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Email Marketing: Combining design and content for mobile success

July 1st, 2014 No comments

400%.

That’s how much mobile email opens have increased in just three years.

“Which is kind of crazy,” Justine Jordan, Marketing Director, Litmus, said following the recent statistics from Litmus’ research on mobile.

And she’s right. How many channels increase that much in usage in that short amount of time? Not many.

Because of the sudden growth, not all marketing departments have been able to keep up with the trend.

With 50% of emails being opened on a mobile device, mobile email strategy is worth considering for any market, even B2B companies.

Justine spoke at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 as an industry perspective in the session, “Email Design: How to optimize for ALL environments in a mobile world.”

She joined Allison Banko, Reporter, MECLABS, in the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 Media Center. There, she recapped her industry perspective session, as well as hit on two mistakes she still sees among mobile emails: content strategy and best practices of mobile design.

“It’s key to get those two things working in tandem to really optimize the full experience,” she said.

 

In addition to her industry perspective session, Justine also joined a diverse panel of experts, solution providers and brand-side marketers on responsive email design. Watch a brief excerpt from that panel discussion below:

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Email Marketing: Stop building lists and start building assets

June 17th, 2014 No comments

At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014, Allison Banko, Reporter, MECLABS, captured an interview with speaker Jeff Rohrs, Vice President of Marketing Insights, ExactTarget, who shared a concept that should appeal to your inner entrepreneur.

If something doesn’t make money, then it doesn’t make sense.

I say this because, according to Jeff, email marketers are often underappreciated (and underpaid) because they don’t effectively connect the dots for executives on the true ROI of their marketing efforts.

“I think email marketers tend to be underappreciated in their organizations,” Jeff explained, “and I think part of that is the language we choose to communicate the value we bring to executives.”

 

Jeff’s proposed solution is to change the conversation by adjust the way marketers view what they contribute.

In sum, stop telling people you build email lists and start telling them you’re building proprietary assets that are exclusive to your company. One additional point Jeff shared was how social media is experiencing growing pains due to increasing pressure from executives to see clear ROI from social media.

“The executives are beginning to demand more from those channels and email marketers understand that because they’ve fought those battles,” Jeff explained.

Ultimately, Jeff delivered the bigger idea that your organizational marketing goals should supersede the channels you use to deliver them. As a result, hopefully marketers will be able to tear down the silos that emerge from those channels in the process.

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Email Marketing: One good reason to segment your list

June 3rd, 2014 1 comment

I am a frequent shopper at J. Crew.

It is a great brand and I even have one of the store credit cards with the absurd interest rate because I‘ve shopped there to the point that I’ve convinced myself the perks far outweigh the costs.

After all of my online purchases and in-store interactions, I would love to think J. Crew has a tremendous amount of data on my purchase history.

So when I recently received an email from J. Crew that challenged those beliefs, I wanted to share it in this MarketingSherpa Blog post as a great example of why segmentation is so vital in today’s marketplace.

 

Every inbox is only one step from the trash

Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, often says a typical email recipient skims their email inbox for what can be deleted.

I agree because I never can think of a time when I was relieved by the sight of a massive pile of emails that I needed to sift through.

I also trust J. Crew and have an interest in what it sends me, so when I read the subject line:

“Something very good for you is inside…”

It sparked my interest, especially when coupled with the preheader of “25% off (exclusions apply).”

 jcrew-inbox-email

 

It definitely got a click from me.

Here’s the email I opened after reading the subject line. The research manager in me can’t help but analyze its contents.

jcrew-fresh-finds-email

 

The body of the email, while being simplistic, has continuity from the subject line.

Well played, J. Crew!

There was also no superfluous content from what I could tell, which can distract recipients and even cause abandonment.

The call-to-action matched my expectations from the subject line and there was no attempt to make a sale in the body of the email.

All of these factors combined convinced me to click through.

 

And then it happened

Here’s a screenshot of the landing page J. Crew sent me to.

 jcrew-landing-page

 

It did a great job at capturing my interest with the subject line and converting that attention into action – in the form of a clickthrough. However, it lost me on the landing page.

I landed here, looked at the page for a few seconds and left.

One thing the company should have known about me from my purchase history is that I’m unlikely to purchase women’s apparel.

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Marketing Automation: Moving past a batch-and-blast email strategy

May 30th, 2014 No comments

“The most important step was just starting,” Byron O’Dell, Senior Director, Demand Management, IHS, said.

At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014, MarketingSherpa Reporter Allison Banko held a brief interview with Byron on how building customer personas is key to transforming your email marketing program.

Byron took the stage at Email Summit to present his case study, “Marketing Automation: Key challenges a global information company overcame to transform from batch-and-blast to persona-driven email marketing.”

 

In this interview in the Email Summit Media Center, Byron stressed the importance of not overly focusing on perfection at the expense of getting started on building customer profiles.

“If you wait to try to make things perfect before you begin, you’re going to miss out on all that opportunity where you could have been seeing a result,” Byron said.

 

Getting the right content to the right people

Building your customer profiles also helps you overcome the challenge of delivering relevant content to them, as Byron shared in this brief excerpt of his Email Summit session below.

 

One suggestion Byron shared was geared toward helping you deliver targeted content and rests in understanding how technology will impact the delivery to your personas across a larger multi-touch nurturing strategy.

“Don’t mistake having a marketing automation platform for having a process,” Byron explained.

You can view Byron’s full presentation along with 14 other valuable sessions from Email Summit 2014 to learn more transferable insights from marketers who are discovering what works.

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Content Marketing: Optimizing the newsletter offering for CNET

May 16th, 2014 No comments

As the old saying goes, bigger isn’t always better.

For Diana Primeau, Director of Member Services at CNET, creating a strong portfolio of email newsletters that resonated with and engaged CNET’s audience was her goal. As part of an company that is the No. 1 source for researching technology and consumer electronics and with more than 100 million unique viewers, CNET had a robust newsletter program including:trim-your-list

  • 26 editorial
  • 3 deals-based
  • 1 marketing

When it came time to plan a strategy for 2013, Diana and her team didn’t think they had a problem with their engagement metrics.

However, when they dug deeper, they discovered some newsletters were no longer relevant, some contained duplicate information, and some included sections that didn’t engage their audience.

“Because our business was healthy, I thought everything was good. But we found things like we had content that was no longer relevant to our audience. It wasn’t a cohesive experience,” Diana said.

In this brief excerpt from Diana’s MarketingSherpa MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit 2013 presentation, see how she began the process of increasing engagement with CNET’s audience through valuable, relevant content.

 

You can also watch her entire on-demand presentation, “Content Optimization: Reduce redundancy, improve relevance and increase engagement,” to learn how Diana and her team increased both open and clickthrough rates for the newsletter email sends and built a stronger alignment between CNET’s member services and editorial teams.

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Email Marketing: Necessity is the mother of invention

May 13th, 2014 No comments

Because it was our first year running the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Email Summit, we didn’t know what to expect. The plan was to plant a fancy set on the exhibition floor, let me play Erin Andrews and invite marketing guests to join me for some impromptu interviews.

The beauty of doing things freestyle is that unexpectedness – you don’t know what’s going to happen. Let’s not forget the real Erin Andrews’ infamous interview with Richard Sherman.

While none of our guests claimed they were the best marketer in the game, there were some surprises. Silverpop’s Loren McDonald did his “Gmail tabs” dance, Dan Ariely discussed dating and things got deep when Eventful’s Vice President of Operations Paul Ramirez quoted ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Translated from Plato’s The Republic, it means that when you must do something, you’ll discover a way to do it. It’s not as scholarly when you say it like that, though. This fit Eventful’s situation perfectly.

 

Eventful, our E-commerce Best in Show winner for this year’s MarketingSherpa Email Awards, had historically flourished in the realm of revenue, page views and user acquisition, but one day, everything went south.

“When Google released Panda and our traffic attributable to search tanked, that was like the necessity and we started talking about necessity being the mother of invention,” Paul said. “It was an external force that caused us to do something.”

The Google algorithm update had punished the Eventful site because it viewed the e-commerce company as a content aggregator. While Eventful once enjoyed a super successful search strategy, it was now as if the website was completely offline.

Paul was joined by Ryan Blomberg, Director of Engineering, also of Eventful, and discussed this on-stage during their Email Summit session, “How an e-commerce site transformed its email program to increase purchases by 66%.”

Watch Eventful’s full session from MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014. View a brief preview below:

 

While page views overall were plummeting, the portion of Eventful emails contributing to page views was actually growing. Google’s Panda update wasn’t affecting email performance and Eventful’s email program was still highly engaging with solid metrics, with open rates from 20% to 60%.

Eventful had success running “Performer Alert” emails, notifying customers when their favorite artist was coming to town. But the Eventful team thought they could be pushing more Performer Alerts – not for the one artist they’ve already told Eventful they like, but with additional artists they’re fond of.

“Nobody has just one artist in their iPod,” Paul said. “Everybody has hundreds of artists in their iPod. So how do we get that data so that we can speak to our users with more personalization, with more relevance and with greater frequency to increase page views?”

Cue the invention.

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Email Marketing: The evolution of value in messaging

May 9th, 2014 No comments

Brian Clark, Founder and CEO, Copyblogger Media, has been in email marketing for 16 years.

“Which is a million years in Internet time,” he said.

At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 in Las Vegas, Brian sat down with Allison Banko, Reporter, MarketingSherpa, in the Media Center to share some of his email marketing background.

“As much as email remains the primary sales channel, how we do it is evolving and getting a little bit more sophisticated,” Brian explained.

Watch this brief video from the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 Media Center to learn more about the evolution of email marketing, particularly in mobile marketing, and how to provide value in messaging.

 

You can also check out Brian’s full session from Email Summit 2014 to learn how Copyblogger used content and a free paywall to grow its email list by 400%. Watch a brief excerpt of his presentation below:

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Email Templates: Don’t let routine cramp your style

April 29th, 2014 2 comments

Take a good, hard look at the things you do.

Perhaps you pour yourself a bowl of Raisin Bran every morning. Maybe you trot your dog along a certain path at the end of each day or peruse the same half-dozen websites during your lunch hour.

Now ask yourself why you do these things. Often, the answer is simply because you’ve always done them.

Such was the case for one of our MarketingSherpa Email Summit speakers.

Jessica Andreasen, Digital Marketing Manager, ZAGG, didn’t touch on her breakfast habits nor site surfing routines, but rather ZAGG’s habit of employing the same email template: a headline, supporting copy, multiple images, bullet points, one or two banner ads and multiple CTAs.

“We were using the same templates over and over,” Jessica told me in the Email Summit Media Center. “Our results were declining and we knew we had to do something different.”

 

For a customer appreciation campaign, the ZAGG team wanted to focus on a conversational tone, thanking the company’s loyal customers. However, when putting this together, the current template was restricting that message. Despite the fact the template was used again and again, Jessica implemented a change.

“I threw the template out and started with a clean slate and just decided what I wanted it to do,” she said. “What did I want this email to do and say?”

In her presentation, “Email Templates: How the No. 1 maker of mobile accessories tweaked promo emails to produce a 152% increase in revenue per email,” Jessica shared insights on how changing a template can significantly affect your results.

You can learn about what changes ZAGG made to its templates by watching Jessica’s full session from Email Summit. View a brief excerpt below:

 

When we chatted in the Media Center after her session, Jessica said she hoped the audience gained this key takeaway: step back and don’t let the template get in the way of what you want to say.

“You don’t have to stay with that same thing that you’ve always done,” she said.

Who knows, maybe you’ll even become inspired to swap your cereal for scrambled eggs today.

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Email Marketing: A canvas for visual storytelling

April 22nd, 2014 1 comment

Since the Stone Age and beyond, storytelling has been paramount for mankind. Sure, the modes and means have changed, but its prevalence certainly hasn’t.

But storytelling is getting better. Our ancestors may have only been armed with their voices (or grunts) and a rock on a wall to tell their tales. Now, our modern world is overflowing with ways to convey our stories.

Of course, we still have the old favorites like our voices and the written word, but with multimedia capabilities like GIFs, videos and PowerPoints, there’s no stopping our stories. In the email marketer’s world, the email is your canvas for a story, so why not approach it that way? Dell did.

David Sierk, Consumer & Small Business Email Strategy, Dell, joined us in Las Vegas as a speaker at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 back in February to talk about it. Dell needed to find a way to communicate the capabilities of its new product, the Dell XP 12 Convertible Ultrabook, which is a hybrid of a laptop and a tablet. A photo in an email wasn’t going to work. A bunch of text? Not happening.

“How do we visually tell a story of what this product does?” David asked me when we chatted in the Email Summit Media Center.

 

The Dell team decided that utilizing a GIF in the email marketing campaign would be the best way to effectively tell the Ultrabook’s story, ultimately lifting revenue 109%. If you weren’t at Summit this year (or just want to see it again), you can view David’s full session from Email Summit, “Old Dog, New Tricks: How Dell designed an email with old technology to launch a new product.” Watch a brief excerpt of this presentation below:

 

“I think now more than ever with the deluge of emails in a customer’s inbox, trying to get them to click on something is so important,” David said. “People are very visual so it’s tremendously beneficial to give them something to look at instead of forcing them to read through a ton of text.”

Visual storytelling isn’t easy. It’s a delicate craft that requires a certain eye. But when it’s done right, it’s invaluable.

At MarketingSherpa, we understand the importance of visual storytelling. In fact, we’ve implemented a position on our staff dedicated entirely to that skill (we’re hiring now). 

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Email Marketing: 4 steps to optimize a mobile experience for better conversion

April 15th, 2014 No comments

Mobile is big, but just how big is it?

Justine Jordan, Marketing Director, Litmus, posed that question during her Industry Perspective session, “Email Design: How to optimize for all environments in a mobile world,” at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014.

mobile-demographics-chart

 

Almost half of all emails are opened on mobile devices, according to Litmus research. That’s definitely big – especially since it was just three years ago that Litmus found only 10% of emails were opened on mobile.

So what can we do to capitalize on this drastic shift?

Justine said we need to re-examine the subscriber experience from the mobile user’s perspective. While she covered the whole path, we’ll hit on four of the steps subscribers experience.

 mobile-conversion-path

 

Step #1. Don’t ignore pre-header text

Many inboxes are formatted so that users can see not only the subject line, but also a line of additional text in the email. This text is pulled from the first bit of text at the top of your email. However, you can hide this text and still have it show in the pre-header area if you wish.

The default text for most templates is not very valuable messaging. She showed these examples of dos and don’ts to the Summit audience:

mobile-preheader-examples

 

“My challenge to you is, is this a positive brand experience? Is this really what you want people to associate with your ‘From’ name and subject line? Go back and re-evaluate your pre-header text – it’s showing up in mobile inboxes everywhere,” Justine advised.

She suggested making your pre-header “tie into the subject line, bringing [readers] in and encouraging the click.”

The pre-header is another opportunity to infuse value into your email – don’t let it go to waste. iPhones cut your subject lines off at about 35 characters.

 

Step #2. Embrace scrolling in an opened email

mobile-email-comparison

 

This is the same email but it looks completely different. Why?

“It’s because not every smartphone or mobile device is going to support HTML and CSS or even display the email in similar way,” Justine said.

Plus, Android devices vary in what they do and don’t support, so they can be challenging to work with. Some scale the email, some cut off the right side of an email and some support responsive design. Justine said iPhones are a little friendlier, scaling to a 320-pixel width.

But with scaling comes other issues to keep in mind: text and images resize as well.

Justine hit on another key aspect of the user’s experience after opening an email on your email: scrolling.

“Scrolling is a really natural behavior on any mobile device,” she said. “Clicking, or tapping, represents a decision. It’s a point of friction that people are going to either have to embrace or move past.”

mobile-site-clicksIn an email like the one to the right, you don’t know where you’ll be tapping. Where will your finger land with so many small choices? You need to make the user experience more friendly in emails. You don’t need to compact as many options as possible “above the fold.” There is no fold on your iPhone.

“Embrace the scroll; people are inherently going to scroll on mobile devices,” Justine said.

 

Step #3. Recognize a finger is the new mouse

On mobile devices, people are not clicking. Instead, they’re tapping, rendering your “Click Here” call-to-action illogical. There is no mouse to click on a smartphone – only a finger, or stylus, to tap.

“’Click Here’ is a really crappy call-to-action anyway. You need to add a lot value, make sure the buttons are topical, and tell people what they’re going to get when they click or tap on your emails,” Justine said.

The “tap” experience is more than the text of your buttons and calls-to-action. It’s also about the area or location you want to physically tap.

Justine said, “You no longer have a one by one [pixel] target area. It’s more like a 40 by 40 target area.”

A finger requires more tapping space than a mouse needs clicking space. Make sure they can actually tap on that valuable CTA you crafted.

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