Posts Tagged ‘Email Marketing’

04
Jun

5 Refreshing Approaches for Your Email Newsletters

Does your email newsletter need a little something extra? Rejuvenate your newsletters with the five simple tips listed below.

  • Benchmarking and Statistics —Customers and prospects are eager to hear how your company is performing. Providing benchmarking information and industry statistics will keep readers coming back for more each month.
  • Tips and Best Practices – No matter what profession, people are always interested in practical ideas and best practices they can put to use. Include quick tips in each of your newsletters and highlight any best practices that could help your users.

28
May

Considerations When Implementing Your Email Marketing Plan

As marketers, it’s our responsibility to guide our organizations to success through proper planning, strategy and creative ingenuity. Email marketers have the unique responsibility of having to factor in brand equity and metrics into our email campaigns.  Without these types of metrics, email campaigns would flow rampant without any sense of performance or effectiveness.

However, successful email campaigns aren’t simply just a matter or creating quality content and sending it out.  Organizations need to factor in and plan for some simple, yet key aspects, of implementing their email marketing plans.

Key Aspects to Consider:

  • What are the pros and cons of focusing too heavily on existing customers?
  • Don’t base all your decisions on research gathered from existing satisfied customers.
  • How do non-customers perceive your brand?
  • Investigate why email segments become dormant; what did you do right at first, and what changed?

09
Jul

Avoiding the Purchased List Email Marketing Trap


Article from The iContact Blog, Written By:
James Wong, iContact Communications Manager


In a recent panel discussion at the Triangle Chapter of the American Marketing Association, in which I was honored to participate, the following question was asked of the panelists:

“Buying prospect lists. What are your thoughts on that? And does your opinion differ when speaking B2B verses B2C?”


I’ve been with iContact, a Durham-based Email Service Provider, since 2007. In my early days at iContact, I spent a lot of time assisting customers with various inquiries on email marketing best practices, strategies, and common questions like: “Can I use purchased lists?”

The answer industry professionals always give to this question is “No.”

What Are Purchased Lists?

Purchased lists are email contact lists that are sold by individuals and companies called List Brokers. While the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act does not make this practice illegal, the use of such list(s) does actually violate the Anti-SPAM Act because the contacts on the purchased list did not grant your business explicit permission to solicit them via email.

Businesses seeking to build their contact lists are not told about this by list brokers, and therefore, I’ve heard horrible stories of business owners spending tens of thousands of dollars on lists which no legitimate Email Service Provider (ESP) will allow on their service.

Why Can’t Purchased Lists Be Used?

Some purchased lists are gathered without the knowledge of the email contacts, while other lists are populated by individuals that have contacted a company to provide them with specific information.

Purchased lists that are gathered without the knowledge of the email contacts are the worst of any contact list a company could become in possession of. None of the individuals on the list have given any type of permission for your business to contact them, nor will they likely be the target audience of the list purchaser.

Lists composed of contacts with a common purpose are also typically sold by List Brokers, and while they might be more targeted in nature, the contacts still have not given your business the explicit permission to contact them. A common example of this type of purchased list, is when a bride-to-be signs up for “more information” from a wedding planning site that shares it’s email addresses with list brokers. A list broker then compiles a large list of brides-to-be, and sells them to companies that cater to the wedding industry.

What Are The Consequences for Using Purchased Lists?

Keeping with our previous example where the bride-to-be has had her email sold to a list broker, let’s say it’s now 6 months after the wedding. Unfortunately, list brokers rarely follow up on the validity of their lists, and therefore, our unfortunate couple is now subject to a barrage of unsolicited emails pertaining to a wedding they’re already planned and completed. Depending on how many purchasers have obtained the list, this newly married couple could be facing months, if not years, of constant spam in their inbox.

Why True Marketing Professionals Don’t Use Purchased Lists

Marketing professionals have long known that regardless of how many visitors you receive, or how many followers you have on various networks, none of it matters if the people visiting your websites aren’t your target audience. Purchasing lists is like purchasing an audience of which you have no idea whether or not they are interested or even potential clients.

Moreover, emailing lists of contacts that don’t know who you are, or aren’t your target audience, will almost always result in excessively high spam complaints. These complaints are generated anytime a recipient clicks in their inbox that your message is “spam,” “junk,” or emailed to complaint to your ISP (Internet Service Provider, ie: AOL, Time Warner Cable, etc.).

Excessive spam complaints will cause ISPs worldwide to block your email address and/or domain from sending to their servers — effectively blocking your emails from reaching their users. This is also referred to as being “blacklisted.” The process to be removed from blacklists can be a long and arduous process that can take as little as a few hours, or as long as months and months of arbitration.

How Should Businesses Grow Their Lists?

The best contact lists are those grown organically. Design and publish a regular newsletter that provides value to your readers. It’s suggested that your email content should contain roughly 75% valuable information (educate your customers), while allotting 25% to actual sale content, but 100% of the newsletter should be relevant to your subscribers. Growing your lists starts with adding signup forms to your various online websites, including your social media pages like Facebook.

For businesses that operate with physical storefronts, capture your customer contact information through short customer questionnaires. Encourage your customers to stay in contact with news, events, and sales through email. Using these simple suggestions will provide you with a solid foundation which will help to grow your contact lists — quality lists that contain your targeted audience and will generate minimal spam complaints, if any.

06
Jul

Email, and the River That Runs Through It


Article from The iContact Blog, Written By:
James Wong, iContact Communications Manager

In October of 2009, Jessica E. Vascellaro if the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) wrote an article titled “Why Email No Longer Rules…” In her article, Jessica states that “Email has had a good run as king of communications. But its reign is over…”

The article cites how a constant stream of communication using social networking channels has become the new and trendy way to communicate. However, to say that email is dead when several industry resources have cited continued industry growth in the email marketing sector, is a bit premature. Social Media is a technological and social trend that is still far too early in its digital infancy to make long term statements about its relevance and longevity as a primary method of communication.

Ultimately, saying that email’s reign is over, is like saying that people should no longer use fax machines due to the advent of printers with integrated scanners. I personally know of several individuals and organizations that still rely heavily on fax machines in lieu of relatively cheap scanner technology available today.


The River That Runs Through It
Social networking channels like Twitter and Facebook have fueled the public’s interest in up-to-the-moment updates and news feeds from their friends on these networks. These individual networks act as “streams” of information, and most internet savvy users have started using stream aggregators that combine streams from various networks into one primary river of updates. Jessica quoted David Liu, an executive at AOL, referring to this constant stream of social updates as “a river that continues to flow as you dip into it.”

Unfortunately, like a fisherman fishing for rainbow trout swimming up and down a river, following conversations and capturing relevant information requires constant review of the stream. This has become a heavy burden in regards to time consumption by many internet users, some of which have already started to take a hiatus from their favorite social networks.


The Hub
While a majority of internet users that use social networking channels are sticking around for the long haul, this internet communication trend has hardly killed or ended the reign of email, especially when you consider the fact that every single social network requires a valid email address to create a user account. With the integration of social networks with mobile devices, email has become even more important, as internet users struggle to keep up with private messages, friend requests, comments and updates from their friends on various networks.

Therefore, instead of laying down and throwing in the proverbial “towel,” email has actually transformed into a communication hub that bridges almost all of an internet user’s social networks. Weekly updates from services like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and many others (including the hundreds of applications available for each network), have brought back to life the need to have and maintain a healthy inbox.


The Take Away
Email is in fact, still alive and growing strong. Internet users will always have the need to share private conversations, file attachments and sign up for various online communities, services and websites. Without a centralized hub for communication, all that would be left are scattered channels of communication requiring an even more excessive amount of time to check for new updates, messages, and updates. Similar to services like AOL’s Lifestream, which aggregates multiple network streams into one, email consolidates notifications from all your social networks into one consolidated private channel — your inbox.

29
Jun

Why Summer Campaigns Are Critical to Small Businesses


There’s no hiding the fact that I am passionate about email marketing’s flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and ease of use.  I’ve delivered presentations at various conferences and seminars on the subject, and I will continue to boast about the benefits of integrating email marketing into both your marketing and social media strategies.

Small business owners are typically affected the most when schools let out in small towns, especially towns with large student populations.  Having the ability to reach out directly to their customers during the summer time can be the difference between survival and failure during the slow summer season.

Even if your business or town is not dependent on revenues from student shoppers, the heat is likely to keep your prospective clients at home, in neighborhood pools, or at the local air-conditioned malls.  If your business isn’t where your customers are frequenting during the hot summer months, it may be a very long summer ahead.

How Can I Use Email Marketing to Boost Business?

Email marketing is a simple and easy way of keeping in touch with your clients, as well as offering incentives for them to frequent your business during the season.  Here are a three tips to get your email campaign started:

  • Offer Value Over the Hard Sell
    The best email campaigns typically contain 25-30% sales content, while the rest of the content offers intellectual value to the prospective customer.  Avoid sending emails that are filled with just your sales pitch, and offer real-world advice on topics relating to your products.

    For example, a tire company could talk about the value of making sure your tires are properly inflated, balanced, and rotated – and how these tips can save you money.  This type of information legitimizes your brand, creates trust, and increases the chances that they’ll purchase tires from that business.
  • Make Your Emails Relevant
    If your business sells tires, but you’re an affiliate/partner for a furniture store, don’t email your furniture campaigns to your tire customers.  Make sure that the content you send to your lists is relevant to what the recipients are actually interested in.  This will reduce unsubscribes, and maintain a positive repport with your subscribers.
  • Make Your Campaigns Fun
    All too often, businesses are so focused on selling products and services, that they’ve forgotten to make them fun.  Simple things like contests, drawings, and ways to highlight customers and partners are a great way to spice up your email marketing campaigns.  With the mainstream adoption of social media, it’s easy to launch these types of marketing campaigns, while collecting valuable contact information like email addresses and other contact information for future campaigns.


How To Get Started…

Fortunately, if you’re ready to start using email marketing as an integral part of your marketing campaigns, iContact is currently offering savings of up to 30% on new accounts and upgrades until midnight, June 30th! Even if you aren’t ready to sign-up for an account today, they do offer a 15-day free trial as well.

Visit iContact.com today, and see how email marketing can help boost your summer marketing campaigns!