Newsflash: Brand Matters in Email

A
recent DMA Report, “The Integration of DM and Brand,” makes the case
that brand and direct marketing are converging—where direct marketers
are building brand value and brand marketers are influencing sales.
(The report surveyed 296 marketers, 56% of whom combine direct and mass
marketing and 44% just do direct marketing.)

I believe that email is one of the channels where this line is blurred
most—in a really good and powerful mix that benefits marketers and
subscribers. In fact, it benefits marketers BECAUSE it benefits
subscribers! But that is a future blog post.

In the survey, nearly 70% of brand marketers rate personalization as
having a positive or strong positive effect on brand and 64% rate
targeting as having a positive or strong positive effect.

Clearly, these two methods—personalization and targeting—are keys to
creating relevance in email, and the smart marketers who employ them to
build satisfying and engaging email experiences for their subscribers
enjoy higher response and ROI. Recently, a client added personalization
to their email program and found that it boosted customer response by
6%, but dropped prospect response by 5% (and boosted prospect
unsubscribe rates by 2%). Wow. That is pretty powerful—and really
illustrates that when the subscriber has a relationship with your
brand, customization and a personal approach are very powerful. When
the prospect didn’t have a relationship with the brand, the intimacy
assumed by the marketer bombed.

In fact, Return Path surveys show
that brand and the subject line are the two of the most influential
reasons why a subscriber decides to open and email. More so, it’s not
just that particular email or the fact that the subscriber knows the
brand, it’s the fact that the email program itself has value—the brand
of the email program (what we at Return Path call “prior value”)
matters most. In that 3–5 second decision to open or delete, the brand
value of your email program—that you’ve sent me email in the past that
was interesting, helpful and relevant—is what drives the open.

Brand matters in email, but it doesn’t trump relevancy.

Newsflash: Brand Matters in Email

A
recent DMA Report, “The Integration of DM and Brand,” makes the case
that brand and direct marketing are converging—where direct marketers
are building brand value and brand marketers are influencing sales.
(The report surveyed 296 marketers, 56% of whom combine direct and mass
marketing and 44% just do direct marketing.)

I believe that email is one of the channels where this line is blurred
most—in a really good and powerful mix that benefits marketers and
subscribers. In fact, it benefits marketers BECAUSE it benefits
subscribers! But that is a future blog post.

In the survey, nearly 70% of brand marketers rate personalization as
having a positive or strong positive effect on brand and 64% rate
targeting as having a positive or strong positive effect.

Clearly, these two methods—personalization and targeting—are keys to
creating relevance in email, and the smart marketers who employ them to
build satisfying and engaging email experiences for their subscribers
enjoy higher response and ROI. Recently, a client added personalization
to their email program and found that it boosted customer response by
6%, but dropped prospect response by 5% (and boosted prospect
unsubscribe rates by 2%). Wow. That is pretty powerful—and really
illustrates that when the subscriber has a relationship with your
brand, customization and a personal approach are very powerful. When
the prospect didn’t have a relationship with the brand, the intimacy
assumed by the marketer bombed.

In fact, Return Path surveys show
that brand and the subject line are the two of the most influential
reasons why a subscriber decides to open and email. More so, it’s not
just that particular email or the fact that the subscriber knows the
brand, it’s the fact that the email program itself has value—the brand
of the email program (what we at Return Path call “prior value”)
matters most. In that 3–5 second decision to open or delete, the brand
value of your email program—that you’ve sent me email in the past that
was interesting, helpful and relevant—is what drives the open.

Brand matters in email, but it doesn’t trump relevancy.

Targeted Email Marketing: Put a Colon in Your Subject

http://www.sharpecopy.com/newsletter/index.php/targeted-email-marketing-put-a-colon-in-your-subject/



Please
forgive me for being so candid, but I’d like to talk about the subject
of your colon. The colon in your email subject line, that is.

One of the most effective ways to boost your email marketing open
rates is to improve your subject line. The more relevant your subject
line is to your customers, the more likely they are to open your email.

Since you have a limited amount of real estate in a subject line
(around 40 characters), the easiest way to boost the relevance of your
subject line is to put your keywords or hot buttons at the front of
your subject line, followed by an explanatory phrase, with a colon in
the middle.

Your customers read your email subject lines from the left and move
to the right, in much the same way you are reading this sentence,
assuming you have read this far. So your goal with busy readers, whose
fingers are poised over the delete key, is to grab their attention with
the first few words of your subject. That’s where your colon comes in.
Your colon separates the attention-grabbing keywords from the
explanatory copy.

Let me give you an example, using the subject of this article. I
write email marketing letters for a living. My target audience is
marketing managers who use email to sell their products and services,
and cultivate sales leads. When these folks go online and search for
help with their email marketing, they type these types of keywords into
their search engine:

1. email marketing course


2. mortgage lead email marketing


3. targeted email marketing

What these three search phrases have in common is the phrase “email
marketing.” So, if I want to make my email sales letter relevant to any
of these three groups, I should put “email marketing” at the beginning
of my subject line and not at the end or in the middle. Then, to show
that my message is relevant to each audience, I must also put the
next-most-important keyword near the front of the subject as well.

For example, if I was offering a course on email marketing to real
estate agents, I wouldn’t say: “Enrol in Our Course for Real Estate
Agents on Email Marketing.” That puts the keywords at the end of the
subject line. Instead, I would use my trusty colon and say, “Email
Marketing Course for Real Estate Agents: Enrol Now.”

If I was writing an email sales letter to mortgage brokers, offering
them help with generating leads with email, I wouldn’t write a subject
line that said, “10 Mistakes to Avoid in Mortgage Lead Email
Marketing.” Instead, I would write, “Mortgage Lead Email Marketing: 10
Mistakes to Avoid.”

Five Factors to Optimize the Marketing Potential of Transactional E-Mails

There’s been a lot of hype around the potential of transactional e-mail
to deliver marketing messages — and it’s well founded. Nothing is more
potent than delivering a cross- and upsell message that’s tightly tied
and perfectly timed to consumer behavior.

With spam filters
wreaking havoc for e-mail marketers, the convergence of marketing and
transactional e-mails isn’t surprising. Unlike bulk marketing e-mail,
transactional messages stand a better chance of reaching the inbox and
being opened since they contain valuable consumer information that is
desired and expected.

Yet, realizing this potential takes more
than slapping a pretty face (HTML) on your plain text transactional
e-mails. It also takes more than balancing your transactional and
marketing content, satisfying CAN-SPAM requirements and applying other
best practice tips.&

The core challenge comes down to whether you
have the right infrastructure to generate transactional e-mail with the
right marketing message in the first place.&

To that end, here are five factors you’ll want to consider:

Integration.&
Your first priority should be to ensure that your e-mail infrastructure
is tightly integrated with your backend business processes and data
sources.&

By doing so, you’ll be able to effectively trigger
e-mails, customize messages to customer preferences and behaviors and
ensure a consistent customer experience across multiple touch points.

Without such integration, you simply won’t be able to leverage the marketing opportunity that transactional e-mail affords you.

Relevancy.&
Having achieved the right level of integration, you’ll then need to
have a dynamic content engine to actually assemble and generate
relevant messages.

This is especially critical for transactional
e-mails, since customers have the expectation that you know them.
Sending them a generic marketing message is not only a wasted
opportunity. It could relegate your transactional e-mail to the same
fate as your bulk marketing e-mail – the junk folder.


Immediacy.&
Transactional e-mails are business-critical communications that require
expedited delivery. Any delay can erode profits through an increase in
customer service calls.

Consequently, you need to ensure that your
marketing messages can be automatically inserted into your
transactional e-mails and sent promptly and securely to your
customers.&

Anything less and you run the risk of negating the
advantages provided by marketing-orientated transactional e-mails and
potentially diminishing the value of your brand.

Reporting.& Sending out customer e-mails without any insight into their deliverability or open and click rates is akin to flying blind.

Accurate,
detailed and real-time reporting is essential to properly manage your
transactional and marketing activities. Without such information, you
give up the opportunity to default to alternate channels in delivering
your important transactional messages or to capitalize on the most
successful marketing messages associated with them.

Flexibility.&
In order to be successful with your marketing efforts, you need the
flexibility to test different creative approaches and quickly adjust
your templates and content blocks accordingly. If you’re locked into a
rigid process, or one that’s costly to change, you’ll be powerless to
take advantage of new learnings.

Taking advantage of transactional
e-mail is more than just adding offers and graphics. You have to do it
right, and that’s only possible with an e-mail infrastructure that can
accommodate the factors discussed above.

If your current e-mail
infrastructure comes up short, you’ll need to select a new solution
that can deliver on all five fronts while accommodating future growth.

With
the right solution in place, you can quickly realize the marketing
potential of transactional emails.& It’s really not that complicated,
but you do have to think before you transact.

The Difference a Test Makes

5 steps for creating simple tests that improve email marketing results

by Gail Goodman, Constant Contact CEO

What if you could make a slight change to one of your emails and get
a 20 percent lift in opens or a 10 percent increase in sales? You would
do it in an instant. But how do you know what element to change? That’s
where testing comes in. Email marketing makes it easy to quickly test
important elements of your email—at very little or no extra cost. With
testing, you can find out what factors influence the success of your
email. Follow these five steps to create an effective, measurable test.

Step One: Decide What to Test

Because testing with email is so easy, it’s often tempting to test
many elements all at once. You should start by testing just one. Why?
If you test more than one element in the same email, it is challenging
(and sometimes impossible) to determine what exactly influenced the
response. Here are some easy and telling tests to start with:

  • Subject lines – Create two different subject lines for the same email communication. For example, a boutique
    owner just added a home and garden section, and she wants to get the
    word out to her customers. Here are the subject lines she’ll test.

    • Subject line #1: New! Home and garden section added
    • Subject line #2: Get what you need for your home and garden

  • Long versus short copy – Is less really more? Create a shorter version of your current
    newsletter with teasers and links to your website. Or create two
    versions of a promotional email. Keep one very short and to the point
    and make the other a little longer by adding additional, useful
    information.

  • Special offers
    Create two different offers. For example, an online bookseller wants to
    get rid of last season’s bestsellers. He sends the following offers to
    see which one gets a better response.
    • Offer #1: Buy 3 books and get 1 free
    • Offer #2: Buy 3 books and get free shipping

    Other tests could include the time of day or day of the week you send, with
    an image or without, types of calls-to-action, and the placement of a
    call-to-action button or link. I’m sure that you will come up with
    other areas you would like to test as well.

Step Two: Decide How to Measure Success

What will you measure to determine success? Possibilities include
website traffic, response to an offer, sales, opens, and
click-throughs. Whichever you decide on, be confident that you can
attribute an increase (or decrease) in the area you measure directly to
the email you send. The easiest place to start is with your email
campaign opens and click-throughs, data that your email marketing
service provider makes available to you.

Step Three: Determine How to Divide Your Email List

When it comes to who you will send your test to, you have two
options. You can either split your entire list in half and test one
against the other or take a random sample and do a pre-test.

A pre-test is an excellent way to find out what works before sending
the email to your entire list. This knowledge can greatly improve your
overall response rate. It also protects you from sending a poor
performing email test to a large portion of your list—and wasting your
efforts. To pre-test, choose a random sampling of 100 people from your
master list, then split that in half and send each half one of the two
test campaigns.

Step Four: Test, Measure, and Declare a Winner

Once you have everything ready, send your test emails. The great
thing about email is that you get your results quickly—within a 24 to
48 hour period you will know which email communication got a better
result (it takes weeks when testing with direct mail). Declare your
winner, send that email to the remaining members of your list, and
watch the results come in.

Step Five: Have Fun and Keep it Up

Did I mention that testing is fun? Make a guess of which version
will win before you send, and see if you are right. What’s amazing
about testing (and what proves its incredible value) is that many times
the results are not at all what you expect.

Let your customers, clients, or members tell you, through their
actions, what they respond to best. This method is an excellent and
trustworthy way to improve your emails. Test often. You might be
surprised every time!

====

1. Export the entire list you want to send to (only export the data you
need for your test—most likely first name and email address) from your account, to an Excel file.

2. To get a random sampling of your list, go to the first empty cell in the first row and
type =RAND() in. Grab the corner of that cell with your mouse and pull
down to the very end of your list. Each person on the list will be
assigned a random number.

3. “Select All” (“Control” + “A”), right click, select “Copy”, right click, select “Paste Special”, then select “Values”

4. Go to “Data” and select “Sort.” Sort by the column with the random numbers.

5. Save the first 100 contacts (your random sampling) and delete the rest.

6. Divide this list into two (1-50, 51-100) and save one list as A (in one
Excel file) and the other list as B (in a second Excel file).

7. Import both of these files into your Constant Contact account. Name
them for the campaign you are running. For example, “Father’s Day
Promotion A” and “Father’s Day Promotion B.”

8. Create the two campaigns you want to test.

9. Select list A for one campaign and List B for the other.

10. Send and watch the results come in.

The R’s of e-mail marketing success

Teaching the masses the three R’s — reading, ‘riting
and ‘rithmetic — transformed America into a world economic power.
Similarly, educating marketers on the “R’s of e-mail” can transform
so-so programs into ones that deliver the biggest R of all: ROI.

Here are eight R’s for e-mail marketing success.

Requested

A
successful e-mail program starts with a list of subscribers who ask to
hear from you. Make sure you send e-mails that are requested by
recipients: always get explicit permission, use a double opt-in process
and resist such tactics as pre-checking boxes on registration forms.

Relationship

E-mail
marketing is about building long-term relationships. With each e-mail
you send, you either build trust or destroy it. Greet new users with a
welcome e-mail that sets expectations around frequency and content,
encourages feedback and invites them to manage your relationship
through preference centers.

Reputation

ISPs
use your reputation to determine where to deliver your message: the
inbox, the bulk folder or a black hole. Authenticate your e-mails and
maintain a solid sender reputation through consistent list hygiene and
minimizing spam complaints.

Received

It’s
obvious that if your e-mail is not received in the inbox, it has little
chance of being read. Monitor your deliverability rates and watch for
red flags such as a dirty list, funky HTML coding and spammy content.

Rendering

Design
your e-mail so it renders correctly, and avoid the double whammy effect
of subscribers using preview panes and blocking images. Convey your
message with text and don’t depend solely on large, pretty images that
many recipients won’t actually see.

Relevance

Give
recipients a reason to read your e-mails by sending well-designed,
well-written and relevant content that meets their needs. Learn what
they want, and segment lists based on behavior such as clicked links,
purchases, RFM or actions they’ve taken on the site.

Reporting

Process
metrics, like open, click-through and bounce rates provide insight into
your e-mail program but are of little value to your CEO. Measure
performance against your company’s business goals, such as revenue,
leads and brand impact, then report how e-mail contributes to the
success of the marketing mix.

Resources

Many
companies lack budget and resources such as dedicated e-mail marketing
specialists who understand e-mail and privacy laws, implement best
practices and drive sophisticated programs using dynamic content and
Web analytics-driven segmentation. Build the right team or leverage
outside experts to consistently deliver phenomenal e-mail ROI.

Put the R’s of e-mail marketing to work, and make your e-mail marketing program more strategic, results-oriented and effective.