Archive for September, 2012

Getting engaged is kind of a big deal, and there is usually quite a lot of thought that goes into it.  We’ve been thinking about engagement too.

The kind that means you are ‘into’ a brand, and you are keen to hear what they have to say.

Exhibit A:  Here is an email I got from Vodafone on my birthday.

We have written about birthday emails before, and we will talk about them again now, as we know they can make such a big impact on your subscribers. (You can read a round up and see examples in our previous posts here)

Birthday emails are a great way to engage your subscribers, and make them feel special. A nice discount or offer of some kind helps too! It doesn’t have to take much effort and it’s cheap as chips;  our software platform SmartMail PRO allows you to send date-and-rule-triggered emails.  Even if you don’t automate it is also easy to create an email and send it out to individuals, at worst do it once a month for all the birthdays that month.  Or if you don’t have birthdays on the database, send an email on YOUR birthday – as long as the reader gets the gift!

One of the best campaigns I have seen sent a Happy Birthday email to the customer’s TRACTOR!  Yes it was the anniversary of that special purchase, and yes it had a positive and warm reaction every time.

Something beats nothing, it really does.

Another pretty basic way to create engagement is to ensure you are sending your subscribers what they want, so they will want to open your emails.  To work out what they want, you can use behaviour, data you have, and you can continually collect more demographic info using preference centres.

Preference centers are a great way of getting to know your subscribers better, and to update their contact details so you have their correct email address and other relevant information.

Without knowing any of this information you could be emailing cats to dog people and dogs to fish people, and sending daily emails to people who would rather hear from you once a month. Then you very quickly turn people from subscribers to unsubscribes.


Disengagement not only shows you are off-course with your customer, it means your emails are less likely to land in the inbox.  ISP’s are now  tracking if the email has a click or an open, and using that to help them decide if your email is good, or bad.  Eeek.  There’s another very important blog post coming up soon on that point.

So, on that note I was very impressed to see this MarketingProfs email in my inbox this month, asking me very kindly, what my preferences were:

As you can see they emailed to tell me they notice I hadn’t been opening their emails lately, and that I can easily adjust my mailing preferences to ensure I only get what I want, when I want it.

The thing  is, I subscribed to their emails under 2 different email addresses, (Not on purpose or anything it just happened) and I was reading all the emails on one email address and not the other. However there is no way they would know that. So anyway I updated my preferences, (It was as easy as clicking ‘here’) and after updating my settings I am now a happy subscriber who receives the emails when and where I want to.

About the email itself, it was written in a friendly tone which I appreciated and I felt I wanted to update my preferences just because they asked me so nicely.

It was also from a real human whose face and signature made it more personal than an automated email sent from ‘no-reply’ which I would have been more inclined to ignore.

The design was simple and on brand, and I instantly recognised who it was from, so I opened it and read it. If it was any more generic I would not have identified it as such and potentially could have deleted it.

Overall, it was a win-win.  So, how well do you know your subscribers preferences? When was the last time you sent an email asking for their preferences?

What other ways are you working to increase engagement? Let us know, or ask our team for ideas!

How is email winning? Let me count thy ways…

1) It’s beloved.  In a March 2012 online survey of marketing professionals, trade publication Chief Marketer found that the No. 1 tool in digital campaigns was Email Marketing, used by 78% of respondents. Email Newsletters were the No. 2 tactic (59%), followed closely by a social network presence (58%). If you want to read more, here’s the full article.

2) It drives online revenue.  Email marketing was the favored marketing channel for Mother’s Day promotions in 2012, with many luxury brands using email for Mother’s Day marketing and driving transactions in numerous ways including free shipping or discounting, invitations to eCommerce and adding sentimental value. (Click here to read more about this)

3) It’s shareable.  Email is the favored marketing medium to share.  So make your email shareable! Have fun, interesting, shareable content and include social share links, and make it easy for people to ‘share’ online. Remember to include links to your social media profiles, have featured content like your Facebook competition or your latest Pinterest boards, and always have other engaging content ready to roll when you deploy your email.

4) It’s personal.  Getting delivered into peoples inboxes is like being deposited right into the inner sanctum of their life, alongside emails from their friends and photo’s from grandma. “Awesome, we’re in, let’s sell them some stuff”! you say. Hang on, first a couple of things. Don’t abuse the privilege. Earn your place in their inbox and retain your right to be in there. Make sure you are worthy. Make sure you are providing value.

5) It can add value.  Further to the above point, the key is to make sure your email is one that they look forward to and want to read. Ask yourself, are you delivering quality content that is relevant, timely and expected? Is it visual, appealing, interesting, funny, or at least providing some value in some way? Would you look forward to your email? Would you save your email to read later?  If you answered yes to these questions then congratulations, you will have a chance of making it past the morning mass-delete and your email may be kept in their inbox to read later.

6) It works internally.  Microsoft Outlook is a white collar worker’s ‘inner sanctum’.  People still spend more time in their email inbox than in any other business application!  Using email inside your organisation can be very successful, but you need to make the messages of value to the staff, interesting and time saving not time-sucking.   (Want more internal email tips? Here’s an article to read)

7) It’s simple.  Email is winning because it is simple and easy, and these day’s it is ALL about simplifying, being visual, making things easy for people and allowing them to do things quickly. These concepts translate across the board into all areas of marketing yes, but how do these concepts translate specifically to email? Well, consumers these days are barraged by information, and they are adapting their habits to cope with the noise. The reaction consumers are having to this ‘cognitive overload’ is ‘self-imposed simplification of the decision process’. So help them out – match them on their wavelength and make things simple for them.  (Here’s a great article explaining this concept)

8 ) It is an entry point.  Want to go one step further? Integrate email and video using email to deliver a stand out message with good video.  We see this working whether you have a retail focus or you predict the weather.  Making an impact with video is possible, and if you are making video, you should eb ensuring it’s seen as widely as possible – enter email.   An interesting point raised at a recent Marketing Association Brainy Breakfast was that video can simplify concepts, and allow people to gain clarity around potentially complex information, thus allowing them to make decisions more clearly.  When everyone’s mind’s are so full already, (As we just mentioned in point 7) this is a good thing to keep in mind.

9) It’s beautifully mobile.  “Mobile email will account for 10-45% of email opens, depending on your target audience, product and email type” Who said this? Read the full story here. Here’s a neat graph to illustrate the point:

10) Social Network VS Email? The truth is that the best platform is the one that benefits you the most. And what is beneficial to you will differ depending on your business. For example if you’re an events management company, you would benefit from Pinterest. Photographer? Google+ is your place. But still, your e-mail inbox is the most powerful and alluring network that exists. Read this great blog post to find out why!

11) It’s even more mobile.  Speaking of Google – their new whitepaper called ‘Our Mobile Planet’ is all about understanding the mobile consumer, and particularly focused on the New Zealand market. It’s full of great metrics and stats, and makes a strong case for email. (You can read this whitepaper here.  This first graph below shows that 51% of consumers use email on their smartphone on a daily basis. That’s 6% higher than those using social networking sites!

12) It’s……. mobile.   Another stat that stood out from this whitepaper was that 80% of all activity on smartphones are communications based, and of that 71% of consumers use email.

So that’s our roundup – now it’s your turn to use the comments below to tell us why email is winning for you.

No-one usually enjoys filling out forms, but filling out forms online can be particularly painful.  And you can usually FORGET about trying to fill out forms on mobile devices.

But filling out forms is the way we join in social networks, buy online, register to have our say, and in many cases it’s the way we give marketers permission to talk back to us.

As a marketer, it’s worthwhile to view your form as a ‘transaction’ –   an exchange of information for something of value. So consider what you are asking your recipient to provide to you and what you’re offering them in return.  Their data is worth a lot to them – what do you have that’s worth even more?

Once you have an equitable ‘transaction’ consider the other potential barriers and issues that exist around online forms.

Optimising your online forms involves overcoming three common failings:

  • Failing to reduce fear
  • Failing to build trust and credibility
  • Failing to reinforce benefits

How can you overcome these Failings?

1 – Considerations for Reducing Fear

  • Do you ask for more information than is required initially? It is sometimes best to ask only for the basics– name, email, the most critical data for your relationship with them – region perhaps, or gender, if that means your messages make more sense.  You can always ask for more information later, but you can’t guarantee they will give it to you.
  • Do you ask for sensitive information before your visitor is comfortable? (Do you really need their date of birth if all they are signing up for is a white paper?)
  • Does your form look intimidating or longwinded? (Make it simple!!)
  • Does your visitor know how many steps it will take to complete? (Tip : Put visual cues on your form – a simple (1) would do)
  • If your visitor fills in a form, do they know what will happen next? (Is the call to action button self-explanatory?)
  • Do you handle errors and field validation graciously? (Are the errors easy to understand?)
  • Do you create doubts and uncertainties by not answering questions your visitor may have? (Yes, link to Privacy Policy, FAQ’s and anything else that will add credibility).

2 – Considerations for building trust and credibility

  • Is your form in line with your other marketing collateral? Is your logo and if appropriate contact details clear to see?
  • Is it obvious to your visitor that that they are in a secure browser environment? (Have you checked it in a mobile browser?)
  • Do you reinforce your trust messages at the actual point of action?
  • Are you clear with your visitors about what you’re going to do with that information? (Remind them at the point of action that their privacy is valued, and let them know when and how you’ll respond to the lead. Studies have shown that leads lose their effectiveness by six times in the first hour of not being responded to.)


3 – Considerations for promoting benefits

  •  Remind your visitors what value they will get in exchange for the information they provide in the form.  Be wary of making too many fields mandatory.
  • Do your forms show you value the visitor experience i.e. Are they reflective of your other brand collateral? Does your form show how simple it is to do business with you? Is your form intuitive? Have you shown attention to detail?
  • Do you give your visitors options on how to convert further? Can they complete a form online, call, or use any other methods to interact with you beyond the form?


Once you’ve drafted your online form, the next all important step is testing. Review your form on different browsers and devices, and see for yourself just how user friendly it is. Try entering different answers to check field length etc.

Online forms are a vital tool for any savvy marketer and can assist throughout the life cycle of the digital client and prospect. So take some time to optimise your forms and regularly review them to check that they are still delivering for your business.

Don’t miss this previous blog post 5 must-do steps to grow your database – in it there are some great ideas for forms.