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Posts Tagged ‘Email Marketing’

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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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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How Mr. Lube Canada leveraged data to create a personalized customer experience

May 15th, 2017
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Canadian chain of automotive maintenance service centers Mr. Lube was challenged with customer retention and relationship management across the various touch points.

Before her session at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017, Andrea Shaikin, (Former) Director of Customer Experience and Engagement, Mr. Lube, sat down with me in the Media Center to discuss how her team approached the challenge.

Andrea said that the first and biggest issue (as it is with many marketers) was data.

“We had so much data. It was unbelievable. Transactional information going back 40 years, but we couldn’t use it for customer information. We didn’t actually know what people were doing [because] our unique identifier was the license plate, not the person,” she said.

The team had no clue how to meaningfully interpret the data to give people the information they needed at the actual time when they needed it. The team had to find a way to do that, without changing too many of the systems for the financial reporting purposes.

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How to Use Social Media Tactics to Make Your Emails More Enticing

May 5th, 2017
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Email marketing is tough. You have almost no time to grab your audience’s attention with a subject line, and even if they do open — that’s when the battle is just beginning.

For those who do open your email, you can’t give them any reason to click the ‘delete’ button, and you have to pique their interest immediately.

One of the best ways to accomplish that is through visuals. Something fun, bright and colorful to catch their eye so that they give the content and copy in the email — no doubt wonderful and scintillating — the time it deserves.

When it comes to visuals, there’s a lot that can be taken from social media. If your company has a strong social presence, start pulling some tactics from there. If you don’t, do some research to see what companies in your sphere are doing on social.

Here are three companies taking those dynamic tactics and successfully implementing them into email:

Tactic #1. Gamify emails to entice readers

Primm Valley Resort and Casino, part of the Affinity Gaming family of casinos, wanted to leverage insights from behavioral economics to create campaigns that would be not only fun, but motivating.

With email, that meant embedding bite-sized games into the experience, allowing customers to play and win prizes they otherwise would have been given for free.

Evans and her team decided to play off of customers’ penchant for playing games to promote events.

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Inbox Equilibrium: How small businesses are making an impact in customer’s inboxes

April 28th, 2017
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I have been writing email marketing case studies for MarketingSherpa for almost five years, and almost without fail, they’ve been from companies large enough to have a dedicated marketer working on campaigns. At the very least, small companies that had big company aspirations and a “jack of all trades”-type working on campaigns.

But when I take a look at my personal inbox, I realize that’s only a partial view. Sure, I receive emails from big brands, but my inbox has changed in recent years. At least half of the emails I receive now are from small, local businesses.

In fact, the one I look forward to the most is the update from the historic San Marco Theater here in Jacksonville — the owner writes each email himself as if it were a personal letter to each of us. The theater recently upgraded to a second screen, and I have been following the building drama rabidly.

There’s something about receiving a personal and detailed email that is almost quaint, now. The only people who email me any more to give me the small updates about their lives now are those small, local businesses.

In recent years, there has been an email evolution where email marketing became accessible and easily doable for people who are juggling the majority — if not all of — the tasks associated with running a business.

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Customer-First Marketing: The argument for sending your customers non-transactional emails in two case studies

March 3rd, 2017
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In a 2016 MarketingSherpa study, we split 2,400 consumers into two groups. We asked half of the respondents to name a company they were satisfied with, and we asked the other 1,200 to name a company they were unsatisfied with.

The most popular response from satisfied customers — 42% of respondents — said that their chosen company’s marketing puts their needs before its business goals.

For unsatisfied customers, the most popular responses — 30% of respondents in each case — were that the company they were unsatisfied with “sometimes” or “seldom” puts their needs before its business goals.

How does this translate into email marketing? Examining the ratio of company-first emails (heavily transactional) to customer-first emails.

We’ll do this by reviewing two case studies featuring marketers who decided to dedicate significant time and effort into producing an email send where the goal wasn’t to drive revenue.

Case study #1: Marriott International

“It felt like we had the opportunity to really do something that was much more member-centric, and really use all the data that we’ve got on our members and present it to them in an interesting, fun way that they might not expect from us,” Clark Cummings, Senior Manager of Member Marketing, Marriott International.

Clark said that in the interview for his published case study for MarketingSherpa, where he was describing Marriott’s Year in Review campaign.

That send — which was non-transactional in nature — helped triple the December average of revenue per message delivered and contributed to making Marriott’s Q4 of 2014 the most successful fourth quarter in three years.

The Year in Review campaign led with a video that summarized several of the Marriott-specific highlights of 2014. This video was customized to each Rewards member.

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Marketing Technology: Choosing an email service provider to fit your needs in 4 steps

February 24th, 2017
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As one of the most commonly outsourced services, an ESP (email service provider) can be a great asset to a marketing team. Choosing the wrong one, however, can slow projects and inhibit email creativity, as well as cause issues with subscribers.

Finding the best ESP for your company means more than just wandering out into the marketplace with a wad of cash. It’s about understanding what your team — and your customers — uniquely need from the email marketing channel.

Many of the case studies I produce for the MarketingSherpa email marketing newsletter deal with an ESP switch, in differing variations. Usually, I’m writing about a stellar campaign that was produced after a marketing team broke free from the constraints of an ill-fitting ESP.

If the search for an email service provider is done correctly, it should be labor intensive. Which means you don’t want to have to do it very often.

Step #1: Perform an audit on the processes and workflows you currently have in place

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How Dell Simplified Email Template Design to Improve Engagement

November 18th, 2016
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“Our main focus [in email marketing] is making sure we’re saying the right thing at the right time to the right person,” said Jessica Vogel, Global Marketing Consultant, Dell.

Having an efficient and effective direct marketing vehicle such as email is critical for the success of Dell’s sizeable direct business. Jessica is part of a team that continuously focuses on email user experience and channel optimization through efforts like responsive design, dynamic content and engaging content integration.

As the email vehicle has evolved into a complex and highly automated direct marketing medium, the team audited its email program (including customers’ mobile and desktop preview-pane experience) and discovered a key challenge to email engagement — its legacy email template.

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‘Twas the Night Before Sending: How Ebates created a compelling holiday email send in one day

November 11th, 2016
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As marketers become fully entrenched in the hectic holiday season, it’s easy to just keep to the schedule while letting customer engagement opportunities pass by.

Derek Kazee, Director of Retention Marketing, Ebates, and I spoke about this issue in the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 about how his team overcame the biggest holiday season obstacle cutting through the noise.

By reacting quickly after some holiday inspiration, Derek and his team quickly mobilized to engage with members about current and upcoming promotions in a fun and informative way.

“I got an idea to do something different, which was actually to remind and to preview all of the promos we were going to launch because I was having trouble keeping track of it myself,” he said.

Derek came into the office with that idea and challenged his team to come up with something that would be informative, non-promotional and engaging at the same time. As a result, one of the copy writers rewrote “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and it was designed in just one day.

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Promotional Marketing: How to use promotional marketing to build brand awareness

July 5th, 2016
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I’ve gotten the nickname “Coupon Queen,” because I love a good deal. It’s hard for anyone to turn down a 50% off sale from their favorite company. Promotional marketing uses special offers to raise a customers’ interest, to influence a purchase and to even stand out among competitors. As marketers, our main goal is to use tactics like this to boost awareness in order to build the community for our brand.

A few months ago, I wrote a post on building customer experience by looking at event marketing while we prepared for MarketingSherpa Summit. Before getting started with the event marketing process or the launch of your content, the truth is there is a whole production that begins before that. You have to start with your promotional work. As we are now gearing up for MarketingSherpa Summit 2017, I interviewed Erin Fagin, Senior Marketing Manager, MarketingSherpa, on her role with promotional marketing.

Promotional marketing includes advertising, public relations and sales promotion. Whether you want to inform the market, increase demand or differentiate a product, here is an introduction to promotional marketing that can help you drive the traffic that you need for your product.

 

Phase 1. Establish your objective

Erin is responsible for the MarketingSherpa brand, with majority of her focus being on MarketingSherpa Summit. She said this includes the “entire brand perception, experience and voice, and how we are positioning ourselves to our followers and customers.”

As a marketer, the first question you want to ask yourself is, “What are we trying to achieve?”

Everyone’s goals are going to be unique to the company; for example, our main objective is to grow our community. This is where your past can become handy in the future planning process. Take a look at past campaigns and data collected to analyze what previously worked and areas where improvements can afford to be made.

Erin has built a portfolio of ideas that were inspired from past campaigns. However, she strives to involve her team in as much as the process as she can. A collaboration session is key in this step.

 

Phase 2. Build your strategy

Research is the most important asset in your strategy, whether formal or informal. Using that available data on your current or past audience engagement is going to benefit your campaign heavily. Organizing your route to the end goal while showing the value is going to be challenging yet rewarding in the end.

Marketing with internal stakeholders provides the beginning foundation, and external stakeholders can also provide a valuable perspective to the strategy. Here is where the buy-in from those involved comes into play. Your team and leadership has to be convinced to change the nature of the existing or previous strategy to be on-board from the very beginning, because as you move on to the next step, that buy-in is going to be to be crucial.

Budget is a piece to always take into consideration at this stage. If you have the flexibility to share a budget with other departments, utilize the resources to combine efforts to cut costs. With the remaining funds, you may have room to experiment with your strategy.

 

Phase 3. Execute your plan

Three core components in creating this plan to execute are:

  • Clearly defined goals
  • Establishing resources
  • A realistic project plan

Identifying the milestones needed to achieve your goals is going to be the first step. In this marketing optimization post, I walked through steps that similarly tie into building a promotional strategy when improving marketing efforts.

The content messaging is one of the core pieces in your promotional plan. Think about, what you want to say to your customers and how you want them to interpret your content. At the end of the marketing asset, put yourself in the audience’s shoes. How likely are you to be motivated to take action by clicking on the CTA or sharing the information?

In a Buzzstream article, “How to Create a Winning Content Promotion Plan,” Stephanie Beadell presented a well-developed framework to building a successful campaign. What I found thoroughly valuable were the starter questions for marketers to ask during the crafting section:

content-promotion-plan

 

Erin added that she begins by taking a crack at developing the content needed for her promotions and then solicits feedback from her colleagues on the marketing team. The content team is brought in the process as well to copy edit and ensure that the voice of the brand remains consistent. Utilize as many departments as your company has available. You also want to change your copy to reflect where it will be shared, she said, whether with a segmented audience and of course for unique social media channels.

Determining when and where your content is distributed is the final step.

Ensure that you aren’t overwhelming the audience with multiple sends, and map out your promotional periods in advance if you can. Understand your audience and where their motivations are, whether it is through direct mail or email. But don’t be afraid to take risks and test new mediums. Establish how technology can be of assistance as well – can paid search, print ads and retargeting help in your marketing efforts?

When your team comes within reach of the objective or achieves the overall goal, celebrate with your colleagues because your hard work has paid off. Communicate the success with your entire company and internally share the information. And don’t forget to use this promotional marketing strategy you’ve created as a baseline for the next one.

 

You may also like:

How Companies Fail, and Why the Customer Always Wins in the End

Email Marketing: Ideas and inspiration from 11 years of award-winning campaigns

MarketingSherpa Summit 2017