Did you know that email marketing touts the highest ROI of all marketing channels?

So, whether you’re for it or against it, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you’ll continue to push full steam ahead with your email marketing efforts.

Easier said than done, right?

Yes and no. Just like with any marketing strategy, you need to start small while thinking of the big picture.

When it comes to email marketing, in particular, you have to take into consideration who you’re sending emails to and what type of content they want to see in their inbox.

These act as the starting blocks for your efforts. Now, if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut or you could use a boost to get your email marketing mojo back, here are four tips to get your campaigns on the right track.

Four Tips To Improve Your Email Marketing Performance

Scrub your email lists

Proper hygiene isn’t exclusive to your personal appearance (although, mouth wash and deodorant go a long way). When it comes to the world of email marketing, list hygiene is just as important. And, to keep your efforts up-to-snuff, your best bet is to scrub your email lists.

Scrubbing your email list entails removing inactive contacts from your email marketing campaigns while simultaneously keeping your current list warm (engaged) with your current campaigns.

How do you know when it’s time to scrub your lists? The general rule of thumb is if your bounce rate is between or higher than three and five percent, odds are you’ll need to clean things up a bit.

Scrubbing your email lists isn’t a one-time deal. In fact, it should be done on a consistent basis so that you can better your odds of getting your email campaigns delivered…to the right people.

Segment your lists

Now that your email lists are as clean as a whistle, it’s time for the rubber to meet the road and actually craft email copy that piques the interest of your users and keeps them hooked on your content.

Where do you start? You have to start by realizing that your audience isn’t comprised of carbon copies of the same person. They have different interests and characteristics that make them unique and they are more than likely in various places within the sales cycle. That’s why you need to segment your lists so that you can build and send emails that resonate with a particular group in your email list.

When you send targeted emails to a segmented portion of your list, you’ll naturally create a more engaged audience because you are serving them with content that they deem relevant.

Here are a few ideas to help you segment your email list by:

  • Geography
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Topic Interest
  • Previous purchases

Timing is everything

You can’t blindly send emails and just assume that your audience will read them because you know what they say when you assume…

As a marketer, you should constantly be testing the times that you deploy your emails and then pay attention to the data like the open and click-through rates to see what time of the day your audience is more apt to open and engage with your emails.

If you don’t know where to start, cast a wide net, meaning, send your emails to half of your list early in the morning and to the other half in the evening.  See what time of day has the strongest metrics and break it down and test some more. Let’s say that the morning group performed better. Start testing your emails by breaking down your list into various segments in the morning and see which time performs the best. Rinse and repeat.

Be a storyteller

Just like with any type of marketing, you want to tell your audience a story. You want to capture their attention and take them on a journey with your content. Stale, sales-driven content will fall flat. But, content that actually says something will resonate.

Think of it this way. Odds are you don’t like emails that don’t say much except BUY! BUY! BUY! It feels forced and obviously sales-y. But, I bet I can venture to guess that you’d respond more positively to an email that told you a story that was so relatable that you could see yourself in that situation.

Marketing content, whatever form it may be, has to stir emotion within your target audience for it to resonate. Because, at the end of the day, the consumer no longer wants to be sold on anything overtly, they want to be told a story. And, if you tell a good one, the sales will follow suit.

Email is a valuable resource in your overall marketing efforts and applying these four tactics to your overall strategy can help you pack a bigger punch.

If you want to learn more about email marketing or have any questions, drop us a line, we’d be happy to help!

What is the biggest difference between a responsive email and an adaptive one? In reality, your budget. In this blog, I’m going to compare these two mobile-friendly methods of building emails and what each of them means for the end user’s experience.

When it comes to email, especially from the user’s point of view, they really only care about one thing: The information they’re reading in your message. Essentially, they want to be able to consume the content quickly so that they can either take action or move on.

In that small time-frame when a person checks their email on their phone, you, as the marketer, have to create a design that supports the content and breaks through the clutter to grab hold of the user’s attention. Because let’s be honest – there’s nothing more infuriating than an email that doesn’t load properly or provides zero value.

Wasting the recipient’s’ time is a surefire way to have your future emails sent right to the trash bin of their inbox. So, how can you avoid this fate? You need to create emails that perform well wherever and however the user chooses to read them.

As most of the world is checking their email via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, your emails should be readable on just about all of them (or, if you’ve done your research on your target audience, you can cherry pick the most common devices and optimize for those). Basically, developing a mobile-friendly email is a must. However, fully responsive emails are just visually better.

How? Allow me to explain.

Adaptive Email

These emails simply adapt to the screen size by scaling down proportionately. For example, if part of your email has an image next to some text in a two-column layout, it will remain that way on all devices. The downside is that on particularly small devices like smartphones, your text may be so small that users can’t read it without pinching the screen to zoom in, which isn’t going to provide the best user experience for your audience.

Responsive Email

In a responsive email, the design responds to the screen size by recognizing the width. The same two-column layout on a smaller device will instead stack the image and text on top of one another so that the text remains large enough to read. Your users won’t need to pinch and zoom, as the email is perfectly readable on whatever device they’re using.

With that in mind, some will argue that responsive emails will garner more user engagement because of the favorable user experience, and more engagement may lead to increased conversions. However, there are many variables that contribute to whether the user will ultimately decide to take further action, including, but not limited to, the content and design.

So why does the budget decide?

It would be awesome if we could always use responsive emails all the time, every time. In the beginning, I said that it was your budget that realistically decided what method you use to build your emails. That’s because time is money, and fully responsive emails take a lot of a developer’s time to build and test.

Adaptive emails take much less effort to build and are much less time-consuming than fully responsive emails. There is only one version and it simply scales to the device. Testing across different devices, browsers, and email clients is less painful because the email should look the same in all of them. Just set the same width value in three different ways and you’re done! No messy media queries that may or may not work.

Fully responsive emails, on the other hand, take much longer because the developer has to test the email thoroughly to ensure it looks fantastic across the different devices, browsers, and email clients. A fix for a bug in one email client might break something that worked in another one. So that starts the process of what I like to call fiddling around until they find a solution.

To help you decide whether you should go for the fully responsive or adaptive email approach, I present to you the Iron Triangle, also known as the project manager’s triangle. Your ideal goal for any project would be to get the best deal by paying the least amount for a good quality product with fast turnaround time. While I hate to be the bearer of bad news, accomplishing all three is simply impossible; you have to choose up to two of the three goals: fast, good, and/or cheap. Anyone who promises you can have them all is lying – beware!

If you have the budget, it’s worth it to request (and expect) a high-quality result. If your project is also a low priority, the “fast” goal doesn’t matter. In that scenario, only the “good” goal was chosen. Those are my favorite types of projects because I can spend the time making a great, robust, and bug-free product. The fast and cheap projects hurt my soul because it is inevitable that the outcome will be of low quality. If you need to choose cheap, I’d recommend setting your deadline far in advance, else the quality will suffer and everyone working on it will know it before it ever even reaches the user.

I think I’ve covered enough for one article. As you can see, I’m very vested in this subject, so I’m going to leave you with a teaser for a future blog post:

Adaptive emails are not “enough” and fully responsive emails are too time-consuming, so check back in the coming weeks to learn about how new method developers like me are now learning!

Whether you want to believe it or not, the holidays are right around the corner and with this season comes the need for a strong holiday email marketing strategy.

As the days get shorter and your holiday to-do list grows longer, you might be feeling a heightened sense of anxiety. Though we can’t help much in this department, we can help you in another. If you’re in charge of implementing a holiday email marketing campaign for your company, you’re in luck because we have some tips to ease your stress and sleigh your efforts.

Timing and testing

In the past, best practices have told us that sending emails on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday during mid-morning or early afternoon was the optimal time to reach your audience.  According to Adobe, outside of work, some of the most common places people check their email is while watching TV (70%), from bed (52%) and from the bathroom (42%).  It is widely known that more than half of emails are opened on mobile devices now, which means your emails are only an arm’s length away from the coveted holiday consumer’s eye. It’s safe to assume that your subscribers aren’t only checking their emails during the week – so what should you do? Test! AB testing can offer a lot of insight into peak engagement days of the week and times of day.

Subject lines and Preheaders

I like to think of subject lines and preheaders as ‘the windows to your email’s soul’.  During the holiday season, your audience’s inboxes are flooded with promotional emails daily, all vying for attention with promises of “Free Shipping” or “50% off”. Strong, attention-grabbing subject lines are what separates the Rudolph’s from the Blitzen’s.

Preheaders are also valuable inbox real estate that should be taken advantage of. The preheader is often considered to be the ‘second subject line,’ as it’s used to reinforce the primary message of the email.

Testing subject lines and preheaders should be a staple of every holiday campaign and don’t be afraid to get creative.

For example: Testing your subject lines will help you understand if your customers respond better to personalization strings or more creative ideas, like the use of emojis.

Loyalty

Your subscribers have been loyal to you all year long, right? Now it’s time to reward them, and we’re not talking about a barrage of sales-y emails—we’re talking about nurturing existing relationships as well as new ones.

Retail companies often send deals to new subscribers, and as a result, those Welcome emails have tremendous open and click-through rates.  Don’t let the success of your email campaigns end there! Build loyalty with your audience by giving them what they want using dynamic email content.

According to eMarketer, 81% of online shoppers who receive emails based on previous shopping habits were at least somewhat likely to make a purchase as a result of a targeted email. Not only does this build customer loyalty, but I would also argue that it builds brand loyalty by making your subscribers believe that your company truly knows and understands their needs and wants.

CTAs

When it comes to holiday email marketing conversions – your CTAs better be as strong as Uncle Bob’s eggnog. Encourage and entice your subscribers to click by offering them a deal or providing a holiday gift guide with best-selling items. Place your strongest CTAs above the fold to ensure they’ll receive the first (and maybe only) glance.

Think of these ideas like they are part of Santa’s list; check it once and check it twice to find out if your email marketing strategy is naughty or nice!

“If you build it they will come…”

It would be difficult to argue against the importance of staying in touch with your customers. However, traditional materials like physical mail can cost a fortune, and cold-calling can take an eternity or even miss prospects entirely. Email, on the other hand, is the most cost effective, time efficient way to communicate with your audience – and that includes creating an email list.

Being the savvy marketer you are, you already know this, so you take the time to build out an email campaign. The branding looks impeccable. The copy speaks to your target audience and your subject line makes it nearly impossible to ignore. You pat yourself on the back and are just getting ready to hit send when you realize -whomp, whomp- you have no one to send it to.

It’s obvious that growing your email list is important, but how do you do it? With most email users skeptical about signing up for yet another newsletter, email marketers already face an uphill battle.

Below, we have listed several ways to not only begin building an email list, but ensure it continues to grow long after you hit send.

Sign Up Form Visibility – Exposure, exposure, exposure. The more places you are able to advertise your newsletter, the more likely people will be to sign up. Facebook pages, websites and even physical sign-up forms are all ways you can and should ask prospects for their email address.

Drip Campaigns – Not everyone on your list is going to engage with every email the same way. Additionally, with the time you are spending building those gorgeous emails, it may prove difficult to keep track of all of your subscribers. By using drip campaigns, you are able to automate emails for subscribers depending on their recent activity. For instance:
  1. When a new prospect has subscribed – welcome them and let them know what they can expect.
  2. If someone hasn’t opened the past 3 emails – send them a coupon code.
  3. When a loyal customer chooses to read everything you send out – show your appreciation by sending them a thank you note.

Create relevant and engaging content – A subscriber opened your email! Congratulations, the hard part is over. Now that they’ve done exactly what you wanted, thank them with content they’ll enjoy and can relate to. Assure them that they’ll want to keep opening your emails.

Segmentation – People like to feel special, so try appealing to their unique lifestyle or interests through segmentation. By segmenting your email list, you are able to send specific messages targeted to the needs of different readers. For example, if you are a grocery store holding a sale on baby formula, you don’t want to send that promo to a single male whose beverage preferences run towards more alcoholic tastes. If you keep sending irrelevant mail, there’s a big change he’ll unsubscribe from your list.

Pro tip: Start segmenting sooner than later. Trying to backtrack and add attributes to pre-existing subscribers can be difficult.

Joint Promotions – Reach out to companies that share similar values and work together to create a campaign to grow your email lists. Hold a giveaway in which the only requirement for eligibility is to sign up for both companies’ newsletters. In doing so, you are doubling your reach and potentially your list.

Need help growing your own list? Flying Cork can help! Reach out to our email specialists today to see how you can use email to get your messages heard.

How do you define the success of an email marketing campaign? It all goes back to your campaign goals.

If you don’t know what your goals are, how will you know if your key performance indicators (KPIs) will be useful? You don’t – because without goals, you don’t have much to measure against.

So to start, ask yourself and your team a few questions:

  1. What’s the goal of this email marketing campaign?
  2. Do we want to grow our subscriber list?
  3. Do we want to generate more leads?
  4. Do we want our list to engage and interact with a call-to-action?

Once you’ve solidified the goal(s) of your campaign, it’s time to nail down the KPIs you’ll want to measure.

LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT FOUR OF MY FAVORITES: OPEN RATE, CLICKTHROUGH RATE, CONVERSION RATE, AND SHARES.

Open rate

You won’t reach your goals if no one opens your email. It’s harsh, but it’s true. One way to increase open rates is to have a strong subject line that resonates with your audience. You can hazard a guess at what will work, but measurement will help you know for sure. Create a couple of contenders, and run an A/B test, sending one of two subject lines to a segment of your audience. Whichever one performs the best is the one you send to the bulk of your subscribers. Then apply your findings to future mailings. What key phrases motivate users to open your message?

Clickthrough rate

Now it’s on to the email content itself. The clickthrough rate, or CTR, essentially tells you the percentage of subscribers who find your email content to be useful.

People are inundated with messages. If it doesn’t interest them, they move on (or unsubscribe, which is even worse). To improve your CTR, relevancy is key. Provide them with content that interests them, and you’re more likely to increase your CTR. If you have the data on your subscribers, consider targeting a smaller, more specific list with more granular content that will speak more directly to their interests.

Conversion rate

Conversions are really the heart of most marketing efforts. Converting leads is the first step to creating a base of loyal customers, and therefore one of the most critical KPIs you can measure.

When it comes to emails, a conversion is counted when an email recipient clicks on a link within the email, then completes a call to action (CTA)—like filling out a lead form or purchasing a product. In short, they do what you asked them to do.

In order to effectively track your success, don’t forget to add tracking parameters to your email links. This will help you use your analytics platform to identify any conversions that happen as a result of a link from email campaigns.

Shares

You want your email to reach your subscribers’ eyes. But the people that initially received your email are already in your database. So, when a user forwards your email along to a friend or family member, the hope is that they also find your content useful and become subscribers as well.

To track shares, you’ll need to make sure that your message includes a “share this” button for users to post the email content on their social media networks or a “forward to a friend” button.

Pay careful attention to the types of articles and emails that are being shared by your subscribers. This will give you insight into what content your audience finds valuable, and you can plan your future email marketing campaigns accordingly.

This was just the tip of the iceberg of the importance of KPIs and measuring your email marketing success. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more!

I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying, “I have a hard enough time creating a subject line and now you’re throwing more at me! Pre-headers are for the birds!” Well, unfortunately, those birds are some darn good marketers!

Before we get down to it, it may help to address what a pre-header actually is. We’ve all seen them, but have we paid attention? A pre-header is the line of text that can be seen after the subject line in your inbox.

email_blog_image

With the increase of open rates on mobile devices, pre-header text has become essential in email marketing. More customers than ever are opening email on increasingly smaller screens, and it’s been proven that a strong pre-header will significantly increase open rates among mobile users.

email_blog_image_2

Oftentimes, the pre-header is an afterthought; if it’s not customized, the content is taken from the body of the email. Inaccurately, many people assume that a pre-header is simply the beginning of the email.

But this assumption is causing many marketers to miss out on an added bonus to their email marketing. A pre-header is as an extension of your subject line and gives marketers one additional line of copy to entice potential customers.  The one-columned layout of mobile screens allows a properly formatted pre-header to be read almost as often as a subject line. Ignoring a pre-header or sending an email without one is almost as ludicrous as sending one without a subject line!

Studies show that by optimizing the pre-header to a short description summarizing the content of the email can lead to higher open rates and fewer spam complaints. You can use a pre-header to do many different things, including:

  • Reinforcing the subject line – Rephrase or expand on what you are stating
  • Use a standalone CTA – Direct a subscriber towards your website without them having to open your email
  • Unsubscribe link – Confidence is key.  Giving your subscribers the option to unsubscribe immediately boosts user confidence and transparency.

It’s important to keep in mind that a pre-header is one line of text. Anything longer will be cut off, which gives your pre-header a lack of professionalism and less credibility with your subscribers. Depending on your subject line and the user’s email client, the pre-header may only display three to four words, so be sure to test how your message will show up in different inboxes.

The days of neglecting pre-header copy are behind us. It’s more important now than ever before to incorporate a pre-header into your email marketing strategies. It may only be a few words, but those words are vital and can give you the boost you need to convert subscribers into customers.

Sources:

https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/2015/08/improve-email-open-rates-with-preheader-text/

https://www.emailonacid.com/blog/article/email-marketing/5-preheader-text-ideas-to-increase-your-email-effectiveness

‘Twas the week before Christmahanakwanzika and all through office
Not an employee was emailing, not even in marketing;
The empty templates were all lonely and bare,
In hopes that someone soon would put an email in there.

Whether you want to believe it or not, Christmas is next week – stay calm, deep breaths … it’s going to be OK. While you’ve been busy crossing items off of your holiday to-do list, you might have forgotten about a holiday email marketing campaign. Don’t be alarmed, Flying Cork is here to deck your marketing halls with a festive email plan!

But there’s no time to waste – let’s get to these tips with feverish haste.

Jingle bell, jingle bell, make your subject line rock!

To open an email or not to open an email – that’s the question a good subject line can answer. Let it be known that your email could have the most thought-provoking, awe-inspiring content that has ever graced the internet but, if you don’t have a subject line that catches your audience’s attention, chances are that amazing piece of writing will never be seen. When you’re putting together your email marketing strategy, realize that email volumes increase greatly during the holiday season. So your subject line has to grab your readers’ attention and convince them to open your email with as much excitement as they would when opening a present on Christmas morning.

Dashing through the clutter with a mobile-friendly template!

Each year, more and more online traffic is coming from mobile devices. This holds true especially during the holiday season, when users are dashing from store to store, and party to party. As consumers are increasingly using their tablets and smartphones to consume email, now more than ever, it’s imperative that you make your holiday marketing emails mobile-friendly. Here’s how:

  • Beauty is in the eye of the email consumer, and how your emails look on their mobile devices will decide how consumers react. Be sure to use templates that are mobile-friendly, which will help you more clearly get your message in front of your audience. On mobile devices, a standard template with multiple columns usually appear either condensed or jumbled – neither of which you want. To avoid this issue, use a single-column template or one that’s built with mobile in mind, which can be viewed on a variety of mobile devices all the while simplifying your design.
  • Though mobile marketing is getting bigger and better, everything on mobile devices continues to stay smaller. This includes images and, of course, the font. If Stuart Little has to squint to read your email, consider making your font larger. Examples of web-friendly fonts are Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman or even Verdana.

I’m dreaming of a call to action…

So, your reader’s interest has been piqued by your subject line. They clicked on your email and landed on a mobile-friendly message that’s clear, concise and easy to read. Now, what’s the next step in this process? No matter what time of the year, but especially during the holiday season, a strong call-to-action (CTA) is a key piece of your email marketing campaign. Since we’re talking about the holidays, perhaps your CTA could prompt your users to redeem a deal, or maybe it’ll direct them to a link that highlights your best-selling products. Whatever the case may be, the CTA must be eye-catching. When creating a mobile-friendly CTA, use a button that is at least a 40 pixel x 40 pixel square; however, I suggest making the CTA button 75 pixels x 75 pixels. Also, make sure that your CTA is in a different color than the rest of your email template. The difference in colors will draw your reader’s eye right to the CTA – mission accomplished.

Have a holly, jolly email list

Finally, another important component to your holiday email marketing campaign is to clean up and segment your lists. Our email marketing specialist, Krystal Clark, wrote a blog post about email list hygiene – definitely worth a read.

Once you’ve done some holiday cleaning, it’s time to work your magic and segment that shiny new list in an effort to provide a more targeted message to each audience – maybe include a different CTA depending on the audience. Cleaning and segmenting your lists will in turn increase the likelihood that your target audience will take some sort of action.

After reading this blog, you sprang to your desk,
and away you began giving your email your best.
Using all four email tips with all of your might-
you wished your customers “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

 

The days of successful batch & blast email marketing are a nostalgic memory. Mass-mailings do not work the way they once did, and may even be hurting your mailing reputation and deliverability. In this blog, we’re going to show you how to make the most of out your email program.

Email marketing is now so prevalent that your customers are responding only to the most relevant messages. At the same time, targeting, data mining, CRM and marketing automation tools are increasingly sophisticated, accessible and affordable.

So, if you haven’t yet, there is no better time to dive into triggered or automated emails!

One of the most basic automated emails – the opt-in welcome – has an average open rate of 57%, while the average mass mailing comes in at just 15%, according to Experian’s Marketing Services White Paper The welcome email report: Benchmark data and analysis for engaging new subscribers through email marketing). Response rates only go up from there as messages become more personalized, timely and relevant.

The best opportunities for automated emails are real-time, event-based and data-driven. Consider your customers’ varied experiences to find ideas for triggered emails, such as:

  • Opt-in
  • Loyalty program registration
  • Status change
  • Life-cycle/customer journey
  • Marking pre-defined conversions
  • Inactivity
  • Reactivation
  • Transactions/receipts
  • Spend-level achievement
  • Browsing
  • Abandoned cart
  • Birthday
  • Anniversary of opt-in or registration

You can even try some of these ideas without a fancy CRM or marketing automation tool. Consider it your opportunity to showcase your Excel skills to slice and dice your data.

Incorporating more triggered and automated email campaigns into your program allows more time for strategy and analysis by requiring less for tactics and execution. It can also relieve your sales team of some of the daily tasks of email communication, freeing them up to build stronger relationships with their best leads.

Triggered emails are just a small part of a robust marketing automation program that delivers the right message in the right channel at the right time – throughout your customer’s lifecycle. Flying Cork can be your partner in mapping the varied paths of your customers’ journey and finding opportunities for automation. Let’s talk about email program strategies together – email us at info@flyingcorkmedia.com!

It’s that wonderful time of year again when cold gray skies start to transition into warm sunshine, when the howl of harsh winter wind is replaced by the sound of birds chirping and cluttered corners are cleared of dust and cobwebs. As winter gives way to spring it’s time to start thinking about that dreaded spring cleaning…not necessarily cleaning your home, but spring cleaning your email lists!

Email list hygiene is an important best practice for any email program. It allows you to clear out the old and make way for the new. It is widely encouraged that email lists be “cleaned” at least once every six months to help improve deliverability and overall tracking metrics. Don’t do your email marketing campaigns a disservice by staying trapped in the winter lull; instead, follow these three helpful tips on how to properly scrub those email lists.

1. Remove Inactive Subscribers

Take a look at your engagement metrics and remove anyone who has not opened an email in the past six months. If people aren’t engaging with your emails, then stop sending to them, especially since ISPs take these metrics into consideration to determine delivery.

If it’s really just too hard to let go of those unengaged subscribers, create a re-engagement campaign. Direct these subscribers to a landing page and ask them to confirm their interest in receiving future email communications from you. This will also help to weed-out any invalid email addresses that have made their way onto your list.

2. Remove Bounced & Invalid Email Addresses

It happens more often than you think, all of the sudden your deliverability rate starts to deviate further and further away from 100 percent. Take a minute to look at the bounce rate for the list. Most email marketing platforms will flag an email address as undeliverable after three bounces, which is a good thing. This ensures that those inboxes will not continue to be hounded and it helps with your overall deliverability metrics. Also, it is beneficial to use a data checker or email validation at sign-up to account for user error or common typos.

3. DO NOT PURCHASE THIRD PARTY EMAIL LISTS

Easy come, easy go. While you may see immediate benefits from a purchased list, the majority of the subscribers will not remain engaged in the long run. These people are more likely to hit the spam button first and ask questions later. Rather than purchasing lists, develop a sure-fire list building campaign to gather some fresh subscribers.