Image by: The Logo Company
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine working in a large digital publishing company had a debate with a client about whether or not to use a black background in a forthcoming email campaign.
She asked me if I had any research to back her up. Unfortunately I didn’t have anything concrete, but putting myself on the receiving end of that email, I knew I would hate getting an out-dated looking email from the 1990s.
This made me dig a little bit deeper into the psychology behind colour and how people react to colour in email.
There are seven main colours and they evoke very different feelings:
But how does colour affect email responses? The best way to find out is to test. We tested these two approaches:
In a driving context, green means “go” and red means “stop”. So which of these do you think had the higher conversion?
The red button outperformed green by 21%. It’s probably not what you had in mind, right?
Which colours to use for calls to action is an age-old discussion. The lesson we must learn here is that even if we do our research, we should always be testing our campaigns.
Every customer is different and their response to each colour can vary depending on their mood, location, device used and many more. So remember: always A/B test.
Copyright © 2015 Amir Jirbandey is marketing lead UK at Mailjet.
Many small firms pour all their marketing time and resources into maintaining social media accounts in order to interact with customers and strengthen their online reach.
But, in order to fully ensure customer satisfaction, it’s important not to neglect social media’s predecessor, email.
Email is still a vital tool for businesses that want to communicate with their customers. As popular as social media has become, the use of email isn’t faltering, and the number of email accounts is expected to increase from over 3.9 billion in 2013 to over 4.9 billion by the end of 2017.
While it may appear that consumers head straight to social media when they’re dissatisfied with a product or service, 42% of people use email as their most common channel for making a complaint.
However, as this infographic shows, businesses are not always equipped to deal with the number of emails that enter their inboxes. Although 41% of consumers expect an email response within six hours, only 36% of retailers respond this quickly. And 59% of businesses take more than eight hours to reply; while one in four take 24 hours or more.
Copyright © 2015 numero is a UK customer service software provider.
There are many reasons that businesses make the jump to a new email service provider; a growing contact list, a new budget or the need for new features. But whatever the reason, a switch can also be an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate your current sending processes and improve your deliverability.
If you’re thinking about switching email service providers, here is a useful checklist to make the transition as smooth as possible so you can spend less time stressing about the migration and more time on email marketing.
1. When you create an account with a new email service provider, make sure you continue to use the same sender name and address so your existing customers can recognise you.
2. On the new platform, ensure that Authentication Keys (DKIM SPF) are set up with your new email IP address so that recipients know that emails are from you and are not spam. This will ensure high deliverability, especially if you’re looking to send emails through SMTP. SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and in this context means sending emails through an email service provider using a platform such as Outlook or WordPress.
3. Migrate your contacts. You can do this manually by downloading them as a CSV file or if your email provider is supported, you can automate this process by using an integration service such as elastic.io. One important thing to remember here is to make sure you also migrate your bounced and unsubscribe contacts – this ensures you don’t spam anyone by accident and risk having your new account blocked.
4. You’ll need to protect your reputation if you’re moving IP address and domain, especially if you send high volumes of emails. This means, as a rule of thumb, that for the first couple of weeks after migrating to your new provider, you should segment your contact list and email smaller batches of recipients over the first few weeks. This way, you should avoid triggering spam alerts.
5. Also, remember to migrate the HTML email templates that you worked so hard to create. Your customers are used to receiving a certain look and feel from your emails; it’s important to maintain that identity. Again this can be an easy process as you will be able to copy and paste the HTML codes from your previous dashboard on to your new email provider.
6. With the new email templates migrated, make sure you check that all your links still work and amend those that don’t. Don’t forget to check the unsubscribe button.
7. Finally give your customers a heads up about the changes – ask them to add your email address to their address book to help deliverability and ensure they continue to receive your messages. In case you haven’t contacted your customers for a while, you may want to consider opting them in once more to make sure they still want to receive your emails.
Copyright © 2015 Amir Jirbandey, marketing lead UK at Mailjet.
Unfortunately, when it comes to email marketing there are many bad habits and we’ve all seen them — both as marketers and consumers. Here are some of those bad habits that need to be addressed and — importantly — how to do it.
As consumers we have all received badly targeted email, often for products we would never use. When they fill our inbox we view these organisations as a nuisance; even if we have previously used them, it could even deter us from future dealings.
Remedy: Use the information you hold on your existing clients to better target them and future new prospects.
When selecting or sourcing a distribution list for your email marketing, it is important to appreciate that sheer volume of data is not the key to a successful campaign. Sending to large volumes of email addresses not only suggests that your targeting is weak, but it can have a detrimental effect on the number of Inboxes you reach overall.
Remedy: Send your emails to a smaller, higher quality list to yield better results.
Buying inaccurate (often cheaper) data is a real issue in the industry and the reason some inexpert people say “never buy data lists”.
Remedy: Use a reputable supplier whose data is relevant, up to date and accurate — they can also help you select and target the best prospects.
People are often disappointed in the results of their first email campaign, but you shouldn’t pass judgment too quickly — a single email can be only so effective.
Remedy: Your email campaign should be part of an ongoing series of communications, by both email and other media, to generate and nurture leads.
Most marketing professionals will use a platform suitable for email communications. However, we do still come across some organisations that try to use systems such as Outlook to send mass email. This causes issues with limited send capacity and spam filters blacklisting your company, as well as creative limitations. On top of that, without being able to monitor open, click and other response statistics, you never know exactly how your email and list is performing.
Remedy: Use a dedicated email marketing platform.
This may seem an obvious point, but putting significant effort into both the design and content of you email will pay dividends. A poorly designed email and content that doesn’t appeal to your target audience will damage your reputation.
Remedy: Generally speaking, if you are promoting a product, less is more in terms of copy; make it easy for the recipient to glance over then read more detail if the content is of interest.
When you send your emails, the timing can be as vital as the design — but the best time to send will vary, depending on your target audience. Get it wrong though and the response will be disappointing.
Remedy: The best way to ensure you send your email at the most appropriate time is to test (and test again) — then opt for the one or two times that you have found give the best open and click results.
If you don’t even reach the Inbox of your client or prospect, then your email campaign will not deliver results.
Remedy: Make sure you are aware of spam filters and what they react to, ensuring your content is not blocked from reaching the intended recipient.
Virtually everyone is aware that email is not a high cost mode of communication, so it does not automatically make a client think “this is a reputable company” when they receive an email — especially if you are displaying any of these other bad habits too. This is another reason that email should be just one element of your marketing and communications arsenal.
Remedy: Combine email with direct mail, social media, web presence, print/TV/radio and any other advertising medium that is appropriate for your business and budget.
In the end, every business and product is different; hence you may find that email promotion is not right for a particular product in your range or a particular branch of your business.
Remedy: Always monitor and respond to results and tailor your media as well as your messages.
Tim Holt is the managing director of Data HQ.
At the start of any new year we are often tempted to make a fresh start. Businesses frequently do the same thing — giving their websites a bit of a refresh, changing their policies, targeting new audiences and even updating how they get in touch with their customers.
So what’s in store for email marketing? It has been a key business tool for some time and it should continue to grow, but by how much? And what are the key trends for 2014?
The amount of money being spent on email marketing has been increasing for some time and 2013 saw a significant rise — 20% in fact. That’s a pretty hefty figure but current predictions suggest that email marketing spending will keep growing. Budgets are likely to increase by about 10% this year.
But what will that money actually go on? With more and more people using mobile devices, there will be an increase in spending on mobile optimisation for websites. Having a site that is mobile-optimised is likely to bring in more customers and the same can be said for emails. If businesses want to increase their open rates, they need to make their messages as mobile-friendly as possible.
This means that businesses are going to have to look closely at where the rest of their finances are going. And the likelihood is that companies are going to scale back on printed marketing material because everything is going digital.
Even if customers purchase items in-store, rather than online, there is an increasing chance that the transaction will be completed online. Digital receipts could be given out, so customers don’t have to worry about losing a little piece of paper.
Companies are increasingly encouraging people to buy online by offering them offline deals that push them towards the internet. In-store promotions, for instance, can ask customers to go online to receive a prize or more information. As retailers encourage more customers to shop online, the number of people signing up for email marketing is likely to increase.
Email marketers are constantly sending us all kinds of content. The problem is, for the most part, it's not useful to most of us. Yes, we will get the odd gem and an amazing deal that is perfectly suited to our preferences but a lot of companies just create a general email, hit send to all and hope for the best.
This year, customers are not going to stand for that and marketers are going to have to up their game as a result. Statistics have shown that 43% of emails are opened on mobile devices so it's simply unacceptable for businesses not to get on board with this. Emails need to be optimised for mobile use but the messaging must also undergo a makeover.
Rather than the generic, one-size-fits-all model, businesses will increasingly use data to drill down to specific interests and requirements of their subscribers. More carefully targeted campaigns should result in more sales.
So, there’s no doubt that change is on the way — the question is, how much impact will it have on conversion rates?
This is a guest blog from Lauren Sutton
If, like me and many other startups, you don’t have a dedicated sales person then it will be you and you alone who has to find clients, win the work, do the work, and invoice for it. That’s not one, not two but three hats for you to wear.
If that’s the case, you need cost effective, quick and easy ways to reach out to possible clients and right now, the quickest and easiest option is almost certainly email.
Why? Because you can send an email right now without needing any other input from anyone. There’s no receptionist to halt it at the gate, no engaged tone, it can’t be diverted to voicemail, there’s no door to shut in its face, and it won’t be dismissed as an ad unless you make it sound like one. In short, it gets through. It will go to an inbox and be opened by someone and read — and that’s your opening to make your pitch.
What need can you meet? What problem can you solve? How can you say that as a tweet — in under 140 characters? You won’t send it as a tweet but if you start with that in mind you’ll cut out the waffle. You can use that faux tweet as part of your subject line because when someone is scanning down their list of emails, seeing a solution to their problem will jump out.
Then, in your email proper, tell them a very short story: start by describing the situation your customer is in and the problem they face. Then describe the consequences of their not solving the problem followed by a solution. Start your story with “If…”.
Starting with “if” leads to an automatic question in the reader’s mind: am I in this situation? Yes or no? If they say yes then they’re a potential customer and they are likely to read on.
Do not, whatever you do, start your email by saying things like: “I just wanted to tell you…” or “I’d like to introduce our services…”.
The best time to send a prospective email is at a time when you think the other person will be most likely to open it. If you use a programme like Mailchimp you will see when people opened your emails so you’ll be able to adapt your send out time to get better results.
To start with though, you won’t know when a good time is, so you have to take a best guess. For many of us the first email of the day we read is the one at the top of our inbox, which means it was probably sent after midnight. Avoid Monday and Friday because people are often busy catching up on tasks before or after the weekend so they won’t be paying much attention to emails from strangers.
If you didn’t get a reply, send a follow up asking if they got your first email and if they’ve had a chance to consider it — but always state you appreciate they are busy and may not have seen it.
The quality of the lead is important. You need to find out exactly who you should be emailing, look them up on their website, on LinkedIn or on industry news websites. You could even call the company and ask the receptionist: say that you need their help because you’d like to make sure your email gets to the right person.
Whatever strategy you use, you always need to make sure your email service is safe and secure. Your email system and the emails themselves are part of your sales pipeline so you need to make sure your emails aren’t being blocked because your recipient’s firewall thinks they look like spam or contain a virus or a phishing attack.
Making sure your email system is secure is part of keeping your wider IT system and your business healthy. The last thing you need is your email system going down or the content of your emails stopping you from using it to make contact with potential customers.
Lee Carnihan is a digital entrepreneur writing about small business IT security
You can read more about email best practice in our extensive resources.