Archive for February, 2011

We have been polishing them for years, but in truth, Email Newsletters are still underexploited.  They offer a simple path for you to consistently demonstrate your expertise, and the care you take in your communications.

By my observation, key to getting them done is that you make the process easy by planning your timing and content.  
Timing: When you have agreed frequency (monthly or bi-monthly is right for most businesses)  then work out the timelines you’ll need for copy, interviews, images, and approvals, and set deadlines for the content and delivery.  Missing your schedule is like standing up a date – and it’s hard to get to 3rd base if you don’t hit first and second.
Content: Adding a theme to sit above each issue makes it easier, then each section can work into that.  Each theme should work to support your overall business goals for the year ahead.  For example, if your aim for 2011 is to get new clients, establish credibility, and emphasise your customer focus,  then plan to intersperse two issues per theme, and you have six months content planning sorted.

Here are some ideas – copy and paste them into excel and add columns for your newsletters – to make your own content plan.

Email Design Requirements
Your email will have some content that is regular, so it’s a good idea to plan this out first so we/you can design around your ideas.  Remember changes can be made as your needs change, and the modular style templates Jericho excels at can be flexible with sections left in or taken out as you like.

Top Section Ideas:
Navigation Bar w Links to Key Relevant areas of your Website
Personalised Greeting, e.g. Hi John
Static Index of Content/Sections (just a list of contents)
Bookmarks Index of Content/Sections (a list of contents that will drop to each article when they are clicked)
Introduction – Generic
Introduction – Dynamic (changes out automatically based on key fields like location, gender, client type, preferences)
Introduction – Personal note from ‘Leader’ e.g. with image/sig

Content Section Ideas:
N.B. all of these can also be dynamic (changes out automatically based on key fields like location, gender, client type, preferences)
Most Popular/Best selling
What’s New
Customer Interview
Us at Work – use a simple Case Study to show how you work with a client on a day to day basis
Customer Questions/Answer
Customer Ideas/Images/Contributions

Bottom Section Ideas:
Logos of our Partners
Our Details – Address, Phone in email footer
Contact Us – link to website
Link to Join
Link to Subscribe (missing a link here means missing new subscribers who have received your newsletter from others via forwarding).
Share this email or part of the content, to your Social Network (SWYN) (read other ways to include your recipients social networks here)  We have a descriptive diagram of how that works here)
Join us on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

As always we are here to help - if you want to look at some modular design  examples or just great email campaign examples, ask us. There are 28 of us here and we email.

Email marketing is a chance to make your the way to the and the $

Here’s a quick wrap up of the subject lines in the inbox that relate to Valentine’s Day.

  • GO-SEE-DISCOVER: WIN this Valentine’s Day / AA Tourism
  • Valentine’s Day — next Monday, wine, beer, food and delivery /Glengarry’s
  • Save $$s on Valentine’s Day Today Only / The Whisky Shop
  • Nothing says ‘I love you’ this Valentine’s Day like 5.45% p.a. /Rabobank (Our pick! SEE IMAGE BELOW)
  • Happy Valentine’s Day, here’s some Frizz Free Hair on us! /
  • A Valentines E-Gift for You / Choice catering
  • Valentines Day Mon 14th… / Transylvania Mini Golf (!)
  • Save on Products our Customers Love /
  • We heart coupons for Senseo® coffee / Senseo
  • Valentines Day coming up this Monday, Feb 14th / Roses are Red
  • How-To: Flirty Waves… Just in time for Valentine’s Day /
  • Love, Films by Starlight & the NZI Sevens / KNOW Wellington
  • Be inspired by the latest looks for 2011! / Farmers Beauty Club (who didn’t mention Valentines although the content was all about it.
  • You’ll love these Valentine’s offers / Event Cinemas Film Squad
  • :your biz news headlines on Valentines Day! / Growmybiz
  • I love money, and money loves me / Wildly Wealthy .com

Did you notice the volume of emails increase into your inbox?

Did you use V-Day as an excuse to say Hi and to your customers?

Spammers are scummy criminals, yes, but some of their subject lines are pretty catchy.  Tell me I’m not the only one perversely attracted to the copywriting entertainment that lurks in the junk folder.

There is a lot of emarketing blog subject matter there, for another day.   For our growth theme we head straight to pharma.  A few favourite subject lines:

- Hello, Smallest thing of the year, How are you? ; )    
– Hey Comrade, how’s your ramrod?
– Where did you get so small weenie?
- Could you reply why your thing is so short
- Curious thing about your weenie
- You think you have enough size?

Ouch.  As the person in charge of marketing to your databases, whether you have an audience of 5,000 or 5,000,000 you are likely to experience dissatisfaction about your ‘size’.

It’s not the size, it’s what you do with it right? Well, yes… small databases may just be perfectly formed, but your contacts are always changing, so growth is a good idea in any case.  The real question is, if your’s is too small, what can you do about it?  Growing your database relies on some MUST-DO’s. Every single day, they are not done, all over the web, on sites from all over the world.  Don’t be one of them.   Here are a few of the MUST-DO’s to grow your email list.

  • Ask. This is direct marketing. You must ask, directly, in many ways – buttons, text links, in-copy prompts, and from landing pages, blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn, etc.  Get someone who has no involvement with your website – you mum for example – and ask them to get their name on your mailing list; watch over their shoulder while they sign up.  Everywhere they attempt to look should have  a text link, button or directive to join.  Note how the GAP family of sites, and do this right on the home page – their most valuable real estate.
  • Be attractive and useful. Now is not the time to be coy. Describe how you will help and waggle your benefits right in their face.   Use pain-points that demonstrate you know their difficulties, and can help them solve them.  Use value-adds and bonuses to incentivise their action.   We developed our SmartMail Pro’s email series tools for just this purpose (Get our monthly specials and we’ll send you the ground-breaking tutorial ‘Get the most from health insurance’ in 5 parts, each week for the next 5 weeks, for free’).  Yes your content is worth something but their email address is worth a lot – to you, and, even more to them.  Use examples, testimonials and clear language to exchange value and to minimise their risk: ‘We will never ever give your details to anyone else’.  Are your emails beautiful, and functional?  It costs the same time and money to send an ugly email – but risks less pass-along, poor response rates.  Make it rock.  See email design examples here and ask us for some before and afters to see what a difference design can make.
  • Make it easy. See the Bonus Resource on form design below - DO ask for the personal details you can (and that you will) use to vastly improve the customers experience, such as Gender, Location, and broad preference categories.  Date of birth is nice if you will use it to acknowledge their birthday.  We’ve already said Do NOT hide the subscribe button deep in your site – get it out there!  Please don’t ask for a mailing address, unless you really, really need it – it’s very offputting.  If you have a call centre or CSR’s calling customers on the phone, or viceversa, then make sure they are asking for the email address, and getting permssion by explaining why it will be good to recieve emails from your company.
  • Close the loop.  Do what you said you would, when you said you would do it. Fulfilling the promises that you made is key to extend permission and take Seth Godin’s journey from stranger, to friend, to customer and then advocate.  Handing over the email addy is a risk – make the risk pay off and you will have them. and their wallets, right where you need it.
  • Use Advocates.     Pass along, and social sharing using social media is one of the strongest advantages email has over other marketing channels, so use your SWYN tools not to send readers to your Facebook page but to get yourself on theirs, and if you don’t have  these tools get us to set you up. Make sure you have clear path to subscribe in every email you send – we explain that fully here. Check out this post Fan, Follower, Subscriber – which one will buy?, and other previous GetSmart posts on social media and email marketing.

Bonus Resources

-How New York Public Library grew their database by 50%.  A case study.

-Sign up/Registration form design: I have found a fascinating resource on web design usability that has several posts about form design, I recommend them all – just search their site.  Your goal is to optimise the form, and the path to the form, so you increase the chance that web page visitors will persist and complete your form.  
The first post is about the layout of the form: Vertical arrangement works fastest

Do you need plans, extraordinary design creative, and a real life team of global email experts to drive your email marketing and social media? Here we are – down under and always ready for action.