Archive for August, 2012

I read an interview with Jay Baer, (You can read the full interview here) He is regarded as a social media star, his day job is president of Convince & Convert and he also is the co-author of “The NOW Revolution”.

In the interview he says:

“Email and Facebook have the same dynamic. Both are used to keep your business top of mind among people who have given you permission to do so. Realize that 84 percent of Facebook fans are current or former customers of a company (DDB, 2011). Thus, you are preaching to the choir on Facebook  just like you are with email.”

Which brings up an interesting concept.  You are preaching to the converted when talking to your email subscribers (and Facebook fans and Twitter followers).  Because your subscribers invite you in to their inbox willingly, and because they want to hear from you, they are among your most loyal customers.  Right?  Maybe.  Anyway lets assume they are for now.   So why keep selling to them? Why keep preaching about how awesome you are? Sure it’s nice to remind them of this, and inform people of new innovations and products, but a conversation with these people might work above all else.  Give them special offers or incentives if you like, to show your appreciation of their continued support. And give them value. Ask yourself, why do these people come to you? What do you give them that no-one else does? Give them a reason to open your email every morning (or whenever it is you email them).

The best emails I subscribe too, don’t sell me anything. In fact, all they ever do is email me and give me a run down of all their best and latest information, blog posts, products, and discounts. And they make it exciting. Plain text emails don’t often make it as far as my eyes, however the colorful exciting ones that lure me in with great subject lines and great images, design and most of all great content, win me over every time.

One more time – show the love, get the love.  Got it?

 

Do you know what the general sentiment of your subscribers is towards you?

Online reputation is becoming more and more important, and you should be considering measuring sentiment as part of your marketing analysis. What is it and why is it important? That’s what we’re here to tell you.

Email marketers want to share information about their business, products and services, but all too often fail to deliver information in a way that’s engaging and helpful to their recipients. Copy might be one-sided and written in a way that says “this is what we want you to know about us”. Good copy is customer-centric and will consider what the subscribers want to hear.  Where are they?  What so they care about?  What do they want from you?

It is safe to assume your customers want to know more about your products and services, their features and their cost. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have opted-in to your list. But what’s most important to them is how those products and services help them with their day to day life, and their business, by saving time, money and resources.

What is ‘sentiment’?
Sentiment is the emotional side of customer relations – what does your customer think of your brand?  Customer research was traditionally used to understand this.   And in the past we know that if someone was unhappy they told 10 people and they told 10 people…    Now, if someone is unhappy they tell Twitter and they tell Facebook and even if your customer is relatively unpopular 500 people could hear all about their unsubstantiated complaint.  And, if you aren’t listening in the right places you might never know about any of it.   Sentiment is powerful.

How can sentiment affect your email marketing?
It makes sense that the more someone likes you the more they want to see you.  So sentiment will influence how your customer reacts to your email marketing.    If they have a positive sentiment/perception of you and your email marketing program then even if you emailed them every day they would still look forward to every single one. On the other hand, if your subscribers don’t like you, or how you use their email address, then even if you email them once a year it would still be too much.

How do you measure sentiment?
It’s hard.  How do you listen to every single one of your customers?  And, they use everyday language not a neat survey form to talk about how they feel about you, so it’s even harder to collect and analyse.   Many tools are available which can be used to gauge whether sentiment is positive or negative, and to see the keywords that are trending against brands.

Net Promoter (NPS) is popular with some of our clients as a methodology that can be used to gauge the loyalty of your customer relationships. Sending a quick questionnaire is an alternative to the traditional customer satisfaction research.   Asking your customer whether or not they would recommend you to others measures your customer’s happiness with you.

Should I measure sentiment?
Email marketers should pay attention to sentiment from all of the channels that are appropriate; from Facebook, Twitter and other social profiles and across the web in general, and respond to it proactively. Whether or not they have opted in to your email, sentiment factors into spam filtering decisions and sender reputation metrics.  If the recipient likes the email, and you, they will open and engage.  If they don’t they will use the mark as spam or delete buttons, and if that is the case, do not underestimate how important sentiment will be to your deliverability overall.

What does this mean for email marketing?
Email zealots like the ones here at Jericho believe that sentiment matters more than just clicks. Email marketing is consistently the marketing channel known for the best ROI and an outstanding ability to measure. However if your overall goal is to increase engagement and customer service, don’t just count clicks – consider customer relationships, engagement, perception, and sentiment too.  Show them the care and respect you have for them with a high quality, personal and relevant communication program, and you can more likely expect it in return.

 

If you are not already doing triggered welcome emails, you probably should be. Here at Jericho we encourage clients to look hard at what they are doing repetitively, and at their customer life cycle, and look for opportunities to add value and human touch.

It’s not surprising that timely, and relevant emails have the highest engagement rates, and deliver much better ROI than your usual ‘run of the mill’ emails.  And birthday emails have even higher engagement rates than other types of triggered emails?

“Triggered email is a really under used trick of email marketing, and just like optimising emails for mobile – if you are not already doing it, you are leaving your customers out in the cold.”

Triggered emails have higher opens, lower unsubscribes, and higher engagement rates, often leading to significant spending (just to name a few good things!) because they are personal, relevant and specifically targeted to the recipient.  They feel different.  They feel like they are ‘just for me’ – because they are.

The email relates to an event: an action the person has just performed or a date specific to them. So it goes without saying they will respond more positively to a triggered email that relates to them or something they are doing, or have just done. Welcome emails are STILL not used by many businesses, and studies have shown that the difference between getting a warm welcome, and not, can be many many thousands of dollars over the lifetime of that person. Post purchase & post visit work great too.  We have a client who sends a personal letter to everyone who visits their premium car showroom.   Other ideas are almost in the ‘infinity’ range!  Just ask us!

One of the hardest thing about email marketing is to consistently send emails that are relevant, personal and timely. Triggered email is the solution that makes the hardest thing the easiest thing by allowing you to automate your ‘customer love’.  Imagine if you could just tell your girlfriend that you love her and cook a lovely dinner once, and then hit a button and have it roll out every time she looks a bit sad!  Voila!

Triggered emails are triggered from a meaningful event or date such as a birthday, anniversary, online purchase, or membership club sign up. So you need data to trigger the email. This is where data collection and having a clean database is so important. However if you don’t have the data to create the triggers, you could use the email series functionality. You can use this as Jericho does and set up a series of welcome emails, where when someone signs up it triggers a series of emails to be sent at certain intervals (Once a week for a month for example) and each email could show the subscriber a new tip, or different information or new advice each week.

“Did you know welcome email series out-perform normal welcome emails in terms of ROI –this is even more under used and undervalued email marketing tool.”

Yes, yes, it all sounds great, however before you jump in; you need a plan.  You need to think about  your overall objective. Is it to get more customers? Sell more to each customer? Build reviews on your website?  Be the most credible company in your niche?   Whatever it is, a combination of measurable objectives and value to your subscribers will result in a more positive sentiment and higher engagement. (We will talk more about this in a future blog post).
So where to start? Well one of the best things you can do, both in terms of using triggered email functionality and increasing engagement, is to send Welcome emails, and triggered birthday emails.

As we’ve noted before, once you reach about 11 your birthday becomes less of a big deal, so when someone takes just a moment to remember your birthday it’s a lot better than nothing!   Yes as a business you don’t want to look creepy by knowing their birthday, however with the right copy and the right tone, sending a friendly yet professional birthday email is one of the nicest things you can do and you will undoubtedly brighten your subscriber’s day.   If you don’t have anything to sell then just say Hi!  But don’t underestimate the willingness we all have to buy ourselves the treat we won’t get from our loved ones!

Are you doing triggered emails now and perhaps want to supercharge them? Integrate dynamic content into your triggered emails…. For example you could use dynamic content to show the items in their shopping cart they ‘forgot’ or send different weather updates to people in different areas. There are many ways you could use triggered emails, and our team have lots of ideas.

If you want to talk about how you could use triggered emails, email series, and birthday emails to enhance your email marketing comms program, talk to your you Account Manager or the Jericho service team – phone 09 360 6463 or email accountservices@jericho.co.nz

Lately we have seen an increase of people using special symbols in their emails, so we asked our creative team to do some testing on what symbols we could use, and how different email clients (including desktop, web based and mobile) display special symbols differently.  We wanted to see what we should take into account when we plan campaigns for ourselves and for our clients.

After testing the symbols across different browsers, different email clients, and testing them in the subject lines and bodies of emails, here are our findings:
- There are no issues in regards to using special symbols in the body of an email as SmartMail Pro uses Unicode encoding, which means it encodes the symbols and displays them. (Here is everything you could want to know about Unicode: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unicode) and here is another link to see the kinds of symbols to use.

- All web based email clients (Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo) display all the symbols with no issues.

- iDevices and Android display everything with no issues; however there are might be issues with the older versions of OS and/or email applications.

- There are issues with older Outlook email clients, specifically 2000 and 2003. Special characters display as empty squares in the subject line of the email.

- Apple Mail 4/5 show only first 7 symbols in the subject line, so I guess if 1 or 2 is used – everything should be fine.

Now before you go sticking special symbols all through your email campaigns, you need to consider a few things first.

You need to make sure they enhance your campaign. You still need to send relevant targeted emails that people want and look forward to receiving, and if so your subscribers will look for your email and open it, whether you have symbols in it or not. You shouldn’t need to fluff out your subject line or email with special symbols just to get attention.
The other thing is these symbols can be viewed as gimmicky.  It may lift open rates in the short term while they are novel, however if you do it too much you risk turning people off, also if everybody starts doing it people will quickly get over it. (So when 50 people all send emails with a heart symbol on Valentine’s Day don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

These symbols do not fix a less than wonderful subject line nor do they single-handedly enhance an email campaign – so ask yourself if your email is enough without these.
On the other hand if you have a relevant and unique way of integrating these symbols into your campaign, then by all means use them.

They are after all a unique way of highlighting a specific message or call to action in your campaign. For example you could use symbols to highlight a discount coupon or ticket number.
It does depend on your brand whether or not using these is appropriate. If so, then how you will use them and what symbols you would use to convey your brand message would need to be determined.

Brand related or not, the special characters should also be used in a way that best conveys the message and enhances the meaning or emotional aspect of your campaign.
There are different ways you can use special characters – put them either side of a customer number to highlight it, or next to a word you want to put emphasis on, or use them to replace words. For example tie it in with an emotive holiday to say something like ‘I (heart) Christmas’. This makes sense because it replaces the actual word with a popular symbol that people recognise, and delivers more of a visual and emotional impact.

There are also many symbols you could use – click here for the list of all available symbols: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miscellaneous_Symbols)
And here’s a few parting thoughts to keep in mind:
- Test your campaign across all browsers and platforms to make sure you know that the symbols are going to display correctly. Test and see what effect it has on your subscribers.

- Don’t just use special characters for the sake of it. Only use them if you have a specific context or objective in mind, and always use special characters to convey and enhance meaning in the right context.

- Don’t only focus on the open rate.  Engagement is the goal with email, especially as more ISP’s rely on engagement as a measure of whether they will deliver your email or not.  As always, different things impact open rates vs clicks, see how your subscribers respond to your campaigns, and think long term.

-Test, test and test.  A very simple A/B split test will show you if the subject line with the ♥ gets the love!

There are many ways you could use special symbols, so if you have some ideas of your own, write and tell us how you have used them to good effect in your campaigns.