Archive for the ‘Email’ category

Is Email Dead Yet?

November 15, 2011

If you missed last Luncheon with Simms Jenkins,  you will find below some great tips from Simms’ presentation!

By Simms Jenkins, CEO of BrightWave Marketing

Is Email Dead Yet?
Hardly. With new business models centered on email as the “product”, the return on investment still surging and innovation occurring in the email channel, email marketing is the go to marketing platform for any digital marketer.  BrightWave Marketing CEO Simms Jenkins spoke about the innovations of the hot again email channel and talked about where email is headed in the future. Jenkins, also the author of “The Truth About Email Marketing” presented how top brands and technology are making email marketing go beyond customer retention, loyalty and sales.  Additionally, Jenkins covered how email plays a crucial role in emerging digital platforms, such as social and mobile.  The questions of how email and social live together was not only addressed but real examples of how to better leverage the channels for the sake of your brand and sales were demonstrated as well. Be sure to review the presentation and discover insights into key industry trends and the road map of the future of email marketing

  • the “new” best practices
  • Learn from leading-edge case study examples
  • Understand how to better position email internally and find the right budget, partners and resources
  • Learn the latest research on how consumers view email in a Facebook world
  • Understand how to integrate email into complimentary channels like social, mobile and other emerging areas
  • Hear real examples from leading brands on how and what customers prefer for digital messaging
  • Discover why it is not an “either or” world but how to best position email as the hub of these communications internally and externally
  • Find out how Social check in, Qr Codes, SMS, Facebook and more can take your email program to the next level

7 Tips to Improve Your Unsubscribe Process

October 14, 2011

by Chel Wolverton, WhatCounts

Too often in email marketing the unsubscribe process is overlooked.  Marketers have the attitude of, “They’re leaving anyway; why does it matter if the process is a good one?”  This is a huge missed opportunity because the unsubscribe process can actually be used to winback your subscribers.  Read on for seven tips on how to improve your unsubscribe process, and feel free to comment below if you have any tips of your own!

Tip #1: Be Immediate!

While the CAN-SPAM Act says that marketers have 10 days to remove an opt-out from their list, best practice is to implement an immediate removal.  This will help to keep your recently-departed subscribers happy, and will cut down on complaints.

For example: If you opted out from a company’s emails, and then received another email from them the next day, wouldn’t that make you irate?  You’d probably think that your opt-out request wasn’t received, or was ignored, and you’d end up hitting the “Mark as Spam” button, thus registering a complaint.

Remember the typical subscriber isn’t as email savvy as we may think they are, so they won’t necessarily know that you have a 10-day leeway to remove them from your list.  Nor will they care – they’ll expect to be removed immediately!

Respect and honor your subscriber’s wishes, and make sure their opt-out requests are taken care of and acted upon immediately.  If you’re using an email service provider (ESP) to help you with your email campaigns, you should be able to take advantage of their immediate, maybe even “one-click”, opt-out mechanism.

Tip #2: Don’t Hide the Unsubscribe

We are a big fan of making the opt-out link within your emails very easy to find.  In fact, we often encourage clients to “welcome the unsubscribe”.  After all, an opt-out is much better for your reputation than a complaint.

These days, subscribers have become accustomed to seeing and using the “Mark As Spam” button within their email client.  This button feels secure to them, as they trust that by using it they’ll no longer receive emails from your company again.  The button is also easy to find.  The drawback for email marketers is that every click of this button is registered as a complaint for your company and that ultimately hurts your sending reputation.

In comparison, opt-outs do not hurt your reputation, but the option is often hard to find.  The opt-out link in most emails is in super tiny font at the bottom of the email.  Instead of discouraging subscribers from opting out by trying to hide the link from them, try highlighting it in red or moving it to the top of your email.

We have had few clients who were seeing high complaint rates try this, and the simple act of moving their opt-out link to the pre-header area of their email significantly cut down on their complaint rates.

Tip #3: Offer Opt-Down or Pause Options

Have you ever received too many emails from a sender and wanted to cut down on the number of emails you received, but you didn’t want to opt-out completely?  We all have cluttered inboxes.  Help your subscribers to manage theirs by offering an opt-down option on your opt-out page.

With this option, subscribers would have the ability to receive less frequent mailings from you instead of opting out completely.  For example, offer a quarterly “best of” newsletter instead of a monthly one.  Letting your subscribers choose what works for them will cut down on your unsubscribe rate and will enhance the subscriber experience.

Consider the idea of offering a pause option on the opt-out page.  DailyCandy does a great job of this; check out their opt-out page.  When you go on vacation, you can pause your DailyCandy emails and set them to start back up again when you return.  This helps to better manage a cluttered inbox, and also allows you to stay subscribed.

Tip #4: Show Subscribers What Else You Have to Offer

Opt-outs often occur when subscribers are just no longer interested in the email content.  If you have other types of emails that you send to subscribers, make sure these are highlighted on your opt-out page.

For example: Take another look at the DailyCandy opt-out page.  You’ll see they have a preference center at the bottom of their opt-out page that lists all of their subscription types.  So, if you were, say, moving from San Francisco and want to start receiving the Dallas emails instead, you could make that change instead of having to opt-out completely.

Showing your subscribers what else you have to offer will decrease your opt-out rate and increase your subscriber retention rate.  Again, it’s all about letting the subscriber choose what works best for them!

Tip #5: Reveal a Little Personality

The typical opt-out process is boring.  You click on a link in the email, you’re brought to a page, confirm your opt-out, and that’s it.  With this type of process, the subscriber will feel no remorse at all about opting out.  Try shaking things up a bit by adding some personality to your opt-out process.

That could be with a personalized opt-out page or with a fun twist.  Take Groupon for example.  When you opt-out from their list, you’re immediately removed, but also introduced to “Derrick”, the guy who thought you’d enjoy receiving the daily Groupon email and who you can now punish. Check out the full video here; it’s pretty funny, and maybe even funny enough to make people change their minds about their opt-out.

Tip #6: Survey your Unsubscribes

Wouldn’t it be great to know why people opt-out from your emails?  Ask them!  Take our client Cardstore.com for example.  On their opt-out page, they provide a drop-down menu for people to answer why they are opting out.  The options are:  Never Opted into List, Too Frequent Communication, Not Interested in Material, and Other.  The subscriber can then elaborate on their decision to opt-out in the comment box provided.

This information is not required, but we actually see a lot of people take advantage of this option, and the data can provide some great insight as to how Cardstore.com can improve their email program.

Tip #7: Periodically Test it Yourself

Finally, don’t forget to go through the opt-out process yourself every so often to make sure all is working correctly.  We typically recommend doing this at least once a quarter and definitely before any high email volume times of year (for example: the holiday season).

Go through the entire process to (1) ensure the opt-out link is easy to find within your email, (2) make sure the email link is working and takes you to the correct page, and (3) the opt-out request is processed within an appropriate amount of time (see tip #1).  Checking this process periodically will ensure you are staying CAN-SPAM compliant, and also giving your subscribers, even those on their way out, a good experience from your emails.

Remember: even subscribers who have opted out are still future re-subscribers and maybe even customers.  Treat them as valued subscribers even during the unsubscribe process, and show them that you really care about their preferences.  It may just help to win them over again!

DMA Atlanta Luncheon | The New Inbox & Other Email Marketing Innovations

October 14, 2011

Simms Jenkins – CEO BrightWave Marketing

Thursday, October 20, 2011 | 11:30-1:30 p.m

Where: Maggiano’s – Perimeter  |4400 Ashford Dunwoody Rd | Atlanta, GA 30346 | Phone: 770-804-3313

Description:

Email is the digital glue for most brands and plays a significant role in customer and prospect communications. As the original digital social network, Simms Jenkins (CEO of BrightWave Marketing, North America’s leading email focused digital agency and the author of “The Truth About Email Marketing”) will demonstrate how email plays a crucial role in emerging digital platforms, such as social and mobile. The questions of how email and social live together will not only be addressed but real examples of how to better leverage the channels for the sake of your brand and sales.

About the Speaker:

Jenkins has led BrightWave Marketing in establishing a top tier client list including Affiliated Computer Services (A Xerox Company), Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, O’Charley’s, RaceTrac Petroleum and Sports Illustrated.

Jenkins was awarded the prestigious AMY 2010 Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Technology Association of Georgia’s Tech Marketing Awards.

Jenkins is the author of The Truth About Email Marketing, which was published by Pearson’s Financial Times Press and is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for Click, the largest resource of interactive marketing news, information, commentary, advice, opinion, research, and reference in the world, online or off.

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Refreshing an Ongoing Email Campaign

June 7, 2011

by Gabe Rand, Vice President of Account Services, WhatCounts*

As marketers we are often responsible for multiple channels over a variety of medium, we are focused on creating and delivering  content across these mediums to subscribers who are ever becoming more and more demanding for personalization and original content.  We rely on analytics and engagement metrics to define our success and measure progress made.  Often in this process we focus so much on the ongoing demands of the content and substance of our messages that we neglect to refresh complimentary components, such as design and user experience.

While we have all heard the term ‘Content is King’, when discussing email marketing it is wise to keep a close eye on other major components of your mailings.  Subject lines, calls to action, template design and usability all play major roles in user engagement for the email channel.

Subject lines:

Subject lines are an important component of any email marketing campaign.  It is your first and possibly only opportunity to entice a subscriber to interact with your message.  Subject lines need to be focused on what the intent of the message is or on what action you are looking to be taken within the message.  A good subject line is short enough to be read quickly and not be truncated by the email provider (usually around 50 characters maximum length).

Subject line testing:

Marketers should be performing subject line testing within their subscriber lists by testing a representative portion of their list (10-15% of random subscribers throughout your list).  Make sure that you choose 2-3 subject lines that are varied based on content, urgency of message call to action or any other criteria which you think could affect the users decisions to take action.  Varying the tests from one another is important, as it allows you to better differentiate what contributed to the altered action by the subscriber.

Design, User Experience & Call to Action:

When a subscriber has decided to open an email, in most messages you are still looking for them to take an action, whether it be to click through to read more on your website, visit a product page to complete a purchase or countless other options.  In order to entice this action design, user experience and the call(s) to action are incredibly important.

User experience:

Many subscribers do not add senders as safe senders which causes email to be rendered with images disabled.  This scenario puts an even greater emphasis on following design and user experience best practices.  By keeping to industry standards users can still interact with your message and decide whether they would like to add your brand to their safe sender list moving forward.  For brands who are sending messages which do not conform to these standards users may see only an ‘X’ where images should appear.   This is not a positive experience with the message or the brand for the user and many time is a missed opportunity for the brand.

Design:

Email is similar to other digital medium in that often you are faced with the decision of brand vs. usability.  Whether it be on the web when making decisions around content for SEO and having to use web-based fonts vs. using Flash or imagery where can employ the corporate font.  You have a similar decision in email, in order for the message to render correctly you must use fonts which are approved for the web, this means that you have a choice to either plop a giant image using your brand font into the email or to follow best practices, compromise on the font and provide your subscribers with a better in email marketing experience.  Of course, this is not the only design decision which can have an impact on your subscribers, we will discuss further consideration points in future posts.

Call(s) to Action:

As with your subject line it is important to focus calls to action, making sure they are relevant to the content.  Also, by following design best practices you can ensure calls to action are viewable with images disabled and are consistent across email browsers.  Always keep in mind the users experience once they have taken action, consistency of experience and message is critical when looking to maximize conversion rates post click.

* Allen Nance, President & Founder of WhatCounts will speak at the DMA Luncheon on June 16th, 2011. Click here for more information.

 

How Safe is Your Data?

May 10, 2011

by Kristy Barker, Senior Account Manager at WhatCounts

The recent email data breaches have consumers more concerned than ever about the safety of their email addresses and other personal data. Marketers are becoming increasingly concerned as they wonder “Could this happen to us?” With hundreds of major brands affected in the recent high profile Epsilon security breach, data security is moving to the forefront of the digital marketing community.

Email addresses are extremely valuable data pieces and often hard to obtain, as consumers are becoming increasingly leery of giving them out. Therefore, it’s of the upmost importance to ensure that your consumers are confident in your ability to keep their data secure. Adding in financial information or social security numbers increases this importance tenfold.

So how do you, as a marketer, ensure that your customer data remains safe from security breaches? While there is no 100% fail-proof method (hackers are getting smarter by the minute), there are some definite best practices that should be followed anytime you are dealing with customer data—especially email addresses.

Enforce a password policy. Easy to crack passwords and predictable log on credentials leave your entire network at risk. Create a password policy for employees to follow and enforce password updates at certain intervals. Avoid sending passwords via email if possible.

Avoid sending sensitive information through email. If you need to send customer data, do so by using a secure FTP site and encrypt the data. Make sure to send the encryption key separately from the data, or share the encryption key via a method other than email.

Designate a data security specialist. This can be tacked on to an existing role, or if your security needs warrant, a new role can be created. This person would be responsible for creating and enforcing data security within the office. Part of this role should be to stay up to date on possible methods of breaches and best practices within the security community.

Be wary of unsolicited attachments. Attachments are a prime way of spreading malware and viruses. Educate all employees on the red flags of attachments from unknown sources and advise them to check with the data security specialist before proceeding with suspicious attachments.

Data security is going to become more and more important as hackers and phishers become more and more savvy. Now is the time to evaluate your current security practices and update as needed. Your customers (and your reputation) will thank you.

Are Smart Phone Users Missing your Emails?

March 10, 2011

by Kristy Barker – Client Services Manager, What Counts?

Mobile marketing has been a hot topic for awhile, but it’s getting even hotter as the number of smart phone users climbs to almost 50% of the cell phone using population. More than ever, people are accessing email, websites and social media on their mobile devices. As an email marketer, this presents some challenges, as well as some opportunities that many of you may be missing.

To make sure you are reaching your recipients at all points of communication, including mobile devices, consider incorporating some of the following ideas for smart phone enhanced emails.

Create a preference center that allows users to indicate whether they usually receive your emails on a smart phone or personal computer. By gathering this information, you could create 2 versions of the email and optimize one for mobile devices. A word of caution about this approach – not everyone consistently checks email the same way, so you may end up with many people viewing mobile versions on PCs and vice versa.

However, your resources may not allow for creating multiple versions of one email. In that case, it’s best to design emails so that they will fit both the mobile device and PC screens. A few design and content considerations can ensure your emails are appropriate for both channels.

Instead of a preference center for users, include a “View Mobile Device Version” or “View in a Browser” link at the top of the email that will take readers to an HTML hosted page of the email.

Include alt-text for images. If images are not rendering correctly on a mobile device, the recipient will still be to use the descriptions provided by the alt-text tags to determine if they want to view the message on a PC later.

Use the subject line and pre-header area to engage the reader. Even if the message doesn’t display properly, your reader will still understand what the email is about – and can choose to revisit it later.

Don’t make clickable links too close together. If the links are too crowded, your reader will have a hard time clicking on them from a mobile device, thus lowering your engagement rate.

Keep in mind the small screen size. You should still follow the “above the fold” rule that you use for normal inbox delivery, but your “above the fold” line may be in a different place on a mobile device. Similarly, your email should be between 500-600 pixels wide. Avoid making your email too long as most people will not be scrolling on mobile devices.

As a step in your testing process, always view your emails on several mobile devices in your office before broadcasting to customers. Even if you follow all of the best practices for mobile device email design, there are still some aspects that may not render correctly on smart phones – and this step will give you a chance to correct any issues.