Posts Tagged ‘relevant’

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

Automated email which is relevant to the recipient, and timed just right to maximise revenue is the holy grail for the email marketer.

But it’s not easy to get right. Everyone does it differently, yet the drive to optimise each customer experience must keep improving.

There are parts of this process, such as the unsubscribe process, which can be the roadblock in an otherwise pleasant journey.

Clearly, the Brads have struck this – prompting 30 frames of genius.

Click through and have a giggle at this cartoon which puts it way better than we could ever write it.

Your thoughts on this are welcome.

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

 

According to the Direct Marketing Association they do.

In the ’2012 Email Tracking Study’ by the DMA, they reported consumers are still signing up to receive marketing related emails, and, consumer approval of the content of marketing emails has increased, with 25% percent saying that they find more than half of the emails they receive relevant and of interest to them.

There is also some interesting data from Informz which found that the more links an email message contains, the higher the click-thru rate. However, emails should only have one call to action regardless of the number of links.

Informz also found that messages with shorter subject lines had higher open rates, with subject lines with less than 10 characters having the best open rates.

People will read email messages if they think the vendor is paying attention to what they are interested in purchasing. Generic sales emails will likely not gain the notice of readers.

Personalised, targeted and relevant content is still essential. So behavioural targeting should become a part of everyone’s arsenal. Merchants should communicate with customers based on how they responded to previous emails, their website browsing patterns, and their purchase history.

Email continues to have an excellent return on investment and is one of the most cost-effective methods of marketing – and because of its relatively low cost and high ROI, email will continue to ‘WIN’ for the foreseeable future.

Hotels.com have recently sent out a campaign, in which they have sent out a survey to find out how their subscribers read their email.

Within their email they had a section with a call to action image saying ‘how do you read your email?’ and that was linked to this survey

 

 

This quiz asked recipients  things like what their email behaviours are like on mobile vs desktop, and asked subscribers about what time of day they are the most likely to read emails on their mobile, what is the most frequent type of emails you read on your mobile, what are some of the most annoying things for subscribers when they try read your email on their mobile,  and what would prevent you from making purchases on your mobile.

It is really valuable to see where and how your subscribers are reading your communications. Not only does it allow you to know what time of day they are reading them, you know if they are reading on tablet, smartphone or desktop, and by learning their preferences, you get a clearer idea on who your subscribers are, what’s the best time to send your email, and you can then start to assess demographic and preferences of your subscribers so ultimately you can send more timely, relevant emails.

So take a page out of Hotels.com ‘email book’, check out their email survey, and start thinking about how much or how little you know about how your subscriber’s read your emails and see how easy it is to find out.

If you’d like to know how to make sure you send mobile-friendly emails download our *free* white-paper here, and of course if you need a hand to redesign our specialist email design team is right here and ready to take your brief.

 

Following on from our post about how your From Name and Subject Line act as the gatekeepers to your email campaigns, (Click here to read) we are now going to tell you the formula for creating the ultimate subject line so you can increase your chances of your campaign standing out, getting opened, and getting read.

As we’ve said before, prompting the open by getting past the first ‘gatekeepers’ is the primary goal, because you can’t count clickthroughs – much less sell something -  if no-one opens your email.

So with so many people receiving many emails, deleting and filtering, how do you get your subscribers attention? A great subject line gets your email opened.

 

SUBJECT LINE MYTHS

Spam filters can be triggered by a variety of reasons, rarely will specific words like ‘sale’ or ‘free’ get you a one way ticket into the spam folder – filters are changing and it takes a combination of things to really mark your email as spam. So don’t be afraid to put in the odd exclamation mark, you can use all caps, even the word free or sale is fine.

The key is to use these words sparingly. Spam filters assign points to ‘spam’ words, and if the points exceed a certain threshold then the email is considered spam.  However if you just use one or two of these words and symbols throughout your email or even just in the subject line, they won’t automatically mark your email as spam – you may have heard us say before that while content filtering is important, there are now other factors like your sender reputation and engagement metrics that are much more important.

WHAT WORKS

You may have heard a lot of talk about geo-location lately – well collecting and using geo-location data to create more relevant and personal emails and subject lines can increase open rates.  For example, the same email content can come to life when the subject line suggests it’s especially relevant for you.  American retailer Urban Outfitters does this well with subject lines often calling out to me ‘Hey New Zealand – here’s our best sale yet’  or ‘We ship for free to Kiwis every day!’.  Extrapolate that out to your regional customers and – well you see our point.

Subject lines framed as questions have often performed better in tests. Of course you won’t be asking just any old random question – consider your audience, their interests, what your campaign is about, and frame a question around that which will pique their interest and even better if they can respond in some way you can increase engagement.  ‘How many ways can you wear this scarf?’  ‘What’s the best way to show the world you care?’.

Email marketing company MailerMailer found that longer subject lines had lower open rates and click through rates than those emails with shorter subject lines.  They found emails with 28-39 characters in the subject line had the highest open and click through rates. Considering that is about how many characters of a subject line smartphones display, that is no surprise. So the golden rule of thumb is keep it shorter than 50 characters, or at least make your point early in the sentence!

STRATEGIES WITH A CAVEAT

✓ There has been a craze of sorts lately with people using ✶symbols✶ in clever ways in an effort to stand out in the inbox. If used appropriately and cleverly, ✈ symbols may get you more opens, but too many symbols might start driving people crazy so again use sparingly ☂ and only if relevant ☀.  You can read our article about using symbols here.

We’ve heard recently that contrary to previous advice, using the recipient’s name in the subject line does not significantly improve open rates. If it clearly looks like a mail merge then it’s not very personalised at all and will probably have no effect, however if you use their name cleverly and in a relevant way, it may increase opens. In their July 2012 study, MailerMailer saw significantly lower click through and open rates for personalised subject lines compared to non personalised ones.   We have many clients who use this technique every time and it works very well – the answer for you is TEST it!

GET THE OPENS

Keep it useful – why would your recipient want to open your email?  Tell them.

Keep it short – remember the golden rule of 50 characters.

Keep it specific – make sure it is relevant and valuable to the recipient.

Keep it timely – with everything being instant now there really is no place for old news, old jokes, or old memes – keep it fresh.

Always have a call to action – people will respond when you tell them to do something. So ask yourself why are you emailing them? What do you want them to do?  Make your CTA’s easy and ensure they make sense.

Test test test – use the A/B split test send function and test out different subject lines and learn what works for your audience.

Set expectations – clearly state what’s inside the email, and why the recipient should read it.

This advice along with the previous post on From Names and Subject lines will give you some things to work on, and we’re here if you want to talk about what works for you, what doesn’t work and how you might grow your response rates, and deliver great emails to happy customers!

Most organisations don’t have the resources in-house to entirely manage the dynamic complexities of email marketing. These marketers will outsource their email to professional email service providers that can deliver an on-demand, easy-to-use email solution to communicate to customers individually with relevant, trackable emails while staying compliant with current regulations.

Considering how important email marketing is in driving revenue in most organisations, it is usually chronically under resourced.

Increasingly marketers prefer to work with experts to help turn their brand strategy into an e-marketing plan. Email is also a peerless tactical tool for marketers with real-life budgets and few options for fast turnaround targeted comms.

A great e-marketing plan allows for calendar planning, resource and budget allocation, whilst leaving room for opportunities as they present themselves. Quick-witted marketers with an e-marketing Partner can target offers and info using demographic and behavioral info collected from every campaign. Relevant and targeted marketing will put distance between their competitors.

These questions are some of the ones that come from an article published in Clickz: they are a good place to start when considering outsourcing:

  • Do we have people on staff who can create strategic email programs that drive results, improve customer relationships, and integrate with other marketing/communications efforts?
  • Can we access industry-specific and vertical-market-specific benchmarks?
  • Do we have a process to set our own benchmarks?
  • Do we have email-specific design and copy capabilities?
  • Do we have strong knowledge of the complexities involved with coding email or how creative renders across ISPs and Web-based email providers?
  • Do we have project managers and analysts with experience in the email channel who can set up, execute, and analyse our email initiatives, from start to finish?
  • Can our email platform assemble, deliver, and track high volumes of email in proper formats? Can we tap into our other databases and automate email communications?
  • Does our reporting tool provide the information we need?
  • Who supports the email system, and how?
  • What’s the process for resolving issues arising from our email communication efforts: data quality, bounce backs, delivery, replies, customer questions, and so on?
  • How easily can the technology adapt to changing delivery requirements from ISPs and Web-based email providers?
  • How does the current system optimise delivery?
  • Is there support for multiple sends for soft bounces?
  • Can these be controlled by set parameters?

The list of tasks that we take care of is much much longer than this.  There is simply no way that a non-specialist agency can be an expert at the whole lot, and even less likely your own over worked and multi-tasking team could.

If you’d like to chat through any areas you think you might be lacking, we can offer a friendly ear and the most experienced team in the region.

Opportunity is very strong for high quality considered email marketing programs.  We’d love to help you stand out more whether you are a current client or a future one!

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!

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.