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Blog posts tagged email marketing

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Get started with email marketing

May 18, 2015 by Marketing Donut contributor

Get started with email marketing{{}}When it comes to building a brand and converting prospects into customers, email marketing is still one of the most powerful and cost-effective tools. But in an era of one-click unsubscribe and a customer base highly attuned to the ways of marketers, how can small businesses make the right connections?

Step one: build the database

The days of buying a prospect database are long gone – that approach is a fast track to a bad reputation and an avalanche of unsubscribes.

Instead, firms need to actively capture the email addresses of both customers and prospects; pretty much everyone you come across.

It is also worth considering creating a single database that combines both sales and marketing information. This avoids duplication and errors and it also makes it much easier to track interactions. This way, your sales staff get insight into all the past prospect communications, including which emails prompted click throughs and which did not.

Step two: create the right content

Email marketing is not a one-off event; it is an opportunity to build a relationship. And that means not bombarding individuals with blatant product sales – that will do nothing to inspire confidence or demonstrate value.

Instead, organisations need to create content that is interesting, insightful and indicates an understanding of the market.

Step three: use an email marketing tool

It’s well worth running an email marketing campaign once a month. But with each mailing, you’ll have manage all the inevitable email bounces and unsubscribes manually and that can be an administrative nightmare.

You can save a lot of time and stress by using one of the many low cost email marketing tools on the market. Products such as MailChimp can automate much of this process; and if it is integrated with your CRM system, so much the better as that means your database will also be updated automatically.

Step four: measure effectiveness

Email marketing tools provide valuable information about the success of each email campaign – most notably click through rates (CTR).

By combining your email marketing tool with your CRM you can add relevance to that data – correlating the number of leads generated and sales closed provides a direct financial ROI figure that can help you improve your on-going email marketing activity.

Step five: increase sophistication

Once you have mastered the process of sending regular, relevant and interesting emails, you can further fine-tune your email strategy. One way to boost your results is to split the email campaign between customers and prospects and refining the message accordingly.

If the company has enough insight in the customer database to distinguish between hot and cold prospects, it is also worth considering varying the frequency of the emails; creating a stronger, more frequent relationship with those on the point of purchase, for example.

The key to success

Email marketing is all about building a long-term relationship and then closing the deal. The key to success is to get the right processes in place from day one and then use the data to improve your return on investment.

Copyright © 2015 Helen Armour, marketing manager at Really Simple Systems.

How colours affect email response

March 30, 2015 by Amir Jirbandey

How colours affect email response

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:

  1. Red is for energy. Red boosts your energy levels and increases adrenaline. It is considered a high-energy colour, to be used in areas where we need to be more productive such as home offices. We also associate this colour with passion and romance.
  2. Orange is for fun. It represents warmth and happiness, providing optimism and trust. With its associations to sunny days and bright light, orange brings a positive outlook on life and portrays good health.
  3. Yellow is for optimism. Yellow is known to be uplifting, happy and cheerful. However, it is also the most illuminating colour so it can be straining on the eye, providing a feeling of anger and frustration.
  4. Blue is for trust. Blue is considered the colour of honesty, loyalty and trust. It’s also a calm colour with soothing effects, which may be why it is favoured by most people, but more particularly by men. This could be one of the reasons that doctors and nurses wear blue and green, especially when we consider they are opposite red on the colour wheel.
  5. Green is for growth. Green is the colour for growth and peacefulness. And as it's in the middle of the colour spectrum, it’s also seen as the colour of balance. Green tends to be reassuring; however be aware that it can also denote money.
  6. White is neutral. White conveys sterility and cleanliness and it has also come to represent goodness. However, it provides little stimulation for the senses so too much of it can look cold and boring.
  7. Black is hidden. Apart from its negative connotations with death and darkness, black can be seen as mysterious and hidden from the world. This is one of the reasons why, when I was 18, I didn't wear anything but black.

But how does colour affect email responses? The best way to find out is to test. We tested these two approaches:

How colours affect email response{{}}

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.

Social media is great - but don't neglect email

March 23, 2015 by Marketing Donut contributor

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.

Customer care

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.

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Copyright © 2015 numero is a UK customer service software provider.

Switching email providers? Read these seven key tips

January 26, 2015 by Amir Jirbandey

Switching email providers? Read these seven key tips{{}}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.

Ten email marketing bad habits - and how to avoid them

April 28, 2014 by Tim Holt

Ten email marketing bad habits - and how to avoid them/ Bad habits on traffic sign{{}}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.

1. Poor targeting

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.

2. Quantity above quality

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.

3. Inaccurate data

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.

4. Single contact emails

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.

5. Broadcasts from unsuitable platforms

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.

6. Content or creative issues

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.

7. Bad timing

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.

8. Not considering spam filters

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.

9. Trust issues

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.

10. Product positioning

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.

 

Email marketing trends for 2014

February 20, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Email marketing trends for 2014/@ fiber optics background{{}}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?

Spending more on email

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.

The online revolution continues

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.

Targeting messages

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.

No more one-size-fits-all

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

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