Posts Tagged ‘relevant content’

You know when you move out of home and suddenly the washing piles up and the dishes don’t get done and the rubbish hasn’t gone out in a while? And you wonder how it got done before?

When you live at home you tend to take for granted that these things magically get done when you were not looking (Spoiler alert – your mother does it) and when you move out of home you realise that you now need to take responsibility and do all these things yourself, and by taking charge of these tasks you can improve the health and cleanliness of your environment. (Wow!)

Well I guess it’s safe to say most of you have learnt that one, however I’ve got something else to break to you; YOU control your sender reputation of your email marketing – not your ESP or mailbox providers. (What!?)  That’s right – your mother doesn’t work in your deliverability department. To improve your deliverability and reputation, you need to take some control.

There are five key factors that drive deliverability that you can control:
- Authentication
- List cleansing
- Relevant and valuable content
- Active engagement
- Continuous testing

Now I know deliverability can seem like a very complex system of things that need to be optimised and monitored and analysed and that can seem a bit overwhelming. However there really are a range of simple things you can do to improve your sender reputation, and your deliverability.

spam

What can you do right now?

- Honour unsubscribe requests
- Use a ‘friendly’ recognisable from name
- Send relevant content
- Set expectations

A poor reputation drives poor inbox delivery, however as you control your reputation, the sooner you recognise that the sooner you can improve it.

What exactly can affect your sender reputation?
- Spam complaints
- List quality
- Content
- Engagement
- IP Permanence

Recipients can complain because the email may not be of interest or relevance to them, perhaps wasn’t what they expected, perhaps they didn’t recognise the sender, or perhaps they are just receiving too much email or couldn’t find the unsubscribe button. Which is why having a recognisable from name, relevant content and a clearly visible unsubscribe link are SO important.

Firstly, spam complaints can be the #1 reason for decline in your reputation, and is the biggest indicator to ESP’s that your subscribers don’t want your email and this can result in your email being filtered or blocked.

inactivesubscribers

So what can you do to reduce complaints?
- Set expectations
- Honour unsubscribe requests
- Use a recognisable from name
- Send relevant and valuable content
- Enrol in feedback loops

One of the best things you can actively do to increase your reputation is provide valuable and relevant content that your subscribers want to read, the flow on effect being they will look forward to your email in their inbox and they will open, read, and clickthrough, increasing your engagement and over time that helps increase your reputation.

How important is relevance? 25% of subscribers said they have unsubscribed because the email wasn’t relevant. Well I think it’s worth listening to quarter of your entire database don’t you?

The implications of not being relevant are declining ROI and reputation and eventual increase in unsubscribes and/or complaints.

How can you increase relevance?
- Segment your data based on active/inactive subscribers, demographic, location, etc
- Implement a preference centre so the subscribers are in charge of what they receive and how often
- Send a survey asking your subscribers what they want – but be sure to deliver it
- Use dynamic content to change out content based on subscribers preferences
- Use personalisation throughout the email such as name, account number, points balance, purchase activity, etc

Now it’s no use having an email people want to read if people don’t receive it, so ensure you make it a priority to manage your list hygiene, and make that list as clean and shiny as possible. A clean list means you will be sending to actual humans – not spam traps or old inactive email addresses. It also means higher accepted rates, lower bouncebacks, and therefore better deliverability.

relevantemail
How can you improve your list hygiene?
- Review bouncebacks and correct invalid addresses
- Remove inactive subscribers
- Review your data collection process and ensure accuracy
- Grow your list organically – never purchase!
- Implement a double opt-in process
Then once you have implemented these strategies TEST, TEST, and TEST some more. Be continually analysing and testing a range of variables to find out what works, what doesn’t and what can be changed to suit your audience.

What are some things you can test?
- Email frequency
- Subject lines
- Email cadence
- Send day and time
- Personalisation in content

It’s important to get the frequency right because 54% of consumers say they unsubscribe when emails from a particular sender arrive too frequently….  How do you find the balance between too much and not enough? This is where asking your subscribers how often they want to hear from you can be the perfect solution.

Want some further advice? We have deliverability experts, design experts and experienced account managers at Jericho who can answer your questions – email us!

Planning content around a theme helps you and your reader.  To help you and your team plan for campaigns with content around key holidays and events and celebrations, Jericho created the 2013 Campaign Content Calendar.

Download, share to social, and print and pin the calendar above your desk to help with your content planning and keep your audience engaged and your communications relevant all year around.

We’ve included key holidays and key dates for both Australia and New Zealand, including Mother’s Day, School Holidays, Halloween, Chinese New Year, Easter, and more. Some Australian New Zealand events and festivals are included too.

Click on the image to download your copy of the calendar, and be sure to share to your social networks!  And yes, we know it’s March already but we have had this in use with clients loving it to date, so thought it would be nice to share it with you too!

 

With more and more brands online every day, everyone is competing to be seen and be read. As a result, we have overflowing in-boxes and information overload, and are resorting to content filtering or mass-deleting. So how do you cut through all this noise and stand out? What makes you shine above all the others in the inbox?

Here are our best recommendations for making sure your email is a welcome guest in the inbox….

Help your recipients curate, collate, and filter their own content
We know that people are dealing with content overload, and we know people now have many ways they can filter out content, so instead of adding to the information overload, why not be part of the solution.
*Do what Fab does and provide a preference centre link at the top of every email to help make it even easier for recipients to adjust their preferences.
*Send out an email telling your subscribers how much you appreciate them and if they would like to see more, or less of you, in the inbox all they have to do is ‘click here’ to tell you.
*Use dynamic content to ensure you are tailoring the content of your email to the subscribers as much as possible.

Provide value
Do you give people things they want? Neat things they can show off? Products and services that will help them? Tips that no-one else would know? Industry secrets? Personality, humor, fun, quirkiness and uniqueness are all ways to make your message more relevant and valuable.  But what value are you providing content wise? Even if you just sell sticks, instead of just sending a list of sticks and their prices, why not show your subscribers which stick is best for them? Tell your subscribers about some cool tricks they can do with the sticks. Offer bulk buy stick offers. Do you offer gift wrapping and free shipping for 2 or more sticks? Tell your subscribers some of the games you can play with the sticks. Include some photo’s of happy customers with their sticks.  Thinking outside the box like this opens up whole new ways you can provide value.

Be unique
I love Fab and Fancy’s emails because they have such a uniquely designed email that really captures my attention, and I enjoy looking at it. Every day. The other reason is that it is filled with 100% new and unique things every day, which is amazing in itself. I also love them because they offer me things no-one else does, things I see no-where else, which makes it even more special. So what is your point of difference? Think about what you are offering people that no-one else is.Portray your own brand, design, flavour, and make your uniqueness stand out.

Be relevant
There are many ways to be relevant – use preference centre’s so people can tell you specifically what they are interested in. Segment your database so you can customise your content based on anything you can collect the data for – location, gender, age bracket, favorite music genre, preferred store, last purchase date, anything. Basically the bottom line is send an email people want to get.

Use a ‘friendly’ from name
Did you know the majority of email users look at the sender from name and address before deciding whether or not to open the email. If they recognise the from name they’re more likely to open the campaign, however if they don’t, they’re likely to delete the email or mark it as spam. If your recipients recognise your from name and have an association with this, then they’re more likely to open the email. So make sure you choose one that matches your brand/company name, preferably the same one used on your website and across your social media accounts, so that when people see it they instantly recognise you in the inbox. Read more on this here

Use a superstar subject line
Apart from your from name, do you know what one other thing entices people to read your email? Your subject line.  And with the majority of subscribers now reading emails on their smartphone, this means you just have up to 50 characters to make your point. Do your subject lines read ‘March Update’ or do they read something like ‘The top 5 things about X you didn’t know but should’.  Read our post about creating effective subject lines.

Be timely and expected
I like Mashable because among other things, their email always arrives in my inbox at exactly at the same time every day, because guess what – that’s when I asked them to send it. One absolutely fundamental rule is to stipulate exactly when and how often you will send email – when someone first subscribes. And make sure you send it exactly when you said you would. This sets the expectation of the subscriber from the outset, and if you send it when you said you would that leads to happy subscribers. If the recipient likes the email, and you, they will open and engage, and even if you email them daily, they will still love you. However if you email more than you said you would or if they don’t like the email, they will often just use the mark as spam or delete buttons, and if that is the case, do not underestimate how this will affect your deliverability. Read more about sentiment.

Be brief
“Most studies show that people spend less than 10 seconds reading an email” says Simms Jenkins, chief executive officer of the Atlanta-based email marketing agency BrightWave Marketing. People are busy, so help them out and replace those long blocks of text with bullet points, lists, summaries, or even better, images or graphs that demonstrate the point. Think about how magazines sell – their cover’s are full of ‘top 10′ this, and ‘best tips’ that, and all their content is brief and concise.

Provide content people want to read
I get an email from VisualNews, every day. Yet I love it because every day they send me links to things that are new, quirky and unique that I don’t see anywhere else and they are always so interesting to read. It’s one of the only emails that make my ‘to read’ shortlist every day because I always know it’s going to be good. Simms Jenkins said “Compelling content that provides value to your subscribers is the best way to ensure they stay engaged with your e-mail program”. 

Provide something they don’t get anywhere else
What do I get from signing up to your emails that web visitors and store visitors don’t get? HomeMint and ShoeMint make a habit of sending me 20% to 50% and off vouchers at least once a week, just because I subscribed. These emails are among the only ones that stay in my inbox along with those from my friends, while I browse their website and dream about how I am going to redeem that special offer.

Send emails with built in relevancy
Trigger emails are intrinsically relevant as they go out as a direct result of a specific action, like signing up to something or a cart abandonment email. This build in relevancy is why many people see these types of email as a cornerstone of email marketing, and will be more and more relevant and important as time goes on. If you are not already doing some form of triggered emails, we strongly suggest you do – and we have a whole raft of posts on the subject. They can also be surprisingly easy to implement.

Tell a story
In this age where it’s all about storytelling, realise that people don’t want a corporate robot anymore – they appreciate receiving emails that have been written by a human and that actually read like it. So drop the corporate speak and write your communications in a more personable way, in keeping with your brand obviously, and inject some personality into your copy. Add some humour, and make it into a story.  We all know people like stories and this is the best way to get your point across, teach people things, and have them remember things. So share a story or anecdote – for example what’s been happening behind the scenes at your company, or something funny that happened to you, or a quote perhaps. Some of the best emails I have read are written as a story to demonstrate a point. And guess what I virtually always read the entire email, and I retain that story and that message long after that email has left my inbox.

So are you one of the people who’s email makes my daily shortlist of emails to be read, or are you on the list of noise that get’s deleted?

If you have any other fantastic suggestions of ways to stand out in the inbox, email us and let us know!

creating email content is hardWe’ve been talking a lot about content lately (and making tools to help) so we were pleased to find this edgy and actionable resource that deals with a fundamental issue affecting businesses.  How to consistently create high quality content that engages, educates, informs and ideally, entertains?

When we ask clients ‘What’s hard?’ about digital marketing, one consistent pain point comes up:  Creating and curating relevant, sharable, high quality content.  Writing is hard.  When we talk to our peers at other agencies, we hear the same thing.

A way to address this critical issue is a fundamental rethinking, restructuring, and re balancing of company culture, resources, budgets and strategy.

This excellent recent report from Altimeter Group introduces a five-step content maturity model, complete with real-world case examples, to move organisations from zero (“standing”) to hero (“running”) with their content strategy.  It includes a useful Content Marketing Maturity self-audit.  It ends with four actionable recommendations, finishing with ‘Design Recombinant Content’…

The report urges us: “Strive to create content that can be redistributed in multiple formats across numerous platforms and channel to maximise value and minimise the resources dedicated to continually creating content from scratch.  Understand how to redistribute and reuse discrete components of longer form content”.

A new seasons product launch for example might turn into a themed landing page, a video, one or more blog entries, tweets and Facebook posts, and an email opt-in incentive in the form a Welcome email reward ‘Join our Inner Circle now and we’ll send you our exclusive How-to-Wear Guide for the 5 must-have pieces for this seasons new looks’.

I strongly recommend that you read this report and consider a content plan for your own business.  Here at Jericho we already have, and it’s a key strategy for working with our clients and in our own business.

Read the report on SlideShare and please share this post with your networks using the icons below. We’d love to see comments below on how you manage, or struggle with, the growing demands for content.

 

long email‘If you can’t write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don’t have a clear idea.’
~David Belasco

How long is too long for an email campaign? Well the short answer definitely is ’It depends’. Some campaigns are really long but they and work well and win awards for it. Some campaigns are short and sweet and they work well and win awards for it. The key is to have an interesting, relevant, engaging, well designed email. If you include too much content that is not relevant or interesting you are likely to lose people,or overwhelm people unless you have a really gripping campaign with good design, good copy and is relevant to the audience.

Here are some reasons why long emails may not work:
If it’s not interesting you will lose people’s attention and they will delete it
If you take too long to get to the point, people will delete it before you get there
If it takes too much time to read you will lose people and they will delete it
If there is too much information that isn’t relevant to your recipients they will delete it

How do you know if your email makes the grade?  Check out this blog post

Here are some pointers to keep in mind:
Make it clear what the email is about – make your point clearly and make it early
Make it clear what you want people to do – have an obvious call to action
Keep it relevant – Consider sending different emails to segments of your database, with each email targeted towards a specific audience
Keep it timely – keep the amount of articles or bits of information to 7 at the most. Even better, 4 or 5 is short and punchy yet informative.

TIP: If you have lots of information to share, it is sometimes better to send more frequently and include less content – that way you remain fresh in people’s minds and you don’t bombard them with too much information in one go.

Click here to read an article on email best practice guidelines and examples.

Here are some key things to focus on for your next campaign:

1) The right content – make sure your design, coding and content all follow good practice guidelines
2) At the right time – don’t underestimate having a timely content and call to action
3) The right audience – target your email and the content to a specific audience so that it’s relevant to them

TIP: Ask yourself these three questions about your email campaign:
1) Who is it from?
2) What’s in it for me
3) What do I do now?

If you can’t answer these questions yourself by looking at your email, you can bet that your recipients won’t be able to either. So for your next campaign, remember to keep it relevant to the audience, have a good balance of  images to capture attention with gripping copy that makes people read on…

Would you like Jericho to review your email design? Talk to us now

I received this campaign today from American Express New Zealand, asking me to register to win.  American Ex-cess usually takes away not gives, so I thought I would take a look.

They called me a warm friendly ‘Cardmember’ – but in fact they had my name, which you can see in the side bar.  That was the first thing that made me feel special.

Then I click through on the link to register and they ask for my credit card number. 
HINT: 1. I think you know it already.  I’ve scratched it out of the email above but you stuck half of it in the side bar under “For Your Security” heading. 
HINT 2. It’s in the big computer next to you, and I’m not typing it into your entry form.

If American Express email marketing want me typing my card number into online forms to enter competitions then they will probably get their wish, as they incite lots of Eastern Blok types to try this campaign themselves.

We’d been talking about how clever spammers and phishers are getting, just this morning.  We’ve had McDonalds, banks of course, but the bank frausters are getting really good…  at phishing.

I had to take this thing apart to work out that it was genuine.

If Peter Newton had his phone number on the email I would have called him straight up, but he’s probably in his office in Sydney signing off campaigns.

Here is the landing page (you can click to enlarge):

What do you think?

UPDATE:  OOps! You did it again. American Express marketing has since sent me 2 other campaigns with a significant error you can see that here.





The landing page

The landing page










We think that the email marketing industry needs standard reporting and metrics.

Right now, it’s impossible to compare and benchmark response and deliverability rates across the industry because marketers get reports with different terms based on different calculations.

Technological barriers (more on this below) mean that some of the numbers are imperfect metrics but we could all make sure that the name of the  imperfect report is accurate.

Inaccurate or inconsistent metrics impact the credibility of email marketers.  If our metrics cannot conform to benchmarks, we lessen our ability to convince our management and our colleagues of our program’s success.  And that makes it harder to negotiate for resources.

The EEC is the US DMA’s email arm, and their metrics round table has produced a set of standardised metrics they want all email marketers to adopt.  The latest definitions are here.

There are lots of people (okay email freaks/geeks like me) who feel strongly about this.  This article and the comments below about Open Rates are the best kind of argument – considered, intelligent, experienced and a little bit argy-bargy… Which reports are most useful to you?  What do you think they should be called?  You can have your say below.

Loren starts off on the OPEN RATE (proposed rename = RENDER RATE)
“Here are some real-world examples of the inaccuracies and inconsistencies of email opens:
· The email is “opened” (launched), but images are blocked: not counted as an open
· The email is not opened (launched), but images are enabled and is read in the preview pane: counted as an open
· The text version of a multi-part message is read on a BlackBerry. The HTML version (with images blocked) is later opened in Gmail (or other email service/client). The email has been opened and read twice — but zero opens are recorded.
· A text version is opened and read but not clicked: not counted as an open
· A text version is opened and read, but the user clicks a link: not counted as an open with some email software. Others assign an open because the email was clicked on, which assumes an open.

…I think you get my point. With marketers increasingly being held accountable for their marketing spends and actions, do they really want to base performance reports and marketing decisions on such a flawed and inconsistent metric?
Further, the open rate is a process metric that does not measure return on investment or how well the campaign helped you achieve a strategic initiative for your company. Showing how much email contributes to the bottom line, not how many people opened your email, will help you secure a bigger share of the marketing budget.”

In response, we get comments like this from John Calder:

I have to disagree that clicks are a better open indicator. Subject lines cause a message to be opened and read. Value proposition and call to action cause a link to be clicked. What happens after the click causes conversion.
Therefore, a weak subject line with a good value proposition and strong call to action may get more clicks even though fewer people have ‘read’ the message, than a good subject line where more people have ‘read’ the message with a weak value proposition and call to action. From that, which is the better subject line?
The people who buy from you or read your newsletter and really want what you have to offer will turn images on. They will show open rates along with click rates. These people are a good indicator of what people like them are interested in, and if that’s your target market I’d say that there’s some pretty good intelligence to be had there.”

This is a big subject and we’re doing a lot of work on it now.  What is most important to measure and benchmark, how should it be calculated and what should it be called?

I’d love to hear your thoughts with comments here on the GetSmart blog.  We will take all of these into account when we review our reporting layouts.  Our clients and our teams are pleased with our reporting now, but we’d love to be the first ESP in the world with the new standard names and calculations for all our reports.

This year we are 10 years old, and we have been asking… How has the email environment shifted over the last decade? This article shares, very clearly, the 10 valuable lessons we have learned that affect the success of email marketing.  Keys points:

Acquisition is important, but retention is where the money is
Email is all about the conversation again.
The ISPs are not the enemy
An email message is its own creation, not a repurposed web page
Email has broken free from the desktop
“What’s in it for me?” still rule
One size does not fit all
A marketer can’t claim success until it’s measured the right way.
Email can go social.
It’s time to blow up the silo
Read the article at iMedia, here.


We’ve been talking to a couple of clients this week about their un-subscribers, and how to read reports on them, assess the cost or value to your business, and act to effect the churn through your database. I will write on this more in another post soon. For now, it’s clear that losing a subscriber is usually losing a customer, and if that customer who likely (either directly or indirectly) makes you $200 or $2000 or $20000 per year then you need to do your best to stop them clicking the ‘eject’ button at the bottom of your emails!

Q. Why do you unsub from something?
A. Because it’s not relevant, or doesn’t meet your expectation. A Jupiter Research study found 53 percent of email users said they unsubscribe when the content doesn’t interest them.
Once you have the strategy of what your email is to achieve for your business, then state the benefits very clearly and remember the golden email rules: Personal, Relevant, Anticipated.

In our daily work we find another bunch who unsubscribe when they can’t change their profile… if you don’t allow your recipients to change their own email address they will unsubscribe even if all they actually want to do is tell you they have a new addy. You can check your unsub reports and read the comments – this is really common.

Next is unhappiness with message frequency. Calculate the ideal frequency with a formula that includes:
how central to their life are your products and services?
how often do they buy from you?
how much are you willing to invest to make this great?
how good is your content?
Then set the frequency and stick to it like glue. You can blow years of loyalty by caving to temptation or sales pressure by sending two messages in a day or a week, if your readers like to see you once a month, each month, like clockwork.
Allow your recipients to update their own preferences! If you don’t you will be losing money, without a doubt.

To summarise: The most common use of the Internet is email of course. If you don’t want an email any more you can choose to delete, ignore or unsubscribe. Deleting them is easy, and ignoring them is pretty straightforward. Unsubscribes are great because they are far more visible to you than the other two – so this week get out your calculator and work out how much a customer makes you, how much it costs to lose one, and how you can let them tell you what they want when – and then knock yourself out making a plan to give it to them.