Fix your email marketing: Why your monthly newsletter needs to die!

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When you see an invitation to join an organization's monthly email, what is your response? If the word "groan" came blazing across your mind, then I would suggest it is time to make some changes to your email marketing program.

Is the monthly newsletter idea dead?

Nope, but calling it a monthly newsletter or putting those words in the subject line of your email is a sure way to find yourself ignored, and scratching your head wondering why no one joins. Please, I beg you, stop using those words right now. Email marketing is changing, but a few small tweaks can breathe new life into your emails and help you start building a more robust inbound marketing program.

The next generation of email marketing

As email tools become more advanced, your emails need to move away from the "blast and pray" style. People are going online because they are looking for information — your emails need to be tailored to meet them where they are in the buyer's journey, and they need to provide value. If this sounds like segmented lists and content that is tailored to a narrow audience you are right. If that sounds overwhelming and like too much work, have no fear — keep reading! 

Do something before you do everything

Most organizations feel overwhelmed at the prospect of using an inbound marketing philosophy. I get it. The good news is that you can start small and build on success. All good inbound marketing starts with a great offer. By starting with your signup form, you are not only going to be improving the growth of your audience, but you are creating the fundamental building block of an inbound marketing program. 

Focus on benefits and offer value

Most sign up forms are descriptive instead of emotive. Your signup form needs to make people believe that by giving up their email address, you will provide value. Shape your invitation around benefits and create something they will receive when they hit submit.

Since most people are online looking for information, I would focus on content. Take your best blog post, an article you wrote or even the presentation you gave at a conference and create a PDF guide. Be cautious of coupons and discounts; they work but as you probably know, most people have an email address they check infrequently and basically ignore — you don't want that email address. Even the most basic email programs allow you to set up an automated email to deliver content once someone takes your bait.

Don't forget this

An email address is a social contract. Seek to delight those who have given you theirs. Ask yourself this before you hit send, "Would I want to receive this?" If there is any hesitation, you better hit edit instead.

I can guarantee your new signup form will outperform your monthly newsletter signup. Will it fix your email marketing? It is a great start. When you start seeing results, you will be inspired to take more steps in building a better email marketing program.   

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Posted in Email Marketing, Marketing

How to fix your email marketing and get more valuable subscriber information

Get the information you need to segment your email audience

Last week we talked about the importance of email targeting and ways to segment your audience to deliver more relevant content. So how do you go about acquiring the necessary information about your readers to start doing this?

1. Collect more audience data in the sign-up process

The most direct way to collect the information you need to begin segmenting your email list is to ask for it upfront in your sign up form. However, many email marketers wisely hesitate to ask for anything beyond the email address for fear that too many questions will deter potential subscribers. We have found that if your sign-up offer has value, you can ask for a few pieces of additional information. Proceed with a bit of caution if you go this route, and ask only what you WILL USE to create more targeted emails. 

Another approach is to ask them for more information as they increase their engagement with your site. For example, after they sign up, offer another incentive in exchange for more information.

2. Ask your readers about themselves with a survey or quiz

For those who don’t want to deter potential subscribers with a lengthy sign up form, or want to know more about their longtime subscribers, follow up with a survey. SurveyMonkey integrates with a number of email service providers (ESPs) and some ESPs even have their own built-in survey tools. Give your readers incentive to participate in the survey such as a discount code or entry to win a prize upon completion. If you want to get creative, send out a quiz with interesting results — you can either collect the data you need within the quiz or as a requirement to see the results.

3. Leverage the data you already have

As audience segmentation becomes more and more important, most major email service platforms are building in valuable tools and analytics to better understand your readers. MailChimp for example tracks reader location when they open an email. You can then segment your list based on this geolocation data without needing to collect any additional information from your readers. Explore your email service platform to see what other data you may already have.

4. Include a call-to-action to update preferences in every email

A more passive approach is let your readers provide you with the information you want at their own convenience. Most email services providers offer a “preference tag” which allows subscribers to manage their own preferences. You can typically decide which information is visible for them to update — which lists they are on, sending frequency, interests, demographic data. Include a call-to-action in all of your emails asking users to indicate their preferences.

Want more ideas on how to fix your email marketing?

Read our popular post3 reasons why your email marketing strategy sucks out how to fix it and download our 30 Greatest Lead Generation Tips, Tricks and Ideas.

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Posted in Email Marketing

How to fix your email marketing and give people what they want

How to fix your email marketing

Recently my craft beer-connoisseur husband and I were at a large beer and wine store across town. We don’t frequent it too often but tend to stock up on the same thing when we’re there — a mixed selection of craft beer. So I was a bit surprised to find their rewards program (which tracks our purchases) emails us only with their latest wine offerings. 

It’s a well-known fact that targeted, relevant content will deliver superior results. The number of emails the average person receives each day is steadily climbing, making it harder and harder to stand out in the inbox. Email marketers need to be proactive in targeting their communication to stay relevant. This particular store missed the opportunity to send us valuable content based on our buying habits. Here are three other easy ways to jumpstart your audience segmentation efforts to better serve relevant, targeted content.

1. Fix your email marketing by using basic demographic information

Basic demographic information —age, gender, company position if you have it— is one of the easiest ways to start segmenting your audience. For example, a client of ours hosts a recurring event in which they value having balanced demographics in attendance. When they noticed a surge in female applications, they were able to directly target their male subscribers to encourage registration, achieving their goal. Another example—let’s say a financial advisor is expanding on their retirement planning services—they can easily let clients who are more likely to jump on this new feature know by targeting based on age or career position.

2. Fix your email marketing by being location sensitive

In addition to using a reader’s geographic data to promote regional sales or events, you can space out the sending of your emails based on the ideal time in each time zone. Or let’s say you have multiple offices or stores across the country. If your email marketing platform supports dynamic content, you could even include the contact information of only the location nearest to each user — all from a single email.

3. Fix your email marketing by utilizing historical data

By taking a peek at your email response data, you can easily find your most loyal subscribers and those who have not opened in a while. You can use this information to reward your loyal subscribers with a unique discount code or a sneak peak at an exclusive new offering. You can also try win-back the others with a re-engagement campaign.

These are just a few ways to leverage your data to deliver the best email content to your readers. Of course, the more information you have, the better you can target your emails. Read tips and strategies on collecting this information from your readers.


Want more ideas on how to fix your email marketing?

Read our popular post3 reasons why your email marketing strategy sucks out how to fix it and download our 30 Greatest Lead Generation Tips, Tricks and Ideas.

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Posted in Email Marketing

3 Ways to Personalize Your Email Marketing Strategy

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In a world cluttered with data and ads, so many emails go unread. According to a study by The Radicati Group Inc. from 2011-2015, the average number emails that one person sends and receives every day is 121. That's a lot of emails...

The solution to this problem which so many marketers and companies face, is personalization. Studies show that personalized emails dramatically improve open rates, and 94% of businesses say that personalization is critical to their success. Here are three ways to better personalize your email marketing strategy and make sure that the emails you send are open and read.

1. Send your emails from a personal name

Instead of sending emails from your business, send it from someone on the marketing team. People are much more likely to open an email that is from a particular person. 

And in the signature of the email, put the person's name and their picture. Adding a face to a name builds trust with your audience and helps your emails feel more personalized.

Here is what happened when we re-energized an email-marketing plan with this same advice! 

 

2. Personalize your subject line and content

Put yourself in the shoes of one receiving your business's emails, and ask yourself a few questions. What in the subject line would make me want to open this email? And if I opened this email, would I want to read it?

So many marketers and businesses get stuck in their own needs and desires that they miss out on the most important question of email marketing: what does the customer need? Once you've identified that need, fill the subject line and the email with content that your audience wants.  

 

3. Think of your business as a personality

Its important to remember that personalization is not about getting personal with your subscribers. It's injecting personality into your emails and presenting the information you need them to have and showing your companies spirit and values.

Use language your audience would use, and answer the questions they would ask. Your emails should be should be a conversation with your subscribers and customers. 

 

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Posted in Email Marketing

How we re-energized an email marketing plan with one tiny tweak

Once an email marketing plan is set in motion, it’s easy to fall into habit and let some of the more minute details stagnate. Here’s what happened when we recently changed the “from” name in our client’s email campaign from the company name to the founder’s name.

The open rate increased by 30% compared to the previous mailing.
The open rate increased by 30% compared to the previous mailing.


The click-thru rate to the corresponding blog post increased by nearly 120%, the highest rate in five months.

Post views increased by 53% compared to the 8 month average, a 208% increase from the previous post.
Post views increased by 53% compared to the 8 month average, a 208% increase from the previous post.

213% increase compared to the past 8 month average.
Comments on the corresponding blog post increased 213% compared to the past 8 months. Compared to the previous post, they increased 1200%.

Social shares climbed 111%
Social shares climbed 111%

Even if you’re not due for an email marketing overhaul, always be experimenting. Try a different time of day to send. Try A/B subject line testing. Add an image to a text-heavy email. Add a lightbox sign up form to a high traffic page. The results may surprise you.

 

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Posted in Results, Email Marketing, E-Broadcaster

3 things you should consider when creating email campaigns in a mobile world

Posted on May 01, 2015 by Diane Call

The latest estimates show that 53% of emails are being opened on a mobile device and this number is steadily rising.

The major players in email marketing (such as Emma and MailChimp) all make it easy to create emails that perform well on mobile devices by offering customizable responsive templates. This means the email will display slightly differently when viewed on a mobile phone:

  • Body text sizes usually display slightly larger on a phone than on a desktop
  • Columns or rows of images will collapse and stack on top of each other
  • The width of the email will drop from 600px to the width of your phone so readers don’t have to zoom in and move around the screen to read your email.

These variables create an infinitely better reading experience for your mobile readers but require a little more effort on your part to ensure your content is delivered as intended. Below are three ways to ensure you’re getting the most out of your email campaign in a mobile environment.

1. Create “skimmable" content

You never know where your readers will be when they open your email—it’d be nice to think they’re at their desk, attentively taking in your every word. Unfortunately in reality, they’re waiting for the train, waiting to pick their kids up from school, or standing in line at Chipotle. The time you have to get your message across is increasingly limited.

So do your readers a favor: try to keep your content relatively short, and use descriptive headlines or subheads to divide the content into more manageable chunks. If you can break up a wordy paragraph into a bulleted or numbered list, do so. This helps to keep your message accessible.

What is the most important piece of information you are trying to communicate? What do you want your readers to take away? Make sure this is the most prominent piece of content—don’t hide it away in a sea of text.

Create skimmable content

 

2. Create a clear, clickable call to action

clickable areaTo make it easy for folks to interact with your content, Apple recommends allowing for ample space for clickable elements in a mobile environment. Ideally, the minimum clickable area should be 44px by 44px.

One of the best ways to achieve this is to create a button—this is good practice regardless of your reader’s device—but especially helpful for mobile readers who are skimming your content to find the next step.

We could write a whole blog post on crafting the perfect call to action, but I’ll keep it brief. Long gone are the days for the ambiguous “click here” button. Your button should tell the reader what the next step is in as few words as possible. Shop now. Read the post. Learn more. Keep it simple, and keep it clear.

Craft a clear, simple and clickable call to action

3. Test, test, test!

So you’re taking advantage of a new mobile-friendly template—great! Perhaps you even recreated the exact layout you’ve been using for years. That’s totally fine, but make sure you understand how it will display on mobile. Always preview and test before sending, so you know what needs to be adjusted (I hope you’ve been doing this anyway!).

Let’s say you are including an introduction in a narrow column on the right. When this collapses on a mobile phone, the left column will show first, followed by the right column... Meaning your intro will begin halfway through your email, which will be a little puzzling to mobile readers.

An image that was once 600 pixels wide by 150 pixels tall is now going to be about half that size. Any text you may have on the image will be harder to read, while the body text of your email has remained legible. Does this now feel unbalanced? Does the image create less of an impact at the smaller size? Perhaps you need to make it a little taller so it carries enough weight.

 

Desktop to mobile Desktop to mobile

What are some of the adjustments you’ve made to your campaigns to keep them successful in a mobile world?

 

Posted in Email Marketing

The joy and danger of email open rates

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How many people open your email campaigns? When you first start an email marketing program, you are often quite enamored with the open rates. Seeing the results of your efforts in real time is always a thrill, but I often warn clients about the misleading nature of open rates. It is the most looked at and often the most misleading. Here are two things to consider when looking at open rates:

  • The numbers are soft. As much as they look like hard numbers, they aren't. There are significant numbers of email programs that block the signal that reports back that the email has been opened. The only way to be sure is if someone clicks on a link within your campaign (another good reason to include great links). The good news is your open rate is ALWAYS higher than the "official" number. I would say it's at least 10% higher.
  • The open rate does not indicate engagement. Do you open or click through every email you receive? It really bugs me that most email services will average your open rates. The same people do not open every email. To get a true measure of how engaged your list is, you have to find how many on your list have opened a campaign over a period of time (a year is a good benchmark).

The good news hidden in your stats

Recently I reviewed stats with a client whose email marketing program we manage. The open rate was averaging 47% (more than double the industry average for a consumer list). I was sensing that someone not familiar with email marketing was thinking that if less than half of the list was opening the emails, maybe the program should be re-evaluated. That is not really illogical: If I were speaking and only 47% were listening, I would be disappointed. However, I ran a report querying who on the email list opened a campaign in the last year. The percentage was 83% – That's one engaged audience! It shows that the open rate of an individual campaign really wasn't a good measure of engagement.

We really love email marketing at Spire2 because it is the simplest and most cost-efficient way to take advantage of the most basic building block of effective marketing – repetition. Getting stats is like a bonus, but remember that it is wise to look for trends and dig a bit deeper before drawing conclusions.


Spire2 helps organizations and businesses get their message out. Whether it is online, through email or with paper and ink, we make sure your message is being heard and that all these channels are working together to build your brand and get results.

Posted in Email Marketing

Now in your E-Broadcaster account: A simplified send page

We’re happy to announce that a simplified sending process has been released across all accounts. The new one-page sending process allows you to:

  • Manage all delivery settings — like from name and address, delivery style, scheduled sending time and more — on one page.
  • Change delivery settings at any time without hitting the back button.
  • Set up mailings to groups or searches, or based on a triggered event, simply and quickly.
  • Confirm delivery settings at-a-glance in the Mailing summary sidebar.

Log into your account and give the new sending process a try. If you notice any trouble, make sure to clear your browser’s cache or hard-refresh the page before continuing.

Posted in Email Marketing, News, E-Broadcaster

It is all about the numbers

ShoppersClub

What we love about electronic communication (web development and email marketing) is that one gets real data on what is happening. If the strategy is working, it can be seen. If it is not working, the numbers don't lie. The Downtown Wheaton Association is great to work with because they are open to new ideas, they trust Spire2, and have been committed for the long haul. We were more than pleased when they asked us to provide them the numbers for their annual meeting. If you hear a horn tooting in the background while reading, we apologize.

  • Downtown Wheaton Association's website traffic increased 37% over the last year (20,000 eyeballs).

The Shoppers' Club email marketing program continues to flourish:

  • The last 5 campaigns had an average open rate of 52% (national average open rate is 19%).
  • Membership in the club has grown 190% in the past year.
  • Merchant participation increased with more than 27 merchants making submissions.

So how did we get these results? There are no shortcuts. It takes, time, effort and creativity. Growing a good list is hard work, but if one takes the time, it will deliver the results. Are we totally satisfied? Nope. I want better results. We are working on some ideas to bring more attention to all the good things that are going on in Downtown Wheaton. Stay tuned.

So are you getting the inside scoop on what is going on in Downtown Wheaton? Are you getting exclusive deals and offers from local businesses? Join the Downtown Wheaton Shoppers' Club right now!

Posted in Results, Email Marketing, News

The Year of Sharing

sharing

Sharing has become an easy, yet powerful tool in marketing. Making your content easy to share is critical in the Facebook and Twitter reality we live in because when people share your content online, they are doing your marketing for you. By harnessing the power of share you can better reach more prospects and find more followers.

Sharing your email campaigns has just gotten easier!
Spire2's E-broadcaster, powered by Emma, has just added a new feature that makes it easy to share your email campaigns with followers on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Better yet, this feature also provides you with the ability to track who is sharing your email and with which social network. Sound interesting? Learn more about how to utilize this new feature with your email campaigns.

Need help with email marketing? Spire2's experience with email marketing started in the days when saying you helped people with email marketing had to be spoken in hushed tones to avoid being labeled a spammer. A lot has changed since 2003. If you are looking for help in improving your results or getting a program off the ground, give us a call at 630.462.2567.

Posted in Email Marketing, E-Broadcaster

Spire2 helps organizations and businesses get their message out. Whether it is online, through email or with paper and ink, we make sure your message is being heard and that all these channels are working together to build your brand and get results. Learn more.

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