DMA Atlanta Luncheon | Thursday, July 21st 2011 | How to Get Started in Mobile Marketing

Posted July 6, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: Luncheon

 

 

 

When: 
Thursday, July 21, 2011 | 11:30-1:30 p.m.

Who: Jamie Turner | Chief Content Officer
BKV’s 60 Second Marketer 

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

Event Fees:
$40 – Member
 | $50 Non-member
| +$10 if registering within 5 days of event

MORE INFO

REGISTRATION
Jamie Turner is the co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and is the Chief Content Officer for the 60 Second Marketer, an online magazine that provides tools, tips and tutorials on the newest trends in marketing. The 60 Second Marketer is a division of BKV, one of the nation’s largest independent digital and direct response agencies.

Over the past 20 years, Jamie has helped AT&T, Cartoon Network, CNN, Motorola and The Coca-Cola Company grow their sales and revenue through high-impact marketing. He is a regular guest on TV and radio on the subject of marketing and social media and is an in-demand keynote speaker for global corporations, events and trade shows. He was recently profiled in “Advertising and Promotion,” the world’s best-selling college-level marketing textbook.

Jamie is also the Founder and Chairman of the Board of A School Bell Rings (http://www.ASchoolBellRings.org), a non-profit that builds schools for poor children around the globe.

Session Takeaways
Are you interested in using mobile marketing to grow your business but don’t know where to get started? Join Jamie Turner, co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and Founder of the 60 Second Marketer as he walks you through the quickly-evolving world of mobile marketing. Here’s just some of what will be covered in this engaging, interactive presentation:

  • How consumers interact with mobile marketing
  • How to set up a mobile website quickly and easily
  • How to create your own QR Code
  • Using Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook places to drive traffic
  • Classic mobile marketing mistakes to avoid

The 60 Second Marketer
The 60 Second Marketer is an online magazine that offers tools, tips and tutorials for the busy marketing executive. We provide these tips in the form of short, 60-second video tutorials and articles. The 60 Second Marketer is run by members of 60 Second Communications, a marketing communications firm specializing in high-impact marketing communications.

Feature Video Link: http://bit.ly/mStsWv

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Columbo’s 9 Rules of Social Media Engagement

Posted July 5, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: Social media

by Rick Ellis*, Director of Business Development at AIS Media, Inc., (www.aismedia.com) an award winning creative digital and social media engagement agency. Thomas Harpointner**, AIS Media CEO, contributed to this article.

Much is written today about the importance of engagement in social media. In simple terms, engagement means developing relationships, sustaining them, and then then creating an environment where people feel they trust you enough to want to openly share information.

The late Peter Falk’s Emmy award winning character, Lt. Columbo, would have made a modern day social media master. Although the first episode premiered in 1971, long before the Internet and social media were on the scene, he was certainly the master of engagement. He recognized the value of engaging and listening. His unassuming style and commitment to precise details allowed him to communicate and effectively gather information that caught culprits and viewers by surprise.

I’ve always been a Columbo junkie. It’s the only television show that I’ve seen every episode repeatedly. I imagine if Columbo had been a social media marketer, his script for social media success would include the following eight rules – plus a surprise ending.  

Columbo Rule #1: Listen first

When Columbo entered a crime scene, he remained in the fringe seemingly disinterested. He looked at the newspaper on the coffee table, borrowed matches for his ever present cigar and fumbled for his pencil all while actually actively listening and taking notes. Only after conversations and facts had begun to unfold, would he join in with his own questions and comments.

Listening is also key to developing a successful social media marketing strategy. If you pay close attention to conversations, customers will tell you what they want and you’ll uncover new opportunities.

Columbo Rule #2: Pay attention to details

A keen attention to detail was Columbo’s strong point. He would ask questions about the minutest details – sometimes over and over until he understood. Columbo claimed to be compulsive and he would often apologetically shake his head and say “I’m just trying to make this add up.” He easily drew others into conversations by asking questions – lots of them. His interview technique was seemingly inept and disjointed followed with his inevitable afterthought “ahhh… there’s just one more thing.” In the end, it was these questions and his relentless attention to detail that would prove to be the undoing of the suspect.

Effective social media marketing requires routinely reviewing analytics and measuring performance. Identify what tactics are delivering results, which need improvement and be prepared to make adjustments along the way.

Columbo Rule #3: Ask questions and provide a forum to elaborate

Lt. Columbo was brilliant with use of softening statements when approaching the culprit. “I’m terribly sorry to disturb you” was a frequent Columbo opening statement. He had others as well:

  • “as long as I’m here I may as well ask you…”
  • “what’s bothering me is…”
  • “the boys back in the lab…”
  • “I just want to tie up a few loose ends”
  • “I just want to show you something, it won’t take too much of your time…”

Regardless of the outcome of each conversation, the Lieutenant remained composed and respectful of the time spent with those involved in the investigation.

In social media marketing, it’s also more important to know which questions to ask than to have all the answers. Know what topics drive conversation among your audience. Serve as a facilitator and encourage interactions. Use the insight you gain to spark new discussions and encourage people to share details.

Columbo Rule #4: Be genuine

Lt. Columbo created a simple persona. He was an everyday man. People could relate to him. He had allergies, was afraid of heights and got seasick easily. His favorite food was chili with crackers. For variety, it was chili with beans one day; without the next. He and “the wife” and their Basset hound named “Dog” lived simply. Often his 1950’s Peugeot wouldn’t start. He had money concerns just as everyone else. In one episode he was asked, “Lieutenant, are you working undercover?” His reply: “No, underpaid.” His openness humanized him; he carried no airs. Columbo was authentic.

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter enable you to let your company’s or brand’s personality shine through. Show some emotion to let your audience know that real people are communicating, not robots. A little sense of humor can go a long way. Laughter is contagious – even online. If you can get your audience to loosen up a little and smile, you’re also more likely to gain their business.

Columbo Rule #5: Always be humble and polite

Lt. Columbo always addressed folks as sir or ma’am; said “excuse me for bothering you”; and endured insults with a smile. The lieutenant didn’t put people on the defensive and generally made himself the object of jokes with comments like “my wife said I’m the second best man – eighty guys tied for first”. He didn’t use police jargon or rhetoric. Nor did he lecture or speak down to those he spoke with; he simply shared information. He was always underestimated, patronized and dismissed by those he encountered – especially by the culprit, one of whom told the lieutenant “you’re almost likeable in a shabby sort of way.” Columbo’s communication style focused on simple terms and content.

Social media is a great channel to engage in dialogue with prospective and existing customers. That said, it’s important to recognize that even the best companies and brands cannot make 100% of their customers 100% happy 100% of the time. While you may not be able to prevent a customer from complaining, ultimately how you respond will influence the opinions of other customers.

Columbo Rule #6: Engage everyone

Lt. Columbo had a special talent for nurturing relationships. He took great interest in the activities of others. He asked questions and expressed amazement when he learned something new. Often seemingly perfect cases were solved by information gleaned from sideline conversations he would have with the gardener, secretary, mechanic or someone with whom he had casually engaged in conversation.

In social media, virtually everyone you engage is connected with others. The average Facebook user has 130 friends. High Facebook users have hundreds of friends. When you engage a user consider that your interactions may be seen by and shared with hundreds, potentially thousands of people.

Columbo Rule #7: Be a master storyteller

Lt. Columbo engaged others in conversation with stories about everyday people and events that he masterfully wove into conversations. Whether sharing a story about a favorite niece or his wife, the content within his stories served a purpose in leading his investigation to a culmination.

Social media offers an excellent channel for sharing stories; customer testimonials, case studies, research, etc. Share the story behind your products and/or services and how customers have benefitted. But don’t just tell. Instead, encourage your audience to share their own stories and highlight them. Empower your customers to become advocates.

Columbo Rule #8: Use visuals

Finally, the lieutenant was a visual man. He was famous for staging murder scenes where he would return and have the events reenacted. He used props. Timing was set and attention to the visual details was tended to precisely. Rather than try to explain how the murder was solved, he would allow the visual drama to play out and allow the culprit as well as the viewer to realize exactly how the events unfolded. The visual image was often quite stunning and dramatic when the culprits realize they had been undone.

Use eye candy. Use visuals. Social media offers an excellent platform to share pictures, illustrations, audio and video. Give your audience stuff they’ll want to share.

“Ahhh – there’s just one more thing.”

Columbo Rule #9: Put the spotlight on your audience

Throughout the series, Lt. Columbo shared the scenes with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Although Columbo was the namesake of the show, in each episode he remained in the limelight’s shadows allowing the guests to be the stars. It was part of the magic of Columbo; he openly shared his stage with others. Effective social media marketing puts your fans and followers in the spotlight and lets them be the stars.

 

*Rick Ellis
When not watching Columbo re-runs, Rick Ellis, who has an MBA in e-Business, is AIS Media’s Director of Business Development. AIS Media is an award winning Atlanta-based digital and social media engagement agency. AIS Media’s clients include leading companies, governments and Fortune 500 corporations. http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/RickEllisAISMedia

**Thomas Harpointner
Thomas Harpointner is founder and CEO of AIS Media, Inc. Thomas sets AIS Media’s strategic direction and enjoys being actively engaged with key client accounts. Thomas is recognized as a digital and social media marketing thought-leader, strategist, author and speaker. http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/ThomasHarpointner

AIS Media is an Atlanta, GA based award-winning digital engagement agency known for connecting companies, organizations and brands with their target customers through performance-driven creative integrated digital and social media marketing. For more, visit: http://www.aismedia.com | http://www.Facebook.com/aismedia | http://www.LinkedIn.com/company/ais-media-inc

Information You Should Never Share via Social Media

Posted July 5, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: Social media

by Jamie Turner*, Chief Content Officer of the 60 Second Marketer


The Anthony Wiener scandal has raised several questions about what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate to share on social media. It’s safe to say that sharing lewd photographs using a public forum is not a good idea.

Despite the fact that it’s possible to send information semi-privately using social media, as a business person, you should assume that all communication using social media is public.

The internet is not private, despite what you may believe. Don’t share anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to get ahold of.

If you approach social media as a public forum, you can avoid finding yourself in a Wienergate situation. And that would be a good thing.

A quick search online about internet security brought me to a post by Kathy Kriston on MoneyWatch.com. It’s a good post which can be read in its entirety here.

For a 60 Second excerpt of her post that includes the 6 things you should never share on Facebook, read on:

What should you never say on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site?

  • Your birth date and place. Sure, you can say what day you were born, but if you provide the year and where you were born too, you’ve just given identity thieves a key to stealing your financial life, said Givens. A study done by Carnegie Mellon showed that a date and place of birth could be used to predict most — and sometimes all — of the numbers in your Social Security number, she said.
  • Vacation plans. There may be a better way to say “Rob me, please” than posting something along the lines of: “Count-down to Maui! Two days and Ritz Carlton, here we come!” on Twitter. But it’s hard to think of one. Post the photos on Facebook when you return, if you like. But don’t invite criminals in by telling them specifically when you’ll be gone.
  • Home address. Do I have to elaborate? A study recently released by the Ponemon Institute found that users of Social Media sites were at greater risk of physical and identity theft because of the information they were sharing. Some 40% listed their home address on the sites; 65% didn’t even attempt to block out strangers with privacy settings. And 60% said they weren’t confident that their “friends” were really just people they know.
  • Confessionals. You may hate your job; lie on your taxes; or be a recreational user of illicit drugs, but this is no place to confess. Employers commonly peruse social networking sites to determine who to hire — and, sometimes, who to fire. Need proof? In just the past few weeks, an emergency dispatcher was fired in Wisconsin for revealing drug use; a waitress got canned for complaining about customers and the PittsburghPirate’s mascot was dumped for bashing the team on Facebook. One study done last year estimated that 8% of companies fired someone for “misuse” of social media.

  • Password clues. If you’ve got online accounts, you’ve probably answered a dozen different security questions, telling your bank or brokerage firm your Mom’s maiden name; the church you were married in; or the name of your favorite song. Got that same stuff on the information page of your Facebook profile? Are you playing games where you and your friends “quiz” each other on the personal details of your lives? You’re giving crooks an easy way to guess your passwords.
  • Risky behaviors. You take your classic Camaro out for street racing, soar above the hills in a hang glider, or smoke like a chimney? Insurers are increasingly turning to the web to figure out whether their applicants and customers are putting their lives or property at risk, according to Insure.com. So far, there’s no efficient way to collect the data, so cancellations and rate hikes are rare. But the technology is fast evolving, according to a paper written by Celent, a financial services research and consulting firm.

If you like what you read today, you can have these blog posts delivered to your in box each morning by clicking marketing blog. Or, you can sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter by clicking marketing newsletter.

*Jamie Turner, Chief Content Officer of the 60 Second Marketer, the online magazine of BKV Digital and Direct Response. Jamie is also the co-author of How to Make Money with Social Media.

Rethink SEO: Five Direct Response Approaches to Transform Your Organic Search Program

Posted July 5, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: SEO

By Ryan Woolley*, Vice President of Client Services, Response Mine Interactive

The search engine results page (SERP) has changed wildly over the past year. The dynamic nature of the page, and the tactics required to be successful in the organic space evolve at a quick pace. This makes it a fascinating challenge for those who manage SEO programs while at the same time somewhat confusing to those who are responsible for it as one of many digital marketing channels within their program.
Having followed this space closely since the late 1990s, I’ve taken comfort in knowing that while organic search is rapidly changing, fundamental principles do exist. These principles have held true for years and will remain relevant for years to come.
Companies that are driving large-scale revenue and lead volume through organic search have shifted their approach and mindset when looking at this channel. They’ve begun to build strategies and analyze their SEO program in a similar way to how one would look at paid search – applying a direct response methodology with granularity in keyword-level data analysis.
Here are five principles that when applied, drive remarkable results for companies:

1. Stop obsessing over rankings
Could you imagine analyzing the performance of your paid search program by saying “let’s start off by looking at our Average Position report?” Absurd.

A keyword rankings report is one of the last things you should look at when evaluating the performance of your organic efforts. We used to live and die by these back in the early 2000s and a remarkably large number of companies still do. The SERP is fluid and dynamic. It’s personalized to your behaviors, preferences and location. Between personalization of the SERP, and the fact that rankings are subject to a high degree of volatility, it’s a mistake to put too much emphasis on a particular ranking for a particular keyword at any particular time.

Yes rankings are the ultimate path to conversions, but there are more impactful reports to spend your time with. A rankings report is never going to capture the real story of the program because it is usually only a sample of keywords that your site is ranking for. There could be hundreds or thousands of keywords that are driving traffic and conversions to your site that aren’t even being tracked in a rankings report. If you’re looking at keyword-level data, get right to the heart of it and study keyword-level conversions, not rankings.

2. Mine data to drive keyword selection
Formulating your SEO strategy by analyzing keyword-level conversion data is the cornerstone to organic success. Look at your top paid search converters as a starting point. In most cases their organic counterparts will not convert as high in comparison. But, keywords with a higher likelihood to convert will often times match up pretty well, on a relative scale. It’s a great starting point for your research. Pair this data with traffic potential and you’re moving in the right direction. Then bring margin into the mix and give more weight to high margin-driving keywords. When compounding these metrics you begin to create the roadmap for a very power organic program.

3. Measure incremental non brand lift
One of the biggest mistakes I see when presented with organic performance data is taking credit for revenue and traffic lifts that did indeed occur, but not as a result of organic efforts. For starters, clearly break out brand and non-brand data. Look at things granularly. If you say that you experienced a 54% month-over-month lift in organic traffic, ask yourself where it came from. Was the majority of that lift the result of brand increasing due to an aggressive offline campaign? These are important questions to ask. Consider seasonality as well. If revenue from non-brand keywords in aggregate decreased 18% month-over-month, was it the result of your rankings taking a hit, or is search query volume down that month for those terms? Google Insights for Search can help you answer that question.

4. Use direct response tactics in titles and descriptions
Persuasive, DR-focused copy seems to be forgotten when it comes to most organic search programs. Incorporate attributes like this into your titles and descriptions, and you’ll have a good chance to garner the click even if you’re showing in a lower position than your competitors:

• Price point
• Percentage off
• 100% guarantee
• Free shipping
• Order now
• Hurry, save now
Here’s a great example:
google search example

 

 

 

5. Predetermine your landing pages
Remembering that you are focused on conversions and not rankings, it’s time to map out exactly which page you want users to land on when they conduct a search and click your listing. Pair up keywords and landing pages from the get-go. We’ve conducted many tests around this, and the home page is usually not the page you want a user to land on, especially on a non- branded search. Get the searcher away from the home page and to the most relevant sub category or product page when appropriate and you’ll feel the uptick in conversions.

There are a lot of ways to migrate home page rankings to a deeper and more relevant page within your site. It comes down to your internal linking strategy and offsite efforts. Create a mapping guide, and stick to it.

A lot of companies are afraid to execute this switch in the fear of their rankings vanishing completely during the migration process. That’s almost never the case when done correctly. A very short-term dip may occur, but because your conversion rate will increase by ranking the deeper page it always pays to pull the trigger and execute this strategy.

No matter how fluid the world of organic search, applying these principles will increase the output of your program. They’ve just seldom been used within organic search. Take the plunge and change the way you think about your organic program, and you’ll reap the benefits that companies who have changed their mindset are experiencing right now.

*About the Author
Ryan Woolley is vice president of client services for RMI, an award-winning digital agency that helps companies acquire more customers using lead generation programs. For more than a decade, RMI has generated billions of dollars in revenue for world-renowned brands in the b2b, healthcare, travel, and home services channels using its strategic customer acquisition approaches.

Former Google CEO on Social Networking: “I Screwed Up”. A Lesson You Can’t Afford to Ignore.

Posted June 7, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: Google, Social media, Strategy

by Thomas Harpointner,  founder and CEO of AIS Media, Inc

Speaking at the D9 tech conference in May, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt acknowledged he’s been aware of the competitive threat posed by social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for five years but failed to do anything about it.

In an interview with AllTHingsD’s Kara Swisher, Schmidt admitted he “screwed up” with social networking. “I clearly knew I had to do something and failed to do it, Schmidt said. “The CEO should take responsibility.”

When pressed about why he didn’t focus more on social networking, Schmidt simply answered, “I was busy.”  Schmidt was so focused on Google’s day-to-day operations; he didn’t give social networking the necessary attention.  Schmidt described his failure with social as his biggest regret.

If you’re a CEO, there may be a valuable lesson for you as well. Are you “pulling a Schmidt” with social media as well? Unless you’ve been completely sheltered from the Internet over the past few years, you’re also aware of the impact social media is making on nearly every aspect of online marketing today. But what have you done about it?

Recently, Facebook trumped Google as the number one visited website in the U.S. Social media is now the number one online activity.

Does your company have a social media strategy? If so, how satisfied have you been with the results it has produced so far? If you’re not sure how to measure social media marketing performance or don’t see a measurable ROI, you’re probably missing some critical components. For social media to deliver the best possible results, it must be properly integrated with your other marketing and advertising initiatives. It should never operate in a silo.

Consider also how your social media strategy is being implemented. Who are you charging with the responsibility? An effective social media program requires a multitude of competencies including planning, creative design, content development, technical know-how, and performance analysis. Essentially, you need a team of people with diverse skillsets that all work together in perfect harmony, focused on common goals.

The response rates from traditional ads can dramatically increase when there’s a solid digital tie-in. A magazine ad, for example, that offers readers the option to “friend us on Facebook” or displays a QR code with a link to a website landing page or social media landing page can deliver far higher ROI than an identical ad with only a phone number as a call to action (CTA). Additionally, after a reader “friends” your company on Facebook, their Facebook are instantly notified of their action and you have an open channel of communication to them. Consider that value of this alone!

If you’ve purchased prospect lists you know that highly targeted, opt-in, accurate and fresh lists can be extremely expensive – and often incredibly difficult to come by.

With that in mind, how much would you be willing to pay for a 100% accurate list of 1,000 highly targeted prospects who have expressed an interest in a product or service identical to yours within the last few weeks? Or, what if you owned such a list, how much would you charge if someone wanted to purchase it from you? That’s the value of your Facebook fan base!

If you’re running paid advertisements but you’re not building an opt-in list, you’re leaving a LOT of money on the table. If that’s the case, I encourage you to revisit your marketing strategy, thoroughly explore how well your digital and social media initiatives are integrated into your traditional advertising and how well all elements are working together to maximize your ROI.

About Thomas Harpointner

Thomas Harpointner is founder and CEO of AIS Media, Inc. Thomas sets AIS Media’s strategic direction and he enjoys being actively engaged in the strategic and creative direction with key client accounts. Thomas is recognized as a digital and social media marketing thought-leader, strategist, author and speaker. AIS Media is an Atlanta, GA based award-winning digital engagement agency known for connecting companies, organizations and brands with their target customers through performance-driven creative integrated digital and social media marketing. For more, visit:www.aismedia.com

Is mobile marketing right for your business?

Posted June 7, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: iPhone app, mobile marketing

Fill Out Our Mobile Marketing Score Card to Find Out.

by Jamie Turner, Chief Content Officer of the 60 Second Marketer, the online magazine of BKV Digital and Direct Response. Jamie is also the co-author of How to Make Money with Social Media.

Is mobile marketing right for your business?

That’s a question on a lot of people’s minds lately. After all, with the advent of smartphones, iPads, mobile apps, mobile search and other mobile marketing techniques, a lot of people are asking themselves, “Is mobile marketing right for my business?”

Is mobile media right for your business? Take this quiz then click on the question mark to join the discussion on our LinkedIn Discussion Group.

With that in mind, I came up with a handy scorecard that I sent out to all 5,900+ subscribers to the 60 Second Marketer e-newsletter last week. (Huh? You’re not a subscriber to our free e-newsletter yet? Well, c’mon. Hop to it.)

The mobile scorecard is designed to help you figure out if mobile marketing is right for your business. (When I say “mobile” I mean the use of mobile ads, mobile search, mobile apps, mobile websites, mobile catalogs or SMS to connect with customers.)

The scorecard won’t provide a bullet-proof answer, but it will give you a directional sense of whether mobile is right for you.

Just answer the questions below and keep track of your score.

Here goes:

1- Customer Demographics: The median age of my customer is under 45 years old (Yes, +10 points. No, -5 points.)

2- Business Category: My company has multiple bricks-and-mortar locations (Yes, +5 points. No, +0 points.)

3- Business Category: My company sells only B2C (Yes, +5 points. No, +0 points.)

4- Marketing Dependency: My company spends more than 5% of revenues on marketing and advertising (Yes, +10 points. No, +0 points.)

5- Customer Demographics: My typical customer lives in a city with a population of more than 200,000 people (Yes, +10 points. No, +0 points.)

6- Company Revenue: My company generates more than $10 million in revenues per year (Yes, +5 points. No, -5 points.)

7- Industry Competition: Generally speaking, my industry is very competitive and I’m always trying to find ways to differentiate my brand (Yes, +10 points. No, +0 points.)

If you scored between 35 and 55, you should definitely begin investing in a mobile media marketing program.

If you scored between 15 and 35, you should probably begin investing in a mobile media marketing program.

And if you scored below a 15, you’re off the hook — no need to invest in mobile media right now.

How’d you do? Share your score with other people on our LinkedIn Mobile Media Discussion and see how you compared.

 

 

 

Refreshing an Ongoing Email Campaign

Posted June 7, 2011 by dmaatl
Categories: Campaign, Email, Marketing Campaign Effectiveness

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.