a formal or casual approach, but what about that goes into a great subject line or preheader? As Lori Dillow of Business 2 Community explains, keeping things witty and brief, while also honing in on keywords and phrasing that matter to your audience, can go a long way in this regard.

Great Emails Evoke Emotion

From a big picture point of view, Kelsey Libert and Kristin Tynski of the Harvard Business Review point to fact that email marketing in general evokes a variety of emotions. From the thrill associated with a limited time offer, to the desire to be a force of change when learning about a new charitable or non-profit calling, this medium for communicating with the masses covers a wider spectrum of emotions than virtually any other form of advertising.

The best part about all of this? Tynski and Libert come to the conclusion in their study that the opportunities for brands to capture these emotions via marketing operations like email campaigns are seemingly endless. As long as your organization is willing to keep in touch with its target audience and demographics, as well as commit to testing a variety of messages and themes within your inbox content, there’s no ceiling for the success of these messages. Considering everything you’ve learned about the primitive appeal of email marketing, it’s safe to say you won’t be disappointed if you get back to basics with your offerings and engender this more humanistic approach the next time you reach out to customers in the inbox.

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Getting your current campaign up to par now obviously means a lot when it comes to the viability of your email operations in the short term, but what about preparing for tomorrow? In virtually any industry, having an eye on the future is the only way to keep the competition at bay. When it comes to the advantage garnered by successful email marketing operations, this practice is no different. To keep your brand on top now, and moving forward, let’s spend a little time talking about where leading inbox initiatives are heading and where your organization needs to be to take advantage of these trends.

Mobile Stepping out Front

At the top of the list regarding email marketing’s future is the continued emphasis placed on catering to the mobile viewership. Sure, this isn’t exactly a breaking news development, but as Elizabeth Carter of Charity Digital News explains, there’s no escaping the ongoing shift toward these portable platforms. The odds are that we’ll never see a completely mobile audience, but that doesn’t mean that the vast majority of the customers that matter most to your brand won’t someday view your content exclusively via their favorite tablets and smartphones. The message here is clear; if you want to stay relevant over the next several years and beyond, you better start focusing in on mobile email marketing optimization in a hurry.

Reducing Noise and Frequency

Additionally, Carter fully expects the sheer amount of marketed emails – especially the ones originating from charities – to drop in the future. For those who can’t help but assume this prediction correlates to a downturn or other negative issues with email marketing, you actually couldn’t be further from the truth.

The reason for this expected reduction hinges on the concept that nonprofits, and to a lesser extent corporate entities, will eventually take on a more “tactical” approach to message frequency in response to the overwhelming amount of emails hitting inboxes today. Essentially, Carter surmises that embodying a “less is more” mentality and focusing on fewer, high impact selections could help cut through the noise and offer an avenue to truly connect with viewers who might be feeling a bit of sensory overload when opening up the contents of their inbox.

Continued Regulation

While the tactical method is a matter worthy of debate, there’s no question that the future holds a continued emphasis on regulation and the fight against spam. Whether it’s the EU’s plan to have data protection and required opt-ins on the table by 2015 and in place by 2017, or the continued emphasis of CASL enforcement and other more local legal movements, the powers that be have a very clear message for the coming years – if you’re sending messages via email however you are sending out spam, you’ll need to start looking for a new way to connect.

Changing the Conversation

In terms of the conceptual approach to engaging email content, Ernie Smith of Associations Now feels that we’ve just begun to scratch the surface in terms of the connection between creativity and email marketing. For instance, Smith tosses around the idea of skipping out on the “institutional voice” and adopting an individual voice that speaks on behalf of your brand. Whether it’s working under the name of an in-house expert, or sponsoring content that originates from an outside industry thought leader, having a single voice do the talking in the inbox and leaving behind the sometimes cold and impartial corporate front, could create a more personal and conversational method of supplying exciting content to your target audience.

The Evolution of Design

Even if you’re not ready to drop your standard content creation and take on a radically new interpersonal approach, Smith still believes that there’s innovation to be had on the technical design and the message of your email. Instead of relying on designs created for dated programs and email service providers, the emails of tomorrow will focus on optimization and interactive designs built exclusively for modern platforms.

Obviously, taking this path comes with a certain amount of risk, especially considering our previous look at the roles of images and scripts in the inbox. However, the next brand that finds a way to incorporate a striking new design that plays by the rules and doesn’t bog down the viewer experience at the same time will undoubtedly take its audience by storm. Adding in the rest of what we’ve learned about the impending future of email marketing proves that the next step in the evolution of this approach could be a big one indeed.

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