Courtney Eckerle

Email Marketing: Five ideas to increase your email’s perceived value

August 16th, 2017
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This article was partially informed by The MECLABS Guide for Optimizing Your Webpages and Better Serving Your Customers. For more information, you may download the full, free guide here.

Email messaging is a constant evolution of tiny tweaks and testing, always in search of the “perfect” formula to keep customers interested and clicking.

The ugly truth is, of course, that there is no perfect email formula. You will always need to test to see what is working — and what will continue to work for your customers.

You always need to be striving towards value. People will open your email and engage with it if they perceive that it will provide some value or service to them.

Marketers and customers shouldn’t be opposed — their issues, concerns and needs are yours as well. So it follows that when you focus on customer-centric tactics that put providing value before promoting your own product, engagement is bound to follow.

In fact, according to a MarketingSherpa online research survey conducted with 2,400 consumers, “the emails are not relevant to me” was chosen as the second most likely reason that customers would unsubscribe from a company’s email list.

This means that relevance and value is more important than ever when planning out your sends, and here are five ideas on how to do it:

Idea #1. Turn your email into a personal note, not a promotion

This is something that all marketers struggle with — we getting tunnel vision, focusing only on meeting certain goals instead of looking at the customer’s perspective and needs.

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Daniel Burstein

Ecommerce: Northwestern University study on how online reviews affect sales

August 15th, 2017
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Every week (as the name suggests), I write the Marketing Sherpa Chart of the Week email newsletter. And so, every week, I come across interesting research and data, along with sources that add analysis and color to that research.

Usually, that analysis is confined to the MarketingSherpa Chart article. However, this week, my cup especially runneth over with good ideas and analysis that I thought you might find helpful on your ecommerce sites, especially as you set the groundwork for your holiday marketing initiatives.

When I interviewed Tom Collinger, the Executive Director of the Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University, and Edward Malthouse, professor at Medill Northwestern and the Research Director of the Spiegel Center, we went well over our allotted time.

You can see their data and some of their analysis in this week’s Chart of the Week article — Ecommerce Chart: Star ratings’ impact on purchase probability. But if you’d like a deeper understanding of their research into how online reviews affect sales, I’ve included a lightly edited transcript of our conversation below. To make the transcript easily scannable for you, I call out key points with bolded subheads

Bringing evidence to the answer of how newer forms of consumer engagement with brands drive financial impact

Daniel Burstein: Why don’t we jump in and you give me a high level of the type of work you’re doing here? I believe, Tom, we may have had you as a source in the past at one point.

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Courtney Eckerle

Marketing 101: What is a radio button?

August 11th, 2017
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Radio buttons — what are they, and how do marketers use them?

Well, like most marketing tactics, it’s something you’ve seen everywhere but simply might not have known the name for.

A radio button can be used in any form where you need people to make choices, like a survey, newsletter sign-up or a lead generation form.

This example is from an experiment in the research library of our sister site, MarketingExperiments. With the subject being a large people-search company catering to customers searching for military personnel, the test’s goal was to significantly increase the total number of subscriptions.

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Courtney Eckerle

B2C Marketing: How Skyjet developed an app to increase leads through cost transparency

August 10th, 2017
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With a lot of disruption due to the evolution of mobile marketing habits in the charter marketplace in Q4 of 2014, said Jonathan Levey, Senior Digital Marketing Manager, Flexjet, his company began experimenting as well.

Jonathan oversees the company’s digital marketing, analytics and advertising as well as covering those same areas for its sister brand, Skyjet. In his MarketingSherpa Summit session, he focused on the development of Skyjet’s mobile app, which he also spoke about with me in the Media Center.

Jonathan and his team had a mobile website and began doing Google advertising for it as well, specifically with mobile-only campaigns. In Q1 of 2015, the team saw a 50% increase in mobile traffic to the site quarter-over-quarter and a 177% increase in quote requests from mobile from this strategy.

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Courtney Eckerle

Marketing 101: What is a lightbox?

August 4th, 2017
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Lightboxes are controversial. It’s a website element that is basically the “West Side Story” of marketing — you’re either for them or against them. Sides are chosen, co-workers torn apart.

We went through this ourselves at MarketingSherpa. Hopefully, you noticed but were not incredibly annoyed that we feature a lightbox on our site. It appears to first-time visitors after they’ve been on a page for 10 seconds.

As with most, our lightbox is a website overlay that encourages visitors to sign up for our newsletters. Admittedly, we have received one complaint about them that was emailed to our customer service department. So, in response, we looked at the numbers.

Numbers don’t lie, and our numbers say that people use this lightbox. We get quite a few sign-ups to our newsletter with this tactic, and we’re not alone.

I went through our case study library to see what other information we had about marketers’ interactions with lightboxes and what they had found when testing them.

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Courtney Eckerle

Inbound Marketing: How to bust out of your social media growth plateau

August 3rd, 2017
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You know how people chat in the office kitchen about hitting a plateau in their diet and exercise routine? Probably the most likely offender is Linda from HR.

Sometimes that can happen with social media too — you’re on a steady diet of energizing engagement, and then all of a sudden, you can’t get ahead. My co-worker, who runs our social media, and I were just commiserating about how these frustrating plateaus can come out of nowhere — one week, it’s three followers more, the next, it’s four followers less.

As with your exercise habits, the answer to a social media plateau is most likely a change in routine.

If you don’t mind me saying so, mining MarketingSherpa’s content or signing up for our inbound newsletter for ideas is a good place to start. It worked for us, after all.

It doesn’t have to be with us though, of course. Do some searching. Check out different websites or even other businesses’ social media accounts to see what your peers are doing.

However, with my intimate knowledge of our extensive library of content, allow me to guide you to some that might be of assistance for this query.

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Annie Summerall

Marketing 101: What is lorem ipsum?

July 28th, 2017
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If you’ve ever collaborated with your design team to create a landing page, an email template, print advertisement, etc., they probably sent over a mock-up layout that shows the general aesthetic that the collateral will have. If you looked closely at that mock-up, chances are you saw it filled with text that made no sense (like the one below). Something you may not know? That nonsensical text actually has a name: lorem ipsum.

Lorem ipsum (sometimes referred to as “greeking” or “filler text”) is the standard dummy text used in the publishing and printing industry. Basically, it’s mock text used to represent the copy that will eventually live in a design, template, publication, etc. I read an article on the history of lorem ipsum from priceonomics.com to get the specifics on the topic.

With word length comparable to a real language and commas and periods creating an illusion of grammar, lorem ipsum looks more like a legitimate language than just repeating “text here” over and over or typing a slew of random letters like “skdghwejghsgskjhgdgngowklrgjlsdjgs.” That’s why using it accurately shows designers how much space is available in a layout for text. This way, they can give copywriters specific character counts when they are actually crafting copy.

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Daniel Burstein

Rapid-Fire Results: Get quick ideas for improving your customer-first marketing

July 27th, 2017
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The focus at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 was inspirational stories of customer-first marketing, and so we mostly shared in person, live versions of the in-depth case studies we report on from your peers.

However, previous attendees have told us that they also want quick ideas for improving their customer-first marketing.

So in this quick-hitting session, my Summit co-host, Pamela Jesseau, and I shared ideas for improving your marketing from industry experts, your marketing peers and MarketingSherpa Award entrants who had outstanding ideas.

Sit back and watch the entire 30-minute video to get several different ideas. Or, if you’d like to jump ahead to a specific topic in a specific section, our copy editor Linda Johnson, put together these timestamp links for you.

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Courtney Eckerle

Marketing 101: What is pogo sticking?

July 21st, 2017
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Pogo sticking is, sadly, not all fun and games. In fact, for marketers it’s one of the most annoying scourges of the search engine marketing world.

Essentially, pogo sticking is when a user searches, clicks on a result, and almost immediately (within five seconds) clicks back to the search result page. The implication of this is obvious — they didn’t find what they were looking for, which indicates it wasn’t a relevant result.

It’s important to note the difference between a bounce rate and pogo sticking because, while they are related, they are not the same. A bounce rate is where a high percentage of visitors visit a single page of a website. It’s not always bad, maybe they found what they were looking for on Page 1, or bookmarked it for later.

Pogo sticking is always bad, and Google will strike down almighty punishment. Read more…

Courtney Eckerle

Time to Move On: Three email marketing habits your customers are sick of seeing

July 19th, 2017
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Habits are strong, and the biggest part of their hold over us is that we don’t often recognize them. Sometimes, our worst habits need to be pointed out in order for us to summon up the will to actually change them.

Email marketers have a lot of these small habits that have built up over the years. We use so-called “best practices” so often that we run them into the ground, forgetting to actually test to see if these habits are helpful or harmful.

Read below to see if these three habits are ones that you need to break.

Habit #1. Tricky subject lines

Every marketer is looking for that new hook that is going to catch a subscriber’s attention the second before your carefully crafted email is tossed into the trash.

That can get old for subscribers though. When you’re constantly changing up your subject-line strategy to find that hook, what you usually end up losing is clarity.

There’s something to be said for people knowing what they’re going to get when they open up your email. I’ve fallen prey to my fair share of tricky or “clever” subject lines, and when I realize what has happened, I feel … well, tricked.

For example, once I got onto the list for an online wine club, which was essentially a millennial twist on a wine-of-the-month club.

I never actually signed up or ordered anything, but about once every two weeks, I would get an email letting me know I had some kind of free something-or-other waiting for me; I’ve unlocked some fantastic new deal.

It always came “directly” from a person (we’re all email marketing friends here; we know that the chances that person actually, totally wrote that email are at best 50/50 — it’s a friendly trick to make you forget it’s a company) and their name would rotate between about three different senders.

The subject lines were always wildly different, and clearly they were experimenting to see what would finally grab my latent attention.

That’s fine. And actually, it’s not a bad tactic to test and see what works on unmotivated subscribers, especially if, like this company, you’re sending an email about the same thing over and over again.

Then one day, I got this email in my inbox — it grabbed my attention, and without thinking, I actually clicked.

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