Tag Archives: email marketing

Join Us for a Live Workshop on Modern Email Marketing

The major heads-up today is that we have a live workshop next week (Tuesday, April 24 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time) on how to use sophisticated segmentation and automation in your email marketing — even if you have a limited budget and you’re not particularly technical. This lets you create focused and relevant messages for
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Having Trouble Reaching Your Audience? It’s Time to Get Radically Relevant

So, you may remember not that long ago — as in, last month — I was very keen on chatbots. I got a lot of inspiration from Andrew Warner over at Mixergy, who had helped me see some things that I hadn’t understood at all about the format. Fast forward a few weeks … and
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How to Turn Leads into Clients with Modern Email Marketing

When it comes to building an audience that builds your freelance or consulting business, email remains the undisputed heavyweight champion. Email was the original “killer app” — everyone uses it, and that’s why it’s been the absolute best channel for digital marketing and audience building. And yes, that’s still true in 2018. The stats don’t
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How to Put the Trust Back Into Email Marketing

How to Put the Trust Back Into Email Marketing

I receive too many emails from brands. The frequency is high and the relevance low. I get product offers when I’m not in the market to purchase and content offers with no relevance to my role. If I recall opting in to a company’s emails, I respectfully unsubscribe.

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How to Convert Consumers into Loyal Customers

Customers are a business’ most valuable asset, which is why they spend a lot of money to acquire new ones and work hard to retain the ones they have. This is especially true in the saturated retail industry where there is lots of competition to capture consumer’s attention. Here is where email marketing comes into play. This marketing tactic has an ROI of 3800 percent, making it a top method for retailers to improve customer conversion.

Retailers work relentlessly for that initial purchase, with carefully timed emails, curated content and maintaining the right frequency of communication, but what happens after the retailer succeeds and that customer makes that long-awaited first purchase? How are retailers working to retain customers and maintain a loyal customer base?

With these questions in mind, we decided to find out how top retailers are performing when it comes to email, and start mapping out industry best practices.

Our new “2018 Email Marketing Study: How 100 of the Top Retailers Engage Shoppers in the First 45 Days and Beyond” study evaluated 100 retailers from the Internet Retailer Top 500 list and acquired every email each of these retailers sent to email subscribers who have never purchased a product from July to December 2017. For this study, purchases were made from every retailer and every email sent was collected, as first-time buyers, for the first 45 days after a purchase was made, from November to December 2017. The resulting report analyzes communication tactics between a “purchaser” and a “non-purchaser” email received during this time to determine how retailers interacted with the two audiences. The report also looked at how retailers were performing in other key areas such as Email Frequency, Content and Catalog Exposure.

Below are a few key insights from our report:

  • 62 percent of the time, retailers sent the exact same email on the same day to the purchaser and non-purchaser, and only 26 percent of all emails were unique to the purchaser, despite having clickstream and purchase data to leverage.

  • Wayfair scored highest among all retailers because they personalized a majority of their email, with 71 percent of the emails sent to the purchaser being unique to them.

  • When it comes to the Purchaser Experience, Levi’s was the exception, with more than 75 percent of the emails sent to the purchaser being unique. Only 8 percent of the emails matched a non-purchaser email sent on the same day.

  • Of the 100 retailers evaluated, Williams-Sonoma had the highest average email sends per day at 3.14. Pottery Barn, The Shopping Channel and Victoria's Secret sent two emails a day more than 90 percent of the time.

With more than 60 percent of respondents sending the same exact email to a purchaser and non-purchaser, it’s clear that retailers are not engaging customers through throughout their journey, but instead, providing a generic, one-size-fits-all experience. In order to not only acquire, but retain a loyalty customer base, brands need to offer personalized content in their emails, whether it’s the first time or the tenth time they’ve engaged with your brand.

To learn more about personalization trends in the retail industry, check out Get Personal and Keep Them Coming Back guide to find out why 68 percent of retailers agree that investment in driving personalized experiences is a priority. 

GDPR Isn’t a Crisis for Email Marketers, It’s an Opportunity

GDPR Isn't a Crisis for Email Marketers, It's an Opportunity

Maybe you’ve heard the idea that the Chinese word for “crisis” is composed of two syllables that respectively mean “danger” and “opportunity.” It's a great idea, but unfortunately it just isn't true.  Yet “crisis = danger + opportunity” won’t go away because it perfectly captures the way many erstwhile

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What we think about Google’s AMP for Email

Heard about Google’s recently announced AMP for Email project?

AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, was developed by Google to efficiently load modules within web pages, specifically on mobile devices. A few weeks ago, Google announced they’ll be bringing this same technology to inboxes, allowing for what they're calling "engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences."

Currently being tested by Pinterest, Doodle and Booking.com, it’s being used to include dynamic content and real-time pricing and availability, all within email.

Example of Pinterest using Google's Amp for Email

But is this something you need to start learning right away?

Since I have the coding knowledge of about a 2nd grader, I turned to James Wurm and Rowdy Gleason, both Senior Email and Web Developers out of our Chicago and Seattle offices, respectively, to get their thoughts.

And I’d love to hear yours below in the comments.

Okay, so what are some good AMP for Email use cases?

RG: AMP is already used on the web for things like carousels, image galleries, hamburger menus, embedded video. With the new AMP for Email announcement, we can use those same modules within email. It’s even possible to theoretically load applications, demonstrated in the form of JSON, or JavaScript Object Notation, and interact with APIs.

I’d imagine for our typical client, the primary use cases would be simple carousels and hamburger menus. Although, the more exciting tech is dynamic and real-time content. Think real-time shipment tracking on your online orders.

JW: Versions of this type of programming already exist in some brands’ shipping confirmation emails, or other communications that provide status updates. For example, delivery tracking emails that are continually updated as more info is provided by the shipper. Right now, we use third-party vendors such as Movable Ink and Liveclicker for similar functions.

Why should businesses and email marketers care?

JW: If they’re communicating shifting data points, the emails could reflect live, current information, which is valuable to customers.

RG: This is a huge evolution for email if it sticks around and sees adoption across a broader base of clients. In the short term, it allows AMP developers to easily implement otherwise fairly intensive and hacky modules, like carousels (although purely as progressive enhancement). The real excitement are the long term implications that are much more difficult to envision. Being able to connect with APIs and load full applications can lead to a whole host of possibilities.

Example of Doodle using Google's Amp for Email for real-time scheduling

How will this affect email marketers’ work?

RG: I think there is the desire to bring cool and interesting experiences to the inbox and this could be enticing if the tech is adopted and email developers become familiar with the language. It would allow marketers to mimic offerings like Movable Ink’s “real-time” content.

Where is AMP for Email supported?

RG: Support is extremely limited to Gmail webmail (not even their mobile apps). Even if Gmail is a majority market share for your list, I don’t believe the amount of development time necessary to make an AMP module is worth it. Google is hopeful that more clients will support AMP, but in my experience with Google technology for email (anyone remember Grid View, pulled less than a year after its release?) and other clients supporting modern web tech, that’s probably not going to happen.

What does this mean for email and web developers? How will this change how you work?

RG: In the short term, I don’t foresee clients investing the time to have developers code specific AMP modules. If we see Apple devices pick up this tech, it could become worth it. Otherwise we’ll likely continue doing kinetic development instead, as well as partnering with Movable Ink–type services that can show “real-time” content.

That being said, if we do see that adoption, our role will evolve a bit as we’ll need to learn AMP development – it’s basically its own language, although it’s fairly semantic and shorthand – and become quite good at it since the modules function independently from the markup that shows in unsupported clients.

Do you see any benefits to this new technology?

RG: The main benefit is evolving the inbox. Going back to the question about use cases, the best thing we can do with this service is real-time content (flight info, shipment tracking, etc.). Maybe if nothing else, it could push the inbox to adopt more web standards.

Example of Booking.com using Google's Amp for Email showing real-time offers and pricing

Any drawbacks?

RG: The big one is support. Only working in Gmail is not sufficient for the amount of time invested into coding the module separately from the rest of the markup (meaning the fallbacks are entirely discrete). Knowing the pace at which email clients move, it seems unlikely that other clients will adopt it anytime soon. Even if they did, Apple is a must considering their device range makes up nearly 50% of the market share. For OMC Creative Services standards, we expect at least that, in addition to the big webmail providers, to pick it up before considering it standard support. Otherwise it exists more in the realm of kinetic.

JW: Google hopes devices and platforms will support this feature, but enforcing such would be difficult and messy. Also, they have a history of big pushes for new tech, and then dropping products after a few years. Imagine all the training and strategy that could go into a fully realized campaign, just for Google to unceremoniously kill the library.

Any other drawbacks developers and email marketers should consider?

RG: Frankly, there are some major problems I have as a web developer when it comes to development, security and weight.

In terms of development, although it seems simple enough in the examples provided like carousels, the code is proprietary Google AMP – essentially shorthand Javascript with some markup. I’d recommend spending a lot of time becoming very familiar with the possibilities before making it an official offering, which requires a big up-front investment for a technology that is likely not going to be around for very long or adopted, based off Google’s history with these things (speaking about AMP for Email, not AMP as a whole).

As far as security goes, AMP for Email allows applications to load inside the inbox. This is dangerous and alarming for obvious reasons, but in the same respect if anybody is going to have complete control over it, Google is a good company to put a handle on how it works and what can be done. I’d like to see more emphasis placed on security before I’m willing to assume more clients adopt the tech because Javascript has no business being in the inbox.

And lastly, load time and weight. This is the least important here, but worth noting that in Google’s presentation, they call out that modules do load independently from the rest of the markup. I didn’t enjoy that there was a noticeable “loading wheel” that held for a second on open, even on Wi-Fi. I can’t imagine it’s much better of an experience on dicey mobile connections. I’m not sure on the weight over a user’s connection and how that impacts data, but I’d be curious to play around and see how it feels in my hands and how much I can push it before it’s noticeably slow to load. The irony is that AMP for web is meant to make the experience faster than typical pages, but compared to simple HTML/CSS for email it’s probably still heftier.

So, do you think this will be worth it?

RG: In its current state – no. It needs to at least see adoption by Apple before it’s worth investing time into beyond cute enhancements. Having to code the module independently rather than as a progressive enhancement means directly investing time into whatever client supports it at the time, which I currently do not see a serious benefit to doing.

We can continue to do kinetic development and work with our partners to provide a more well-supported but similar experience in the inbox without investing a ton of development time into learning a proprietary new tech that may or may not exist in a few years.

When can marketers or developers start using this technology in their own email communications?

JW: There’s no date provided for wide release. It seems it’s still in beta mode.

RG: And right now developing for it is under NDA and a limited acceptance. They’re looking to release it this year publicly and broaden to their mobile apps. If your dev team can get access to the developer preview then you can start right away – public release is slated for “later this year.”

So what do you think? Are you biting at the bit to get creative with Google’s new AMP for Email? Or will you just wait and see? Let us know below!

7 Practical Building Blocks of a Strong Email Deliverability Strategy

Email marketing is a powerful way to connect with people with many marketers still counting it as their primary channel for lead generation. In fact, there are 658 billion emails sent worldwide a day and 7.6 million emails sent every second. However, how many of these emails are engaging, relevant and drive a CTA?

The latest Responsys customer User Forum tackled this very subject hearing from Oracle Marketing Cloud experts on email marketing in today’s environment. Kim Barlow, Director of Strategic & Analytical Services EMEA at Oracle opened the day by stating life is getting harder for the marketer as they strive to remain a legitimate brand that provides compelling content and a CTA, rather than settling for irrelevant bulk emails that hit the spam filter.

Creating email marketing content that successfully engages your audience is no mean feat. Especially when you consider one of the biggest challenges is deliverability. The process from launching a message to getting a customer’s inbox has significantly evolved over the past 10 years from batch and blast to hyper-personalisation.

“What is important is that over this time a marketer’s ability to reach prospects’ inboxes has become tied to reputation and engagement,” as Kevin Senne, Senior Director, Global Deliverability and Justin Crivelli, Senior Manager, Global Deliverability at Oracle shared.

And ISPs now play a crucial role in reputation. They are working hard to make the inbox a great experience and have an active role in protecting their customers from receiving unwanted or unsolicited emails. What is interesting is that each ISP has their own way of calculating what reputation means to them. However, if there is doubt about a brands reputation, this results in deliverability problems where ISPs can temporarily block emails. And this can take 2 – 3 weeks to resolve.

ISPs use a variety of tools to process and track all inbound emails – both on an IP and domain level. However, there are key factors ISPs look for when it comes to reputation and deliverability in the inbox:

  • They now look at a brand as a whole. So while your department may be doing the right job, another department may not and this will still damage your reputation

  • Key reputation indicators are spam traps, volume, complaints, bounces and engagement

  • When it comes calculating reputation, each IP address receives its own reputation and new IPs are treated with higher scrutiny due to lack of history and deliverability

  • Consistency is key as ISPs measure reputation over time

  • ISP’s factor in an individual recipient’s interactions like opens, clicks, scrolls, and filtering

While there is still no way to know what a brand’s specific reputation is at any ISP, we know that reputation measurement will continue to evolve. ISP’s like Google will put more and more data together including traffic from your website, SMS messages and social presence - Gmail recently allowed users to setup non-Google email addresses using IMAP.

So how do marketers achieve a good reputation and what are the practical building blocks of a strong deliverability strategy?

  1. Implement a rigorous and ongoing regimen of reviewing the quality of lists and databases. The biggest single contributor to deliverability success for this is the opt-in process which will exclude invalid email addresses and spam traps, qualifying new subscribers.

  2. Offer customers a preference centre to manage subscriptions to fine tune content of messages and prevent churn and email fatigue by offering frequency control options.

  3. Consistently review send patterns as a sudden increase in email volume could be an indicator that your mail server has been compromised by a spammer. 

  4. Focus on email design and structure. Always above the fold, every recipient should be able to answer the following three questions whether or not images are blocked - Who are you? What do you want me to do? Why should I do that?

  5. Less content, less size – more focus, more relevance. Keep your subject line between 35 to 50 characters long, avoid spam keywords and include 2 - 3 CTA’s in the email.

  6. Regularly monitor deliverability and audience engagement. Do not ignore engagement patterns in your base and monitor unique open rate by ISP, hard bounce rate, soft bounce rate, spam compliant rate and inbox placement rate.

  7. Test, test, test – the mantra of user-centric marketing.

In todays’ environment, marketers understand that they have 2 – 5 seconds before a customer decides if the email is relevant. As Markus Frank, Head of Strategic Services, DACH at Oracle concluded at the User Forum “Deliverability is all about whether you are a modern customer-centric marketer.”

Download this Email Deliverability Guide for Modern Marketers for more pro tips on orchestrating and delivering marketing messages that are relevant to individual preferences and behavior.

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 5 Steps to B2B Content Marketing Success in 2018

We are only two months into 2018 and I already hear some B2B marketers say that they work harder, not smarter, and only see limited results. So what differentiates the successful marketers from the not-so-successful marketers? One word: strategy.

According to CMI’s 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research (North America), 62% of the most successful B2B content marketers have a documented strategy and 72% of B2B content marketers have increased their level of success over the past year as a result of having a strategy place.

So what stops B2B organisations from developing a content marketing strategy, when it’s so clear that having a strategy is key to success? In the same CMI research B2B marketers gave two main reasons: Small Team (67%) and Lack of Time (44%).

Wouldn’t it be so much more effective to create the right content for the right audience at the right time? Wouldn’t it be great to find ways to repurpose the content we’ve spent so much time creating rather than creating content haphazardly? Wouldn’t that save time?

I ask you to invest a little time today and start with a simple content map. Creating a content map will help you align your brand and product stories with your customer lifecycle stages, the questions your audiences ask and their content needs and preferences. This is a logical process that is easy once you get it down on paper.

Just follow these five steps to get started with your content map:

1. Build Your Audiences
When it comes to content, one size does not fit all. While a Marketing Manager of a small business and the CEO of a large enterprise might be on the same customer journey, their content needs are likely not the same. You need to identify your top purchase influencers and decision makers. These are your buyer personas. Once you have identified them, give them each a name. Describe who they are with as much detail as possible. Include things like what they fear, what motivates them and identify their goals and challenges. It’s always much easier to create content while having someone specific in mind. If you need help getting started check out our DIY-Marketing-Success page on Buyer Persona Development.
 

2. Define Your Customer Lifecycle Stages

Think about how your prospects and customers interact with your organisation and the stages they go through. Some companies start simple and only define three or four stages. Some companies look at as many as eight stages: Need > Research > Select > Purchase > Receive > Use > Maintain > Recommend.

For this blog post I will work with six stages: Interest > Learn > Evaluate > Justify > Purchase > Advocate. But at the end it depends on your buyers, the length of the buying cycle and how complex your process needs to be.

3. Understand What Questions Your Audiences Have
Different audiences will have different questions at each stage of their customer lifecycle journey. The purpose of your content should be to answer those questions, so that your buyers can make informed decisions and naturally move through the funnel from Interest to Advocate. Here are some general questions buyers ask at each stage of their journey:

Interest:

  • How can I manage content and content mapping for my department?
  • Am I the only one trying to figure this out?

Learn:

  • Are there content management tools out there that can manage personas, too?
  • What are the benefits of using these tools?

Evaluate:

  • How can Oracle Content Management help me?
  • How does it compare to other options?

Justify:

  • Is there an attractive ROI? How can I prove it to stakeholders?
  • What are current users saying about the solution?

Purchase:

  • What kind of support is there to me going with solution?
  • How can I best leverage the features?

Advocate:

  • Have I been successful?
  • Do I want to tell my story? Where?

 

4. Answer Your Audiences’ Questions
Start to align your brand or product stories with the questions your audiences ask. Keep in mind what makes your story unique and what differentiates you from your competitors. You may want to start off by taking an inventory of your existing content and identify gaps. Capture all the details that will help you to categorize your content so that you can easily find the right content for the right persona at the right stage.

5. Identify Preferred Content Types for Each Stage
Certain types of content work better at some stages than others. During the initial stages prospects are often more interested in informal types of content consumption like newsletters, infographics or videos – things they do not have to commit much time to. In the mid-stage, they are more interested in case studies or demos. Later in the cycle, when they are more committed to your products and services, they want detailed information, like product specifications and pricing and will spend much more time consuming your content.

Having a documented content marketing strategy is key to ensuring the content you create is timely, relevant and targeted. And creating a content map is the first step to documenting your content strategy and calming the content chaos. As more content is being created each day, adding order to the process is critical. Your content will be most effective when it’s planned, produced and published for a specific persona. You’ll have content that will address your audiences’ needs during each stage of the buyer journey.

Are you ready to get started today? Then visit our Boost Series Content Mapping Plan Builder. The Boost Series is a self-guided service, focused on helping you to implement essential Modern Marketing strategies, on your own time, at your own pace.

For more on how to maximize content marketing download the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Content Marketing, where you'll learn:

  • How to develop a balanced content marketing plan to support your most significant business objectives
  • Mining sources of inspiration to help create meaningful content
  • How to maximize existing content to create additional assets
  • Content calendar best practices
  • Ways to get to know your content comrades within your organization
  • Capitalizing on the idea of “content as data” (and must have content marketing metrics)

Download your copy of the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Content Marketing now!