Marketing 2.0

15 Tips For Effective Email Marketing & Distributing

Transition-Marketing-ServicesEmail Marketing.

Email marketing comes with a bad reputation. We have all been on the receiving end of spam. Unsolicited emails can range from a minor nuisance to an outright danger to your hardware’s integrity. Proper email marketing however, is a useful tool in the world of marketing and communications. Note that we do not endorse the use of spam lists or sending unsolicited emails. Rather these tips should be used for recipients with whom you have cultivated a relationship with or who have chosen to sign on to your distribution list.

Increasing Your Open Rate.

The first thing one needs to understand are the steps to an effective email campaign. Whether you are sending out sales notices, newsletters or thank you notes, none of it will matter if it does not a. reach the recipient and b. get opened by the recipient. Those are the first two challenges one needs to consider and learn to overcome. In this post we will discuss the means to ensuring you first make it through those spam filters and second, get read.

15 Email Marketing Tips.

1. The Subject Line Matters.

This is important for two reasons:

  1. The content of your subject line will determine how the spam filter reacts.
  2. The subject line will determine whether people are intrigued enough to open the email.

Consider your subject line carefully. It needs to avoid specific trigger words in order to get through the spam filters, but it also needs to be relevant and interesting enough to warrant the recipient opening the email.

  1. Unless it is dealing specifically with a topic you have already discussed with the recipient, it should be short. No more than 3-5 words.
  2. Don’t be afraid to be creative, but be clear and be concise.
  3. Don’t use the subject line as a sales pitch.
  4. Be relevant. The subject line needs to have relevancy to the recipient.
  5. Avoid spam trigger words.

The subject line is your battering ram. It is the first breach into the fortified walls of your recipient. It will determine if you land in the inbox and it will determine what happens from there. This is the first thing anyone sees when the email hits their mail slot. It has to be good. Think of it this way: it won’t matter how great the offer is in your email contents if no one opens it to read them.

2. Timing Your Email.

Believe it or not, there is actually a science to sending out email blasts. Timing can be everything. Remember that your open rate is crucial, it determines your overall success. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Promptness of email opens:
    1. 23.63% of all emails are opened within the first hour of receipt.
    2. 9.52% within the 2nd hour.
    3. 6.33% in the third hour
    4. 4.8% in the fourth.

It is most important then that you time your email to be opened immediately. (Source: socialmediaguerilla.com)

  • Number of messages sent by time of day:
    1. 5.9% of emails arrive between 12am – 6am.
    2. 38.7% arrive between 6am – 12pm.
    3. 25.8% arrive between 12pm – 6pm.
    4. 29.6% arrive between 6pm and 12am.

Most emails land in the inbox in the morning. Therefore it is less likely yours will be opened at that time. People are getting started, they are digging through the email pile and will disregard the less important ones. (Source: socialmediaguerilla.com)

  • Best click & open times:
    1. Top hours for “clicks”: 8:00 am, 9:00 am, 3:00 pm, 8:00 pm.
    2. Top hours for “opens”: 8:00 am, 9:00 am, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm.
  • Best days for sending:
    1. More emails are sent during the week than on weekends.
    2. Tuesday and Thursday being the highest volume days.

Changing which day you send your emails may improve your open and click rates. (Source: mailchimp.com)

Timing is indeed everything. Try sending out your blasts at different times. See for yourself which works best. Remember that every opened email could result in a sale.

3. Use Your Name & an Authentic Email Address. 

Would you open a random email from an unrecognized email address?  People are suspicious for good reason, so use your name and business and suggest your recipient add your company to their email to help you avoid an awkward visit to the junk folder.

4. Build a Reputation. Transition-Marketing-Services

Earn your recipients trust. If you are embarking on a sustained emailing campaign, such as a monthly newsletter, this trust will be crucial. As you begin to email recipients more frequently you will find yourself developing a reputation for either good content or bad. Keep the content of your emails on target relevant and interesting. Don’t send out emails for the sake of emailing. Don’t waste people’s time. Once your recipients have opened a few of your emails and benefited from them, your reputation will grow and the opens will happen more easily.

5. Keep It Short.

Your email does not need to be your entire sales catalog. Short emails can be the most effective. Interestingly enough it can be the most difficult to whittle down your emails content. It may require time and possibly a lot of it. Pick a single point and focus on it. Whether it is a sale, a new product etc. If you find yourself off topic, erase and start over.

6. A.P. Style Writing. 

Familiarize yourself with the principles of A.P. style writing (Associated Press). A.P. Style is defined in purpose as:

The content of newspapers and other mass media is typically the result of many different writers and editors working together. AP style provides consistent guidelines for such publications in terms of grammar, spelling, punctuation and language usage. Some guiding principles behind AP style are:

  • Consistency
  • Clarity
  • Accuracy
  • Brevity

AP style also aims to avoid stereotypes and unintentionally offensive language. (Source)

Transition-Marketing-Services7. Do Not Send Out Spam.

First off what is spam? Spam mail is not just for male enhancement companies and Nigerian princes. Spam is any form of unsolicited email sent to unknown recipients who did not ask for it. You would think this would obvious, but even reputable companies can be tempted to spam. Do not send out spam emails.

8. Be Consistent.

Depending on the purpose of your email campaign, consistency can be key. If you are developing a newsletter campaign the stick to it. Weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually, whatever frequency you choose, stick to it. When developing the campaign, be realistic about how much you have to say and how often you want to say it. Set yourself a schedule and then stick to it. If the schedule dictates once a month, schedule your time properly to allow for it.

9. Non-Formal.

It is ok to be semi-formal and it is ok to have fun with your emails. Keep the tone professional and keep it clean but don’t shy away from having a little fun. Recipients are receiving countless formal emails a day, having a little fun on occasion can be ok. Don’t be afraid to show your human side. Be creative, by humorous, just don’t be boring. The more relational you come across, the more likely they are to follow-up with you. Be courteous and be clean though.

10. Be Fresh. Transition-Marketing-Services

Avoid old news or worn out ideas. Avoid repeating previous content – it is ok to reference it – but do not replicate it. This could (and should) put pressure on you from time to time to send your email out sooner. If yours is the first email in the inbox with new, important or timely information, you will reap the reward of being read. If you are reiterating similar info to previous emails, re-write it. Cast a new light on it, present it in a different away.

11. Engaging Content.

Daily I received about 60 – 70 emails. Most of those are formal and stuffed full of information. By the 3:30 in the afternoon I am beginning to open emails, size them up and then either mark them as unread to be dealt with the next day or dumping them after the first sentence. Try to incorporate content that will draw the viewer in. Keep that in mind when developing your emails Subject and content, and when scheduling it for send off.

12. Begin At The Beginning. 

Create your distribution list from scratch. People do not take kindly to unsolicited emails. Build trust. Ask them for permission.

  1. Provide opt-in opportunities.
  2. Offer different delivery options.
  3. Promise privacy.
  4. Provide a means for them to discontinue from the email.
  5. Provide links to connect on your website and social media profiles.
  6. Mention it when visiting them or on the phone and ask if they are interested.

13. Avoid Spam Trigger Words.

There are specific words that trigger spam filters. Familiarize yourself with them and avoid them.

1. !!!2. $$$

3. 100% free

4. Act now!

5. ALL CAPITALS

6. All natural

7. As seen on

8. Attention

9. Bad credit

10. Bargain

11. Best price

12. Billion

13. Certified

14. Cost

15. Dear friend

16. Decision

17. Discount

18. Double your income

19. E.x.t.r.a. Punctuation

20. Eliminate debt

21. Extra income

22. Fast cash

23. Fees

24. Financial freedom

25. FREE

51. Guarantee

52. Hot

53. Increase

54. Join millions

55. Lose weight

56. Lowest price

57. Make money fast

58. Marketing

59. Million dollars

60. Money

61. Money making

62. No medical exams

63. No purchase necessary

64. Online pharmacy

65. Opportunity

66. Partners

67. Performance

68. Rates

69. Satisfaction guaranteed

70. Search engine listings

71. Selling

72. Success

73. T e x t w i t h g a p s

74. Trial

75. Visit our website

26. #1

27. 4U

28. 50% off

29. Accept credit cards

30. Additional income

31. Affordable

32. All new

33. Apply now

34. Apply online

35. Be your own boss

36. Buy direct

37. Call free

38. Cancel at anytime

39. Cash bonus

40. Cheap

41. Click here

42. Congratulations

43. Direct email

44. Direct marketing

45. Don’t hesitate!

46. Drastically reduced

47. Earn $

48. Full refund

49. Get it now

50. Gift certificate

76. Great offer

77. Home based

78. Incredible deal

79. Information you requested

80. Insurance

81. Investment

82. Limited time offer

83. Message contains

84. No age restrictions

85. No experience

86. No gimmicks

87. No hidden costs

88. No questions asked

89. Offer

90. Online degree

91. Online marketing

92. Order Now

93. Passwords

94. Please read

95. Risk free

96. Save $

97. Serious cash

98. Special promotion

99. Urgent

100. Web traffic

14. First Impression

Do not make the mistake of assuming you are interesting. You have three seconds to make enough of an impression to last an entire emails length. Remember the rule of the “firm handshake” you may only have one chance to make this impression, so do it right the first time (you may not get a second handshake).

15. Format Your Email to be Readable.

Don’t make people “click-to-download”. Keep it short, focus on your one point, remove clutter and make it readable. If this sounds a little labour intensive, it is because it can be. There are many template sites and examples to be found online with a simple Google search. Coming up with even just one good subject line can be tough and is not always guaranteed to spark the rest of the emails contents. Doing it right requires massive creativity, passion and inspiration. It also requires focus.

Summary.

If you find yourself forcing it or are running out of time and rushing it, then you are likely better off to not do it at all. Your emails content will showcase you and your business image, for good or for evil. Make sure you are doing it right. For many companies that lack employees with either the time or the skill set it can make more sense to hire a copy-writer or a marketing firm. Get past the viewing pane. Get opened and be read. No one said this was going to be easy, but it can pay off big. Transition-Marketing-Services Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

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Five MORE Social Media Tips To IGNORE

Social-Media-Marketing

“There is no such thing as a social media ‘guru’, nor a ‘maven’ nor a ‘ninja’ nor any of the other silly terms people are using. There are those who understand social media as a tool for marketing, those who *think* they understand and those who do not.” – Transition Marketing

In our previous post on March 14, 2013 (HERE) we took a slightly different tact on the traditional social media propaganda by REFUTING several of the dominant social media “tips” presently in circulation. In today’s post we will continue with a thorough examination of FIVE MORE TERRIBLE SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS.

Employee-Social-Media-Gagging1) Avoid Allowing Your Employees on Social Media.

This is a ridiculous and asinine request. For one, attempting to police this is a tremendous waste of time. Even if you block Social Media on their work computers, they have smart phones. The resources, time and ill-will that this breeds isn’t worth it. Try to block or regulate their cell phone usage at work, they will still visit those sites on their breaks and at home. Forbid any use of your brand or business name by your employees and they will simply create fake profiles.

All you do by creating an iron-fisted regime is breed sore feelings, hurt office morale and damage work relationships. You send a clear message that you don’t trust them, create a hostile office environment and what is worse, you turn your back on an incredible asset.

Your employees are your company. They ARE your brand. This is not just a cliché corporate catch-phrase. It is a solid truth about the world we now live in. Social Media has changed the face of branding. Every consumer, every employee, every individual now has the option and the power to share their experiences with thousands and even millions. Businesses cannot muzzle the voice of the general public and there has been a significant shift in the way that businesses now market themselves (More on that HERE)

Your employees (just like your customers) have a voice and a reach that can further spread your brand and marketing message, for good or for ill. One way or the other your employees will talk about your business. To fight the lost battle of “policing” their voices, instead so rather than trying to encourage them is folly. Instead give them guidelines for good use and encourage them to share positive stories and experiences.

Allow them to be “Brand Advocates” and put their voices to use.

2) Ignore Negative Feedback On Social Media.

Oops, someone has gone and said something bad about your brand. There is no going back now, it exists and it is plastered on the internet. Whether it reaches dozens or thousands there is no going back once it has been posted.

Many brands are encouraged to ignore negative comments, to not risk entering a hostile conversation to avoid it. However by not responding to angry comments online you are allowing it to simply sit and fester and worst-case scenario it could quickly take on a life of its own.

Mistakes happen so when you make them, admit to them. People are far more gracious when one owns up, apologizes and tried to make things better. Attempting to ignore, avoid or argue them will tarnish your brand. Admit mistakes when necessary and then detail how you will address them.

Our go-to method when negativity strikes, is to address the comment immediately and take that conversation offline.

For example, if someone tweets negatively about you, ask them to DM, email or call you with the specifics. Then work with them to resolve the issue outside of the public’s eye. Once a resolution has been reached, take it back to the mainstream and tweet the resolution back to them as an affirmation.

The public doesn’t need to know every detail, just that is was addressed and made right.

3) Address EVERY Negative Comment.Dont-Avoid-Comments

This may seem like we are suddenly contradicting ourselves, however there are certain negative comments that exist for no other reason then to get a rise out of you. Known as “trolling“, the concept of provoking reaction through negative or even shocking content has unfortunately become quite a popular online. This is more specific to big business and well established brands, however it pertains to all of us.

Beware of those who are simply trying to further their own agenda’s and gain visibility by pushing you for responses to their comments. On social media, as in life, there is a time to talk and a time to walk away. Learn to discern the trolls from those consumers with real concerns.

4) Delete Negative Comments or Disable Comments Entirely.

Social Media is about conversations, about sharing and discussing. Disabling comments runs contrary to this entire premise.

People are going to share experiences with or without your Facebook page. They have their own page, their own profile and their own audience. By ALLOWING them to post their thoughts and feedback on YOUR page you can monitor and address the feedback. If you’re smart you may even learn a few things to change your business for the better.

Responding to customers, involving them and discussing with them is in fact what social media is all about. Simply posting content over and over, without ever establishing customer relationships is a dated practice meant for television, billboards and radio. Online “Marketing 2.0” is all about creating consumer advocates through online discussions via social media.

As for deleting comments, do so and you will have created a consumer enemy for life. Nothing will infuriate a consumer-with-a-voice more, than attempting (poorly) to silence them. They will simply find other avenues and lambaste you even worse!

Delete-Posts

5) When Making A Mistake, Deleting The Post Will Fix It.

This is absolutely horse-feathers and rubbish. Let us reiterate, once a comment has been made and posted, it will not cease to exist. Whether you posted it or a consumer did it is there.

“Love and life may pass, but Facebook posts are forever”.

There is no way to completely erase a post and no way to stop viewers from screen-shotting it and sharing it with the world. Think about what you say before you say it. And admit to any mistakes you make (apologize when necessary).

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Customer Experience: The “NEW” Branding

Branding 2.0

Branding has changed over the past twenty years.

A Brand used to exert far more control over their image than they do now. Their image was dictated by their marketing team and it was presented via one-way communication channels such as Print, Radio and Television. There was no means for the consumer to talk back and no sharing “en-mass” of experiences. The worst a Brand had to fear was negative word-of-mouth referrals amongst their consumer’s family and friends. This of course was minimal and easy to drown out.

This type of “one-way” marketing communications made it easy for brands to position themselves with nothing more than a large budget and a savvy marketing team.

That has all changed. With the advent of the internet, the world became a great deal smaller. This is a truth that has been compounded even further by “Social Media”.

“Social Media has made every customer a “mystery shopper”. It has enabled every last consumer to weigh in on a Brand’s performance.”

Social Media has enabled anyone and everyone to share their thoughts on anything at anytime. Is this a good thing? Perhaps not in all cases, yet it is the truth we live with. Everyone’s hearts are now on their sleeves and now just about anyone across the world can view it.

This is a cold hard fact for Brands.

The Brand Image is no longer dictated solely by slick marketing, it is dictated by customer’s sharing their experiences with the world. Take for example this recent post to social media giant, Reddit:

This UPS employee deserves a raise for the good he has done for their brand.

This UPS employee deserves a raise for the good he has done for their brand.

A customer, or quite possibly no more than the NEIGHBOUR of a customer, witnessed a diligent UPS employee and shared it on Reddit. The post was instantly shared with millions of consumers all around the world.

Congratulations to UPS!  Thanks to this employee and the consumer who noticed it, they got excellent brand recognition and advertising without spending a dime.

Now as a point of comparison, have a look at this short video posted to YouTube. The video shows a FedEx employee casually tossing a package (containing a computer) over a fence. This is a video that went viral only months ago:

Ask yourself, which of these two elite carriers are consumers more likely going to use? Based solely off of these two consumer-shared posts I know who my choice would be.

Of course this isn’t to lambaste FedEx or endorse UPS, but to demonstrate the principles behind the new era of Branding. Simply put Brands must now exercise a new level of responsibility and engagement with customers. Any Brand seeking success in the 21st century must now focus less on shiny advertising and image and more on “Customer Experiences”.

A customer with a mouthful asked for a "Mapkin". This is what the clever employee provided. As a result it got great, positive exposure to 60 million users on a social networking site. Good employees are worth investing in.

A customer with a mouthful asked for a “Mapkin”. This is what the clever employee provided. As a result it got great, positive exposure to 60 million users on a social networking site. Good employees are worth investing in.

Customer Experiences.

Customer Experience (Definition): Is literally any part of the entire experience a consumer (or consumers) has during the process of making a purchase. This includes preemptive researching, sourcing, pricing, purchasing, taking possession of, installing and using, as well as any and all customer service related activities following. This may include warranty, returns, questions or comments.

Twenty or more years ago a customers experience with a brand was shared with only their immediate social circles. Feedback, bad or good, was restricted. These days customer experiences can (and are) immediately shared with hundreds, thousands or even millions of other consumers. For this reason Brands have begun to put more effort into their daily transactions with customers.

There are billions of customer transactions and experiences occurring daily around the world. They take the form of phone calls, emails, discussions with sales associates, deliveries, installations, warranty requests etc. Every instance of participation between you and a consumer, every interaction that your business has with a customer, is a “Customer Experience” and EVERY SINGLE ONE of these interactions could make or break your brand.

We as businesses have no control over which consumers will share what with others. That one negative experience we provide to a consumer could quickly be seen by anyone and everyone. Likewise that incredible effort on the part of your staff, could reach thousands on your behalf. This “unknown” is why EVERY interaction is crucial.

Social Media has made every customer a “mystery shopper“. It has enabled every last consumer to weigh in on a Brand’s performance.

The key point being made here is that EVERY business big or small, needs to invest in improving their day-to-day interactions with consumers.

Improving Brand to Customer Interactions.

As outlined above, there are countless interactions between customers and Brands every day. Whether making an actual purchase or simply looking for product information, it is imperative that every customer experience be as smooth, efficient and positive as possible.

“Always keep this one direction in mind: “How can I make this better for the customer?”

The sheer number of interactions and instances of “Customer Experiences” can be overwhelming. In this excellent post by Dr. Brian Monger. He outlines a far more thorough list of the various interactions that may take place between you and your consumers. To read through it, one can feel quickly discouraged! But take hope. This list provides the impetus for you to BUILD YOUR BRAND!

Instead of getting discouraged, go through the list and pick two or three interactions that you KNOW you have with customers and look at ways to improve them. For example, does your business frequently have to deliver to customers? How can that be improved? Can you offer it for free? Can it be sped up? Is your delivery guy providing them with a smile and a handshake?

The improvements don’t need to always be complicated and it is often the little things that matter most to customers.

Always keep this one direction in mind: “How can I make this better for the customer?”

Getting Social.

Improving customer experiences is a crucial step for the new era of Brand Image because customers are continually sharing their experiences via social media. Since this is the case, it only makes sense for Brands to also be involved on social media channels.

In past posts we have outlined some of the many social media sites available, what they do and how they work. The two primary reasons for a Brand to “get social” are as follows:

1. Engaging Customers: The purpose of social media is quite literally in its name: “SOCIAL media”. Many Brands have yet to truly see that success on Twitter, Facebook or any of the many sites out there, boils down to the ability to connect with customers. Using “one-way advertising” tactics and simply shouting your message without listening or replying to the customer base is a faux pas and it is one of the things killing Brands on social media.

Instead, make your time on social media, all about talking WITH your target market. Share insider info on tips, deals and sales, reply to their comments and start conversations. This builds your brands integrity and gives them reason to participate with you online.

2. Being Available To Listen: If a customer has an issue with your business and decides to share it via social media. How will you know?

There are a couple of different ways. The first is just BEING on social media. There is a good chance that if a customer has an issue with a recent experience and is going to share it online, they will seek out the Brand responsible (Tweet at them, visit their Facebook page etc). It gives them a chance to address it with you, which ideally results in dealing with the situation and improving their opinion of you.

“If a customer has an issue with your business and decides to share it via social media. How will you know?”

On the flip side, positive experiences may also be shared and should be highlighted and shared with your social media followers.

A Brand can also watch for  “mentions”. Platforms like Twitter allow for an extremely easy search of various words and terms. Simply plug-in your brand name, or specific terms that are associated with your business and hit “search” to see what people are saying. There are programs available to allow you to do this with just about any site and they can be customized to fit your business.

Closing.

We chose not to get into the details regarding many of the topics at hand above. The sole purpose behind this post was to educate small businesses on the growing importance of customer experiences. What they are, how they work and why they matter. We value feedback, did something in this post standout? Do you have an opinion, question or criticism? Share it with us and let’s get social!

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.