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Blog posts tagged email marketing

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Why every small business should be using email marketing

January 14, 2016 by Marketing Donut contributor

Why every small business should be using email marketing{{}}Running a small business is hard work. But just because you have a small team, and you won't be buying a TV spot during this year's Champions League Final, doesn't mean that you shouldn't be investing in email marketing.

A common misperception is that email marketing is only appropriate for online businesses. This couldn't be further from the truth. Online-only businesses are a natural fit for email marketing, of course, but the expectation these days is for just about every business - from the restaurant around the corner to your local community organisation - to have an online presence.

Email marketing is affordable

No matter if your business exists primarily online or in the "real world", email marketing is exactly what you should be thinking about, for the simple reason that it's proven to be one of the most cost-effective digital marketing tools across all sectors.

Email marketing deepens your connection to customers

Customers who've already purchased - either through your website or at your store - are the most important target group for your email marketing efforts. The goal should be to turn a one-time purchaser into a repeat customer. Email marketing empowers you to do this in a number of ways.

The most obvious step is to make targeted product recommendations based on purchase history. In addition to product recommendations, email marketing allows you to deliver offers on specific products that, based on your customer's purchase history, are most likely to lead to another sale. And finally, you can send personalised birthday and holiday greetings. With email marketing software, all of these messages can be automated, saving you time and doing the marketing work for you.

Newsletters engage prospects

By visiting your website and registering for your newsletter, people have already let you know that they're interested in what you have to offer. Take advantage of this opportunity by sending an automatic Welcome newsletter that gives a bit of information about yourself, and lets people know where to find your best products and/or content.

Powerful analytics at your fingertips

Email marketing software offers powerful analytical tools that enable you to learn about your customers while you're communicating with them. Open rates tell you how interested people are in your content, and by learning what types of devices they're opening your emails with - desktop vs mobile, web email vs Outlook - you can tell whether they're opening your emails at work or on the go.

Click maps tell you exactly how many people clicked on the content within your email, letting you see which content was most interesting. And conversion tracking lets you objectively measure the success of your campaign.

Email marketing offers solutions for every business: big or small, online store or neighbourhood shop. Drive sales, increase foot traffic and learn more about your customers.

Sponsored post: copyright © 2015 Ian Roderick, communications manager, Newsletter2Go.

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What can a Katy Perry lyric teach you about customer communication?

December 15, 2015 by Andy Bounds

Katy Perry{{}}My daughter was listening to the song Firework by Katy Perry the other day.

The first line says: "Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?"

And I thought: "No, I don't actually". So I stopped listening.

Then, I received a marketing email with the title: "Are you a new author living near Croydon?"

I said to myself: "No. But I'm a best-selling author living near Liverpool." (Sorry if that sounds a bit big-headed but it's true; my books have sold pretty well.)

And perhaps my favourite of all…

I once received an email called "Looking for a hair makeover for the weekend?". One quick glance at my photo will show why I didn't think this email was meant for me.

The fact is, many communications start like this - with something irrelevant, or dull or both. But, if you want people to engage with you immediately, you have to start well.

When you do, you both feel better. Your recipient knows why they should listen. So they do. And this improves your confidence as you deliver it.

Everyone knows the importance of first impressions. I guess that's why, when I share this idea with people, they normally say "but my first impressions are always good."

But are they? Or do you sometimes use:

  • Boring intros: "Let me update you with everything I have been doing since we last met".
  • Boring titles: "About us" or "Our experience"
  • Boring words: "agenda" or "summary"

Hardly riveting, are they?

Fortunately, it is pretty easy to do it better; and engage people better as a result.

In fact there are only two steps:

  • Identify the #1 thing they're most interested in (the easiest way to find out is to ask them); and
  • Include this #1 thing in your title/introduction.

For example, let's re-write the above three, assuming you're talking to someone whose #1 thing is to improve their competitive advantage:

  • Interesting introduction: "Our key focus is to improve your competitive advantage. So, I'm going to update you with everything I've been doing to help you do this. And also what I'll be doing next."
  • Interesting title: "How our experience will help improve your competitive advantage".
  • Interesting words: "Agenda" becomes "The purpose of our meeting: finding new ways to improve our competitive advantage".
  • "Summary" becomes "So let's look again at the main factors impacting our competitive advantage; and then decide what actions we'll take to improve ours".

A great start doesn't guarantee a great outcome, of course. The rest of your communication must be good too. But start badly, and you might well never recover.

My tennis coach's says I should improve my serve because, when I get it right, it enables me to dictate the point more than any other shot. In his words: "your serve is the only shot where you aren't reacting to your opponent. So it's the only shot you have 100% control over. Do it well, and they have to react to you. So it sets the tone for everything that follows."

When you communicate, is your first serve - your title and intro - impressive enough? Or do you sometimes feel like you're a plastic bag?

Copyright © 2015 Andy Bounds is a communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips.

Image: Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

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Are we in danger of oversharing?

August 24, 2015 by Amir Jirbandey

Are we in danger of oversharing?{{}}Some might say we live in a world of oversharing. You can find just about anything on your social feed - from what your friend ate for lunch to a video of a squirrel getting drunk on fermented pumpkin. We share unique content (like this blog post) and we share frequently because we're positively reinforced with "favorites", "likes" or an increase of new followers. It becomes a cycle, a lifestyle.

But does this trend carry over to email marketing? Just what is social sharing in email and how effective is it?

Mixed reviews

If you've researched social sharing in the past, you may have seen mixed results across studies. One recent study showed that including links to share on social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter generated a 115% higher CTR (click-through-rate) than emails without an option to share.

But another study, by MarketingSherpa, suggests that social sharing buttons are not as effective.

So should we or shouldn't we add social buttons? The answer is that it depends on both your audience and the content that's being shared.

Know your audience

Always have your audience and your end goal in mind. Producing highly relevant, quality content will always be the best motivator for customers to share.

On the flip side, social sharing buttons can eat away at traffic or conversions if you aren't careful. If the goal of the email is to increase blog traffic, you may want to consider having social sharing buttons that directly promote the highlighted blog post.

Or, if you're aiming to drive sign-ups through social, provide a direct link to the landing page for users to share.

Having users refer your product to a friend is much more organic, with the added value of social proof. In return, it guarantees that you're able to attract those with similar interests to your most engaged customers.

Additionally, if you're simply looking to drive exposure on social, you can consider adding "Follow Us" buttons instead. I use these in my own email campaigns and have seen 20% of click-throughs attributed to social media follows.

So always have a specific ask and work to integrate all parts of the email towards that one goal.

Getting social with it

There are a few ways to add social sharing buttons into your email.

Most template editors allow you to drag and drop in pre-made social sharing buttons. For a more customised approach, you can code your own button. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have documentation with pre-made code you can use.

Twitter's Tweet Button allows you to craft a personalised message for your contact list to share. The Facebook button may be a little bit trickier for the non-developer to pick up, but is also highly customisable.

Social sharing buttons have the potential to be highly impactful, providing a high ROI for the time it takes to create and integrate them into your email templates.

Copyright © 2015 Amir Jirbandeyis marketing lead UK at Mailjet.

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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.

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