Posts Tagged ‘timely’

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

 

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!

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!

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.

According to the 60 Second Marketer blog, email marketing is powerful because it delivers your message to a subscriber’s inner sanctum—alongside party invites from friends, and photos from recent family trips. Because of this, they say, “You need to develop a relationship with the consumer as well. Otherwise you are just an intruder in a house [where] you don’t belong.”

They make a very good point. Below are a few tips for making subscribers think of you as a friend whose message belongs in their inbox:

Be personable.
A friend knows how to spell your name correctly; remembers your birthday; takes note of your likes and dislikes; and speaks to you in an informal, conversational voice. There’s no reason why your email can’t exhibit all of these traits as well.

Be consistent.
We all have that friend who alternates between bombarding us with messages and disappearing for weeks or months at a time. It gets old in a hurry. So be the friend who stays in touch consistently, yet never comes on too strong.

Be concise.
“You don’t want to be that friend who takes 20 minutes to tell a 2-minute story” the 60 Second Marketer team notes. We agree. Emails with short snippets of content, and a brief intro consistently come out on top.

Be sensitive.
Friends recognize when “now” isn’t a good time to talk – and it’s important to remember that when thinking about the time you send your email campaigns. Mornings might be an ideal time to catch a stay-at-home mother; Friday evening, conversely, might be a terrible time to reach a B2B customer who keeps a regular office schedule. This might seem obvious but it can be easy to overlook, and is important to consider.

Further to these points, here is a post that talks about the ins and outs of personalisation.

The Point:
Thinking of your subscribers as your friends is an effective way to gauge the appropriateness of your email program’s different initiatives—and not wear out your welcome.

Want some more tips? Here’s some more information about engagement and why it’s so important.

Source: 60 Second Marketer