Posts Tagged ‘dynamic content’

It is never to early to prepare for Christmas, especially if you are an elf – they prepare all year long.  So we thought we could help out by sharing our tips for maximising the effectiveness of your Christmas campaign, and help you stand out amongst all the other Christmas mail.

1. The first step is to prepare.

It’s the Christmas season and everyone gets busy, every year, so plan to plan well in advance. After spending all year building rapport with customers and sending great email campaigns, the last thing you want to do is hurriedly put together a last minute Christmas email. This is where it counts! Send something they’ll remember all of next year and keep them coming back for more. So here are our top pointers:

a. Think about who your target audience is.
WHAT are you offering?
WHY you are offering it?
HOW often you will email people?
Will you set up a fun series of Christmas emails, or send just the one super Christmas email?

b. Keep in mind the relevancy of the campaign to the recipients. Those Christmas garden galoshes may be superb, but if you are sending them to someone who would rather hear about your garden cricket set, you have lost a major opportunity to both appeal to your customers and sell them something. And with everyone struggling to be heard at Christmas, relevancy is more important than ever! Mail that is tailored to your recipients and personalised will grab their attention over the emails that are bland and generic. So think about how you can tailor your Christmas campaigns to your recipients.

2. When you lure them in, where are they going to go?

a. If you are on Pinterest and if it’s relevant to your brand, why not make a Christmas board full of gift ideas, with each product image linking back to your website  to drive traffic. Just look at all the Christmas posts on Pinterest! Then once your board is full of pretty pictures, click here to read about how to integrate it into your email campaign.

b. You are getting your seasonal campaigns designed, and the Christmas rush is looming  - but before you send that campaign and drive all that traffic to your site, check what you are doing online first. If you have an eCommerce site then you’ll love these insights we heard from Google and the Australian Centre for Retail Studies at a NZRA online retailers seminar this month.

3. The first thing someone sees  is your subject line.

a. If you have done all that planning, and gone to all the effort of making a beautiful Christmas email, but people don’t open it because of the subject line, then it doesn’t matter how great your email is, or how many cute elves are singing in it – getting your subject line right is #1. For more info read this post on creating effective subject lines – and this post on using special characters in your subject line to help you stand out.

b. Make sure your subject line is intriguing, catchy and stands out amongst the rest. Some key things to think about are whether or not personalisation is relevant or suitable. Also you don’t want your email getting picked up by spam filters, so avoid using words like “sale” and “free” too much.

3. Once you have got into their inbox….

a. A creative, well designed email with a Christmas theme that is interactive and fun is great for this time of year. Also, sending your clients an email to thank them for their loyalty over the past year is a great way to encourage loyalty in the coming year and make your clients feel appreciated. So make it a goal of yours this year to have the smartest and most memorable Christmas message of all!

b. If you would like any ideas, our creative team has loads! Get in touch with us now

Dear {Generic Subscriber}

Thank you for taking the time to read our long email all about our company even though you have 573 emails to read and you are very busy.

All the information contained in this email is generic and fairly bland although very informative. We are sending the same information out to everyone, so don’t worry we haven’t taken much time looking at creepy data analysing your particular preferences or interests. Why spend time doing that when all 15,679 of our subscribers will enjoy reading the same generic news ins our batch and blast email this week, next week, and every week. In saying that, we may get busy and  just send one really long email with out dated news once a month, which we are sure you will want to read because it’s all about us.

Also it is not mobile optimised as we haven’t prioritised mobile optimisation yet but that’s OK, you still read your emails on a desktop computer right? The email also won’t contain any dynamic content or personalisation which would make the email more about you and your preferences, because as we mentioned we haven’t got the time or budget for that.

We didn’t spend too much time thinking about the subject line, so as you can see that says ‘September Newsletter’ which is exactly what this is. Also we don’t tend to put much emphasis on testing  so there might be a broken link in there somewhere. Just email our esp if you find it.

Also we probably won’t notice how many of you clicked on anything or who is engaged or not engaged because we don’t tend to do any reporting or analysis on our campaigns. And we we will be sending the email at 5pm on a Friday as we don’t really prioritise our email marketing or think about what the best send time is, just as long as we get to send our news out to everyone before we leave for the weekend.

We hope you enjoyed reading our generic email (that you care about even less than we do).

Insincerely and apathetically yours,
Batch and Blast Inc.

BrandsTalk
Sadly the above story is not so far from the truth for many companies. If the whole area of personalisation, engagement and analysis seems like a lot to get your head around, take a moment to read these posts that are bulging with best practice advice on everything from how to really your subscribers, how personalisation can make a huge difference to your readers and how engagement has a flow on effect to your reputation and deliverability.

Do much more than just batch and blast

To personalise or not to personalise

- Here’s how to really show your subscribers some email love

- How and why you should treat your subscribers like friends

- Why engagement is important and how to do it

EmailLove

See, that wasn’t so hard. All it takes is for you to implement a few simple best practice initiatives into your email marketing and you can be seeing a remarkable improvement.

 

I heard something the other day that struck me – someone said their customer service rep ‘put a personal face on a big corporation’.  It made me consider the journey that many organisations take from being small and therefore personal, to greater success and towards the cliche of the big faceless corporation, at which point they see the need to do a full circle right back to providing the personal touch.   Because to your customer, that is all that matters – that personal service. That friendly human face that actually talks to you, helps you, and most of all provides value. That face is often perceived as being ‘your company’ -not your building – not your logo – that personal face. And it is often the difference between a happy customer and no customer.

Being personal applies to every single business and every single industry. People love personalised service, even in this digital world. And email gets closer to people than many other digital channels, via what comes into their inbox.  When you send an email to anyone’s inbox, you are in the ‘golden circle’ of their life, along with emails from friends and family…. it’s like you have just walked into their house and they are having a family party when you arrive. This could be awkward…

So are you going to butt-in and start pitching to them? Only to have them ‘delete’ you and kick you out? Or are you going to be friendly and relevant to them and actually join in the conversation and provide some value to them? You know the correct answer. You know that friend that always comes around and just sits there and helps themselves to your food and your TV then expects you to be grateful to them for their mere presence? I bet you know some emails like that.

Now how about that friend that comes in when they are invited, when you said it’s OK to visit, and they bring your favourite cookies because you told them and they remembered. While they are visiting they also give you some tips, do your dishes and give you some discounts for something you really wanted. Maybe they even tell some jokes and make you laugh. Well obviously that friend is welcome any time! Just imagine if you do your email marketing like that, how much your subscribers would love you.

Well we have an example of an email from a company in New Zealand called Pixel Paint who do just that. Who? Pixel Paint is a canvas printing company based in Wellington and they send the most humorous, friendly emails ever. This month they sent an email out with the subject line ‘We love you so much we made you a mix tape…’ with a link to a retro music mix tape they made on Sound Cloud for their subscribers, just so they didn’t have to endure certain music on the radio. Then they added at the bottom ‘PS – if you want to buy a canvas click here’.  Wow talk about feeling the love from a company who has just gone the extra mile to do something for me. I instantly love these guys. Click on the email and check it out.

Once you have had a look at that awesome email, let’s go back a bit for a second. Email can get technical and can seem like it’s all about metrics, engagement, segmentation, dynamic content, setting up rules, looking at data, vlookups,  exporting reports….. and all that isn’t much ‘fun’ (Unless you are email geeks like us at Jericho) and like housework it’s not the most glamorous part, however, these are all important facets of email marketing and they must be done. Then, when all that foundation work is done, bring the personal side back in. Be human, be personable. Mix up the flavour of your emails and inject some humour into them. The age of using an overly formal corporate voice has gone and we are now all speaking to people in a more natural way.

I love the emails that arrive when I have told them to, I love the emails that open with a funny pre-header or intro, and who use a funny, friendly tone of language. I love those emails that include a pop culture reference, or a joke, or a nice story. Mainly I love those emails that give me my favourite cookies – the products I like and that I’ve told them I like. I love the emails that help me clean and give me advise while they are visiting – that could be anything from whitepapers, to industry advise, discounts, content no-one has seen before… I love these emails and I look forward to them arriving in my inbox. Every single day.

Real-life-humans operate your website, your social media and your email marketing so why not just act like it and embrace the personal, customer-centered focus. Now before you start dropping meme’s into your legal newsletter, we are not saying turn from corporate communication to young funky start-up just to try and be cool all of a sudden. It needs to be done in a way that is genuine and relevant to your company.  If you are a  young funky company like our example Pixel Paint, then you can take this humour and friendliness a lot further than some other companies potentially could.

The moral of this story is if you have made it as far as the inbox, you may as well be a good friend to your subscriber – add value, provide content they will appreciate, send emails your subscribers will look forward to, and they will love you.

Here is a Case Study by Marketing Sherpa that shows how http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/case-study/e-commerce-eco-friendly-email-content

 

With everyone talking about mobile optimised emails we wanted to take a moment to feature one especially great example of someone who is doing a fantastic mobile optimised email.

Foodily, for those of you who may not have come across it, is a site all about recipe sharing with friends. Foodily is the world’s largest social recipe network where you can discover and share any recipe on the web, including your own.  The idea is you use Foodily to keep track of all the recipes you love in one complete recipe box, and you get new recipe ideas by following friends and experts.

Each week, all these delicious recipes and ideas from people you follow are then collated into an email and sent to you! Basically, all the recipes in the email are pulled in using dynamic content rules which are based on the people you follow on the app. So it is completely personalised.

The point we really wanted to talk about was that they have a desktop version of the email and a fully mobile optimised version – and both are simple, functional and beautiful.

Check out the beautiful desktop version of the email below. You will see that it is highly visual, has two columns’ of recipes, it shows you who the recipe came from, it even provides a link to download Foodily from the app store.

 

 

For comparison, let’s look at the mobile optimised version below. It’s an entirely different email! You will see how this has been created so that it automatically adjusts to one column wide, you can see the intro text drops down beneath the logo, it does away with the header promoting the app, the email has larger font, simpler content with easily clickable elements.

 

Let’s look at the central part of the email now. The two column recipe layout continues, with rows upon rows of tantalising recipes!


Now looking at the mobile optimised version of the content you can see the previous asparagus recipe, they then have this cake recipe, then a call to action to see all the rest of the recipe’s. This means the email is very short, very simple, and very easy to read.

Now let’s look at the footer’s of both versions. In the footer of the desktop version, you will see it looks fairly standard, with footer text, call to action boxes with people to follow, with traditional small links suitable for a mouse to click on, and small font.

 


Now for comparison, let’s look at the mobile optimised version, you will see how those call to action boxes have increased in size, the font size is larger, the boxes drop down one under the other to suit the narrower layout.


I hope you enjoyed this great example mobile optimised email. We welcome ideas, other email examples, and any questions about how to optimise your emails for mobile. Just email roanne@jericho.co.nz


Even though it’s likely you are still focusing on your Christmas ‘recovery’ and easing back to work, it’s never too early to think about your 2013 email marketing program.

For some this year might be about reviewing your budget and allocating more resources towards your email communications program in order to set in place the best of the basics.  If you are already more established and ‘mature’  in your approach to email then you are continually reviewing your email communications program and are evaluating it to see how you can enhance what you’re doing.

Either way if you really want to power up your email marketing, below are some of the biggest shifts and trends at the moment that you should now seriously be thinking about how you could make this work better for you.

1. From mobile optimised to mobile first
Given that most email opens now happen on mobile devices, simply optimising your email message for mobile devices is becoming more of an outdated notion. On the other hand – while optimising designs for mobile is now crucial, don’t forget that context is just as important. And a mobile first approach means that landing pages and your Web site are also designed to convert mobile readers of your email.

2. From dry to juicy
Things have changed in the way customers expect to communicate with companies and what they want from them. Gone is the notion of editing content to within an inch of its life to take out any human presence and get it past the lawyers. It’s now about taking a different approach that involves sending content that educates, informs, engages and entertains. This doesn’t mean you abandon your professional corporate speak for the ‘LOL’-speak, however it’s about balance – customers just want to know they are dealing with humans that care.

3. From 1-1001 to 1-1
Batch and Blasts (where everyone gets everything) should have died out along with the Spice Girls. So it is really time to shift to automating more parts of your email program, where the subscribers themselves determine the frequency and cadence of the emails they receive through their own purchases, check-ins, behaviour and interests. It is those smart cookies that use the data they have to deliver real-time emails with truly dynamic and personal content.

4. From welcome message to boarding program
There is a shift away from firing out a ‘welcome’ message and then dumping subscribers into your main communication feed, to gently warming them up with a series of on-boarding messages that are tailored toward new recipients.

5. From one-off to email series
Did you know cart abandonment follow up emails get the highest engagement rate of all emails? Followed by birthday series emails.  Reports show a three-part birthday or cart-abandonment series always significantly outperform a single email. We have heard of people getting average conversion rates of 22%, 15% and 24% with a three-part cart-abandonment re-marketing series. How much money would it have lost if it had stopped after the first message?

Worth thinking about…. Email or call us if you want to talk strategy and email communications planning for 2013, we are elbow deep into work with many clients already and in the coming months they will be very pleased we did!

 

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

Continuing on from our post last week around personalising your email campaigns, I thought I would expand on this. This week we explore dynamic content as a way to enhance your campaigns, increasing the relevance and personalisation, by tailoring the content to specific recipients using dynamic content.

What is Dynamic content?
It is an element within an email campaign that changes from one subscriber to another depending on the data you have for them in your database.

In other words, it’s the perfect way to customise your email, improve the relevance of your content, and better meet your recipient’s individual needs. And it starts with knowing your recipients’ preferences.

In our Top Tips post we introduced preference centers.  They are a handy but often under utilised tool, that allows your recipients to update their own contact details, quickly and easily. This means you’ll obtain their correct email address, know which of your emails they want to receive, and what their individual preferences are in terms of content, frequency etc.

Once you have your preference centre up and running, and your subscribers’ details are all up to date, you can really start tailoring your campaigns to better suit each individual. So you can make sure its toys for Molly and tools for Ben and not the other way round!

So how do you set this up? What’s involved?

 

Well, dynamic content essentially comprises of two key parts:

 

  1. Dynamic content blocks
  2. Dynamic content rules

 

The first step is to create the different blocks of content that will swap out within your email. These blocks are called Dynamic Content Blocks. This is where you would create dynamic content block 1, named ‘Tools’, and dynamic content block 2, named ‘Toys’.

Once you have created the different blocks and filled them with juicy content, the next step is to create and manage the rules that will pull the content into your email.

Once you’ve set up these rules, and put the dynamic content links into your email, the best way to test this and see that the right dynamic content is pulling through for the right people is to test. If you’re using the SmartMail PRO platform, we recommend you use the ‘Live Test’ function, which allows you to send a mock live send using your real data, but to yourself, not the recipient, so you can cross check your data against what is pulling through in the email to ensure that Ben is getting tools and not toys.

If you would like to talk more about what dynamic content can do for you, contact us at support@smartmailpro.comfor some expert advice.

Dear {first name} – think before you personalise.

This week we continue on from our ‘Top Tips’ post from last week, and discuss clever personalisation of email campaigns.

If you’ve been subscribing to email marketing campaigns for any length of time you’re probably familiar with personalisation. Done well, it can feel like the sender is reaching out to you and you alone, calling you by name and making you feel special by offering relevant content or offers just for YOU. On the other hand, some personalisation can look like it’s straight out of the spammer’s text book. And that doesn’t make you feel very special at all.

Personalisation isn’t a good or bad thing in itself. But when it gets misused for the sake of an extra open or click, it can have a negative effect on your campaigns. In these instances, it generally becomes less effective over time. And it can allow us to think that we’re creating “personal” emails when really all we are doing is just merging a name into the message.

A truly personal email is one that addresses the subscriber’s needs, desires, fears, preferences and other aspects of their lives, and gives them something tailored to them. Click here to see our earlier posts about preference centres.

Truly personal emails look at things like:

  • Which emails an individual subscriber has opened and clicked through from in the past
  • Where on your site they visit
  • How they originally found you and what inspired them to sign up to your list
  • Where they live geographically
  • Whether they like weekly digests, monthly updates, or daily emails
  • When their birthday is so you can send birthday emails
  • Their travel preferences so you can send them relevant updates
  • And many more options

A lot of this isn’t typically considered personalisation – it falls more under discussions of segmentation and targeting which leads us into dynamic content (which we’ll discuss next week).  But I think it’s worth considering that relevance and personalisation are somewhat interchangeable when we think about it from the subscriber’s perspective, and not our own. A relevant email is personal, and a truly personal email is relevant.

So does personalisation really work? Have some people gotten too lazy or too cheeky with it? Some people would argue all personalisation is good personalisation, it all drives up open rates. Done well, yes I agree.  But it would need to be tested to see how effective it was for your campaigns and whether it had any effect on open rates. The other side of it is, are we all about open rates? Or do we think it matters more that we connect with the recipient and create engagement, and an email that people enjoy reading? (We do)

And while merge fields are great for pulling through small snippets of information, such as First Name, Account Number and Email Address, Dynamic Content is used for more complex arrangements.

Next week we look at how you can use dynamic content to further enhance personalisation to customize content depending on your recipient’s preferences/interests.