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Email Marketing Tactics – Other Factors

October 13, 2014 Leave a comment

email-marketing-tacticsIn the past two articles, I’ve covered two aspects of email marketing; open rates and click-through rates. Today, I’m going to discuss some other factors including bounce rates and opt-outs.

There are so many variables in an email marketing campaign and so many ways to optimize. The key to success is to keep testing and keep sending campaigns.

Digital marketers may argue what the most crucial part of a successful email campaign is. Is it the subject line? Is it the copy in the email? Is it the layout? I suggest it’s the list you’re mailing to. People who know your brand are going to be more likely to respond than those who don’t. That’s why cultivating and maintaining contact lists is so important. Yet I talk to real estate agents and loan officers all the time who don’t do this!

It’s important to have segmented lists and targeted lists. The segments can be whatever you like them to be. For instance past customers or people who got on your list from your website. I’m segmenting my list with people who have clicked the link in the email because now I can follow-up.

All of this list management will improve your email campaign’s success by increasing open and click-through rates. It will also decrease bounce rates.

Bounce Rates

Bounce rates are simply emails that aren’t delivered. There are two types; hard and soft. A hard bounce is a completely non-deliverable email. It could be a bad address, an expired domain or some other reason. That email isn’t good and should be removed from your list. Soft bounces are different. They’re simply not deliverable right now. Again, there are many reasons for that.

Here’s an example of a campaign I re-sent on Saturday:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

When I first sent it last week, there were 328 soft bounces. On Saturday only 78 didn’t go through. When an email is sent impacts open rates and it also impacts deliverability.

Opt outs and Spam

The other way your list will prune itself is through opt outs. Subscribers simply remove themselves from the list. It’s good because you’ll have a cleaner list of people who want to hear from you, but it sometimes makes marketers feel bad. Don’t feel bad! This is a numbers game. Just make sure your emails provide something of value. You can control your opt outs by sending quality emails that have value for your target audience. If you have a lot of unsubscribers, you’ll know you need to make adjustments.

Getting flagged for spam is a little more to be concerned with. You want to minimize this as much as possible. If your spam percentage is too high, your email sending service could freeze or terminate your account. If you’re sending from your domain email (do not do this!!!), your web host could terminate your account.

There are a lot of factors at play in a successful email campaign; open rates, click-through rates, design, copywriting, compiling and segmenting a list, deliverability and getting flagged for spam. It’s not easy and it takes a lot of testing and sending to come up with the right combination to provide a positive return on investment. While some factors seem out of your control, please realize you can have an impact on all of them.

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Email Marketing Tactics – Inciting Action

October 10, 2014 1 comment

emailmarketingrealestateA few days ago, I talked about open rates in email marketing. Certainly that’s a key step in a successful campaign. But then what? You want your target audience to take action! It could be clicking a link. It could be filling out a form. It could be watching a video, making a call or buying a product. How do you get your email list to do that and what factors are involved.

Let’s take a look at the recent campaigns I ran.

My goal was pretty simple; to share a guide that solves a problem to my target audience. There are lots of ways to communicate that in an email. I wanted to be brief and direct and easily share the information. My key points were they needed to see the guide and it was free. So I uploaded the guide to my server as a pdf and sent a brief email for them to view it.

If you remember from the previous article, this campaign had a pretty good open rate of 16.47%. The click-through rate on it…the number of people who clicked the link to see the document was 6.11% or 45 people. I lost 94% of my list! Ouch.

Remember I said I improved my design on the second campaign which had a different recipient list? Its click-through rate did worse! Even though it had a better open rate, the click-through rate was 5.04% or 36 people.

The last campaign was the worst on on opens and clicks. Five people saw my guide in this group. Despite these numbers, I still consider this to be a successful campaign. Why?

With a little effort, not much time and zero cost, I got 86 people to read the information I wanted them to. On each of these campaigns, the email software also shows how many emails were forwarded. I don’t know whether these forwards were for future reminders or sent to different people, but there were 117 forwards between the three campaigns. And someone contacted me from the campaign which is the ultimate goal.

My follow up on this campaign will be to contact the people who clicked the link in another campaign. I’ll also resend using what I learned from the open rates. Things I can tweak in the message include larger links to read the guide and testing the black template which outperformed with the white template.

 

 

Email Marketing Tactics – 3 Factors

October 8, 2014 2 comments

emailmarketingSome people think email marketing has lost value with the rise of social media. Recent studies show it has better return on investment than social but businesses are still moving away from it. That’s good news for people who still use it. Less competition!

Today I’m going to discuss three factors that influence email marketing results. For this business, I’ve been testing email campaigns to Realtors using different subject lines, offers, content and timing. Let’s look at a few results.

Assumptions – I’m assuming tracking is in place. With anti-spam laws the way they are, it is dangerous and costly to just BCC a campaign from your email client. Using a third party service limits your liability and provides tracking.

Factor 1 – Subject Lines

This is what people see in their inbox. If it’s not catchy or specific, your open rates will suffer. Consider the following example:

 

emailmarketingsubjectline

Click to enlarge

I mailed two separate campaigns to the same list. My not so great subject line of “Free Marketing Evaluation – Our Gift to You” got a 2.5% open rate. That’s not very good, especially considering the alternate below it got a nearly 4% open rate. My next campaign to the same list got a 16.47% open rate. In email marketing that’s a home run! The subject line was “Worried About the Zillow/Trulia Merger?” The difference was three fold; it asked a question, it was timely to a recent industry change, it exposed a pain point.

Factor 2 – Design

With that success in the books, I decided to improve. In my haste to get the guide out, I threw together the email. This time I used a better designed template, a different list of my target market and the same subject line.

emailmarketingdesign

Click to enlarge

That home run from before just became a grand slam. The open rate improved to 20.22%! Was it the design? No. Design has no impact on the open rate because it’s not seen before the email is opened! It was the list. This was a new list that had never seen anything from me.

Factor 3 – Timing

At this point I was pretty pleased with myself. I had another never mailed to list of my target market and I was really hoping to make a big impact on this mailing. I had considered sending it out on a Saturday afternoon with a different subject line, but I didn’t want to tweak something I didn’t feel needed to be changed.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

So I scheduled it to go out first thing Monday morning. The results were alarming! Even though this was an exact duplicate of the “home run” email campaign, the open rate was a disappointing 6.7%. This is still much better than the other campaigns I’d sent, but there was a huge drop off. Both the other campaigns were sent later in the week in the afternoon and evening.

Takeaways

Open rates are just one part of a successful email campaign. Optimizing your open rates improves your chances for branding, leads and sales. Like direct mail, the biggest challenge with email marketing is getting people to see your message. Test and retest your subject lines so you know what works with your target audience. Once you’ve found a successful strategy, build upon it.

Keep refining your email lists. Every campaign you send eliminates dead email addresses and people who don’t want your message. That means your stats will improve, but you have to keep sending mail.

Finally, timing is everything whether it’s social media posts or email. Once you find a good time, target your marketing around it.

Email Marketing Tactics – Drip vs. Blast

July 16, 2014 Leave a comment

email marketingEmail marketing is still a viable and effective strategy to get sales, referrals and stay in contact with clients. The key is to have a strategy and stick to it. There are two main types of email marketing – drip marketing and blast marketing. Let’s take a look at what they mean and how they can be used in your business.

Blast marketing is designed as a one off, or part of a small campaign to promote a product or service with the singular idea the recipient will take action because of the message. Think about retail sales emails as an example. Email blasts can be sent to your existing database, a purchased list or even a joint venture with another business.

Drip marketing is very different in its execution, but can have some of the same desirable effects of blast marketing. Drip emails are designed for prospects or clients as a stay in touch method. Ultimately drip emails are designed to increase sales, but before that happens, they can be used to generate referrals, build traffic to your website and grow your social media channels. Drip emails are designed to be sent to people who know you – clients, referrals, prospects. They also take more time to create and execute since you are NOT directly selling.

What most small business owners don’t realize is email marketing has to be multifaceted. The goals of email marketing are to:

  1. Get sales
  2. Acquire clients
  3. Get referrals
  4. Stay in touch with existing clients
  5. Increase traffic to your website
  6. Increase your social media channels
  7. Build your drip marketing list

Did you notice the last item on that list? How do you build your drip marketing database? The answer is to get more clients or customers and you do that by making more sales.

Here’s how:

  1. Make sure you ask your customers to join your list. You can do this at the point of sale or when you do post close follow up.
  2. Acquire databases for your list.
  3. Make sure you’re collecting emails and sending them something!
  4. Leverage your social channels to build your list.

Now that you understand the difference between blast marketing and drip marketing, you’ll be able to start utilizing them as part of your strategy. In a future article, I’ll dive deeper into drip marketing.

 

Luxury Car Dealer Completely Messes up Email Campaign

September 29, 2009 1 comment

spyker-c8-spyderIt’s a tale of wealth, a tale of power…and ignorance and laziness. This is the tale of the Spyker of Salt Lake City launch.

Before I get started, let me assure you all of what you are about to read is true. There has been no embellishment or hyperbole on my part.

The Spyker launch began with an email received at nearly 10 pm Friday, August 28th. First of all, I’m not sure why I’m receiving the email. Sure I bought a car from the dealership a year ago, but they normally mail me things, not email. I’m not even sure how they got my email. Secondly, who does a product launch at 10 pm on a Friday?

Anyway, I read the email and wondered what a Spyker was. I figured it was the same dealership that launched Bentley last year, so I thought it might be cool, but I didn’t know for sure. Eleven minutes later, my phone buzzed again. Another message from Adam Heller at Spyker. He had forgotten to send the attachment in the first email.

spyker-invite1

All hell didn’t break loose until Monday. That’s when the first of several messages asking to be removed from the mail list showed up in my inbox. So not only had Mr. Heller sent the email at a poor time and forgotten the attachment, he did a regular carbon copy to everyone on his list, thus divulging private emails to everybody who received the invitation.

spyker-invite2

Why did a partner at a major accounting firm choose to hit reply all when they asked to be removed? I don’t know. Then a few other requests for removal came across my inbox. That’s when I thought, “this will not end well.”

Then someone sent this gem to everyone on the list –

For those of you requesting to be removed- could you please do us all a favor and hit “reply”- not “reply all”- this is email 101…

Yes, yes it is.

Finally, someone wrote –

Hi Adam,
I’m also a spammer and would like to thank you for all the great new email addresses.

From one spammer to another, THANKS!!!!

At three pm on August 31, the issue was resolved –

Dear Nigel,
In reference to a recent email regarding the Spyker Lifestyle event in Park City, we made a significant oversight on our part to not Blind Copy the invitation list. We sincerely apologize for the mistake and want to assure those people who have asked to be removed from our list are in fact, removed immediately. We ask that you help in resolution of this matter that you do not “reply to all” on the previous email.
The inconvenience this may have caused was unintended wholeheartedly.
Sincerely,
Hadley Auto Company
As I write this, I realize the sender was Adam Heller’s email and he changed his sent from name to “Hadly” auto…spelled incorrectly.

I don’t know how this event turned out. I planned to go, but for some reason the date of the event slipped my mind. It turns out it was September 4th and 5th…the beginning of college football season this year. The Bentley event I attended last fall was sparsely attended, but I sure do see a lot of new Bentley’s around town. That event was well executed and conducted by regular mail.

What can we learn from this whole fiasco?

Email campaigns can be very dangerous if they’re not executed properly. You need to think strategically about an email campaign before you launch it. Not only can you anger customers, but you can break Federal law. I’ve said before I think email marketing is dead, but assuming that’s how you want to proceed, let’s talk about some best practices.

Timing – Did you notice that nobody emailed to complain until Monday…a full 48 hours after the email was sent? That’s because this list was full of professionals who could possibly afford a niche luxury sports car. Many had supplied a work email and thus didn’t respond until Monday. I’ve found after running three different newsletter campaigns the best time to send is early in the morning and between Tuesday and Thursday. On Monday’s people are just getting back to work and on Friday’s they’re thinking about the weekend.

The timing of the event itself was poor in my opinion, but I can’t really speak to the results since I didn’t attend. What was I doing instead? Watching college football. In the United States, never, ever schedule a business event on the opening weekend of college football.

Delivery system – Using a delivery system instead of an email program like Outlook has many advantages. First of all, you can manage your lists. Sophisticated email marketers will send different messages to different people while using the same system. List management helps with new subscriptions and removals, making what we saw earlier completely unnecessary. A list management system also insures delivery. Companies have complex spam blocking procedures in place. Do you want your subscribers to receive your email? List management servers are white listed so your message will get through. You can also get useful statistics from a delivery system like open rates, forwards and unsubscribes. While they will cost you a little bit of money, they’re very reasonable.

In the past I used AWeber for a subscription base of about 15,000 and Constant Contact for a list of about 300…similar to the size of the Spyker list. Many CRM software packages have an email component as well.

Opting in should be easy, so should opting out – No matter what kind of delivery system you use, the sign in/sign out process should be easy. It should typically be a double opt in and a single opt out. One thing Spyker got right was assuring those who wanted out got an easy exit.

Protect your client’s data at all costs – These were just email addresses, not social security numbers or bank accounts. The couple email addresses I plugged into Google as a test yielded full names, occupations and even educational history. If I was nefarious, I could dig up quite a bit on these people, just with their email address as a foundation.

Apologize for your mistakes – This was another thing Spyker of Salt Lake City did do right. They apologized for the inconvenience, the breach of security and removed those people from the list who wanted to be removed. If done properly, they wouldn’t have had anything to apologize for, but it seems to have resolved the problem.

Are there better options to email marketing? – I think so. I believe smart marketers are converting their email lists to something else like a Facebook business page or fan page. People who join these pages are going to be much more enthusiastic to hear messages from you and you’ll be able to ping them more often. A luxury car sale for instance is not a one pitch close. You have to engage your client multiple times to get them to consider shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for a car they don’t need…no matter how much they may want it. I believe business pages will eventually become great customer service tools as well.

If you do stick with email, plan on sending out the message several times. I might have attended the event had I been reminded when it was. As it happened the whole mailing list screw up frazzled everyone involved.

So what can we learn from this luxury car dealer about email campaigns?

1. Time your delivery.
2. Don’t use an email client with a CC list, use professional software.
3. Do protect your client’s data.
4. Do apologize if you make a mistake.

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