Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Are You Over-Thinking It?

What if someone told you there was a no cost, low-maintenance, pressure-free way to gather customer information to be used in your marketing campaigns? What if the only tool you needed is most likely collecting dust on an office shelf? Sound too good to be true? It’s not. 

Oftentimes, as business owners, we look toward the latest in technological applications to build our customer base. We scour the internet for tips on increasing our social media presence. Sometimes, though, simplicity can be a refreshing and welcome change to both the business owner and the customer.

You might be surprised to hear that this simple and free marketing tool is a clipboard. A clipboard! That small, flat piece of wood or plastic with a metal clip just might be the missing link between you and your customers. While the clipboard itself may be unassuming and even boring, the way it is used can mean the difference in whether your business adds to its customer base or not.

The Content

What you decide to put on your clipboard should be dictated by your customer demographic. Think about the people who enter your store, and ask yourself the following questions:

• What brings my customers into the store? (Discounts? Quality of product regardless of price? Promotions?)
• How do my customers like to be contacted?
• How will they be benefited by giving me their contact information?

After you’ve answered these questions, decide how you will entice your customers to leave their info. If your customer base is mostly drawn to the store by discounts, offer an email coupon to those who leave their email address. If discounts aren’t important to your customers, offer something that does matter to them – perhaps early notice of new product arrival. Some customers love a good party! Offer after-hours shopping invites to those who are willing to add their names to your clipboard.

Whatever you decide, be upfront about what lists you will add them to. If they’re going to receive a newsletter, let them know how often. Their ability to trust you as the owner of a business they frequent is of the utmost importance.

The Placement

After format, placement is the most important step in introducing the clipboard to your business. It needs to be in a conspicuous area, but not so obtrusive that it’s annoying. For example, a clipboard next to the register may be convenient – unless it takes up so much counter space that it just gets in the way. In this case, placing the clipboard next to the exit may make more sense. If your business has a dressing room area, a thoughtfully placed clipboard can be very productive.

Experiment with placement, moving the clipboard around the store until you find an area that seems natural and convenient for your customers. You will find that this simple tool can be a very effective way to gather new customers for your email newsletter.

Monday, March 17, 2014

4 Ways to Increase Click-Throughs

Your emails are only valuable if your subscribers eventually click through, either to engage with you or buy from you. That means the links in your emails have a very big job to do. Here are 4 things you can do to make your links more click-worthy.
1. Use the optimal number of links.
Too many links in an email feels pushy, while too few can reduce clicks by not reminding the subscriber what they should do next. The optimal number of links will vary depending on the content and length of the email and your unique subscriber base, but a good rule of thumb is 2 or 3 links per email.
2. Make the links look good.
How you format the links in an email can have a big effect on click-throughs. Raw URLs, especially if they’re long and full of numbers and symbols, are hard to read and don’t inspire confidence. They may be necessary in some instances so your subscribers can copy and paste the URL into their browser, but more often than not, a cleaned-up link will outperform a raw URL.
A couple ways to make your links attractive include:

  • shorten the URL with a service like Tinyurl or Bit.ly (i.e., goo.gl/3Dhnl8nD)
  • create a short redirect URL on your own or with a plugin like Pretty Link (i.e., yourbiz.com/webinar could redirect to the GoToWebinar sign-up form)
  • make the links underlined and colored so they catch the eye
  • put links on their own lines between paragraphs so they stand out
3. Put links in the best places to attract clicks.
Generally, you want one link near the beginning of the email, so really interested subscribers hooked by your subject line can go straight to the next step. Another link in the middle of the email makes it easy for subscribers who want a little more information before they click. And a link at the end of the email catches more clicks from readers who prefer to read everything before deciding.
Of course, where you put links depends on knowing where the best places are. If you use link services like Bit.ly or Pretty Link, you can track which links get the most clicks, so you’ll know exactly where to put them in your next email.
4. Give subscribers a reason to click.
Finally, make sure your subscribers have a reason to click through. Sometimes the reason is obvious, like a coupon or special offer. Other times might require a little creativity, such as when you want them to fill out a survey or read your latest blog post. Make sure they know exactly what they’ll get when they click.
For the survey example, you might say that it’s simply a short questionnaire that will only take 2 minutes and lead to a better product or experience in the future. These reasons to click build your relationship with the subscriber, make them feel good for helping you, and increase their confidence and trust in you since you value their opinions and want to improve your offering.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Boost Open Rates

If your open rates aren’t as high as you’d like them to be, the “from” information of your emails might be part of the problem. If subscribers don’t recognize you, why should they open that email.

Fortunately, the trick to solving this dilemma is pretty easy. Here are 3 ways to help your subscribers recognize your emails and increase open rates.

1. Choose an easily recognizable “from name.”
This is the first thing subscribers look at when they’re not sure if they should open that email or not, so choosing the right “from name” is critical. Ask yourself:

How do people most quickly and easily recognize my business or organization?

If you serve individual clients, they probably know you best by your name. If you have a lot of customers, they might know you better by the name of your brand or store. You can even combine the two names (i.e. Jason at Email Contact) to take advantage of how they know you and build more personal relationships at the same time.

2. Use a confidence-building “from email address.”
Branded email addresses build confidence and should be easy to recongize, both of which increase open rates. Using a branded email address is especially important if you opt to use your own name as the from name, because if subscribers don’t recognize just your name, they’ll look at the from email address to figure out who you are.

The from email address should also give them a clue as to the email’s contents, like these examples:
  • jobs-listings@linkedin.com
  • renewalsdepartment@bluehost.com
  • support@dressingyourtruth.com
  • service@paypal.com

Generic from email addresses like info@yourbiz.com or no-reply@yourbiz.com do not build confidence or give people a reason to open your emails. In fact, a “no-reply” email address can look spammy.

3. Consider a branded subject line.
It can be helpful to include your brand name in the subject line to make sure subscribers recognize you. Many times branded subject lines outperform unbranded ones, so it’s worth testing. Small changes like this can make a big difference.

You can include your brand in the subject line either by writing it out or tacking it on at the beginning or end, like this:
  • Spring Sale at Mary’s Crafts!
  • Spring Sale: Coupons Inside! [Mary’s Crafts]

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's All About The Image

Here's the recording of the live presentation given earlier today. This presentation covers all the different ways you can display images within your email newsletter.

Friday, December 13, 2013

How to Boost Open Rates of Your Holiday Emails

During the winter holiday season, your customers’ inboxes are inundated with promotions and special deals on top of regular newsletters and holiday correspondence. That means you have to work extra hard for your emails to stand out from the competition this time of year. Here are some ways to keep your open rates high amid the flurry of holiday email marketing.

Offer an incentive or benefit in the subject line.
Depending on your organization and email marketing goals, the incentive to open the email could be just about anything from a free download to a coupon. Even exclusive or super useful information can be a great incentive if you craft your subject line just right.

With so many other emails offering holiday deals and promotions, finding a good incentive besides coupons and sales can be tough--which is why the right benefit can boost open rates by a large percentage. To make this work, you have to really understand your subscribers and constantly test to find what works.

Use the right “from” name and address.
If subscribers don’t recognize the “from name” or don’t remember subscribing, they’re not going to open your emails. Make sure your “from name” is properly branded and easily recognizable. This means using your organization name as part of the “from name,” as in “Support at Email Contact” or “Jason Holladay @ Email Contact.”

Also use the most appropriate “from email address” for the type of communication you’re sending, such as support@yourdomain or returns@yourdomain.

Research and avoid using spam words.
It can be helpful to know common spam filter phrases and avoid using them, especially in subject lines, so your emails aren’t blocked by spam filters. While there are some high-offense spam words that will trigger spam filters, many words or phrases can be once or twice without negative consequences. But they can add up fast if you’re not careful, so it pays to know what kinds of words and phrases will trigger spam filters.

The best way to do this is to simply focus on providing great value to your subscribers. Always test your emails before sending to your list to see if any words are flagged as spam, then adjust accordingly.

Occasionally use power words in your subject lines.
The opposite of spam words, power phrases get subscribers’ attention and make them want to open the email. According to a study conducted by the Psychology Department at Yale University, there are 10 power words that, when used strategically in subject lines, can boost email open rates by up to 5%. Those 10 words are:

10. New
9. Save
8. Safe/Safety
7. Proven
6. Love
5. Discover
4. Guarantee
3. Health
2. Results
1. You

Personalize with the recipient’s name and words like “you” and “your.”
This creates the illusion of a personal conversation instead of mass broadcast from a faceless company, and it helps you answer the subscriber’s question, “What’s in it for me?” Personalizing also helps make your emails more useful and valuable, building trust so recipients are more likely to open your future emails.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How to Plan Seasonal Email Campaigns

With the holiday season on our doorsteps, it’s time to plan an effective holiday email campaign. Ideally, planning for these campaigns should begin in August and September so you have time to refine them, but planning them now is much better than not planning them at all. Take advantage of the gift-giving nature of the season with these holiday email campaign tips.
Data
Collecting data is the backbone of all good email marketing. Use both last year’s Q4 data and other information you’ve collected throughout the year to help you craft stronger subject lines, more click-worthy calls to action, and more valuable content. Email campaigns informed by data and testing always perform better than trusting a feeling or leaving success to luck.

Timing

The biggest aspect of a successful seasonal email promotion is timing. It’s crucial to send the right message to the right subscribers at the right time. Reviewing data, segmenting your list, and understanding the demographics of your customers can help you do this. Also make sure your promotions allow enough time for shipping and in-store visits.

Frequency

How often you send emails plays a large role in your conversions during the holidays, but be careful not to email too often. Everyone wants that coveted space in the inbox. If you choose to email more frequently, make sure to include a range of emails--not just coupons and promotions. Heart-warming stories and content are particularly applicable this time of year, and they help build relationships and make you stand out from your competition.

Overlap

If you have multiple autoresponders or email cycles going, consider deactivating them during your holiday promotions to avoid too much overlap in content or frequency.

Duration

Keep up the email campaign and various promotions to the last minute to take advantage of Christmas Eve shopping. Some ideas include reducing friction by offering easy gift choices and buying guides, emphasizing urgency with a holiday countdown, promoting accelerated shipping options, and featuring last-minute gift alternatives like gift cards and vouchers.